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Chapter 14

_Experience in St. Michael's_

THE VILLAGE--ITS INHABITANTS--THEIR OCCUPATION AND LOW
PROPENSITIES CAPTAN{sic} THOMAS AULD--HIS CHARACTER--HIS SECOND
WIFE, ROWENA--WELL MATCHED--SUFFERINGS FROM HUNGER--OBLIGED TO
TAKE FOOD--MODE OF ARGUMENT IN VINDICATION THEREOF--NO MORAL CODE
OF FREE SOCIETY CAN APPLY TO SLAVE SOCIETY--SOUTHERN CAMP
MEETING--WHAT MASTER THOMAS DID THERE--HOPES--SUSPICIONS ABOUT
HIS CONVERSION--THE RESULT--FAITH AND WORKS ENTIRELY AT
VARIANCE--HIS RISE AND PROGRESS IN THE CHURCH--POOR COUSIN
"HENNY"--HIS TREATMENT OF HER--THE METHODIST PREACHERS--THEIR
UTTER DISREGARD OF US--ONE EXCELLENT EXCEPTION--REV. GEORGE
COOKMAN--SABBATH SCHOOL--HOW BROKEN UP AND BY WHOM--A FUNERAL
PALL CAST OVER ALL MY PROSPECTS--COVEY THE NEGRO-BREAKER.


St. Michael's, the village in which was now my new home, compared
favorably with villages in slave states, generally. There were a
few comfortable dwellings in it, but the place, as a whole, wore
a dull, slovenly, enterprise-forsaken aspect. The mass of the
buildings were wood; they had never enjoyed the artificial
adornment of paint, and time and storms had worn off the bright
color of the wood, leaving them almost as black as buildings
charred by a conflagration.

St. Michael's had, in former years, (previous to 1833, for that
was the year I went to reside there,) enjoyed some reputation as
a ship building community, but that business had almost entirely
given place to oyster fishing, for the Baltimore and Philadelphia
markets--a course of life highly unfavorable to morals, industry,
and manners. Miles river was broad, and its oyster fishing <145
ARRIVAL AT ST. MICHAEL'S>grounds were extensive; and the
fishermen were out, often, all day, and a part of the night,
during autumn, winter and spring. This exposure was an excuse
for carrying with them, in considerable quanties{sic}, spirituous
liquors, the then supposed best antidote for cold. Each canoe
was supplied with its jug of rum; and tippling, among this class
of the citizens of St. Michael's, became general. This drinking
habit, in an ignorant population, fostered coarseness, vulgarity
and an indolent disregard for the social improvement of the
place, so that it was admitted, by the few sober, thinking people
who remained there, that St. Michael's had become a very
_unsaintly_, as well as unsightly place, before I went there to
reside.

I left Baltimore for St. Michael's in the month of March, 1833.
I know the year, because it was the one succeeding the first
cholera in Baltimore, and was the year, also, of that strange
phenomenon, when the heavens seemed about to part with its starry
train. I witnessed this gorgeous spectacle, and was awe-struck.
The air seemed filled with bright, descending messengers from the
sky. It was about daybreak when I saw this sublime scene. I was
not without the suggestion, at the moment, that it might be the
harbinger of the coming of the Son of Man; and, in my then state
of mind, I was prepared to hail Him as my friend and deliverer.
I had read, that the "stars shall fall from heaven"; and they
were now falling. I was suffering much in my mind. It did seem
that every time the young tendrils of my affection became
attached, they were rudely broken by some unnatural outside
power; and I was beginning to look away to heaven for the rest
denied me on earth.

But, to my story. It was now more than seven years since I had
lived with Master Thomas Auld, in the family of my old master, on
Col. Lloyd's plantation. We were almost entire strangers to each
other; for, when I knew him at the house of my old master, it was
not as a _master_, but simply as "Captain Auld," who had married
old master's daughter. All my lessons concerning his <146>temper
and disposition, and the best methods of pleasing him, were yet
to be learnt. Slaveholders, however, are not very ceremonious in
approaching a slave; and my ignorance of the new material in
shape of a master was but transient. Nor was my mistress long in
making known her animus. She was not a "Miss Lucretia," traces
of whom I yet remembered, and the more especially, as I saw them
shining in the face of little Amanda, her daughter, now living
under a step-mother's government. I had not forgotten the soft
hand, guided by a tender heart, that bound up with healing balsam
the gash made in my head by Ike, the son of Abel. Thomas and
Rowena, I found to be a well-matched pair. _He_ was stingy, and
_she_ was cruel; and--what was quite natural in such cases--she
possessed the ability to make him as cruel as herself, while she
could easily descend to the level of his meanness. In the house
of Master Thomas, I was made--for the first time in seven years
to feel the pinchings of hunger, and this was not very easy to
bear.

For, in all the changes of Master Hugh's family, there was no
change in the bountifulness with which they supplied me with
food. Not to give a slave enough to eat, is meanness
intensified, and it is so recognized among slaveholders
generally, in Maryland. The rule is, no matter how coarse the
food, only let there be enough of it. This is the theory, and--
in the part of Maryland I came from--the general practice accords
with this theory. Lloyd's plantation was an exception, as was,
also, the house of Master Thomas Auld.

All know the lightness of Indian corn-meal, as an article of
food, and can easily judge from the following facts whether the
statements I have made of the stinginess of Master Thomas, are
borne out. There were four slaves of us in the kitchen, and four
whites in the great house Thomas Auld, Mrs. Auld, Hadaway Auld
(brother of Thomas Auld) and little Amanda. The names of the
slaves in the kitchen, were Eliza, my sister; Priscilla, my aunt;
Henny, my cousin; and myself. There were eight persons <147
STEALING--MODE OF VINDICATION>in the family. There was, each
week, one half bushel of corn-meal brought from the mill; and in
the kitchen, corn-meal was almost our exclusive food, for very
little else was allowed us. Out of this bushel of corn-meal, the
family in the great house had a small loaf every morning; thus
leaving us, in the kitchen, with not quite a half a peck per
week, apiece. This allowance was less than half the allowance of
food on Lloyd's plantation. It was not enough to subsist upon;
and we were, therefore, reduced to the wretched necessity of
living at the expense of our neighbors. We were compelled either
to beg, or to steal, and we did both. I frankly confess, that
while I hated everything like stealing, _as such_, I nevertheless
did not hesitate to take food, when I was hungry, wherever I
could find it. Nor was this practice the mere result of an
unreasoning instinct; it was, in my case, the result of a clear
apprehension of the claims of morality. I weighed and considered
the matter closely, before I ventured to satisfy my hunger by
such means. Considering that my labor and person were the
property of Master Thomas, and that I was by him deprived of the
necessaries of life necessaries obtained by my own labor--it was
easy to deduce the right to supply myself with what was my own.
It was simply appropriating what was my own to the use of my
master, since the health and strength derived from such food were
exerted in _his_ service. To be sure, this was stealing,
according to the law and gospel I heard from St. Michael's
pulpit; but I had already begun to attach less importance to what
dropped from that quarter, on that point, while, as yet, I
retained my reverence for religion. It was not always convenient
to steal from master, and the same reason why I might,
innocently, steal from him, did not seem to justify me in
stealing from others. In the case of my master, it was only a
question of _removal_--the taking his meat out of one tub, and
putting it into another; the ownership of the meat was not
affected by the transaction. At first, he owned it in the _tub_,
and last, he owned it in _me_. His meat house was not always
open. There was a strict watch kept on that <148>point, and the
key was on a large bunch in Rowena's pocket. A great many times
have we, poor creatures, been severely pinched with hunger, when
meat and bread have been moulding under the lock, while the key
was in the pocket of our mistress. This had been so when she
_knew_ we were nearly half starved; and yet, that mistress, with
saintly air, would kneel with her husband, and pray each morning
that a merciful God would bless them in basket and in store, and
save them, at last, in his kingdom. But I proceed with the
argument.

It was necessary that right to steal from _others_ should be
established; and this could only rest upon a wider range of
generalization than that which supposed the right to steal from
my master.

It was sometime before I arrived at this clear right. The reader
will get some idea of my train of reasoning, by a brief statement
of the case. "I am," thought I, "not only the slave of Thomas,
but I am the slave of society at large. Society at large has
bound itself, in form and in fact, to assist Master Thomas in
robbing me of my rightful liberty, and of the just reward of my
labor; therefore, whatever rights I have against Master Thomas, I
have, equally, against those confederated with him in robbing me
of liberty. As society has marked me out as privileged plunder,
on the principle of self-preservation I am justified in
plundering in turn. Since each slave belongs to all; all must,
therefore, belong to each."

I shall here make a profession of faith which may shock some,
offend others, and be dissented from by all. It is this: Within
the bounds of his just earnings, I hold that the slave is fully
justified in helping himself to the _gold and silver, and the
best apparel of his master, or that of any other slaveholder; and
that such taking is not stealing in any just sense of that word_.

The morality of _free_ society can have no application to _slave_
society. Slaveholders have made it almost impossible for the
slave to commit any crime, known either to the laws of God or to
the laws of man. If he steals, he takes his own; if he kills his
master, <149 SELFISHNESS OF MASTER THOMAS>he imitates only the
heroes of the revolution. Slaveholders I hold to be individually
and collectively responsible for all the evils which grow out of
the horrid relation, and I believe they will be so held at the
judgment, in the sight of a just God. Make a man a slave, and
you rob him of moral responsibility. Freedom of choice is the
essence of all accountability. But my kind readers are,
probably, less concerned about my opinions, than about that which
more nearly touches my personal experience; albeit, my opinions
have, in some sort, been formed by that experience.

Bad as slaveholders are, I have seldom met with one so entirely
destitute of every element of character capable of inspiring
respect, as was my present master, Capt. Thomas Auld.

When I lived with him, I thought him incapable of a noble action.
The leading trait in his character was intense selfishness. I
think he was fully aware of this fact himself, and often tried to
conceal it. Capt. Auld was not a _born_ slaveholder--not a
birthright member of the slaveholding oligarchy. He was only a
slaveholder by _marriage-right;_ and, of all slaveholders, these
latter are, _by far_, the most exacting. There was in him all
the love of domination, the pride of mastery, and the swagger of
authority, but his rule lacked the vital element of consistency.
He could be cruel; but his methods of showing it were cowardly,
and evinced his meanness rather than his spirit. His commands
were strong, his enforcement weak.

Slaves are not insensible to the whole-souled characteristics of
a generous, dashing slaveholder, who is fearless of consequences;
and they prefer a master of this bold and daring kind--even with
the risk of being shot down for impudence to the fretful, little
soul, who never uses the lash but at the suggestion of a love of
gain.

Slaves, too, readily distinguish between the birthright bearing
of the original slaveholder and the assumed attitudes of the
accidental slaveholder; and while they cannot respect either,
they certainly despise the latter more than the former.
<150>

The luxury of having slaves wait upon him was something new to
Master Thomas; and for it he was wholly unprepared. He was a
slaveholder, without the ability to hold or manage his slaves.
We seldom called him "master," but generally addressed him by his
"bay craft" title--_Capt. Auld_." It is easy to see that such
conduct might do much to make him appear awkward, and,
consequently, fretful. His wife was especially solicitous to
have us call her husband "master." Is your _master_ at the
store?"--"Where is your _master_?"--"Go and tell your _master"_--
"I will make your _master_ acquainted with your conduct"--she
would say; but we were inapt scholars. Especially were I and my
sister Eliza inapt in this particular. Aunt Priscilla was less
stubborn and defiant in her spirit than Eliza and myself; and, I
think, her road was less rough than ours.

In the month of August, 1833, when I had almost become desperate
under the treatment of Master Thomas, and when I entertained more
strongly than ever the oft-repeated determination to run away, a
circumstance occurred which seemed to promise brighter and better
days for us all. At a Methodist camp-meeting, held in the Bay
Side (a famous place for campmeetings) about eight miles from St.
Michael's, Master Thomas came out with a profession of religion.
He had long been an object of interest to the church, and to the
ministers, as I had seen by the repeated visits and lengthy
exhortations of the latter. He was a fish quite worth catching,
for he had money and standing. In the community of St. Michael's
he was equal to the best citizen. He was strictly temperate;
_perhaps_, from principle, but most likely, from interest. There
was very little to do for him, to give him the appearance of
piety, and to make him a pillar in the church. Well, the camp-
meeting continued a week; people gathered from all parts of the
county, and two steamboat loads came from Baltimore. The ground
was happily chosen; seats were arranged; a stand erected; a rude
altar fenced in, fronting the preachers' stand, with straw in it
for the accommodation of <151 SOUTHERN CAMP MEETING>mourners.
This latter would hold at least one hundred persons. In front,
and on the sides of the preachers' stand, and outside the long
rows of seats, rose the first class of stately tents, each vieing
with the other in strength, neatness, and capacity for
accommodating its inmates. Behind this first circle of tents was
another, less imposing, which reached round the camp-ground to
the speakers' stand. Outside this second class of tents were
covered wagons, ox carts, and vehicles of every shape and size.
These served as tents to their owners. Outside of these, huge
fires were burning, in all directions, where roasting, and
boiling, and frying, were going on, for the benefit of those who
were attending to their own spiritual welfare within the circle.
_Behind_ the preachers' stand, a narrow space was marked out for
the use of the colored people. There were no seats provided for
this class of persons; the preachers addressed them, _"over the
left,"_ if they addressed them at all. After the preaching was
over, at every service, an invitation was given to mourners to
come into the pen; and, in some cases, ministers went out to
persuade men and women to come in. By one of these ministers,
Master Thomas Auld was persuaded to go inside the pen. I was
deeply interested in that matter, and followed; and, though
colored people were not allowed either in the pen or in front of
the preachers' stand, I ventured to take my stand at a sort of
half-way place between the blacks and whites, where I could
distinctly see the movements of mourners, and especially the
progress of Master Thomas.

"If he has got religion," thought I, "he will emancipate his
slaves; and if he should not do so much as this, he will, at any
rate, behave toward us more kindly, and feed us more generously
than he has heretofore done." Appealing to my own religious
experience, and judging my master by what was true in my own
case, I could not regard him as soundly converted, unless some
such good results followed his profession of religion.

But in my expectations I was doubly disappointed; Master Thomas
was _Master Thomas_ still. The fruits of his righteousness
<152>were to show themselves in no such way as I had anticipated.
His conversion was not to change his relation toward men--at any
rate not toward BLACK men--but toward God. My faith, I confess,
was not great. There was something in his appearance that, in my
mind, cast a doubt over his conversion. Standing where I did, I
could see his every movement. I watched narrowly while he
remained in the little pen; and although I saw that his face was
extremely red, and his hair disheveled, and though I heard him
groan, and saw a stray tear halting on his cheek, as if inquiring
"which way shall I go?"--I could not wholly confide in the
genuineness of his conversion. The hesitating behavior of that
tear-drop and its loneliness, distressed me, and cast a doubt
upon the whole transaction, of which it was a part. But people
said, _"Capt. Auld had come through,"_ and it was for me to hope
for the best. I was bound to do this, in charity, for I, too,
was religious, and had been in the church full three years,
although now I was not more than sixteen years old. Slaveholders
may, sometimes, have confidence in the piety of some of their
slaves; but the slaves seldom have confidence in the piety of
their masters. _"He cant go to heaven with our blood in his
skirts_," is a settled point in the creed of every slave; rising
superior to all teaching to the contrary, and standing forever as
a fixed fact. The highest evidence the slaveholder can give the
slave of his acceptance with God, is the emancipation of his
slaves. This is proof that he is willing to give up all to God,
and for the sake of God. Not to do this, was, in my estimation,
and in the opinion of all the slaves, an evidence of half-
heartedness, and wholly inconsistent with the idea of genuine
conversion. I had read, also, somewhere in the Methodist
Discipline, the following question and answer:

"_Question_. What shall be done for the extirpation of slavery?

"_Answer_. We declare that we are much as ever convinced of the
great evil of slavery; therefore, no slaveholder shall be
eligible to any official station in our church."


These words sounded in my ears for a long time, and en<153 FAITH
AND WORKS AT VARIANCE>couraged me to hope. But, as I have before
said, I was doomed to disappointment. Master Thomas seemed to be
aware of my hopes and expectations concerning him. I have
thought, before now, that he looked at me in answer to my
glances, as much as to say, "I will teach you, young man, that,
though I have parted with my sins, I have not parted with my
sense. I shall hold my slaves, and go to heaven too."

Possibly, to convince us that we must not presume _too much_ upon
his recent conversion, he became rather more rigid and stringent
in his exactions. There always was a scarcity of good nature
about the man; but now his whole countenance was _soured_ over
with the seemings of piety. His religion, therefore, neither
made him emancipate his slaves, nor caused him to treat them with
greater humanity. If religion had any effect on his character at
all, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways. The
natural wickedness of his heart had not been removed, but only
reinforced, by the profession of religion. Do I judge him
harshly? God forbid. Facts _are_ facts. Capt. Auld made the
greatest profession of piety. His house was, literally, a house
of prayer. In the morning, and in the evening, loud prayers and
hymns were heard there, in which both himself and his wife
joined; yet, _no more meal_ was brought from the mill, _no more
attention_ was paid to the moral welfare of the kitchen; and
nothing was done to make us feel that the heart of Master Thomas
was one whit better than it was before he went into the little
pen, opposite to the preachers' stand, on the camp ground.

Our hopes (founded on the discipline) soon vanished; for the
authorities let him into the church _at once_, and before he was
out of his term of _probation_, I heard of his leading class! He
distinguished himself greatly among the brethren, and was soon an
exhorter. His progress was almost as rapid as the growth of the
fabled vine of Jack's bean. No man was more active than he, in
revivals. He would go many miles to assist in carrying them on,
and in getting outsiders interested in religion. His house being
<154>one of the holiest, if not the happiest in St. Michael's,
became the "preachers' home." These preachers evidently liked to
share Master Thomas's hospitality; for while he _starved us_, he
_stuffed_ them. Three or four of these ambassadors of the
gospel--according to slavery--have been there at a time; all
living on the fat of the land, while we, in the kitchen, were
nearly starving. Not often did we get a smile of recognition
from these holy men. They seemed almost as unconcerned about our
getting to heaven, as they were about our getting out of slavery.
To this general charge there was one exception--the Rev. GEORGE
COOKMAN. Unlike Rev. Messrs. Storks, Ewry, Hickey, Humphrey and
Cooper (all whom were on the St. Michael's circuit) he kindly
took an interest in our temporal and spiritual welfare. Our
souls and our bodies were all alike sacred in his sight; and he
really had a good deal of genuine anti-slavery feeling mingled
with his colonization ideas. There was not a slave in our
neighborhood that did not love, and almost venerate, Mr. Cookman.
It was pretty generally believed that he had been chiefly
instrumental in bringing one of the largest slaveholders--Mr.
Samuel Harrison--in that neighborhood, to emancipate all his
slaves, and, indeed, the general impression was, that Mr. Cookman
had labored faithfully with slaveholders, whenever he met them,
to induce them to emancipate their bondmen, and that he did this
as a religious duty. When this good man was at our house, we
were all sure to be called in to prayers in the morning; and he
was not slow in making inquiries as to the state of our minds,
nor in giving us a word of exhortation and of encouragement.
Great was the sorrow of all the slaves, when this faithful
preacher of the gospel was removed from the Talbot county
circuit. He was an eloquent preacher, and possessed what few
ministers, south of Mason Dixon's line, possess, or _dare_ to
show, viz: a warm and philanthropic heart. The Mr. Cookman, of
whom I speak, was an Englishman by birth, and perished while on
his way to England, on board the ill-fated "President". Could
the thousands of slaves <155 THE SABBATH SCHOOL>in Maryland know
the fate of the good man, to whose words of comfort they were so
largely indebted, they would thank me for dropping a tear on this
page, in memory of their favorite preacher, friend and
benefactor.

But, let me return to Master Thomas, and to my experience, after
his conversion. In Baltimore, I could, occasionally, get into a
Sabbath school, among the free children, and receive lessons,
with the rest; but, having already learned both to read and to
write, I was more of a teacher than a pupil, even there. When,
however, I went back to the Eastern Shore, and was at the house
of Master Thomas, I was neither allowed to teach, nor to be
taught. The whole community--with but a single exception, among
the whites--frowned upon everything like imparting instruction
either to slaves or to free colored persons. That single
exception, a pious young man, named Wilson, asked me, one day, if
I would like to assist him in teaching a little Sabbath school,
at the house of a free colored man in St. Michael's, named James
Mitchell. The idea was to me a delightful one, and I told him I
would gladly devote as much of my Sabbath as I could command, to
that most laudable work. Mr. Wilson soon mustered up a dozen old
spelling books, and a few testaments; and we commenced
operations, with some twenty scholars, in our Sunday school.
Here, thought I, is something worth living for; here is an
excellent chance for usefulness; and I shall soon have a company
of young friends, lovers of knowledge, like some of my Baltimore
friends, from whom I now felt parted forever.

Our first Sabbath passed delightfully, and I spent the week after
very joyously. I could not go to Baltimore, but I could make a
little Baltimore here. At our second meeting, I learned that
there was some objection to the existence of the Sabbath school;
and, sure enough, we had scarcely got at work--_good work_,
simply teaching a few colored children how to read the gospel of
the Son of God--when in rushed a mob, headed by Mr. Wright
Fairbanks and Mr. Garrison West--two class-leaders<156>--and
Master Thomas; who, armed with sticks and other missiles, drove
us off, and commanded us never to meet for such a purpose again.
One of this pious crew told me, that as for my part, I wanted to
be another Nat Turner; and if I did not look out, I should get as
many balls into me, as Nat did into him. Thus ended the infant
Sabbath school, in the town of St. Michael's. The reader will
not be surprised when I say, that the breaking up of my Sabbath
school, by these class-leaders, and professedly holy men, did not
serve to strengthen my religious convictions. The cloud over my
St. Michael's home grew heavier and blacker than ever.

It was not merely the agency of Master Thomas, in breaking up and
destroying my Sabbath school, that shook my confidence in the
power of southern religion to make men wiser or better; but I saw
in him all the cruelty and meanness, _after_ his conversion,
which he had exhibited before he made a profession of religion.
His cruelty and meanness were especially displayed in his
treatment of my unfortunate cousin, Henny, whose lameness made
her a burden to him. I have no extraordinary personal hard usage
toward myself to complain of, against him, but I have seen him
tie up the lame and maimed woman, and whip her in a manner most
brutal, and shocking; and then, with blood-chilling blasphemy, he
would quote the passage of scripture, "That servant which knew
his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." Master would
keep this lacerated woman tied up by her wrists, to a bolt in the
joist, three, four and five hours at a time. He would tie her up
early in the morning, whip her with a cowskin before breakfast;
leave her tied up; go to his store, and, returning to his dinner,
repeat the castigation; laying on the rugged lash, on flesh
already made raw by repeated blows. He seemed desirous to get
the poor girl out of existence, or, at any rate, off his hands.
In proof of this, he afterwards gave her away to his sister Sarah
(Mrs. Cline) but, as in the case of Master <157 BARBAROUS
TREATMENT OF HENNY>Hugh, Henny was soon returned on his hands.
Finally, upon a pretense that he could do nothing with her (I use
his own words) he "set her adrift, to take care of herself."
Here was a recently converted man, holding, with tight grasp, the
well-framed, and able bodied slaves left him by old master--the
persons, who, in freedom, could have taken care of themselves;
yet, turning loose the only cripple among them, virtually to
starve and die.

No doubt, had Master Thomas been asked, by some pious northern
brother, _why_ he continued to sustain the relation of a
slaveholder, to those whom he retained, his answer would have
been precisely the same as many other religious slaveholders have
returned to that inquiry, viz: "I hold my slaves for their own
good."

Bad as my condition was when I lived with Master Thomas, I was
soon to experience a life far more goading and bitter. The many
differences springing up between myself and Master Thomas, owing
to the clear perception I had of his character, and the boldness
with which I defended myself against his capricious complaints,
led him to declare that I was unsuited to his wants; that my city
life had affected me perniciously; that, in fact, it had almost
ruined me for every good purpose, and had fitted me for
everything that was bad. One of my greatest faults, or offenses,
was that of letting his horse get away, and go down to the farm
belonging to his father-in-law. The animal had a liking for that
farm, with which I fully sympathized. Whenever I let it out, it
would go dashing down the road to Mr. Hamilton's, as if going on
a grand frolic. My horse gone, of course I must go after it.
The explanation of our mutual attachment to the place is the
same; the horse found there good pasturage, and I found there
plenty of bread. Mr. Hamilton had his faults, but starving his
slaves was not among them. He gave food, in abundance, and that,
too, of an excellent quality. In Mr. Hamilton's cook--Aunt
Mary--I found a most generous and considerate friend. She never
allowed me to go there without giving me bread enough <158>to
make good the deficiencies of a day or two. Master Thomas at
last resolved to endure my behavior no longer; he could neither
keep me, nor his horse, we liked so well to be at his father-in-
law's farm. I had now lived with him nearly nine months, and he
had given me a number of severe whippings, without any visible
improvement in my character, or my conduct; and now he was
resolved to put me out--as he said--"_to be broken."_

There was, in the Bay Side, very near the camp ground, where my
master got his religious impressions, a man named Edward Covey,
who enjoyed the execrated reputation, of being a first rate hand
at breaking young Negroes. This Covey was a poor man, a farm
renter; and this reputation (hateful as it was to the slaves and
to all good men) was, at the same time, of immense advantage to
him. It enabled him to get his farm tilled with very little
expense, compared with what it would have cost him without this
most extraordinary reputation. Some slaveholders thought it an
advantage to let Mr. Covey have the government of their slaves a
year or two, almost free of charge, for the sake of the excellent
training such slaves got under his happy management! Like some
horse breakers, noted for their skill, who ride the best horses
in the country without expense, Mr. Covey could have under him,
the most fiery bloods of the neighborhood, for the simple reward
of returning them to their owners, _well broken_. Added to the
natural fitness of Mr. Covey for the duties of his profession, he
was said to "enjoy religion," and was as strict in the
cultivation of piety, as he was in the cultivation of his farm.
I was made aware of his character by some who had been under his
hand; and while I could not look forward to going to him with any
pleasure, I was glad to get away from St. Michael's. I was sure
of getting enough to eat at Covey's, even if I suffered in other
respects. _This_, to a hungry man, is not a prospect to be
regarded with indifference.

Frederick Douglass

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