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Mary Seacole - Nurse - (1805 - 1881)

This was a toast to Mary Seacole by an American and is one of the only references to Mary's colour in her Autobiography Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole In Many Lands.

'Well, gentlemen, I expect you'll all support me in a drinking of this toast that I du. Aunty Seacole, gentlemen; I give you, Aunty Seacole. We can't du less for her, after what she's done for us, when the cholera was among us, gentlemen, not many months ago. So, I say, God bless the best yaller woman he ever made, from Jamaica, gentlemen, from the Isle of Springs. Well, gentlemen, I expect there are only tu things we're vexed for; and the first is, that
she aint one of us, a citizen of the Great United States; and the other thing is, gentlemen, that Providence made her a yaller woman. I calculate gentlemen, you're all as vexed as I am that she's not wholly white, but I du reckon on your rejoicing with me that she's so many shades removed from being entirely black; and I guess, if we could bleach her by any means we would, and thus make her acceptable in any company as she deserves to be. Gentlemen I give you aunty Seacole!'

'And so the orator sat down amidst much applause. It may be supposed that I did not need much persuasion to return thanks, burning as I was, to tell them my mind on the subject of my colour. Indeed, if my brother had not checked me, I should have given my thoughts somewhat too freely. As it was I said:-'

'Gentlemen, - I return you my best thanks for your kindness in drinking my health. As for what I have done in Cruces, Providence evidently made me to be useful, and I can't help it. But I must say that I don't altogether appreciate your friend’s kind wishes with respect to my complexion. If it had been as dark as any nigger's, I should have been just as happy and as useful, and as much respected by those whose respect I value; and to his offer of bleaching me, I should , even if it were practicable, decline it without any thanks. As to the society which the process might gain me admission into, all I can say is, that, judging from the specimens I have met with here and elsewhere, I don't think I shall lose much by being excluded from it. So gentlemen I drink to you and the general reformation of American Manners.’

‘I do not think that they altogether admired my speech, but I was a somewhat privileged person and they laughed at it good-naturedly enough. Perhaps (for I was not in the best humour myself) I should have been better pleased if they had been angry.'

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