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ing, and language of their masters, they converse with grave faces and in pompous language, selecting hard, high-sounding words, which are almost universally misapplied, and distorted from their original sound, as well as sense, to a most ridiculous degree-astounding their gaping auditors 'ob de field nigger class,' who cannot boast such enviable accomplishments-parading through the streets from mere listlessness, or gathering around and filling the whiskey shops, spending their little all for the means of intoxication. Though negroes are proverbially lovers of whiskey, but few are to be found among them who get drunk, unless on Christmas holidays, when the sober ones are most easily numbered; this is owing to the discipline of plantations, the little means they have wherewith to purchase, and last, though not least, the fear of punishment-that 'argumentum ad corporem,' which leaves a stinging conviction behind it, of the painful effects of 'old rye' in the abstract upon the body."
With one more extract, we shall take our leave of this part of the subject, promising our readers, if they will turn to the book itself, many more passages of equal raciness.
"While standing upon the gallery in the evening, enjoying the various busy scenes and confused sounds peculiar to a plantation at the close of day, my attention was drawn to a lugubrious procession, consisting of seven or eight negroes, approaching the house from the 'quarters,' some with blankets thrown like cloaks over their shoulders, their heads bandaged, and moving with a listless gait of inimitable helplessness. One after another they crawled up and presented themselves, before the open passage in the gallery. Seeing such a sad assembly, I approached them with curiosity, while their master, notified of their arrival, came out to examine into the state of this his walking hospital. Of all modifications of the 'human face divine,' that of the sick negro is the most dolorous. Their miserable, abject, hollow-eyed look, has no parallel. The negro is not an Adonis, in his best estate. But he increases his natural ugliness by a laxity of the muscles, a rolling of the eye, and a dropping of the under jaw, when ill, which give his face a most ludicrously wobegone appearance. The transparent, jet-black hue of his skin altogether disappears, leaving the complexion a dingy brown or sallow, which in no slight degree increases the sadness of his physiognomy. Those who are actually ill, generally receive every attention that humanity-not 'interest'-dictates. It has been said that interest is the only friend of the slave; that without this lever applied to the feelings of the master, he would never be influenced to care for his slaves either in health or sickness. However true this may be in individual instances, a vast number of cases have come within my knowledge, which have convinced me that as a general censure this charge is unmerited. Planters, particularly native planters, have a kind of affection for their negroes, incredible to those who have not observed its effects. If rebellious, they punish them-if well-behaved, they not unfrequently reward them. In health, they treat them with uniform kindness-in sickness, with attention and sympathy. I once called on a native planter-a young bachelor, like many of his class, who had graduated at Cambridge, and traveled in Europe-yet northern education and foreign habits did not destroy the Mississippian. I found him by the bed-side of a dying slave-nursing him with a kindness of voice and manner, and displaying a manly sympathy with his sufferings, honourable to himself and to humanity. On large plantations, hospitals are erected for the
reception of the sick, and the best medical attendance is provided for them. The physicians of Natchez derive a large proportion of their incomes from attending plantations. On some estates a physician permanently resides, whose time may be supposed sufficiently taken up in attending to the health of from one to two hundred persons. Often, several plantations, if the 'force' on each is small, unite, and employ one physician for the whole. Every plantation is supplied with suitable medicines, and generally to such an extent, that some room or part of a room in the planter's house is converted into a small apothecary's shop. These, in the absence of the physician in any sudden emergency, are administered by the planter. Hence, the health of the slaves, so far as medical skill is concerned, is well provided for. They are well fed and warmly clothed in the winter, in warm jackets and trowsers, and blanket coats enveloping the whole person, with hats or woolen caps and brogans. In summer they have clothing suitable to the season, and a ragged negro is less frequently to be met with than in northern cities.
"The attendance which the sick receive is a great temptation for the slaves to sham' illness. I was dining not long since in the country where the lady-a planter's daughter, and the wife and mother of a planter-sent from the table some plates of rich soup and boiled fowl to poor sick Jane and her husband,' as she observed in her reply to one who inquired if any of her people' were unwell. A portion of the dessert was also sent to another who was convalescent. Those who are not considered ill enough to be sent to the hospital, are permitted to remain in their houses or cabins, reporting themselves every evening at the great hus,' as they term the family mansion. The sombre procession alluded to above, which led to these remarks, consisted of a few of these invalids, who had appeared at the gallery to make their evening report. On being questioned as to their respective conditions, a scene ensues, that, to be appreciated, must be observed.
"What ails you, Peter?' Mighty sick, master.' 'Show me your tongue' and out, inch by inch, projects a long tongue, not unlike the sole of his shoe in size and colour, accompanied by a groan from the very pit of the stomach. If the negro is actually ill, suitable medicine is prescribed, which his master or the physician compels him to swallow in his presence. For, sick or well, and very fond of complaining, they will never take doctor's stuff,' as they term it, but, throwing it away as soon as they are out of sight, either go without any medicine, or take some concoction in repute among the old African beldames in the 'quarters,' by which they are sickened if well, and made worse if ill, and present themselves for inspection the next evening, by no means improved in health. They are fond of shamming, or 'skulking,' as sailors term it, and will often voluntarily expose themselves to sickness, in order to obtain exemption from labour."
Until very lately, the society, not only of Natchez, but of all the southwest, exhibited a lamentable disproportion between the two sexes. "How different," says our author, "from the land of steady habits,' where the prediction of seven women taking hold of one man, is literally fulfilled." This, of course, is the necessary condition of a new country; the stronger sex being foremost in emigration, and returning for helpmates only when tolerable quarters are prepared for them. What renders, however, the balance more difficult to be adjusted, is, the fact that the emigrating men acquire bachelor habits not easily
shuffled off, and speculations, segars, politics, and
expel the sweet thoughts, of matrimony until increase of years finds them still less "studious of change." Besides, the "golden fleece" in the shape of a wife, lieth not at their doors, and they are compelled, Jason-like, to travel many a long mile for the It is not, too, every fair daughter of Eve who will brave the hardships of the west, or is disposed to lead the kind of life which is required of the sturdy pioneers of civilisation. This disproportion, however, is one that, every day, is becoming less and less, and will, doubtless, finally disappear altoge
What, on the other hand, the females lack in numbers, they supply in quality. It is no less a truth than the one we have just stated, that the education, at least of the rising generation of women, is far superior to that of the men. It is mentioned by the writer, with respect to the latter, that many boys, whose parents reside on plantations, are suffered to grow up to the ages of eight or ten, unable either to read or write. Or even where more attention is paid to the culture of their minds, it is generally dispensed at the schools in the neighbourhood, while the daughters of almost all who can afford it, are sent to the Atlantic states for the greater advantages in this respect which they hold out. An unfortunate prejudice, too, prevails with many planters against giving their sons a classical education; deeming it unnecessary for the practical purposes of life, and unsuited to the retirement of a plantation. This is not the time or place to enlarge on a topic of so much interest, or we might easily show how an extended education contributes not only to the actual improvement of the mind, and its adaptation, too, to many even strictly practical pursuits, but offers a rich store of consolation and mental enjoyment in the shades of retirement, or under the pressure of adverse fortune. We are delighted to perceive that different and better views of what is due to the mental faculties of our race, are already prevalent with our western brethren, and that rising colleges, and well endowed universities, are beginning to dot the valley of the Mississippi, and to sow the seed of a rich harvest of after cultivation. The west is unquestionably large enough to contain within herself all that is requisite for the nurture and growth of science, literature, and religion, without looking to the eastern states for any supply of either. She is now, for the most part, a missionary land. We hope to behold her, even in our day, a great storehouse of all that can adorn and ennoble
We were prepared to discover the penal law of Mississippi standing in need of reformation. It would have been strange if that system, which requires deep reflection and philosophical
investigation to bring even to a tolerable standard of right, had been found matured in a new country. One crying evil, arising from its imperfection, has been already felt by our fellow citizens at the west, and will only be checked when public sentiment being improved, and the national sensibility awakened, penitentiary discipline, and penal law, shall receive the attention they deserve. We allude to "Lynch law"-the scandal of a civilised age; which has its root in those bad passions of human nature, that no laws can thoroughly eradicate.
With our author's few remarks upon this subject, we shall take our leave of him.
"Crossing Cotton square-the chief market place for cotton in the city -we in a few minutes entered upon the great northern road leading to Jackson, the capital of this state, and thence to Washington, the seat of the general government. Near the intersection of this road with the city streets, a sudden clanking of chains startled our horses, and the next instant a gang of negroes, in straggling procession, followed by an ordinary looking white man armed with a whip, emerged from one of the streets. Each negro carried slung over his shoulder a polished iron ball, apparently a twenty-four pounder, suspended by a heavy ox chain five or six feet in length, and secured to the right ancle by a massive ring. They moved along under their burthen as though it were any thing but comfortable-some with idealess faces, looking the mere animal, others with sullen and dogged looks, and others again talking and laughing, as though 'Hymen's chains had bound them.' This galleylooking procession, whose tattered wardrobe seemed to have been stolen from a chimney-sweep, was what is very appropriately termed the chain-gang,' a fraternity well known in New Orleans and Natchez, and valued for its services in cleaning and repairing the streets. In the former city, however, there is one for whites as well as blacks, who may be known by their parti-coloured clothing. These gangs are merely moving penitentiaries, appropriating that amount of labour, which at the north is expended within four walls, to the broader limits of the city. In Natchez, negro criminals only are thus honoured-a 'coat of tar and feathers' being applied to those white men who may require some kind of discipline not provided by the courts of justice. This last summary process of popular justice, or more properly excitement, termed 'Lynch's law' I believe, from its originator, is too much in vogue in this state. In the resentment of public as well as private wrongs, individuals have long been in the habit of forestalling and improving upon the decisions of the courts, by taking the execution of the laws into their own hands. The consequence is, that the dignity of the bench is degraded, and justice is set aside for the exhibition of wild outbreaks of popular feeling. But this summary mode of procedure is now, to the honour of the south, rapidly falling into disuse, and men feel willing to yield to the dignity of the law and acquiesce in its decisions, even to the sacrifice of individual prejudices. That 'border' state of society from which the custom originated no longer exists here-and the causes having ceased which at first, in the absence of proper tribunals, may have rendered it perhaps necessary thus to administer justice, the effect will naturally cease also --and men will surrender the sword of justice to the public tribunals, erected by themselves.
"The want of a penitentiary has had a tendency to keep this custom
alive in this state longer than it would otherwise have existed. When an individual is guilty of any offence, which renders him amenable to the laws, he must either be acquitted altogether or suffer death. There is no intermediate mode of punishment, except the stocks, whipping, branding, and cropping-the last two are seldom resorted to now as legal punishments, and the others are regarded as too light an expiation for an offence which merited a seven years' imprisonment. Therefore when a criminal is acquitted, because his guilt is not quite sufficient to demand the sacrifice of his life, but enough to confine him to many years' hard labour in a state's prison-popular vengeance, if the nature of his guilt has enlisted the feelings of the multitude-immediately seizes upon him, and the poor wretch expiates his crime, by one of the most cruel systems of justice that human ingenuity has ever invented. When a criminal is here condemned to death, whose sentence in other states would have been confinement for a limited period, there is in public feeling sometimes a reaction, as singularly in the other extreme. Petitions for his pardon are circulated, and, with columns of names appended, presented to the governor, for here there can be no commutation of a sentence of death. There must be a free, unconditional pardon, or the scaffold. Sometimes a criminal under sentence of death is pardoned by the governor, thinking his crime not sufficiently aggravated to be atoned for by his life, which may often be the case in a state where eleven crimes are punishable with death.* In such instances the criminal, unless escorted beyond the reach of popular resentment, receives from the multitude a commutation of his sentence, which, through the tender mercies of his judges, is more dreadful than death itself. Death indeed has in two or three instances terminated the sufferings of these victims of public feeling; sometimes they have been placed upright in a skiff with their arms pinioned behind them, and a jug of whiskey placed at their feet, and thus thrown upon the mercy of the Mississippi, down which, under a burning sun, naked and bareheaded, they are borne, till rescued by some steamer, cast upon the inhospitable shores, or buried beneath the waves. This act, inhuman as it may appear, does not indicate a more barbarous or inhuman state of society than elsewhere. It is the consequence of a deficiency in the mode and means of punishment. Was there but one sentence passed upon all criminals in sober New England, and that sentence, death, humanity would lead to numerous acquittals and pardons; while popular feeling, when it felt itself injured, refusing to acquiesce in the total escape of the guilty, would take upon itself to inflict that punishment which the code had neglected to provide. A penitentiary in this state would at once do away this custom."
The capital crimes of this state are, murder, arson, robbery, rape, burglary, stealing a slave, stealing or selling a free person for a slave, forgery, manslaughter, second offence-horse stealing, second offenceaccessories, before the fact, to rape, arson, robbery, and burglary.