Lucy Chase, 1869?

Yesterday I had in my own rooms a very interesting class of men. One of them was very earnest in wishing me to read as much as I possibly could from "General John." (The Epistle general of John.) I imagine he thinks the word of a Genl is a voice of authority. The col'd people hold Genl Grant as hardly second to Lincoln. "I shall reverence him till I die, and every colored person ought to," Mr Hume says. "Didn't he take the yoke off my neck? And a heavy yoke it was, too. I can't help respecting all Northern people, whether they are good or bad, they did so much for my color." Mr Hume is a young stage driver; enthusiastic, anxious to learn, but not persistent; broken by the ladies who preceded me from using tobacco and drinking whiskey. I want to tell you some of his outloud thinking. (It was truly simple and honest). Mr Hume was very much charmed with my friend Miss Whittier and he frequently speaks of her with great interest. A few days ago he said to me, "Strange that a voice should have such an effect! I never shall forget hearing Miss Whittier speak so pleasantly to her white mice, and when I go driving along, I find myself saying, as she did, 'Why don't you come out?' I wish I was worth one hundred thousand dollars; I certainly would court Miss Whittier, as sure as you are born. Perhaps she would feel insulted, but why should she? Ar'n't we all human? Didn't God make us both? Some folks wouldn't marry a white person, but I'd just as lief as to marry a colored one. I like em just as well, if they are allright. If they are republican. I surely do love her.''

A col'd man, not as sober as he should be, came to me a few days ago, and said he wished me to teach him to read and write. "I want to get office," he said. "I want to qualify the county.'' One mother who had sent her boy to me, month after month, without tax, said when I sent to her directly for it, "I have not a mouthful of food in the house," and the next morning she was seen drinking a glass of whiskey at a shop counter. I only wonder where the money comes from for the whiskey. The Father of two of my boys had six thousand dollars owed to him when I came to Gordonsville, and he has built house after house since I came, but he cannot get pay for his work.

Many families earn a scanty support by taking lunches to the train but the depot agent kicks and cuffs them unmercifully and knocks their waiters from their heads. One young consumptive, in whom I felt a great deal of interest, found his way to the cars with his waiter, one day, after weeks of close confinement. He was weak, and was really unable to work, but he had a wife and babe at home, and felt proud that his weak hands could still support them. But Mr Scott overturned his waiter, scattering his provisions and breaking his crockery. The poor man has lately died. He was an eloquent eulogizer of "the North" and it was refreshing to talk with him.

I don't know whether I have told you Laura Spicers story. She was sold from her husband some years ago, and he, hearing she was dead, married again. He has had a wavering inclination to again unite his fortunes with hers; and she has been persistent in urging him to do so. A few days ago she received a letter from him in which he said, "I read your letters over and over again. I keep them always in my pocket. If you are married I don't ever want to see you again." And yet, in some of his letters, he says, "I would much rather you would get married to some good man, for every time I gits a letter from you it tears me all to pieces. The reason why I have not written you before, in a long time, is because your letters disturbed me so very much. You know I love my children. I treats them good as a Father can treat his children; and I do a good deal of it for you. I was very sorry to hear that Lewellyn, my poor little son, have had such bad health. I would come and see you but I know you could not bear it. I want to see you and I don't want to see you. I love you just as well as I did the last day I saw you, and it will not do for you and I to meet. I am married, and my wife have two children, and if you and I meets it would make a very dissatisfied family.''

Some of the children are with the mother, and the father writes, "Send me some of the children's hair in a separate paper with their names on the paper. Will you please git married, as long as I am married. My dear, you know the Lord know both of our hearts. You know it never was our wishes to be separated from each other, and it never was our fault. Oh, I can see you so plain, at any-time, I had rather anything to had happened to me most that ever have been parted from you and the children. As I am, I do not know which I love best, you or Anna. If I was to die, today or tomorrow, I do not think I would die satisfied till you tell me you will try and marry some good, smart man that will take good care of you and the children; and do it because you love me; and not because I think more of the wife I have got than I do of you. The woman is not born that feels as near to me as you do. You feel this day like myself. Tell them they must remember they have a good father and one that cares for them and one that thinks about them every day. My very heart did ache when reading your very kind and interesting letter. Laura I do not think that I have change any at all since I saw you last. I thinks of you and my children every day of my life. Laura I do love you the same. My love to you never have failed. Laura, truly, I have got another wife, and I am very sorry, that I am. You feels and seems to me as much like my dear loving wife, as you ever did Laura. You know my treatment to a wife and you know how I am about my children. You know I am one man that do love my children. You will please make a [?] of the thing."


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An American Antiquarian Society Online Exhibition
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