xt74qr4nkf5t https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt74qr4nkf5t/data/mets.xml Henson, Josiah, 1789-1883. 1858  books b02-000000023 English J.P. Jewett; H. P. B. Jewett, 1858. : Boston; Cleveland Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection.  Father Henson's story of his own life. With an introd. by H. B. Stowe. text Father Henson's story of his own life. With an introd. by H. B. Stowe. 1858 2002 true xt74qr4nkf5t section xt74qr4nkf5t 

4 ,L4














1 8 5 8.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1858, by


Press of Geo. C. Rand  Avery




  THE numerous friends of the aithor of this
little work will need no greater recommend.-
ation than his name to make it welcome.
Among all the singular and interesting rec-
ords to which the institution of American sla-
very has given rise, we know of none more
striking, more characteristic and instructive,
than that of JOSIAH HENSON.
  Born a slave- a slave in effect in a hea-
then land -and under a heathen master, he
grew up without Christian light or knowledge,
and like the Gentiles spoken of by St. Paul,
"without the law did by nature the things
that are written in the law." One sermon,
one offer of salvation by Christ, was sufficient
for him, as for the Ethiopian eunuch, to make
him at once a believer from the heart and a
preacher of Jesus.
  To the great Christian doctrine of forgive-
ness of enemies and the returning of good for



evil, he was by God's grace made a faithful
witness, under circumstances that try men's
souls and make us all who read it say, " lead
us not into such temptation." We earnestly
commend this portion of his narrative to those
who, under much smaller temptations, think
themselves entitled to render evil for evil.
  The African race appear as yet to have been
companions only of the sufferings of Christ.-
In the melancholy scene of his death-while
Europe in the person of the Roman delivered
him unto death, and Asia in the person of the
Jew clamored for his execution -Africa was
represented in the person of Simon the Cyre-
nean, who came patiently bearing after him the
load of the cross; and ever since then poor
Africa has been toiling on, bearing the weary
cross of contempt and oppression after Jesus.
But they who suffer with him shall also reign;
and when the unwritten annals of slavery shall
appear in the judgment, many Simons who
have gone meekly bearing their cross after
Jesus to unknown graves, shall rise to thrones
and crowns! Verily a day shall come when
he shall appear for these his hidden ones, and
then "many that are last shall be first, and
the first shall be. last."
  Our excellent friend has prepared this edi-




tion of his works for the purpose of redeem-
ing from slavery a beloved brother, who has
groaned for many years under the yoke of a
hard master.  Whoever would help Jesus,
were he sick or in prison, may help him now
in the person of these his little ones, his af-
flicted and suffering children. The work is
commended to the kind offices of all who love
our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
                         H. B. STOWE.
 ANDOTER, Miss.; April 5, 1858.


This page in the original text is blank.



                   CHAPTER 1.


Earliest memories. - Born in Maryland. - My father's
first appearance. - Attempted outrage on my mother.
-My father's fight with an overseer. - One hundred
stripes and his ear cutoff. - Throws away his banjo
and becomes morose. - Sold South, .     .

                  CHAPTER IL.

               MY FIRST GREAT TRIAL.

Origin of my name. - A kind master. - le is drowned.
- My mother's prayers. - A slave auction. - Torn
from my mother. - Severe sickness. - A cruel master.
-Sold again and restored to my mother, .  .  .   8

                  CHAPTER    III.

              MY BOYHOOD AND YOUTH

Early employment. - Slave-life. - Food, lodging, cloth-
ing. -,Amusements. - Gleams of sunshine. -My
knight-errantry. - Become an overseer and general
Waperiateadetnt,.  .   .   .    .   .   .    .16


Viii                 CONTENTS.

                   CHAPTER IV.

                MY CONVERSION.

A good man. - hear a sermon for the first time. - Its
effects upon me. - Prayer and communion. - Its first
fruits,.   .   .    .   .    .   .    .   .    . 25

                   CHAPTER V.

                 MAIMED FOR LIFE.

Taking care of my drunken master. - His fight with an
  overseer. - Rescue him. - Am terribly beaten by the
  overseer. - My master seeks redress at law, but fails.
  - Sufferings then and since. - Retain my post as su-
  perintendent,       .   .    .   .    .   .    .

                   CHAPTER VI


My marriage. - Marriage of my master. - His ruin. -
  Comes to me for aid. - A great enterprise undertaken.
  -Long and successful journey. -Incidents by the
  way. -Struggle between inclination and duty. - Duty
  triumphant,.   .    .   .    .   .    .   .    . 42

                  CHAPTER VII.

                  A NEW HOME.

Become a Methodist preacher. - My poor companions
  sold. - My agony. - Sent for again. - Interview with
  a kind Methodist preacher.  Visit free soil and begin
  my struggle for freedom,.    .   .    .        55




                 CHAPTER VIII

               RETURN TO MARYLAND.

Reception from my old master. - A slave again. - Ap-
peal to an old friend. - Buy my freedom. - Cheated
and betrayed. - Back to Kentucky, and a slave again, 56

                  CHAPTER IX.


Start for New Orleans. - Study navigation on the Missis-
sippi. - The capt. in struck blind. - Find some of my
old companions. - The lower depths,.             79

                   CHAPTER X.


Sigh for death. - A murder in my heart. - The axe
raised. - Conscience speaks and I am saved. - God
be praised!      .    .   .      .   .           86

                  CHAPTER XI.


Offered for sale. - Examined by purchasers. - Plead
with my young master in vain. -Alan's extremity,
God's opportunity. - Good for evil. - Return North.
- My increased value. -Resolve to be a slave no
longer,        .   .    .   .    .             93

                  CHAPTER XII.

              1ESCAPE FROM BONDAGE.

Solitary Musings. - Preparations for flight. - A long



good-night to master. - A dark night on the river. -
Night journeys in Indiana. - On the brink of starva-
tion. - A kind woman. - A new style of drinking cup.
- Reach Cincinnati,   .   .      .   .    .   . 102

                  CHAPTER XIII.

                JOUIRNEY TO CANADA.

Good Samaritans.-Alone in the wilderness. -Meet
some Indians.-Reach Sandusky. -Another friend.
  -All aboard. -Buffalo. -A "free nigger.  Frenzy
  of joy on reaching Canada,.  .   .   .    .   . 113

                  CHAPTER XIV.

           NEW SCENES AND A NEW    HOME.

A poor man in a strange land.-Begin to acquire prop-
erty.-Resume preaching. -Boys go to school. -
  What gave me a desire to learn to read. - A day of
  prayer in the woods,.   .    .       .    .   . 128

                  CHAPTER XV

               LIFE IN CANADA.

Condition of the blacks in Canada. - A tour of explora-
  tion. - Appeal to the Legislature. - Improvements, 138

                  CHAPTER XVI.


Sympathy for the slaves. - James Lightfoot. - My first
  mission to the South. - A Kentucky company of fugi-
  tives. - Safe at home,  .   .    .   .    .   . 144




                  CHAPTER XVII.


A shower of stars. - Kentuckians. - A stratagem. - A
  providence. - Conducted across the Miami River by a
  cow. - Arrival at Cincinnati. - One of the party taken
  ill. - We leave him to die. - Meet a "friend." - A
  poor white man. - A strange impression. - Once more
  in Canada,  .   .    .   .    .   .   .    .   150

                 CHAPTER XVIII.
                 HOME AT DAWN.
Condition in Canada. - Efforts in behalf of my people.
  - Rev. Mr. Wilson. - A convention of blacks. -
  Manual-labor school,.   .                .    . 165

                  CHAPTER XIX.

Industrial project. -Find some able friends in Boston.
-Procure funds and construct a saw-mill. -Sales of
  lumber in Boston. -Incident in the Custom House, 173

                  CHAPTER XX.
              VISIT TO ENGLAND.
Debt on the institution. - A new pecuniary enterprise. -
  Letters of recommendation to England.-Personal
  difficulties. - Called an impostor. - Triumphant vic-
  tory over these troubles,.  .   .    .   .    . 179-

                 CHAPTER XXI.
My contribution to the great exhibition. - Difficulty with



X11                 CONTENTS.

the American superintendent. - Happy release.- The
great crowd. - A call from the Queen. - Medal
  awarded to me, .             .   .        .    . 187

                  CHAPTER XXII.


Speech at Sunday School Anniversary. - Interview with
Lord Grey. - Interview with the Archbishop of Can-
terbury, and dinner with Lord John Russell, the great
  events of my life,  .   .    .   .    .   .    . 194

                 CHAPTER XXIII.


My narrative published.-Letter from home apprising
me of the sickness of my wife. - Departure from Lon-
don. - Arrival at home. - Meeting with my family.
  The great sorrow of my life, the death of my wife,  . 203

                 CHAPTER XXIV.

              CLOSING CHAPTER.

Containing an accurate account of the past and present
  condition of the fugitive slaves in Canada, with some
  remarks on their future prospects,.   .   .    . 209




          HIS    OWN     LIFE.

               CHAPTER I.

 Earliest memories. - Born in Maryland. - My father's
   first appearance. - Attempted outrage on my mother.
   -My father's fight with an overseer. - One hundred
   stripes and his ear cut off. - Throws away his banjo
   and becomes rmorose. - Sold South.

   THE story of my life, which I am about to
record, is one full of striking incident. Keener
pangs, deeper joys, more singular vicissitudes,
few have been led in God's providence to
experience. As I look back on it through the
vista of more than sixty years, and scene on
scene it rises before me, an ever fresh wonder



fills my mind. I delight to recall it. I dwell
on it as did the Jews on the marvellous his-
tory of their rescue from the bondage of
Egypt. Time has touched with its mnellow-
ing fingers its sterner fatwres. The sufferings
of the past are now like a dream, and the
enduring lessons left behind make me to praise
God that my soul has been tempered by him
in so fiery a furnace and under such heavy
  I was born June 15th, 1789, in Charles
county, Maryland on a farn belonging to
Mr. Ftaucis Newman, about a rmile from Port
Tobacco. My mother was a     lave of Dr.
Josiah Mcihoian, but beid to the Mr. New-
man to whom my father belonged. The only
incident I can remember which occurred while
my mother continued on Mr. Newman's farm,
was the appearance one day of my father with
his head bloody and his back lacerated. He
was beside himself with mingled rage and
sufferings The explanation I picked up from
the conversation of others only partially ex-
plained the matter to my mind; but as I




grew older I understood it all. It seemed the
overseer had sent my mother away from the
other field hands to a retired place, and after
trying persuasion in vain, had resorted to
force to accomplis -ibrutal purpose. Hler
screams aroused my father at his distant
work, and running up, he found his wife
struggling with the man.  Furious at the
sight, he sprung upon him like a tiger. In a
moment the overseer was down, and, mastered
by rage, my father would have killed him but
for the entreaties of my mother, and the over-
seer's own promise that -nothing should ever
be said of the matter. The promise was kept
-like most promises of the cowardly and de-,
based - as long as the danger lasted.
  The laws of slave states provide means and
opportunities for revenge so ample, that mis-
creants like him never fail to improve them.
"d A nigger has struck a white man;" that is
enough to set a whole county on fire; no ques-
tion is asked about the provocation.  The
authorities were soon in pursuit of my father.
The fact of the sacrilegious act of lifting a




hand against the sacred temple of a white
man's body-a profanity as blasphemous
in the eye of a slave-state tribunal as was
among the Jews the entrance of a Gentile
dog into the lloly of Holies - this was all it
was necessary to establish. And the penalty
followed: one hundred lashes on the bare
back, and to have the right ear nailed to the
whipping-post, and then severed frouti the
body. For a time my father kept out of
the way, hiding in the woods, and at night
venturing into some cabin in search of food.
But at length the strict watch set baffled all
his efforts. 1-is supplies cut of; he was fairly
starved out, and compelled by hunger to come
back and give himself up.
  The day for the execution of the penalty
was appointed. The negroes from the neigh-
boring plantations were summoned, for their
moral improvement, to witness the scene. A
powerful blacksmith named Hewes laid on
the stripes. Fifty were given, during Which
the cries of my' father might be heard a mile,
and then a pause ensued. True, he had struck



a white man, but as valuable property he must
not be damaged. Judicious men felt his
pulse. Oh! he could stand the whole. Again
and again the thong fell on his lacerated back.
His cries grew fainter and fainter, till a feeble
groan was the only response to the final
blows. His head was then thrust against the
post, and his right ear fastened to it with a
tack; a swift pass of a knife, and the bleed-
ing member was left sticking to the place.
Then came a hurra from the degraded crowd,
and the exclamation, " That's what he's got
for striking a white man." A few said, " it's
a damned shame; " but the majority regarded
it as but a proper tribute to their offended
  It may be difficult for you, reader, to come
prehend -uch brutality, and in the name of
humanity you may protest against the truth
of these statements. To you, such cruelty.
inflicted on a man seems fiendish. Ay, on a
man; there hinges the whole. In the estima-
tion of the illiterate, besotted poor whites who
COnstituted the witnesses of such scenes in





Charles County, Maryland, the man who did
not feel rage enough at hearing of " a Bigger"
striking a white to be ready to burn him alive,
was only fit to be lynched out of the neigh-
borhood. A blow at one white man is a blow
at all; is the muttering and upheaving of
volcanic fires, which underlie and threaten to
burst forth and utterly consume the whole
social fabric. Terror is the fiercest nurse of
cruelty. And when, in this our day, you find
tender English women and Christian English
divines fiercely urging that India should be
made one pool of Sepoy blood, pause a mo-
ment before you lightly refuse to believe in
the existence of such ferocious passions in the
breasts of tyrannical and cowardly slave-driv-
  Previous to this affair my father, from all
I can learn, had been a good-humored and
light-hearted man, the ringleader in all fun at
corn-huskings and Christmas buffoonery. His
banjo was the life of the farm, and all night
long at a merry-naking would he play on it
while the other negroes danced. But from




this hour he became utterly changed. Sullen,
morose, and dogged, nothing could be done
with him. The milk of human kindness in
his heart was turned to gall. iHe brooded
over his wrongs. N6 fear or threats of being
sold to the far south - the greatest of all ter-
rors to the Maryland slave -would render
him tractable. So off he was sent to Ala-
bama. What was his after fate neither my
mother nor I have ever learned; the great day
will reveal all. This was the first chapter in
my history.




              CHAPTER II.



  AFTER the sale of my father by Newman,
Dr. McPherson would no longer hire out my
mother to him. She returned, accordingly, to
his estate. He was far kinder to his slaves
than the planters generally were, never suffer-
.ing them to be struck by any one. He was a
man of good, kind impulses, liberal, jovial,
hearty. No degree of arbitrary power could
ever lead him to cruelty. As the first negro-
child ever born to him, I was his especial pet.
He gave me his own Christian name, Josiah,
and with that he also gave me my last name,
Henson, after an uncle of his, who was an



            ,OF HIS OWN LIFE.         9

officer in the Revolutionary war. A bright
spot i rnmy childhood was my residence with
hirm - bright, but, alas! fleeting.  Events
were rapidly maturing which were to change
the whole aspect of my life. The kind Doc-
tor was not exempt from that failing which
too often besets easy, social natures in a dis-
sipated community. He could not restrain
his convivial propensities. Although he main-
tained a high reputation for goodness of
heart and an almost saint-like benevolence.
the habit of intemperance steadily gained
ground, and finally occasioned his death.
Two negrioes on the plantation found him
one morning lying dead in the middle of' a
narrow stream, not a foot in depth. He had
been away the night previous at a social
party, and when returning home had fallen
from his horse, probably, and being too intoxi-
cated to stagger through the stream, fell and
was drowned.   "4 There's the place where
massa got drownded at; " how well I remnem-
ber having it pointed out to me in those very



  For two or three years my mother and her
young family of six children had resided on
this estate; and we had been in the main very
happy.  She was a good mother to us, a
woman of deep piety, anxious above all things
to touch our hearts with a sense of religion.
How or where she acquired her knowledge of
God, or her acquaintance with the Lord's
Prayer, which she so frequently taught us to
repeat, I am unable to say. I remember see-
ing her often on her knees, trying to arrange
her thoughts in prayer appropriate to her situ-
ation, but which amounted to little more than
constant ejaculations, and the repetition of
short phrases which were within my infant
comprehension, and have remained in my
memory to this hour.
  Our term of happy union as one family was
now, alas! at an end. Mournful as was the
Doctor's death to his friends it was a far
greater calamity to us.  The estate and the
slaves' must be sold and the proceeds divided
among the heirs. We were but property-




not a mother, and the children God had given
   Common as are slave-auctions in the south-
ern states, and naturally as a slave may look
forward to the time when he will be put up
on the block, still the full misery of the event
- of the scenes which precede and succeed
it -is never understood till the actual experi-
ence comes.  The first sad announcement
that the sale is to be; the knowledge that all
ties of the past are to be sundered; the frantic
terror at the idea of being sent "down south;"
the almost certainty that one member of a
family will'be torn from another; the anxious
scanning of purchasers' faces; the agony at
parting, often forever, with husband, wife,
child-these must be seen and felt to be fully
understood. Young as I was then, the iron
entered into my soul. The remembrance of
the breaking up of McPherson's estate is pho-
tographed in its minutest features in my mind.
The crowd collected round the stand, the hud-
dling group of negroes, the examination of
muscle, teeth, the exhibition of agility, the




look of the auctioneer, the. agony of my
mother - I can shut my eyes and see theit
  My brothers and sisters were bid off first,
and one by one, while my mother, paralyzed
by grief, held me by the hand.  Her turn
camne, and she was bought by Isaac Riley of
Montgomery county. Then I was offered to
the assembled purchasers. My mother, half
distracted witW the thought of parting forever
from all her children, pushed through the
crowd, while the bidding for me was going on,
to the spot where Riley was standing. She
fell at his feet, and clung to his knees, entreat-
ing him in tones that a mother only could
command, to buy her baby as well as herself,
and spare to heione, at least, of her little ones.
Will it, can it be believed that this man, thus
appealed to, was capable not merely of turn-
ing a deaf ear to her supplication, but of disen-
gaging himself from her with such violent
blows and kicks, as to reduce her to the neces-
sity of creeping out of his reach, and mingling
the groan of bodily suffering with the sob of a




breaking heart As she crawled away from
the brutal man I heard her sob out, " Oh, Lord
Jesus, how long, how long shall I sufler this
way!" I must have been then between five
and six years old. I seem to see and hear my
poor weeping mother now. This was one of
my earliest observations of men; an experience
which I only shared with thousands of my
race, the bitterness of which to any individual
who stuffers it cannot be diminished by the fre-
quency of its recurrence, while it is dark
enough to overshadow the whole after-life with
something blacker than a funeral pall.
  I was bought by a stranger named Robb,
and truly a robber he was to me. Hie took me
to his home, about forty miles distant, and put
me into his negro quarters with about forty
others, of all ages, colors, and conditions, all
strangers to me. Of course nobody cared for
me. The slaves were brutalized by this degra-
dation, and had no sympathy for me. I soon
fell sick, and lay for some days almost dead
on the ground. Sometimes a slave would
give me a piece of corn bread or a bit of her-




ring.. Finally I became so feeble that I could
not move. This, however, was fortunate for
me; for in the course of a few weeks Robb
met Riley, who had bought my mother, and
offered to sell me to him cheap. Riley said
he was afraid " the little devil would die," and
he did not want to buy a " dead nigger;" but
he agreed, finally, to pay a small sum for me
in horse-shoeing if I lived, and nothing if I
died. Robb was a tavern keeper, and owned
a line of stages with the horses, and lived near
Montgomery court-house; Riley carried on
blacksmithing about five miles from that place.
This clenched the bargain, and I was soon sent
to my mother. A blessed change it was. I
had been lying on a lot of rags thrown on a
dirt floor. All day long I had been left alone,
crying for water, crying for mother; the slaves,
who all left at daylight, when they returned,
caring nothing for me. Now, I was once
more with my best friend on earth, and under
her care; destitute as she was of the proper
means of nursing me, I recovered my health,




and grew to be an uncommonly vigorous. boy
and man.
  The character of Riley, the master whom I
faithfully served for many years, is by no
means an uncommon one in any part of the
world; the evil is, that a domestic institution
should anywhere put it in the power of such
a one to tyrannize over his fellow beings, and
inflict so much needless misery as is sure to be
inflicted by such a man in such a position.
Coarse and vulgar in his habits, unprincipled
and cruel in his general deportment, and espe-
cially addicted to the vice of licentiousness,
his slaves had little opportunity for relaxation
from wearying labor, were supplied with the
scantiest means of sustaining their toil by
necessary food, and had no security for per-
sonal rights. The natural tendency of slavery
is to convert the master into a tyrant, and the
slave into the cringing, treacherous, false, and
thieving victim of tyranny.  Riley and his
slaves were no exception to the general rule,
but might be cited as apt illustrations of the
nature of the relation.




             CHAPTER III.



  My earliest employments were, to carry
buckets of water to the men at work, and to
hold a horse-plough, used for weeding between
the rows of corn. As I grew older and taller,
I was entrusted with the care of master's sad-
dle-horse.  Then a hoe was put into my
hands, and I was soon required to do the
day's work of a man; and it was not long be-
fore I could do it, at least as well as my asso-
ciates in misery.
  The every-day life of a slave on one of our
southern plantations, however frequently it
may have been described, is generally little




understood at the north; and must be men-
tioned as a necessary illustration of the char-
acter and habits of the slave and the slave-
holder, created and perpetuated by their rela-
tive position.  The principal food of those
upon my master's plantation consisted of
corn-meal, and salt herrings; to which was
added in summer a little buttermilk, and the
few vegetables which each might raise for
himself and his family, on the little piece of
ground which was assigned to him for the
purpose, called a truck patch.
  In ordinary times we had two regular meals
in a day: - breakfast at twelve o'clock, after
laboring from daylight, and supper when the
work of the remainder of the day was over.
In harvest season we had three. Our dress
was of tow-cloth; for the children nothing
but a shirt; for the older ones a pair of pan-
taloons or a gown in addition, according to
the sex. Besides these, in the winter a round
jacket or overcoat, a wool hat once in two or
three years, for the males, and a pair of coarse
shoes once a year.




   We lodged in log huts, and on the bare
ground. Wooden floors were an unknown
luxury. In a single room were huddled, like
cattle, ten or a dozen persons, men, women
and children.  All ideas of refinement and
decency were, of course, out of the question.
There were neither bedsteads, nor furniture
of any description. Our beds were collections
of straw and old rags, thrown down in the
corners and boxed in with boards; a single
blanket the only covering.  Our favorite way
of sleeping, however, was on a plank, our
heads raised on an old jacket and our feet
toasting before the smouldering fire.  The
wind whistled and the rain and snow blew in
through the cracks, and the damp earth soaked
in the moisture till the floor was miry as a
pig-sty.  Such were our houses. In these
wretched hovels were we penned at night, and
fed by day; here were the children born and
the sick - neglected.
  Notwithstanding this system of manage-
ment I grew to be a robust and vigorous lad.
At fifteen years of age there were few who




could compete with me in work or sport. I
was as lively as a young buck, and running
over with animal spirits. I could run faster,
wrestle better, and jump higher than anybody
about me, and at an evening shakedown in
our own or a neighbor's kitchen, my feet
became absolutely invisible from the rate at
which they moved. All this caused my mas-
ter and my fellow slaves to look upon me as
a wonderfully smart fellow, and prophecy the
great things I should do when I became a
man. My vanity became vastly inflamed, and
I fully coincided in their opinion.  Julius
Ctesar never aspired and plotted for the impe-
rial crown more ambitiously than did I to
out-hoe, out-reap, out-husk, out-dance, out-
everything every competitor; and from all I
can learn he never enjoyed his triumph half
as much. One word of commendation from
the petty despot who ruled over us would set
mie up for a month.
  I have no desire to represent the life of sla-
very as an experience of nothing but misery.
God be praised, that however hedged in by




circumstances, the joyful exuberance of youth
will bound at times ever them all. Ours is a
light-hearted race.  The sternest and mnost
covetous master cannot frighten or whip the
fun out of us; certainly old Riley never did
out of me. In those days I had many a
merry time, and would have had, had I lived
with nothing but moccasins and rattle-snakes
in Okafenoke swamp. Slavery did its best to
make me wretched; I feel no particular obli-
gation to it; but nature, or the blessed God
of youth and joy, was mightier than slavery.
Along with memories of miry cabins, frosted
feet, weary toil under the blazing sun, curses
and blows, there flock in others, of jolly
Christmas times, dances before old massa's
door for the first drink of egg-nog, extra meat
at holiday times, midnight visits to apple
orchards, broiling stray chickens, and first-
rate tricks to dodge work.  The God who
makes the pup gambol, and the kitten play,
and the bird sing, and the fish leap, was the
author in me of many a light-hearted hour.
True it was, indeed, that the fun and freedom




of Christmas, at which time my master re-
laxed his front, was generally followed up by
a portentous back-action, under which he
drove and cursed worse than ever; still the
fun and freedom were fixed facts; we had had
them and he could not help it.
   Besides these pleasant memories I have
others of a deeper and richer kind. I early
learned to employ my spirit of adventure for
the benefit of my fellow-sufferers. The con-
dition of the male slave is bad enough; but
that of the female, compelled to perform unfit
labor, sick, suffering, and bearing the peculiar
burdens of her own sex unpitied and unaided,
as well as the toils which belong to the other,
is one that must arouse the spirit of sympathy
in every heart not dead to all feeling. The
miseries which I saw many of the women suf-
fer often oppressed me with a load of sorrow.
No white knight, rescuing white fair ones from
cruel oppression, ever 'felt the throbbing of a
'chivalrous heart more intensely than I, a black
knight, did, in running down a chicken in an
Out-of-the way place to hide till dark, and then




carry to some poor overworked black fair one,
to whom it was at once food, luxury, and
medicine. No Scotch borderer, levying black
mail or sweeping off a drove of cattle, ever felt
more assured of the justice of his act than I
of mine, in driving a mile or two into the
woods a pig or a sheep, and slaughtering it for
the good of those whom Riley was starving.
I felt good, moral, heroic. The beautiful com-
bination of a high time and a benevolent act
-the harmonious interplay of nature and
grace-was absolutely entrancing. I felt then
the excellency of a. sentiment I have since
found expressed in a hymn:

           "Religion never was designed
           To make our pleasures less."

  Was this wrong I can only say in reply,
that, at this distance of time, my conscience
does not reproach me for it. Then I esteemed
it among the best of my deeds. It was my
training in the luxury of doing good, in the
divinity of a sympathetic heart, in the right-
eousness of indignation against the cruel and




oppressive. There and then was my soul
made con