Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 122 pages of information about Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
and of all men, adopted slaveholders are the worst.  He was cruel, but cowardly.  He commanded without firmness.  In the enforcement of his rules, he was at times rigid, and at times lax.  At times, he spoke to his slaves with the firmness of Napoleon and the fury of a demon; at other times, he might well be mistaken for an inquirer who had lost his way.  He did nothing of himself.  He might have passed for a lion, but for his ears.  In all things noble which he attempted, his own meanness shone most conspicuous.  His airs, words, and actions, were the airs, words, and actions of born slaveholders, and, being assumed, were awkward enough.  He was not even a good imitator.  He possessed all the disposition to deceive, but wanted the power.  Having no resources within himself, he was compelled to be the copyist of many, and being such, he was forever the victim of inconsistency; and of consequence he was an object of contempt, and was held as such even by his slaves.  The luxury of having slaves of his own to wait upon him was something new and unprepared for.  He was a slaveholder without the ability to hold slaves.  He found himself incapable of managing his slaves either by force, fear, or fraud.  We seldom called him “master;” we generally called him “Captain Auld,” and were hardly disposed to title him at all.  I doubt not that our conduct had much to do with making him appear awkward, and of consequence fretful.  Our want of reverence for him must have perplexed him greatly.  He wished to have us call him master, but lacked the firmness necessary to command us to do so.  His wife used to insist upon our calling him so, but to no purpose.  In August, 1832, my master attended a Methodist camp-meeting held in the Bay-side, Talbot county, and there experienced religion.  I indulged a faint hope that his conversion would lead him to emancipate his slaves, and that, if he did not do this, it would, at any rate, make him more kind and humane.  I was disappointed in both these respects.  It neither made him to be humane to his slaves, nor to emancipate them.  If it had any effect on his character, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways; for I believe him to have been a much worse man after his conversion than before.  Prior to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his conversion, he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding cruelty.  He made the greatest pretensions to piety.  His house was the house of prayer.  He prayed morning, noon, and night.  He very soon distinguished himself among his brethren, and was soon made a class-leader and exhorter.  His activity in revivals was great, and he proved himself an instrument in the hands of the church in converting many souls.  His house was the preachers’ home.  They used to take great pleasure in coming there to put up; for while he starved us, he stuffed them.  We have had three or four preachers there at a time.  The names
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.