Our Servants--"The Preacher's Room" in our House--Folklore--The Falmouth Witch--Watch Night--Methodist Régime--Camp-meetings--Immersion of the Blacks--Treatment of Slaves--Reading the Bible--The Serpent--Visiting Richmond Relatives--Entertainments in Fredericksburg--The Tournament.
THE rod was spared in our home, as well for servants as for the white children. My parents regarded coloured people as immortal souls, and we were trained to treat them with kindness. Every Sunday an hour was found for us--white and black children together--to be taught by my mother the catechism and listen to careful selections from the Bible. In some way this equal treatment of slaves got out, and some officious men came with a report that my mother was teaching negroes to read, which was illegal. It was not true, but it was prudent to avoid even the suspicion of such an offence in the house of a magistrate; so the mixed teaching ceased. But the cause was kept from me, and about that time I taught one of our slaves--Peter Humstead, about twenty--to read. Why he asked to have his lessons in the wood-cellar I did not understand. I must add that my lessons were not given gratuitously: Peter knew my weakness for fine clothes and contracted to give me a splendid necktie, duly paid and by me displayed--the first mannish thing I ever wore. I have a dim remembrance that this finery brought some ridicule on me, and was not enjoyed long; but Peter Humstead learned to read.
My mother's prayers were earnest and even eloquent. In the prayer-meetings in our basement she was always called on after my father to pray, and in his absence she conducted family prayers. Her voice was sympathetic and her command of language wonderful. Had she been born a Quaker she would probably have been a famous minister in that society. In the Methodist "Love Feasts," where the "experiences" uttered