« AnteriorContinuar »
safely if they call the niggers to help them. Why, there was one of their preaching chaps who was praising up Old Abe and Abolition, and he says, as a reason for it, ‘Every black man that you can get to enlist may stop a ball that might otherwise hit a white man. He was a smart man that preacher. He knew what he meant, and he knew what those he was speaking to meant. Some of 'em calls niggers their brothers; if they spoke true they should call 'em their bullet-stoppers.”
“But now," say we, “ you have been telling us of the laws of your State. Are other States as strict against the blacks as Illinois ?”
“I don't know that any on 'em whip the critters as much as we do; but they almost all have laws against 'em one way or other; some don't allow them to come in at all; and those that do, oblige them to be under supervision, and make them report themselves whenever they move from one place to another. They tell me that they don't say so much about it in Michigan and Wisconsin; but those States are to the north of us, and niggers couldn't get to them except through us; so they don't need to be afraid of them.”
“And, I suppose, none of them would allow a coloured woman to marry a white man ?”
Our companion looks as if he did not know whether we were joking or simply foolish. He laughs, but gives no other answer.
“I suppose they have not these laws in New England ?” we resume. “The people there will look on the negro with more favouring eyes, of course."
“Wal now, stranger, I don't know much about New England myself; but I've a friend in Boston who tells me that they don't like niggers no more than we do. They've got laws against them. They don't say, most of them, they're not to come in at all, as we do here; but they say, if a stranger comes to any town, the magistrates may order him off; and if he don't go he is to be whipped ; and if he come back he is to be whipped again ; and so on, till he clars himself off slick. Some States say he must give notice if he comes, and some leave it to the magistrates and police to find him out.”
“But they don't, it seems, oblige the magistrates to act as you do; and they do not seem to specify negroes, so as to place any stigma on them ?”
“Some on 'em don't, and that's a fact; but it allers means the same thing. He says that in his State (that is Massachusetts, you know) they treat the critters much as we do. If a nigger comes to be two months in the State, he has to give notice, and then they may order him off, and have him whipped till he goes. And as to what you call stigma, you
saw that gal flogged yesterday? Tell you, if she'd been in Rhode Island, she might have had the same sarse if she'd been out after nine o'clock at night.”
“And yet, I suppose that there are Abolitionists in Rhode Island ?”
“Possible. But from what that fellow tells me, they would not care very much. Whipping seems to come quite nat'ral to the Yankees. I've heard say that they used for some offences to have women carted from town to town, and flogged at each as they came to 'em. I ain't quite clear whether they don't sometimes do it still.”
“What! free women ?”
Here we are joined by some acquaintances of our companion’s, and the conversation grows general, and mostly on local matters. We have made as extensive an acquaintance with American drinks as we think advisable for one morning, and retire from the
* To anybody who is acquainted with Transatlantic modes of expression, the Americanisms in the above dialogue will probably appear incorrect enough. They hardly pretend to be anything else. I suppose it would be almost impossible to imitate national peculiarities of speech, without having seen something of the people among whom they prevail. A bad imitation is apt to be very irritating to those who know. I only hope that this one will not be so to those who do not know.
scene, wondering as we go whether such legislation as we have heard described, enforced as it evidently is by a very strong popular feeling, is not nearly as bad as the arbitrary rule of the South, tempered as it sometimes, nay, generally is, by kindly feeling, and restrained by coercive laws, for the protection of the negro; and we treasure up our facts for the benefit of Professor Newman.
THE QUESTION OF RECOGNITION.
BEFORE I come to an end, perhaps I ought to express an opinion about recognition. I do not feel very anxious to do so, as my object is simply to show reason for my belief as to which side is in the right, and not to enter upon the question of what is the duty of Government and of Parliament.
I think that, on legal and technical grounds, we ought to recognise the Confederacy. In the last century we recognised four of the States of which it is composed — Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia. In the present century we recognised Texas. Since those recognitions, those States have thought fit, for reasons best known to themselves, to commit the charge of their foreign relations, with which exclusively we are conversant, to the agents of a corporate body, called the United States of America. They have since withdrawn that commis