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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

such a man. It afforded scope for the full exercise
of all his powers, and he seemed to be perfectly
at home in it. He was one of those who could torture
the slightest look, word, or gesture, on the part of
the slave, into impudence, and would treat it ac-
cordingly. There must be no answering back to him;
no explanation was allowed a slave, showing himself
to have been wrongfully accused. Mr. Gore acted
fully up to the maxim laid down by slaveholders,--
"It is better that a dozen slaves should suffer under the
lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in
the presence of the slaves, of having been at fault."

No matter how innocent a slave might be--it availed
him nothing, when accused by Mr. Gore of any
misdemeanor. To be accused was to be convicted,
and to be convicted was to be punished; the one
always following the other with immutable certainty.
To escape punishment was to escape accusation; and
few slaves had the fortune to do either, under the
overseership of Mr. Gore. He was just proud enough
to demand the most debasing homage of the slave,
and quite servile enough to crouch, himself, at the
feet of the master. He was ambitious enough to be
contented with nothing short of the highest rank
of overseers, and persevering enough to reach the
height of his ambition. He was cruel enough to in-
flict the severest punishment, artful enough to de-
scend to the lowest trickery, and obdurate enough to
be insensible to the voice of a reproving conscience.
He was, of all the overseers, the most dreaded by
the slaves. His presence was painful; his eye flashed
confusion; and seldom was his sharp, shrill voice
heard, without producing horror and trembling in
their ranks.

Mr. Gore was a grave man, and, though a young
man, he indulged in no jokes, said no funny words,
seldom smiled. His words were in perfect keeping
with his looks, and his looks were in perfect keeping
with his words. Overseers will sometimes indulge in
a witty word, even with the slaves; not so with Mr.
Gore. He spoke but to command, and commanded
but to be obeyed; he dealt sparingly with his words,
and bountifully with his whip, never using the
former where the latter would answer as well. When
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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