unceasing progress--what the prison is to the body--a blight and a mildew, a hell of horrors. The dawning of this, another year, awakened me from my temporary slumber, and roused into life my latent but long-cherished aspirations for freedom. I became not only ashamed to be contented in slavery, but ashamed to to be contented, and in my present favorable condition under the mild rule of Mr. Freeland, I am not sure that some kind reader will not condemn me for being over-ambitious, and greatly wanting in humility, when I say the truth, that I now drove from me all thoughts of making the best of my lot, and welcomed only such thoughts as led me away from the house of bondage. The intensity of my desire to be free, quickened by my present favorable circumstances, brought me to the determination to as well as to think and speak.
communications with my friends. That gem of a book, the Columbian Orator, with its eloquent orations and spicy dialogues denouncing oppression and slavery--telling what had been dared, done, and suffered by men, to obtain the inestimable boon of liberty,--was still fresh in my memory, and its nobly expressed sentiments whirled into the ranks of my speech with the aptitude of well-trained soldiers going through the drill. I here began my public speaking. I canvassed with Henry and John the subject of slavery and dashed against it the condemning brand of God's eternal justice. My fellow-servants were neither indifferent, dull nor inapt. Our feelings were more alike than our opinions. All, however, were ready to act when a feasible plan should be proposed. "Show us how the thing is to be done," said they, "and all else is clear."
At the close of the year, Mr. Freeland renewed the purchase of my services of Mr. Auld for the coming year. His promptness in doing so would have been flattering to my vanity had I been ambitious to win the reputation of being a valuable slave. Even as it was, I felt a slight degree of complacency at the circumstance. It showed him to be as well pleased with me as a slave as I was with him as a master. But the kindness of the slave-master only gilded the chain. It detracted nothing from its weight or strength. The thought that men are made for other and better uses than slavery, throve best under the gentle treatment of a kind master. Its grim visage could assume no smiles able to fascinate the partially enlightened slave into a forgetfulness of his bondage, or of the desirableness of liberty.
one of the gentlemen who now gave me a warm and friendly welcome, and was among my hearers when I delivered my address at the Court House. There too in the same old place stood Sol. Law's Tavern, where once the slave traders were wont to congregate, and where I now took up my abode and was treated with a hospitality and consideration undreamed of by me in the olden time as possible.
[tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
It may not, perhaps, be quite artistic to speak in this connection of another incident of something of the same nature as that which I have just narrated, and yet it quite naturally finds place here; and that is, my visit to the town of Easton, county seat of Talbot County, two years later, to deliver an address in the Court House, for the benefit of some association in that place. The visit was made interesting to me, by the fact that forty-five years before I had, in company with Henry and John Harris, been dragged behind horses to Easton, with my hands tied, put in jail and offered for sale, for the offense of intending to run away from slavery.
[tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
Not until this last separation, dear reader, had I touched those profounder depths of desolation which it is the lot of slaves often to reach. I was solitary and alone within the walls of a stone prison, left to a fate of life-long misery. I had hoped and expected much, for months before, but my hopes and expectations were now withered and blasted. The ever-dreaded slave life in Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama--from which escape was next to impossible--now in my loneliness stared me in the face. The possibility of ever becoming anything but an abject slave, a mere machine in the hands of an owner, had now fled, and it seemed to me it had fled forever. A life of living death, beset with the innumerable horrors of the cotton-field and the sugar-plantation, seemed to be my doom. The fiends who rushed into the prison when we were first put there continued to visit me and ply me with questions and tantalizing remarks. I was insulted, but helpless; keenly alive to the demands of justice and liberty, but with no means of asserting them. To talk to those imps about justice or mercy would have been as absurd as to reason with bears and tigers. Lead and steel were the only arguments that they were capable of appreciating, as the events of the subsequent years have proved.
[tags: Cry the Beloved Country Essays]
He had the power to compel me to give him the fruits of my labor, and this was his only right in the case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of things, and in so becoming I only gave proof of the same human nature which every reader of this chapter in my life--slaveholder, or non-slaveholder--is conscious of possessing.