"Throw open to the light of day
The bondman's cell, and break away
The chains the State has bound on him!"
As the slave becomes enlightened, and shows that he knows he has a right to be free, his
value depreciates. A slave who has once ran away is shunned by the slave holders, just as the
wild, unruly horse is shunned by those who wish an animal for trusty service. The slave who is
caught in the attempt to escape in pretty sure of being sold and sent off to the cotton, sugar, or
rice fields of Georgia, or other slave-consuming States. Everything is done to keep the slave in
ignorance of his rights. But God has planted a spark in the breast of man, that teaches him that he
was not created to be the slaves of another. Truth is omnipotent, and will make its way even to
the heart of the most degraded. How well has the author of the "Pleasures of Hope" portrayed the
progress of truth!
"Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, mercy, freedom, yet shall find a home;
Where'er degraded nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Siber's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade the unfathomed darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair,
Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks the image back that Heaven bestowed,
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns."
The truth which had broken in upon William's mind made him a dangerous person in the
midst of the slave population of the South, and he scarcely hoped to find a home any where any
short of a cotton plantation. Dr. Young, as soon as he was informed that his slave had been
caught, had him taken to the farm and well secured until he could sell him. A wish on the part of
the Doctor to get a good price for William, induced him to conceal the slave's attempt to escape.
This was very fortunate for William, for in a few days he was sold to Mr. Samuel Willi, a
merchant in St. Louis. But William's mother was not so fortunate, for she was placed in the hands
of the slave-trader, and carried to the slave market of New Orleans. How pathetically Mr. Brown
has described the parting scene with his mother! "It was about ten o'clock in the morning," says
he, "when I went on board the steamboat where my mother had been taken, with other slaves,
bound for the lower country. I found her chained to another woman. On seeing me, she dropped
her head upon her bosom, her emotion being too deep for tears. I approached her and fell upon
her knees, threw my arms around her neck, and mingled my tears with hers, that now began to
flow. Feeling that I was to blame for her begin in the hands of the slave-speculator, I besought
my mother to forgive me. With that generosity which was one of her chief characteristics, and
that love which seldom forsakes a mother. She said,--
My child, you are not to blame.
You did what you could to free me and yourself; and in this, you did nothing more than your
duty. Do not weep
This separation of the mother from the son inspired the later with renewed determination to escape; but this resolve he kept locked up in his own heart.