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slave. The slave was made to say some very smart as
well as impressive things in reply to his master--
things which had the desired though unexpected ef-
fect; for the conversation resulted in the voluntary
emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.

In the same book, I met with one of Sheridan's
mighty speeches on and in behalf of Catholic eman-
cipation. These were choice documents to me. I read
them over and over again with unabated interest.
They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own
soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind,
and died away for want of utterance. The moral
which I gained from the dialogue was the power of
truth over the conscience of even a slaveholder. What
I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slav-
ery, and a powerful vindication of human rights.

The reading of these documents enabled me to
utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments
brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they
relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on an-
other even more painful than the one of which I was
relieved. The more I read, the more I was led to
abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them
in no other light than a band of successful robbers,
who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and
stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land
reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the
meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I
read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very
discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted
would follow my learning to read had already come,
to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish.
As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that
learning to read had been a curse rather than a bless-
ing. It had given me a view of my wretched condi-
tion, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the
horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out.
In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for
their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast.

I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to
my own. Any thing, no matter what, to get rid of
thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my con-
dition that tormented me. There was no getting rid
of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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