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MKMcCabe at May 22, 2024 07:01 PM

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372 LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS

CHAPTER XIX.
RETROSPECTION.

Concluding reflections and convictions.

As far as this volume can reach that point I have now brought my readers to
the end of my story. What may remain of life to me, through what
experiences I may pass, what heights I may attain, into what depths I may fall,
what good or ill may come to me, or proceed from me in this breathing
world, where all is change, uncertainty, and largely at the mercy of powers
over which the individual man has no absolute control, if thought worthy
and useful, will probably be told by others when I have passed from the busy
stage of life. I am not looking for any great changes in my fortunes or
achievements in the future. The most of the race of life is behind me, and the
sun of my day is nearing the horizon. Notwithstanding all that is contained
in this book my day has been a pleasant one. My joys have far exceeded my
sorrows, and my friends have brought me far more than my enemies have
taken from me. I have written out my experience here, not to exhibit my
wounds and bruises to awaken and attract sympathy to myself personally,
but as a part of the history of a profoundly interesting period in American
life and progress. I have meant it to be a small individual contribution to the
sum of knowledge of this special period, to be handed down to after-coming
generations which may want to know what things were allowed and what
prohibited; what moral, social, and political relations subsisted between the
different varieties of the American people down to the last quarter of the
nineteenth century; and by what means they were modified and changed.
The time is at hand when the last American slave, and the last American
slaveholder will disappear behind the curtain which separates the living
from the dead, and when neither master nor slave will be left to tell the story
of their respective relations, and what happened in those relations to either.
My part has been to tell the story of the slave. The story of the master never
wanted for narrators. They have had all the talent and genius that wealth and
influence could command to tell their story. They have had their full day in
court. Literature, theology, philosophy, law, and learning, have come
willingly to their service, and if condemned they have not been condemned
unheard.

It will be seen in these pages that I have lived several lives in one. First,
the life of slavery; secondly, the life of a fugitive from slavery; thirdly, the
life of comparative freedom; fourthly, the life of conflict and battle; and,
fifthly, the life of victory, if not complete, at least assured. To those who have

220

372

LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS

CHAPTER XIX.
RETROSPECTION.

Concluding reflections and convictions.

As far as this volume can reach that point I have now brought my readers to
the end of my story. What may remain of life to me, through what
experiences I may pass, what heights I may attain, into what depths I may fall,
what good or ill may come to me, or proceed from me in this breathing
world, where all is change, uncertainty, and largely at the mercy of powers
over which the individual man has no absolute control, if thought worthy
and useful, will probably be told by others when I have passed from the busy
stage of life. I am not looking for any great changes in my fortunes or
achievements in the future. The most of the race of life is behind me, and the
sun of my day is nearing the horizon. Notwithstanding all that is contained
in this book my day has been a pleasant one. My joys have far exceeded my
sorrows, and my friends have brought me far more than my enemies have
taken from me. I have written out my experience here, not to exhibit my
wounds and bruises to awaken and attract sympathy to myself personally,
but as a part of the history of a profoundly interesting period in American
life and progress. I have meant it to be a small individual contribution to the
sum of knowledge of this special period, to be handed down to after-coming
generations which may want to know what things were allowed and what
prohibited; what moral, social, and political relations subsisted between the
different varieties of the American people down to the last quarter of the
nineteenth century; and by what means they were modified and changed.
The time is at hand when the last American slave, and the last American
slaveholder will disappear behind the curtain which separates the living
from the dead, and when neither master nor slave will be left to tell the story
of their respective relations, and what happened in those relations to either.
My part has been to tell the story of the slave. The story of the master never
wanted for narrators. They have had all the talent and genius that wealth and
influence could command to tell their story. They have had their full day in
court. Literature, theology, philosophy, law, and learning, have come
willingly to their service, and if condemned they have not been condemned
unheard.

It will be seen in these pages that I have lived several lives in one. First,
the life of slavery; secondly, the life of a fugitive from slavery; thirdly, the
life of comparative freedom; fourthly, the life of conflict and battle; and,
fifthly, the life of victory, if not complete, at least assured. To those who have