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LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY            291
not breathe on God's earth a nobler-souled, more generous fellow than Alfred, in all that concerns his equals ; and we got on admirably with this property question, without a single unbrotherly word or feeling. We undertook to work the plantation together; and Alfred, whose outward life and capabilities had double the strength of mine, became an enthusiastic planter, and a wonderfully successful one.
" But two years' trial satisfied me that I could not be a partner in that matter. To have a great gang of seven hundred, whom I could not know personally, or feel any individual interest in, bought and driven, housed, fed, worked like so many horned cattle, strained up to military precision, — the question of how little of life's commonest enjoyments would keep them in working order being a con­stantly recurring problem, the necessity of drivers and over­seers, — the ever-necessary whip, first, last, and only argu­ment, — the whole thing was insufferably disgusting and loathsome to me ; and when I thought of my mother's estimate of one poor human soul, it became even frightful!
" It's all nonsense to talk to me about slaves enjoying all this! To this day I have no patience with the unutter­able trash that some of your patronizing Northerners have made up, as in their zeal to apologize for our sins. We all know better. Tell me that any man living wants to work all his days, from day-dawn till dark, under the constant eye of a master, without the power of putting forth ob* irresponsible volition, on the same dreary, monotonoii >. unchanging toil, and all for two pairs of pantaloons and * pair of shoes a year, with enough food and shelter to keej^ him in working order ! Any man who thinks that human beings can, as a general thing, be made about as comfort­able that way as any other, I wish he might try it. I 'd buy the dog, and work him, with a clear conscience ! '
" I always have supposed," said Miss Ophelia, " that you, all of you, approved of these things, and thought them right, — according to Scripture."
" Humbug! We are not quite reduced to that yet.