I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives - Vol. 2

By Yuval Taylor | Go to book overview

XXXVII.
A VISIT TO ENGLAND.

IN the spring, sad news came to me. Mrs. Bruce was dead. Never again, in this world, should I see her gentle face, or hear her sympathizing voice. I had lost an excellent friend, and little Mary had lost a tender mother. Mr. Bruce wished the child to visit some of her mother’s relatives in England, and he was desirous that I should take charge of her. The little motherless one was accustomed to me, and attached to me, and I thought she would be happier in my care than in that of a stranger. I could also earn more in this way than I could by my needle. So I put Benny to a trade, and left Ellen to remain in the house with my friend and go to school.

We sailed from New York, and arrived in Liverpool after a pleasant voyage of twelve days. We proceeded directly to London, and took lodgings at the Adelaide Hotel. The supper seemed to me less luxurious than those I had seen in American hotels; but my situation was indescribably more pleasant. For the first time in my life I was in a place where I was treated according to my deportment, without reference to my complexion. I felt as if a great millstone had been lifted from my breast. Ensconced in a pleasant room, with my dear little charge, I laid my head on my pillow, for the first time, with the delightful consciousness of pure, unadulterated freedom.

As I had constant care of the child, I had little opportunity to see the wonders of that great city; but I watched the tide of life that flowed through the streets, and found it a strange contrast to the stagnation in our Southern towns. Mr. Bruce took his little daughter to spend some days with friends in Oxford Crescent, and of course it was necessary for me to accompany her. I had heard much of the systematic method of English education, and I was very desirous that my dear Mary should steer straight in the midst of so much propriety. I closely observed her little playmates and their nurses, being ready to take any lessons in the science of good management. The children were more rosy than American children, but I did not see that they differed materially in other respects. They were like all children—sometimes docile and sometimes wayward.

We next went to Steventon, in Berkshire. It was a small town, said to be the poorest in the county. I saw men working in the fields for six shillings, and seven shillings, a week, and women for sixpence, and seven-pence, a day, out of which they boarded themselves. Of course they lived in the most primitive manner; it could not be otherwise, where a woman’s wages for an entire day were not sufficient to buy a pound of meat. They paid very low rents, and their clothes were made of the cheapest fabrics, though much better than could have been procured in the United States for the same money. I had heard much about the oppression of the poor in Europe. The people I saw around me were, many of them, among the poorest poor. But when I visited them in their little thatched cottages, I felt that the condition of even the meanest and most ignorant among them was vastly superior to the condition of the most favored slaves in America. They labored hard; but they were not ordered out to toil while the stars were in the sky, and driven and slashed by an overseer, through heat and cold, till the stars shone out again. Their homes were very humble; but they were protected by law. No insolent patrols could come, in the dead of night, and flog them at their pleasure. The father, when he closed his cottage door, felt safe with his family around him. No master or overseer could come and take from him his wife, or his daughter. They must separate to earn their living; but the parents knew where their children were going, and could communicate with them by letters. The relations of husband and wife, parent and child, were too sacred for the richest noble in the land to violate with impunity. Much was being done to enlighten these poor people. Schools were established among them, and benevolent societies were active in efforts to ameliorate their condition. There was no law forbidding them to learn to read and write; and if they helped each other in spelling out the Bible, they were in no danger of thirty-nine lashes, as was the case with myself and poor, pious, old uncle Fred. I repeat that the most ignorant and the most destitute of these peasants was a thousand fold better off than the most pampered American slave.

I do not deny that the poor are oppressed in Europe. I am not disposed to paint their condition so rose-colored as the Hon. Miss Murray paints the condition of the slaves in the United States.86 A small portion of my experience would enable her to read her own pages with anointed eyes. If she were to lay aside her title, and, instead of visiting among the fashionable, become domesticated, as a poor governess, on some plantation in Louisiana or Alabama, she would see and hear things that would make her tell quite a different story.

My visit to England is a memorable event in my life, from the fact of my having there received strong religious impressions. The contemptuous manner in which the communion had been administered to colored people, in my native place; the church membership of Dr. Flint, and others like him; and the buying and selling of slaves, by professed ministers of the gospel, had given me a prejudice against the Episcopal church. The whole service seemed to me a mockery and a sham. But my home in Steventon was in the family of a clergyman, who was a true disciple of Jesus. The beauty of his daily life inspired me with faith in the genuineness of Christian professions. Grace entered my heart, and I knelt at the communion table, I trust, in true humility of soul.

I remained abroad ten months, which was much longer than I had anticipated. During all that time, I never saw the slightest symptom of prejudice against color. Indeed, I entirely forgot it, till the time came for us to return to America.

-663-

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I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction xvii
  • Henry Bibb 1
  • Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb 4
  • Introduction 5
  • Author’s Preface 12
  • Chapter I 13
  • Chapter II 16
  • Chapter III 21
  • Chapter IV 27
  • Chapter V 32
  • Chapter VI 39
  • Chapter VII 44
  • Chapter VIII 49
  • Chapter IX 52
  • Chapter X 58
  • Chapter XI 61
  • Chapter XII 66
  • Chapter XIII 72
  • Chapter XIV 75
  • Chapter XV 78
  • Chapter XVI 81
  • Chapter XVII 85
  • Chapter XVIII 91
  • Chapter XIX 94
  • Chapter XX 96
  • Index 99
  • James W. C. Pennington 103
  • The Fugitive Blacksmith; or, Events in the History 107
  • Preface 108
  • Contents 113
  • Chapter I 114
  • Chapter II - The Flight 119
  • Chapter III - A Dreary Night in the Woods — Critical Situation the Next Day 128
  • Chapter IV - The Good Woman of the Toll-Gate Directs Me to W.W. —My Reception by Him 133
  • Chapter V 137
  • Chapter VI 141
  • Chapter VII - The Feeding and Clothing of the Slaves in the Part of Maryland Where I Lived, &C 145
  • Appendix 150
  • Liberty’s Champion 155
  • Solomon Northup 159
  • Twelve- Years a Slave 163
  • Contents 166
  • Editor’s Preface 171
  • Chapter I 172
  • Chapter II 176
  • Chapter III 181
  • Chapter IV 188
  • Chapter V 193
  • Chapter VI 198
  • Chapter VII 204
  • Chapter VIII 211
  • Chapter IX 217
  • Chapter X 222
  • Chapter XI 229
  • Chapter XII 235
  • Chapter XIII 241
  • Chapter XIV 248
  • Chapter XV 255
  • Chapter XVI 261
  • Chapter XVII 267
  • Chapter XVIII 273
  • Chapter XIX 279
  • Chapter XX 286
  • Chapter XXI 291
  • Chapter XXII 301
  • Roaring River 308
  • Appendix 309
  • John Brown 319
  • Slave Life in Georgia- A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, Now in England 322
  • Preface 323
  • Chapter I - My Childhood and First Troubles 324
  • Chapter II - My New Master- And How He Came to Sell Me 327
  • Chapter III - I Am Sold Again. How I Fared 329
  • Chapter IV - The Story of John Glasgow 334
  • Chapter V - Dr. Hamilton’s Experiments upon Me. My Master Dies, and I Again Change Hands 339
  • Chapter VI - John Morgan 341
  • Chapter VII - Something about Some of My Fellow-Slaves 344
  • Chapter VIII - I Make an Attempt to Escape. How It Ended 347
  • Chapter IX - More Tribulation 351
  • Chapter X - I Make Another Attempt to Escape 354
  • Chapter XI - Fortune and Misfortune 357
  • Chapter XII - The Slave-Pen in New Orleans 361
  • Chapter XIII - I Am Once More Sold 364
  • Chapter XIV - How I Got Away from Jepsey James’ 367
  • Chapter XV - How I Came to Be John Brown 370
  • Chapter XVI - I Am Advertised as a Run-Away 374
  • Chapter XVII - I Am Booked to Canada, Express, by the Underground Railroad 377
  • Chapter XVIII - The Cultivation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice 382
  • Chapter XIX - A Few Words on the Treatment of Slaves 388
  • Chapter XX - My Reflections 392
  • Chapter XXI - The Underground Railroad 395
  • Declaration 401
  • John Brown’s Testimonials 405
  • John Thompson 413
  • The Life of John Thompson, a Fugitive Slave; Containing His History of 25 Years in Bondage, and His Providential Escape 415
  • Preface 416
  • Chap. I 417
  • Chap. II 419
  • Chap. III 420
  • Chap. IV 423
  • Chap. V 425
  • Chap. VI 427
  • Chap. VII 429
  • Chap. VIII 433
  • Chap. IX 435
  • Chap. X 439
  • Chap. XI 443
  • Chap. XII 446
  • Chap. XIII 450
  • Chap. XIV 454
  • Chap. XV 458
  • Chap. XVI - Voyage to the Indian Ocean 462
  • Chap. XVII 466
  • Chap. XVIII 471
  • Chap. XIX 474
  • William and Ellen Craft 481
  • Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom 484
  • Preface 486
  • Part I 487
  • Part II 517
  • Harriet Jacobs (Linda Brent) 533
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 539
  • Preface by the Author 540
  • Introduction by the Editor 541
  • Contents 542
  • I - Childhood 544
  • II - The New Master and Mistress 546
  • III - The Slaves’ New Year’s Day 550
  • IV - The Slave Who Dared to Feel like a Man 552
  • V - The Trials of Girlhood 559
  • VI - The Jealous Mistress 561
  • VII - The Lover 565
  • VIII - What Slaves Are Taught to Think of the North 570
  • IX - Sketches of Neighboring Slaveholders.49 571
  • X - A Perilous Passage in the Slave Girl’s Life 577
  • XI - The New Tie to Life 580
  • XII - Fear of Insurrection.56 583
  • XIII - The Church and Slavery 587
  • XIV - Another Link to Life 592
  • XV - Continued Persecutions 595
  • XVI - Scenes at the Plantation 599
  • XVII - The Flight 605
  • XVIII - Months of Peril 607
  • XIX - The Children Sold 612
  • XX - New Perils 615
  • XXI - The Loophole of Retreat." 618
  • XXII - Christmas Festivities 620
  • XXIII - Still in Prison 622
  • XXIV - The Candidate for Congress 624
  • XXV - Competition in Cunning 626
  • XXVI - Important Era in My Brother’s Life 630
  • XXVII - New Destination for the Children 632
  • XXVIII - Aunt Nancy 637
  • XXIX - Preparations for Escape 640
  • XXX - Northward Bound 646
  • XXXI - Incidents in Philadelphia 648
  • XXXII - The Meeting of Mother and Daughter 651
  • XXXIII - A Home Found 653
  • XXXIV - The Old Enemy Again 655
  • XXXV - Prejudice against Color 658
  • XXXVI - The Hairbreadth Escape 659
  • XXXVII - A Visit to England 663
  • XXXVIII - Renewed Invitations to Go South 664
  • XXXIX - The Confession 666
  • XL - The Fugitive Slave Law 667
  • Xli - Free at Last 671
  • Appendix 676
  • Jacob D. Green 683
  • Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave, from Kentucky, Containing an Account of His Three Escapes, in 1839, 1846, and 1848 685
  • Testimonials 686
  • Narrative, &C 688
  • What the "Times"14 Said of the Secession in 1861 710
  • Secession Condemned in a Southern Convention. Speech 712
  • The Confederate and the Scottish Clergy on Slavery 715
  • Slavery and Liberty.18 718
  • James Mars 721
  • Life of James Mars, a Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut 723
  • Introduction 725
  • A Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut 726
  • William Parker 741
  • Part I 745
  • Early Plantation Life 746
  • Part II 764
  • Bibliography 789
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