“… a frightful diversion …”

In the previous post Janet Schaw described her voyage from Scotland to America to visit her brother’s plantation in North Carolina. On her arrival she continued to chronicle her experiences in exquisite detail, giving this account of what she called “a frightful diversion” near his property.

On a visit down the river, an Alligator was observed asleep on the bank. Mrs. Schaw [her sister-in-law] was the first who saw it, and as she is a notable house-wife was fired with revenge at the loss of many a good goose they had stolen from her. We crept up as softly as possible hardly allowing the oars to touch the water, and were so successful as to land part of the Negroes before it waked, which it did not do till all was ready for the attack. Two of the Negroes armed with strong oars stood ready, while a third hit him a violent blow on the eye, with which he awaked and extended such a pair of jaws as might have admitted if not a Highland cow, as least a Lowland calf. The negroes who are very dextrous at this work, presently pushed the oars down his throat, by which means he was secured, [but not] till he received thousands of blows which did him no harm, as he is covered with a coat of Mail, so strong and compact, that he is vulnerable no where but in the eye, and a very small opening under the throat and belly. His tail is long and flexible, and so are his huge arms. With these he endeavoured to catch at his assassins, but the superior arts of man are more than a match for his amazing strength. Was superior reason never used to a more unworthy purpose it were well; for he is a daring Villain, an insolent robber, who makes war on the whole animal creation, but does not man do the same? Even worse, for this monster does not devour his fellow-monsters. …

The above passage is from In the Words of Women, Chapter 5, page 136.

posted March 29th, 2012 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Daily life, Slaves/slavery


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