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    CHAPTER XI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XIII.

Brown, Josephine
Biography of an American Bondman



"O, then,be kind, whoe'er thou art
That breathest mortal breath,
And it shall brighten all thy life,
And gild the vale of death."

So fearful are the tyrants at the South that their victims will recognise themselves as men, that they will not permit them to have a double name. Jim, Peter, Henry, &&;c. &&;c., is all a slave is known by. The subject of this memoir was not an exception to this rule. When William was six or seven years old Dr. Young, having no children of his own, adopted a nephew, a son of his brother Benjamin. This boy's name was William, also, and not wishing to have the two names confounded, orders were given that the colored nephew's name should be changed, and accordingly he was afterwards called "Sanford." This name William always disliked, and resolved that he would retake his former name should he succeed in escaping to Canada.

After having been fifteen days on his journey, and having passed three days without food, and, withal, suffering much from illness, William determined to seek shelter and protection. "For this purposes," says he, "I placed myself behind some fallen trees near the main road, hoping to see some colored person,

thinking I should be more safe under the care of one of my own color. Several farmers with their teams passed, but the appearance of each one frightened me out of the idea of asking for assistance. After lying on the ground for some time, with my sore, frost-bitten feet benumbed with cold, I saw an old, white-haired man, dressed in a suit of drab, with a broad-brimmed hat, walking along, leading a horse. The man was evidently walking for exercise. I came out from my hiding-place and told the stranger I must die unless I obtained some assistance. A moment's conversation satisfied the old man that I was one of the oppressed, fleeing from the house of bondage. From the difficulty with which I walked, the shivering of my limbs, and the trembling of my voice, he became convinced that I had been among thieves, and he acted the part of the good Samaritan. This was the first person I had ever seen of the religious sect called `Quakers.'"

At the farm-house of this good man, where many a poor fugitive slave had before found a resting-place for his jaded feet, William was treated with the kindest care, until he was so far recovered as to resume his journey. The members of no religious society are more noted for their good works than the Friends. They are distinguished for the kindness with which they always receive the runaway slave. Having, many years ago, as a religious society, condemned slavery, and disfellowshipped slaveholders, they occupy a position before the world that few other sectarian bodies can claim. Never before having met with whites to

sympathise with him, and treat him as a man, William was overwhelmed with surprise at the interest the Quaker and his family took in him.

"How softly on the bruised heart
A word of kindness falls,
And to the dry and parched soul
The moistening teardrop calls."

When once more in a situation to travel, the good people began to fit out the fugitive with clothes, so that he would be in a better condition to reach the "other side of Jordan". The Quaker's name was Wells Brown and finding that his guest had but one name, he gave the fugitive his name, as well as a covering for his body. So, when the runaway quitted the Quaker settlement, he left under the name of William Wells Brown.


    CHAPTER XI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XIII.