6.14.2017 Doc of the Day

1. Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1853.
2. Max Weber, 1905.
3. Che Guevara, 1960.

4. Yasunari Kawabata, 1968.

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (1840)
J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (1840)

Numero UnoPREFACE.

The work which the writer here presents to the public is one which has been written with no pleasure, and with much pain.

In fictitious writing, it is possible to find refuge from the hard and the terrible, by inventing scenes and characters of a more pleasing nature.  No such resource is open in a work of fact; and the subject of this work is one on which the truth, if told at all, must needs be very dreadful.  There is no bright side to slavery, as such.  Those scenes which are made bright by the generosity and kindness of masters and mistresses, would be brighter still if the element of slavery were withdrawn.  There is nothing picturesque or beautiful, in the family attachment of old servants, which is not to be found in countries where these servants are legally free.  The tenants on an English estate are often more fond and faithful than if they were slaves.  Slavery, therefore, is not the element which forms the picturesque and beautiful of Southern life.  What is peculiar to slavery, and distinguishes it from free servitude, is evil, and only evil, and that continually.

In preparing this work, it has grown much beyond the author’s original design.  It has so far overrun its limits that she has been obliged to omit one whole department;—that of the characteristics and developments of the colored race in various countries and circumstances.  This is more properly the subject for a volume; and she hopes that such an one will soon be prepared by a friend to whom she has transferred her materials.

The author desires to express her thanks particularly to those legal gentlemen who have given her their assistance and support in the legal part of the discussion.  She also desires to thank those, at the North and at the South, who have kindly furnished materials for her use.  Many more have been supplied than could possibly be used.  The book is actually selected out of a mountain of materials.

The great object of the author in writing has been to bring this subject of slavery, as a moral and religious question, before the minds of all those who profess to be followers of Christ, in this country.  A minute history has been given of the action of the various denominations on this subject.

The writer has aimed, as far as possible, to say what is true, and only that, without regard to the effect which it may have upon any person or party. She hopes that what she has said will be examined without bitterness,—in that serious and earnest spirit which is appropriate for the examination of so very serious a subject. It would be vain for her to indulge the hope of being wholly free from error. In the wide field which she has been called to go over, there is a possibility of many mistakes. She can only say that she has used the most honest and earnest endeavors to learn the truth.

The book is commended to the candid attention and earnest prayers of all true Christians, throughout the world. May they unite their prayers that Christendom may be delivered from so great an evil as slavery!

PART I.

5

CHAPTER I.

At different times, doubt has been expressed whether the representations of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” are a fair representation of slavery as it at present exists. This work, more, perhaps, than any other work of fiction that ever was written, has been a collection and arrangement of real incidents,—of actions really performed, of words and expressions really uttered,—grouped together with reference to a general result, in the same manner that the mosaic artist groups his fragments of various stones into one general picture. His is a mosaic of gems,—this is a mosaic of facts.

Artistically considered, it might not be best to point out in which quarry and from which region each fragment of the mosaic picture had its origin; and it is equally unartistic to disentangle the glittering web of fiction, and show out of what real warp and woof it is woven, and with what real coloring dyed. But the book had a purpose entirely transcending the artistic one, and accordingly encounters, at the hands of the public, demands not usually made on fictitious works. It is treated as a reality,—sifted, tried and tested, as a reality; and therefore as a reality it may be proper that it should be defended.

The writer acknowledges that the book is a very inadequate representation of slavery; and it is so, necessarily, for this reason,—that slavery, in some of its workings, is too dreadful for the purposes of art. A work which should represent it strictly as it is would be a work which could not be read. And all works which ever mean to give pleasure must draw a veil somewhere, or they cannot succeed.

The author will now proceed along the course of the story, from the first page onward, and develop, as far as possible, the incidents by which different parts were suggested.

CHAPTER II.
MR. HALEY.

In the very first chapter of the book we encounter the character of the negro-trader, Mr. Haley. His name stands at the head of this chapter as the representative of all the different characters introduced in the work which exhibit the trader, the kidnapper, the negro-catcher, the negro-whipper, and all the other inevitable auxiliaries and indispensable appendages of what is often called the “divinely-instituted relation” of slavery. The author’s first personal observation of this class of beings was somewhat as follows:

Several years ago, while one morning employed in the duties of the nursery, a colored woman was announced. She was ushered into the nursery, and the author thought, on first survey, that a more surly, unpromising face she had never seen. The woman was thoroughly black, thick-set, firmly built, and with strongly-marked African features. Those who have been accustomed to read the expressions of the African face know what a peculiar effect is produced by a lowering, desponding expression upon its dark features. It is like the shadow of a thunder-cloud. Unlike her race generally, the woman did not smile when smiled upon, nor utter any pleasant remark in reply to such as were addressed to her. The youngest pet of the nursery, a boy about three years old, walked up, and laid his little hand on her knee, and seemed astonished not to meet the quick smile which the negro almost always has in reserve for the little child. The writer thought her very cross and disagreeable, and, after a few moments’ silence, asked, with perhaps a little impatience, “Do you want anything of me to-day?”

“Here are some papers,” said the woman, pushing them towards her; “perhaps you would read them.”

The first paper opened was a letter from 6a negro-trader in Kentucky, stating concisely that he had waited about as long as he could for her child; that he wanted to start for the South, and must get it off his hands; that, if she would send him two hundred dollars before the end of the week, she should have it; if not, that he would set it up at auction, at the court-house door, on Saturday. He added, also, that he might have got more than that for the child, but that he was willing to let her have it cheap.

“What sort of a man is this?” said the author to the woman, when she had done reading the letter.

“Dunno, ma’am; great Christian, I know,—member of the Methodist church, anyhow.”

The expression of sullen irony with which this was said was a thing to be remembered.

“And how old is this child?” said the author to her.

The woman looked at the little boy who had been standing at her knee, with an expressive glance, and said, “She will be three years old this summer.”

On further inquiry into the history of the woman, it appeared that she had been set free by the will of her owners; that the child was legally entitled to freedom, but had been seized on by the heirs of the estate. She was poor and friendless, without money to maintain a suit, and the heirs, of course, threw the child into the hands of the trader. The necessary sum, it may be added, was all raised in the small neighborhood which then surrounded the Lane Theological Seminary, and the child was redeemed.

If the public would like a specimen of the correspondence which passes between these worthies, who are the principal reliance of the community for supporting and extending the institution of slavery, the following may be interesting as a matter of literary curiosity. It was forwarded by Mr. M. J. Thomas, of Philadelphia, to the National Era, and stated by him to be “a copy taken verbatim from the original, found among the papers of the person to whom it was addressed, at the time of his arrest and conviction, for passing a variety of counterfeit bank-notes.”

Poolsville, Montgomery Co., Md.,
March 24, 1831.

Dear Sir: I arrived home in safety with Louisa, John having been rescued from me, out of a two-story window, at twelve o’clock at night. I offered a reward of fifty dollars, and have him here safe in jail. The persons who took him brought him to Fredericktown jail. I wish you to write to no person in this state but myself. Kephart and myself are determined to go the whole hog for any negro you can find, and you must give me the earliest information, as soon as you do find any. Enclosed you will receive a handbill, and I can make a good bargain, if you can find them. I will in all cases, as soon as a negro runs off, send you a handbill immediately, so that you may be on the look-out. Please tell the constable to go on with the sale of John’s property; and, when the money is made, I will send on an order to you for it. Please attend to this for me; likewise write to me, and inform me of any negro you think has run away,—no matter where you think he has come from, nor how far,—and I will try and find out his master. Let me know where you think he is from, with all particular marks, and if I don’t find his master, Joe’s dead!

Write to me about the crooked-fingered negro, and let me know which hand and which finger, color, &c.; likewise any mark the fellow has who says he got away from the negro-buyer, with his height and color, or any other you think has run off.

Give my respects to your partner, and be sure you write to no person but myself. If any person writes to you, you can inform me of it, and I will try to buy from them. I think we can make money, if we do business together; for I have plenty of money, if you can find plenty of negroes. Let me know if Daniel is still where he was, and if you have heard anything of Francis since I left you. Accept for yourself my regard and esteem.

Reuben B. Carlley.
John C. Saunders.

This letter strikingly illustrates the character of these fellow-patriots with whom the great men of our land have been acting in conjunction, in carrying out the beneficent provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law.

With regard to the Kephart named in this letter the community of Boston may have a special interest to know further particulars, as he was one of the dignitaries sent from the South to assist the good citizens of that place in the religious and patriotic enterprise of 1851, at the time that Shadrach was unfortunately rescued. It therefore may be well to introduce somewhat particularly John Kephart, as sketched by Richard H. Dana, Jr., one of the lawyers employed in the defence of the perpetrators of the rescue.

I shall never forget John Caphart. I have been eleven years at the bar, and in that time have seen many developments of vice and hardness, but I never met with anything so cold-blooded as the testimony of that man. John Caphart is a tall, sallow man, of about fifty, with jet-black hair, a restless, dark eye, and an anxious, care-worn look, which, had there been enough of moral element 7in the expression, might be called melancholy. His frame was strong, and in youth he had evidently been powerful, but he was not robust. Yet there was a calm, cruel look, a power of will and a quickness of muscular action, which still render him a terror in his vocation.

In the manner of giving in his testimony there was no bluster or outward show of insolence. His contempt for the humane feelings of the audience and community about him was too true to require any assumption of that kind. He neither paraded nor attempted to conceal the worst features of his calling. He treated it as a matter of business which he knew the community shuddered at, but the moral nature of which he was utterly indifferent to, beyond a certain secret pleasure in thus indirectly inflicting a little torture on his hearers.

I am not, however, altogether clear, to do John Caphart justice, that he is entirely conscience-proof. There was something in his anxious look which leaves one not without hope.

At the first trial we did not know of his pursuits, and he passed merely as a police-man of Norfolk, Virginia. But, at the second trial, some one in the room gave me a hint of the occupations many of these police-men take to, which led to my cross-examination.

From the Examination of John Caphart, in the “Rescue Trials,” at Boston, in June and Nov., 1851, and October, 1852.

Question. Is it a part of your duty, as a police-man, to take up colored persons who are out after hours in the streets?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Q. What is done with them?

A. We put them in the lock-up, and in the morning they are brought into court and ordered to be punished,—those that are to be punished.

Q. What punishment do they get?

A. Not exceeding thirty-nine lashes.

Q. Who gives them these lashes?

A. Any of the officers. I do, sometimes.

Q. Are you paid extra for this? How much?

A. Fifty cents a head. It used to be sixty-two cents. Now it is fifty. Fifty cents for each one we arrest, and fifty more for each one we flog.

Q. Are these persons you flog men and boys only, or are they women and girls also?

A. Men, women, boys and girls, just as it happens.

[The government interfered, and tried to prevent any further examination; and said, among other things, that he only performed his duty as police-officer under the law. After a discussion, Judge Curtis allowed it to proceed.]

Q. Is your flogging confined to these cases? Do you not flog slaves at the request of their masters?

A. Sometimes I do. Certainly, when I am called upon.

Q. In these cases of private flogging, are the negroes sent to you? Have you a place for flogging?

A. No. I go round, as I am sent for.

Q. Is this part of your duty as an officer?

A. No, sir.

Q. In these cases of private flogging, do you inquire into the circumstances, to see what the fault has been, or if there is any?

A. That’s none of my business. I do as I am requested. The master is responsible.

Q. In these cases, too, I suppose you flog women and girls, as well as men.

A. Women and men.

Q. Mr. Caphart, how long have you been engaged in this business?

A. Ever since 1836.

Q. How many negroes do you suppose you have flogged, in all, women and children included?

A. [Looking calmly round the room.] I don’t know how many niggers you have got here in Massachusetts, but I should think I had flogged as many as you’ve got in the state.

[The same man testified that he was often employed to pursue fugitive slaves. His reply to the question was, “I never refuse a good job in that line.”]

Q. Don’t they sometimes turn out bad jobs?

A. Never, if I can help it.

Q. Are they not sometimes discharged after you get them?

A. Not often. I don’t know that they ever are, except those Portuguese the counsel read about.

[I had found, in a Virginia report, a case of some two hundred Portuguese negroes, whom this John Caphart had seized from a vessel, and endeavored to get condemned as slaves, but whom the court discharged.]

Hon. John P. Hale, associated with Mr. Dana, as counsel for the defence, in the Rescue Trials, said of him, in his closing argument:

Why, gentlemen, he sells agony! Torture is his stock-in-trade! He is a walking scourge! He hawks, peddles, retails, groans and tears about the streets of Norfolk!

See also the following correspondence between two traders, one in North Carolina, the other in New Orleans; with a word of comment, by Hon. William Jay, of New York:

Halifax, N. C., Nov. 16, 1839.

Dear Sir: I have shipped in the brig Addison,—prices are below:

No. 1. Caroline Ennis, $650.00
No. 2. Silvy Holland, 625.00
No. 3. Silvy Booth, 487.50
No. 4. Maria Pollock, 475.00
No. 5. Emeline Pollock, 475.00
No. 6. Delia Averit, 475.00

The two girls that cost $650 and $625 were bought before I shipped my first. I have a great many negroes offered to me, but I will not pay the prices they ask, for I know they will come down. I have no opposition in market. I will wait until I hear from you before I buy, and then I can judge what I must pay. Goodwin will send you the bill of lading for my negroes, as he shipped them with his own. Write often, as the times are critical, and it depends on the prices you get to govern me in buying. Yours, &c.,

G. W. Barnes.
Mr. Theophilus Freeman, }
New Orleans. }

The above was a small but choice invoice of wives and mothers. Nine days before, namely, 7th Nov., Mr. Barnes advised Mr. Freeman of having shipped a lot of forty-three men and women. Mr. Freeman, informing one of his correspondents of the state of the market, writes (Sunday, 21st Sept., 1839), “I bought a boy yesterday, sixteen years old, and likely, weighing one hundred and ten pounds, at $700. I sold a likely girl, twelve years old, at $500. I bought a man yesterday, twenty years old, six feet high, at $820; one to-day, twenty-four years old, at $850, black and sleek as a mole.”

The writer has drawn in this work only one class of the negro-traders. There are all varieties of them, up to the great wholesale purchasers, who keep their large trading-houses; who are gentlemanly in manners and courteous in address; who, in many respects, often perform actions of real generosity; who consider slavery a very great evil, and hope the country will at some time be delivered from it, but who think that so long as clergyman and layman, saint and sinner, are all agreed in the propriety and necessity of slave-holding, it is better that the necessary trade in the article be conducted by men of humanity and decency, than by swearing, brutal men, of the Tom Loker school. These men are exceedingly sensitive with regard to what they consider the injustice of the world in excluding them from good society, simply because they undertake to supply a demand in the community which the bar, the press and the pulpit, all pronounce to be a proper one. In this respect, society certainly imitates the unreasonableness of the ancient Egyptians, who employed a certain class of men to prepare dead bodies for embalming, but flew at them with sticks and stones the moment the operation was over, on account of the sacrilegious liberty which they had taken. If there is an ill-used class of men in the world, it is certainly the slave-traders; for, if there is no harm in the institution of slavery,—if it is a divinely-appointed and honorable one, like civil government and the family state, and like other species of property relation,—then there is no earthly reason why a man may not as innocently be a slave-trader as any other kind of trader.

8

CHAPTER III.
MR. AND MRS. SHELBY.

It was the design of the writer, in delineating the domestic arrangements of Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, to show a picture of the fairest side of slave-life, where easy indulgence and good-natured forbearance are tempered by just discipline and religious instruction, skilfully and judiciously imparted.

The writer did not come to her task without reading much upon both sides of the question, and making a particular effort to collect all the most favorable representations of slavery which she could obtain. And, as the reader may have a curiosity to examine some of the documents, the writer will present them quite at large. There is no kind of danger to the world in letting the very fairest side of slavery be seen; in fact, the horrors and barbarities which are necessarily inherent in it are so terrible that one stands absolutely in need of all the comfort which can be gained from incidents like the subjoined, to save them from utter despair of human nature. The first account is from Mr. J. K. Paulding’s Letters on Slavery; and is a letter from a Virginia planter, whom we should judge, from his style, to be a very amiable, agreeable man, and who probably describes very fairly the state of things on his own domain.

Dear Sir: As regards the first query, which relates to the “rights and duties of the slave,” I do not know how extensive a view of this branch of the subject is contemplated. In its simplest aspect, as understood and acted on in Virginia, I should say that the slave is entitled to an abundance of good plain food; to coarse but comfortable apparel; to a warm but humble dwelling; to protection when well, and to succor when sick; and, in return, that it is his duty to render to his master all the service he can consistently with perfect health, and to behave submissively and honestly. Other remarks suggest themselves, but they will be more appropriately introduced under different heads.

2d. “The domestic relations of master and slave.”—These relations are much misunderstood by many persons at the North, who regard the terms as synonymous with oppressor and oppressed. Nothing can be further from the fact. The condition of the negroes in this state has been greatly ameliorated. The proprietors were formerly fewer and richer than at present. Distant quarters were often kept up to support the aristocratic mansion. They were rarely visited by their owners; and heartless overseers, frequently changed, were employed to manage them for a share of the crop. These men scourged the land, and sometimes the slaves. Their tenure was but for a year, and of course they made the most of their brief authority. Owing to the influence of our institutions, property has become subdivided, and most persons live on or near their estates. There are exceptions, to be sure, and particularly among wealthy gentlemen in the towns; but these last are almost all enlightened and humane, and alike liberal to the soil and to the slave who cultivates it. I could point out some noble instances of patriotic and spirited improvement among them. But, to return to the resident proprietors: most of them have been raised on the estates; from the older negroes 9they have received in infancy numberless acts of kindness; the younger ones have not unfrequently been their playmates (not the most suitable, I admit), and much good-will is thus generated on both sides. In addition to this, most men feel attached to their property; and this attachment is stronger in the case of persons than of things. I know it, and feel it. It is true, there are harsh masters; but there are also bad husbands and bad fathers. They are all exceptions to the rule, not the rule itself. Shall we therefore condemn in the gross those relations, and the rights and authority they imply, from their occasional abuse? I could mention many instances of strong attachment on the part of the slave, but will only adduce one or two, of which I have been the object. It became a question whether a faithful servant, bred up with me from boyhood, should give up his master or his wife and children, to whom he was affectionately attached, and most attentive and kind. The trial was a severe one, but he determined to break those tender ties and remain with me. I left it entirely to his discretion, though I would not, from considerations of interest, have taken for him quadruple the price I should probably have obtained. Fortunately, in the sequel, I was enabled to purchase his family, with the exception of a daughter, happily situated; and nothing but death shall henceforth part them. Were it put to the test, I am convinced that many masters would receive this striking proof of devotion. A gentleman but a day or two since informed me of a similar, and even stronger case, afforded by one of his slaves. As the reward of assiduous and delicate attention to a venerated parent, in her last illness, I proposed to purchase and liberate a healthy and intelligent woman, about thirty years of age, the best nurse, and, in all respects, one of the best servants in the state, of which I was only part owner; but she declined to leave the family, and has been since rather better than free. I shall be excused for stating a ludicrous case I heard of some time ago:—A favorite and indulged servant requested his master to sell him to another gentleman. His master refused to do so, but told him he was at perfect liberty to go to the North, if he were not already free enough. After a while he repeated the request; and, on being urged to give an explanation of his singular conduct, told his master that he considered himself consumptive, and would soon die; and he thought Mr. B—— was better able to bear the loss than his master. He was sent to a medicinal spring and recovered his health, if, indeed, he had ever lost it, of which his master had been unapprised. It may not be amiss to describe my deportment towards my servants, whom I endeavor to render happy while I make them profitable. I never turn a deaf ear, but listen patiently to their communications. I chat familiarly with those who have passed service, or have not begun to render it. With the others I observe a more prudent reserve, but I encourage all to approach me without awe. I hardly ever go to town without having commissions to execute for some of them; and think they prefer to employ me, from a belief that, if their money should not quite hold out, I would add a little to it; and I not unfrequently do, in order to get a better article. The relation between myself and my slaves is decidedly friendly. I keep up pretty exact discipline, mingled with kindness, and hardly ever lose property by thievish, or labor by runaway slaves. I never lock the outer doors of my house. It is done, but done by the servants; and I rarely bestow a thought on the matter. I leave home periodically for two months, and commit the dwelling-house, plate, and other valuables, to the servants, without even an enumeration of the articles.

3d. “The duration of the labor of the slave.”—The day is usually considered long enough. Employment at night is not exacted by me, except to shell corn once a week for their own consumption, and on a few other extraordinary occasions. The people, as we generally call them, are required to leave their houses at daybreak, and to work until dark, with the intermission of half an hour to an hour at breakfast, and one to two hours at dinner, according to the season and sort of work. In this respect I suppose our negroes will bear a favorable comparison with any laborers whatever.

4th. “The liberty usually allowed the slave,—his holidays and amusements, and the way in which they usually spend their evenings and holidays.”—They are prohibited from going off the estate without first obtaining leave; though they often transgress, and with impunity, except in flagrant cases. Those who have wives on other plantations visit them on certain specified nights, and have an allowance of time for going and returning, proportioned to the distance. My negroes are permitted, and, indeed, encouraged, to raise as many ducks and chickens as they can; to cultivate vegetables for their own use, and a patch of corn for sale; to exercise their trades, when they possess one, which many do; to catch muskrats and other animals for the fur or the flesh; to raise bees, and, in fine, to earn an honest penny in any way which chance or their own ingenuity may offer. The modes specified are, however, those most commonly resorted to, and enable provident servants to make from five to thirty dollars apiece. The corn is of a different sort from that which I cultivate, and is all bought by me. A great many fowls are raised; I have this year known ten dollars worth sold by one man at one time. One of the chief sources of profit is the fur of the muskrat; for the purpose of catching which the marshes on the estate have been parcelled out and appropriated from time immemorial, and are held by a tenure little short of fee-simple. The negroes are indebted to Nat Turner[1] and Tappan for a curtailment of some of their privileges. As a sincere friend to the blacks, I have much regretted the reckless interference of these persons, on account of the restrictions it has become, or been thought, necessary to impose. Since the exploit of the former hero, they have been forbidden to preach, except to their fellow-slaves, the property of the same owner; to have public funerals, unless a white person officiates; or to be taught to read and write. Their funerals formerly gave them great satisfaction, and it was customary here to furnish the relations of the deceased with bacon, spirit, flour, sugar and butter, with which a grand entertainment, in their way, was got up. We were once much amused by a hearty fellow requesting his mistress to let him have his funeral during his lifetime, when it would do him some good. The waggish request was granted; and I venture to say there never was a 10funeral the subject of which enjoyed it so much. When permitted, some of our negroes preached with great fluency. I was present, a few years since, when an Episcopal minister addressed the people, by appointment. On the conclusion of an excellent sermon, a negro preacher rose and thanked the gentleman kindly for his discourse, but frankly told him the congregation “did not understand his lingo.” He then proceeded himself, with great vehemence and volubility, coining words where they had not been made to his hand, or rather his tongue, and impressing his hearers, doubtless, with a decided opinion of his superiority over his white co-laborer in the field of grace. My brother and I, who own contiguous estates, have lately erected a chapel on the line between them, and have employed an acceptable minister of the Baptist persuasion, to which the negroes almost exclusively belong, to afford them religious instruction. Except as a preparatory step to emancipation, I consider it exceedingly impolitic, even as regards the slaves themselves, to permit them to read and write: “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” And it is certainly impolitic as regards their masters, on the principle that “knowledge is power.” My servants have not as long holidays as those of most other persons. I allow three days at Christmas, and a day at each of three other periods, besides a little time to work their patches; or, if very busy, I sometimes prefer to work them myself. Most of the ancient pastimes have been lost in this neighborhood, and religion, mock or real, has succeeded them. The banjo, their national instrument, is known but in name, or in a few of the tunes which have survived. Some of the younger negroes sing and dance, but the evenings and holidays are usually occupied in working, in visiting, and in praying and singing hymns. The primitive customs and sports are, I believe, better preserved further south, where slaves were brought from Africa long after they ceased to come here.

6th. “The provision usually made for their food and clothing,—for those who are too young or too old to labor.”—My men receive twelve quarts of Indian meal (the abundant and universal allowance in this state), seven salted herrings, and two pounds of smoked bacon or three pounds of pork, a week; the other hands proportionally less. But, generally speaking, their food is issued daily, with the exception of meal, and consists of fish or bacon for breakfast, and meat, fresh or salted, with vegetables whenever we can provide them, for dinner; or, for a month or two in the spring, fresh fish cooked with a little bacon. This mode is rather more expensive to me than that of weekly rations, but more comfortable to the servants. Superannuated or invalid slaves draw their provisions regularly once a week; and the moment a child ceases to be nourished by its mother, it receives eight quarts of meal (more than it can consume), and one half-pound of lard. Besides the food furnished by me, nearly all the servants are able to make some addition from their private stores; and there is among the adults hardly an instance of one so improvident as not to do it. He must be an unthrifty fellow, indeed, who cannot realize the wish of the famous Henry IV. in regard to the French peasantry, and enjoy his fowl on Sunday. I always keep on hand, for the use of the negroes, sugar, molasses, &c., which, though not regularly issued, are applied for on the slightest pretexts, and frequently no pretext at all, and are never refused, except in cases of misconduct. In regard to clothing:—the men and boys receive a winter coat and trousers of strong cloth, three shirts, a stout pair of shoes and socks, and a pair of summer pantaloons, every year; a hat about every second year, and a great-coat and blanket every third year. Instead of great-coats and hats, the women have large capes to protect the bust in bad weather, and handkerchiefs for the head. The articles furnished are good and serviceable; and, with their own acquisitions, make their appearance decent and respectable. On Sunday they are even fine. The aged and invalid are clad as regularly as the rest, but less substantially. Mothers receive a little raw cotton, in proportion to the number of children, with the privilege of having the yarn, when spun, woven at my expense. I provide them with blankets. Orphans are put with careful women, and treated with tenderness. I am attached to the little slaves, and encourage familiarity among them. Sometimes, when I ride near the quarters, they come running after me with the most whimsical requests, and are rendered happy by the distribution of some little donation. The clothing described is that which is given to the crop hands. Home-servants, a numerous class in Virginia, are of course clad in a different and very superior manner. I neglected to mention, in the proper place, that there are on each of my plantations a kitchen, an oven, and one or more cooks; and that each hand is furnished with a tin bucket for his food, which is carried into the field by little negroes, who also supply the laborers with water.

7th. “Their treatment when sick.”—My negroes go, or are carried, as soon as they are attacked, to a spacious and well-ventilated hospital, near the mansion-house. They are there received by an attentive nurse, who has an assortment of medicine, additional bed-clothing, and the command of as much light food as she may require, either from the table or the store-room of the proprietor. Wine, sago, rice, and other little comforts appertaining to such an establishment, are always kept on hand. The condition of the sick is much better than that of the poor whites or free colored people in the neighborhood.

8th. “Their rewards and punishments.”—I occasionally bestow little gratuities for good conduct, and particularly after harvest; and hardly ever refuse a favor asked by those who faithfully perform their duty. Vicious and idle servants are punished with stripes, moderately inflicted; to which, in the case of theft, is added privation of meat, a severe punishment to those who are never suffered to be without it on any other account. From my limited observation, I think that servants to the North work much harder than our slaves. I was educated at a college in one of the free states, and, on my return to Virginia, was struck with the contrast. I was astonished at the number of idle domestics, and actually worried my mother, much to my contrition since, to reduce the establishment. I say to my contrition, because, after eighteen years’ residence in the good Old Dominion, I find myself surrounded by a troop of servants about as numerous as that against which I formerly so loudly exclaimed. While on this subject it may not be amiss to state a case of manumission which occurred about three years since. My nearest neighbor, a man of immense 11wealth, owned a favorite servant, a fine fellow, with polished manners and excellent disposition, who reads and writes, and is thoroughly versed in the duties of a butler and housekeeper, in the performance of which he was trusted without limit. This man was, on the death of his master, emancipated with a legacy of six thousand dollars, besides about two thousand dollars more which he had been permitted to accumulate, and had deposited with his master, who had given him credit for it. The use that this man, apparently so well qualified for freedom, and who has had an opportunity of travelling and of judging for himself, makes of his money and his time, is somewhat remarkable. In consequence of his exemplary conduct, he has been permitted to reside in the state, and for very moderate wages occupies the same situation he did in the old establishment, and will probably continue to occupy it as long as he lives. He has no children of his own, but has put a little girl, a relation of his, to school. Except in this instance, and in the purchase of a few plain articles of furniture, his freedom and his money seem not much to have benefited him. A servant of mine, who is intimate with him, thinks he is not as happy as he was before his liberation. Several other servants were freed at the same time, with smaller legacies, but I do not know what has become of them.

I do not regard negro-slavery, however mitigated, as a Utopian system, and have not intended so to delineate it. But it exists, and the difficulty of removing it is felt and acknowledged by all, save the fanatics, who, like “fools, rush in where angels dare not tread.” It is pleasing to know that its burdens are not too heavy to be borne. That the treatment of slaves in this state is humane, and even indulgent, may be inferred from the fact of their rapid increase and great longevity. I believe that, constituted as they are, morally and physically, they are as happy as any peasantry in the world; and I venture to affirm, as the result of my reading and inquiry, that in no country are the laborers so liberally and invariably supplied with bread and meat as are the negro slaves of the United States. However great the dearth of provisions, famine never reaches them.

P. S.—It might have been stated above that on this estate there are about one hundred and sixty blacks. With the exception of infants, there has been, in eighteen months, but one death that I remember,—that of a man fully sixty-five years of age. The bill for medical attendance, from the second day of last November, comprising upwards of a year, is less than forty dollars.

The following accounts are taken from “Ingraham’s Travels in the South-west,” a work which seems to have been written as much to show the beauties of slavery as anything else. Speaking of the state of things on some Southern plantations, he gives the following pictures, which are presented without note or comment:

The little candidates for “field honors” are useless articles on a plantation during the first five or six years of their existence. They are then to take their first lesson in the elementary part of their education. When they have learned their manual alphabet tolerably well, they are placed in the field to take a spell at cotton-picking. The first day in the field is their proudest day. The young negroes look forward to it with as much restlessness and impatience as school-boys to a vacation. Black children are not put to work so young as many children of poor parents in the North. It is often the case that the children of the domestic servants become pets in the house, and the playmates of the white children of the family. No scene can be livelier or more interesting to a Northerner, than that which the negro quarters of a well-regulated plantation present on a Sabbath morning, just before church-hours. In every cabin the men are shaving and dressing; the women, arrayed in their gay muslins, are arranging their frizzly hair,—in which they take no little pride,—or investigating the condition of their children; the old people, neatly clothed, are quietly conversing or smoking about the doors; and those of the younger portion who are not undergoing the infliction of the wash-tub are enjoying themselves in the shade of the trees, or around some little pond, with as much zest as though slavery and freedom were synonymous terms. When all are dressed, and the hour arrives for worship, they lock up their cabins, and the whole population of the little village proceeds to the chapel, where divine service is performed, sometimes by an officiating clergyman, and often by the planter himself, if a church-member. The whole plantation is also frequently formed into a Sabbath class, which is instructed by the planter, or some member of his family; and often, such is the anxiety of the master that they should perfectly understand what they are taught,—a hard matter in the present state of their intellect,—that no means calculated to advance their progress are left untried. I was not long since shown a manuscript catechism, drawn up with great care and judgment by a distinguished planter, on a plan admirably adapted to the comprehension of the negroes.

It is now popular to treat slaves with kindness; and those planters who are known to be inhumanly rigorous to their slaves are scarcely countenanced by the more intelligent and humane portion of the community. Such instances, however, are very rare; but there are unprincipled men everywhere, who will give vent to their ill feelings and bad passions, not with less good will upon the back of an indented apprentice, than upon that of a purchased slave. Private chapels are now introduced upon most of the plantations of the more wealthy, which are far from any church; Sabbath-schools are instituted for the black children, and Bible-classes for the parents, which are superintended by the planter, a chaplain, or some of the female members of the family.

Nor are planters indifferent to the comfort of their gray-headed slaves. I have been much affected at beholding many exhibitions of their kindly feeling towards them. They always address them in a mild and pleasant manner, as “Uncle,” or “Aunty,”—titles as peculiar to the old negro and negress as “boy” and “girl” to all under forty years of age. Some old Africans are allowed to spend their last years in their houses, without doing any kind of labor; these, if not too infirm, cultivate little patches of ground, on which they raise a few vegetables,—for vegetables grow nearly all the year round in this climate,—and make a little money to purchase a few extra comforts. They are also always receiving presents 12from their masters and mistresses, and the negroes on the estate, the latter of whom are extremely desirous of seeing the old people comfortable. A relation of the extra comforts which some planters allow their slaves would hardly obtain credit at the North. But you must recollect that Southern planters are men, and men of feeling, generous and high-minded, and possessing as much of the “milk of human kindness” as the sons of colder climes—although they may have been educated to regard that as right which a different education has led Northerners to consider wrong.

With regard to the character of Mrs. Shelby the writer must say a few words. While travelling in Kentucky, a few years since, some pious ladies expressed to her the same sentiments with regard to slavery which the reader has heard expressed by Mrs. Shelby.

There are many whose natural sense of justice cannot be made to tolerate the enormities of the system, even though they hear it defended by clergymen from the pulpit, and see it countenanced by all that is most honorable in rank and wealth.

A pious lady said to the author, with regard to instructing her slaves, “I am ashamed to teach them what is right; I know that they know as well as I do that it is wrong to hold them as slaves, and I am ashamed to look them in the face.” Pointing to an intelligent mulatto woman who passed through the room, she continued, “Now, there’s B——. She is as intelligent and capable as any white woman I ever knew, and as well able to have her liberty and take care of herself; and she knows it isn’t right to keep her as we do, and I know it too; and yet I cannot get my husband to think as I do, or I should be glad to set them free.”

A venerable friend of the writer, a lady born and educated a slave-holder, used to the writer the very words attributed to Mrs. Shelby:—“I never thought it was right to hold slaves. I always thought it was wrong when I was a girl, and I thought so still more when I came to join the church.” An incident related by this friend of her examination for the church shows in a striking manner what a difference may often exist between theoretical and practical benevolence.

A certain class of theologians in America have advocated the doctrine of disinterested benevolence with such zeal as to make it an imperative article of belief that every individual ought to be willing to endure everlasting misery, if by doing so they could, on the whole, produce a greater amount of general good in the universe; and the inquiry was sometimes made of candidates for church-membership whether they could bring themselves to this point, as a test of their sincerity. The clergyman who was to examine this lady was particularly interested in these speculations. When he came to inquire of her with regard to her views as to the obligations of Christianity, she informed him decidedly that she had brought her mind to the point of emancipating all her slaves, of whom she had a large number. The clergyman seemed rather to consider this as an excess of zeal, and recommended that she should take time to reflect upon it. He was, however, very urgent to know whether, if it should appear for the greatest good of the universe, she would be willing to be damned. Entirely unaccustomed to theological speculations, the good woman answered, with some vehemence, that “she was sure she was not;” adding, naturally enough, that if that had been her purpose she need not have come to join the church. The good lady, however, was admitted, and proved her devotion to the general good by the more tangible method of setting all her slaves at liberty, and carefully watching over their education and interests after they were liberated.

Mrs. Shelby is a fair type of the very best class of Southern women; and while the evils of the institution are felt and deplored, and while the world looks with just indignation on the national support and patronage which is given to it, and on the men who, knowing its nature, deliberately make efforts to perpetuate and extend it, it is but justice that it should bear in mind the virtues of such persons.

Many of them, surrounded by circumstances over which they can have no control, perplexed by domestic cares of which women in free states can have very little conception, loaded down by duties and responsibilities which wear upon the very springs of life, still go on bravely and patiently from day to day, doing all they can to alleviate what they cannot prevent, and, as far as the sphere of their own immediate power extends, rescuing those who are dependent upon them from the evils of the system.

We read of Him who shall at last come to judgment, that “His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner.” Out of the great abyss of national sin he will rescue every grain of good and honest purpose and intention. His eyes, which are as a flame of fire, penetrate at once those intricate mazes where human judgment is lost, and will save and honor at last the truly good and sincere, however they may have been involved with the evil; and such souls as have resisted the greatest temptations, and persisted in good under the most perplexing circumstances, are those of whom he has written, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”


1.  The leader of the insurrection in lower Virginia, in which upwards of a hundred white persons, principally women and children, were massacred in cold blood.

13

CHAPTER IV.
GEORGE HARRIS.

The character of George Harris has been represented as overdrawn, both as respects personal qualities and general intelligence. It has been said, too, that so many afflictive incidents happening to a slave are improbable, and present a distorted view of the institution.

In regard to person, it must be remembered that the half-breeds often inherit, to a great degree, the traits of their white ancestors. For this there is abundant evidence in the advertisements of the papers. Witness the following from the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Gazette, Oct. 5th, 1852:

$500 REWARD.

Runaway from the subscriber, on the 25th May, a VERY BRIGHT MULATTO BOY, about 21 or 22 years old, named WASH. Said boy, without close observation, might pass himself for a white man, as he is very bright—has sandy hair, blue eyes, and a fine set of teeth. He is an excellent bricklayer; but I have no idea that he will pursue his trade, for fear of detection. Although he is like a white man in appearance, he has the disposition of a negro, and delights in comic songs and witty expressions. He is an excellent house servant, very handy about a hotel,—tall, slender, and has rather a down look, especially when spoken to, and is sometimes inclined to be sulky. I have no doubt but he has been decoyed off by some scoundrel, and I will give the above reward for the apprehension of the boy and thief, if delivered at Chattanooga. Or, I will give $200 for the boy alone; or $100 if confined in any jail in the United States, so that I can get him.

GEORGE O. RAGLAND.
Chattanooga, June 15, 1852.

From the Capitolian Vis-a-vis, West Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nov. 1, 1852:

$150 REWARD.

Runaway about the 15th of August last, Joe, a yellow man; small, about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, and about 20 years of age. Has a Roman nose, was raised in New Orleans, and speaks French and English. He was bought last winter of Mr. Digges, Banks Arcade, New Orleans.

In regard to general intelligence, the reader will recollect that the writer stated it as a fact which she learned while on a journey through Kentucky, that a young colored man invented a machine for cleaning hemp, like that alluded to in her story.

Advertisements, also, occasionally propose for sale artisans of different descriptions. Slaves are often employed as pilots for vessels, and highly valued for their skill and knowledge. The following are advertisements from recent newspapers.

From the South Carolinian (Columbia), Dec. 4th, 1852:

VALUABLE NEGROES AT AUCTION.
BY J. & L. T. LEVIN.

WILL be sold, on MONDAY, the 6th day of December, the following valuable NEGROES:

Andrew, 24 years of age, a bricklayer and plasterer, and thorough workman.

George, 22 years of age, one of the best barbers in the State.

James, 19 years of age, an excellent painter.

These boys were raised in Columbia, and are exceptions to most of boys, and are sold for no fault whatever.

The terms of sale are one-half cash, the balance on a credit of six months, with interest, for notes payable at bank, with two or more approved endorsers.

Purchasers to pay for necessary papers.

WILLIAM DOUGLASS.
November 27, 36.

From the same paper, of November 18th, 1852:

Will be sold at private sale, a LIKELY MAN, boat hand, and good pilot; is well acquainted with all the inlets between here and Savannah and Georgetown.

With regard to the incidents of George Harris’ life, that he may not be supposed a purely exceptional case, we propose to offer some parallel facts from the lives of slaves of our personal acquaintance.

Lewis Clark is an acquaintance of the writer. Soon after his escape from slavery, he was received into the family of a sister-in-law of the author, and there educated. His conduct during this time was such as to win for him uncommon affection and respect, and the author has frequently heard 14him spoken of in the highest terms by all who knew him.

The gentleman in whose family he so long resided says of him, in a recent letter to the writer, “I would trust him, as the saying is, with untold gold.”

Lewis is a quadroon, a fine-looking man, with European features, hair slightly wavy, and with an intelligent, agreeable expression of countenance.

The reader is now desired to compare the following incidents of his life, part of which he related personally to the author, with the incidents of the life of George Harris.

His mother was a handsome quadroon woman, the daughter of her master, and given by him in marriage to a free white man, a Scotchman, with the express understanding that she and her children were to be free. This engagement, if made sincerely at all, was never complied with. His mother had nine children, and, on the death of her husband, came back, with all these children, as slaves in her father’s house.

A married daughter of the family, who was the dread of the whole household, on account of the violence of her temper, had taken from the family, upon her marriage, a young girl. By the violence of her abuse she soon reduced the child to a state of idiocy, and then came imperiously back to her father’s establishment, declaring that the child was good for nothing, and that she would have another; and, as poor Lewis’ evil star would have it, fixed her eye upon him.

To avoid one of her terrible outbreaks of temper, the family offered up this boy as a pacificatory sacrifice. The incident is thus described by Lewis, in a published narrative:

Every boy was ordered in, to pass before this female sorceress, that she might select a victim for her unprovoked malice, and on whom to pour the vials of her wrath for years. I was that unlucky fellow. Mr. Campbell, my grandfather, objected, because it would divide a family, and offered her Moses; * * * but objections and claims of every kind were swept away by the wild passion and shrill-toned voice of Mrs. B. Me she would have, and none else. Mr. Campbell went out to hunt, and drive away bad thoughts; the old lady became quiet, for she was sure none of her blood run in my veins, and, if there was any of her husband’s there, it was no fault of hers. Slave-holding women are always revengeful toward the children of slaves that have any of the blood of their husbands in them. I was too young—only seven years of age—to understand what was going on. But my poor and affectionate mother understood and appreciated it all. When she left the kitchen of the mansion-house, where she was employed as cook, and came home to her own little cottage, the tear of anguish was in her eye, and the image of sorrow upon every feature of her face. She knew the female Nero whose rod was now to be over me. That night sleep departed from her eyes. With the youngest child clasped firmly to her bosom, she spent the night in walking the floor, coming ever and anon to lift up the clothes and look at me and my poor brother, who lay sleeping together. Sleeping, I said. Brother slept, but not I. I saw my mother when she first came to me, and I could not sleep. The vision of that night—its deep, ineffaceable impression—is now before my mind with all the distinctness of yesterday. In the morning I was put into the carriage with Mrs. B. and her children, and my weary pilgrimage of suffering was fairly begun.

Mrs. Banton is a character that can only exist where the laws of the land clothe with absolute power the coarsest, most brutal and violent-tempered, equally with the most generous and humane.

If irresponsible power is a trial to the virtue of the most watchful and careful, how fast must it develop cruelty in those who are naturally violent and brutal!

This woman was united to a drunken husband, of a temper equally ferocious. A recital of all the physical torture which this pair contrived to inflict on a hapless child, some of which have left ineffaceable marks on his person, would be too trying to humanity, and we gladly draw a veil over it.

Some incidents, however, are presented in the following extracts:

A very trivial offence was sufficient to call forth a great burst of indignation from this woman of ungoverned passions. In my simplicity, I put my lips to the same vessel, and drank out of it, from which her children were accustomed to drink. She expressed her utter abhorrence of such an act by throwing my head violently back, and dashing into my face two dippers of water. The shower of water was followed by a heavier shower of kicks; but the words, bitter and cutting, that followed, were like a storm of hail upon my young heart. “She would teach me better manners than that; she would let me know I was to be brought up to her hand; she would have one slave that knew his place; if I wanted water, go to the spring, and not drink there in the house.” This was new times for me; for some days I was completely benumbed with my sorrow.


If there be one so lost to all feeling as even to say that the slaves do not suffer when families are separated, let such a one go to the ragged quilt which was my couch and pillow, and stand there night after night, for long, weary hours, and see the bitter tears streaming down the face of that more than orphan boy, while with half-suppressed sighs and sobs he calls again and again upon his absent mother.

“Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed?
Hovered thy spirit o’er thy sorrowing son?
Wretch even then! life’s journey just begun.”

15He was employed till late at night in spinning flax or rocking the baby, and called at a very early hour in the morning; and if he did not start at the first summons, a cruel chastisement was sure to follow. He says:

Such horror has seized me, lest I might not hear the first shrill call, that I have often in dreams fancied I heard that unwelcome voice, and have leaped from my couch and walked through the house and out of it before I awoke. I have gone and called the other slaves, in my sleep, and asked them if they did not hear master call. Never, while I live, will the remembrance of those long, bitter nights of fear pass from my mind.

He adds to this words which should be deeply pondered by those who lay the flattering unction to their souls that the oppressed do not feel the sundering of family ties.

But all my severe labor, and bitter and cruel punishments, for these ten years of captivity with this worse than Arab family, all these were as nothing to the sufferings I experienced by being separated from my mother, brothers and sisters; the same things, with them near to sympathize with me, to hear my story of sorrow, would have been comparatively tolerable.

They were distant only about thirty miles; and yet, in ten long, lonely years of childhood, I was only permitted to see them three times.

My mother occasionally found an opportunity to send me some token of remembrance and affection,—a sugar-plum or an apple; but I scarcely ever ate them; they were laid up, and handled and wept over, till they wasted away in my hand.

My thoughts continually by day, and my dreams by night, were of mother and home; and the horror experienced in the morning, when I awoke and behold it was a dream, is beyond the power of language to describe.

Lewis had a beautiful sister by the name of Delia, who, on the death of her grandfather, was sold, with all the other children of his mother, for the purpose of dividing the estate. She was a pious girl, a member of the Baptist church. She fell into the hands of a brutal, drunken man, who wished to make her his mistress. Milton Clark, a brother of Lewis, in the narrative of his life describes the scene where he, with his mother, stood at the door while this girl was brutally whipped before it for wishing to conform to the principles of her Christian profession. As her resolution was unconquerable, she was placed in a coffle and sent down to the New Orleans market. Here she was sold to a Frenchman, named Coval. He took her to Mexico, emancipated and married her. After residing some time in France and the West Indies with him, he died, leaving her a fortune of twenty or thirty thousand dollars. At her death she endeavored to leave this by will to purchase the freedom of her brothers; but, as a slave cannot take property, or even have it left in trust for him, they never received any of it.

The incidents of the recovery of Lewis’ freedom are thus told:

I had long thought and dreamed of Liberty. I was now determined to make an effort to gain it. No tongue can tell the doubt, the perplexities, the anxiety, which a slave feels, when making up his mind upon this subject. If he makes an effort, and is not successful, he must be laughed at by his fellows, he will be beaten unmercifully by the master, and then watched and used the harder for it all his life.

And then, if he gets away, who, what will he find? He is ignorant of the world. All the white part of mankind, that he has ever seen, are enemies to him and all his kindred. How can he venture where none but white faces shall greet him? The master tells him that abolitionists decoy slaves off into the free states to catch them and sell them to Louisiana or Mississippi; and, if he goes to Canada, the British will put him in a mine under ground, with both eyes put out, for life. How does he know what or whom to believe? A horror of great darkness comes upon him, as he thinks over what may befall him. Long, very long time did I think of escaping, before I made the effort.

At length, the report was started that I was to be sold for Louisiana. Then I thought it was time to act. My mind was made up.


What my feelings were when I reached the free shore can be better imagined than described. I trembled all over with deep emotion, and I could feel my hair rise up on my head. I was on what was called a free soil, among a people who had no slaves. I saw white men at work, and no slave smarting beneath the lash. Everything was indeed new and wonderful. Not knowing where to find a friend, and being ignorant of the country, unwilling to inquire, lest I should betray my ignorance, it was a whole week before I reached Cincinnati. At one place where I put up, I had a great many more questions put to me than I wished to answer. At another place, I was very much annoyed by the officiousness of the landlord, who made it a point to supply every guest with newspapers. I took the copy handed me, and turned it over, in a somewhat awkward manner, I suppose. He came to me to point out a veto, or some other very important news. I thought it best to decline his assistance, and gave up the paper, saying my eyes were not in a fit condition to read much.

At another place, the neighbors, on learning that a Kentuckian was at the tavern, came, in great earnestness, to find out what my business was. Kentuckians sometimes came there to kidnap their citizens. They were in the habit of watching them close. I at length satisfied them by assuring them that I was not, nor my father 16before me, any slave-holder at all; but, lest their suspicions should be excited in another direction, I added my grandfather was a slave-holder.


At daylight we were in Canada. When I stepped ashore here, I said, sure enough, I AM FREE. Good heavens! what a sensation, when it first visits the bosom of a full-grown man; one born to bondage; one who had been taught, from early infancy, that this was his inevitable lot for life! Not till thendid I dare to cherish, for a moment, the feeling that one of the limbs of my body was my own. The slaves often say, when cut in the hand or foot, “Plague on the old foot” or “the old hand! It is master’s,—let him take care of it. Nigger don’t care if he never get well.” My hands, my feet, were now my own.

It will be recollected that George, in conversing with Eliza, gives an account of a scene in which he was violently beaten by his master’s young son. This incident was suggested by the following letter from John M. Nelson to Mr. Theodore Weld, given in Slavery as It Is, p. 51.

Mr. Nelson removed from Virginia to Highland County, Ohio, many years since, where he is extensively known and respected. The letter is dated January 3d, 1839.

I was born and raised in Augusta County, Virginia; my father was an elder in the Presbyterian church, and was “owner” of about twenty slaves; he was what was generally termed a “good master.” His slaves were generally tolerably well fed and clothed, and not over-worked; they were sometimes permitted to attend church, and called in to family worship; few of them, however, availed themselves of these privileges. On some occasions I have seen him whip them severely, particularly for the crime of trying to obtain their liberty, or for what was called “running away.” For this they were scourged more severely than for anything else. After they have been retaken I have seen them stripped naked and suspended by the hands, sometimes to a tree, sometimes to a post, until their toes barely touched the ground, and whipped with a cowhide until the blood dripped from their backs. A boy named Jack, particularly, I have seen served in this way more than once. When I was quite a child, I recollect it grieved me very much to see one tied up to be whipped, and I used to intercede with tears in their behalf, and mingle my cries with theirs, and feel almost willing to take part of the punishment; I have been severely rebuked by my father for this kind of sympathy. Yet, such is the hardening nature of such scenes, that from this kind of commiseration for the suffering slave I became so blunted that I could not only witness their stripes with composure but myself inflict them, and that without remorse. One case I have often looked back to with sorrow and contrition, particularly since I have been convinced that “negroes are men.” When I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age, I undertook to correct a young fellow named Ned, for some supposed offence,—I think it was leaving a bridle out of its proper place; he, being larger and stronger than myself, took hold of my arms and held me, in order to prevent my striking him. This I considered the height of insolence, and cried for help, when my father and mother both came running to my rescue. My father stripped and tied him, and took him into the orchard, where switches were plenty, and directed me to whip him; when one switch wore out, he supplied me with others. After I had whipped him a while, he fell on his knees to implore forgiveness, and I kicked him in the face; my father said, “Don’t kick him, but whip him;” this I did until his back was literally covered with welts. I know I have repented, and trust I have obtained pardon for these things.

My father owned a woman (we used to call aunt Grace); she was purchased in Old Virginia. She has told me that her old master, in his will, gave her her freedom, but at his death his sons had sold her to my father: when he bought her she manifested some unwillingness to go with him, when she was put in irons and taken by force. This was before I was born; but I remember to have seen the irons, and was told that was what they had been used for. Aunt Grace is still living, and must be between seventy and eighty years of age; she has, for the last forty years, been an exemplary Christian. When I was a youth I took some pains to learn her to read; this is now a great consolation to her. Since age and infirmity have rendered her of little value to her “owners,” she is permitted to read as much as she pleases; this she can do, with the aid of glasses, in the old family Bible, which is almost the only book she has ever looked into. This, with some little mending for the black children, is all she does; she is still held as a slave. I well remember what a heart-rending scene there was in the family when my father sold her husband; this was, I suppose, thirty-five years ago. And yet my father was considered one of the best of masters. I know of few who were better, but of many who were worse.

With regard to the intelligence of George, and his teaching himself to read and write, there is a most interesting and affecting parallel to it in the “Life of Frederick Douglass,”—a book which can be recommended to any one who has a curiosity to trace the workings of an intelligent and active mind through all the squalid misery, degradation and oppression, of slavery. A few incidents will be given.

Like Clark, Douglass was the son of a white man. He was a plantation slave in a proud old family. His situation, probably, may be considered as an average one; that is to say, he led a life of dirt, degradation, discomfort of various kinds, made tolerable as a matter of daily habit, and considered as enviable in comparison with the lot of those who suffer worse abuse. An incident which Douglass relates of his mother is touching. He states that it is customary at an early age to separate mothers from their children, for the purpose of blunting 17and deadening natural affection. When he was three years old his mother was sent to work on a plantation eight or ten miles distant, and after that he never saw her except in the night. After her day’s toil she would occasionally walk over to her child, lie down with him in her arms, hush him to sleep in her bosom, then rise up and walk back again to be ready for her field work by daylight. Now, we ask the highest-born lady in England or America, who is a mother, whether this does not show that this poor field-laborer had in her bosom, beneath her dirt and rags, a true mother’s heart?

The last and bitterest indignity which has been heaped on the head of the unhappy slaves has been the denial to them of those holy affections which God gives alike to all. We are told, in fine phrase, by languid ladies of fashion, that “it is not to be supposed that those creatures have the same feelings that we have,” when, perhaps, the very speaker could not endure one tithe of the fatigue and suffering which the slave-mother often bears for her child. Every mother who has a mother’s heart within her, ought to know that this is blasphemy against nature, and, standing between the cradle of her living and the grave of her dead child, should indignantly reject such a slander on all motherhood.

Douglass thus relates the account of his learning to read, after he had been removed to the situation of house-servant in Baltimore.

It seems that his mistress, newly married and unaccustomed to the management of slaves, was very kind to him, and, among other acts of kindness, commenced teaching him to read. His master, discovering what was going on, he says,

At once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” There words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.

After this, his mistress was as watchful to prevent his learning to read as she had before been to instruct him. His course after this he thus describes:

From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I was in a separate room any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book, and was at once called to give an account of myself. All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could I converted into teachers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read. When I was sent of errands I always took my book with me, and by going one part of my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge. I am strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little boys, as a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence forbids;—not that it would injure me, but it might embarrass them; for it is almost an unpardonable offence to teach slaves to read in this Christian country. It is enough to say of the dear little fellows, that they lived on Philpot-street, very near Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard. I used to talk this matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes say to them I wished I could be as free as they would be when they got to be men. “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?” These words used to trouble them; they would express for me the liveliest sympathy, and console me with the hope that something would occur by which I might be free.

I was now about twelve years old, and the thought of being a slave for life began to bear heavily upon my heart. Just about this time I got hold of a book entitled “The Columbian Orator.” Every opportunity I got I used to read this book. Among much of other interesting matter, I found in it a dialogue between a master and his slave. The slave was represented as having run away from his master three times. The dialogue represented the conversation which took place between them when the slave was retaken the third time. In this dialogue, the whole argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward by the master, all of which was disposed of by the slave. The slave was made to say some very smart as well as impressive things in reply to his master—things 18which had the desired though unexpected effect; for the conversation resulted in the voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same book I met with one of Sheridan’s mighty speeches on and in behalf of Catholic emancipation. These were choice documents to me. I read them over and over again, with unabated interest. They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance. The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a slave-holder. What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights. The reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but, while they relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than the one of which I was relieved. The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Anything, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed. While in this state of mind I was eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready listener. Every little while I could hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I found what the word meant. It was always used in such connections as to make it an interesting word to me. If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a barn, or did anything very wrong in the mind of a slave-holder, it was spoken of as the fruit of abolition. Hearing the word in this connection very often, I set about learning what it meant. The dictionary afforded me little or no help. I found it was “the act of abolishing;” but then I did not know what was to be abolished. Here I was perplexed. I did not dare to ask any one about its meaning, for I was satisfied that it was something they wanted me to know very little about. After a patient waiting, I got one of our city papers, containing an account of the number of petitions from the North praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and of the slave-trade between the states. From this time I understood the words abolition and abolitionist, and always drew near when that word was spoken, expecting to hear something of importance to myself and fellow-slaves. The light broke in upon me by degrees. I went one day down on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and, seeing two Irishmen unloading a scow of stone, I went, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished, one of them came to me and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He asked, “Are ye a slave for life?” I told him that I was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply affected by the statement. He said to the other that it was a pity so line a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life. He said it was a shame to hold me. They both advised me to run away to the North; that I should find friends there, and that I should be free. I pretended not to be interested in what they said, and treated them as if I did not understand them; for I feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to encourage slaves to escape, and then, to get the reward, catch them and return them to their masters. I was afraid that these seemingly good men might use me so; but I nevertheless remembered their advice, and from that time I resolved to run away. I looked forward to a time at which it would be safe for me to escape. I was too young to think of doing so immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write, as I might have occasion to write my own pass. I consoled myself with the hope that I should one day find a good chance. Meanwhile I would learn to write.

The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side it would be marked thus—“L.” When a piece was for the starboard side it would be marked thus—“S.” A piece for the larboard side forward would be marked thus—“L. F.” When a piece was for starboard side forward it would be marked thus—“S. F.” For larboard aft it would be marked thus—“L. A.” For starboard aft it would be marked thus—“S. A.” I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be, “I don’t believe you. Let me see you try it.” I would then make the letters which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite possible I should never have gotten in any other way. During this time my copy-book was the 19board fence, brick wall and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these I learned mainly how to write. I then commenced and continued copying the Italics in Webster’s Spelling-book, until I could make them all without looking on the book. By this time my little Master Thomas had gone to school and learned how to write, and had written over a number of copy-books. These had been brought home, and shown to some of our near neighbors, and then laid aside. My mistress used to go to class-meeting at the Wilk-street meeting-house every Monday afternoon, and leave me to take care of the house. When left thus I used to spend the time in writing in the spaces left in Master Thomas’ copy-book, copying what he had written. I continued to do this until I could write a hand very similar to that of Master Thomas. Thus, after a long, tedious effort for years, I finally succeeded in learning how to write.

These few quoted incidents will show that the case of George Harris is by no means so uncommon as might be supposed.

Let the reader peruse the account which George Harris gives of the sale of his mother and her children, and then read the following account given by the venerable Josiah Henson, now pastor of the missionary settlement at Dawn, in Canada.

After the death of his master, he says, the slaves of the plantation were all put up at auction and sold to the highest bidder.

My brothers and sisters were bid off one by one, while my mother, holding my hand, looked on in an agony of grief, the cause of which I but ill understood at first, but which dawned on my mind with dreadful clearness as the sale proceeded. My mother was then separated from me, and put up in her turn. She was bought by a man named Isaac R., residing in Montgomery County [Maryland], and then I was offered to the assembled purchasers. My mother, half distracted with the parting forever from all her children, pushed through the crowd, while the bidding for me was going on, to the spot where R. was standing. She fell at his feet, and clung to his knees, entreating him, in tones that a mother only could command, to buy her baby as well as herself, and spare to her one of her little ones at least. Will it, can it be believed, that this man, thus appealed to, was capable not merely of turning a deaf ear to her supplication, but of disengaging himself from her with such violent blows and kicks as to reduce her to the necessity of creeping out of his reach, and mingling the groan of bodily suffering with the sob of a breaking heart?

Now, all these incidents that have been given are real incidents of slavery, related by those who know slavery by the best of all tests—experience; and they are given by men who have earned a character in freedom which makes their word as good as the word of any man living.

The case of Lewis Clark might be called a harder one than common. The case of Douglass is probably a very fair average specimen.

The writer has conversed, in her time, with a very considerable number of liberated slaves, many of whom stated that their own individual lot had been comparatively a mild one; but she never talked with one who did not let fall, first or last, some incident which he had observed, some scene which he had witnessed, which went to show some most horrible abuse of the system; and, what was most affecting about it, the narrator often evidently considered it so much a matter of course as to mention it incidentally, without any particular emotion.

It is supposed by many that the great outcry among those who are opposed to slavery comes from a morbid reading of unauthenticated accounts gotten up in abolition papers, &c. This idea is a very mistaken one. The accounts which tell against the slave-system are derived from the continual living testimony of the poor slave himself; often from that of the fugitives from slavery who are continually passing through our Northern cities.

As a specimen of some of the incidents thus developed, is given the following fact of recent occurrence, related to the author by a lady in Boston. This lady, who was much in the habit of visiting the poor, was sent for, a month or two since, to see a mulatto woman who had just arrived at a colored boarding-house near by, and who appeared to be in much dejection of mind. A little conversation showed her to be a fugitive. Her history was as follows: She, with her brother, were, as is often the case, both the children and slaves of their master. At his death they were left to his legitimate daughter as her servants, and treated with as much consideration as very common kind of people might be expected to show to those who were entirely and in every respect at their disposal.

The wife of her brother ran away to Canada; and as there was some talk of selling her and her child, in consequence of some embarrassment in the family affairs, her brother, a fine-spirited young man, determined to effect her escape, also, to a land of liberty. He concealed her for some time in the back part of an obscure dwelling in the city, till he could find an opportunity to send her off. While she was in this retreat, he was indefatigable in his attentions to her, frequently bringing her fruit and flowers, and doing everything he could to beguile the weariness of her imprisonment.

At length, the report was started that I was to be sold for Louisiana. Then I thought it was time to act. My mind was made up.


What my feelings were when I reached the free shore can be better imagined than described. I trembled all over with deep emotion, and I could feel my hair rise up on my head. I was on what was called a free soil, among a people who had no slaves. I saw white men at work, and no slave smarting beneath the lash. Everything was indeed new and wonderful. Not knowing where to find a friend, and being ignorant of the country, unwilling to inquire, lest I should betray my ignorance, it was a whole week before I reached Cincinnati. At one place where I put up, I had a great many more questions put to me than I wished to answer. At another place, I was very much annoyed by the officiousness of the landlord, who made it a point to supply every guest with newspapers. I took the copy handed me, and turned it over, in a somewhat awkward manner, I suppose. He came to me to point out a veto, or some other very important news. I thought it best to decline his assistance, and gave up the paper, saying my eyes were not in a fit condition to read much.

At another place, the neighbors, on learning that a Kentuckian was at the tavern, came, in great earnestness, to find out what my business was. Kentuckians sometimes came there to kidnap their citizens. They were in the habit of watching them close. I at length satisfied them by assuring them that I was not, nor my father 16before me, any slave-holder at all; but, lest their suspicions should be excited in another direction, I added my grandfather was a slave-holder.


At daylight we were in Canada. When I stepped ashore here, I said, sure enough, I AM FREE. Good heavens! what a sensation, when it first visits the bosom of a full-grown man; one born to bondage; one who had been taught, from early infancy, that this was his inevitable lot for life! Not till then did I dare to cherish, for a moment, the feeling that one of the limbs of my body was my own. The slaves often say, when cut in the hand or foot, “Plague on the old foot” or “the old hand! It is master’s,—let him take care of it. Nigger don’t care if he never get well.” My hands, my feet, were now my own.

It will be recollected that George, in conversing with Eliza, gives an account of a scene in which he was violently beaten by his master’s young son. This incident was suggested by the following letter from John M. Nelson to Mr. Theodore Weld, given in Slavery as It Is, p. 51.

Mr. Nelson removed from Virginia to Highland County, Ohio, many years since, where he is extensively known and respected. The letter is dated January 3d, 1839.

I was born and raised in Augusta County, Virginia; my father was an elder in the Presbyterian church, and was “owner” of about twenty slaves; he was what was generally termed a “good master.” His slaves were generally tolerably well fed and clothed, and not over-worked; they were sometimes permitted to attend church, and called in to family worship; few of them, however, availed themselves of these privileges. On some occasions I have seen him whip them severely, particularly for the crime of trying to obtain their liberty, or for what was called “running away.” For this they were scourged more severely than for anything else. After they have been retaken I have seen them stripped naked and suspended by the hands, sometimes to a tree, sometimes to a post, until their toes barely touched the ground, and whipped with a cowhide until the blood dripped from their backs. A boy named Jack, particularly, I have seen served in this way more than once. When I was quite a child, I recollect it grieved me very much to see one tied up to be whipped, and I used to intercede with tears in their behalf, and mingle my cries with theirs, and feel almost willing to take part of the punishment; I have been severely rebuked by my father for this kind of sympathy. Yet, such is the hardening nature of such scenes, that from this kind of commiseration for the suffering slave I became so blunted that I could not only witness their stripes with composure but myself inflict them, and that without remorse. One case I have often looked back to with sorrow and contrition, particularly since I have been convinced that “negroes are men.” When I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age, I undertook to correct a young fellow named Ned, for some supposed offence,—I think it was leaving a bridle out of its proper place; he, being larger and stronger than myself, took hold of my arms and held me, in order to prevent my striking him. This I considered the height of insolence, and cried for help, when my father and mother both came running to my rescue. My father stripped and tied him, and took him into the orchard, where switches were plenty, and directed me to whip him; when one switch wore out, he supplied me with others. After I had whipped him a while, he fell on his knees to implore forgiveness, and I kicked him in the face; my father said, “Don’t kick him, but whip him;” this I did until his back was literally covered with welts. I know I have repented, and trust I have obtained pardon for these things.

My father owned a woman (we used to call aunt Grace); she was purchased in Old Virginia. She has told me that her old master, in his will, gave her her freedom, but at his death his sons had sold her to my father: when he bought her she manifested some unwillingness to go with him, when she was put in irons and taken by force. This was before I was born; but I remember to have seen the irons, and was told that was what they had been used for. Aunt Grace is still living, and must be between seventy and eighty years of age; she has, for the last forty years, been an exemplary Christian. When I was a youth I took some pains to learn her to read; this is now a great consolation to her. Since age and infirmity have rendered her of little value to her “owners,” she is permitted to read as much as she pleases; this she can do, with the aid of glasses, in the old family Bible, which is almost the only book she has ever looked into. This, with some little mending for the black children, is all she does; she is still held as a slave. I well remember what a heart-rending scene there was in the family when my father sold her husband; this was, I suppose, thirty-five years ago. And yet my father was considered one of the best of masters. I know of few who were better, but of many who were worse.

With regard to the intelligence of George, and his teaching himself to read and write, there is a most interesting and affecting parallel to it in the “Life of Frederick Douglass,”—a book which can be recommended to any one who has a curiosity to trace the workings of an intelligent and active mind through all the squalid misery, degradation and oppression, of slavery. A few incidents will be given.

Like Clark, Douglass was the son of a white man. He was a plantation slave in a proud old family. His situation, probably, may be considered as an average one; that is to say, he led a life of dirt, degradation, discomfort of various kinds, made tolerable as a matter of daily habit, and considered as enviable in comparison with the lot of those who suffer worse abuse. An incident which Douglass relates of his mother is touching. He states that it is customary at an early age to separate mothers from their children, for the purpose of blunting 17and deadening natural affection. When he was three years old his mother was sent to work on a plantation eight or ten miles distant, and after that he never saw her except in the night. After her day’s toil she would occasionally walk over to her child, lie down with him in her arms, hush him to sleep in her bosom, then rise up and walk back again to be ready for her field work by daylight. Now, we ask the highest-born lady in England or America, who is a mother, whether this does not show that this poor field-laborer had in her bosom, beneath her dirt and rags, a true mother’s heart?

The last and bitterest indignity which has been heaped on the head of the unhappy slaves has been the denial to them of those holy affections which God gives alike to all. We are told, in fine phrase, by languid ladies of fashion, that “it is not to be supposed that those creatures have the same feelings that we have,” when, perhaps, the very speaker could not endure one tithe of the fatigue and suffering which the slave-mother often bears for her child. Every mother who has a mother’s heart within her, ought to know that this is blasphemy against nature, and, standing between the cradle of her living and the grave of her dead child, should indignantly reject such a slander on all motherhood.

Douglass thus relates the account of his learning to read, after he had been removed to the situation of house-servant in Baltimore.

It seems that his mistress, newly married and unaccustomed to the management of slaves, was very kind to him, and, among other acts of kindness, commenced teaching him to read. His master, discovering what was going on, he says,

At once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” There words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.

After this, his mistress was as watchful to prevent his learning to read as she had before been to instruct him. His course after this he thus describes:

From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I was in a separate room any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book, and was at once called to give an account of myself. All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could I converted into teachers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read. When I was sent of errands I always took my book with me, and by going one part of my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge. I am strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little boys, as a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence forbids;—not that it would injure me, but it might embarrass them; for it is almost an unpardonable offence to teach slaves to read in this Christian country. It is enough to say of the dear little fellows, that they lived on Philpot-street, very near Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard. I used to talk this matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes say to them I wished I could be as free as they would be when they got to be men. “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?” These words used to trouble them; they would express for me the liveliest sympathy, and console me with the hope that something would occur by which I might be free.

I was now about twelve years old, and the thought of being a slave for life began to bear heavily upon my heart. Just about this time I got hold of a book entitled “The Columbian Orator.” Every opportunity I got I used to read this book. Among much of other interesting matter, I found in it a dialogue between a master and his slave. The slave was represented as having run away from his master three times. The dialogue represented the conversation which took place between them when the slave was retaken the third time. In this dialogue, the whole argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward by the master, all of which was disposed of by the slave. The slave was made to say some very smart as well as impressive things in reply to his master—things 18which had the desired though unexpected effect; for the conversation resulted in the voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same book I met with one of Sheridan’s mighty speeches on and in behalf of Catholic emancipation. These were choice documents to me. I read them over and over again, with unabated interest. They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance. The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a slave-holder. What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights. The reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but, while they relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than the one of which I was relieved. The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Anything, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.

I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed. While in this state of mind I was eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready listener. Every little while I could hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I found what the word meant. It was always used in such connections as to make it an interesting word to me. If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a barn, or did anything very wrong in the mind of a slave-holder, it was spoken of as the fruit of abolition. Hearing the word in this connection very often, I set about learning what it meant. The dictionary afforded me little or no help. I found it was “the act of abolishing;” but then I did not know what was to be abolished. Here I was perplexed. I did not dare to ask any one about its meaning, for I was satisfied that it was something they wanted me to know very little about. After a patient waiting, I got one of our city papers, containing an account of the number of petitions from the North praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and of the slave-trade between the states. From this time I understood the words abolition and abolitionist, and always drew near when that word was spoken, expecting to hear something of importance to myself and fellow-slaves. The light broke in upon me by degrees. I went one day down on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and, seeing two Irishmen unloading a scow of stone, I went, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished, one of them came to me and asked me if I were a slave. I told him I was. He asked, “Are ye a slave for life?” I told him that I was. The good Irishman seemed to be deeply affected by the statement. He said to the other that it was a pity so line a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life. He said it was a shame to hold me. They both advised me to run away to the North; that I should find friends there, and that I should be free. I pretended not to be interested in what they said, and treated them as if I did not understand them; for I feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to encourage slaves to escape, and then, to get the reward, catch them and return them to their masters. I was afraid that these seemingly good men might use me so; but I nevertheless remembered their advice, and from that time I resolved to run away. I looked forward to a time at which it would be safe for me to escape. I was too young to think of doing so immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write, as I might have occasion to write my own pass. I consoled myself with the hope that I should one day find a good chance. Meanwhile I would learn to write.

The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side it would be marked thus—“L.” When a piece was for the starboard side it would be marked thus—“S.” A piece for the larboard side forward would be marked thus—“L. F.” When a piece was for starboard side forward it would be marked thus—“S. F.” For larboard aft it would be marked thus—“L. A.” For starboard aft it would be marked thus—“S. A.” I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be, “I don’t believe you. Let me see you try it.” I would then make the letters which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite possible I should never have gotten in any other way. During this time my copy-book was the 19board fence, brick wall and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these I learned mainly how to write. I then commenced and continued copying the Italics in Webster’s Spelling-book, until I could make them all without looking on the book. By this time my little Master Thomas had gone to school and learned how to write, and had written over a number of copy-books. These had been brought home, and shown to some of our near neighbors, and then laid aside. My mistress used to go to class-meeting at the Wilk-street meeting-house every Monday afternoon, and leave me to take care of the house. When left thus I used to spend the time in writing in the spaces left in Master Thomas’ copy-book, copying what he had written. I continued to do this until I could write a hand very similar to that of Master Thomas. Thus, after a long, tedious effort for years, I finally succeeded in learning how to write.

These few quoted incidents will show that the case of George Harris is by no means so uncommon as might be supposed.

Let the reader peruse the account which George Harris gives of the sale of his mother and her children, and then read the following account given by the venerable Josiah Henson, now pastor of the missionary settlement at Dawn, in Canada.

After the death of his master, he says, the slaves of the plantation were all put up at auction and sold to the highest bidder.

My brothers and sisters were bid off one by one, while my mother, holding my hand, looked on in an agony of grief, the cause of which I but ill understood at first, but which dawned on my mind with dreadful clearness as the sale proceeded. My mother was then separated from me, and put up in her turn. She was bought by a man named Isaac R., residing in Montgomery County [Maryland], and then I was offered to the assembled purchasers. My mother, half distracted with the parting forever from all her children, pushed through the crowd, while the bidding for me was going on, to the spot where R. was standing. She fell at his feet, and clung to his knees, entreating him, in tones that a mother only could command, to buy her baby as well as herself, and spare to her one of her little ones at least. Will it, can it be believed, that this man, thus appealed to, was capable not merely of turning a deaf ear to her supplication, but of disengaging himself from her with such violent blows and kicks as to reduce her to the necessity of creeping out of his reach, and mingling the groan of bodily suffering with the sob of a breaking heart?

Now, all these incidents that have been given are real incidents of slavery, related by those who know slavery by the best of all tests—experience; and they are given by men who have earned a character in freedom which makes their word as good as the word of any man living.

The case of Lewis Clark might be called a harder one than common. The case of Douglass is probably a very fair average specimen.

The writer has conversed, in her time, with a very considerable number of liberated slaves, many of whom stated that their own individual lot had been comparatively a mild one; but she never talked with one who did not let fall, first or last, some incident which he had observed, some scene which he had witnessed, which went to show some most horrible abuse of the system; and, what was most affecting about it, the narrator often evidently considered it so much a matter of course as to mention it incidentally, without any particular emotion.

It is supposed by many that the great outcry among those who are opposed to slavery comes from a morbid reading of unauthenticated accounts gotten up in abolition papers, &c. This idea is a very mistaken one. The accounts which tell against the slave-system are derived from the continual living testimony of the poor slave himself; often from that of the fugitives from slavery who are continually passing through our Northern cities.

As a specimen of some of the incidents thus developed, is given the following fact of recent occurrence, related to the author by a lady in Boston. This lady, who was much in the habit of visiting the poor, was sent for, a month or two since, to see a mulatto woman who had just arrived at a colored boarding-house near by, and who appeared to be in much dejection of mind. A little conversation showed her to be a fugitive. Her history was as follows: She, with her brother, were, as is often the case, both the children and slaves of their master. At his death they were left to his legitimate daughter as her servants, and treated with as much consideration as very common kind of people might be expected to show to those who were entirely and in every respect at their disposal.

The wife of her brother ran away to Canada; and as there was some talk of selling her and her child, in consequence of some embarrassment in the family affairs, her brother, a fine-spirited young man, determined to effect her escape, also, to a land of liberty. He concealed her for some time in the back part of an obscure dwelling in the city, till he could find an opportunity to send her off. While she was in this retreat, he was indefatigable in his attentions to her, frequently bringing her fruit and flowers, and doing everything he could to beguile the weariness of her imprisonment.

20At length, the steward of a vessel, whom he had obliged, offered to conceal him on board the ship, and give him a chance to escape. The noble-hearted fellow, though tempted by an offer which would enable him immediately to join his wife, to whom he was tenderly attached, preferred to give this offer to his sister, and during the absence of the captain of the vessel she and her child were brought on board and secreted.

The captain, when he returned and discovered what had been done, was very angry, as the thing, if detected, would have involved him in very serious difficulties. He declared, at first, that he would send the woman up into town to jail; but, by her entreaties and those of the steward, was induced to wait till evening, and send word to her brother to come and take her back. After dark the brother came on board, and, instead of taking his sister away, began to appeal to the humanity of the captain in the most moving terms. He told his sister’s history and his own, and pleaded eloquently his desire for her liberty. The captain had determined to be obdurate, but, alas! he was only a man. Perhaps he had himself a wife and child,—perhaps he felt that, were he in the young man’s case, he would do just so for his sister. Be it as it may, he was at last overcome. He said to the young man, “I must send you away from my ship; I’ll put off a boat and see you got into it, and you must row off, and never let me see your faces again; and if, after all, you should come back and get on board, it will be your fault, and not mine.”

So, in the rain and darkness, the young man and his sister and child were lowered over the side of the vessel, and rowed away. After a while the ship weighed anchor, but before she reached Boston it was discovered that the woman and child were on board.

The lady to whom this story was related was requested to write a letter, in certain terms, to a person in the city whence the fugitive had come, to let the brother know of her safe arrival.

The fugitive was furnished with work, by which she could support herself and child, and the lady carefully attended to her wants for a few weeks.

One morning she came in, with a good deal of agitation, exclaiming, “O, ma’am, he’s come! George is come!” And in a few minutes the young man was introduced.

The lady who gave this relation belongs to the first circles of Boston society; she says that she never was more impressed by the personal manners of any gentleman than by those of this fugitive brother. So much did he have the air of a perfect, finished gentleman, that she felt she could not question him with regard to his escape with the familiarity with which persons of his condition are commonly approached; and it was not till he requested her to write a letter for him, because he could not write himself, that she could realize that this fine specimen of manhood had been all his life a slave.

The remainder of the history is no less romantic. The lady had a friend in Montreal, whither George’s wife had gone; and, after furnishing money to pay their expenses, she presented them with a letter to this gentleman, requesting the latter to assist the young man in finding his wife. When they landed at Montreal, George stepped on shore and presented this letter to the first man he met, asking him if he knew to whom it was directed. The gentleman proved to be the very person to whom the letter was addressed. He knew George’s wife, brought him to her without delay, so that, by return mail, the lady had the satisfaction of learning the happy termination of the adventure.

This is but a specimen of histories which are continually transpiring; so that those who speak of slavery can say, “We speak that which we do know, and testify that we have seen.”

But we shall be told the slaves are all a lying race, and that these are lies which they tell us. There are some things, however, about these slaves, which cannot lie. Those deep lines of patient sorrow upon the face; that attitude of crouching and humble subjection; that sad, habitual expression of hope deferred, in the eye,—would tell their story, if the slave never spoke.

It is not long since the writer has seen faces such as might haunt one’s dreams for weeks.

Suppose a poor, worn-out mother, sickly, feeble and old,—her hands worn to the bone with hard, unpaid toil,—whose nine children have been sold to the slave-trader, and whose tenth soon is to be sold, unless by her labor as washerwoman she can raise nine hundred dollars! Such are the kind of cases constantly coming to one’s knowledge,—such are the witnesses which will not let us sleep.

Doubt has been expressed whether such a thing as an advertisement for a man, “dead or alive,” like the advertisement for George Harris, was ever published in the Southern States. The scene of the story in which that occurs is supposed to be laid a few years back, at the time when the black laws of Ohio were passed. That at this time such advertisements were common in the newspapers, there is abundant evidence. That they are less common now, is a matter of hope and gratulation.

In the year 1839, Mr. Theodore D. Weld made a systematic attempt to collect and arrange the statistics of slavery. A mass of facts and statistics was gathered, which were authenticated with the most unquestionable accuracy. Some of the “one thousand witnesses,” whom he brings upon the stand, were ministers, lawyers, merchants, and men of various other callings, who were either natives of the slave states, or had been residents there for many years of their life. Many of these were slave-holders. Others of the witnesses were, or had been, slave-drivers, or officers of coasting-vessels engaged in the slave-trade.

Another part of his evidence was gathered from public speeches in Congress, in the state legislatures, and elsewhere. But the majority of it was taken from recent newspapers.

The papers from which these facts were copied were preserved and put on file in a public place, where they remained for some years, for the information of the curious. After Mr. Weld’s book was completed, a copy of it was sent, through the mail, to every editor from whose paper such advertisements had been taken, and to every individual of whom any facts had been narrated, with the passages which concerned them marked.

It is quite possible that this may have had some influence in rendering such advertisements less common. Men of sense often go on doing a thing which is very absurd, or even inhuman, simply because it has always been done before them, and they follow general custom, without much reflection. When their attention, however, is called to it by a stranger who sees the thing from another point of view, they become immediately sensible of the impropriety of the practice, and discontinue it. The reader will, however, be pained to notice, when he comes to the legal part of the book, that even in some of the largest cities of our slave states this barbarity had not been entirely discontinued, in the year 1850.

The list of advertisements in Mr. Weld’s book is here inserted, not to weary the reader with its painful details, but that, by running his eye over the dates of the papers quoted, and the places of their publication, he may form a fair estimate of the extent to which this atrocity was publicly practised:

The Wilmington (North Carolina) Advertiser of July 13, 1838, contains the following advertisement:

“$100 will be paid to any person who may apprehend and safely confine in any jail in this state a certain negro man, named Alfred. And the same reward will be paid, if satisfactory evidence is given of his having been KILLED. He has one or more scars on one of his hands, caused by his having been shot.

The Citizens of Onslow.
Richlands, Onslow Co., May 16, 1838.

In the same column with the above, and directly under it, is the following:

Ranaway, my negro man Richard. A reward of $25 will be paid for his apprehension, DEAD or ALIVE. Satisfactory proof will only be required of his being KILLED. He has with him, in all probability, his wife, Eliza, who ran away from Col. Thompson, now a resident of Alabama, about the time he commenced his journey to that state.

Durant H. Rhodes.

In the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, May 28, is the following:

“About the 1st of March last the negro man Ransom left me without the least provocation whatever; I will give a reward of twenty dollars for said negro, if taken, DEAD OR ALIVE,—and if killed in any attempt, an advance of five dollars will be paid.

Bryant Johnson.
Crawford Co., Georgia.

See the Newbern (N. C.) Spectator, Jan. 5, 1838, for the following:

“RANAWAY from the subscriber, a negro man named SAMPSON. Fifty dollars reward will be given for the delivery of him to me, or his confinement in any jail, so that I get him; and should he resist in being taken, so that violence is necessary to arrest him, I will not hold any person liable for damages should the slave be KILLED.

Enoch Foy.
Jones Co., N. C.

From the Charleston (S. C.) Courier, Feb. 20, 1836:

“$300 REWARD.—Ranaway from the subscriber, in November last, his two negro men named Billy and Pompey.

“Billy is 25 years old, and is known as the patroon of my boat for many years; in all probability he may resist; in that event 50 dollars will be paid for his HEAD.”

21

CHAPTER V.
ELIZA.

The writer stated in her book that Eliza was a portrait drawn from life. The incident 22which brought the original to her notice may be simply narrated.

While the writer was travelling in Kentucky, many years ago, she attended church in a small country town. While there, her attention was called to a beautiful quadroon girl, who sat in one of the slips of the church, and appeared to have charge of some young children. The description of Eliza may suffice for a description of her. When the author returned from church, she inquired about the girl, and was told that she was as good and amiable as she was beautiful; that she was a pious girl, and a member of the church; and, finally, that she was owned by Mr. So-and-so. The idea that this girl was a slave struck a chill to her heart, and she said, earnestly, “O, I hope they treat her kindly.”

“O, certainly,” was the reply; “they think as much of her as of their own children.”

“I hope they will never sell her,” said a person in the company.

“Certainly they will not; a Southern gentleman, not long ago, offered her master a thousand dollars for her: but he told him that she was too good to be his wife, and he certainly should not have her for a mistress.”

This is all that the writer knows of that girl.

With regard to the incident of Eliza’s crossing the river on the ice,—as the possibility of the thing has been disputed,—the writer gives the following circumstance in confirmation.

Last spring, while the author was in New York, a Presbyterian clergyman, of Ohio, came to her, and said, “I understand they dispute that fact about the woman’s crossing the river. Now, I know all about that, for I got the story from the very man that helped her up the bank. I know it is true, for she is now living in Canada.”

It has been objected that the representation of the scene in which the plan for kidnapping Eliza, concocted by Haley, Marks and Loker, at the tavern, is a gross caricature on the state of things in Ohio.

What knowledge the author has had of the facilities which some justices of the peace, under the old fugitive law of Ohio, were in the habit of giving to kidnapping, may be inferred by comparing the statement in her book with some in her personal knowledge.

“Ye see,” said Marks to Haley, stirring his punch as he did so, “ye see, we has justices convenient at all p’ints along shore, that does up any little jobs in our line quite reasonable. Tom, he does the knockin’ down, and that ar; and I come in all dressed up,—shining boots,—everything first chop,—when the swearin’ ‘s to be done. You oughter see me, now!” said Marks, in a glow of professional pride, “how I can tone it off. One day I’m Mr. Twickem, from New Orleans; ‘nother day, I’m just come from my plantation on Pearl river, where I works seven hundred niggers; then, again, I come out a distant relation to Henry Clay, or some old cock in Kentuck. Talents is different, you know. Now, Tom’s a roarer when there’s any thumping or fighting to be done; but at lying he an’t good, Tom an’t; ye see it don’t come natural to him; but, Lord! if thar’s a feller in the country that can swear to anything and everything, and put in all the circumstances and flourishes with a longer face, and carry’t through better’n I can, why, I’d like to see him, that’s all! I b’lieve, my heart, I could get along, and make through, even if justices were more particular than they is. Sometimes I rather wish they was more particular; ‘twould be a heap more relishin’ if they was,—more fun, yer know.”

In the year 1839, the writer received into her family, as a servant, a girl from Kentucky. She had been the slave of one of the lowest and most brutal families, with whom she had been brought up, in a log-cabin, in a state of half-barbarism. In proceeding to give her religious instruction, the author heard, for the first time in her life, an inquiry which she had not supposed possible to be made in America:—“Who is Jesus Christ, now, anyhow?”

When the author told her the history of the love and life and death of Christ, the girl seemed wholly overcome; tears streamed down her cheeks; and she exclaimed, piteously, “Why didn’t nobody never tell me this before?”

“But,” said the writer to her, “haven’t you ever seen the Bible?”

“Yes, I have seen missus a-readin’ on’t sometimes; but, law sakes! she’s just a-readin’ on’t ‘cause she could; don’t s’pose it did her no good, no way.”

She said she had been to one or two camp-meetings in her life, but “didn’t notice very particular.”

At all events, the story certainly made great impression on her, and had such an effect in improving her conduct, that the writer had great hopes of her.

On inquiring into her history, it was discovered that, by the laws of Ohio, she was legally entitled to her freedom, from the fact of her having been brought into the state, and left there, temporarily, by the consent of her mistress. These facts being properly authenticated before the proper authorities, papers attesting her freedom were drawn up, and it was now supposed that all danger of pursuit was over. After she had remained in the family for some months, word was sent, from various sources, to Professor Stowe, that the girl’s young master was over, looking for her, and that, if care were not taken, she would be conveyed back into slavery.

Professor Stowe called on the magistrate who had authenticated her papers, and inquired whether they were not sufficient to protect her. The reply was, “Certainly they are, in law, if she could have a fair hearing; but they will come to your house in the night, with an officer and a warrant; they will take her before Justice D——, and swear to her. He’s the man that does all this kind of business, and, he’ll deliver her up, and there’ll be an end to it.”

Mr. Stowe then inquired what could be done; and was recommended to carry her to some place of security till the inquiry for her was over.  Accordingly, that night, a brother of the author, with Professor Stowe, performed for the fugitive that office which the senator is represented as performing for Eliza.  They drove about ten miles on a solitary road, crossed the creek at a very dangerous fording, and presented themselves, at midnight, at the house of John Van Zandt, a noble-minded Kentuckian, who had performed the good deed which the author, in her story, ascribes to Van Tromp.

After some rapping at the door, the worthy owner of the mansion appeared, candle in hand, as has been narrated.

‘Are you the man that would save a poor colored girl from kidnappers?’ was the first question.

‘Guess I am,’ was the prompt response; ‘where is she?’

‘Why, she’s here.’

‘But how did you come?’

‘I crossed the creek.’

‘Why, the Lord helped you!’ said he; ‘I shouldn’t dare cross it myself in the night.  A man and his wife, and five children, were drowned there, a little while ago.’  The reader may be interested to know that the poor girl never was retaken; that she married well in Cincinnati, is a very respectable woman, and the mother of a large family of children.”       Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Preface & Chapter’s I-V, 1853

money international yuan china trade tppNumero Dos“In the title of this study is used the somewhat pretentious phrase, the spirit of capitalism.  What is to be understood by it?  The attempt to give anything like a definition of it brings out certain difficulties which are in the very nature of this type of investigation.If any object can be found to which this term can be applied with any understandable meaning, it can only be an historical individual, i.e. a complex of elements associated in historical reality which we unite into a conceptual whole from the standpoint of their cultural significance.

Such an historical concept, however, since it refers in its content to a phenomenon significant for its unique individuality, cannot be defined according to the formula genus proximunt, differentia specifica, but it must be gradually put together out of the individual parts which are taken from historical reality to make it up.  Thus the final and definitive concept cannot stand at the beginning of the investigation, but must come at the end.  We must, in other words, work out in the course of the discussion, as its most important result, the best conceptual formulation of what we here understand by the spirit of capitalism, that is the best from the point of view which interests us here.  This point of view (the one of which we shall speak later) is, further, by no means the only possible one from which the historical phenomena we are investigating can be analyzed.  Other standpoints would, for this as for every historical phenomenon, yield other characteristics as the essential ones.  The result is that it is by no means necessary to understand by the spirit of capitalism only what it will come to mean to us for the purposes of our analysis.  This is a necessary result of the nature of historical concepts which attempt for their methodological purposes not to grasp historical reality in abstract general formulae, but in concrete genetic sets of relations which are inevitably of a specifically unique and individual character.

Thus, if we try to determine the object, the analysis and historical explanation of which we are attempting, it cannot be in the form of a conceptual definition, but at least in the beginning only a provisional description of what is here meant by the spirit of capitalism. Such a description is, however, indispensable in order clearly to understand the object of the investigation. For this purpose we turn to a document of that spirit which contains what we are looking for in almost classical purity, and at the game time has the advantage of being free from all direct relationship to religion, being thus for our purposes, free of preconceptions.

“Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, rather thrown away, five shillings, besides.

“Remember, that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me interest, or so much as I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has good and large credit, and makes good use of it.

“Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again it is seven and three pence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.”

“Remember this saying, The good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse . He that is known to pay punctually and exactly to the time he promises, may at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his friends can spare. This is sometimes of great use. After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings; therefore never keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised, lest a disappointment shut up your friend’s purse for ever.

“The most trifling actions that affect a man’s credit are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or eight at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer; but if he sees you at a billiard table, or hears your voice at a tavern, when you should be at work, he sends for his money the next day; demands it, before he can receive it, in a lump. ‘It shows, besides, that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you appear a careful as well as an honest man, and that still increases your credit.’

“Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into. To prevent this, keep an exact account for some time both of your expenses and your income. If you take the pains at first to mention particulars, it will have this good effect: you will discover how wonderfully small, trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been, and may for the future be saved, without occasioning any great inconvenience.

“For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds, provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty.

“He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above six pounds a year, which is the price for the use of one hundred pounds.

“He that wastes idly a groat’s worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day.

“He that idly loses five shillings’ worth of time, loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.

“He that loses five shillings, not only loses that sum, but all the advantage that might be made by turning it in dealing, which by the time that a young man becomes old, will amount to a considerable sum of money.”

It is Benjamin Franklin who preaches to us in these sentences, the same which Ferdinand Kurnberger satirizes in his clever and malicious Picture of American Culture as the supposed confession of faith of the Yankee. That it is the spirit of capitalism which here speaks in characteristic fashion, no one will doubt, however little we may wish to claim that everything which could be understood as pertaining to that spirit is contained in it. Let us pause a moment to consider this passage, the philosophy of which Kurnberger sums up in the words, “They make tallow out of cattle and money out of men.” The peculiarity of this philosophy of avarice appears to be the ideal of the honest man of recognized credit, and above all the idea of a duty of the individual toward the increase of his capital, which is assumed as an end in itself. Truly what is here preached is not simply a means of making one’s way in the world, but a peculiar ethic. The infraction of its rules is treated not as foolishness but as forgetfulness of duty. That is the essence of the matter. It is not mere business astuteness, that sort of thing is common enough, it is an ethos. This is the quality which interests us.

When Jacob Fugger, in speaking to a business associate who had retired and who wanted to persuade him to do the same, since he had made enough money and should let others have a chance, rejected that as pusillanimity and answered that “he (Fugger) thought otherwise, he wanted to make money as long as he could,” the spirit of his statement is evidently quite different from that of Franklin. What in the former case was an expression of commercial daring and a personal inclination morally neutral, in the latter takes on the character of ethically colored maxim for the conduct of life. The concept spirit of capitalism is here used in this specific sense, it is the spirit of modern capitalism. For that we are here dealing only with Western European and American capitalism is obvious from the way in which the problem was stated. Capitalism existed in China, India, Babylon, in the classic world, and in the Middle Ages. But in all these cases, as we shall see, this particular ethos was lacking.

Now, all Franklin’s moral attitudes are colored with utilitarianism. Honesty is useful, because it assures credit; so are punctuality, industry, frugality, and that is the reason they are virtues. A logical deduction from this would be that where, for instance, the appearance of honesty serves the same purpose, that would suffice, and an unnecessary surplus of this virtue would evidently appear to Franklin’s eyes a unproductive waste. And as a matter of fact, the story in his autobiography of his conversion to those virtues, or the discussion of the value of a strict maintenance of the appearance of modesty, the assiduous belittlement of one’s own deserts in order to gain general recognition later, confirms this impression. According to Franklin, those virtues, like all others, are only in so far virtues as they are actually useful to the individual, and the surrogate of mere appearance is always sufficient when it accomplishes the end in view. It is a conclusion which is inevitable for strict utilitarianism. The impression of many Germans that the virtues professed by Americanism are pure hypocrisy seems to have been confirmed by this striking case. But in fact the matter is not by any means so simple.

Benjamin Franklin’s own character, as it appears in the really unusual candidness of his autobiography, belies that suspicion. The circumstance that he ascribes his recognition of the utility of virtue to a divine revelation which was intended to lead him in the path of righteousness, shows that something more than mere garnishing for purely egocentric motives is involved.

In fact, the summum bonum of his ethic, the earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life, is above all completely devoid of any eudaemonistic, not to say hedonistic, admixture. It is thought of so purely as an end in itself, that from the point of view of the happiness of, or utility to, the single individual, it appears entirely transcendental and absolutely irrational. Man is dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life. Economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs. This reversal of what we should call the natural relationship, so irrational from a naive point of view, is evidently as definitely a leading principle of capitalism as it is foreign to all peoples not under capitalistic influence. At the same time it expresses a type of feeling which is closely connected with certain religious ideas. If we thus ask, why should “money be made out of men,” Benjamin Franklin himself, although he was a colorless deist, answers in his autobiography with a quotation from the Bible, which his strict Calvinistic father drummed into him again and again in his youth: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings” (Prov. xxii. 29). The earning of money within the modern economic order is, so long as it is done legally, the result and the expression of virtue and proficiency in a calling; and this virtue and proficiency are, as it is now not difficult to see, the real Alpha and Omega of Franklin’s ethic, as expressed in the passages we have quoted, as well as in all his works without exception.

And in truth this peculiar idea, so familiar to us today, but in reality so little a matter of course, of one’s duty in a calling, is what is most characteristic of the social ethic of capitalistic culture, and is in a sense the fundamental basis of it. It is an obligation which the individual is supposed to feel and does feel towards the content of his professional activity, no matter in what it consists, in particular no matter whether it appears on the surface as a utilization of his personal powers, or only of his material possessions (as capital).

Of course, this conception has not appeared only under capitalistic conditions. On the contrary, we shall later trace its origins back to a time previous to the advent of capitalism. Still less, naturally, do we maintain: that a conscious acceptance of these ethical maxims on the part of the individuals, entrepreneurs or laborers in modern capitalistic enterprises, is a condition of the further existence of present day capitalism. The capitalistic economy of the present day is an immense cosmos into which the individual is born, and which presents itself to him, at least as an individual, as an unalterable order of things in which he must live. It forces the individual, in so far as he is involved in the system of market relationships, to conform to capitalistic rules of action. The manufacturer who in the long run acts counter to these norms, will just as inevitably be eliminated from the economic scene as the worker who cannot or will not adapt himself to them will be thrown into the streets without a job.

Thus the capitalism of today, which has come to dominate economic life, educates and selects the economic subjects which it needs through a process of economic survival of the fittest. But here one can easily see the limits of the concept of selection as a means of historical explanation. In order that a manner of life so well adapted to the peculiarities of capitalism could be selected at all, i.e. should come to dominate others, it had to originate somewhere, and not in isolated individuals alone, but as a way of life common to whole groups of men. This origin is what really needs explanation. Concerning the doctrine of the more naive historical materialism, that such ideas originate as a reflection or superstructure of economic situations, we shall speak more in detail below. At this point it will suffice for our purpose to call attention to the fact that without doubt, in the country of Benjamin Franklin’s birth (Massachusetts), the spirit of capitalism (in the sense we have attached to it) was present before the capitalistic order. There were complaints of a peculiarly calculating sort of profit-seeking in New England, as distinguished from other parts of America, as early as 1632. It is further undoubted that capitalism remained far less developed in some of the neighboring colonies, the later Southern States of the United States of America, in spite of the fact that these latter were founded by large capitalists for business motives, while the New England colonies were founded by preachers and seminary graduates with the help of small bourgeois, craftsmen and yoemen, for religious reasons. In this case the causal relation is certainly the reverse of that suggested by the materialistic standpoint.

But the origin and history of such ideas is much more complex than the theorists of the superstructure suppose. The spirit of capitalism, in the sense in which we are using the term, had to fight its way to supremacy against a whole world of hostile forces. A state of mind such as that expressed in the passages we have quoted from Franklin, and which called forth the applause of a whole people, would both in ancient times and in the Middle Ages have been proscribed as the lowest sort of avarice and as an attitude entirely lacking in self-respect. It is, in fact, still regularly thus looked upon by all those social groups which are least involved in or adapted to modern capitalistic conditions. This is not wholly because the instinct of acquisition was in those times unknown or undeveloped, as has often been said. Nor because the auri sacra fames, the greed for gold, was then, or now, less powerful outside of bourgeois capitalism than within its peculiar sphere, as the illusions of modern romanticists are wont to believe. The difference between the capitalistic and pre-capitalistic spirits is not to be found at this point. The greed of the Chinese Mandarin, the old Roman aristocrat, or the modern peasant, can stand up to any comparison. And the auri sacra fames of a Neapolitan cab-driver or barcaiuolo, and certainly of Asiatic representatives of similar trades, as well as of the craftsmen of southern European or Asiatic countries is, as anyone can find out for himself, very much more intense, and especially more unscrupulous than that of, say, an Englishman in similar circumstances.

The universal reign of absolute unscrupulousness in the pursuit of selfish interests by the making of money has been a specific characteristic of precisely those countries whose bourgeois-capitalistic development, measured according to Occidental standards, has remained backward. As every employer knows, the lack of coscienziosita of the labourers of such countries, for instance Italy as compared with Germany, has been, and to a certain extent still is, one of the principal obstacles to their capitalistic development. Capitalism cannot make use of the labor of those who practice the doctrine of undisciplined liberum arbitrium, any more than it can make use of the business man who seems absolutely unscrupulous in his dealings with others, as we can learn from Franklin. Hence the difference does not lie in the degree of development of any impulse to make money. The auri sacra fames is as old as the history of man. But we shall see that those who submitted to it without reserve as an uncontrolled impulse, such as the Dutch sea captain who “would go through hell for gain, even though he scorched his sails,” were by no means the representatives of that attitude of mind from which the specifically modern capitalistic spirit as a mass phenomenon is derived, and that is what matters. At all periods of history, wherever it was possible, there has been ruthless acquisition, bound to, no ethical norms whatever. Like war and piracy, trade has often been unrestrained in its relations with foreigners and those outside the group. The double ethic has permitted here what was forbidden in dealings among brothers.

Capitalistic acquisition as an adventure has been at home in all types of economic society which have known trade with the use of money and which have offered it opportunities, through commenda, farming of taxes, State loans, financing of wars, ducal courts and office-holders. Likewise the inner attitude of the adventurer, which laughs at all ethical limitations, has been universal. Absolute and conscious ruthlessness in acquisition has often stood in the closest connection with the strictest conformity to tradition. Moreover, with the breakdown of tradition and the more or less complete extension of free economic enterprise, even to within the social group, the new thing has not generally been ethically justified and encouraged, but only tolerated as a fact. And this fact has been treated either as ethically indifferent or as reprehensible, but unfortunately unavoidable. This has not only been the normal attitude of all ethical teachings, but, what is more important, also that expressed in the practical action of the average man of pre-capitalistic times, pre-capitalistic in the sense that the rational utilization of capital in a permanent enterprise and the rational capitalistic organization of labor had not yet become dominant forces in the determination of economic activity. Now just this attitude was one of the strongest inner obstacles which the adaptation of men to the conditions of an ordered bourgeois-capitalistic economy has encountered everywhere.

The most important opponent with which the spirit of capitalism, in the sense of a definite standard of life claiming ethical sanction, has had to struggle, was that type of attitude and reaction to new situations which we may designate as traditionalism. In this case also every attempt at a final definition must be held in abeyance. On the other hand, we must try to make the provisional meaning clear by citing a few cases. We will begin from below, with the laborers.

One of the technical means which the modern employer uses in order to secure the greatest possible amount of work from his men is the device of piece rates. In agriculture, for instance, the gathering of the harvest is a case where the greatest possible intensity of labor is called for, since, the weather being uncertain, the difference between high profit and heavy loss may depend on the speed with which the harvesting can be done. Hence a system of piece rates is almost universal in this case. And since the interest of the employer in a speeding up of harvesting increases with the increase of the results and the intensity of the work, the attempt has again and again been made, by increasing the piece rates of the workmen, thereby giving them an opportunity to earn what is for them a very high wage, to interest them in increasing their own efficiency. But a peculiar difficulty has been met with surprising frequency: raising the piece rates has often had the result that not more but less has been accomplished in the same time, because the worker reacted to the increase not by increasing but by decreasing the amount of his work. A man, for instance, who at the rate of 1 mark per acre mowed 2½ acres per day and earned 2½ marks, when the rate was raised to 1¼ marks per acre mowed, not 3 acres, as be might easily have done, thus earning 3¾ marks, but only 2 acres, so that he could still earn the 2½ marks to which he was accustomed. The opportunity of earning more was less attractive than that of working less. He did not ask: how much can I earn in a day if I do as much work as possible? but: how much must I work in order to earn the wage, 2½ marks, which I earned before and which takes care of my traditional needs? This is an example of what is here meant by traditionalism. A man does not “by nature” wish to cam more and more money, but simply to live as he is accustomed to live and to earn as much as is necessary for that purpose. Wherever modern capitalism has begun its work of increasing the productivity of human labor by increasing its intensity, it has encountered the immensely stubborn resistance of this leading trait of pre-capitalistic labor. And today it encounters it the more, the more backward (from a capitalistic point of view) the laboring forces are with which it has to deal.

Another obvious possibility, to return to our example, since the appeal to the acquisitive instinct through higher wage rates failed, would have been to try the opposite policy, to force the worker by reduction of his wage rates to work harder to cam the same amount than he did before. Low wages and high profits seem even today to a superficial observer to stand in correlation; everything which is paid out in wages seems to involve a corresponding reduction of profits. That road capitalism has taken again and again since its beginning. For centuries it was an article of faith, that low wages were productive, i.e. that they increased the material results of labor so that, as Pieter de la Cour, on this point, as we shall see, quite in the spirit of the old Calvinism, said long ago, the people only work because and so long as they are poor.

But the effectiveness of this apparently so efficient method has its limits. Of course the presence of a surplus population which it can hire cheaply in the labour market is a necessity for the development of capitalism. But though too large a reserve army may in certain cases favor its quantitative expansion, it checks its qualitative development, especially the transition to types of enterprise which make more intensive use of labor. Low wages are by no means identical with cheap labor. From a purely quantitative point of view the efficiency of labor decreases with a wage which is physiologically insufficient, which may in the long run even mean a survival of the unfit. The present-day average Silesian mows, when he exerts himself to the full, little more than two thirds as much land as the better paid and nourished Pomeranian or Mecklenburger, and the Pole, the further East he comes from, accomplishes progressively less than the German. Low wages fail even from a purely business point of view wherever it is a question of producing goods which require any sort of skilled labor, or the use of expensive machinery which is easily damaged, or in general wherever any great amount of sharp attention or of initiative is required. Here low wages do not pay, and their effect is the opposite of what was intended. For not only is a developed sense of responsibility absolutely indispensable, but in general also an attitude which, at least during working hours, is freed from continual calculations of how the customary wage may be earned with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of exertion. Labor must, on the contrary, be performed as if it were an absolute end in itself, a calling. But such an attitude is by no means a product of nature. It cannot be evoked by low wages or high ones alone, but can only be the product of a long and arduous process of education. Today, capitalism, once in the saddle, can recruit its laboring force in all industrial countries with comparative ease. In the past this was in every case an extremely difficult problem. And even today it could probably not get along without the support of a powerful ally along the way, which, as we shall see below, was at hand at the time of its development.

What is meant can again best be explained by means of an example. The type of backward traditional form of labor is today very often exemplified by women workers, especially unmarried ones. An almost universal complaint of employers of girls, for instance German girls, is that they are almost entirely unable and unwilling to give up methods of work inherited or once learned in favor of more efficient ones, to adapt themselves to new methods, to learn and to concentrate their intelligence, or even to use it at all. Explanations of the possibility of making work easier, above all more profitable to themselves, generally encounter a complete lack of understanding. Increases of piece rates are without avail against the stone wall of habit. In general it is otherwise, and that is a point of no little importance from our viewpoint, only with girls having a specifically religious, especially a Pietistic, background. One often hears, and statistical investigation confirms it, that by far the best chances of economic education are found among this group. The ability of mental concentration, as well as the absolutely essential feeling of obligation to one’s job, are here most often combined with a strict economy which calculates the possibility of high earnings, and a cool self-control and frugality which enormously increase performance. This provides the most favorable foundation for the conception of labor as an end in itself, as a calling which is necessary to capitalism: the chances of overcoming traditionalism are greatest on account of the religious upbringing. This observation of present-day capitalism in itself suggests that it is worth while to ask how this connection of adaptability to capitalism with religious factors may have come about in the days of the early development of capitalism. For that they were even then present in much the same form can be inferred from numerous facts. For instance, the dislike and the persecution which Methodist workmen in the eighteenth century met at the hands of their comrades were not solely nor even principally the result of their religious eccentricities, England had seen many of those and more striking ones. It rested rather, as the destruction of their tools, repeatedly mentioned in the reports, suggests, upon their specific willingness to work as we should say today.

However, let us again return to the present, and this time to the entrepreneur, in order to clarify the meaning of traditionalism in his case. Sombart, in his discussions of the genesis of capitalism, has distinguished between the satisfaction of needs and acquisition as the two great leading principles in economic history. In the former case the attainment of the goods necessary to meet personal needs, in the latter a struggle for profit free from the limits set by needs, have been the ends controlling the form and direction of economic activity. What he called the economy of needs seems at first glance to be identical with what is here described as economic traditionalism. That may be the case if the concept of needs is limited to traditional needs. But if that is not done, a number of economic types which must be considered capitalistic according to the definition of capital which Sombart gives in another part of his work, would be excluded from the category of acquisitive economy and put into that of needs economy. Enterprises, namely, which are carried on by private entrepreneurs by utilizing capital (money or goods with a money value) to make a profit, purchasing the means of production and selling the product, i.e. undoubted capitalistic enterprises, may at the same time have a traditionalistic character. This has, in the course even of modern economic history, not been merely an occasional case, but rather the rule, with continual interruptions from repeated and increasingly powerful conquests of the capitalistic spirit. To be sure the capitalistic form of an enterprise and the spirit in which it is run generally stand in some sort of adequate relationship to each other, but not in one of necessary interdependence. Nevertheless, we provisionally use the expression spirit of (modern) capitalism to describe that attitude which seeks profit rationally and systematically in the manner which we have illustrated, by the example of Benjamin Franklin. This, however, is justified by the historical fact that that attitude of mind has on the one hand found its most suitable expression in capitalistic enterprise, while on the other the enterprise has derived its most suitable motive force from the spirit of capitalism.

But the two may very well occur separately. Benjamin Franklin was filled with the spirit of capitalism at a time when his printing business did not differ in form from any handicraft enterprise. And we shall see that at the beginning of modern times it was by no means the capitalistic entrepreneurs of the commercial aristocracy, who were either the sole or the predominant bearers of the attitude we have here called the spirit of capitalism. It was much more the rising strata of the lower industrial middle classes. Even in the nineteenth century its classical representatives were not the elegant gentlemen of Liverpool and Hamburg, with their commercial fortunes handed down for generations, but the self-made parvenus of Manchester and Westphalia, who often rose from very modest circumstances. As early as the sixteenth century the situation was similar; the industries which arose at that time were mostly created by parvenus.

The management, for instance, of a bank, a wholesale export business, a large retail establishment, or of a large putting-out enterprise dealing with goods produced in homes, is certainly only possible in the form of a capitalistic enterprise. Nevertheless, they may all be carried on in a traditionalistic spirit. In fact, the business of a large bank of issue cannot be carried on in any other way. The foreign trade of whole epochs has rested on the basis of monopolies and legal privileges of strictly traditional character. In retail trade – and we are not here talking of the small men without capital who are continually crying out for Government aid – the revolution which is making an end of the old traditionalism is still in full swing. It is the same development which broke up the old putting-out system, to which modern domestic labor is related only in form. How this revolution takes place and what is its significance may, in spite of the fact these things are so familiar, be again brought out by a concrete example.

Until about the middle of the past century the life of a putter-out was, at least in many of the branches of the Continental textile industry, what we should today consider very comfortable. We may imagine its routine somewhat as follows: The peasants came with their cloth, often (in the case of linen) principally or entirely made from raw material which the peasant himself had produced, to the town in which the putter-out lived, and after a careful, often official, appraisal of the quality, received the customary price for it. The putter-out’s customers, for markets any appreciable distance away, were middlemen, who also came to him, generally not yet following samples, but seeking traditional qualities, and bought from his warehouse, or, long before delivery, placed orders which were probably in turn passed on to the peasants. Personal canvassing of customers took place, if at all, only at long intervals. Otherwise correspondence sufficed, though the sending of samples slowly gained ground. The number of business hours was very moderate, perhaps five to six a day, sometimes considerably less; in the rush season, where there was one, more. Earnings were moderate; enough to lead a respectable life and in good times to put away a little. On the whole, relations among competitors were relatively good, with a large degree of agreement on the fundamentals of business. A long daily visit to the tavern, with often plenty to drink, and a congenial circle of friends, made life comfortable and leisurely.

The form of organization was in every respect capitalistic; the entrepreneur’s activity was of a purely business character; the use of capital, turned over in the business, was indispensable; and finally, the objective aspect of the economic process, the book-keeping, was rational. But it was traditionalistic business, if one considers the spirit which animated the entrepreneur: the traditional manner of life, the traditional rate of profit, the traditional amount of work, the traditional manner of regulating the relationships with labor, and the essentially traditional circle of customers and the manner of attracting new ones. All these dominated the conduct of the business, were at the basis, one may say, of the ethos of this group of business men.

Now at some time this leisureliness was suddenly destroyed, and often entirely without any essential change in the form of organization, such as the transition to a unified factory, to mechanical weaving, etc. What happened was, on the contrary, often no more than this: some young man from one of the putting-out families went out into the country, carefully chose weavers for his employ, greatly increased the rigor of his supervision of their work, and thus turned them from peasants into laborers. On the other hand, he would begin to change his marketing methods by so far as possible going directly to the final consumer, would take the details into his own hands, would personally solicit customers, visiting them every year, and above all would adapt the quality of the product directly to their needs and wishes. At the same time he began to introduce the principle of low prices and large turnover. There was repeated what everywhere and always is the result of such a process of rationalization: those who would not follow suit had to go out of business. The idyllic state collapsed under the pressure of a bitter competitive struggle, respectable fortunes were made, and not lent out at interest, but always reinvested in the business. The old leisurely and comfortable attitude toward life gave way to a hard frugality in which some participated and came to the top, because they did not wish to consume but to earn, while others who wished to keep on with the old ways were forced to curtail their consumption.

And, what is most important in this connection, it was not generally in such cases a stream of new money invested in the industry which brought about this revolution – in several cases known to me the whole revolutionary process was set in motion with a few thousands of capital borrowed from relations – but the new spirit, the spirit of modern capitalism, had set to work. The question of the motive forces in the expansion of modern capitalism is not in the first instance a question of the origin of the capital sums which were available for capitalistic uses, but, above all, of the development of the spirit of capitalism. Where it appears and is able to work itself out, it produces its own capital and monetary supplies as the means to its ends, but the reverse is not true. Its entry on the scene was not generally peaceful. A flood of mistrust, sometimes of hatred, above all of moral indignation, regularly opposed itself to the first innovator. Often – I know of several cases of the sort – regular legends of mysterious shady spots in his previous life have been produced. It is very easy not to recognize that only an unusually strong character could save an entrepreneur of this new type from the loss of his temperate self-control and from both moral and economic shipwreck. Furthermore, along with clarity of vision and ability to act, it is only by virtue of very definite and highly developed ethical qualities that it has been possible for him to command the absolutely indispensable confidence of his customers and workmen. Nothing else could have given him the strength to overcome the innumerable obstacles, above all the infinitely more intensive work which is demanded of the modern entrepreneur. But these are ethical qualities of quite a different sort from those adapted to the traditionalism of the past.

And, as a rule, it has been neither dare-devil and unscrupulous speculators, economic adventurers such as we meet at all periods of economic history, nor simply great financiers who have carried through this change, outwardly so inconspicuous, but nevertheless so decisive for the penetration of economic life with the new spirit. On the contrary, they were men who had grown up in the hard school of life, calculating and daring at the same time, above all temperate and reliable, shrewd and completely devoted to their business, with strictly bourgeois opinions and principles. One is tempted to think that these personal moral qualities have not the slightest relation to any ethical maxims, to say nothing of religious ideas, but that the essential relation between them is negative. The ability to free oneself from the common tradition, a sort of liberal enlightenment, seems likely to be the most suitable basis for such a business man’s success. And today that is generally precisely the case. Any relationship between religious beliefs and conduct is generally absent, and where any exists, at least in Germany, it tends to be of the negative sort. The people filled with the spirit of capitalism today tend to be indifferent, if not hostile, to the Church. The thought of the pious boredom of paradise has little attraction for their active natures; religion appears to them as a means of drawing people away from labor in this world. If you ask them what is the meaning of their restless activity, why they are never satisfied with what they have, thus appearing so senseless to any purely worldly view of life, they would perhaps give the answer, if they know any at all: “to provide for my children and grandchildren.” But more often and, since that motive is not peculiar to them, but was just as effective for the traditionalist, more correctly, simply: that business with its continuous work has become a necessary part of their lives. That is in fact the only possible motivation, but it at the same time expresses what is, seen from the viewpoint of personal happiness, so irrational about this sort of life, where a man exists for the sake of his business, instead of the reverse.

Of course, the desire for the power and recognition which the mere fact of wealth brings plays its part. When the imagination of a whole people has once been turned toward purely quantitative bigness, as in the United States, this romanticism of numbers exercises an irresistible appeal to the poets among business men. Otherwise it is in general not the real leaders, and especially not the permanently successful entrepreneurs, who are taken in by it. In particular, the resort to entailed estates and the nobility, with sons whose conduct at the university and in the officers’ corps tries to cover up their social origin, as has been the typical history of German capitalistic parvenu families, is a product of later decadence. The ideal type of the capitalistic entrepreneur, as it has been represented even in Germany by occasional outstanding examples, has no relation to such more or less refined climbers. He avoids ostentation and unnecessary expenditure, as well as conscious enjoyment of his power, and is embarrassed by the outward signs of the social recognition which he receives. His manner of life is, in other words, often, and we shall have to investigate the historical significance of just this important fact, distinguished by a certain ascetic tendency, as appears clearly enough in the sermon of Franklin which we have quoted. It is, namely, by no means exceptional, but rather the rule, for him to have a sort of modesty which is essentially more honest than the reserve which Franklin so shrewdly recommends. He gets nothing out of his wealth for himself, except the irrational sense of having done his job well.

But it is just that which seems to the pre-capitalistic man so incomprehensible and mysterious, so unworthy and contemptible. That anyone should be able to make it the sole purpose of his life-work, to sink into the grave weighed down with a great material load of money and goods, seems to him explicable only as the product of a perverse instinct, the auri sacra fames.

At present under our individualistic political, legal, and economic institutions, with the forms of organization and general structure which are peculiar to our economic order, this spirit of capitalism might be understandable, as has been said, purely as a result of adaptation. The capitalistic system so needs this devotion to the calling of making money, it is an attitude toward material goods which is so well suited to that system, so intimately bound up with the conditions of survival in the economic struggle for existence, that there can today no longer be any question of a necessary connection of that acquisitive manner of life with any single Weltanschauung . In fact, it no longer needs the support of any religious forces, and feels the attempts of religion to influence economic life, in so far as they can still be felt at all, to be as much an unjustified interference as its regulation by the State. In such circumstances men’s commercial and social interests do tend to determine their opinions and attitudes. Whoever does not adapt his manner of life to the conditions of capitalistic success must go under, or at least cannot rise. But these are phenomena of a time in which modern capitalism has become dominant and has become emancipated from its old supports. But as it could at one time destroy the old forms of medieval regulation of economic life only in alliance with the growing power of the modern State, the same, we may say provisionally, may have been the case in its relations with religious forces. Whether and in what sense that was the case, it is our task to investigate. For that the conception of money-making as an end in itself to which people were bound, as a calling, was contrary to the ethical feelings of whole epochs, it is hardly necessary to prove. The dogma Deo placere vix potest which was incorporated into the canon law and applied to the activities of the merchant, and which at that time (like the passage in the gospel about interest) was considered genuine, as well as St. Thomas’s characterization of the desire for gain as turpitudo (which term even included unavoidable and hence ethically justified profit making), already contained a high degree of concession on the part of the Catholic doctrine to the financial powers with which the Church had such intimate political relations in the Italian cities, as compared with the much more radically anti-chrematistic views of comparatively wide circles. But even where the doctrine was still better accommodated to the facts, as for instance with Anthony of Florence, the feeling was never quite overcome, that activity directed to acquisition for its own sake was at bottom a pudendum which was to be tolerated only because of the unalterable necessities of life in this world.

Some moralists of that time, especially of the nominalistic school, accepted developed capitalistic business forms as inevitable, and attempted to justify them, especially commerce, as necessary. The industria developed in it they were able to regard, though not without contradictions, as a legitimate source of profit, and hence ethically unobjectionable. But the dominant doctrine rejected the spirit of capitalistic acquisition as turpitudo, or at least could not give it a positive ethical sanction. An ethical attitude like that of Benjamin Franklin would have been simply unthinkable. This was, above all, the attitude of capitalistic circles themselves. Their life-work was, so long as they clung to the tradition of the Church, at best something morally indifferent. It was tolerated, but was still, even if only on account of the continual danger of collision with the Church’s doctrine on usury, somewhat dangerous to salvation. Quite considerable sums, as the sources show, went at the death of rich people to religious institutions as conscience money, at times even back to former debtors as usura which had been unjustly taken from them. It was otherwise, along with heretical and other tendencies looked upon with disapproval, only in those parts of the commercial aristocracy which were already emancipated from the tradition. But even skeptics and people indifferent to the Church often reconciled themselves with it by gifts, because it was a sort of insurance against the uncertainties of what might come after death, or because (at least according to the very widely held latter view) an external obedience to the commands of the Church was sufficient to insure salvation. Here the either non-moral or immoral character of their action in the opinion of the participants themselves comes clearly to light.

Now, how could activity, which was at best ethically tolerated, turn into a calling in the sense of Benjamin Franklin? The fact to be explained historically is that in the most highly capitalistic center of that time, in Florence of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the money and capital market of all the great political powers, this attitude was considered ethically unjustifiable, or at best to be tolerated. But in the backwoods small bourgeois circumstances of Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century, where business threatened for simple lack of money to fall back into barter, where there was hardly a sign of large enterprise, where only the earliest beginnings of banking were to be found, the same thing was considered the essence of moral conduct, even commanded in the name of duty. To speak here of a reflection of material conditions in the ideal superstructure would be patent nonsense. What was the background of ideas which could account for the sort of activity apparently directed toward profit alone as a calling toward which the individual feels himself to have an ethical obligation? For it was this idea which gave the way of life of the new entrepreneur its ethical foundation and justification.

The attempt has been made, particularly by Sombart, in what are often judicious and effective observations, to depict economic rationalism as the salient feature of modern economic life as a whole.  Undoubtedly with justification, if by that is meant the extension of the productivity of labor which has, through the subordination of the process of production to scientific points of view, relieved it from its dependence upon the natural organic limitations of the human individual.  Now this process of rationalization in the field of technique and economic organization undoubtedly determines an important part of the ideals of life of modern bourgeois society.  Labor in the service of a rational organization for the provision of humanity with material goods has without doubt always appeared to representatives of the capitalistic spirit as one of the most important purposes of their life-work.  It is only necessary, for instance, to read Franklin’s account of his efforts in the service of civic improvements in Philadelphia clearly to apprehend this obvious truth.  And the joy and pride of having given employment to numerous people, of having had a part in the economic progress of his home town in the sense referring to figures of population and volume of trade which capitalism associated with the word, all these things obviously are part of the specific and undoubtedly idealistic satisfactions in life to modern men of business.  Similarly it is one of the fundamental characteristics of an individualistic capitalistic economy that it is rationalized on the basis of rigorous calculation, directed with foresight and caution toward the economic success which is sought in sharp contrast to the hand-to-mouth existence of the peasant, and to the privileged traditionalism of the guild craftsman and of the adventurers’ capitalism, oriented to the exploitation of political opportunities and irrational speculation.

It might thus seem that the development of the spirit of capitalism is best understood as part of the development of rationalism as a whole, and could be deduced from the fundamental position of rationalism on the basic problems of life.  In the process Protestantism would only have to be considered in so far as it had formed a stage prior to the development of a purely rationalistic philosophy.  But any serious attempt to carry this thesis through makes it evident that such a simple way of putting the question will not work, simply because of the fact that the history of rationalism shows a development which by no means follows parallel lines in the various departments of life.  The rationalization of private law, for instance, if it is thought of as a logical simplification and rearrangement of the content of the law, was achieved in the highest hitherto known degree in the Roman law of late antiquity.  But it remained most backward in some of the countries with the highest degree of economic rationalization, notably in England, where the Renaissance of Roman Law was overcome by the power of the great legal corporations, while it has always retained its supremacy in the Catholic countries of Southern Europe.  The worldly rational philosophy of the eighteenth century did not find favor alone or even principally in the countries of highest capitalistic development.  The doctrines of Voltaire are even today the common property of broad upper, and what is practically more important, middle class groups in the Romance Catholic countries.  Finally, if under practical rationalism is understood the type of attitude which sees and judges the world consciously in terms of the worldly interests of the individual ego, then this view of life was and is the special peculiarity of the peoples of the liberum arbitrium, such as the Italians and the French are in very flesh and blood.  But we have already convinced ourselves that this is by no means the soil in which that relationship of a man to his calling as a task, which is necessary to capitalism, has pre-eminently grown.  In fact, one may – this simple proposition, which is often forgotten, should be placed at the beginning of every study which essays to deal with rationalism – rationalize life from fundamentally different basic points of view and in very different directions.  Rationalism is an historical concept which covers a whole world of different things.  It will be our task to find out whose intellectual child the particular concrete form of rational thought was, from which the idea of a calling and the devotion to labor in the calling has grown, which is, as we have seen, so irrational from the standpoint of purely eudaemonistic self-interest, but which has been and still is one of the most characteristic elements of our capitalistic culture.  We are here particularly interested in the origin of precisely the irrational element which lies in this, as in every conception of a calling.”       Max Weber, “The Spirit of Capitalism;” The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1905

"CheHigh" by Alberto Korda - Museo Che Guevara, Havana Cuba.
“CheHigh” by Alberto Korda – Museo Che Guevara, Havana Cuba.


Numero Tres”This simple celebration, another among the hundreds of public functions with which the Cuban people daily celebrate their liberty, the progress of all their revolutionary laws, and their advances along the road to complete independence, is of special interest to me. Almost everyone knows that years ago I began my career as a doctor.  And when I began as a doctor, when I began to study medicine, the majority of the concepts I have today, as a revolutionary, were absent from my store of ideals.

Like everyone, I wanted to succeed.  I dreamed of becoming a famous medical research scientist; I dreamed of working indefatigably to discover something which would be used to help humanity, but which signified a personal triumph for me.  I was, as we all are, a child of my environment.

After graduation, due to special circumstances and perhaps also to my character, I began to travel throughout America, and I became acquainted with all of it.  Except for Haiti and Santo Domingo, I have visited, to some extent, all the other Latin American countries.  Because of the circumstances in which I traveled, first as a student and later as a doctor, I came into close contact with poverty, hunger and disease; with the inability to treat a child because of lack of money; with the stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment, to the point that a father can accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident, as occurs often in the downtrodden classes of our American homeland.  And I began to realize at that time that there were things that were almost as important to me as becoming a famous or making a significant contribution to medical science: I wanted to help those people.

But I continued to be, as we all continue to be always, a child of my environment, and I wanted to help those people with my own personal efforts.  I had already traveled a great deal–I was in Guatemala at the time, the Guatemala of Arbenz–and I had begun to make some notes to guide the conduct of the revolutionary doctor.  I began to investigate what was needed to be a revolutionary doctor.

However, aggression broke out, the aggression unleaded by the United Fruit Company, the Department of State, Foster Dulles–in reality the same thing–and their puppet, called Castillo Armas.  The aggression was successful, since the people had not achieved the level of maturity of the other Cuban people of today.  One fine day, a day like any other, I took the road of exile, or at least, I took the road of flight from Guatemala, since that was not my country.

Then I realized a fundamental thing: For one to be a revolutionary doctor or to be a revolutionary at all, there must first be a revolution. Isolated individual endeavour, for all its purity of ideals, is of no use, and the desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone, solitarily, in some corner of America, fighting against adverse governments and social conditions which prevent progress. To create a revolution, one must have what there is in Cuba – the mobilization of a whole people, who learn by the use of arms and the exercise of militant unity to understand the value of arms and the value of unity.

And now we have come to the nucleus of the problem we have before us at this time. Today one finally has the right and even the duty to be, above all things, a revolutionary doctor, that is to say a man who utilizes the technical knowledge of his profession in the service of the revolution and the people. But now old questions reappear: How does one actually carry out a work of social welfare? How does one unite individual endeavour with the needs of society?

We must review again each of our lives, what we did and thought as doctors, or in any function of public health before the revolution. We must do this with profound critical zeal and arrive finally at the conclusion that almost everything we thought and felt in that past period ought to be deposited in an archive, and a new type of human being created. If each one of us expends his maximum effort towards the perfection of that new human type, it will be much easier for the people to create him and let him be the example of the new Cuba.

It is good that I emphasize for you, the inhabitants of Havana who are present here, this idea; in Cuba a new type of man is being created, whom we cannot fully appreciate here in the capital, but who is found in every corner of the country. Those of you who went to the Sierra Maestra on the twenty-sixth of July must have seen two completely unknown things. First, an army with hoes and pickaxes, an army whose greatest pride is to parade in the patriotic festivals of Oreinte with hoes and axes raised, while their military comrades march with rifles. But you must have seen something even more important. You must have seen children whose physical constitutions appeared to be those of eight or nine-year-olds, yet almost all of whom are thirteen or fourteen. They are the most authentic children of the Sierra Maestra, the most authentic offspring of hunger and misery. They are the creatures of malnutrition.

In this tiny Cuba, with its four or five television channels and hundred of radio stations, with all the advances of modern science, when those children arrived at school for the first time at night and saw the electric light bulbs, they exclaimed that the stars were very low that night. And those children, some of whom you must have seen, are learning in collective schools skills ranging from reading to trades, and even the very difficult science of becoming revolutionaries.

Those are the new humans being born in Cuba. They are being born in isolated areas, in different parts of the Sierra Maestra, and also in the cooperatives and work centres. All this has a lot to do with the theme of our talk today, the integration of the physician or any other medical worker, into the revolutionary movement. The task of educating and feeding youngsters, the task of educating the army, the task of distributing the lands of the former absentee landlords to those who laboured every day upon that same land without receiving its benefits, are accomplishments of social medicine which have been performed in Cuba.

The principle upon which the fight against disease should be based is the creation of a robust body; but not the creation of a robust body by the artistic work of a doctor upon a weak organism; rather, the creation of a robust body with the work of the whole collectivity, upon the entire social collectivity.

Some day, therefore, medicine will have to convert itself into a science that serves to prevent disease and orients the public toward carrying out its medical duties. Medicine should only intervene in cases of extreme urgency, to perform surgery or something else which lies outside the skills of the people of the new society we are creating.

The work that today is entrusted to the Ministry of Health and similar organizations is to provide public health services for the greatest possible number of persons, institute a program of preventive medicine, and orient the public to the performance of hygienic practices.

But for this task of organization, as for all the revolutionary tasks, fundamentally it is the individual who is needed. The revolution does not, as some claim, standardize the collective will and the collective initiative. On the contrary, it liberates man’s individual talent. What the revolution does is orient that talent. And our task now is to orient the creative abilities of all medical professionals toward the tasks of social medicine.

We are at the end of an era, and not only here in Cuba. No matter what is hoped or said to the contrary, the form of capitalism we have known, in which we were raised, and under which we have suffered, is being defeated all over the world. The monopolies are being overthrown; collective science is coring new and important triumphs daily. In the Americas we have had the proud and devoted duty to be the vanguard of a movement of liberation which began a long time ago on the other subjugated continents, Africa and Asia. Such a profound social change demands equally profound changes in the mental structure of the people.

Individualism, in the form of the individual action of a person alone in a social milieu, must disappear in Cuba. In the future individualism ought to be the efficient utilization of the whole individual for the absolute benefit of a collectivity. It is not enough that this idea is understood today, that you all comprehend the things I am saying and are ready to think a little about the present and the past and what the future ought to be. In order to change a way of thinking, it is necessary to undergo profound internal changes and to witness profound external changes, especially in the performance of our duties and obligations to society.

Those external changes are happening in Cuba every day. One way of getting to know the Revolution and becoming aware of the energies held in reserve, so long asleep within the people, is to visit all Cuba and see the cooperatives and the work centres which are now being created. And one way of getting to the heart of the medical question is not only to visit and become acquainted with the people who make up these cooperatives and work centres, but to find out what diseases they have, what their sufferings are, what have been their chronic miseries for years, and what has been the inheritance of centuries of repression and total submission. The doctor, the medical worker, must go to the core of his new work, which is the man within the mass, the man within the collectivity.

Always, no matter what happens in the world, the doctor is extremely close to his patient and knows the innermost depths of his psyche. Because he is the one who attacks pain and mitigates it, he performs and invaluable labour of much responsibility in society.

A few months ago, here in Havana, it happened that a group of newly graduated doctors did not want to go into the country’s rural areas, and demanded remuneration before they would agree to go. From the point of view of the past it is the most logical thing in the world for this to occur; at least, so it seems to me, for I can understand it perfectly. The situation brings back to me the memory of what I was and what I thought a few years ago. [My case is the] story all over again of the gladiator who rebels, the solitary fighter who wants to assure a better future, better conditions, and to make valid the need people have of him.

But what would have happened if instead of these boys, whose families generally were able to pay for their years of study, others of less fortunate means had just finished their schooling and were beginning the exercise of their profession? What would have occurred if two or three hundred peasants had emerged, let us say by magic, from the university halls?

What would have happened, simply, is that the peasants would have run, immediately and with unreserved enthusiasm, to help their brothers. They would have requested the most difficult and responsible jobs in order to demonstrate that the years of study they had received had not been given in vain. What would have happened is what will happen in six or seven years, when the new students, children of workers and peasants, receive professional degrees of all kinds.

But we must not view the future with fatalism and separate all men into either children of the working and peasant classes or counter-revolutionaries, because it is simplistic, because it is not true, and because there is nothing which educates an honorable man more than living in a revolution. None of us, none of the first group which arrived in the Granma, who settled in the Sierra Maestra, and learned to respect the peasant and the worker living with him, had a peasant or working-class background. Naturally, there were those who had had to work, who had known certain privations in childhood; but hunger, what is called real hunger, was something none of us had experienced. But we began to know it in the two long years in the Sierra Maestra. And then many things became very clear.

We, who at first punished severely anyone who touched the property of even a rich peasant or a landowner, brought ten thousand head of cattle to the Sierra one day and said to the peasants, simply, ‘Eat’. And the peasants, for the first time in years and years, some for the first time in their lives, ate beef.

The respect which we had had for the sacrosanct property right to those ten thousand head of cattle was lost in the course of armed battle, and we understood perfectly that the life of a single human being is worth a million time more than all the property of the richest man on earth. And we learned it; we, who were not of the working class nor of the peasant class. And are we going to tell the four winds, we who were the privileged ones, that the rest of the people in Cuba cannot learn it also? Yes, they can learn it, and besides, the Revolution today demands that they learn it, demands that it be well understood that far more important than a good remuneration is the pride of serving one’s neighbor; that much more definitive and much more lasting than all the gold that one can accumulate is the gratitude of a people. And each doctor, within the circle of his activities, can and must accumulate that valuable treasure, the gratitude of his people.

We must, then, begin to erase our old concepts and begin to draw closer and closer to the people and to be increasingly aware. We must approach them not as before. You are all going to say, ‘No. I like the people. I love talking to workers and peasants, and I go here or there on Sundays to see such and such.’ Everybody has done it. But we have done it practising charity, and what we have to practice today is solidarity. We should not go to the people and say, ‘Here we are. We come to give you the charity of our presence, to teach you our science, to show you your errors, your lack of culture, your ignorance of elementary things.’ We should go instead with an inquiring mind and a humble spirit to learn at that great source of wisdom that is the people.

Later we will realize many times how mistaken we were in concepts that were so familiar they became part of us and were an automatic part of our thinking. Often we need to change our concepts, not only the general concepts, the social or philosophical ones, but also sometimes, our medical concepts.

We shall see that diseases need not always be treated as they are in big-city hospitals. We shall see that the doctor has to be a farmer also and plant new foods and sow, by example, the desire to consume new foods, to diversify the Cuban nutritional structure, which is so limited, so poor, in one of the richest countries in the world, agriculturally and potentially. We shall see, then, how we shall have to be, in these circumstances, a bit pedagogical- at times very pedagogical. It will be necessary to be politicians, too, and the first thing we will have to do is not to go to the people to offer them our wisdom. We must go, rather, to demonstrate that we are going to learn with the people, that together we are going to carry out that great and beautiful common experiment: the construction of a new Cuba.

Many steps have already been taken. There is a distance that cannot be measured by conventional means between that first day of January in 1959 and today. The majority of the people understood a long time ago that not only a dictator had fallen here, but also a system. Now comes the part the people must learn, that upon the ruins of a decayed system we must build the new system which will bring about the absolute happiness of the people.

I remember that some time in the early months of last year comrade Guillên arrived from Argentina. He was the same great poet he is today, although perhaps his books had been translated into a language or two less, for he is gaining new readers every day in all languages of the world. But he was the same man he is today. However, it was difficult for Guillên to read his poems here, which were popular poetry, poetry of the people, because that was during the first epoch, the epoch of prejudices. And nobody ever stopped to think that for years and years, with unswerving dedication, the poet Guillên had placed all his extraordinary poetic gift at the service of the people and at the service of the cause in which he believed. People saw him, not as the glory of Cuba, but as the representative of a political party which was taboo.

Now all that has been forgotten. We have learned that there can be no divisions due to the different points of view of certain internal structures of our country if we have a common enemy and a common goal. What we have to agree upon is whether or not we have a common enemy and whether or not we are attempting to reach a common goal.

By now we have become convinced that there definitely is a common enemy. No one looks over his shoulder to see if there is anyone who might overhear- perhaps some agent from the embassy who would transmit the information- before giving an opinion against monopolies, before saying clearly, ‘Our enemy, and the enemy of all America, is the monopolistic government of the United States of America.’ If now everyone knows that is the enemy, and it is coming to be known also that anyone who fights against that enemy has something in common with us, then we come to the second part. Where and now, for Cuba, what are our goals? What do went want? Do we or do we not want the happiness of the people? Are we, or are we not fighting for the total economic liberation of Cuba?

Are we or are we not struggling to be a free nation among free nations, without belonging to any military bloc, without having to consult the embassy of any great power on earth about any internal or external measure that is going to be taken here? If we plan to redistribute wealth of those who have too much in order to give it to those who have nothing; if we intend to make creative work a daily, dynamic source of all our happiness, then we have goals toward which to work. And anyone who has the same goals is our friend. If he has other concepts besides, if he belongs to some organization or other, those are minor matters.

In moments of great danger, in moments of great tensions and great creations, what count are great enemies and great goals. If we are already agreed, if we all know now where we are going – and let him grieve to whom it will cause grief- then we have to begin our work.

I was telling you that to be a revolutionary you have first to have a revolution. We already have it. Next, you have to know the people with whom you are going to work. I think that we are not yet well acquainted, that we still have to travel a while on that road. You ask me what are the vehicles for getting to know the people beside the vehicle of living in the cooperatives and working in them. Not everyone can do this, and there are many places where the presence of a medical worker is very important. I would say that the revolutionary militias are one of the great manifestations of the solidarity of the Cuban people. Militias now give a new function to the doctor and prepare him for what was, until a short time ago, a sad and almost fatal reality for Cuba, namely, that we are going to be the victim of an armed attack of great breadth.

I ought to warn you that the doctor, in the function of soldier and revolutionary, should always be a doctor. You should not commit the same error which we committed in the Sierra. Or maybe it was not an error, but all the medical comrades of that period know about it. It seemed dishonorable to us to remain at the side of a wounded man or a sick one, and we looked for any way possible of grabbing a rifle and going to prove on the battlefront what we could do.

Now the conditions are different, and the new armies which are being formed to defend the country must be armies with different tactics. The doctor will have an enormous importance within the plan of the new army. He must continue being a doctor, which is one of the most beautiful tasks there is and one of the most important in a war. And not only the doctor, but also the nurses, laboratory technicians, all those who dedicate themselves to this very human profession, are of he utmost importance.

Although we know of latent danger and are preparing ourselves to repel the aggression which still exists in the atmosphere, we must stop thinking about it.  If we make war preparations the centre of our concern, we will not be able to devote ourselves to creative work.  All the work and all the capital invested in preparing for a military action is wasted work and wasted money.  Unfortunately, we have to do it, because there are others who are preparing themselves.  But it is–and I say this in all honesty, on my honour as a soldier–the truth is that the outgoing money which most saddens me as I watch it leave the vault of the National Bank is the money that is going to pay for some weapon.

Nevertheless, the militias have a function in peacetime; the militias should be, in populous centres, the tool which unifies the people.  An extreme solidarity should be practiced, as I have been told it is practised in the militias of the doctors.  In time of danger they should go immediately to solve the problems of the poor people of Cuba.  But the militias offer also an opportunity to live together, joined and made equal by a uniform, with men of all social classes of Cuba.

If we medical workers–and permit me to use once again a title which I had forgotten some time ago–are successful, if we use this new weapon of solidarity, if we know the goals, know the enemy, and know the direction we have to take, then all that is left for us to know is the part of the way to be covered each day.  And that part no one can show us; that part is the private journey of each individual.  It is what he will do every day, what he will gather from his individual experience, and what he will give of himself in the exercise of his profession, dedicated to the well-being of the people.

Now that we have all the elements for our march toward the future, let us remember the advice of Martí.  Although at this moment I am ignoring it, one should follow it constantly, ‘The best way of telling is doing.’  Let us march, then, toward Cuba’s future.”        Che Guevara, “On Revolutionary Medicine;” Speech, 1960

japanese herbs seven herb festival

Numero Cuatro“‘In the spring, cherry blossoms, in the summer the cuckoo.
In autumn the moon, and in winter the snow, clear, cold.’

                   ‘The winter moon comes from the clouds to keep me company.
The wind is piercing, the snow is cold.’

The first of these poems is by the priest Dogen (1200-1253) and bears the title ‘Innate Spirit.’  The second is by the priest Myoe (1173-1232).  When I am asked for specimens of calligraphy, it is these poems that I often choose.

The second poem bears an unusually detailed account of its origins, such as to be an explanation of the heart of its meaning: ‘On the night of the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the year 1224, the moon was behind clouds.  I sat in Zen meditation in the Kakyu Hall.  When the hour of the midnight vigil came, I ceased meditation and descended from the hall on the peak to the lower quarters, and as I did so the moon came from the clouds and set the snow to glowing.  The moon was my companion, and not even the wolf howling in the valley brought fear.  When, presently, I came out of the lower quarters again, the moon was again behind clouds.  As the bell was signalling the late-night vigil, I made my way once more to the peak, and the moon saw me on the way. I entered the meditation hall, and the moon, chasing the clouds, was about to sink behind the peak beyond, and it seemed to me that it was keeping me secret company.’

There follows the poem I have quoted, and with the explanation that it was composed as Myoe entered the meditation hall after seeing the moon behind the mountain, there comes yet another poem:

‘I shall go behind the mountain.  Go there too, O moon.
Night after night we shall keep each other company.’

Here is the setting for another poem, after Myoe had spent the rest of the night in the meditation hall, or perhaps gone there again before dawn:

‘Opening my eyes from my meditations, I saw the moon in the dawn, lighting the window.  In a dark place myself, I felt as if my own heart were glowing with light which seemed to be that of the moon:

My heart shines, a pure expanse of light;
And no doubt the moon will think the light its own.’

Because of such a spontaneous and innocent stringing together of mere ejaculations as the following, Myoe has been called the poet of the moon:

“Bright, bright, and bright, bright, bright, and bright, bright.
Bright and bright, bright, and bright, bright moon.”

In his three poems on the winter moon, from late night into the dawn, Myoe follows entirely the bent of Saigyo, another poet-priest, who lived from 1118 to 1190: “Though I compose poetry, I do not think of it as composed poetry.” The thirty-one syllables of each poem, honest and straightforward as if he were addressing the moon, are not merely to “the moon as my companion”. Seeing the moon, he becomes the moon, the moon seen by him becomes him. He sinks into nature, becomes one with nature. The light of the “clear heart” of the priest, seated in the meditation hall in the darkness before the dawn, becomes for the dawn moon its own light.

As we see from the long introduction to the first of Myoe’s poems quoted above, in which the winter moon becomes a companion, the heart of the priest, sunk in meditation upon religion and philosophy, there in the mountain hall, is engaged in a delicate interplay and exchange with the moon; and it is this of which the poet sings. My reason for choosing that first poem when asked for a specimen of my calligraphy has to do with its remarkable gentleness and compassion. Winter moon, going behind the clouds and coming forth again, making bright my footsteps as I go to the meditation hall and descend again, making me unafraid of the wolf: does not the wind sink into you, does not the snow, are you not cold? I choose the poem as a poem of warm, deep, delicate compassion, a poem that has in it the deep quiet of the Japanese spirit. Dr. Yashiro Yukio, internationally known as a scholar of Botticelli, a man of great learning in the art of the past and the present, of the East and the West, has summed up one of the special characteristics of Japanese art in a single poetic sentence: “The time of the snows, of the moon, of the blossoms – – – then more than ever we think of our comrades.” When we see the beauty of the snow, when we see the beauty of the full moon, when we see the beauty of the cherries in bloom, when in short we brush against and are awakened by the beauty of the four seasons, it is then that we think most of those close to us, and want them to share the pleasure. The excitement of beauty calls forth strong fellow feelings, yearnings for companionship, and the word “comrade” can be taken to mean “human being”. The snow, the moon, the blossoms, words expressive of the seasons as they move one into another, include in the Japanese tradition the beauty of mountains and rivers and grasses and trees, of all the myriad manifestations of nature, of human feelings as well.

That spirit, that feeling for one’s comrades in the snow, the moonlight, under the blossoms, is also basic to the tea ceremony. A tea ceremony is a coming together in feeling, a meeting of good comrades in a good season. I may say in passing, that to see my novel Thousand Cranes as an evocation of the formal and spiritual beauty of the tea ceremony is a misreading. It is a negative work, and expression of doubt about and warning against the vulgarity into which the tea ceremony has fallen.

“In the spring, cherry blossoms, in the summer the cuckoo.
In autumn the full moon, in winter the snow, clear, cold.”

One can, if one chooses, see in Dogen’s poem the beauty of the four seasons no more than a conventional, ordinary, mediocre stringing together, in a most awkward form of representative images from the four seasons. One can see it as a poem that is not really a poem at all. And yet very similar is the deathbed poem of the priest Ryokan (1758-1831):

“What shall be my legacy? The blossoms of spring,
The cuckoo in the hills, the leaves of autumn.”

In this poem, as in Dogen’s, the commonest of figures and the commonest of words are strung together without hesitation – – – no, to particular effect, rather – – – and so they transmit the very essence of Japan. And it is Ryokan’s last poem that I have quoted.

“A long, misty day in spring:
I saw it to a close, playing ball with the children.
“The breeze is fresh, the moon is clear.
Together let us dance the night away, in what is left of old age.”
“It is not that I wish to have none of the world,
It is that I am better at the pleasure enjoyed alone.”

Ryokan, who shook off the modern vulgarity of his day, who was immersed in the elegance of earlier centuries, and whose poetry and calligraphy are much admired in Japan today – – – he lived in the spirit of these poems, a wanderer down country paths, a grass hut for shelter, rags for clothes, farmers to talk to. The profundity of religion and literature was not, for him, in the abstruse. He rather pursued literature and belief in the benign spirit summarized in the Buddhist phrase “a smiling face and gentle words”. In his last poem he offered nothing as a legacy. He but hoped that after his death nature would remain beautiful. That could be his bequest. One feels in the poem the emotions of old Japan, and the heart of a religious faith as well.

“I wondered and wondered when she would come.
And now we are together. What thoughts need I have?”

Ryokan wrote love poetry too. This is an example of which I am fond. An old man of sixty-nine (I might point out that at the same age I am the recipient of the Nobel Prize), Ryokan met a twenty-nine-year old nun named Teishin, and was blessed with love. The poem can be seen as one of happiness at having met the ageless woman, of happiness at having met the one for whom the wait was so long. The last line is simplicity itself.

Ryokan died at the age of seventy-three. He was born in the province of Echigo, the present Niigata Prefecture and the setting of my novel Snow Country, a northerly region on what is known as the reverse side of Japan, where cold winds come down across the Japan Sea from Siberia. He lived his whole life in the snow country, and to his “eyes in their last extremity”, when he was old and tired and knew that death was near, and had attained enlightenment, the snow country, as we see in his last poem, was yet more beautiful, I should imagine. I have an essay with the title “Eyes in their Last Extremity”.

The title comes from the suicide note of the short-story writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927). It is the phrase that pulls at me with the greatest strength. Akutagawa said that he seemed to be gradually losing the animal something known as the strength to live, and continued:

“I am living in a world of morbid nerves, clear and cold as ice… I do not know when I will summon up the resolve to kill myself. But nature is for me more beautiful than it has ever been before. I have no doubt that you will laugh at the contradiction, for here I love nature even when I am contemplating suicide. But nature is beautiful because it comes to my eyes in their last extremity.”

Akutagawa committed suicide in 1927, at the age of thirty-five.

In my essay, “Eyes in their Last Extremity”, I had to say: “How ever alienated one may be from the world, suicide is not a form of enlightenment. However admirable he may be, the man who commits suicide is far from the realm of the saint.” I neither admire nor am in sympathy with suicide. I had another friend who died young, an avant-garde painter. He too thought of suicide over the years, and of him I wrote in this same essay: “He seems to have said over and over that there is no art superior to death, that to die is to live,” I could see, however, that for him, born in a Buddhist temple and educated in a Buddhist school, the concept of death was very different from that in the West. “Among those who give thoughts to things, is there one who does not think of suicide?” With me was the knowledge that that fellow Ikkyu (1394-1481) twice contemplated suicide. I have “that fellow”, because the priest Ikkyu is known even to children as a most amusing person, and because anecdotes about his limitlessly eccentric behavior have come down to us in ample numbers. It is said of him that children climbed his knee to stroke his beard, that wild birds took feed from his hand. It would seem from all this that he was the ultimate in mindlessness, that he was an approachable and gentle sort of priest. As a matter of fact he was the most severe and profound of Zen priests. Said to have been the son of an emperor, he entered a temple at the age of six, and early showed his genius as a poetic prodigy. At the same time he was troubled with the deepest of doubts about religion and life. “If there is a god, let him help me. If there is none, let me throw myself to the bottom of the lake and become food for fishes.” Leaving behind these words he sought to throw himself into a lake, but was held back. On another occasion, numbers of his fellows were incriminated when a priest in his Daitokuji Temple committed suicide. Ikkyu went back to the temple, “the burden heavy on my shoulders,” and sought to starve himself to death. He gave his collected poetry the title “Collection of the Roiling Clouds”, and himself used the expression “Roiling Clouds” as a pen name. In his collection and its successor are poems quite without parallel in the Chinese and especially the Zen poetry of the Japanese middle ages, erotic poems and poems about the secrets of the bedchamber that leave one in utter astonishment. He sought, by eating fish and drinking spirits and having commerce with women, to go beyond the rules and proscriptions of the Zen of his day, and to seek liberation from them, and thus, turning against established religious forms, he sought in the pursuit of Zen the revival and affirmation of the essence of life, of human existence, in a day civil war and moral collapse.

His temple, the Daitokuji at Murasakino in Kyoto, remains a center of the tea ceremony, and specimens of his calligraphy are greatly admired as hangings in alcoves of tea rooms.

I myself have two specimens of Ikkyu’s calligraphy. One of them is a single line: “It is easy to enter the world of the Buddha, it is hard to enter the world of the devil.” Much drawn to these words, I frequently make use of them when asked for a specimen of my own calligraphy. They can be read in any number of ways, as difficult as one chooses, but in that world of the devil added to the world of the Buddha, Ikkyu of Zen comes home to me with great immediacy. The fact that for an artist, seeking truth, good, and beauty, the fear and petition even as a prayer in those words about the world of the devil – – – the fact that it should be there apparent on the surface, hidden behind, perhaps speaks with the inevitability of fate. There can be no world of the Buddha without the world of the devil. And the world of the devil is the world difficult of entry. It is not for the weak of heart.

“If you meet a Buddha, kill him. If you meet a patriarch of the law,
kill him.”

This is a well-known Zen motto. If Buddhism is divided generally into the sects that believe in salvation by faith and those that believe in salvation by one’s own efforts, then of course there must be such violent utterances in Zen, which insists upon salvation by one’s own efforts. On the other side, the side of salvation by faith, Shinran (1173-1262), the founder of the Shin sect, once said: “The good shall be reborn in paradise, and how much more shall it be so with the bad.” This view of things has something in common with Ikkyu’s world of the Buddha and world of the devil, and yet at heart the two have their different inclinations. Shinran also said: “I shall not take a single disciple.”

“If you meet a Buddha, kill him. If you meet a patriarch of the law, kill him.” “I shall not take a single disciple.” In these two statements, perhaps, is the rigorous fate of art.

In Zen there is no worship of images. Zen does have images, but in the hall where the regimen of meditation is pursued, there are neither images nor pictures of Buddhas, nor are there scriptures. The Zen disciple sits for long hours silent and motionless, with his eyes closed. Presently he enters a state of impassivity, free from all ideas and all thoughts. He departs from the self and enters the realm of nothingness. This is not the nothingness or the emptiness of the West. It is rather the reverse, a universe of the spirit in which everything communicates freely with everything, transcending bounds, limitless. There are of course masters of Zen, and the disciple is brought toward enlightenment by exchanging questions and answers with his master, and he studies the scriptures. The disciple must, however, always be lord of his own thoughts, and must attain enlightenment through his own efforts. And the emphasis is less upon reason and argument than upon intuition, immediate feeling. Enlightenment comes not from teaching but through the eye awakened inwardly. Truth is in “the discarding of words”, it lies “outside words”. And so we have the extreme of “silence like thunder”, in the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra. Tradition has it that Bodhidharma, a southern Indian prince who lived in about the sixth century and was the founder of Zen in China, sat for nine years in silence facing the wall of a cave, and finally attained enlightenment. The Zen practice of silent meditation in a seated posture derives from Bodhidharma.

Here are two religious poems by Ikkyu:

“Then I ask you answer. When I do not you do not.
What is there then on your heart, O Lord Bodhidharma?”
“And what is it, the heart?
It is the sound of the pine breeze in the ink painting.”

Here we have the spirit of Zen in Oriental painting. The heart of the ink painting is in space, abbreviation, what is left undrawn. In the words of the Chinese painter Chin Nung: “You paint the branch well, and you hear the sound of the wind.” And the priest Dogen once more: “Are there not these cases? Enlightenment in the voice of the bamboo. Radiance of heart in the peach blossom.”

Ikenobo Sen’o, a master of flower arranging, once said (the remark is to be found in his Sayings): “With a spray of flowers, a bit of water, one evokes the vastness of rivers and mountains.” The Japanese garden too, of course symbolizes the vastness of nature. The Western garden tends to be symmetrical, the Japanese garden asymmetrical, and this is because the asymmetrical has the greater power to symbolize multiplicity and vastness. The asymmetry, of course, rests upon a balance imposed by delicate sensibilities. Nothing is more complicated, varied, attentive to detail, than the Japanese art of landscape gardening. Thus there is the form called the dry landscape, composed entirely of rocks, in which the arrangement of stones gives expression to mountains and rivers that are not present, and even suggests the waves of the great ocean breaking in upon cliffs. Compressed to the ultimate, the Japanese garden becomes the bonsai dwarf garden, or the bonseki, its dry version.

In the Oriental word for landscape, literally “mountain-water”, with its related implications in landscape painting and landscape gardening, there is contained the concept of the sere and wasted, and even of the sad and the threadbare. Yet in the sad, austere, autumnal qualities so valued by the tea ceremony, itself summarized in the expression “gently respectful, cleanly quiet”, there lies concealed a great richness of spirit; and the tea room, so rigidly confined and simple, contains boundless space and unlimited elegance. The single flower contains more brightness than a hundred flowers. The great sixteenth-century master of the tea ceremony and flower arranging, Rikyu, taught that it was wrong to use fully opened flowers. Even in the tea ceremony today the general practice is to have in the alcove of the tea room but a single flower, and that a flower in bud. In winter a special flower of winter, let us say a camellia, bearing some such name as White Jewel or Wabisuke, which might be translated literally as “Helpmate in Solitude”, is chosen, a camellia remarkable among camellias for its whiteness and the smallness of its blossoms; and but a single bud is set out in the alcove. White is the cleanest of colors, it contains in itself all the other colors. And there must always be dew on the bud. The bud is moistened with a few drops of water. The most splendid of arrangements for the tea ceremony comes in May, when a peony is put out in a celadon vase; but here again there is but a single bud, always with dew upon it. Not only are there drops of water upon the flower, the vase too is frequently moistured.

Among flower vases, the ware that is given the highest rank is old Iga, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it commands the highest price. When old Iga has been dampened, its colors and its glow take on a beauty such as to awaken on afresh. Iga was fired at very high temperatures. The straw ash and the smoke from the fuel fell and flowed against the surface, and as the temperature dropped, became a sort of glaze. Because the colors were not fabricated but were rather the result of nature at work in the kiln, color patterns emerged in such varieties as to be called quirks and freaks of the kiln. The rough, austere, strong surfaces of old Iga take on a voluptuous glow when dampened. It breathes to the rhythm of the dew of the flowers.

The taste of the tea ceremony also asks that the tea bowl be moistened before using, to give it its own soft glow.

Ikenobo Sen’o remarked on another occasion (this too is in his Sayings) that “the mountains and strands should appear in their own forms”. Bringing a new spirit into his school of flower arranging, therefore, he found “flowers” in broken vessels and withered branches, and in them too the enlightenment that comes from flowers. “The ancients arranged flowers and pursued enlightenment.” Here we see awakening to the heart of the Japanese spirit, under the influence of Zen. And in it too, perhaps, is the heart of a man living in the devastation of long civil wars.

The Tales of Ise, compiled in the tenth century, is the oldest Japanese collection of lyrical episodes, numbers of which might be called short stories. In one of them we learn that the poet Ariwara no Yukihira, having invited guests, put in flowers:

“Being a man of feeling, he had in a large jar a most unusual wistaria. The trailing spray of flowers was upwards of three and a half feet long.”

A spray of wistaria of such length is indeed so unusual as to make one have doubts about the credibility of the writer; and yet I can feel in this great spray a symbol of Heian culture. The wistaria is a very Japanese flower, and it has a feminine elegance. Wistaria sprays, as they trail in the breeze, suggest softness, gentleness, reticence. Disappearing and then appearing again in the early summer greenery, they have in them that feeling for the poignant beauty of things long characterized by the Japanese as mono no aware. No doubt there was a particular splendor in that spray upwards of three and a half feet long. The splendors of Heian culture a millennium ago and the emergence of a peculiarly Japanese beauty were as wondrous as this “most unusual wistaria”, for the culture of T’ang China had at length been absorbed and Japanized. In poetry there came, early in the tenth century, the first of the imperially commissioned anthologies, the Kokinshu, and in fiction, the Tales of Ise, followed by the supreme masterpieces of classical Japanese prose, the Tale of Genji of Lady Murasaki and the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, both of whom lived from the late tenth century into the early eleventh. So was established a tradition which influenced and even controlled Japanese literature for eight hundred years. The Tale of Genji in particular is the highest pinnacle of Japanese literature. Even down to our day there has not been a piece of fiction to compare with it. That such a modern work should have been written in the eleventh century is a miracle, and as a miracle the work is widely known abroad. Although my grasp of classical Japanese was uncertain, the Heian classics were my principal boyhood reading, and it is the Genji, I think, that has meant the most to me. For centuries after it was written, fascination with the Genjipersisted, and imitations and reworkings did homage to it. The Genji was a wide and deep source of nourishment for poetry, of course, and for the fine arts and handicrafts as well, and even for landscape gardening.

Murasaki and Sei Shonagon, and such famous poets as Izumi Shikibu, who probably died early in the eleventh century, and Akazome Emon, who probably died in the mid-eleventh century, were all ladies-in-waiting in the imperial court. Japanese culture was court culture, and court culture was feminine. The day of the Genji and the Pillow Book was its finest, when ripeness was moving into decay. One feels in it the sadness at the end of glory, the high tide of Japanese court culture. The court went into its decline, power moved from the court nobility to the military aristocracy, in whose hands it remained through almost seven centuries from the founding of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1192 to the Meiji Restoration in 1867 and 1868. It is not to be thought, however, that either the imperial institution or court culture vanished. In the eighth of the imperial anthologies, the Shinkokinshü of the early thirteenth century, the technical dexterity of the Kokinshu was pushed yet a step further, and sometimes fell into mere verbal dalliance; but there were added elements of the mysterious, the suggestive, the evocative and inferential elements of sensuous fantasy that have something in common with modern symbolist poetry. Saigyo, who has been mentioned earlier, was a representative poet spanning the two ages, Heian and Kamakura.

“I dreamt of him because I was thinking of him.
Had I known it was a dream, I should not have wished to awaken.
“In my dreams I go to him each night without fail.
But this is less than a single glimpse in the waking.”

These are by Ono no Komachi, the leading poetess of the Kokinshu, who sings of dreams, even, with a straightforward realism. But when we come to the following poems of the Empress Eifuku, who lived at about the same time as Ikkyu, in the Muromachi Period, somewhat later than the Shinkokinshu, we have a subtle realism that becomes a melancholy symbolism, delicately Japanese, and seems to me more modern:

“Shining upon the bamboo thicket where the sparrows twitter,
The sunlight takes on the color of the autumn.”
“The autumn wind, scattering the bush clover in the garden,
sinks into one’s bones.
Upon the wall, the evening sun disappears.”

Dogen, whose poem about the clear, cold snow I have quoted, and Myoe, who wrote of the winter moon as his companion, were of generally the Shinkokinshu period.  Myoe exchanged poems with Saigyo and the two discussed poetry together.  The following is from the biography of Myoe by his disciple Kikai:

‘Saigyo frequently came and talked of poetry.  His own attitude towards poetry, he said, was far from the ordinary.  Cherry blossoms, the cuckoo, the moon, snow: confronted with all the manifold forms of nature, his eyes and his ears were filled with emptiness.  And were not all the words that came forth true words?  When he sang of the blossoms the blossoms were not on his mind, when he sang of the moon he did not think of the moon.  As the occasion presented itself, as the urge arose, he wrote poetry.  The red rainbow across the sky was as the sky taking on color.  The white sunlight was as the sky growing bright.  Yet the empty sky, by its nature, was not something to become bright.  It was not something to take on color.  With a spirit like the empty sky he gives color to all the manifold scenes but not a trace remained.  In such poetry was the Buddha, the manifestation of the ultimate truth.’

Here we have the emptiness, the nothingness, of the Orient.  My own works have been described as works of emptiness, but it is not to be taken for the nihilism of the West.  The spiritual foundation would seem to be quite different.  Dogen entitled his poem about the seasons, ‘Innate Reality,’ and even as he sang of the beauty of the seasons he was deeply immersed in Zen.”       Yasunari Kawabata, “Japan, the Beautiful & Myself;” Nobel Literary Laureate Lecture, 1968