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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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Chapter 5

As to my own treatment while I lived on Colonel
Lloyd's plantation, it was very similar to that of the
other slave children. I was not old enough to work in
the field, and there being little else than field work
to do, I had a great deal of leisure time. The most
I had to do was to drive up the cows at evening,
keep the fowls out of the garden, keep the front
yard clean, and run of errands for my old master's
daughter, Mrs. Lucretia Auld. The most of my lei-
sure time I spent in helping Master Daniel Lloyd
in finding his birds, after he had shot them. My
connection with Master Daniel was of some advan-
tage to me. He became quite attached to me, and
was a sort of protector of me. He would not allow
the older boys to impose upon me, and would divide
his cakes with me.
I was seldom whipped by my old master, and suf-
fered little from any thing else than hunger and
cold. I suffered much from hunger, but much more
from cold. In hottest summer and coldest winter, I
was kept almost naked—no shoes, no stockings, no
jacket, no trousers, nothing on but a coarse tow linen
shirt, reaching only to my knees. I had no bed. I
must have perished with cold, but that, the coldest
nights, I used to steal a bag which was used for carry-
ing corn to the mill. I would crawl into this bag,
and there sleep on the cold, damp, clay floor, with
my head in and feet out. My feet have been so
cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I
am writing might be laid in the gashes.
We were not regularly allowanced. Our food was
coarse corn meal boiled. This was called MUSH. It
was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set
down upon the ground. The children were then
called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they
would come and devour the mush; some with oyster-
shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked
hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest
got most; he that was strongest secured the best
place; and few left the trough satisfied.
I was probably between seven and eight years old
when I left Colonel Lloyd's plantation. I left it with
joy. I shall never forget the ecstasy with which I
received the intelligence that my old master (An-
thony) had determined to let me go to Baltimore,
to live with Mr. Hugh Auld, brother to my old
master's son-in-law, Captain Thomas Auld. I re-
ceived this information about three days before my
departure. They were three of the happiest days
I ever enjoyed. I spent the most part of all these
three days in the creek, washing off the plantation
scurf, and preparing myself for my departure.
The pride of appearance which this would indicate
was not my own. I spent the time in washing, not so
much because I wished to, but because Mrs.
Lucretia had told me I must get all the dead skin
off my feet and knees before I could go to Balti-
more; for the people in Baltimore were very cleanly,
and would laugh at me if I looked dirty. Besides,
she was going to give me a pair of trousers, which I
should not put on unless I got all the dirt off me.
The thought of owning a pair of trousers was great
indeed! It was almost a sufficient motive, not only
to make me take off what would be called by pig-
drovers the mange, but the skin itself. I went at it
in good earnest, working for the first time with the
hope of reward.
The ties that ordinarily bind children to their
homes were all suspended in my case. I found no
severe trial in my departure. My home was charm-
less; it was not home to me; on parting from it, I
could not feel that I was leaving any thing which I
could have enjoyed by staying. My mother was dead,
my grandmother lived far off, so that I seldom saw
her. I had two sisters and one brother, that lived in
the same house with me; but the early separation of
us from our mother had well nigh blotted the fact
of our relationship from our memories. I looked for
home elsewhere, and was confident of finding none
which I should relish less than the one which I was
leaving. If, however, I found in my new home hard-
ship, hunger, whipping, and nakedness, I had the
consolation that I should not have escaped any one
of them by staying. Having already had more than
a taste of them in the house of my old master, and
having endured them there, I very naturally inferred
my ability to endure them elsewhere, and especially
at Baltimore; for I had something of the feeling
about Baltimore that is expressed in the proverb,
that "being hanged in England is preferable to
dying a natural death in Ireland." I had the strongest
desire to see Baltimore. Cousin Tom, though not
fluent in speech, had inspired me with that desire
by his eloquent description of the place. I could
never point out any thing at the Great House, no
matter how beautiful or powerful, but that he had
seen something at Baltimore far exceeding, both in
beauty and strength, the object which I pointed out
to him. Even the Great House itself, with all its
pictures, was far inferior to many buildings in Bal-
timore. So strong was my desire, that I thought a
gratification of it would fully compensate for what-
ever loss of comforts I should sustain by the ex-
change. I left without a regret, and with the highest
hopes of future happiness.
We sailed out of Miles River for Baltimore on a
Saturday morning. I remember only the day of the
week, for at that time I had no knowledge of the
days of the month, nor the months of the year. On
setting sail, I walked aft, and gave to Colonel Lloyd's
plantation what I hoped would be the last look. I
then placed myself in the bows of the sloop, and
there spent the remainder of the day in looking
ahead, interesting myself in what was in the distance
rather than in things near by or behind.
In the afternoon of that day, we reached Annap-
olis, the capital of the State. We stopped but a
few moments, so that I had no time to go on shore.
It was the first large town that I had ever seen, and
though it would look small compared with some of
our New England factory villages, I thought it a
wonderful place for its size—more imposing even
than the Great House Farm!
We arrived at Baltimore early on Sunday morn-
ing, landing at Smith's Wharf, not far from Bow-
ley's Wharf. We had on board the sloop a large
flock of sheep; and after aiding in driving them to
the slaughterhouse of Mr. Curtis on Louden Slater's
Hill, I was conducted by Rich, one of the hands
belonging on board of the sloop, to my new home
in Alliciana Street, near Mr. Gardner's ship-yard, on
Fells Point.
Mr. and Mrs. Auld were both at home, and met
me at the door with their little son Thomas, to take
care of whom I had been given. And here I saw what
I had never seen before; it was a white face beaming
with the most kindly emotions; it was the face of
my new mistress, Sophia Auld. I wish I could de-
scribe the rapture that flashed through my soul as I
beheld it. It was a new and strange sight to me,
brightening up my pathway with the light of happi-
ness. Little Thomas was told, there was his Freddy,
—and I was told to take care of little Thomas; and
thus I entered upon the duties of my new home with
the most cheering prospect ahead.
I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's
plantation as one of the most interesting events of
my life. It is possible, and even quite probable, that
but for the mere circumstance of being removed
from that plantation to Baltimore, I should have
to-day, instead of being here seated by my own table,
in the enjoyment of freedom and the happiness of
home, writing this Narrative, been confined in the
galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore
laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all
my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it
as the first plain manifestation of that kind provi-
dence which has ever since attended me, and marked
my life with so many favors. I regarded the selection
of myself as being somewhat remarkable. There were
a number of slave children that might have been
sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were
those younger, those older, and those of the same
age. I was chosen from among them all, and was
the first, last, and only choice.
I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotisti-
cal, in regarding this event as a special interposition
of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be
false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I sup-
pressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself,
even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others,
rather than to be false, and incur my own abhor-
rence. From my earliest recollection, I date the en-
tertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would
not always be able to hold me within its foul em-
brace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slav-
ery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope de-
parted not from me, but remained like ministering
angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good
spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving
and praise.
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