As a general rule, human beings in selecting the rewards of their own labor prefer cash to tomb-stones — a fact which Mr. Thomas Moore
noticed in his monody on the death of Sheridan
If a master mechanic
should assemble his journeymen-carpenters, and should say to them: “My dear fellows and devoted friends!
I have noticed the extreme vigor with which you plane and the splendor of your sawing, and how charmingly you hit the nails on their heads.
I shall not insult you by offering you money, which you would only foolishly squander if I should give it to you; but I have determined, if you will only work for
me during your natural lives, and work well and not grumble, to give to each of you the prettiest grave-stone in the world, with the most flattering inscriptions setting forth your many virtues, and particularly how you cheerfully worked for me without making any charge therefor.
All of which, I doubt not, will be satisfactory to your ingenuous minds.”
Our own impression is that the famous hammerers and dexterous sawyers would decline the offer as one unsuited to their modest taste.
At the South
, however, and under the beautiful influences of the institution, it seems to be different --a grave-stone being the great object of life with the faithful African
At least such appears to be the opinion of The Fayetteville
. The editor of that newspaper recently had occasion to go into a grave-yard, doubtless for purposes of moral reflection and philosophical study, and while there he actually discovered in the corner allotted to slaves, “two marble tomb-stones.”
What proportion these “two” monumental wonders bore to the undistinguished resting-places of less fortunate chattels, we are not told; but they so attracted the attention of
this able editor, that he immediately went home and wrote a leading-article on the subject, headed, “What is African Slavery?”
He seems to have come to the sage conclusion, that whereas the system allows an occasional grave-stone to a departed slave, it is altogether a beautiful system, to be sustained by the united intellectual, moral and political energies of the Republic
He writes, evidently, upon the presumption that free negroes never have their mortal lives cheered by the prospect of monuments after death, and that they must therefore be unhappy — a grave-stone being the one thing worth living for, or rather worth dying for. His dilations upon these points are charmingly humane and sympathetic.
Tomb-stone No. 1 was erected “by the mistress of the family over the remains of a most valuable servant and friend,” and it bore the inscription, “My own good Lucy.”
There is consideration, there is loving requital for you!
Twenty, perhaps thirty, it may have been fifty years of chamber-work or of kitchen-work, of dress-making or of hair-dressing, of daily obedience and of hourly devotion; and when the wearisome toil is over, and the faithful feet can no longer come at call, and the loyal hands can no longer minister, all this service is repaid by a place in the back settlements of the cemetery, and an epitaph of the Lydia Languish
Who would not have been “My own good Lucy,” “most valuable” (say $1,000) before death, and so sincerely (we have no doubt) lamented afterwards.
There has been nothing like it since Byron
his dog a monument at Newstead.
No wonder the Fayetteville
man did write his touching article to let a weeping world know all about “My own good Lucy.”
Tomb-stone No. 2 was inscribed: “Uncle Harry.
Mark the perfect man!”
Now, we are at a loss to decide what this inscription means.
Does it refer to “Uncle Harry” physically?
Was he what a dealer would pronounce “sound” and A1 for the New Orleans
We suppose not, for he is spoken of by The Observer
as “an old man.”
He was a Baptist.
He could read his Bible, and he did read it. It is also mentioned that his wife was “an excellent cook” --a remarkable combination of merits in “one lot!”
Whether “the excellent cook,” if dead, has a grave-stone, or, if living, a fair prospect of that ornamental remembrance to solace her stewing and boiling labors, we are not informed.
Such stuff as this The Fayetteville
prints is always caught up by the dough press, and especially by the dough-religious press, and is paraded ostentatiously as if it really meant something.
So far as it goes towards proving anything touching the slave system, its good influence upon the master, its justice to the slave, its information is worse than useless, for it deludes some honest, well-meaning and weak people out of the common sense with which the institution should be considered.
Nobody says that there are not benevolent masters.
Nobody says that there are not contented slaves.
Nobody says that there are not individual cases in which the relation
is a happy one.
But nobody upon the authority of these isolated instances, appealing to sensibility rather than sense, should judge of a system which must be theoretically bad, and is known to be bad in practice.
September 1, 1859.