“Now, gentlemen,” resumed the green-spectacled auctioneer, still stroking his cherished tuft of long black beard,—“now, gentlemen, let me sell you Samson! He is twenty-six years of age—an excellent house-servant—guaranteed free,” &c. &c. “What do you offer for Samson?” Poor Samson fell into the hands of the Philistines at 710 dollars.
Sam, the next on the list, was not present. Ben was therefore put up. He was a fine buckish young fellow, about twenty-one. His complexion was lighter than that of a mulatto, and his hair was not at all crisped, but straight, and of a jet black. He was dressed in a good cloth surtout coat, and looked altogether far more respectable and intelligent than most of the bidders. He was evidently a high-minded young man, who felt deeply the insulting position he was made to occupy. Oh! that I could have whispered in his ear a few words of sympathy and comfort. He stood on the platform firm and erect, his eyes apparently fixed on the clock opposite. “Now, gentlemen, what do you offer for Ben?” said the Frenchified salesman; “a first-rate tailor—only twenty-one years of age.” 700 dollars proved to be the estimated value of this “excellent tailor.”
Charles (not in the catalogue) was now offered. He was a black man, of great muscular power, said to be twenty-eight years of age. He had, it was admitted, absconded once from his master! At this intelligence the countenances of the bidders fell. He had evidently gone down at least 20 per cent. in value. Though offered at 300 dollars, however, he rose to 640, at which price he was sold.
The “ladies” were yet to be exhibited. “Elizabeth” (my own dear sister’s name) was the first. But I reserve this part of the scene for another letter.
Sale of Women—Second Sabbath in New Orleans—Cricket in front of the Presbyterian “Church”—The Baptist “Church”—A Peep at an American Sabbath-School—Proceedings in “Church”—A Sermon on “The New Birth”—Nut-cracking during Sermon—“Close Communion.”
You shall now learn how men buy and sell women in America. “Elizabeth” was the first who was made to mount the platform. She was a very genteel-looking girl, about eighteen years of age, evidently the daughter of a white man, and said to be “a good seamstress and house-servant—excellente couturiere et domestique de maison.” 600 dollars was the first bid, and 810 the last, at which price (about 170_l._) Elizabeth—so young and so interesting—was sold!
“Susan,” too, was a mulatto—the daughter of a white man. She was short, dumpy, and full-faced, about sixteen years of age, “a plain seamstress and house-servant.” She appeared exceedingly modest, and kept her eyes on the floor in front of the platform. On that floor, as usual, the filthy dealers in human flesh were ever and anon pouring forth immense quantities of tobacco juice. For Susan the first bid was 500 dollars, and the highest 700 (nearly 150_l._), at which she was “knocked down.” But the fat old man, as before, in his peculiar drawling nasal tones, said, “The 700 dollars was my bid, and therefore Susan is not sold.” Poor Susan was very sad and gloomy.