LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 287
countries never goes over it. What would be hardship and distress and injustice in his own class, is a cool matter of course in another one. My father's dividing line was that of color. Among his equals, never was a man more just and generous; but he considered the negro, through all possible gradations of color, as an intermediate link between man and animals, and graded all his ideas of justice or generosity on this hypothesis. I suppose, to be sure, if anybody had asked him, plump and fair, whether they had human immortal souls, he might have hemmed and hawed, and said yes. But my father was not a man much troubled with spiritualism; religious sentiment he had none, beyond a veneration for God, as decidedly the head of the upper classes.
" Well, my father worked some five hundred negroes; he was an inflexible, driving, punctilious business man; everything was to move by system, to be sustained with unfailing accuracy and precision. Now, if you take into account that all this was to be worked out by a set of lazy, twaddling, shiftless laborers, who had grown up, all their lives, in the absence of every possible motive to learn how to do anything but ' shirk,' as you Vermonters say, you '11 see that there might naturally be, on his plantation, a great many things that looked horrible and distressing to a sensitive child, like me.
" Besides all, he had an overseer, a great, tall, slab-sided, two-fisted renegade son of Vermont (begging your pardon), who had gone through a regular apprenticeship in hardness and brutality, and taken his degree to be admitted to practice. My mother could never endure him, nor I, but he obtained an entire ascendency over my father; and this man was the absolute despot of the estate.
" I was a little fellow then, but I had the same love that I have now for all kinds of human things, a kind of passion for the study of humanity, come in what shape it would. I was found in the cabins and among the field-hands a great deal, and, of course, was a great favorite;