From the Richmond Enquirer, 9/8/1862, p. 1, c. 8

A STRANGE CASE OF MONOMANIA. – A hypochondriacal old fellow, named Aaron Simms, engaged in the grocery business has lately conceived the strange idea that he is the Old Scratch. About two weeks ago, he gave orders to a sign painter to prepare him a board with the inscription, "BEELZEBUB, GROCER," in large gilt letters. His customers not liking the idea of dealing with the devil, and being of a class characteristically superstitious, dropped off, except one rogueish old negro, who, by humoring the lunatic, contrived to swindle him out of goods to a considerable extent. A cousin of Mr. Simms thought it expedient to watch over him, and on Saturday last happened to be in the back parlor, when Dave, the negro, came in. He overheard the following colloquy:

Dave – I say ole boss devil, I want a few more things on dat account – you know.

Simms – It's all squared up, Dave; you must get ready.

Dave – I often hear de debbil hab no conscience, and now I begin to blebe it. You gwine to allow me only twenty-five dollars for dat soul, and it wuff fifty.

Simms – You promised to take out the worth of soul in trade. You got the worth of it. I can buy lots of white souls for half the money.

Dave – Now, Mr. Debbil, a nigger's soul is as good as whitefolks; it's a cash article. But I jes wants what's right, so 'bleege me wid a gallon on dat 'lasses and two poun' a sugar, and I'll fling in the soul of my wife. Dat's a splendid bargain!

Just then Mr. Simms' cousin came out, seized the black swindler, and marched him down to the Assistant Provost Marshal.

The relatives of the monomaniac shut up the store, and have taken proper steps for putting the imaginary Satan under proper guardianship.

Go to top