The Illustrated London News

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The Dandy Slave

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1082, p. 307.

April 6, 1861


Whenever a negro can afford it, he dresses well, sometimes quietly and in good taste. His hat is sure to be of the best, his boots of the glossiest patent leather, and the rest of his adornments to match. One rainy Sunday, in Baltimore, our Artist saw and sketched one of these dandy negroes escorting home from church his mistress. He was a slave, and this poor old faded woman owned him. He was proud and fond of her, and she, no doubt, not a little attached to him. "Oh," he said, "my misses is a very good misses; fine old lady; lets me do pretty much as I'm a mind 'ter. If I feel like playing sodger, I plays sodger; and if I feels like work, I works. I ollers gives her half my wages, and she never asks no questions. Oh, lor, no; I wouldn't think of running away, or doing nothing that could noways annoy her. I gets plenty of money; hire myself down on steam-boat, Sir. I'm very good waiter; the ladies mostly likes me; and steam-boat captain likes to have waiters as is pop'lar with the ladies. I never gives no sass to nobody. It's very easy getting along when you make it a rule never to give no sass to nobody." And so our slave was getting along, making, probably, two guineas a week over and above the share of his wages due to his owners. Every month or so he would draw his pay from the steam-boat or hotel proprietor he might be serving at the time, take it home and divide it with his "misses," have a chat with the old lady, and pay her homage by waiting at table in his highest style, and perhaps, as our Artist saw him, escort her to and from the "meetin'-house."

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The Dandy Slave: a Scene in Baltimore, Maryland. [p. 307]

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