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not content myself with the story of the fascinating power of a rattlesnake over birds, but relate how a negro was once irresistibly charmed and devoured.
Vegetation is singularly quick in the woods of Carolina. Of flowers, the jessamine and woodbine grow wild ; but the former differs widely from that known by the same name in England, being of a straw colour, and having large bells. Violets perfume the woods and roads with their fragrance.
In bogs, and marshy situations, is found the singular plant called the fly-catcher by the natives, and, I belive, diona muscipula by botanists. Its jointed leaves are furnished with two rows of strong prickles, of which the surfaces are covered with a quantity of minute glands that secret a sweet liquor, which allures the flies. When these parts are touched by the legs of a fly, the two lobes of the leaf immediately rise, the rows of prickles compress themselves, and squeeze the unwary insect to death.
But a straw or pin introduced between the lobes will excite the same motions.
The honey of the bees in Carolina is exquisitely delicious, and these insects are very sagacious in chusing their retreats. They seek lodgings in the upper part of the trunk of the loftiest tree; but here their nests cannot elude the searching cyes of the negroes and children. The tree is either scaled, or cut down, the bees
are tumbled from their honeyed domes, and their treasures rified.
Sic vos non vobis mellificatis Apes !
These are the few observations that I made on the productions of nature before me; a study I have ever considered subordinate, when compared to that of life. I have used only the popular names,, though without any labour I could have dignified my page with the terms of the Naturalist, for I had all the Latin phrases at the end of my pen. But I return from brutes to man, though many readers may be of opinion that in exhibiting the cruelty and wantonness of planters over their slaves, I change not the subject.
It appears to me that in Carolina, the simplicity of the first colonists is obliterated, and that the present inhabitants strive to exceed each other in the vanities of life. Slight circumstances often mark the manners of a people. In the opulent families, there is always a negro placed on the look-out, to announce the coming of any visitant; and the moment a carriage, or horseman, is descried, each negro changes his every day garb for a magnificent suit of livery. As the negroes wear no shirts, this is quickly effected ; and in a few moments a ragged fellow is metamorphosed into a spruce footman. And woe to them should they neglect it; for their master would think himself disgraced, and Samba and Cuffy incur a severe flogging.
In Carolina, the legislative and executive powers of the house belong to the mistress, the master has little or nothing to do with the administration; he is a monument of uxoriousness and passive endurance. The negroes are not without the discernment to perceive this; and when the husband resolves to flog them, they often throw themselves at the feet of the wife, and supplicate her mediation. But the ladies of Carolina, and particularly those of Charleston, have little tenderness for their slaves ; on the contrary, they send both their men-slaves and women-slaves, for the most venial trespass, to a hellish-mansion, called the Sugar-house: here a man employs inferior agents to scourge the poor negroes: a shilling for a dozen lashes is the charge : the mai, or woman, is stripped naked to the waist; a redoubtable whip at every lash flays the back of the culprit, who, agonized at every pore, rends the air with his cries.
Mrs. De informed me that a lady of Charleston, once observed to her, that she thought it abominably dear to pay a shilling for a dozen lashes, and, that having many slaves, she would bargain with the man at the Sugar-house to flog them by the year!
It has been observed by Mr. Jefferson, that negroes secreting little by the kidnies, but much
by the pores, exhale a strong effluvia.* But great is the power of habit, and in the hottest day of summer, when the thermometer in the shade has risen to a hundred, I have witnessed à dinner party of ladies and gentlemen, surrounded by a tribe of lusty negro-men and women. I leave my reader to draw the inference.
Of the understanding of negroes, the masters in Carolina have a very mean opinion. But it is obvious to a stranger of discernment, that the sentiments of black Cuffy who waits at table, are often not less just or elevated than those of his white ruler, into whose hand, Fortune, by one of her freaks, has put the whip of power. Nor is there much difference in their language ; for many planters scem incapable of displaying their sovereignty, by any other mode than menaces and imprecations. Indeed, it must occur to every one, that were things to be re-organised in their natural order, the master would in many parts of the globe, exchange places with his servant.
An Englishman cannot but draw a proud comparison between his own country and Carolina. He feels with a glow of enthusiasm the force of the poet's exclamation :
“ Slaves cannot breathe in England ! They touch our country, and their shackles fall; That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud And jealous of their rights."
* Vide Notes on Virginia.
It is, indeed, grating to an Englishman to mingle with society in Carolina ; for the people, however well-bred in other respects, have no delicacy before a stranger in what relates to their slaves. These wretches are execrated for every involuntary offence ; but negroes endure execrations without emotion, for they say, when Mossa curse, he break no bone.
But every master does not confine himself to oaths; and I have heard a man say, By heaven, my Negurs talk the worst English of any in Carolina : that boy just now called a bason a round-something : take him to the driver! let him have a dozen !
Exposed to such wanton cruelty the negroes frequently run away; they flee into the woods, where they are wet with the rains of heaven, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. Life must be supported; hunger incites to depredation, and the poor wretches are often shot like the beasts of prey.
When taken, the men are put in irons, and the boys have their necks encircled with a “ pot-hook.”
The Charleston papers abound with advertisements for fugitive slaves. I have a curious advertisement now before me.—" Stop the runaway
! Fifty dollars reward! Whereas my waiting “ fellow, Will, having eloped from me last Satur“ day, without any provocation, (it being known “ that I am a humane master) the above reward “ will be paid to any one who will lodge the “ aforesaid slave in some jail, or deliver him to me