This is a 19th century memoir written by a slave who escaped the South before the Civil War. Here's an excerpt from the intro:
CHAPTER I Are there any women today, I wonder, like the girl wife of Jacopone da Todi, who are found in the midst of worldly brilliance wearing the hair shirt of piety and devotion over their spotless hearts? I doubt it. It is no wonder that Jacopone, that "smart" thirteenth-century Italian lawyer, became a great saint when he made that discovery, after his beautiful young wife's accidental death. It would make a saint of anybody. I am quite sure Gertrude is not like that. But then Gertrude is not my wife-as yet. Nor am I Jacopone. I am nothing more, I fear, than a contented voluptuary of a bookworm. Like King James, I feel that were it my fate to be a captive, I should wish to be shut up in a great library consuming my days among my fellow-prisoners, the blessed books. To distil the reading of a lifetime into a little wisdom for my poor wits, that has been all my aim and my ambition, if by any name so dynamic as ambition I may call it. An old young man is what I have been called, and Gertrude seems propelled by some potent urge to change me-God knows why. I have just been talking with-I mean listening to-Gertrude. We are to be married, she says, in three weeks. Time out of mind we have been friends, Gertrude and I, as our mothers had been before us. She, the highly modern spinster and I, such as I am, have been linked for years by an engagement which is not an engagement in the old sense at all. It is a sort of entente cordiale. An engagement in the conventional meaning of the word would be as abhorrent to Gertrude as the old-fashioned marriage. As soon would she think of "being given in marriage" with bell, book and orange blossoms as of calling herself "Mrs. Randolph Byrd"-or anything but Miss Bayard. That is what we have been discussing this gloomy afternoon in my snug little apartment before a garrulous fire. For Gertrude is not so absurd as to hesitate to call on me at my apartment any more than I would hesitate to call on her in Gramercy Park.
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