Once, to-day, seeing a lady entering the car at a way-station, with a family behind her, and that she was looking about to find a place where they could be seated together, I rose, and offered her my seat, which had several vacancies around it. She accepted it, without thanking me, and immediately installed in it a stout negro woman; took the adjoining seat herself, and seated the rest of her party before her. It consisted of a white girl, probably her daughter, and a bright and very pretty mulatto girl. They all talked and laughed together, and the girls munched confectionery out of the same paper, with a familiarity and closeness of intimacy that would have been noticed with astonishment, if not with manifest displeasure, in almost any chance company at the North. When the negro is definitely a slave, it would seem that the alleged natural antipathy of the white race to associate with him is lost.
I am surprised at the number of fine-looking mulattoes, or nearly white colored persons, that I see. The majority of those with whom I have come personally in contact are such. I fancy I see a peculiar expression among these--a contraction of the eyebrows and tightening of the lips--a spying, secretive, and counsel-keeping expression.
But the great mass, as they are seen at work, under overseers, in the fields, appear very dull, idiotic, and brute-like; and it requires an effort to appreciate that they are, very much more
than the beasts they drive, our brethren--a part of ourselves. They are very ragged, and the women especially, who work in the field with the men, with no apparent distinction in their labor, disgustingly dirty. They seem to move very awkwardly, slowly, and undecidedly, and almost invariably stop their work while the train is passing.
One tannery and two or three saw-mills afforded the only indications I saw, in seventy-five miles of this old country--settled before any part of Massachusetts--of any industrial occupation other than corn and wheat culture, and fire-wood chopping. At Fredericksburg we passed through the streets of a rather busy, poorly-built town; but, altogether, the country seen from the rail-road, bore less signs of an active and prospering people than any I ever traveled through before, for an equal distance.