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THE cholera raging on Marston’s plantation, had excited Graspum’s fears. His pecuniary interests were above every other consideration-he knew no higher object than the accumulation of wealth; and to ascertain the precise nature and extent of the malady he had sent Romescos to reconnoitre.
Returning to the long-room at Graspum’s slave-pen, we must introduce the reader to scenes which take place on the night following that upon which Romescos secured the bill of sale at Marston’s mansion.
Around the table we have before described sit Graspum and some dozen of his clan. Conspicuous among them is Dan Bengal, and Nath Nimrod, whom we described as running into the room unceremoniously, holding by the hair the head of a negro, and exulting over it as a prize of much value. They are nike air max 1 black relating their adventures, speculating over the prospects of trade, comparing notes on the result of making free trash human property worth something! They all manifest the happiest of feelings, have a language of their own, converse freely; at times sprinkle their conversation with pointed oaths. They are conversant with the business affairs of every planter in the State, know his liabilities, the condition of his negroes, his hard cases, his bad cases, his runaways, and his prime property. Their dilations on the development of wenches, shades of colour, qualities of stock suited to the various markets-from Richmond to New Orleans-disclose a singular foresight into the article of poor human nature.
“There’s nothing like pushing our kind of business, specially whin ye gits it where ye can push profitably,” speaks Bengal, nike air max 1 his fiery red eyes glaring over the table as he droops his head sluggishly, and, sipping his whiskey, lets it drip over his beard upon his bosom; “if ‘t warn’t for Anthony’s cunnin’ we’d have a pesky deal of crooked law to stumble through afore we’d get them rich uns upset.”
My reader must know that southern law and justice for the poor succumb to popular feeling in all slave atmospheres; and happy is the fellow who can work his way through slavedom without being dependent upon the one or brought under the influence of the other.
Graspum, in reply to Bengal, feels that gentlemen in the “nigger business” should respect themselves. He well knows there exists not the best feeling in the world between them and the more exclusive aristocracy, whose feelings must inevitably be modified to suit the democratic spirit of the age. He himself enjoys that most refined society, which he asserts to be strong proof of the manner in which democracy is working its way to distinction. Our business, he says, hath so many avenues that it has become positively necessary that some of them should be guarded by men of honour, dignity, and irreproachable conduct. Now, he has sent Anthony Romescos to do some watching on the sly, at Marston’s plantation; but there is nothing dishonourable in that, inasmuch as the victim is safe in his claws. Contented with these considerations, Graspum puffs his cigar very composedly. From slave nature, slave-seeking adventures, and the intricacies of the human-property-market, they turn to the discussion of state rights, of freedom in its b nike air max 1 grey roadest and most practical sense. And, upon the principle of the greatest despot being foremost to discuss what really constitutes freedom, which, however, he always argues in an abstract sense, Nimrod was loudest and most lavish in his praises of a protective government–a government that would grant great good justice to the white man only. It matters little to Nimrod which is the greater nigger; he believes in the straight principles of right in the white man. It is not so much how justice is carried out when menial beings form a glorious merchandise; but it is the true essence of liberty, giving men power to keep society all straight, to practice liberty very liberally. “Ye see, now, Graspum,” he quaintly remarks, as he takes up the candle to light his cigar, “whatever ye do is right, so long as the law gives a feller a right to do it. ‘Tisn’t a bit o’ use to think how a man can be too nice in his feelings when a hundred or two’s to be made on nigger pr nike air max 1 premium operty what’s delicate, t’aint! A feller feels sore once in a while, a’ cos his conscience is a little touchy now and then; but it won’t do to give way to it-conscience don’t bring cash. When ye launches out in the nigger-trading business ye must feel vengeance agin the brutes, and think how it’s only trade; how it’s perfectly legal-and how it’s encouraged by the Governor’s proclamations. Human natur’s human natur’; and when ye can turn a penny at it, sink all the in’ard inclinations. Just let the shiners slide in, it don’t matter a tenpence where ye got ’em. Trade’s everything! you might as well talk about patriotism among crowned heads,–about the chivalry of commerce: cash makes consequence, and them’s what makes gentlemen, south.”
They welcome the spirits, although it has already made them soulless. The negro listens to a dialogue of singular import to himself; his eyes glistened with interest, as one by one they sported over the ignorance enforced upon the weak. One by one they threw their slouch hats upon the floor, drew closer in conclave, forming a grotesque picture of fiendish faces nike air max 1 leopard . “Now, gentlemen,” Graspum deigns to say, after a moment’s pause, motioning to the decanter, “pass it along round when ye gets a turn about.” He fills his glass and drinks, as if drink were a necessary accompaniment of the project before them. “This case of Marston’s is a regular plumper; there’s a spec to be made in that stock of stuff; and them bright bits of his own-they look like him-‘ll make right smart fancy. Ther’ developing just in the right sort of way to be valuable for market.”
“There’s movin’ o’ the shrewdest kind to be done the nike air max 1 sale re, Graspum! Where’s the dockerment what ‘ll make ‘um property, eh?” interrupted Nimrod, twisting the hair with which his face is covered into fantastic points.
“Oh, my good fellows, public opinion’s the dockerment; with the bright side of public opinion! Public opinion whispers about Clotilda: it says she looks so much like that niece of Marston’s, that you couldn’t tell them apart. And they are like two pins, gentlemen; but then one’s property and t’other’s anything but property. One will bring something substantial in the market: I wouldn’t say much about the other. But there’s pride in the whole family, and where it’s got into the niggers it’s worth a few extra dollars. The Marstons and Roveros don’t think much of we dealers when they don’t want our money; but when they do we are cousins of the right stripe. However, these ere little aristocratic notions don’t mount to much; they are bin generous blood-mixers, and now they may wince over it-”
Graspum is interrupted again. Bengal has been analysing his logic, and rises to dispute the logic of his arguments. He is ready to sta air max 1 ke his political faith, and all his common sense-of which he never fails to boast-that mixing the blood of the two races destroys the purity of the nigger, spiles the gauge of the market, detracts from real plantation property, and will just upset the growin’ of young niggers. He is sure he knows just as much about the thing as anybody else, has never missed his guess, although folks say he aint no way clever at selection; and, rubbing his eyes after adjusting the long black hair that hangs down over his shoulders, nike air max 1 he folds his arms with an independent air, and waits the rejoinder.
The dingy room breathes thick of deleterious fumes; a gloom hangs over their meditations, deep and treacherous: it excites fear, not of the men, but of the horrors of their trade. A dim light hangs suspended from the ceiling: even the sickly shade contrasts strangely with their black purpose.
“Variety of shade, my dear Bengal, is none of our business. If you make a division you destroy the property and the principle. We don’t represent the South: if we did, my stars! how the abolitionists would start up,–eh! Now, there’s a right smart chance of big aristocrat folks in the district, and they think something of their niggers, and some are fools enough to think niggers have souls just as white as we. That’s where the thing don’t strike our morals alike. It’s all right to let such folks represent us-that it is! It tells down north.”
“I goes in for that! It puts a polished face on the brown side of things. That’s the way I puts it on when I gets among the big ‘uns air max 1 on ‘Change. I talks to one, shakes hands with another, touches my hat to the president of the bank; and then them what don’t know thinks how I do a little in the taking a corner of notes line!” “In the same sly way that directors of banks do,” interrupts a voice, sullenly and slow. It was long Joe Morphet, the constable’s sponge, who did a little in the line of nigger trailing, and now and then acted as a conting nike air max 1 ebay ent of Graspum. Joe had, silently and with great attention, listened to their consultations, expecting to get a hook on at some point where his services would play at a profit; but it all seemed beyond his comprehension-amounted to nothing.
“There’s something in Joe, gentlemen! But our genteelest folks don’t alway do the genteelest things, arter all. Right-right! Joe’s right!” Graspum has suddenly comprehended Joe’s logic, and brightens up with the possession of a new idea, that at first was inclined to get crosswise in his mind, which he has drilled in the minor details of human nature rather than the political dignity of the state. Joe’s ideas are ranging over the necessity of keeping up a good outside for the state; Graspum thinks only of keeping up the dignity of himself. “Well, give in, fellers; Joe’s right clever. He cheap nike air max 1 ‘s got head enough to get into Congress, and if polished up wouldn’t make the worst feller that ever was sent: he wouldn’t, to my certain knowledge. Joe’s clever! What great men do with impunity little men have no scruples in following; what the state tolerates, knaves may play upon to their own advantage. To keep up the dignity of a slave state, slave dealers must keep up dignity among themselves: the one cannot live without the other. They must affect, and the state must put on, the dignity; and northerners what aint gentlemen must be taught to know that they aint gentlemen.” This is the conclusion to which Graspum has arrived on the maturest reflection of a few minutes: it conforms with the opinion and dignity of slaveocracy-must be right, else the glorious Union, with the free-thinking north unfortunately attached, cou cheap air max 1 ld never be preserved. It’s the nut of a glorious compact which the south only must crack, and will crack. Graspum apologised for the thing having escaped his memory so long. He remembered that southerners left no stone unturned that could serve the policy of concentrating slave power; and he remembered that it was equally necessary to keep an eye to the feeling abroad. There were in America none but southern nobles,–no affable gentlemen who could do the grace of polite circles except themselves,–none who, through their bland manners, could do more to repel the awful descriptions given of southern society, nor who could not make strangers believe slaves were happy mortals, happily created to live in all the happiness of slave life. “There’s nothing like putting our learned folks ahead-they’re polished down for the purpos e, you see-and letting them represent us when abroad; they puts a different sort of shine on things what our institution makes profitable. They don’t always set good examples at home, but we can’t control their tastes on small matters of that kind: and then, what a valuable offset it is, just to have the power of doing the free and easy gentleman, to be the brilliant companion, to put on the smooth when you go among nobility what don’t understand the thing!” Graspum adds, with a cunning wink.
“Pooh! pooh! such talk don’t jingle. You can’t separate our aristocracy from mistress-keeping. It’s a matter of romance with them,–a matter of romance, gentlemen, that’s all. The south couldn’t live without romance, she couldn’t!” adds Nimrod, stretching back in his chair.
“And where did you get that broad idea from, Jakey? I kind o’ nike air max 1 red likes that sort of philosophy,” adds another. ③

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