Puslapio vaizdai

vivalism, was there such a scene. The preacher stood with many of his hearers well around him; one of the deacons and exhorters, a black giant in spectacles, was his point d'appui, and to him he appealed from time to time, shaking him roughly by the shoulder, and hissing his words in his ear with fiery vehemence. The proposition with which he started was somewhat incomprehensible to us, viz.: "Christ is the creating power of God;" but the proposition was of no consequence, because every few moments he would burst into paroxysms of exhortation, before which the emotional audience rocked and trembled like reeds in a wind. He had peculiar way of addressing himself suddenly and in a startling manner to some individual in the congregation, and in the agony of his exhortation to that person, would pound the table furiously with both hands, and dance vigorously with his feet. From time to time he would draw in his breath with great force, as if repressing a sob, and, when speaking of love and salvation, he inevitably fell into a chant, or monotone, which was very effective. Under the hurricanes of his appeal, the fury of his shouting, the magnetic influence of his song, one of the old deacons went into an actual spasm of religious fervor, and now and then yelled vociferously. A milder brother ventured to remonstrate, whereupon the Quaker preacher turned upon him, saying loudly:

[blocks in formation]

long, singing descent on the last words; and then he added, sotto voce, "Dat what make so many women come up stranglin' an' vomitin' an' pukin' outen de water; de debbil dat still in 'em git hole on 'em, an' shake 'em an' choke 'em under de water! Let no woman shout for Jesus what don't know 'bout Jesus! It's one thing to git to Heaven, but it's anudder to git in! Don' ye know what Heaven is? Heaven's God! We must know what we is preachin' about, an' ef we don't we ought to SET DOWN!" (This with terrific emphasis.)

In describing the creation, he said: "Breddren, it's now 12,877 years sence de good Lord made de world, an' de mornin' stars sung togedder. Dat wa'n't yesterday! Ha! read de Book o' Job, 'n see for yerself! Dat wa'n't a month ago! I wasn't dar den!" (thus illustrating with sublime scorn the littleness of man), "but by de grace of God, I'll git dar by-'n'-by!" (here his voice was faint and suggestive of tearful joy,) "to join de mornin' stars, an' we'll all sing togedder! Oh, yes! oh, yes! Heaven's God made de world an' de fulness dereof, an' hung it up on de high hooks of heaven. Dere wa'n't no nails dere; no hammer dere; no nothin' but de word of God." In hinting at the terrors of death to the unconverted, he sang wild word-pictures which had a certain rude force even for us, and then shrieked out these words: "Ef de brudders don't want to die in de dark, dey must git Christ to hole de candle. God's grace shall be de candle in de good brudder's heart. Devils may howl, lions may roar, but nothin' shall daunt dat brudder's heart. Angels shall come down with lighted candles in deir hands to congratulate de brudder." (Then, once more screaming and dancing

[graphic][merged small]


[graphic][merged small]

and weeping, he uttered these words:) Die right, brudder, 'n' yo' shall not die in de night; yo' shall die in eternal day. Ef Christ don't bring light enough, den God will come wid his candle; an' ef dat ain't enough, den de Holy Ghost 'll come wid his candle, too, an' dere can't be no more night wid dat brudder's soul."

At another period in the sermon, he said: "Ef we can't preach God, we can exhort Him; ef we can't exhort Him, we can live Him; an' ef we can't live Him, we can die Him. I've served under Him forty-two long year, longer dan Moses led Israel in de wilderness; an' ef I don' know what God is, den I'd better shut up an' go home!!! Jesus snatched my soul from hell forty-two years ago in Fredericksburg, in old Vaginny! Praise Him! O praise Him! Let no brudder shout for Jesus who don' know Jesus."

After the more furious passages of exhortation were over, he gave his ideas upon prayer, something in this wise: "Dar was ole Fadder Jupiter (a colored preacher.) Now Jupiter he used to git a Bible in one han' an' a pra'r-book in anudder, an 'a hymn-book under his arm; an' den he'd start out to see de widders 'n' de fadderless; 'n' one day I met old Fadder Jupiter, 'n' I say to him: Fadder Jupiter, how many pounds of meat have ye prayed? How many pounds of sugar have ye exhorted? How many cups of coffee have ye sung to dem pore widders 'n' fadderless?' 'N' he says: Not one.' 'N' den I say: "Pears like, Fadder Jupiter, ye'll sing here, and pray dar, 'n' ye'll prayevery widderto death, 'n' sing every fadderless child to de grave; 'n' call in help to bury 'em.' 'N' den I told him dat when he sung he must call a bar'l o' flour long meter, 'n' fur short meter he must take a keg of lard, 'n' dat's short enough, anyhow; and fur particler meter nice ham 'n' some coffee; 'n'den he mus' take de Quaker pra'r book, a two-wheel

ed cart, 'n' fill up de ole pra'r-book with coal; 'n' when de col' wedder come he must drive de ole pra'r-book down to some widder sister's, 'n' say: 'Sister, I'vecome to pray six bushels of coal with ye, 'n' den open de cellar-door, dump de ole pra'r-book, 'n' pray de cellar full o' coal."

The sermon was interspersed with impassioned recitations from Watts and Wesley. There was no logic, and no clear idea of anything except the love of God and charity. Now and then, with pompous air, the speaker would say: "An' now, breddren, we will proceed to consider de third (or fourth or fifth) point," and after a moment of solemn cogitation, would plunge into exhorting appeal and sarcasm, and yell until the rafters rang. His face was convulsed, and sobs shook his whole frame when he sat down, and a strange, wild hymn was sung, the singers weaving their bodies to and fro to the measure of the music.

One of the moon-faced ministers then arose, and bade those who desired the prayers of the church to come forward and lay their sins upon the altar. An indescribable rush of some twenty persons ensued. Old men and young girls hastened together to the pulpit, and knelt with their faces bowed upon their hands, and a low tremulous prayer to "O my Heavenly Fadder," was heard, as one of the old deacons poured forth his soul in supplication. During the prayer an exhorter passed




around among the congregation, singling out the impenitent, and personally addressing them: "Ye better go now!" "How'll ye feel when it's too late, 'n' dar ain't no gettin' dar?" In a short time the church resounded to groans and prayers, high over all of which was heard the clear voice of the colored Quaker chanting:

"For everywhar I went to pray

I met all hell right on my way,"

"but Heaven's God, 'n' we'll get dar by 'n' by. O praise Him! O bless Him, 'n' sing 'wid de mornin' stars!"

Some of the colored preachers, although they make extravagant pretensions, are by no means so moral as our " Fadder Quaker," and, exercising absolute spiritual control over their ignorant flocks, prompt them to unworthy deeds, and fill their minds with wrong ideas. There is also a multitude of quacks and false prophets who seek to make money out of a revival of the barbaric superstitions still prevalent among certain classes of negroes. On one occasion a huge negro created quite a clamor among the blacks in Petersburg, by announcing that he could cure any one afflicted with disease. He practically revived many of the features of Voudouism, and was rapidly fleecing his victims when a pitying white man interposed and tried to expose the swindler. But it was of no avail. The quack boldly challenged the would-be exposer to witness a cure of a long standing case of dropsy. At the house of the sick man the incredulous Caucasian found a large crowd of faithful believers assembled,

in front of a circle of bones, old rags, and other trash, over which the quack was muttering some gibberish. Finally the an

nouncement was made that there was some

thing in the sick man's bed which had made him ill; and, after a little search, a mysterious packet was found beneath the mattress. While the horror-stricken crowd were bewailing this evidence of witchcraft, the white man insisted on opening the packet, found it filled with harmless herbs and minerals, and endeavored to convince the negroes that the doctor's confederate had undoubtedly concealed it there. But they would not believe him, and insisted on considering the doctor great at divination, although their confidence was a little shaken when the man, stricken with dropsy, died, despite the discovery and removal of the hurtful charm.

The journey from Petersburg to Norfolk, through Prince George, Sussex, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Nansemond and Norfolk counties, was varied and agreeable. Gen. Mahone's splendidly constructed railway runs in a perfect air-line for at least seventyfive of the eighty-one miles between the two cities, and is in all respects a model highway to so important a port as Norfolk. It takes the traveler through fine cotton fields, then along stretches of plain covered with thin swaying pines; now through clearings where rows of cabins are erected, and stalwart negroes are hewing wood, and digging drains; now into thickets through which were cut roads leading to some remote plantation; now through smart little villages, until at last we reached Suffolk, the pretty shire town of Nansemond County. Suffolk is energetic and well supplied with railway and river navigation; manufactories are springing up; the Sea-board and Roa

noke railway touches there; the county has about eleven thousand inhabitants, most of whom are prosperous. The climate in that section is usually delightful; the thermometer ranges from 22 in winter to 94° in summer, with seasons long enough for the maturity of all crops; and, indeed, the same land often produces two crops in one season. Cotton and all the cereals yield immensely. Many Northern people and a large number of English families have settled in the vicinity.

On the edge of Norfolk county we entered the Great Dismal Swamp, which extends far downward over some of the northern portions of North Carolina, and is intersected by canals, on which there is quite an extensive transportation business. The "swamp" is a succession of wild and, apparently, irreclaimable marshes, through which run black currents of water, and in the midst of which spring up thousands of dead tree trunks. Many of these trunks are charred or blackened by the progress of some recent fire. Some are fantastically shaped, and have been imagined to bear resemblance to well-known statues, and the passer-by has his attention invited to the

Column Vendome." For miles the eye encounters nothing save the bewildering stretch of swamp and dead trees, or the dreary country covered with rank growth of pines and underbrush, gradually running into swamp lands. The only signs of life are occasional groups of negroes about some saw-mill, on a "hummock," or a glimpse of dusky forms on a barge floating along one of the Stygian canals, as the train glides smoothly and swiftly by. Drummond's Lake, penetrated by a feeder from the "Dismal Swamp Canal," is about thirty miles long.

Norfolk has a real English aspect. It is like some of the venerable towns along the southern coast of the British islands, and the illusion to which the traveler readily yields is heightened by the appearance of English names on the street corners and at almost every turn. The grand current of the Elizabeth (opposite Fort Norfolk) is so broad and deep that the largest ship that floats can swing around there. Midstream, there is much clatter and activity; ships and steamers arrive and depart, and the hoarse shout of the sailor is heard, vying in strength with the scream of the steamboat whistle, all day long. In the streets remote from the water-side, not so much activity is apparent, but there are

[graphic][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »