Lecture XIII: the duty of masters to slaves.
Masters, give unto your servants (δούλοις, slaves) that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. --Col.. IV. 1.
The duty of masters and the rights of slaves reciprocal.
1. The duty of masters to their slaves considered as “their money” --in regard to working, resting, feeding, clothing, housing, and the employment of persons over them; also to the sick and the aged.
2. Their duty to their slaves considered as social beings.
Punishments and the social principle discussed.
3. Their duty to their slaves considered as religious beings.
Public instruction on the Sabbath, and at other times, and the opportunity of attending.
The employment of preachers, and the religious instruction of children.
it has been shown in previous lectures that the principle of slavery accords fully with the doctrine of abstract rights, civil and social; and that a system of domestic slavery in the United States
is demanded by the circumstances of the African population in the country.
But it by no means follows that the conduct of all masters, in the exercise of their functions as masters, is proper, any
more than that the conduct of all parents, or the owners of apprentices, is such as it should be. The opinion is entertained that the domestic government of children does not more than approximate propriety as a general thing; and that the government of apprentices and of African
slaves falls far short of what is proper.
In this lecture it is proposed to deal with the relations of masters to slaves, that is, the duties they owe them.
The doctrine that the system of domestic slavery assumes that the slave is a “mere machine — a chattel,” has been fully exploded.
particularly regards the slave an accountable being.
It requires him to yield a willing obedience to his master, and teaches him that such service is accepted of the Lord
as service done unto himself, Ephesians VI. 5-8; and in the 9th verse, the master is required to “do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven.”
And again, (Colossians IV. 1,) “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal.”
Hence, in the strictest sense, religion holds the scales of justice between masters and slaves.
Each one is held to a strict accountability for the faithful performance of his duty, the one to the other--“for there is no respect of persons with God.”
It behooves us, then, who are masters, or who
expect to become masters, to inquire into the duties of this relation.
The master who does not inform himself on this subject, and endeavor conscientiously to do his duty, is strangely wanting in important elements of Christian character, and, indeed, even in some of those attributes which enter materially into the character of a good citizen.
A most fanatical spirit is abroad in the land on the subject of domestic slavery.
The inhumanity of masters at the South
is greatly exaggerated.
(Instances in which the institution of slavery is abused no doubt contribute to this excitement.) Even those who are deficient in the duties they owe their domestics and apprentices — quite as much so as is common at the South
with the masters of African
slaves — lend a willing ear to political demagogues and fanatical party-leaders in their denunciations of the South
Want of sympathy for hired servants, aid instances in which they are overreached and oppressed beyond the means of legal redress, are as common in certain quarters as are the cases of inhumanity to the slaves at the South
But this does not help the matter.
Evils of this kind are to be deplored whether they occur at the North
or the South
The injunction of the apostle reaches every case of the kind--“Masters, give unto your servants
that which is just and equal: knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”
But what may the apostle mean by this precept?
The view before taken of the right
will justify a departure from the usual line of thought on this subject.
To give any one that which is just
is to confer upon him that which is his right.
To give that which is just and equal, is a form of expression that may limit the term “just” to its legal sense, that is, confer on him all the rights guaranteed to him by law. There is a special necessity for this command in any state of society.
For whatever advantages the law might confer on the slave, his subordinate relation, and the superior position and authority of the master, will of necessity place it in his power to defeat the provisions of the law in favor of the slave.
But the command goes farther than this: Give unto your servants that which is equal, equitable
, that is, justice in a moral sense, or that which is right
--good in itself.
Whatever provision the law might make for the benefit of the slave, as a slave, might be secured to him by his master, and yet many of his natural and acquired rights might be overlooked, and the claims of Christian charity annulled.
To fulfil the command, however, we must give the slave equity
, as well as legal justice: we must do unto the slave what we would have the slave to do
unto us, on a change of relations.
It is needless to repeat the discussion of this topic in a former lecture.
Suffice it to say, that the master is not required to give to his slave (any more than the parent is required to give to his child) whatever he might wish, but whatever justice and equity claim for him, that is, whatever is right or good in itself; or, if you please, accord to him all his natural and acquired rights, as a slave.
For this is precisely that, and no more, to which the master would be entitled on a change of relations.
We now meet the question-What are the rights of the slave?
The duties of the master are reciprocal of these.
Those who believe, witt Channing
, that the relation they sustain as masters assumes that their slaves have no rights, we may consider are beyond the reach of reason.
If the master owes any duties to his slave, it is because the rights of the slave entitle him to the benefit of the faithful performance of these duties on the part of his master.
No point is more fully settled in Scripture than this: masters are held to a strict accountability to God for the faithful performance of certain duties to their slaves.
puts it beyond all dispute that “the master stands to his bond-servant, one bought with his money or born in his house, in a relation widely different from that which he sustains to the hired
servant, or the stranger within his gates, or the neighbor without them.”
And as he may be a good neighbor, and yet at fault as a husband and father, so he may be a good husband, a good father, and yet a bad master.
The duties which the master owes the slave are as binding on the conscience as those which the slave owes the master.
To neglect either involves the party so neglecting in sin. Indeed, the duties of the master are as binding as those of any relation in life.
On many accounts, they are peculiarly solemn.
They are duties owed to inferiors, and inferiors in a helpless condition.
They appeal to the magnanimity of the master.
He who disregards this appeal, not only violates duty, but betrays a want of magnanimity, bordering upon that meanness of spirit which delights to oppress an inferior, whilst it cowers before an equal.
A brave man is always magnanimous, and a magnanimous man will rarely fail to respect the rights of the helpless.
, as well as authority, enters as an element into the idea of master.
Masters are not only rulers, but protectors.
If the servant is defrauded of his own, if his wants are not regarded and his grievances redressed, or he is otherwise oppressed, to whom can he complain?
True, his miseries are not voiceless.
His cries “enter into the ears of the
But his only earthly appeal lies to his master.
He has permitted or done this thing, and it is laid upon the conscience of the slave to submit, “not answering again.”
His master is his only earthly protector.
His guaranty that his master will protect him, is that he too has a “Master in heaven,” who is no respecter of persons, and that to him belongeth vengeance.
According to principles established in the fourth and fifth lectures, the Africans of this country, in common with minors, imbeciles, and uncivilized persons, have a right to be governed and protected, and to such means of physical comfort and moral improvement as are necessary and compatible with their providential condition.
That which it is their right to have as slaves, it is the duty of masters to secure to them.
Superior positions devolve higher and more important duties.
The master who ignores these claims, and affects to be offended with any who may assert them on behalf of the slave, will do well to consider that the “cries of those who have reaped down their fields,” that is, the claims of those who have labored for them, and have no earthly friend to vindicate their rights, are heard by Him who has said, Vengeance is mine: “I will repay, saith the Lord
But Christian masters, or even men of religious sentiments, who always respect the
claims of the poor, find pleasure in attending to the wants of the helpless, and to none more than those of their own slaves.
Humanity, the claims of religion, and the pecuniary interest of the master, all unite to enforce the claims of the slave.
The physical and the moral man are so nicely blended, and the duties we owe the one run so naturally into those we owe the other, that it is difficult to make a well-defined classification, especially in the case of either slaves or children.
The following will be found sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes :
I. The duties of masters to their slaves, considered as “their money :” such as relate to judicious labor, and reasonable time for rest, habitations, clothing, food, arrangements for sickness, their own time, and stewards or overseers.
The duties of masters to slaves, considered as social beings: such as relate to moral treatment, punishments, matrimonial alliances, family connections, and duties relating to women, children, and the aged.
The duties of masters to slaves, considered as religious beings: such as relate to the domestic and public instruction of their slaves in the principles and duties of religion.
I. The duties of masters to their slaves, considered
as “their money:” “for he is his money
,” Ex. XXI. 21.
1. Slaves should be subjected to reasonable labor
. Instances are to be found in which ignorance with a natural tendency to idleness, or vast wealth, joined with a kind of sentimental religion, which exhausts itself in a morbid sympathy for the poor, leads to a disregard of that great law of nature under which slaves should be subjected to labor.
Many are indulged in idleness.
Idleness is a crime in any one.
Even those whose wealth and social position in society enable them to indulge in idleness without incurring the ordinary penalties, inflict a great evil upon society thereby.
And for those who can only be occupied in the menial offices of society to be indulged in idleness is to create a nuisance.
There are families in the Southern
country whose slaves can only be regarded as nuisances.
Sometimes the ignorance, but more frequently the dissipated habits of the master, lead to this.
Again, in some cases, widows with large fortunes in slaves furnish examples of the same.
They are not generally in circumstances to manage a farm, without the aid of an intelligent and judicious steward.
But a morbid sympathy, joined, perhaps, with parsimony, prevents the employment of such a one.
The consequence is, the slaves are indulged in
Families are sometimes broken up from these causes, and the slaves sold under the hammer.
The separation of family ties, which under given circumstances is a cause for so much regret, is often to be traced to these sources.
But long before this result, the slaves are considered and felt to be a nuisance in the neighborhood.
Many intelligent and humane neighbors, who deplore the dissolution of the family and the separations consequent upon it, are bound to admit that these disasters after all are the least of evils.
Hence, slaves should be subjected to physical labor.
“If any man will not work, neither shall he eat
” --so God has said, and the master who disregards it either for himself or his slaves shall come to poverty; and this shall be the least part of the evil.
But slaves should be subjected only to reasonable labor
. There is an excess of physical exertion which the constitution cannot bear.
The laws of nature cannot be violated with impunity.
Sooner or later the effects will follow.
Excessive labor will result in a peculiar liability to disease, in premature old age, or in death.
For the reckless industry of a few years, all this pecuniary loss and great moral evil follows.
He who transcends the limits which God has fixed to human labor, pays the forfeit of health, if not of life.
coax or bribe one's slave to go beyond this limit is wretched economy: to force him to do it is cruelty.”
The state of the weather is an imports ant element in determining the amount of labor that may be reasonably required.
The extremes of heat and cold, or inclement weather, rain or snow, should always be regarded.
slaves can do but little, comparatively, in very inclement weather.
A reasonable master will regard the extremes of heat and cold, and especially the latter.
Suitable tools or implements of labor constitute another important item in determining the amount of labor that may be reasonably demanded.
It was cruel in Pharaoh to lay upon the Israelites the “same tale of brick,” without supplying them with the usual “quantity of straw.”
Ex. v. 7, 8.
It is equally unjust to require an ordinary day's work of your slaves, if you fail to supply them with the tools necessary to perform it. A dull iron or an ill-shaped helve will require a much greater outlay of physical strength to accomplish a certain result.
There is certainly an evil in Southern society at this point.
Many persons are negligent of the kind and quality of their farming implements
Their slaves do a reasonable amount of labor, still the farm does not prosper.
A slave is occasionally sold to meet expenses.
Humane persons struggle with what they call misfortunes.
Those who are less careful of the claims of humanity make unreasonable exactions of their laborers.
They are sufficiently near to certain neighbors to see that their lands are well cultivated, their fencing is good, their stock is in good condition, their houses neat and comfortable for both man and beast, and their farms wear the appearance of thrift; but they are not sufficiently intimate to know that it is the intelligence or good common sense that presides over these farms, and not the extra amount of labor exacted of the slaves, that makes the difference.
The slaves on these prosperous farms, although they are made to observe great constancy and system in their labor, are not subjected to the same amount of hard labor as are those of many less thrifty farmers.
The achievements of science in labor-saving machinery are very great.
Man is greatly aided in his labors by natural agents.
They accommodate his work to his physical structure, relieve his posture, and lessen his fatigue.
With sharp instruments, and those of the best kind, labor is no longer such a drudgery.
Indeed, labor is lightened by a thousand simple and cheap arts.
Science enables us to accomplish with one man the labor of two or more men in almost every pursuit of life.
It is a great practical mistake
to suppose that this is only true of manufacturing establishments.
It is equally so in the improved methods of farming and the improved implements by which the labor of the farm is accomplished.
Farmers of enlightened views give their laborers the benefit of the newest and best improvements in their line.
To attempt to rival the productions of such farmers, by exacting extra labor of the hands, is great injustice.
For he who has the same work to do as another, with only half his means of doing it, has twice his work to do. “The ease of the patent spring,” and the “speed of the locomotive,” are not more important to the comfort of the traveller and his economy of time, which is money, in accomplishing his journey, than are the improved methods and instruments of farming to the ease, the economy, and the success of the farmer.
“But slaves are careless, wasteful, and destructive.”
So they are, and so perhaps would you be. There is but little difference between slaves and any others who labor for us in menial offices.
All such operatives require a presiding mind to effect a proper division of labor, and have its eye in every place and on every thing.
Without this, it is idle to prate about the wastefulness of slaves.
If the master is himself too idle or improvident for this, he is culpable: if he has no capacity for it, he is fit to
labor under the direction of another — that is, he is fit to be a slave; but he is not qualified to direct the labor of others — that is, he is not fit to be a master.
Slaves should be allowed reasonable time for rest
. All animal nature requires the refreshment derived from sleep.
The muscular and nervous system of man requires not less than seven hours in twenty-four to repair the wastes of a day of active labor.
This is a general rule.
Some do with less: a few require more.
But in every case there is a limit beyond which we cannot habitually go, without the sacrifice of health or life.
The constitutions of some laboring men can bear a great loss of sleep; but it is on the same principle that a few constitutions can, for a long time, resist the effects of the daily use of alcohol.
But still dram-drinking will tell, and so will the loss of sleep.
We unyoke the ox, we stable the horse, and the whole night is devoted to their repose,. But this is often not the case with the weary slave, who toiled with them through the day. He is convenient to demands, and a great many extra jobs may be found for him before he reposes.
I say “reposes,” for sleep is not all that is required for rest.
There is a time of leisure, a waking repose, which is as necessary as sleep.
man denies himself the benefit of this.
The slave is entitled to the early part of the night for this.
No one has a right to require him to take all his rest with his eyes shut, and his senses locked up in sleep.
There is the refreshment of mind resulting from repose from ordinary pursuits, and occupation with things which may please the humor or minister to innocent gratification, by which, to a certain degree, the exhausted system is restored as much as by sleep.
Indeed, without this, “balmy sleep” is not a “sweet restorer.”
The man who works hard the six days of the week, does not require to sleep all Sunday in order to restore his wasted system.
There is a transition of mental pursuits from business to devotion, and there is to a virtuous mind the hallowed cheerfulness of that holy day, which contributes to restore the system, no less than cessation from labor, and sleep.
The slave, like his master, is entitled to the night.
What if he do employ a reasonable part of it to turn a penny, and in arranging for his personal comfort?
It gives repose to his mind: it ministers to his cheerfulness: along with sleep it reinvigorates his whole system, and makes him a more valuable as well as a more happy servant.
Who, then, shall deny him the boon?
Surely not the economist, who calls him his “money,” and who, by any
other course, would be reducing the value of “his money” below par
— and we are not at liberty to think it is materially different in other Southern States--slaves are generally indulged with time for repose at their day meals, and with the whole night from early nightfall.
A clear evidence of the economy of this system is afforded by the striking contrast which in some cases is to be found on plantations between slaves thus treated, and masters of a certain description.
The slaves are fat, sleek, cheerful, and long-lived: spending their leisure time in cheerful conversation, in singing, or in those little personal offices which give elasticity to mind and body.
But not so with some masters.
They sleep as much — that is, lie down as much — as their slaves; but their sleep is disturbed by an incoherent tracing of the anxious thoughts of the troubled day. They are not refreshed.
Both mind and body are worn down by excessive friction.
They hasten to premature old age; and the weary wheels of life stand still long before the appointed time.
Some masters are personally very industrious and enterprising: they work side by side with their slaves.
It is their boast that they require no more of their slaves than they do themselves.
Yea, they do more than they, having the direction and care of
Surely, say they, my slaves have no right to complain.
But this reasoning is not always fair.
It may be that the master overtasks him self.
This does not give the right to overtask his slaves.
Withal, he brings to his task a physical system stimulated to a high degree by those mental activities which push him forward to enterprise great things.
He labors to exhaustion and enjoys his rest only the more for having done so. Not so with the slave who works by his side.
When he yields to over-fatigue, his thoughts administer 110 cordial to his weary limbs.
It is well if he have not intelligence enough to make them a source of still further prostration.
Again, the man-servant and the maid-servant, as well as the beast, are entitled to the rest of the Sabbath.
More than this, we are commanded to “remember
the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.”
The head of the family should not only do this himself, but see that all his household observe the Sabbath.
It is not enough that the children and servants be left free to keep the Sabbath.
The head of the family should see that all the arrangements necessary to promote the due observance of the Sabbath are properly made, so that, whilst he requires the observance of the Sabbath, all the domestic arrangements invite to its observance.
There are certain individuals about many families
whose offices are so difficult to be dispensed with, because they are so necessary to self-indulgence, that they are often deprived of the rest of the Sabbath.
Of this class there are two humble but very important personages, which it is neither beneath the subject nor the occasion to notice, namely, the cook and the carriage-driver.
To the carriage-driver of some families, all days are alike “days of rest.”
He is the most idle personage about the premises.
It is well if a farm-hand be not presently sold to support his idleness.
But the carriage-driver of another family.is himself also a farm-hand.
With him the case may be widely different.
He may toil on the farm six days in the week, and spend the day of rest in burnishing harness, and with carriage and horses.
If he drive to church, the care of his horses is at least a pretext for neglecting the sermon; and if he drive to spend the day with a neighbor, it is not a day of rest, and may not be a day of enjoyment.
In either case, there is but little companionship, but few church privileges, and still less opportunity for rest.
It may be no better with the cook, and is often not so well.
Indeed, the Sabbath is seldom a day of rest with the cook.
It is oftener a day of much closer confinement.
Stewing, roasting, baking, and broiling the greater part of the day on Sabbath, afford but little time for the
repose for which the fourth commandment provides.
These are evils in the land.
It lies on right-minded men to correct them.
At the least they can correct their own practices, and in doing this they will do much to reform the habits of society.
2. Slaves should be furnished with suitable habitations
. We are considering slaves as property, and the duty of masters as economists.
On the principle of good economy, slaves are entitled to habitations sufficiently airy and cool in summer, close and warm in winter.
And as it costs no more, why may not their houses be located with due regard to their health, their convenience, and comfort?
Let them then be grouped together on the gentle slope of a hill, and, as lime is cheap, let them all be neatly whitewashed.
Who could object to a little garden spot attached to each?
And why may there not be nice rows of shade trees, and neat grass-plots upon which the children can sport, and where the men and women can sit and enjoy a delightful Sabbath evening?
Economy will not object to this.
The miserable smoky hovels in low damp situations, black and disagreeable to the sight, in which, in some instances, they are huddled together, cannot be too severely condemned on the principles of economy, no less than on those of good morals.
For if the inhabitants
of such buildings are not filthy, degraded, and thievish to an extent that materially depreciates their value, it can only be because they are extraordinary examples of moral purity.
3. Slaves should be comfortably clothed
. All those families whose self-respect leads them to regard their position in society, supply their slaves with comfortable clothing, and pay particular attention to the neatness as well as the comfort of those kept about the house.
It would indicate a very low state of civilization, if these things should be generally neglected.
The improvements in the manufacture of cotton, wool, and leather have been so great that nothing short of these could be tolerated in decent society.
Our slaves are no doubt generally better fed, clothed, and housed than are the menials in most of the nations of Europe
Still, there are instances of neglect, which should be noticed.
Those who pay but little attention to their habitations, generally neglect their clothing.
Feet are to be found unshod when frost is on the ground; the head uncovered in all weathers; and the body far from being suitably protected.
The color and tropical habitudes of our slaves render them peculiarly liable to suffer from cold.
Health as well as comfort requires them to be warmly clad in cold weather.
“A shivering servant is a shame to any master.”
is economy to sell a slave occasionally rather than let all suffer for the want of clothing.
But they should also be supplied with suitable beds and bedding.
The expense is really so trifling, and the economy so great, that masters entitled to respect cannot be excused for the neglect of this duty Shucks
are plentiful on all farms, and cotton is abundant on many, and can be easily had at cheap rates on those on which it is not raised.
These articles make excellent mattresses, and the latter makes most excellent comforts.
Those rainy days on which slaves should not be allowed to work out, should be employed in providing these articles.
Health and life are often thus preserved.
To allow slaves to labor in filth and rags through the week, and lie about or stroll about on the Sabbath in their unwashed rags, should be severely censured.
It does not help the matter a great deal to throw them a thin blanket occasionally, with liberty to take repose wherever they can find it. Such masters pay more in doctors' bills than it would cost to make their slaves as comfortable as those of their more prudent neighbors.
It is a shame to them.
We cannot give them any more credit for practical sense than for good morals.
4. Slaves should be well fed
. The quality, the quantity of food, and reasonable time to eat it and refresh themselves, are the ideas which enter into
A sufficient quantity of good substantial food, well prepared, should be furnished.
Meat should form a fair proportion of the diet of a laboring African
, it is true, eat but little meat, and do well,--that is, such as do not perish,--but the African constitution in this climate requires meat, and they must have it if they do full labor.
Their food should be well prepared.
To secure this, it should be prepared by a cook, and eaten at a common table.
To put laboring farm-hands off with an allowance of meat and meal, to prepare it or seek its preparation as they may, is too obviously wrong to require argument.
The force of habit is exceedingly stubborn in the African.
To eat a piece of meat exhausted of its nutriment by being crisped on the coals, is very much to the taste of those accustomed to it: they will yield with great reluctance.
But still, this plan should give place to the better preparation of the public table.
An excellent habit of the slaves is to eat slowly.
Usually something like two hours in the long days s allowed them to eat and refresh themselves at noon. It is not too much to allow.
An hour's repose after a meat dinner should be allowed to all laborers in the heat of summer.
Again, they are entitled to such variety as the season affords.
The early roasting ear, the ripe fruit, the melons, the potatoes, the
fat stock, all enter of right in due season and limited proportions into their bill of fare.
Better do all this than pay doctors' bills, or tempt them to steal.
Nor do I fall out with the custom of some of our better families, to supply their tables with a portion of all the delicacies of the “great house,” on particular occasions.
Some may think this too much for slaves!
But the attachment of Southern slaves to the families in which they were born and brought up is proverbial.
And let Northern fanatics believe and prate what they will, it is still true that the practical workings of the system generally, on the basis of the duties here inculcated, is in a good degree the cause of this attachment.
Every right-minded master contemplates the physique
of his servants with emotions of pride and pleasure.
Their looks reflect his character.
A gang of half-starved, meanlyclad, overworked slaves, with no heart to laugh or sing, and even without that attachment for their owners which the ox and the ass have for theirs, is a disgusting spectacle, and as revolting to every feeling of humanity as it is in violation of every principle of economy.
5. Provision should be made for slaves in times of sickness
. Each of the topics discussed derives much of its importance from its connection with this.
Reasonable labor, time for repose and sleep,
habitations, clothing, and food, are each and all of them provisions against the occurrence of sickness.
Still, the topic deserves a more special notice.
All families should have such domestic provisions as anticipate sickness by suitable arrangements for it when it comes — such as comfortable apartments and the ordinary conveniences for nursing.
All families and manufactories employing a sufficient number of slaves to require it) should have a hospital: that is, a house so situated as to location and internal arrangements as to be a convenient and comfortable place for the sick, and equally convenient to those who may have to nurse the sick or to overlook those who do. The economy of such an arrangement on large farms commends itself to approbation So far front encouraging a well-known disposition among slaves of a certain character to lie by for trifling causes, it will contribute very much to discourage such habits.
If slaves are permitted to lounge about their own houses when sick, they may often elude observation, and spend their time in idleness, when they should be at work; and in cases of actual silliness, they are liable to suffer for want of attention.
On the hospital plan, the case will be very different with each of these.
If all who are sick have to go to the hospital, and take physic, the former will not be so likely to feign
sickness, and the really sick will be better attended to.
6. What is usually called their own lime should be strictly allowed them
. Besides Christmas
, there are frequent holiday occasions through the year, and still oftener a Saturday afternoon at particular seasons, which usage has secured to them as their own time
. This time is usually employed by the more provident in cultivating a garden, in mending their clothes, cleansing about their houses, or in various ways earning a few dollars with which to purchase little articles of fancy or comfort in the way of furniture or dress, such as masters do not usually furnish.
Some masters obviate the necessity for a portion of this, by cultivating a part of the crop, and dividing the proceeds of its sale among them for their exclusive benefit.
None but a tyrant, who is always a bad economist, will disregard their claims to what is known as their own time.
Any other man who should attempt it, would soon be taught to feel that the force of public opinion, even among slaves, well sustained as it is on these points, is a matter not to be despised.
The claims of slaves and the rights of the public coincide.
Plantation slaves who may be no less than a body of ragamuffins, carrying on petty depredations upon the rights of property in the neighborhood, are a serious
Public opinion will not tolerate it. The economy of such a master is as bad as his injustice to his neighbors is oppressive.
7. Stewards or overseers
. The duty which the master owes his slaves in the selection of a person to be over them is often embarrassing, and at all times important.
That which a farmer has time and ability to do for himself, he should not employ an agent to do for him. He has more interest in it than any one else, and will observe more fidelity in its performance.
No economist will employ a steward to manage his farm if he can prudently supply his place by his own personal attentions.
Some employ them that they may with less loss indulge in idleness: others, because they distrust their own experience in farming; and others again, because more important duties put it out of their power to give the necessary personal attention to their farms.
But whether from the one cause or the other, the master owes certain duties to his slave as well as to himself in selecting an individual to take his place over them.
Economically considered, the rights of the slave and the interests of the master coincide.
Many overlook this.
An industrious but heartless business man may be found to act as steward, who, with an interest in the crop, will stir late and early, and drive hard all the day; but the great laws which regulate the
reciprocal operations of labor, sleep, and repose will be strangely disregarded by such a man. He may succeed in a crop for a year, perhaps for a series of years; but the value of the personal property as well as of the lands will be annually depreciating.
There is no economy in employing an agent of this class.
A plantation is an empire within itself.
If the territory be large, and the subjects numerous, the mind that presides, whether as master or steward, must be competent to direct a proper division of labor, and to govern on the principles of justice and equity.
In such an empire, talents of a peculiar kind are required.
It is only the income from such estates that will justify the employment of the best talents, for these will always command high prices.
Masters with less income cannot command the best talents.
But, in either case, due regard should be paid to the moral character of the man put over slaves.
The authority committed to him is necessarily extensive.
Though industrious, he need not be cruel.
He should be fully capable of sympathizing with the semi-barbarous subjects of his empire.
Industry, good moral habits, and common sense, are essential qualities in an overseer.
To be wanting in any of these, constitutes an entire disqualification for the office.
To be himself immoral, and to contribute to corrupt the
morals of those under him, involves the master who employs him in the guilt of sin, as well as depreciates the value of his property.
When a man of industry, common sense, and virtue is found, pains should be taken to attach him to the estate.
If he be a single man, he should be encouraged to marry.
His situation should be made as permanent as possible.
The man of common sense, who well understands that nothing but industry, carefulness or prudence, and virtue, will secure his situation, will, one year with another, make as good crops as it would be reasonable to expect.
More than a fair crop, like all other unfair operations, implies unfairness somewhere.
If it be in the voiceless woes of the slave, the master is sadly the loser in the end. He who retains his steward with a view to extra crops by such means, may be likened to a barbarian king in Africa
, but does not deserve to be ranked among masters in civilized life.
All masters, I should think, owe it to themselves and to their slaves to give a great deal of personal attention to their farms.1
the duties of masters to slaves, as social beings.
They are entitled to the restraints, the protection, and the encouragement, which a prudent administration of a system of good laws is calculated to afford.
A part of this is secured to them by the civil government; but a large part is left to the discretion and fidelity of the master.
The civil government assumes that the pecuniary interest of the master and the duty which he owes his slaves coincide so perfectly, that the performance of certain duties may with propriety be left to him. He is the patriarch of his whole house.
His family is his empire, subordinate, it is true, to the civil government, but still an empire.
He commands the time and labor of his children and his slaves — the one for a definite period in life, the other for an indefinite period.
He gives law to the one and to the other.
So long as he does not violate the constitution and laws of the political commonwealth of which he is himself a subject, his authority is absolute.
All the rights of his children and his servants appeal to him. He is responsible to the civil government not to violate its provisions, and he is responsible to God for the faithful performance of his duties to his children and his servants; for the sin of omitting to do
his duty to his children or servants could rarely be reached by the civil authority.
The duty of the master to his slaves as social beings is to give them laws within the limits prescribed by the civil government, and to govern them according to the principles of justice and equity.
As his empire is constantly under his eye, or the eye of his immediate agent, it is not necessary that he have recourse to a code of laws definitely drawn up and formally announced.
As the teacher in his room, and the mother in her nursery, may have their rules, and have them obeyed without these formalities, so may the master.
But these rules should not relate merely to the economical use of the slave's time and labor, but should be adapted to his character as a social being.
Hence, it is not proposed to give a code of laws for the plantation, but to discuss certain principles which should influence the conduct of the master in the government of his domestic empire.
1. In regard to punishments
. Neither the magistrate, the parent, nor the master, should bear the sword in vain.
Disobedience, which, in all wise governments, is wickedness, must be restrained, and in extreme cases by severe punishments.
It would be great weakness to forbear.
But one law, however, should govern in the infliction
They should be inflicted for the purpose of correction, or as “a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well,” and not to gratify passion or resentment.
Punishments inflicted from motives of resentment merely, and often repeated, tend directly to cow the spirit, stultify the intellect, destroy self-respect, and greatly weaken the power of arbitrary volition.
Such a man approximates the nature of a brute and is, in fact, scarcely of the value of a common horse.
He is a human being, but in circumstances in which he has few motives of action above those which influence a brute — namely, the indulgence of his animal nature, restrained only by the fear of present punishment.
He is not as serviceable as a brute, and is far more dangerous than a brute.
A slave to whose sense of what is right and proper to be done nothing can be trusted, and from whom nothing can be gotten but that which is extorted from his fears, is of no value unless it be to a master of the same genus — that is, like himself, a brute.
The prodigality as well as wickedness of this course requires no comment.
There is a more excellent way of maintaining authority, and it lies upon the conscience of every master no less than upon his purse to observe it as a duty: it is to punish for the purpose of correction only — not to destroy, but to save
Punishments can only be salutary as a means of moral discipline in the measure in which they produce shame and mortification.
But one who has no self-respect can have no shame.
The effect of punishment in such a case is lost only so far as it may help to brutalize him. A desire to secure the favor and preserve the confidence of those upon whom we are dependent is the highest guaranty for faithfulness.
But he only who respects himself will value the respect and confidence of others.
And it is difficult for any man to retain his self-respect when he knows that no one respects him. It is not impossible to be done; but only men of great moral firmness and conscious integrity succeed in doing it. We have no right to expect it from slaves.
They universally concede the superior intelligence of the whites.
And for one of these, accustomed from early childhood to hear himself disparaged in company, and degraded by harsh epithets for his stupidity and disobedience by those whom he thinks to be superior in every thing, to grow up with the necessary self-respect, is not to be expected.
It would be singular, indeed, even if one who had been better brought up should be able to retain his self-respect under this kind of treatment.
And without self-respect, punishment can have no moral effect.
Why then should we thus sin against God?
much better to regard the counsel of Paul
: “And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven
Ephesians VI. 9.
He hath enjoined upon servants to serve their “masters in singleness of heart as unto Christ
,” “with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men
are then commanded to “do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening;
” that is, carefully avoiding all those hasty, unjust, and petulant censures, which display themselves in idle threatenings, or scoldings
, do your duty to your servants as an act of duty to God; or, with a view to his approbation, govern them according to the principles of justice, equity, and kindness — remembering that your Master is in heaven, from whose forbearance you may have need of more than you now extend to your servants.
“I desire to be kind to my servants; but they are often so perverse, they will not allow me to make their situation as comfortable as I would.”
We sometimes meet with these remarks.
There is often a great deal of reason for them.
Our slaves have many faults.
They are ignorant, careless, slothful, and sometimes perverse.
These things are at all times vexatious, and sometimes a great temptation to sin. But then it should not be forgotten that our children sometimes give us
more trouble, and furnish stronger temptations to sin, than our slaves could possibly do. Having all the perverseness of the slave, their superior intelligence may make them much more potent for evil.
But still they are our children.
The wisest and best parents will have to be blind to a great many faults, and ultimately bear in silence with a great deal which cannot be concealed.
The parent that does his best, and commits results to God, will find in the end that things turn out a great deal better than his fears dictated they would do. So our slaves are ours still.
They are God's poor, committed to us. We must control and protect them for their profit, as well as work them for our mutual profit.
They have great faults.
Still, they are our heritage both for good and for evil.
We may not dissolve the relation between us and them, any more than that between us and our children.
We dare not turn them loose in the savage wilds of Africa
, any more than we dare allow them to be hunted down as wild beasts by the advances of a superior race, with whom they cannot be permitted to amalgamate.
To govern as well as work them, is, then, a moral necessity.
We cannot fulfil our duty without perhaps a great deal of trouble in given cases.
At all times we must be blind to many faults, and bear with some others which cannot be concealed.
There is no release from
this war. Penalties, severe penalties must be inflicted occasionally.
Every steady government will sometimes have to wield authority with a strong hand.
This is a source of trouble to all, and often of great pain to good people.
Still, there are views to be taken of the condition of the African which go far to relieve the whole subject of its difficulties.
Many of those faults which are sources of so much annoyance are to be traced to ignorance
and a want of self-respect
, and these are oftentimes their infirmities.
They are by nature slow to learn, and hence their ignorance; and few perhaps have taken pains to cultivate in them much self-respect.
Do not these facts plead in their behalf?
Again, what master who desires to do justly can be wholly indifferent to their good qualities?
For a more docile and kind-hearted race of people are not to be found than the Africans of the Southern States
Readiness to forgive, gratitude in their rude notions of it, hospitality to strangers, and affection for friends, are characteristics of the race.
Cases of ingratitude and resentment are the exceptions, not the rule.
Confide, then, in your slaves, as far as these qualities will allow you to do it. They will not disappoint your confidence, as seriously, at least, as many others with the same opportunities would probably do it. Give attention to their comfort in little things.
This will not cost you
much, and will show your care for them.
Pay due respect to their feelings and their reputation.
This may cost you no more than a pleasant look or a kind word.
Never be backward under proper circumstances to trust them in any thing in which it is proper to trust persons in a menial position.
This course will not be without its effect.
Confidence will beget confidence.
For one to be respected by others, goes far to beget respect in one's self.
With a reasonable degree of self-respect in the slave, and confidence in the kindness and justice of his master, his discipline cannot fail to be salutary.
He may punish in cases of disobedience with great firmness, and to a merited extent, and it will not fail to produce shame and mortification.
His authority will be “a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well.”
The public opinion of his little commonwealth will fully sustain his administration.
The counsels of age, the cutting jokes of early manhood, and the merry laugh of the young, will all unite to teach the offender a valuable lesson.
He who governs a plantation of slaves without the aid of a certain measure of public opinion, is a loser in the end. Some masters affect to despise this.
Brute force may sustain them; but the public opinion even of so humble a commonwealth as a plantation of slaves is not to be despised.
The sensible and
humane master, who would obey the apostolic precept, and maintain a sound and judicious discipline among his slaves, will obey what is equally implied in another injunction, and entitle himself to the respect and confidence of his subjects.
Tyrants who have operated upon wider and nobler fields have affected to despise public opinion, and lost their crowns.
The petty tyrants of whom we treat cannot fail to lose the respect of their neighbors.
It is impossible to respect a man whose policy infests the neighborhood with a band of freebooters, and this policy will rarely fail to reduce such a man to poverty also.
2. In regard to the social principle
. They are social beings.
There are among them those great impulses of our nature, general love for society, and attachment to the sexes, out of which arise the affection of husband and wife, the love of parents to children, and children to parents, and all the various modifications of affection, resulting from collateral and more distant relationships.
Besides these, there is the feeling of friendship between individuals of similar habits and corresponding pursuits.
All these social principles are common to our African
Any evidence to the-contrary is only a proof of a low state of civilization.
Now, it is an easy matter for some minds to overlook the fact that they are social
and not mere
But all the elements of simple society are to be found among them.
They associate together as other races.
It is not peculiar to them to wish to be together and to find pleasure in each other's society.
They obey the common law of humanity.
These elements of the social nature give rise to various relations and duties among themselves.
They do not operate mechanically, but morally.
Hence their society is subject to all the mutations, the conflict of rights and the violation of duties, of any other simple society, under like restrictions.
As in any other society, these relations must be understood and made to operate within certain limits.
These rights must be guarded and protected by the observance of certain duties enforced by certain penalties.
Otherwise they may herd together, as in the wilds of Africa
; but they cannot dwell together as rational beings.
For the impulses of nature are not fulfilled when they are permitted merely to herd together.
At this point, the master owes an important duty to his slaves.
Its observance will greatly promote their progress in civilization, and enhance the value of his property.
He is their civil lawgiver, and the judge in all the grave controversies which arise among them.
He should not be derelict in duty.
He should not think it beneath him to arrest their broils by
authority, and settle their controversies by a kind of judicial decision.
A sensible man will not content himself by saying: “There were no bones broken: no one was killed or crippled,” or, “A fine child is born.”
These are not the only things which concern his interest or his duty.
It is not doing as he would be done by. The civil government which protects him would not be worth a tithe of the taxes, if it concerned itself no further to protect his rights of property and his happiness.
His decisions, therefore, should regulate the relations of this society, should protect such rights of property as he allows among them, and enforce the observance of such contracts as he allows them to negotiate either among their own fellow-servants or those of another plantation.
At the same time that he sees that they keep themselves within the position which they hold in the great community of whites, in which they are subordinate members, he should see that they are not overborne and oppressed by their superiors.
The first and most important of all the social relations is the marriage relation
. The civil government has not thought it wise to interfere with this.
It leaves this to the control of the master.
His interest and his duty afford a high guaranty that he will consult the interests of his slaves in this matter.
He should encourage the young to
He should not only positively forbid the herding together in indiscriminate intercourse, but he should promote marriage by all suitable arrangements and influences.
It is an important interest and duty with him to have his slaves suitably married and at home.
He should not scruple to buy and to sell to effect proper marriages among the slaves of his own plantation.
And when this cannot be done, he should permit his slaves to intermarry with those of a neighboring plantation.
There should be in all cases separate apartments for families, and separate houses as soon as they can be provided.
From causes which need not be enumerated, they are peculiarly addicted to licentious indulgences, and particularly disposed to violate the marriage-bed.
No master is at liberty to neglect or overlook these immoralities.
He should not allow any to marry without understanding the obligations of the relation, and he should enforce, as far as his discipline can reach the case, the obligations of the marriage-bed.
The custom of leaving one wife and taking another, should be positively prohibited.
Those masters whose policy actually makes this custom in a good degree necessary, cannot be too severely censured.
If slaves were mere chattels, as abolitionists affirm they are, there might be an apology
But as it is, there is no apology for it. The custom of separating man and wife is the remnant of a barbarous age: any gentleman should be ashamed of it. The civilization of the age may not be expected to countenance it. Those who think to maintain the institution of slavery under so palpable a violation of the laws of morality, may expect to meet the unqualified censure of the civilized world.
No: the marriage relation must be maintained.
To be maintained, it must be respected.
Indiscriminate intercourse should be restrained.
Those masters whose policy renders this custom in a good degree necessary should revise their system, and they must revise their system unless they would continue to outrage the moral sense of their fellow-citizens.
For myself, I do not feel at liberty — and I speak as a citizen — to treat the marriage relation among slaves other than as a most sacred relation.
Those marriages which are maintained in good faith, no master should feel himself at liberty to violate.
Nothing but conjugal infidelity or some capital offence which subjects the party offending to imprisonment for life, to banishment, or to death, can dissolve the marriage obligation.
“Those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
I have said that the Africans are a kind and
docile race of people; but still it is true of them, as of all other barbarous people, that they have but little conception of moral influence as an element of government.
Fear is the motive to which in all cases they appeal — and with the best intentions.
They have but little idea of any thing else.
Whatever authority, therefore, is placed in their hands is likely to be exercised with great harshness, perhaps with cruelty.
Many masters avail themselves of the services of an intelligent servant, and make him “head-man,” instead of incurring the expense of an overseer.
In many cases the plan succeeds remarkably well.
But in most cases of the kind, the master owes an important duty to his other slaves: it is to overlook the exercise of the delegated authority, and restrain the tendency to excessive severity.
There are other points at which this tendency is liable to display itself.
The husband is likely to exhibit it in the authority exercised over the wife, and both the husband and the wife in the authority exercised.
over the children.
The husband is often found to beat and otherwise maltreat the wife.
In fits of passion, some of them are extremely cruel.
The children are brought up in the same way. They are often subjected to cruel treatment.
Impatience, fretfulness, and stunning blows, make up the system of cabin-discipline.
The child is often stultified in early life, and, without self-respect, grows up a stupid, slovenly, and insufferable eye-servant.
Thus, that which made the young slave a source of so much annoyance in the kitchen, the chamber, and the dining-room, began in the discipline of the cabin, and with those who themselves were good servants, and who, for the most part, intended to do their duty in their humble way to their children.
Now, there are many families of great moral worth among us who entirely neglect the discipline of the cabin.
They take no account of the young negro, nor do they inquire into the treatment of wives.
This is a fault — a great fault.
It presses with great force upon the interests of the master, as well as upon the domestic happiness of the African family and the moral character of the rising generation.
The duty of the master is urgent.
He should restrain the exercise of cruelty to wives.
He should do the same in behalf of the children.
Both his example and his precepts should unite to introduce a sounder system of discipline.
A well-trained slave, who respects himself, is far more valuable in any view than a stupid eye-servant.
The master who will not condescend to pay some attention to the discipline of the cabin must content himself with the latter.
The sick and the aged
should be suitably cared for. It is not enough that provision be made for these: the master owes them a duty in the kind
of provision which he makes for them.
The regular nurse can serve them with a little medicine, a cup of water, and help them to the couch of straw, or support their heads in death; but they are social beings: their claims reach far beyond these things, and the duty of the master is imperative.
It certainly should not come short of the service rendered by the good Samaritan
He who can free his conscience short of this, is low enough in the scale of civilization to change places with many slaves of our acquaintance.
Humanity claims something for the sick and aged on the score of comfort
as well as necessity.
Why may they not be frequently ministered unto by their friends?
Do we think that the laws of friendship and consanguinity do not operate among them?
If so, we are mistaken ; for they are social beings, as we are. Why, then, deny them this boon, when it can be afforded them, as it often can, at so small a cost?
I do not scruple to say that there are many circumstances in which any humane man would allow the husband and the child to quit even the harvest-field to minister as occasion might demand to the sick wife and mother, and to soothe her sorrows in a dying-hour.
And the aged father!
Shall no child or grandchild support his tottering limbs to his couch, and lay him down to die in peace?
Shall all these delicate services, if performed at all, be left to stranger hands?
Shall those who never knew mother, who never cared for grandfather, or who were never reckoned among their friends, be left to perform these last services?
There may be masters whose business or whose want of thought may lead them to be inattentive to the social sorrows of the sick and the aged; but they should remember that “they also have a Master in heaven
Would they have Him to be as inattentive to their sorrows in sickness and in age?
Let them beware “lest the same measure they mete be measured to them again
the duties of masters to slaves as religious beings.
There are no duties which we owe our slaves as “our money,” or as social beings, which do not derive additional weight and importance from the fact that they are religious beings, and that, as such, we owe them all these duties, and still higher and more solemn duties.
“But I am not a Christian, and therefore am not concerned in the discussion of this topic.”
But I am not aware that to omit to profess to be an honest man, or to neglect to strive to be an honest man, absolves
one from the obligation to be honest: so neither will a failure to profess Christianity free any one from the duty of being a Christian.
Both you and your slaves are religious beings; and if you are not a Christian, you ought to be, and God will hold you to account for all the duties of a Christian life, whether in this world you acknowledge the obligation or not. Your slaves are entitled to the rights which belong to religious beings in their circumstances; and it is your duty to treat them as such; nor is there a single master who will not be held to a strict account for the faithful performance of these duties to his slaves.
The religious sentiment is strong in the African.
Both his mind and his heart respond readily to the fear of God, the love of virtue, and the hope of heaven.
But they are religious beings in a low state of civilization.
Their intellects are usually dull.
They are subject to wild, extravagant, and superstitious opinions, and consequently to strong and violent religious emotions.
They do not, as some suppose, have stronger feelings naturally than others.
They do not differ in this respect from barbarians of any other race of people; but they have a low grade of mental development.
Their wills, therefore, are not supplied with those motives which would enable them to hold their attention to views of truth
such as produce a more chastened, substantial, and elevated tone of Christian feeling.
For the want of enlightened views, the religious sentiment displays itself in superstitious conceits, which usually lead to wild and sometimes frantic feelings.
We need not dwell upon the evils of this state of things.
They are too obvious, in their influence upon the blacks, and oftentimes through them upon the nursery of white children, to require discussion.
That which demands attention is this: it is a duty which the master owes his slave to pursue that course in the government of his domestic empire which shall contribute to correct these evils, and to fit his slaves for their destiny in the spirit-world, where the distinction of master and slave will no longer exist.
Aside, then, from other and less important objects in that Divine economy which introduced the African into this country, God has thereby committed to you these ignorant, these suffering poor.
He requires you to care for their souls as well as their bodies.
The latter of these duties you may fulfil for your own interests merely.
But each one of them you ought faithfully to perform, both for God's sake and for the common interests of yourselves and your slaves.
“And ye masters, do the same things unto them:” that is, as the context shows, serve their interests faithfully, and that for the
sake of Christ
, as they are required to serve your commands faithfully, and that for the sake of Christ
But how may you do this?
You should provide for them the means of public religious instruction.
The owner of a large plantation of slaves should charge himself with the expense of a minister of the gospel for his slaves.
Smaller plantations should unite to employ the services of a minister.
The owners of still smaller plantations in thinly settled communities of whites, should see that the usual supply of ministerial service for the neighborhood is sufficient to meet the demands of their slaves.
Those who employ a minister, or those who unite with others to employ one to devote himself to the religious instruction of their slaves, should see that he is a man of blameless life, of sound, practical Christian experience, simple in his language, familiar in his manners, and fervent in spirit.
He should devote himself to teach the children the oral catechism, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, and preach the gospel regularly on the Sabbath.
On all occasions of public worship on the Sabbath, both old and young should be required to be present, and in their best clothes.
Masters should occasionally attend all these meetings.
Our missions on plantations are fine examples of the system here recommended.
The Sabbath — the
Christian Sabbath — is the great civilizer of men. The clean skin, the Sunday suit, the companionship of friends, all unite with the sound instruction of the pulpit, and the warm-hearted reception of the truth, to raise man in the scale of being, to make him a better servant, and a better citizen — an heir, together with the master, of the inheritance of the saints in light.
Those more densely populated white communities which are well supplied with the Christian
ministry should afford ample accommodations to the colored population to hear the word of life, and share the blessings of the holy Sabbath.
Masters should see to this.
They have not done their duty when they subscribe to build a church in the neighborhood, and pay a trifle to the preacher.
Their slaves should also be provided for. If they will not go to heaven themselves, their slaves can go there, and many of them desire to go there.
Their masters unjustly withhold the means.
In many instances, suitable provision is not made.
The houses are small.
The slaves are crowded out. They hear but little; at least, they are not instructed.
A still greater defect of this system in Virginia
is, the slaves are but poorly supplied with pastoral labor out of the pulpit.
The sick are seldom visited.
The dead are only buried in crowds.
There is great room
then, for improvement.
Why may not the masters of a neighborhood engage the services of their minister to have a regular appointment for an afternoon on the plantation of some one, for the benefit of the slaves of the neighborhood, and to visit their sick?
I know many masters who are always ready to subscribe liberally to their minister if he would engage in this service.
Why should he not do it?
Perhaps some do. I should rejoice to see this system more generally adopted, and by our circuit preachers especially.
They would accomplish great good.
I doubt if a better remedy for the wants of the African population in such communities can be found.
But not only to help supply this deficiency, but also on the score of its own intrinsic value, each family should contribute their personal attention to supply the religious wants of their slaves.
The Sabbath should be a day of rest, of companionship, and of religious instruction and enjoyment in every family.
From no part of these should the slaves be excluded or overlooked in the domestic arrangements.
That slaves appear in their clean Sunday-clothes, is the first duty.
They should all know that they are expected to be at church.
For the invalids and the aged, the means of conveyance should be provided.
The old man, the old woman who nursed your parents, and who
have descended to you as the heir-looms of an ancient house; or, it may be, who began life with you, have nursed your children, and helped to build up your house and your fortune — shall they be forgotten in the feebleness of their age?
Do they still stand to service, and help to make their bread; and when the merry crowd hies away “to the Sabbath-meeting,” shall the weight of their years make them turn to their seat, because they shrink from the journey of a few miles on foot?
This should not be. We should provide for the old and the infirm to ride to meeting.
I wonder some masters do not fear that an ungrateful son will one day feed them in their old age in a private room and from a trencher, instead of at the family table and around the domestic hearthstone!
To the credit of our system, the old family servants are generally honored.
do reverence to their age and their position.
This is right.
But why should the master think it beneath him to call the young together on a Sabbath afternoon, and invite the attendance of all the slaves, and instruct them orally in the truths and lessons of our holy religion: What God is: what the Saviour is: what man is: what is to become of us when we die; and how we may be saved.
The simple forms of these truths as laid down in our Catechism may by any one be made interesting
to children and instructive to all. The children should be taught by being made to repeat after us and respond all together.
Their attention will be aroused, and they will readily catch the idea of a great many truths that may lead them to fear God and desire to do right.
Withal, it will make them feel that you care for them.
They will think more of themselves.
They will rise in the scale of social being.
They will be less trouble to you. They will be more happy in themselves, and ultimately share with you the joys of heaven.
Much of all that is here enjoined, any gentleman may do and ought to do, though he may not be a Christian.
He will himself be profited by the exercise it will give his mind on spiritual subjects.
I should not omit to notice, that in speaking of the duty of the master
, I use the term generically — I embrace the mistress.
All the duties enjoined require the cordial cooperation of the mistress.
Much of it, if done at all, must be done by her. She oftener has a heart to do it. She can do it, and, with a little encouragement, will do it, when other persons perhaps cannot or will not. If, then, the master will not be the high-priest as well as the lawgiver of his house, let him, at least, devolve a portion of the care for the religious interest of the slaves upon his wife, and especially that which relates to the instruction of the young.
She, also, can often employ her own children to aid in this service.
It will both interest and instruct them.
So far as my observation goes, I am satisfied that the Southern
family in which a proper discipline is maintained, and domestic religion, in that wide sense which embraces both blacks and whites is duly cultivated, for good order, for peace and quiet, for general morality and general prosperity, in all that concerns the comfort and happiness of a family, stands unrivalled in the history of the country.