* [Not long ago a certain Georgia cotton-planter, driven to desperation by awakening each morning to find that the grass had quite outgrown the cotton overnight, and was likely to choke it, in defiance of his lazy freedmen's hoes and ploughs, set the whole State in a laugh by exclaiming to a group of fellow-sufferers: "It's all stuff about Cincinnatus leaving the plough to go into politics for patriotism; he was just a-runnin' from grass!"

This state of things—when the delicate young rootlets of the cotton are struggling against the hardier multitudes of the grass-suckers—is universally described in plantation parlance by the phrase "in the grass;" and Uncle Jim appears to have found in it so much similarity to the condition of his own ("Baptis'") church, overrun, as it was, by the cares of this world, that he has embodied it in the refrain of a revival hymn such as the colored improvisator of the South not infrequently constructs from his daily surroundings. He has drawn all the ideas of his stanzas from the early morning phenomena of those critical weeks when the loud plantation-horn is blown before daylight, in order to rouse all hands for a long day's fight against the common enemy of cotton-planting mankind.

In addition to these exegetical commentaries, the Northern reader probably needs to be informed that the phrase "peerten up" means substantially to spur up, and is an active form of the adjective "peert" (probably a corruption of pert), which has much the signification of "smart" in New England, as e.g., a "peert" horse, in antithesis to a "sorry"— i.e., poor, mean, lazy one.]

 [ return to text ]