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FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

The remarkable man who is the subject of this sketch, was born a slave in Maryland. His exact age is not known, though it is supposed that he is between thirty and forty years old. His mother died when he was quite young. His father was a white man, according to rumor, his own master. He was early compelled to witness and experience the bitterness of a life of bondage. Speaking of a time when he was quite young,

he

says:

“I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom her. master used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue, would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin. I remernber the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. I never shall forget it whilst I remember anything. It was the first of

a long series of such outrages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a participant. It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass. It was a most terrible spectacle. I wish I could commit to paper the feelings with which I beheld it.”

For years the poor slave, as a field hand, served a sad apprenticeship to slavery. He was sold from master to master, and transferred from the whip of one overseer to that of another. But it was impossible by experience to reconcile him to his condition. Naturally possessed of brilliant powers of mind, with a fiery yet noble nature, he could not remain contentedly a miserable chattel on a Maryland plantation. As yet, he had thought-little of liberty, for the love of it which is in every human creature's heart, had not kindled in his. Still there were strange, murmuring thoughts : constantly haunting his brain. A melancholy was in his heart. He says, very strikingly as well as beautifully, of the songs which the slaves are 80 noted for singing:

“ I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle ; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear. They told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension ; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and com

plaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes al. ways depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness. I have frequently found myself in tears while hearing them. The mere recurrence to those

songs, even now,

afflicts

me;

and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its

way
down

my

cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be impressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let him go to Colonel Lloyd's plantation, and, on allowanceday, place himself in the deep pine woods, and there let him in silence analyze the sounds that shall pass through the chambers of his soul, and if he is not thus impressed, it will only be because there is no flesh in his obdurate heart."

From the field Douglass was transferred to the town. His joy was great at being permitted to live in Baltimore. He was allowed clean and decent clothing, for he was going to live with city people. His city mistress was a mild, pleasant woman, and he

says that his soul was filled with rapture when he first saw her kind face, and experienced her gentle treatment. She taught him how to read, or rather, taught him his letters, and he, without further aid, completed his education. By persevering and secret

toil, he managed to acquire the art of reading. One of the first books he met with was Sheridan's Speeches, and they served well to stir his heart, to awaken and intensify his longing for liberty. Months and years flew on, and in the meantime he changed masters. The desire for freedom grew strong in his heart, but it was not till after he had felt in his own person one of the bitterest portions of the slave's experience, that the desire attained its full intensity. We will quote his own account of this passage in his life :

“ On one of the hottest days of the month of August, 1833, Bill Smith, William Hughes, a slave named Eli, and myself, were engaged in fanning wheat. Hughes was clearing the fanned wheat from before the fàn, Eli was turning, Smith was feeding, and I was carrying wheat to the fan. The work was simple, requiring strength rather than intellect; yet, to one entirely unused to such work, it came very hard. About three o'clock of that day I broke down; my strength failed me;

I was seized with a violent aching of the head, attended with extreme dizziness; I trembled in every limb. Finding what was coming, I nerved myself up, feeling it would never do to stop work. I stood as long as I could stagger to the hopper with grain. When I could stand no longer I fell, and felt as if held down by an immense weight. The fan of course stopped ; every one had his own work to do; and no one could do the work of the other and have his own go on the same time.

Mr. Covey was at the house, about one hundred yards from the troading-yard where we were fanning. On hearing the fan

stop, he left immediately, and came to the spot where we were. He hastily inquired what the matter was. Bill answered that I was sick, and there was no one to bring wheat to the fan. I had by this time crawled away under the side of the post and rail fence, by which the yard was enclosed, hoping to find relief by getting out of the sun. He then asked where I was. He was told by one of the hands. He came to the spot, and, after looking at me awhile, asked me what was the matter. I told him as well as I could, for I scarce had strength to speak. He then gave me a savage kick in the side, and told me to get up. I tried to do so, but fell back in the attempt. He gave me another kick, and again told me to rise. I again tried, and succeeded in gaining my feet; but stooping to get the tub with which I was feeding the fan, I again staggered and fell. While down in this situation, Mr. Covey took up the hickory slat with which Hughes had been striking off the half-bushel measure, and with it gave me a heavy blow upon the head, making a large wound, and the blood ran freely; and with this again told me to get up. I made no effort to comply, having now made up my mind to let him do his worst. In a short time after receiving this blow my head grow better. Mr. Covey had now left me to my fate.”

After this, Douglas had the courage to resist another brutal attack from Covey, and triumphed. He began now to seriously contemplate running away from the bondage so hateful to him. His soul, animated by the same spirit which once dwelt in the bosom of Patrick Henry, could not brook chains,

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