LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 283
denly settling into an earnest and serious expression, " on this abstract question of slavery there can, as I think, be but one opinion. Planters, who have money to make by it, — clergymen, who have planters to please, — politicians, who want to rule by it, — may warp and bend language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at their ingenuity; they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody knows what else, into the service ; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more. It comes from the devil, that *s the short of it; — and, to my mind, it's a pretty respectable specimen of what he can do in his own line."
Miss Ophelia stopped her knitting, and looked surprised ; and St. Clare, apparently enjoying her astonishment, went on.
" You seem to wonder; but if you will get me fairly at it, I '11 make a clean breast of it. This cursed business, accursed of God and man, what is it ? Strip it of all its ornament, run it down to the root and nucleus of the whole, and what is it ? Why, because my brother Quashy is ignorant and weak, and I am intelligent and strong, — because I know how, and can do it, — therefore, I may steal all he has, keep it, and give him only such and so much as suits my fancy. Whatever is too hard, too dirty, too disagreeable, for me, I may set Quashy to doing. Because I don't like work, Quashy shall work. Because the sun burns me, Quashy shall stay in the sun. Quashy shall earn the money, and I will spend it. Quashy shall lie down in every puddle, that I may walk over dry-shod. Quashy shall do my will, and not his, all the days of his mortal life, and have such chance of getting to heaven, at last, as I find convenient. This I take to be about what slavery is. I defy anybody on earth to read our slave-code, as it stands in our law-books, and make anything else of it. Talk of the abuses of slavery ! Humbug ! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse! And the only reason why the land don't sink under it, like Sodom and