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  --  BONDAGE.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXVII

Mattison, Hiram
Louisa Picquet, the Octoroon



The reader has, no doubt, been impressed with the main features of this artless and truthful story, as he has perused it; and will need little aid in retaining in dark outline upon the pages of memory the abhorrent picture which it presents. There are a few points, however, to which we deem it important to call special attention, as we now close the narration:

I.--And first, let it be remembered that this is no fiction. It is a plain, unvarnished story, from the lips of one who has spent her life in the South; has seen and known all that she asserts; and has no motive for exaggeration or falsehood. On the other hand, the very worst things in the narrative are those which she recited with the least apparent satisfaction. And the manner in which they were referred to, in their recital, showed conclusively that they were not and could not have been inventions to serve a purpose. Of all that has ever been published respecting the actual workings of slavery in the South, nothing has ever appeared that was worthy of more implicit confidence in all its details than the preceding pages. Though unable to read or write, Mrs. P. has an excellent memory; is decidedly intelligent; and, more than all, is deeply plous and conscientious. All that she has said, therefore, is worthy of the most implicit belief.


II.--The darkest and most prominent feature of the whole narrative is the deep moral corruption which it reveals in the families concerned, resulting from the institution of slavery.

1. At the outset (p.2), we find the mother of Mrs. P., Elizabeth, through no fault of her own, a "seamstress," or concubine, in the family of John Randolph, who becomes the father of Louisa. Then there is trouble in the family, and Elizabeth and her young babe, like Hagar of old, must leave the patriarchal mansion in South Carolina for a home among strangers in Georgia.

2. Then she has three more quadroon children, while Mr. Cook owned her; but no husband, either black or white (p.4).

3. She has another child while in Mobile (the brother now in Texas), who is as white as Louisa; but no husband (p.4).

4. We have the case of Lucy, the seamstress of Mr. Cook, with her "light hair and blue eyes," and her six or seven white children; but no husband (p.16).

5. We have the cases of Elcy and Judy, kept by Mr.--(p.17).

6. Next we have the very "gentlemanly" conduct of Mr. Cook, a married man, toward Louisa, while in Mobile (p. 6-11). And yet all this is tolerated even by Mrs. Bachelor, the friend of Louisa, inasmuch as the loathsome wretch was not at once driven from beneath her roof. What kind of a home would such a man find of it in a New England or Ohio family? And yet he remains in peace, and associates with the family of Mrs. B., in Mobile, as a "gentleman," as a matter of course. Though foiled by her in his designs upon this poor slave-child, he is, nevertheless, recognized as a "gentleman," and admitted to female society, as if he were as pure as Joseph! What, we ask, must be the moral atmosphere in which such monsters can live and breathe?

7. We have the "gentleman" in Mobile, with his "very light girl bought from Carolina for himself," which he kept "boarding out."

8. We have the "gentleman from New Orleans," who is too poor to pay his debts, but can borrow money of his brother to buy Louisa, as a concubine, at the age of fourteen; and with
whom he lives, as slave and mistress, till she becomes the mother of six children, of whom he is the father.

9. We have the case of Mr. Picquet, the father of the husband of Louisa, who bought Elizabeth, and lived with her till she became the mother of five children--all of whom (following the condition of the mother, according to the slave laws,) were slaves.

Thus it is that we have near 300,000 mulattoes in the Slave States; to a great extent the contributions of slaveholders and their sons to the common stock of southern chattels.

10. Finally, we see the wife of Henry, Mr. Picquet, Jr., and his babe, taken from him, a "gentleman" having "bought her for himself;" and the bereft husband is obliged to buy his own child, and rear it alone as best he can, while his wife, as the result of a desperate act, for which few under the circumstances will blame her, ends her days upon the gallows.

And all this in the brief narrative of a single individual who has been but a few years behind the scenes. There is not a family mentioned, from first to last, that does not reck with fornication and adultery. It turns up as naturally, and is mentioned with as little specialty, as walrus beef in the narrative of the Arctic Expedition, or macaroni in a tour in Italy.

Now, if such are the glimpses of southern domestic life which a single brief narrative reveals, what must the remainder be, which is hidden from our "Abolition" eyes? Alas for those tell-tale mulatto, and quadroon, and octoroon faces! They stand out animpeached, and still augmenting as God's testimony to the deep moral pollution of the Slave States. We may shudder at the "heathenism" of a Turkish harem, and send missionaries to convert the Mohammedans; we may stand aghast at the idea of twenty thousand Syrian women sold to supply the harems of the Mussulmans, and pour out our money like water to relieve or release them; but wherein is all this a whit worse than what is constantly practiced, with scarce a word of unfavorable comment, in our own "Christian" (?) land? If there is any difference, it is certainly in favor of the Turk; for neither his concubines nor his children by them are slaves ; while, in this country, our chivalrous "southern gentlemen" beget thousands of slaves;

and hundreds of the children of our free white citizens are sold in the southern slave markets every year.

III.--The failure of Mr. Cook, with his large cotton plantation, and the subsequent sale of his slaves by the sheriff (probably to pay some "conservative" New York merchant), illustrates the "happy condition" of these slaves who have such "kind masters," but are, nevertheless, liable to be sold for debt at the auction-block, not only upon the death of their master, but at any time during his life; and then, as in this case, brothers and sisters, parents and children, wives and husbands (if there be any such), must part to meet no more in this world.

"But these," says one, "are the evils of slavery, to which I am as much opposed as you are." Verily, they are the "evils," but they are just such "evils" as necessarily belong to the system, and inhere in it, and without which slavery never did and never can exist. While the tree stands it will bear just these fruits, and no other. To sustain the system, therefore, or to practice under or apologize for it, is virtually to abet all its abominations. There is no escape from this conclusion.

What, then, is the duty of the American citizen who loves his country--the Christian citizen, especially? Ought he not to set his face against this giant wrong in every possible way? Can he even hold his peace concerning it, and be innocent? Ought he not to use all his influence, socially, ecclesiastically, and politically, to undermine and destroy it? Should he not speak and write against it, pray and protest against it, give and vote against it, till it shall wither under the just indignation of an enlightened and humane people? And, if a minister, an editor, especially, is it not his solemn duty to open his mouth for the dumb, and plead the cause of the oppressed?

May the Lord arouse this guilty nation to a sense of its deep and unwashed guilt, and bring us to repentance and reformation before the republic shall crumble beneath the weight of our accumulated crimes, and He who led Israel out of Egypt, by his sore judgments, shall arise for the sighing of the millions whom we hold in chains, and shall pour out his fury upon us to our utter confusion and ruin!



Since the preceding was stereotyped, the following has been sent us, marked in the Cincinnati Daily Gazette of October 15, 1860:

Notice .--The undersigned takes this the first opportunity of expressing her thanks to those ladies and gentlemen residing in Cincinnati and elsewhere, that having accomplished through their kind aid the freedom of her mother, Elizabeth Ramsey, from slavery, by paying to her owner, Mr. A.C. Horton, of Texas, cash in hand, the sum of $900, collected by myself in small sums from different individuals, residing in this city and States of Ohio and New York.

I beg leave further to express my gratitude by thanking you all for your kindness, which will be engraved on my heart until death. My mother also desires to say that she is also most grateful to you all, and that if any of those friends who have assisted her to her freedom, feel disposed to call on her at my residence on Third Street, near Race (No. 135), she will be happy to see them, and thank them personally.Very respectfully, yours, etc. Louisa Picquet .
Cincinnati, October 13, 1860.

So the poor old mother is free at last! and the miserable wretch who bought her twenty years ago for perhaps $600, and has had her labor for twenty long years, now receives his $900 for her old and calloused flesh and bones. And yet he is probably a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and makes loud profession of piety! May Heaven save the heathen from the curse of such a Christianity!

  --  BONDAGE.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXVII