September 3: I was a chattel.

Today is the Feast of Saint Gregory the Great, who saw the Anglian slaves in the market of Rome, and sent Augustine to bring the Gospel to England, via Canterbury. Let’s imagine the experience of being sold into Slavery from John Buchan, writing in 1916, a few months before this window was made for Saint Thomas’ Church in that city. Slaves then and now were human!

I cannot describe that calm appraising look … I was a chattel, a thing infinitely removed from intimacy. Even so I have myself looked at a horse which I thought of buying, scanning his shoulders, hocks and paces. Even so must the old lords of Constantinople have looked at the slaves which the chances of war brought to their markets, assessing their usefulness for some task or other with no thought of a humanity common to purchaser and purchase.

John Buchan, Greenmantle, Ch 14.

Our next few posts will also be on slavery, using a manifesto published by John Wesley in 1774. A reflective response to Black Lives Matter.

2 Comments

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces

2 responses to “September 3: I was a chattel.

  1. “… a thing infinitely removed from intimacy.” Powerful. Something we may even do to people in our everyday lives without realizing it.

    Like

  2. And this was a man who, ten years earlier, had recommended that South African mines should employ black workers because their wages were 1/4 those of a white person doing the same job. People can change, sometimes little by little. By the time of his death in 1940, as Governor General of Canada, he was trying to get alongside the First Nations, though even that was flawed by paternalism.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.