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DUTIES OF MASTERS.
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven." Collossians iv. 1.
"And ye Masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening; knowing that your Master also is in Heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." Ephesians, vi. 9.
BEFORE closing this work, it will be proper to sketch briefly the duties that Masters owe their servants. The above texts of Scripture contain all that is needful on this subject.
1st. Masters are bound to supply all the necessary wants of their Slaves. -This is implied in the apostolic injunction that Masters should render unto their servants "that which is just and equal.” As the servant is the property of the Master, and his whole time is devoted to his service, it is imperative on the Master to supply his servants with an abundance of food and clothing, suitable for them in their situation as servants. The wants of the sick, the young, and the aged, should be specially attended to.
But servants are not only attended when sick, but their wants are liberally supplied when in
health. My acquaintance among the Slaveholders is extensive: with many of them it is intimate. Enjoying these opportunities, I have spared no pains to ascertain how they treat their Slaves; and the result of the whole is decidedly favorable.
As to food, they are amply supplied: bacon, pork, beef, corn bread, potatoes, peas, cabbage, turnips, and many other articles, they receive in abundance, Many of the planters measure out weekly the provisions for the Negroes, but others simply provide them daily with a sufficiency to supply their wants. I have no acquaintance with any planter, that fails to supply his Slaves liberally with food there may be individuals of this class; and if so, they should be severely rebuked by an enlightened community. No man that half feeds his Negroes, should be countenanced by the community: on the contrary, he should be scouted from all decent society. In fact, such is the case I have occasionally heard of men that did not feed well, and I have always heard them condemned by the community. They are looked upon as monsters, who are not entitled to the respect and confidence of society. Our country is becoming too democratic to be swayed by wealth, in the absence of virtue and intelligence.
2d. Masters are bound to provide suitable hou
ses for their Slaves.-This is necessary, not only as a matter of humanity and Christian duty, but as a matter of interest; for by providing suitable houses for their servants, much expense is often saved in the way of doctors' bills, and other expenses: even the lives of the Slaves may be preserved in this way. From the observations which I have made, I am induced to think that much improvement is needed in this particular; and that it is possible to effect this improvement with but very little outlay of expense.
I know many planters who provide accommodations, of this sort, for their Slaves, altogether suitable; so that the interest of the planter, and comfort of the Negro, are at once effectually protected.
It must be acknowledged, however, that a large majority of our planters are not as well situated in this particular as they might be. The Negro houses in general are too small, too open for comfort, and too near the ground for health. A more comfortable set of cabins would, in the end, be cheaper than those they have at present. Much sickness among the Negroes, loss of time, dòctors' bills, and other expenses would thereby be avoided. Besides, humanity should dictate improvement in this particular; our Negroes are hu
man beings as we are, and though more inured to hardship than the white race, are nevertheless, susceptible of receiving impressions from cold, and of being injured by the same causes that affect the whites.
3d. Masters are bound not to exact more than a reasonable amount of service from their Slaves. I have before commented upon a peculiarity in the Negro character, viz: an obstinate resistance to every effort to force him to the performance of more than a reasonable amount of service. The Negro is the most obedient Slave in the world, and will as readily perform a reasonable service; but any attempt to force him beyond this, will be met by obstinate, mulish resistance. The mild, obedient Slave is converted into the obstinate, reckless rebel against his Master's authority, fearing nothing, feeling nothing, and caring for nothing, A knowledge of this trait in the Negro character has its due influence upon all Slaveholders. They scarcely ever require of them more than a reasonable service, for they are fully aware that a contrary course would result in more trouble and expense than a little. This accounts for one fact which has been observed, viz: that Northern men and foreigners, when they settle among us and become Slave owners, are the very worst Masters in the
whole country. They always improve, however, after a few years experience, for self-interest, without taking humanity into the account, would lead to such a result.
From the above facts, it is evident that our Slaves are not often over-worked, though it may occasionally happen.
Let every planter, however, be careful not to demand more service from his Slaves than what is reasonable and just. This amount of labor will be performed cheerfully; even correction for failure to perform this reasonable service, will be submitted to without murmuring, but any thing be yond will be obstinately resisted.
4th. Masters are required to govern their Slaves with dignity and mildness, but with inflexible firmness. A passionate, ill-tempered man, not being able to govern himself, cannot of course be expected to govern others. Such persons are unfit to govern any one; they always govern their families badly, and their Negroes are always turbulent, disobedient, and unruly. The passions of the Master arouse the passions of the Slave; this takes place on the principle of sympathy, a law of our nature which is now well understood. A Master, to command obedience, must be calm, firm, and dignified; he should never in any case,