Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
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 board 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 meetinghouse 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’s 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.


In a very short time after I went to live at Baltimore, my old master’s youngest son Richard died; and in about three years and six months after his death, my old master, Captain Anthony, died, leaving only his son, Andrew, and daughter, Lucretia, to share his estate.  He died while on a visit to see his daughter at Hillsborough.  Cut off thus unexpectedly, he left no will as to the disposal of his property.  It was therefore necessary to have a valuation of the property, that it might be equally divided between Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew.  I was immediately sent for, to be valued with the other property.  Here again my feelings rose up in detestation of slavery.  I had now a new conception of my degraded condition.  Prior to this, I had become, if not insensible to my lot, at least partly so.  I left Baltimore with a young heart overborne with sadness, and a soul full of apprehension.  I took passage with Captain Rowe, in the schooner Wild Cat, and, after a sail of about twenty-four hours, I found myself near the place of my birth.  I had now been absent from it almost, if not quite, five years.  I, however, remembered the place very well.  I was only about five years old when I left it, to go and live with my old master on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation; so that I was now between ten and eleven years old.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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