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The first thing to be considered is the condition of the land. Everybody knows that the land at the South, instead of being allotted in homesteads to every man, was held mainly in large estates. Under the ruinous system of slavery, these large plantations were poorly cultivated, and a condition of debt was almost universal. When it was not convenient to sell slaves to raise money, the land was mortgaged to meet the need. Deteriorating in value by neglect and the change of times, it will not sell for the amount of the claims upon it, and hence it is extremely difficult to purchase land in South Carolina or Virginia and get a clear title to it. The only security is to buy at a sheriff's sale when the land has been taken for taxes, or the owner has gone into bankruptcy: then the purchaser is secure. By the wise law of the legislature of South Carolina, which puts a very heavy tax upon land, many of these large estates will be thus brought into the market, and will be cut up into small lots, and bought by real working men. The great desire of the negroes is to own land and build houses; and, under all their disadvantages, they are doing this to some extent. The more favorable crop of last year gave them a little money to invest in land, and, should the present good auspices for the crop prove true, there will be still more done another year. On the sea islands of South Carolina, where the land was taken possession of by the Government and sold to the negroes, almost every family has its ten-acre lot and its cabin upon it. Although the people here were of the lowest class of plantation hands, this circumstance has given them a secure basis, on which they are slowly building up a superstructure of comfort. As the cotton crop has been very poor ever since they had possession of their land, until last year, the spring just past is the first in which there has not been actual famine upon the islands. While cotton is and will be the great staple production of these islands, it is a very uncertain crop. It requires constant and watchful care for many months, and so much labor in picking and cleaning that it is often difficult to secure the fall crop when it is very abundant. But these people, working on their own land for their own poor subsistence, are
patient, steady, and industrious: they are learning wisdom from the hard experience of the last three years, are planting corn enough for their own support, and are slowly learning the secrets of agriculture. For although the field hand had helped raise cotton all his life, his dull mechanical toil had given him no insight into the reason of what he did, and when left to himself he often made great blunders, and did things at the wrong time and in the wrong way. We all know, too, the Southern method of taking every thing off the land and putting nothing back. The worn-out lands were abandoned, and the planter emigrated to fresh fields. The "land was tired," they said. They are beginning to find out that it is only hungry. The Southern papers are filled with advertisements of fertilizers, and discussions of their value, and the air is redolent with odors of guano. No doubt they are cheated with an abundance of worthless compounds, and will find their dreams of fourfold harvests quite illusory: but the ground is like the mind, it is a great deal better to stir it up and put something new in although it is not of the very best quality, than to let it lie clogged and choked with its own inertia. These two things-division of the land into small lots within the means of the working classes, and improved agriculture are grounds of hope for the South. The work is already begun, and though it will have a vast amount of opposition and stupidity to encounter, it is bound to go on.
Having got the land, who are the men to enter in and possess it? What is the physical force, and what the labor, which the South has to rely upon? When we look at a pinetree in the spring, and see the old needles turning brown and dropping off, we know that the new growth is not in them; but at the very end of the branch we find a fresh green bud full of life and vigor, which, contains the hope of the new year. So is it with the Southern States, especially the old commonwealths of Carolina and Virginia, which we cling to as members of the old band of thirteen, and hope to see again in their right place among the leaders of Western civilization. The old men and old families have the remains of wealth and culture and graceful manners, it is true; much that was fair
and pleasing to eye and taste will go under with them for a time, but go they must. "We need several first-class funerals," said a witty judge, "before we shall come out right." An old Southerner mourns, "We shall never again live, as we used to, the old merry life." He is right: they never will. The old hospitality, apparently so generous and free, since it welcomed the stranger to a merry round of dinners and suppers and balls and huntings, really so selfish and mean, since it was all paid for out of the sweat of other men's labor, will, thank God, never come again. It was not only the slave, whose toil every day, and whose agony when sold, paid for these things, but the whole system of trade was rotten. The Commissioners of Bankruptcy are among the few men who have made fortunes at the South since the war. A leading man in Maryland, member of Congress from his district, lately went into bankruptcy, and his grocer's bill was unpaid for sixteen years. But times are changing. In the town of Darlington, S.C., is a colored man, who, by his own work since the war, has acquired a pretty property, and has bought a very nice house there. He was a slave, but had fortunately been taught the blacksmith's trade. He set up a carriageyard, and his old master soon brought him his carriage to mend. It was much injured, and the bill for repairs amounted to about seventy-five dollars. The owner called for his carriage, found it mended promptly and well, and said he would send his horses to take it away. The blacksmith presented his bill. "I have not the money about me now," was as the reply. "But your carriage cannot go out of my yard till it is paid for," responded the sturdy mechanic. "You wouldn't serve your old massa so," replied the owner, "to keep his carriage from him; can't you trust me?" We can imagine the grim smile on the old slave's face as he replied, "I can't help that, sir; I can't let it go without the pay." The indignant gentleman was obliged to borrow the money and pay the bill before he could have his ride. Nothing could have made him feel more keenly that old times were passing
The old men and women look tragic and worn out. Utterly
out of relation with their times, feeling wronged and illtreated, and yet quite unable to convince the world of it, they go about with weary, sour faces, and hug the memory of their own past grandeur as their only comfort. Many of the most influential secessionists are said to be hastening their own dissolution by immoderate drinking, and to be fast breaking down in mind and body. The colored police have had a good restraining influence upon these gentlemen. It is such an utter and hopeless degradation to be arrested by a negro, that this great fear overcomes even the passion for drink; and the Southern gentleman is careful to preserve his equilibrium, at least till he is safely housed, lest some watchful "darkey" should have a chance to lay his legal hand upon his sacred person. The women, generally, look sickly and sad. Young ladies, in the bloom of youth, have a certain fair beauty which soon fades: they seem just about fit to sit in the shade upon their "joggling boards," and gossip and do fancy-work all day long. Of course, there are honorable exceptions. Some ladies of old families are quietly earning their living in various ways; accepting the situation with simple dignity, and doing their best to bridge over the vast gulf between the old and the new. We saw one such teaching in a colored school, supported by the city of Charleston, who commanded our respect by the fidelity with which she performed her duties, as well as our admiration for the refinement and beauty of her appearance.
This class generally, like the old pine needles, will serve only to make a soft carpet of tradition and romance, in which poets and young men and maidens may delight to dream, and which will perhaps protect and nourish some fair flowers of beauty; but it will never again be the great active leading power in the State. It cannot command the working population, and will not meet the exigencies of the times.
Crushed between the upper millstone of aristocracy and the lower millstone of slave labor, was a small middle class at the South, not the degraded poor white, but a working class. We saw specimens of this class, but have no data for determining their number; they were attached to the Union,
and some even of the women had an enthusiasm for the North. We found a picture of Boston a most welcome gift to such a person. They rejoice in the new order of things; and although they are under entire social ostracism so far as their "secesh" neighbors are concerned, yet they are finding their places in the new dispensation, and in the solid comfort of returning prosperity can afford to receive the cold words and looks of those who have lost all but their pride. Members of this class, of sensitive natures, and entangled in their family relations with those of rebel sentiments, suffer keenly. We have no conception here of what it still costs many a Southern white man to be actively loyal; but we saw sturdy sheriffs of the different counties who gloried in their loyal past, and were quite ready to execute the will of the Gov
These men will aid in the work of regeneration: they will fill the offices requiring plain common sense and real work; and their daughters will teach in the new public schools. But we found, also, a plenty of Enos Crumletts, weak-jointed and sallow-faced, looking out for a speculation on a small scale anywhere. One of these told us "he went into the rebel army, although he knew it was the wrong side, because he was too conscientious to tell lies to get rid of the draft as his neighbors did, and he should lose every thing if he stayed out." He did not seem to consider the lie he acted in going into the army. But, when we condemn this weakness, we must remember the tremendous pressure that was brought to bear upon them. "I never read of any thing equal to it in the horrors of the French Revolution," said a Union gentleman. These men can probably be relied upon for the small roguery and dirty work of the new administration !
Below these are the miserable worn-out dregs of civilization, the "poor whites." It requires one's faith in God and humanity to have any hope in them at all. Physically corrupt from poverty, filth, and disgusting habits, there seems little basis on which to build up any intellectual or moral power. The children show their low organization in the form of the head, while scrofula has set its mark upon nearly all