Chapter 7

Returning to his lodging, he could not help reflecting by the way, that probably poor Teague, mortified by repeated disappointments, in going to Congress, being suffered to preach, or be a member of the Philosophical Society; and what might afflict him still more, the not marrying the rich hostess, who had made him overtures, might, in his despair of ever coming forward in any respectable capacity in life, having suspended himself from a beam, or plunged into the river, and have put an end to his existence, which, should it be the case, being in some measure accessary to this catastrophe of the bog-trotter, by dissuading from these several pretensions, he could not acquit himself of guilt; at all events, he would feel great pain and sorrow.

Such were his reflections for a great part of this day! and he had thought of putting an advertisement in the paper, to know if any dead body had been lately discovered, or inquisition held on a young man with red hair, and a long leg, who had been missing some days, and was supposed to have hung or drowned himself. But in the evening, meditating thus, mention being made by some of the lodgers, of going to hear the annual oration, delivered before the Philosophical Society, by a member, it struck his mind, that possibly Teague, falling in with some of this body, had been induced by them to take a seat, and might be present on that occasion. Not hesitating, therefore, he seconded the proposal of going, and offered to be of the party.

Coming to the hall, the philosophers were seated, but a black member sat with a taper before him, who, it seems, was to deliver the oration.

The fact was this: A gentleman of Maryland, of the name of Gorum, had sent to the society, some time before, a curiosity found by one of the negroes in the mud of Wye river, on the banks of which his seat was. It appeared to be a stone, with a cavity sufficient to receive a man’s foot, and was adjudged by the society to be an Indian’s petrified moccasin. The singularity of the discovery, well entitling the gentleman to a seat, he was invited; but sending his compliments, he gave them to understand, that Cuff, (for that was the name of the negro) was more entitled to that honour than he was, being the person who had found the curiosity; and as he made it a point to do his slaves justice in any perquisite of their own, he could not think of robbing one, on this occasion of any honour, to which he might be introduced by this discovery.

The society approved his honesty and fair dealing, and by unanimous ballot, admitted the negro, who, having been a member some time, had been appointed to pronounce the annual oration. Cuff, a good deal disconcerted in hearing of the task imposed upon him, had applied to his master to know what to say. Colonel Gorum attending a good deal to literary matters, had heard of an oration delivered before the society, the object of which was to prove that the Africans had been once white, had sharp noses, and long hair; but that by living in sun-burnt climates, the skin had changed colour, the hair become frizzled, and in the course of generation, the imagination of the mother, presenting obtruse objects, had produced an offspring with flat noses. He therefore gave Cuff to understand, that it would be doing no more than justice to his countrymen, for he was a Guinea negro, if he should avail himself of this occasion, to prove that men were all once black, and that by living in snowy countries, and being bleached by the weather, the skin had gradually become white, and the hair moist and long, and the imagination presenting prominent objects to the mothers, or the fathers differing among themselves, and pulling one another by this part, had given the long and pointed nose.

Cuff, thus prepared, set out: having arrived, and being on this occasion to harangue, began as follows....


Massa shentima; I be cash crab in de Wye river: found ting in de mud; tone, big a man’s foot: holes like to he; fetch Massa: Massa say, it be de Indian moccason.--O! fat de call it; ...all tone. He say, you be a fiasafa, Cuff: I say, O no, Massa, you be de filasafa. Wel! two tree monts afta, Massa call me, and say You be a filasofa, Cuff, fo’ sartan: Getta ready, and go dis city, and make grate peech for shentima filasafa. I say, fat say, Massa? Massa say, somebody say, dat de first man was de fite man; but you say, dat de first man was de black a-man. Vel I set out: came along: Massa gi me pass. Some say, where you go Cuff? I say, dis city, be a filasofa. Oh no Cuff, you be ne filasofa: call me fool, gi me kick i’de backside; fall down, get up again, and come to dis city.

Now, shentiman, I say, dat de first man was de black a-man, and de first woman wasde black a-woman: and get two tree children; de rain vasha dese, and de snow pleach, and de coula com brown, yella, coppa coula, and, at de last, quite fite; and de hair long; and da fal out vit one anoda; and van cash by de nose, an pull; so de nose come lang, sharp nose.

Now I go home, Massa shentima; and tel grate Massa dat make peech, an ibedy body vas da: an den Cuff fin a more tings--cabs, oysta, cat fish, bones, tones, ibedy ting--sen to you, shentima.

The oration being ended, the society could do no less than appoint a committee to wait on Mr. Cuff, and request a copy of his oration, that it might be published.

But the Captain in the mean time, had examined, with great attention, the whole audience, but could not discover Teague. Departing, therefore, with the rest, his thoughts recurred to his first idea, viz. that the unfortunate creature had committed suicide. Drawing up, therefore, an advertisement, he sent it to a daily paper: but though it appeared next morning, and the day elapsed, there was no word of Teague.

There is no fact that has proved more stubborn than the diversity of the human species; especially that great extreme of diversity in the natives of Africa. How the descendants of Adam and Eve, both good looking people, should ever come to be a vile negro, or even a mulatto man or woman, is puzzling.

Some have conjectured, that a black complexion, frizzled hair, a flat nose, and bandy legs, were the mark set on Cain, for the murder of his brother Abel. But, as the deluge drowned the whole world and only one family was saved, the blacks must have all perished; like the Mammoth, whose bones are found on the Ohio, and other places.

Some suppose, that it was the curse pronounced upon Canaan, the son of Noah, for looking at his father’s nakedness. They got rid by this means of the difficulty of the flood; but by Moses’ own account the Canaanites were the descendants of Canaan; and we do not hear of them being negroes, which, had it been the case, we cannot doubt would have been laid hold of by the Israelites, as a circumstance to justify their extirpating, or making slaves of them.

Lord Kaimes, in his Sketches of the History of Man, solves the difficulty, by supposing, that, at the building of Babel, there was a confusion of complexions, as well as languages. But, besides that it is not to be supposed that the historians would pass over so material a circumstance, without particularly mentioning it, it is introducing a miracle, which we are not warranted in doing unless expressly laid down to have been wrought.

The last theory, has been that of accounting for the change, from the climate, and accident of wind and weather; calling in aid, in the mean time, the imagination of the mothers. This does not appear altogether satisfactory. At least, there are those who would not be averse to hear some other solution of the difficulty. I have thought of one, which I would suggest with great diffidence; the authors of those before me being great men, and their hypothesis not to be lightly overthrown.

I am of opinion that Adam was a tall, straight limbed, red haired man, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and an aquiline nose; and that Eve was a negro woman.

For what necessity to make them both of the same colour, feature, form, when there is beauty in variety? Do not you see in a tulip, one leaf blue, and another white, and sometimes the same leaf white and red?

As God made Adam in his own likeness, so it is to be supposed that Adam begat some in his, and these were red haired, fair complexioned, blue eyed, proportionably featured boys and girls, while on the other hand, some took after the mother, and became negro men and women. From a mixture of complexion, the offspring, at other times, might be a shade darker, in one case, than the father; and a shade lighter, in another case, than the mother; and hence a diversifyied progeny, with a variety of features, from the bottle-nose to the mire-snipe, which is that of the people in the west of Ireland; and from the auburn of the Corsican hair, to the golden locks of the Caledonian beauty; and from the black eye to the hazle and the grey.

It may be asked, how at the flood, when Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, eight persons, only were saved? It is but giving some of the sons negro wenches for their wives, and you have the matter all right.