Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER I. -- CHARLOTTE BROOKS.|
Causes of immorality among colored people--Charlotte Brooks--She is sold South--Sunday work.
NONE but those who resided in the South during the time of slavery can realize the terrible punishments that were visited upon the slaves. Virtue and self-respect were denied them.
Much has been written concerning the negro, and we must confess that the moral standing of the race is far from what it should be; but who is responsible for the sadly immoral condition of this illiterate race in the South? I answer unhesitatingly, Their masters.
Consider that here in this Bible land, where we have the light, where the Gospel was 'I preached Sunday after Sunday in all portions of the South, and where ministers read from
The great judgment-day is before us; "for we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." There are millions of souls now crowned around the throne of God who have washed their robes white and are praising God, although they spent their lives in sorrow, but who will rise up in judgment and condemn this Christian nation. The Spanish Inquisition can hardly compare with the punishments visited upon this once enslaved race. But let me introduce you to some characters that will amply illustrate what I mean.
It was in the fall of 1879 that I met Charlotte Brooks. She was brought from the State of Virginia and sold in the State of Louisiana many years before the war. I have spent hours with her listening to her telling of her sad life of bondage in the cane-fields of Louisiana. She was always willing to speak of "old
She said, "La, my child, I didn't sleep hardly last night; my poor old bones ached me so bad I could not move my hand for a while."
"What's the cause of it?"
"Why, old marster used to make me go out before day, in high grass and heavy news, and I caught cold. I lost all of my health. I tell you, nobody knows the trouble I have seen. I have been sold three times. I had a little baby when my second marster sold me, and my last old marster would make me leave my child before day to go to the cane-field; and he would not allow me to come back till ten o'clock in the morning to nurse my child. When I did go I could hear my poor child crying long before I got to it. And la, me! my poor child would be so hungry when I'd get to it! Sometimes I would have to walk more than a mile to get to my child, and when I did get there I would be so tired I'd fall asleep while my baby was sucking. He
"I have never seen or heard from them since I left old Virginia. That's been more than thirty-five years ago. When I left old Virginia my mother cried for me, and when I saw my poor mother with tears in her eyes I thought I would die. O, it was a sad day for me when I was to leave my mother in Old Virginia. My mother used to take her children to church every Sunday. But when I came to Louisiana I did not go to church any more. Every body was Catholic where I lived, and I had never seen that sort of religion that has people praying on beds. That was all strange to me. The older I got the more I thought
"Aunt Charlotte, did you say you never attended church after I more after leaving Virginia?
"No, my child; I never saw inside of a church after I came to Louisiana."
"What did you do on the Sabbath?"
"La, me! I had plenty to do. Old mistress would make me help in the kitchen on Sundays when I had nothing else to do. Mistress was Catholic, and her church was a good ways off, and she did not go to often to church. In rolling season we all worked Sunday and Monday grinding cane. Old Marster did not care for Sunday; he made all of us work hard on Sunday as well as any other day when he was pushed up. "Most all the planters worked on Sunday in rolling season where I lived. In Virginia every body rested and would go to church on Sunday, and it was strange to see every body working on Sunday here. O,
"I remember my mother used to have a minister to come to see her in Virginia, and he would read the Bible and sing. He used to sing, 'O where are the Hebrew children? Safe in the promised land.' I did not have religion When I came out here. I did not have any body to tell me any thing about repentance, but I always prayed, and the more I would pray the better I would feel. I never would fail to say my prayers, and I just thought if I could get back to my old Virginia home to hear some of my mother's old-time praises its would do my soul good, But, poor me! I could never go back to my old Virginia home."