Charles Lyell, A Second Visit to the United States of North America, Vol. I (London, 1849), 363-364.



Charles Lyell, A Second Visit to the United States of North America, Vol. I (London, 1849), 363-364.

Includes music itself or text of song


Identity of singers; solo/group



voice, violins


Hopeton Plantation, church





Geographical location

Glynn County, Georgia

Notable adjectives

"passionately fond"


Although the Baptist and Methodist missionaries have been the most active in this important work, the Episcopalians have not been idle, especially since Dr. Elliot became Bishop of Georgia and brought his talents, zeal, and energy to the task. As he found that the negroes in general had no faith in the efficacy of baptism except by complete immersion, he performed the ceremony as they desired. Indeed, according to the Old English rubric, all persons were required to be immersed in baptism, except when they were sick, so that to lose converts by not complying with this popular notion of the slaves, would hardly have been justifiable. It may be true that the poor negroes cherish a superstitious belief that the washing out of every taint of sin depends mainly on the particular manner of performing the rite, and the principal charm to the black women in the ceremony of total immersion consists in decking themselves out in white robes, like brides have their shoes trimmed with silver. They well know that the waters of the Altamaha are chilly, and that they and the officiating minister run no small risk of catching cold, but to this penance they most cheerfully submit. Of dancing and music the negroes are passionately fond. On the Hopeton plantation above twenty violins have been silenced by the Methodist missionaries, yet it is notorious that the slaves were not given to drink or intemperance in their merry-makings. At the Methodist prayer-meetings, they are permitted to move round rapidly in a ring, joining hands in token of brotherly love, presenting first the right hand and then the left, in which manoeuvre, I am told, they sometimes contrive to take enough exercise to serve as a substitute for the dance, it being in fact, a kind of spiritual boulanger, while the singing of psalms, in and out of chapel, compensates in no small degree for the song they have been required to renounce.


A little before this passage, Lyell writes about his racist view of how overtime, the enslaved have become more intelligent, as a result of them associating more with people of Anglo-Saxon descent. He then goes on to talk about how there was an increase in baptisms and conversion of the enslaved overtime.

Bias of author

Bias presented in this text is about average for nineteenth-century sources written by learned, traveling white men.

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