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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best
assurance that I might rely with the utmost confi-
dence on the results which, he said, would flow from
teaching me to read. What he most dreaded, that
I most desired. What he most loved, that I most
hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be
carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be
diligently sought; and the argument which he so
warmly urged, against my learning to read, only
served to inspire me with a desire and determina-
tion to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as
much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to
the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the
benefit of both.

I had resided but a short time in Baltimore before
I observed a marked difference, in the treatment of
slaves, from that which I had witnessed in the coun-
try. A city slave is almost a freeman, compared with
a slave on the plantation. He is much better fed and
clothed, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown
to the slave on the plantation. There is a vestige of
decency, a sense of shame, that does much to curb
and check those outbreaks of atrocious cruelty so
commonly enacted upon the plantation. He is a des-
perate slaveholder, who will shock the humanity of
his non-slaveholding neighbors with the cries of his
lacerated slave. Few are willing to incur the odium
attaching to the reputation of being a cruel master;
and above all things, they would not be known as
not giving a slave enough to eat. Every city slave-
holder is anxious to have it known of him, that he
feeds his slaves well; and it is due to them to say,
that most of them do give their slaves enough to eat.
There are, however, some painful exceptions to this
rule. Directly opposite to us, on Philpot Street, lived
Mr. Thomas Hamilton. He owned two slaves. Their
names were Henrietta and Mary. Henrietta was
about twenty-two years of age, Mary was about four-
teen; and of all the mangled and emaciated creatures
I ever looked upon, these two were the most so. His
heart must be harder than stone, that could look
upon these unmoved. The head, neck, and shoulders
of Mary were literally cut to pieces. I have fre-
quently felt her head, and found it nearly covered
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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