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every morning after breakfast come little gray sparrows and the brilliant cardinal-birds (so called from the splendor of their plumage), quite familiarly, and pick up the rice-grains which she scatters for them in the piazza before the door. On the quiet little River Pedee glides first one and then another canoe, paddled by negroes, and it is only by the steam-boats which now and then swing their tails of smoke over the River Wackamow, beyond the Pedee and by the sailing vessels which one sees on their way down to Cuba or China, that one observes that here also one lives in this trading and trafficking world. .
Mr. Poinsett is a French gentilhomme in his whole exterior and demeanor (he is of a French family, and unites the refinement and natural courtesy of the Frenchman, with the truthful simplicity and straightforwardness which I so much like in the true American, the man of the New World. That fine figure is still slender and agile, although he suffers from asthma. He has seen much and been among much, and is an extremely agreeable person to converse with, in particular as relates to the internal political relationship of the United States, which he has assisted in forming, and the spirit and intention of which he thoroughly understands, while he has a warm compatriot heart. I have, in a couple of conversations with him in the evening after tea, learned more of these relationships, and those of the individual states to their common government, than I could have learned from books, because I acquire this knowledge in a living manner from the sagacious old statesman; I can ask questions, make objections, and have them at once replied to. He is the first man that I have met with in the South, with one exception, who speaks of slavery in a really candid and impartial spirit. He earnestly desires that his native land should free itself from this moral obliquity, and he has faith in its doing so; but he sees the whole thing at present in. volved in so many ways, and the difficulties attending any
change so great, that he leaves the question to be solved by the future. He firmly believes in the onward progress of America, but he is far from satisfied with many things in the country, and especially in this very state. He is one of the New World's wise men, who more and more withdraw themselves from the world, looking calmly on from his hermitage, and apparently happy there with his excellent wife and his rural occupation.
In the morning, after I have eaten, with a good relish, my breakfast of rice, and egg, and cocoa, I help Mrs. Poin. sett to feed the birds, and am delighted that the beautiful showy cardinal-birds will condescend, to pick up my ricegrains. And then, if I rush out into the garden, ready to embrace the air, and the shrubs, and all nature, the good old lady laughs at me right heartily. Then out comes Mr. Poinsett, begs me to notice the beautiful Lamarque rose which Mr. Downing gave him, and which now is full of large clusters of yellowish-white flowers on the trellised walls of the house; and thence he takes me round the garden, and tells me the names of the plants which I do not know, and their peculiarities, for the old gentleman is a skillful botanist. He has also taken me round his ricegrounds, which are now being sown, after which they will lie under water.' And it is this irrigation, and the exhalation therefrom, which makes the rice plantations so unwholesome for the white population during the hot season. Mr. Poinsett's plantations are not large, and seem not to have more than sixty negroes upon them. Several other plantations adjoin these, but neither are they large as it appeared, and my entertainers seemed not to be intimate with their proprietors.
I range about in the neighborhood, through the ricefields and negro villages, which amuses me greatly. The slave villages consist of small, whitewashed wooden houses, for the most part built in two rows, forming a street, each house standing detached in its little yard or garden, and generally with two or three trees about it. The houses are neat and clean, and such a village, with its peach-trees in blossom, as they are just now, presents a pleasant appearance. The weather is heavenly; “ true Carolina air,” say the Carolina people, and it is delicious. . · Yesterday-Sunday—there was, in the forenoon, divine service for the negroes in a wagon-shed, which had been emptied for that purpose. It was clean and airy, and the slaves assembled there, well dressed and well behaved. The sermon and the preacher (a white missionary) were unusually, wooden. But I was astonished at the people's quick and glad reception of every single expression of beauty or of feeling. Thus, when the preacher introduced the words from Job, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" there was a general movement among the people; the words were repeated; many exclaimed Amen! amen! and I saw many eyes full of tears.
In the evening I wandered out to enjoy the beautiful evening and to look about me. I have often heard it said by the friends of slavery, even in the Northern States, as a proof of the happiness of the slaves, that they dance and sing in the evening on the plantations. And now, I thought, perhaps I may chance to see a dance. I reached the slave village. The little white houses, overshadowed by the pink blossoming trees, with their little plot of garden-ground, looked charmingly; the little fat, black chil. dren leaped about, eating a large yellow root, the sweet potatoe, laughing if one only looked at them, and especially inclined to shake hands. But in the village itself every thing was very still and quiet. A few negro men and women were standing about, and they looked kind and well to do. I heard in one house a sound as of prayer and zealous exhortation. I entered, and saw an assemblage of negroes, principally women, who were much ed. ified and affected in listening to a negro who was preach
ing to them with great fervor and great gesticulation, thumping on the table with his clinched fists. The sum and substance of his sermon was this: “Let us do as Christ has commanded us; let us do as he wishes, let us love one another. Then he will come to us on our sickbeds, on our death-beds, and he will make us free, and we shall come to him and sit with him in glory!" .
The discourse, spite of its exaggerated pathos and its oircumlocution, could not have been better in its aim and in its application ; and it delighted me to hear the doctrine of spiritual freedom promulgated by a slave among slaves. I have since heard that the Methodist missiona
and preachers among the negroes, are very angry with them for their love of dancing and music, and declare them to be sinful. And whenever the negroes become Christian, they give up dancing, have preaching meetings instead, and employ their musical talents merely on psalms and hymns. This seems to me a very unwise proceeding on the part of the preachers. Are not all God's gifts good, and may they not be made use of in His honor ?. And why should not this people, by nature joyous and childlike, worship God in gladness? I would, instead, let them have sacred dances, and let them sing to them joyful songs of praise in the beautiful air, beneath the blossoming trees. Did not King David dance and sing in pious rapture be. fore the ark of God ?
I went on still further throngh wood and meadow, into the wild, silent country. When it began to grow dusk I turned back. I repassed the same slave village. Fires blazed in the little houses, but every thing was more silent and stiller than before. I saw a young negro with a good and handsome countenance, standing thoughtfully under a peach-tree, leaning against its bole. I accosted him, and asked him of one thing and another. Another slave came up, and then still another, and the conversation with them was as follows:
“ At what time do you get up in the morning ?” “ Before sunrise.” “ When do you leave off in the evening ?" . “ When the sun sets when it is dark.” -6 But when do you get time to look after your gardens ?"
“We must do that on Sundays or at night, for when we come home we are so tired that we could drop down.”
“How do you get your dinners?” .
“ We have no dinner! It is all we can do if, while we are working, we can throw a bit of bread or some corn into us.”
}"But, my friend," said I, now a little mistrustful, “your appearance contradicts what you say; for you look in very good condition, and quite brisk.”
"We endeavor to keep ourselves up as well as we can," replied the man by the tree; “ what can we do unless we keep up a good heart. If we were to let it droop, we should die !!.
' The others responded to the song of lamentation.
I bade them good-night and went my way, suspecting that all was not true in the slaves' representation. But still, it might be true; it was true, if not here, yet in other places and under wicked masters; it might always be true in an institution which gives such irresponsible power at will; and all its actual and possible misery presented itself to me, and made me melancholy. The evening was so beautiful, the air so fragrant, the roses were all in blossom; nature seemed to be arrayed as a bride; the heaven was bright; the new moon, with the old moon in her arms, was bright in the firmament, and the stars came out, clear and brilliant. · The glory of the scene, and that poor, black, enslaved, degraded people—they did not at all agree! All my enjoyment was over.
I was glad, however, to have a man like Mr. Poinsett to talk with. And to him I confided, in the evening, my conversation and my thoughts. Mr. Poinsett maintains