Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/35

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III. As persons became servants from poverty, we argue that they were compensated, since they frequently owned property, and sometimes a large amount. Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, gave David a princely present, "An hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine." 2 Sam. xvi. 1. The extent of his possessions can be inferred from the fact, that though the father of fifteen sons, he had twenty servants. In Lev. xxv .57—59, where a servant, reduced to poverty, sold himself, it is declared that he may be redeemed, either by his kindred, or by himself. Having been forced to sell himself from poverty, he must have acquired considerable property after he became a servant. If it had not been common for servants to acquire property over which they had the control, the servant of Elisha would hardly have ventured to take a large sum of money, (nearly $3000[1]) from Naaman, 2 Kings v. 22, 23. As it was procured by deceit, he wished to conceal the means used in getting it; but if servants, could "own nothing, nor acquire any thing," to embark in such an enteprise would have been consummate stupidity. The fact of having in his possession two talents of silver, would of itself convict him of theft.[2] But since it was common for servants to own

  1. Though we have not sufficient data to decide upon the relative value of that sum, then and now, yet we have enough to warrant us in saying that two talents of sliver, had far more value then than three thousand dollars have now.
  2. Whoever heard of the slaves in our southern states stealing a large amount of money? They "know how to take care of themselves" quite too well for that. When they steal, they are careful to do it on such a small scale, or in the taking of such things as will make detection difficult. No doubt they steal now and then a little, and a gaping marvel would it be if they did not. Why should they not follow in the footsteps of their masters and mistresses? Dull scholars indeed! if, after so many lessons from proficients in the art, who drive the business by wholesale, they should not occasionally copy their betters, fall into the fashion, and try their hand in a small way, at a practice which is the only permanent and universal business carried on around them! Ignoble truly! never to feel the stirrings of high impulse, prompting to imitate the eminent pattern set before them in the daily vocation of "Honorables" and "Excellences," and to emulate the illustrious examples of Doctors of Divinity, and Right and Very Reverends! Hear President Jefferson's testimony. In his Notes on Virginia, pp. 207-8, speaking of slaves, he says, "That disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any special depravity of the moral sense. It is a problem which I give the master to solve, whether the religious precepts against the violation of property were not framed for him as well as for his slave—and whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one who has taken ALL from him, as he may slay one who would slay him?"