We are much encouraged and grateful to God, that we are permitted to engage in this noble work among the freed people. Their cultivation however, is not the work of a day and principally in the house-keeping department do we realize this fact. Yet, when we contemplate their patient attitude in the light of the sufferings to which they have been subjected, we are rebuked for any impatience, at trivial inconveniences that may arise. I can never meet the peculiarly mournful gaze of the ?, overawed negro, but a fountain of tears is stirred within my heart. There is, however, in young Africa a jubilant hopefulness which sweeps over all barriers, and will bear their possessions on to success and prosperity. I shall never forget the many bright faces of the children of our first charge; those little dark-browed boys and girls who delighted to trudge day after day, through rain and shine from Leabrook, a mile and a half or more to school during the four months of our sojourn at the Elliott Plantation. Here (at the Honey Plantation) the enthusiasm of the children to learn is intense. Their school-hours seem, like one bright holiday and their progress is very remarkable. By half after six in the morning, they begin to flock in from the neighboring plantations, and often the first sight that greets our eyes, as we step from our sleeping apartment upon the broad high piazza, which surrounds our dwelling--and upon which we teach is their eager, expectant faces and their cheerful, "good morning," is a welcome salute to our ears.
Miss Eveleth and I have over a hundred scholars. Our opening exercises include reading of Scripture, prayer, and singing, followed by miscellaneous questions in Arithmetic, Geography, &c., after which we hear recitations in classes; dismissing each in turn, though many of the children are often loath to depart. On the Fourth of July, they assembled as usual, but after a few appropriate exercises, in which we explained to them, the cause of our rejoicings and celebration of the day it being intensely warm -- we dismissed them. But they lingered behind, and seemed to regard their books, so regretfully that our hearts smote us, for having given them, the holiday, so dearly prized by the children of the North,but which in truth, these have had, as yet, but little cause to appreciate.
The freed people taking care of themselves The freed people here, are industrious, and being in a more settled condition, than in many parts of the country; are abundantly able to take care of themselves. Their mode of living is simple, and they find a ready sale for their vegetable and fruit, and often at exorbitant prices. The results of which is, that numbers of them, have but little idea of the real value of money, which they as freely expend for cakes, tobacco, and other trifles; but many are wisely laying aside their hundreds and even thousands of dollars, to purchase homes, cattle horses, &c. Most of the land on this (Hilton-Head) Island has been reserved for Government purposes. Portions of it are leased to cotton growers, who hire the negroes to work for them, but the greater part, the negroes are allowed to cultivate for themselves. It is a treat to ride over these Islands, and see their flourishing crops of crops of cotton, corn, sweet potatoes ground peas, (or pea-nuts,) water melons, &c and their neat little garden patches. Surely, the land could have been under no better cultivation in slavery times, and now too, the work is mostly performed by women and children, for all the men of a suitable age, are in the army. But their out-door employment has led others to neglect too much their houses and few have had little if any idea of making them comfortable and attractive. The greatest want here, is in window glass and sashes. These are not so much needed at this season of the year, but in the Winter, and even in the Fall and Spring, when the air is in the least raw and chilly, the wooden shutters are closed and the only light that enters their cabins is through the door which usually stands open. And so in the sunny South during the most delightful months of the year these people live in darkened habitations, while as a consequence uncleanliness prevails, and disease is engendered. Charity, in my estimation, could not be more wisely bestowed, than in leading them to the use of window glass and sashes, thus revealing things unseemly and insensibly teaching a lesson of purity and cleanliness.
The Praise House There seems to be more of a religious element in the character of the negroes upon some plantations than others, owing perhaps to the different influences to which they have been subjected both before and since the rebellion. Here this element greatly prevails, and meeting are held two or three times on the Sabbath, and on every alternate evening during the week. The Sabbath morning, (the "Praise House" being near-by,) we are awakened at half-after four, by the ringing of a bell, and a half-hour later, we listen to songs of praise -- for these houses of worship are rightly named, their religious exercise consisting mostly of singing - And, sweet to us is the dawn of the Sabbath day, ushered in by the rich melody of their voices, as they sing the time-honored lines which recall to our minds, the home circle and prayer meeting. Yet these poor people are as sheep without a shepherd, and sadly need an instructor in the Divine Life, to teach them that religion is not all an emotional feeling, but must be daily practised in their lives. This truth we endeavor to impress upon the minds of the children, both in the Sabbath and day-schools; at the former the adults are frequently among our most attentive listeners. Oh; how often I long for that Spirit which used to descent in olden times, upon the young men and young women, that I may edify their famishing souls.
The Funeral Yesterday, we witnessed a solemn scene. One of the women on the plantation, having died, they held the funeral services under the three large Magnolia trees, that shade the front of our dwelling. For this purpose they borrowed our school benches, which they arranged in a square around the coffin. They then prevailed upon Mr D__ who is not a professor of religion, to read the Scriptures and to make some remarks to them. After which their leader, an old man, prayed, and lined a hymn from memory, which they sang, and then placing the rude coffin upon a cart, they followed closely behind, availing and singing a mournful dirge till thus the strange possession disappeared from view. Poor little ones of the flock; I thought, as I watched their retreating figures, will no one come to minister unto you? and yet there are thousands on the plantations on these islands, who wait - like you, for the coming of those who may brake to them the bread of life. Alas! for that holy, self denying zeal, which should follow our blessed Lord, wherever He directs the way. The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.