« 上一頁繼續 »
al destruction of all things,” and described it as possibly near at hand.
“As yet, indeed,” exclaimed he, “ I have not felt the earth tremble under my feet; it yet seems to stand firm,” and he stamped vehemently on the pulpit floor ; "and as yet I hear not the rolling of the thunder of doom; but it may, nevertheless, be at hand,” and so on; and he admonished the people, therefore, immediately to repent and be converted.
Spite of the strength of the subject, and spite of the power in the delineation, there was a something dry and soulless in the manner in which it was presented, which caused it to fail of its effect with the congregation. People seemed to feel that the preacher did not believe, or, rather, did not livingly feel that which he described and preached. A few cries and groans were heard, it is true, and some sinners came forth; but the assembly, upon the whole, continued calm, and was not agitated by the thunders of the Last Judgment. The hymns were, as on the former occasion, fervent and beautiful on the side of the negroes' camp. This people seem to have a keen perception of the most beautiful doctrines of religion, and understand particularly well how to apply them. Their musical talents are remarkable. Most of the blacks have beautiful, pure voices, and sing as easily as we whites talk.
After this service came the hour of dinner, when I visited various tents in the black camp, and saw tables covered with dishes of all kinds of meat, with puddings and tarts; there seemed to be a regular superfluity of meat and drink. Several of the tents were even furnished like rooms, with capital beds, looking-glasses, and such like.
The people seemed gay, happy, and gentle. These religious camp-meetings—my little heart, thou hast now been at a camp-meeting are the saturnalia of the negro slaves. In these they luxuriate both soul and body, as is their natural inclination to do; but on this occasion every thing was carried on with decency and befitting reverence
These meetings have of late years greatly improved in moral character, and masters allow their servants and slaves to be present at them, partly for pleasure, and partly because they are often productive of good results. I did not observe the slightest circumstance which was repug. nant to my feelings or unbecoming, except, if people will, the convulsive excitement. I had some conversation on this subject with the leader of the meeting, the amiable and agreeable Mr. Martin, the Methodist preacher, and he disapproved of it, as I had already heard. These excited utterances, however, said he, appear to belong to the impulsive negro temperament, and these sudden conversions, the result of a moment of excitement, have this good result, that such converts commonly unite themselves to churches and ministers, become members of a so-called class, and thus obtain regular instruction in the doctrines of religion, learn hymns and prayers, and become generally from that time good Christians and orderly members of society.
In the great West, as well as here in the South, and in all places where society is as yet uncultivated, it is the Methodists and the Baptists who first break the religious ground, working upon the feelings and the senses of these children of nature. Afterward come the Calvinists, Lutherans, and many others, who speak rather to the understanding. Missionaries who assemble the people and talk to them under God's free heaven, who know how to avail themselves of every circumstance presented by the time, the scenery around them, and their own free positions, are likely to produce the most powerful results; and I have heard extraordinary instances related of their influence over the masses, and of the contagious effect of that excitement of mind which frequently occurs on these occasions. These camp-meetings continue from three to seven days. The one at which we were present was to break up on the following day, and it was expected that a great number of conversions would take place on the following night. Nevertheless, this seemed to depend on casual cir. cumstances, and probably more than any thing else upon a preacher whose sermon had that tendency.
We spent yet a few hours in observing the spiritual and physical occurrences of the camp, wandering in the wood and botanizing. Mr. R. gathered for me many new flowers, among which was a small, very pretty little yellow flower, called the saffron-flower.
At five in the afternoon we returned to Charleston by a train which conveyed certainly two thousand persons, two thirds of them blacks. They sang the whole way, and were in high spirits.
The next morning, with a little basket of bananas and sponge-cake, which my kind hostess and friend, Mrs. W. H., provided for me, I was on my way to Savannah. She herself accompanied me on board the steam-boat, and would willingly have accompanied me the whole journey; and how willingly would I have had her with me! She is one of the persons with whom I can get on extremely well. But I set off alone, with her fruit and a bouquet of flowers from Mrs. Holbrook. Yet I was not alone, for iny heart was full of many things. The day was glorious, and the vessel steamed up the Savannah, which, with a thousand windings, flows between verdant shores, which, though flat, are ornamented with charming woods and plantations, with their large mansions and pretty little slave villages, so that the whole was like a refreshing pleasure trip. True, the slave villages are not a gladdening sight, but I have hitherto seen far more happy than unhappy slaves, and therefore I have not as yet a gloomy impression of their condition here.
The crew of this little steam-boat consisted merely of slaves, blacks, and mulattoes. The captain told me that they were very happy, as well as faithful and clever.
“ That man," said he, indicating with his glance an elderly man, a mulatto, with a remarkably handsome, but as it seemed to me, a melancholy countenance, " is my favorite servant, and I need wish for no other as care-taker and friend by my death-bed."
The crew appeared to be well fed and cared for. A handsome and fat mulatto woman said to me, in an un. der tone, when we were alone,
“What do you say about the institution of slavery hete in the South ?”
“I think,” replied I, “that the slaves, in general, appear happy and well cared for."
“Yes, yes,” said she, “it may seem, but—" and she gave a very significant glance, as if to say, “All is not gold that glitters.”
“ You do not consider them to be well treated, then ?" asked I.
“Some are, certainly,” said she, “but” and again she gave a significant glance.
I could have wished that she had said more, but as she belonged to the vessel, I could not ask any questions. I would not become a spy; that is against my nature, and any thing which I could not become acquainted with by my own experience, or by my own direct ability, that I would not know. Scarcely in any case could the mulatto woman have told me any thing which I did not already know: there are good and there are bad masters-happy and unhappy slaves; and the institution is—a great lie in the life of human freedom, and especially in the New World.
There were on board the steamer some persons with whom I was acquainted, among them Miss Mary P., a lively, intelligent young girl from the State of New York, who was spending the winter in Savannah on account of her health. She had a pulmonary affection, and suffered greatly from the winters of the Northern States ; but with the southern air, especially the air of Savannah, and Dumeopathic treatment, she was recovering. I associated with people as little as possible ; enjoyed the silence and the river journey, the beautiful day, the quiet delicious scenery, so unlike the occurrences of the preceding day. When the sun went down, and the evening suddenly became dusk-as is always the case in these latitudes—I saw a clear white light ascend from the southern heavens to the zenith. They told me it was the zodiacal light. It was not flashing, colored, and brilliant, as our northern lights are most frequently, but calm, soft, and clear. A grave, elderly gentleman, in whose company I contemplated the starry heavens on the upper deck, told me that later on in the summer the southern cross might be perceived on the horizon, as well as the uppermost star in the Ship Argo. Thus you see that new lights and new constellations now rise above my head! I bid them wel. come!
In the deep twilight came a boat rowing up to the steamer. Several blacks and one white man were in the boat. . The white man came on board after taking a friendly leave of the blacks, a voice from among whom cried after him, “Don't forget yourself long away, massa !” “ No, no !” cried massa back to them.
At about half past eleven we reached Savannah. I accompanied Miss P., her sister, and å young, agreeable physician, to the largest hotel in the city, the Pulaski House: so called from the Polish hero of that name, who fought and fell in the American War of Independence, and whose monument, a handsome, white marble obelisk, stands upon a green spot of ground before the hotel, surrounded by splendid trees.
At seven o'clock the next morning I was in a rail-way carriage on my way to Macon, a long and very wearisome day's journey, especially in the great heat, and with the smoke and steam which filled the carriages. The road lay throuoh a barren, sandy extent of country, overgrown