It was on a chilly day, amid falling hail, that he addressed a crowd of people in the castle-yard at York. They had listened already to several speakers, were weary, and about to separate, when Mr. Wilberforce appeared on the stand and began to speak. Silence was at once secured, and so perfectly were they swayed by his words that all signs of opposition or impatience disappeared. For more than an hour, notwithstanding unfavorable circumstances, he held their attention, winning them to harmony with his own political views. This was not all. Before the assembly dispersed, it was whispered from one to another, "We must have this man for our county member." The election of a member for Yorkshire was nigh at hand, and when its results were made known, he found himself in the influential position of "a representative of the tenth part of England."
To this same member for Yorkshire, in conjunction with the Prime-Minister of England, we are indebted for the first Parliamentary agitation of a topic which has since been fruitful enough in discussion, —AFRICAN SLAVERY.
The introduction of this subject into Parliament, during the administration of Pitt, was by no means the fruit of a sudden impulse, but was rather the matured expression of a series of preliminary efforts. In private circles, the Slave-Trade had been already denounced and protested against, as unworthy of a civilized, not to say a Christian people. In certain quarters, too, the press had become the exponent of these sentiments. Possibly, in their beginnings, no person did more in the exertion of those means which have wrought into the heart of the English people such undying hatred to Negro Slavery than the amiable recluse whose writings can never die so long as lovers of poetry continue to live. Who has not at times turned away from the best-loved of the living poets, to regale himself with the compact, polished, sweetly ringing numbers of Cowper? On the subject of Slavery he had already given expression to his thoughts in language which at the present day, in certain portions of the United States, must subject his works to a strict expurgatorial process. He had exposed to the world the injustice of the system, and had thrown around his words the magic of song.
It would not, of course, be possible to proceed in these reminiscences without coming at once upon the names of Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson. The clerk who became a law-student, that he might be qualified to substantiate the truth that a slave could not exist on British soil, the Cambridge graduate, awakened by the preparation of his own prize-essay to a sympathy with the slave, which never, during a long life, flagged for an hour, need not be eulogized to-day. The latter of these gentlemen repeatedly visited Mr. Wilberforce and conferred with him upon this subject, imparting to him the fruit of his own careful and minute investigations. These consisted of certain well-authenticated items of information and documentary evidence concerning the trade and the cruelties growing out of it. The public efforts which followed, though hardly originated by these conferences, were probably hastened by them. Nor should it be forgotten that a small knot of individuals, mostly Quakers, had associated themselves under the name of "The London Committee." This, if not an anti-slavery society, was the nucleus of what afterwards became one. These hitherto unrecognized efforts were about to receive fresh encouragement and acquire new efficiency. The influences which had worked in silence and among a few were about to be brought out to the light.
It was on the 5th of May, 1788, that a motion was introduced into the House of Commons having for its object the abolition of the Slave-Trade. It was brought forward by Mr. Pitt. He intended to secure its discussion early in the next session. Mr. Wilberforce, he hoped, would then be present, whose seat was now vacant by reason of severe illness. He had been, indeed, at one time, given over by his physicians, but had been assured by Mr. Pitt, that, even in case of a fatal result of his disease, the cause of African freedom should not die.
The idea of possible legislation on this subject was no sooner broached than it was at once taken up and found able advocates. Here Pitt and Fox were of one mind, and were supported by the veteran advocate for justice and right, Edmund Burke. The latter had some years before attempted to call attention to this very subject. Certain Bristol merchants, his wealthy constituents, had thus been grievously offended at the aberrations of the representative of their city. As early as 1780 he had drawn up an elaborate "Negro Code," of which it may be said, that, had some of its regulations been heeded, at least one leaf in the world's history would have presented a different reading from that which it now bears. Mr. Burke was at this time in the decline of life, and was well pleased that other and younger advocates were enlisted in the same great cause.
A bill was brought forward at this session, by one of the friends of the cause, Sir W. Dolben, for lessening immediately the cruelties of the trade. It will be remembered that up to this time slave-ships had sailed up the Thames all unmolested, were accustomed to fit out for their voyages, and, having disposed of their cargoes, to return. A vessel of this description had arrived at the port of London. The subject of the traffic having become invested with interest, a portion of the members of the House paid a visit to the ill-starred craft. The deplorably narrow quarters where hundreds of human beings were to be stowed away during the weeks that might be necessary to make their passage produced upon the minds of these gentlemen a most unfavorable impression. The various insignia of the trade did not tend to lessen this, but rather changed disgust into horror. Something must be done for the reformation of these abuses, and that immediately. The bill for regulating the trade passed both Houses, notwithstanding a vigorous opposition, and became a law. By the provisions of this bill the trade was so restricted that owners and officers of vessels were forbidden by law to receive such excessive cargoes as they had hitherto done. The number of slaves should henceforth be limited and regulated by the tonnage of the ship. This was something gained. But the anti-slavery party, though in its infancy, had already begun to show the features of its maturer days. Its strenuous and uncompromising nature began to manifest itself. The law for regulating the trade displeased the members who sought its abolition. They were, however, pacified by the assurance that this was by no means regarded as a remedy for the evil, but simply as a check upon its outrages.
In the spring of the following year, in pursuance of Mr. Pitt's motion, the subject was again brought forward. Mr. Wilberforce was now ready for the occasion, and on the 12th of May, 1789, in a speech of three hours and a half, he held the attention of the House, while he unfolded the African Slave-Trade in its several points of view,—its nature, being founded in injustice, its cruelties, the terrible mortality of the slave-ship, the demoralizing influence of the trade upon British sailors, and the astonishing waste of life among them, as well as among the captive negroes.
The speech was declared to be one of the ablest ever delivered before the House. The speaker was also well sustained by Pitt and Fox. Mr. Burke said of this performance,—"The House, the nation, and Europe are under great and serious obligations to the honorable gentleman, for having brought forward the subject in a manner the most masterly, impressive, and eloquent." "It was," said Bishop Porteus, who was present, "a glorious night for this country."
The subject was now fairly afloat. The anti-slavery agitation had sprung to a vigorous life. The "irrepressible conflict" was begun. Nor can it be denied that its beginning was highly respectable. If there be any good in elevated social rank joined to distinguished ability, if there be any advantage in the favor of honorable and right-minded men, any dignity in British halls of legislation, the advocate of anti-slavery doctrines may claim alliance with them all.
One inevitable effect of the interest thus awakened was to render those enlisted in favor of the trade aware of their position, and alert to prevent any interference on the part of the Government. The alarm spread. The merchants of Liverpool and Bristol must maintain their ground. In various quarters were set forth the advantages of the trade. It was no injustice to the negro, but rather a benefit. The trader was no robber or oppressor; he was a benefactor, in that by his means the native African was taken from a heathen land and brought to live among Christians. At home, he was the victim of savage warfare; by the slave-ship his life was prolonged and his salvation rendered possible.
Witnesses on both sides were now summoned for examination before Parliamentary committees. The premises from which conclusions had been drawn must be thoroughly sifted. The evidence collected was manifold; to dispose of it required time, and with time the opponents of the Abolition Bill gathered strength. The next year and the following its advocates still maintained its claims. The third year of its presentation opened with high hopes of its success. Its friends had increased in number, and so marked was the inferiority of their opponents in talents and influence, at this time, that the contest was known as "The War of the Pigmies against the Giants." But the pigmies, being numerous, gained the vote, and it only remained for the giants to return with renewed vigor to the contest in the following year.
In 1792 the debate began with spirit. During this discussion Mr. Pitt was most prominent. The great subject of the Resources of Africa had recently engaged his attention. This subject, then an almost untried theme, seems not unlikely in our day to take precedence of all others in connection with the fate of the negro. It has been argued, and that wisely, that only by strengthening the African at home can he ever be respected abroad. In the productions of his native soil lie materials for trade vastly better than the buying and selling of men, women, and children. The fomenting of wars, whereby captives may be secured, may well be superseded by the culture of the coffee-tree and the cotton-plant.
Mr. Clarkson, who left no effort untried which might in any manner promote the interests of the cause, regarded as one important means to this end the diffusion of knowledge concerning that unknown and mysterious region. He had therefore procured from Africa specimens of some of the actual products of the country, to which he called the attention of the Premier. The specimens of ivory and gold, of ebony and mahogany, of valuable gums and cotton cloth, awoke a new vein of thought in the mind of the statesman. The resources of such a country should be brought into use for her own benefit and for the promotion of commerce. When his turn came to address the House, he presented this view, pursuing it at some length, and attacking on this ground the trade in slaves. That exuberant imagination which he was accustomed to rein in, yet which well knew how to sport itself in its own airy realm, was here suffered to take wing. He pictured to his enraptured audience the civilization and glory of Africa, when, in coming years, delivered from the curse of the Slave-Trade, she should take her place among the nations.
Wilberforce, in writing to one of his friends concerning this speech, after mentioning the admiration expressed by one who was no friend to Pitt, adds,—"For the last twenty minutes he seemed really inspired."
A bill was introduced at this time for putting an end to the whole business in a certain number of years. The year 1800 was named as the extreme limit of the continuance of the traffic, that department of it by which British vessels supplied foreign nations being abandoned at once.
The bill for gradual abolition displeased those who were most deeply interested in the matter. The clear-headed sagacity of Pitt, the patriotism of Fox, and the moral sense of Wilberforce led them to the expression of the same view. There could be no compromise between right and wrong; that which required redress some years hence required it now. It was, moreover, they were certain, in some minds only a pretext for delay, as the event proved.
If the advocates of the discontinuance of the Slave-Trade had in the beginning anticipated an easy victory, they had before this become convinced of their mistake. The prospect, which had looked bright and hopeful, pointing to a happy consummation, after a period of encouragement again grew dark and doubtful. Instead of a speedy adjustment, they found themselves involved in a long contest. Opponents increased in strength and activity. Wars and convulsions, rending the nations of Europe, engrossed the thoughts of public men. As years passed on, the Abolition Bill became a sort of fixture. It grew into a saying, that "only the eloquence of Pitt and Wilberforce" made the House willing to endure its mention at all. The amount of documentary evidence became formidable in quantity and tedious in detail. For collecting this evidence Mr. Clarkson had now the most ample means, in the persons of those who, whether as sailors, soldiers, or scientific men, had become acquainted with Western Africa. In the work of reducing these masses of facts to a system, making them available for purposes of public debate, a most efficient aid was found in Mr. Zachary Macaulay. The father of the celebrated historian was most unrelaxing in his zeal for Abolition, and, possessing a memory of singular tenacity, he came to be regarded, in this peculiar department of knowledge, as a very perfect encyclopedia. Nor, in mentioning the advocates of the suppression of the monster evil, should we ever forget one who to an overflowing goodness of heart added an inimitable richness and delicacy of humor,—James Stephen. His influence in Parliament was always given in favor of Abolition, and he was also the author of several able pamphlets on the subject. He had been at one period of his life a resident in the West India Colonies, and the hatred of the slave-system which he there imbibed remained unchanged through life.
While, as has been seen, these labors were becoming complicated and arduous, the opposition was growing not only strong, but violent. Anti-slavery petitions, intended for presentation in Parliament, must be sent in strong boxes, addressed, not to the leaders of the cause, but to private persons, lest they should be opened and their contents destroyed. Mr. Wilberforce is requested, when writing to a friend in Liverpool, not to frank his own letter, lest it should never be received. Correspondence on this subject must be carried on anonymously, and addressed to persons not known to be interested. This was not the worst. To random words of defiant opposition were added threats of personal violence. For a space of two years the friends of Mr. Wilberforce were annoyed by a desperate man who had declared that he would take the life of the Yorkshire member. But, to do justice to the advocates of the trade, there was one form of violence which they appear never to have contemplated:—secession. The injured slave-merchants of that time never thought of conspiring against the government under which they lived. That was reserved for a later day.
Yet, while appearances were so dark, the cause was actually gaining ground. The moral sense of the nation was becoming aroused. The scattered sympathies of the religious classes were concentrating. Already public sentiment in certain quarters was outgrowing the movements of Parliament, and the impatient friends of the negro declared that the leaders of the cause had given up!
In rebutting this charge, Mr. Wilberforce took high ground. He declared that for himself his aim in this thing was the service of God, and, that having committed himself to this enterprise, he was not at liberty to go back. Believing that these efforts on behalf of an injured people were in accordance with the will of the Almighty, he expressed himself confident that the divine attributes were enlisted in the work and sure of the ultimate success of the cause. Of his sincerity and honesty in this matter we need not speak. By common consent he takes place among those who in this world have been permitted to illustrate on an extended scale the power and beauty of the Christian life. As a reformer of the abuses of society he is often cited as a model, uniting to a singular purity and sweetness of spirit an immovable firmness of will. To these blended and diverse qualities was owing, in a great measure, the final success of the long-contested Abolition Bill. Seldom, indeed, has the patience of an advocate been put to a severer test than during the protracted period that the bill for the suppression of the Slave-Trade was before the House. To push it forward when there was an opening, and to withdraw when effort was useless or worse than useless, was the course pursued for a series of years. The subject, meanwhile, was never lost sight of; when nothing more could be done, the House were reminded that it was still in reserve.
Early in the present century a favorable conjuncture of events led to vigorous efforts for the attainment of the long desired object. The antagonistic policy was now rather to hinder the progress of the Abolition Bill than to oppose the ultimate extinction of the trade. Of the supporters of this policy it was remarked by Mr. Pitt, that "they who wished to protract the season of conflict, whatever might be their professions, really wished to uphold the system."
Notwithstanding certain covert efforts on the part of the opposition, the prospect gradually brightened. Several new and influential members were added to the London Society,—among them Henry Brougham. The Irish members, who, in consequence of the completed union with England, took their seats in Parliament, were almost to a man in favor of Abolition. In 1805 success seemed about to be obtained. But before the final passage of the Abolition Bill came sorrow of heart to its friends. Mr. Pitt, having run a political career whose unexampled brilliancy and usefulness had well fulfilled his early promise, died in the very prime of life. A year had hardly passed, when his great political rival, Mr. Fox, was no more. Both of these distinguished men had been, as we have seen, from the beginning of the contest, the friends of Abolition. Said Mr. Fox, on his death-bed,—"Two things I wish earnestly to see accomplished: peace with Europe, and the abolition of the Slave-Trade; but of the two I wish the latter."
Notwithstanding the death of its friends, the Abolition Bill was steadily making its way. The "vexed question" of near twenty years was about to be set at rest. Opposition had grown feeble, and in May, 1807, the bill which made the Slave-Trade a crime wherever the British rule extended passed both Houses and became a law.
It was a day of triumphant joy. This was felt by the friends of Abolition at large, and especially by its advocates. These received everywhere the warmest congratulations. Mr. Wilberforce, on entering the House of Commons just before the passage of the bill, was greeted with rounds of applause.
That Slavery had received its death-blow was fully believed at this time. Africa being delivered from the traffic, the institution itself, its supplies being cut off, must necessarily wither and die. This was the common view of the matter; and the more effectually to secure this result, negotiations were entered into with other European governments for the suppression of the trade in their dominions. In America, the Congress of the United States passed a law prohibiting the African Slave-Trade after the year 1808, the period indicated in the Constitution,—the law taking effect a few years later. Napoleon, restored from his first banishment, and once more wielding the sceptre of power, caused a law to be passed forbidding the trade in the French Colonies. The friends of the negro were everywhere high in hope that the days of Slavery were numbered. Starved out, the monster must inevitably die. So sure were they of this result, that in England their efforts had all along been directed against the trade. The institution itself had been comparatively untouched.
A few years passed, and it began to be evident to those who had been active in the great conflict that the law against the Slave-Trade was less effectual than had been anticipated. The ocean was wide, the African coast a thousand miles long, and desperate men were not wanting who were disposed to elude the statute for the sake of large gains. Nor need they fail to secure suitable markets for the sale of their ill-gotten cargoes. But into this part of our subject it may not be well to pry too closely.
If the friends of the African cause had supposed their work accomplished, when their first success was attained, their error was soon corrected. It was pleasant to repose upon the laurels so dearly won; but another battle must be fought, and this necessity soon became apparent. But a few years elapsed and the negro was again made the subject of legislative consideration. Mr. Wilberforce was still a member of the House, though most of those with whom he had been associated at the beginning of his public life were dead. Forty years had passed since he first took his seat, but he was ready once more to take up the cause of the defenceless. The abuses perpetrated against the West Indian negro called loudly for Governmental interference.
Since 1807 little had been done save the passage of the Registry Bill, which had been secured by Mr. Wilberforce in 1816. This was of the nature of an investigation into the actual state of the West India Colonies with respect to the illicit commerce in slaves. Mild as this measure appeared, it proved the opening wedge of much that followed. It was in fact the first of a series of movements which issued in momentous events, even the emancipation of all the slaves in the British Colonies. The passage of this bill was followed by an increased expression of interest in the matter of Negro Slavery; this was evinced in a number of valuable publications issued at this time,—able pamphlets from the pens of Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Stephen, and others. The labors of the London Society have already been noticed; and after the passage of the law of 1807 we find in existence the "African Institution," under which name the friends of the negro were associated for the purpose of watching over his interests, more particularly with regard to the operation of the law. But during the period of repose which followed the first anti-slavery triumph, a portion of this body, losing its original activity, had become comparatively supine.
In 1818, Thomas Fowell Buxton, whose Quaker mother had instilled into him a hatred of African Slavery, became a member of Parliament. Having soon after joined himself to the African Institution, he became somewhat mortified at the apathy of the friends of the slave, as here embodied. He was frank and outspoken, and gave expression to his indignant feeling without reserve. The next day the young member for Weymouth found himself addressed by Wilberforce, for whom he entertained a high veneration, and warmly thanked for the earnest utterance of his sentiments the evening before.
After this Mr. Wilberforce conferred freely with Mr. Buxton upon the subject of Slavery in its manifold details. In a letter written not far from this time he unfolded the matter concerning the negroes of the West Indian plantations, the cruelties to which they were subjected, and the abuses which grew out of the system. Something must be done. Measures must be taken of a protective character at least, and the work must be prosecuted with vigor. Such was the view presented by Mr. Wilberforce. Warned by age and infirmity that the period of his retirement from public life could not be far distant, he wished that the cause which had been with him a paramount one might be passed to able and faithful hands.
How Mr. Buxton responded to this call the subsequent history of the anti-slavery cause unfolds. He had already shown, that, as a member of the House, he was to make no light impression, whatever might be the objects which should enlist his efforts.
At this juncture there was formed in London a new anti-slavery society. Its object was explicitly stated to be "the mitigation and gradual abolition of Slavery throughout the British dominions." In looking over the names of its officers and leading members, we find not those of the early Abolitionists alone: by the side of Zachary Macaulay we find the name of his more distinguished son, and that of Wilberforce is similarly followed.
In behalf of the African there existed a somewhat widely spread public sympathy, the fruit of the previous long-continued presentation of the subject, and at this time it seemed about to be aroused. Several petitions, having reference to Slavery, were sent into the House of Commons. The first of these came from the Quakers, and Mr. Wilberforce, on presenting it, took occasion to make an address to the House. In place of Mr. Pitt now stood Mr. Canning, who inquired of Mr. Wilberforce if he intended to found upon his remarks any motion. He replied,—"No; but that such was the intention of an esteemed friend of his." Mr. Buxton then announced his intention of submitting to the House a motion that the state of Slavery in the British Colonies be taken into consideration.
On the 15th of May, 1823, the expected debate took place. Mr. Buxton began by moving a resolution, "That the state of Slavery is repugnant to the principles of the British Constitution and of the Christian Religion, and that it ought to be gradually abolished throughout the British Colonies, with as much expedition as may be found consistent with a due regard to the well-being of the parties concerned."
A lively debate followed, and certain resolutions drawn up by Mr. Canning were finally carried. These articles, as well as Mr. Buxton's motion, had in view a gradual improvement in the condition and character of the slaves. In pursuance of the object to be attained, circular letters were addressed to the Colonial authorities, recommending, with regard to the negroes, certain enlargements of privileges. These letters were extremely moderate in their tone. The reforms were simply recommended, not authoritatively enjoined; in the language of Mr. Canning, the movement was such a one "as should be compatible with the well-being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the Colonies, and with a fair and equitable consideration of the rights of private property."
Moderate as were the measures first set on foot for the improvement of the social state of the slaves, the authors were not by that means secured from opposition. This was accompanied, on the part of the West India planters, by such an extreme violence as was hardly expected, at least by the Premier, who had so favorably met the introduction of the subject, if he had not actually committed himself to the work. The leaders of the movement, who had but just now been borne onward by the wave of public approval, found themselves fiercely denounced. Here is a brief paragraph which appeared at that time in a Jamaica newspaper:—
"We pray the imperial Parliament to amend their origin, which is bribery; to cleanse their consciences, which are corrupt; to throw off their disguise, which is hypocrisy; to break off with their false allies, who are the saints; and finally, to banish from among them the purchased rogues, who are three-fourths of their number."
Among the reforms recommended to the Colonists, by the circular letters of the Government, was one which had reference to the indecent flogging of the female slaves, and also a suggestive restraint upon corporal punishment in general. This called forth in a Colonial paper the following, which certainly has the merit of being entirely unambiguous:—
"We did and do declare the whip to be essential to West India discipline, ay, as essential, my Lord Calthorpe, as the freedom of the press and the trial by jury to the liberty of the subject in Britain, and to be justified on equally legitimate ground. The comfort, welfare, and happiness of our laboring classes cannot subsist without it."
These specimens of the fierceness of abuse with which the Government was assailed may perhaps prepare the reader for that last resort of indignant discontent on the part of the governed,—the threat of secession! Yes; Jamaica will break away from the tyranny of which she is the much abused object, she will free herself from the oppression of the mother country, and then,—what next?—she will seek for friendship and protection from the United States! How soon this threat, if persisted in and carried out into action, would have been silenced by the thunder of British cannon, we need not stay to consider.
To this clamor of the opposition the more timid of the Anti-Slavery party were disposed to yield, at least for a season. The Government showed little disposition to press the improvements which it had recommended. Mr. Canning seemed apprehensive that he had committed himself too far, and was inclined to postpone, to wait for a season, to give the West Indians time for reflection, before legislating further. The chief advocate of the slave began to realize, that, of those who had encouraged and cooeperated with him, but few, in a moment of real difficulty, could be relied upon. But he was not to be baffled. "Good, honest Buxton" had made up his mind that the world should be somewhat the better for his having lived in it, and he had chosen as the object of his beneficent labors the very lowest of his fellow-subjects,—the negro slave of the West Indies. He was, moreover, a vigorous thinker and an invincible debater, and, once embarked in this cause, he had no thought of drawing back. So exclusive was his zeal, that at one time Mr. O'Connell, vexed that the claims of his constituents were set aside, electrified the House by exclaiming, "Oh! I wish we were blacks!" The Irish orator had all along supported the Abolition cause, and spoken words of good cheer to Mr. Buxton; but now his impatient patriotism finds vent in exclaiming,—"If the Irish people were but black, we should have the honorable member from Weymouth coming down as large as life, supported by all the 'friends of humanity' in the back rows, to advocate their cause."
There was truth here, as well as wit, showing not only Mr. Buxton's absorption in the cause which he had espoused, but his inspiring influence on other minds. His indomitable energy was always sure to grow stronger after defeat, and the strength of his own belief in the justice of his cause of itself increased the faith of its friends.
In the onward course of events the violence of the West Indians assumed different phases, and one of the most memorable of these had respect to the religious teachers of the slaves. They had been sent out by various bodies of Christians in England, commencing nearly a hundred years before these anti-slavery efforts. The object of the missionary was a definite one, to christianize the negroes. He knew well, before engaging in his work, that those who might come under his instruction were slaves, and because they were slaves the call was all the louder upon his compassion. Yet his path of duty lay wide enough from any attempt to render the objects of his Christian efforts other than they were in their civil relations. Such were the instructions which the missionaries were accustomed to receive, on leaving England for a residence among the Colonists. Nor was there ever, from the beginning to the ending of this stirring chapter in the history of Slavery, reason to believe that these instructions had been disobeyed. Their labors had in some instances been encouraged by the planters, and their influence acknowledged to be a valuable aid in the management of the negroes. But in these days of excitement and insubordination the missionaries were accused of encouraging disobedience in the slaves. When outbreaks occurred, the guilt was laid to the charge of the Christian teachers. Upon a mere suspicion, without a shadow of evidence, they were seized and thrown into prison. One of the most melancholy instances of this was that of the Rev. J. Smith, who was sentenced to be hanged, but died in prison, through hardships endured, before the day of execution arrived. He was only one of several who suffered at the hands of the West Indians the grossest injustice. The case of Mr. Shrewsbury was at one time brought before the House. Mr. Canning made reference to him as "a gentleman in whose conduct there did not appear to be the slightest ground of blame or suspicion." He was a Wesleyan missionary at Barbadoes, and, having fallen under suspicion, was also condemned to die. Among other charges, he was accused of having corresponded with Mr. Buxton. Said the latter, in an address to the House,—"I never wrote to him a single letter, nor did I know that such a man existed, till I happened to take up a newspaper, and there read, with some astonishment, that he was going to be hanged for corresponding with me!"
If Englishmen and Christian ministers were condemned to death on such allegations, adduced at mock trials, it is not strange that negroes sometimes lost their lives on similar grounds. After a rising among these people, several having been executed, the evidence of the guilt of a certain portion was reviewed in the House of Commons. The witness was asked whether he had found guns among the insurgents. He replied, "No; but he was shown a place where guns had been"! Had he found bayonets? "No; but he was shown a basket where bayonets had been"! Unfortunately, the victims of this species of evidence were already hung when the review of the trial took place.
This last incident brings us to another feature of those times, the actual insurrections which took place among the slaves. Passing by the lesser excitements of Barbadoes and Demerara, we come to the great rising in Jamaica in 1832. A servile war is generally represented as displaying at every point its banners of flame, plashing its feet meanwhile in the blood of women and children. But the great insurrection of 1832, which, as it spread, included fifty thousand negroes in its train, was in the beginning simply a refusal to work.
Fiercely discussed by the masters, emancipation began to be spoken of among the slaves. Necessarily they must know something about it; but, in their distorted and erroneous impressions, they believed that "the Great King of England" had set them free, and the masters were wilfully withholding the boon.
There was one, a negro slave, whose dark glittering eye fascinated his fellows, and whose wondrous powers of speech drew them, despite themselves, into the conspiracy. But he planned no murders, designed no house-burnings; to those who, under solemn pledge of secrecy, joined him, he propounded a single idea. It was this. If we, the negroes, who are as five to one, compared to the white men, refuse to work any more until freedom is given, we shall have it. There will be some resistance, and a few of us will be killed; but that we must expect. This, in substance, was the ground taken by Sharpe, who, as a slave, had always been a favorite both with his master and others. This was the commencement of the great insurrection. Its leader had not counted upon the excitable spirit of the slaves when once aroused. Holding as sacred the property of his master, he believed his followers would do the same, until the light of burning barns and out-houses revealed the mischief which had begun to work. Yet, in the sanguinary struggle which followed, it is to be remembered that the excesses which were committed, the wanton waste of life, were on the part of the white residents, who meted out vengeance with an unsparing hand,—not on the part of the negroes.
One effect of this uprising of the slaves was, in England, to deepen the impression of the evils of the system under which they were held. If the mere discussion of Slavery were fraught with such terrible consequences, how could safety ever consist with the thing itself? By discussion they had but exercised their own rights as Englishmen. Of what use to them was Magna Charta, if they must seal their lips in silence when a public abuse required to be corrected, a gigantic wrong to be righted? Must they give up the ocean and the land to the dominion of the slave-owner and slave-trader, hushing the word of remonstrance, lest it should lead to war and bloodshed? No; they would not do this. The thing itself which had caused these commotions must perish.
Here was a decided gain for the friends of the slave in Parliament. Mr. Buxton, in alluding to the fearful aspect of the times, asks the pertinent question, "How is the Government prepared to act in case of a general insurrection among the slaves?" We give the closing paragraphs of his speech at this crisis.
"I will refer the House to the sentiments of Mr. Jefferson, the President of the United States. Mr. Jefferson was himself a slave-owner, and full of the prejudices of slave-owners; yet he left this memorable memorial to his country: 'I do, indeed, tremble for my country when I remember that God is just, and that His justice may not sleep forever. A revolution is among possible events; the Almighty has no attribute which would side with us in such a struggle.'
"This is the point which weighs most heavily with me. The Almighty has no attribute that will side with us in such a struggle. A war with an overwhelming physical force, a war with a climate fatal to the European constitution, a war in which the heart of the people of England would lean toward the enemy: it is hazarding all these terrible evils; but all are light and trivial, compared with the conviction I feel that in such a warfare it is not possible to ask nor can we expect the countenance of Heaven."
While events tended to bring the whole system of Slavery into odium, the leaders of the Abolition party were themselves changing their ground. They had begun with the hope of mitigating the hardships of the slave's lot,—to place him upon the line of progression, and so ultimately to fit him for freedom. But they had found themselves occupying a false position. Slowly they came to the conclusion that for the slave little could be accomplished in the way of improvement, so long as he remained a slave. The complete extinction of the system was now the object aimed at. At a crowded Anti-Slavery meeting held in May, 1830, Mr. Wilberforce presided. The first resolution, moved by Mr. Buxton, was this,—"That no proper or practicable means be left unattempted for effecting, at the earliest period, the entire abolition of Slavery throughout the British dominions." At a meeting held in Edinburgh similar language was used by Lord Jeffrey. Said Dr. Andrew Thomson, one of the most influential of the Scottish clergy,—"We ought to tell the legislature, plainly and strongly, that no man has a right to property in man,—that there are eight hundred thousand individuals sighing in bondage, under the intolerable evils of West Indian Slavery, who have as good a right to be free as we ourselves have,—that they ought to be free, and that they must be made free!"
Another element at this time wrought in favor of the Abolitionists. Of the missionaries who had suffered persecution in the Colonies, numbers had returned to England. These religious teachers, while plying their vocation in the West Indies, had acted in obedience to the instructions received from the societies which employed them. Necessarily, while in a slave country, they had been silent upon the subject of Slavery. But in truth they liked the institution as little as Mr. Buxton himself. Once in England, the seal of silence melted from their lips. Everywhere in public and in private they made known the evils and cruelties of Slavery. Some of these persons had been examined by Parliamentary committees, and being acquitted of every suspicion of mis-statement, their testimony received this additional sanction. The tale of wrong which they revealed was not told in vain. Each returned missionary exerted an influence upon the religious body which he represented. The aggregate of this influence was great.
If, in the latter stages of the Emancipation effort, the backwardness of the Administration was an evil omen, making final success a difficult achievement, this was balanced by reform in Parliament. At the recent elections, anti-slavery sentiments in the candidate were in some quarters requisite to success. A story is told of a gentleman who had spent some time canvassing and found abundant evidence of this. At an obscure village he had been hailed with the question, whether he was trying to get into the Lords or Commons. "But," added the simple questioners, "whichever you do get into, you must vote for the poor slaves."
To the aid of the Emancipation leaders there came now a new element, a power so strong that it required no small share of skill to hold it in, that it might work no evil in contributing to the desired end.
Since the commencement of efforts for the slave a considerable period had passed. These efforts extended, in fact, over nearly half a century. During that time, pamphlet after pamphlet and volume after volume had set forth the evils and abominations of Slavery, forcing the subject upon the public attention. The leaven had worked slowly, and for a portion of the time in comparative silence; but the work was done. The British people were aroused. The great heart of the nation was beating in response to the appeals for justice and right which were made in their ears. The world can scarce furnish a parallel to this spectacle of moral sublimity. It was the voice of a people, calling, in tones that must be heard, for justice and freedom,—and that not for themselves, but for a distant, a defenceless race.
The publication of a circular inviting Anti-Slavery delegates to London, a movement made by the leaders of the cause, in its results took the most enthusiastic by surprise. More than three hundred appeared in answer to the call. Mr. Buxton met them in Exeter Hall. With a rampant freedom of opinion, there was little prospect of harmony of action being attained, however desirable it might be. Through the influence of Mr. Buxton and his coadjutors, these men of conflicting theories were brought into such a degree of harmonious action that an address was drawn up embodying their sentiments and laid before Lord Althorp, at that time the head of the Administration. The strong outside pressure of the nation at large upon the Government was evident. The strength of the Emancipationists in Parliament, also, had been carefully estimated, and success could no longer be doubted.
The fourteenth of May, 1833, witnessed an animated debate in the House. While the advocates of Emancipation desired for the negro unconditional freedom, they found the measure fettered by the proposal of Mr. Stanley, the Colonial Secretary, that he be placed for a number of years in a state of apprenticeship. Twelve years of this restricted freedom was, by the influence of Mr. Buxton, reduced to seven, and the sum of twenty millions of pounds sterling being granted to the slave-owners, the bill for the abolition of Negro Slavery passed the House of Commons. With some delay it went through the Upper House, and on the 28th of August, receiving the royal assent, it became a law. The apprenticeship system was but short-lived, its evil-working leading to its abolition in its fourth year.
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It has been often said, with how much of truth it is not our purpose here to inquire, that in this country the mention of the evils of Slavery is and must be fraught with most evil consequences. Yet the agitation of this subject, whether for good or evil, in the United States, is intimately connected with the whole movement in England. In the earlier stages of the measures directed against the trade, a hearty response was awakened here; nor could the subsequent act of emancipation fail to produce an impression everywhere, and most of all among ourselves. United to the English nation by strong affinities, one with them in language and literature, yet cleaving still to the institution which England had so energetically striven to destroy, could it be otherwise than that such a movement on her part should awaken an eager interest among us? Could such an event as the release from slavery of eight hundred thousand negroes in the British Colonies pass by unnoticed? To suppose this is preposterous. It is not too much to say, that the effect of British emancipation was, at the time it took place, to give in certain portions of the United States an increased degree of life to the anti-slavery sentiment. No words could have been uttered, which, reaching the shores of America, would have been half so emphatic as this one act of the British nation. Among the causes which have nourished and strengthened the anti-slavery sentiment among us this, has its place. Verily, if England gave us the poison, she has not been slow to proffer to us the antidote.
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Concerning the actual fruits of Emancipation, it may be asked, What have they been? The world looked on inquiringly as to how the enfranchised negroes would demean themselves. One fact has never been disputed. This momentous change in the social state of near a million of people took place without a single act of violence on the part of the liberated slaves. Neither did the measure carry violence in its train. So far the act was successful. But that all which the friends of Emancipation hoped for has been attained, no one will assert. When, however, we hear of the financial ruin of the Islands, as a consequence of that measure, it may be well to inquire into their condition previous to its taking place. That the West India Colonies were trembling on the brink of ruin at the close of the last century is evident from their repeated petitions to the mother country to take some measures to save them from utter bankruptcy. This can hardly be laid to the extinction of Slavery, for both Slavery and the Slave-Trade were at that time in the height of successful operation.
Again, if the West Indian negro is not to-day all that might be wished, or even all that, under the influence of freedom, he had been expected to become, there may possibly be a complication of causes which has prevented his elevation. He has been allowed instruction, indeed, to some extent; the continued labors of those who contended for his freedom have secured to him the schoolmaster and the missionary. But this is not enough. Has he been taught the use of improved methods of agriculture, the application of machinery to the production of required results? Has he been encouraged to works of skill, to manufacturing arts even of the ruder kind? Has he not rather been subjected to the same policy which, before the Revolution, discountenanced manufactures among ourselves, and has caused the fabrics of the East Indies to be disused, and the factories of Ireland to stand still?
These questions need not be pursued. Yet, amid the conflicting voices of the evil days upon which we are fallen, now and then we hear lifted up a plea for Emancipation, an entreaty for the removal of the accursed thing which has plunged the happiest nation upon earth into the direst of calamities.
Of the causes which have affected the success of Emancipation in the case before us, it may be remarked, that, so far as their action has been pernicious, they would operate among ourselves less than in any colony of Great Britain, abundantly less than in the West Indies. The greater variety of employments with which the Maryland or Kentucky negro is familiar, his more frequent proficiency in mechanical pursuits, combined with other circumstances, render him decidedly a more eligible subject for freedom than the negro of Jamaica.
The changes which may issue in this country from the present commotions it were vain to predict. It may not, however, be unwise, in considering, as we have done, an achievement nobly conceived and generously accomplished, to examine carefully into the causes which may have rendered it otherwise than completely successful in its results.
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UNION AND LIBERTY.
Flag of the heroes who left us their glory, Borne through their battle-fields' thunder and flame, Blazoned in song and illumined in story, Wave o'er us all who inherit their fame! Up with our banner bright, Sprinkled with starry light, Spread its fair emblems from mountain to shore, While through the sounding sky Loud rings the Nation's cry,— UNION AND LIBERTY! ONE EVERMORE!
Light of our firmament, guide of our Nation, Pride of her children, and honored afar, Let the wide beams of thy full constellation Scatter each cloud that would darken a star! Up with our banner bright, etc.
Empire unsceptred! what foe shall assail thee, Bearing the standard of Liberty's van? Think not the God of thy fathers shall fail thee, Striving with men for the birthright of man! Up with our banner bright, etc. Yet if, by madness and treachery blighted, Dawns the dark hour when the sword thou must draw, Then, with the arms of thy millions united, Smite the bold traitors to Freedom and Law! Up with our banner bright, etc.
Lord of the Universe! shield us and guide us, Trusting Thee always, through shadow and sun! Thou, hast united us: who shall divide us? Keep us, O, keep us, the MANY IN ONE! Up with our banner bright, Sprinkled with starry light, Spread its fair emblems from mountain to shore, While through the sounding sky Loud rings the Nation's cry,— UNION AND LIBERTY! ONE EVERMORE!
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HOW TO ROUGH IT.
"Life has few things better than this," said Dr. Johnson, on feeling himself settled in a coach, and rolling along the road. We cannot agree with the great man. Times have changed since the Doctor and Mr. Boswell travelled for pleasure; and we much prefer an expedition to Moosehead, or a tramp in the Adirondack, to being boxed up in a four-wheeled ark and made "comfortable," according to the Doctor's idea of felicity.
Francis Galton, Explorer, and Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, we thank you sincerely for teaching us how to travel! Few persons know the important secrets of how to walk, how to run, how to ride, how to cook, how to defend, how to ford rivers, how to make rafts, how to fish, how to hunt, in short, how to do the essential things that every traveller, soldier, sportsman, emigrant, and missionary should be conversant with. The world is full of deserts, prairies, bushes, jungles, swamps, rivers, and oceans. How to "get round" the dangers of the land and the sea in the best possible way, how to shift and contrive so as to come out all right, are secrets well worth knowing, and Mr. Galton has found the key. In this brief article we shall frequently avail ourselves of the information he imparts, confident that in these war-days his wise directions are better than fine gold to a man who is obliged to rough it over the world, no matter where his feet may wander, his horse may travel, or his boat may sail.
Wherewithal shall a man be clothed? We begin at the beginning with flannel always. Experience has taught us that flannel next the skin is indispensable for health to a traveller, and the sick- and dead-lists always include largely the names of those who neglect this material. Cotton stands Number Two on the list, and linen nowhere. Only last summer jolly Tom Bowers got his quietus for the season by getting hot and wet and cold in one of his splendid Paris linen shirts, and now he wears calico ones whenever he wishes to "appear proper" at Nahant or Newport.
"The hotter the ground the thicker your socks," was the advice of an old traveller who once went a thirty-days' tramp at our side through the Alp country in summer. We have seen many a city bumpkin start for a White-Mountain walk in the thinnest of cotton foot-coverings, but we never knew one to try them a second time.
Stout shoes are preferable to boots always, and a wise traveller never omits to grease well his leather before and during his journey. Don't forget to put a pair of old slippers into your knapsack. After a hard day's toil, they are like magic, under foot. Let us remind the traveller whose feet are tender at starting that a capital remedy for blistered feet is to rub them at night with spirits mixed with tallow dropped from a candle. An old friend of ours thought it a good plan to soap the inside of the stocking before setting out, and we have seen him break a raw egg into his shoes before putting them on, saying it softened the leather and made him "all right" for the day.
Touching coat, waistcoat, and trousers, there can be but one choice. Coarse tweed does the best business on a small capital. Cheap and strong, we have always found it the most "paying" article in our travelling-wardrobe. Avoid that tailor-hem so common at the bottom of your pantaloons which retains water and does no good to anybody. Waistcoats would be counted as superfluous, were it not for the convenience of the pockets they carry. Take along an old dressing-gown, if you want solid comfort in camp or elsewhere after sunset.
Gordon Cumming recommends a wide-awake hat, and he is good authority on that head. A man "clothed in his right mind" is a noble object; but six persons out of every ten who start on a journey wear the wrong apparel. The writer of these pages has seen four individuals at once standing up to their middles in a trout-stream, all adorned with black silk tiles, newly imported from the Rue St. Honore. It was a sight to make Daniel Boone and Izaak Walton smile in their celestial abodes.
A light water-proof outside-coat and a thick pea-jacket are a proper span for a roving trip. Don't forget that a couple of good blankets also go a long way toward a traveller's paradise.
We will not presume that an immortal being at this stage of the nineteenth century would make the mistake, when he had occasion to tuck up his shirt-sleeves, of turning them outwards, so that every five minutes they would be tumbling down with a crash of anathemas from the wearer. The supposition that any sane son of Adam would tuck up his sleeves inside out involves a suspicion, to say the least, that his wits had been overrated by doting relatives.
"Grease and dirt are the savage's wearing-apparel," says the Swedish proverb. No comment is necessary in speaking with a Christian on this point, for cold water is one of civilization's closest allies. Avoid the bath, and the genius of disease and crime stalks in. "Cleanliness is next to godliness," remember.
In packing your knapsack, keep in mind that sixteen or twenty pounds are weight enough, till, by practice, you can get pluck and energy into your back to increase that amount.
Roughing it has various meanings, and the phrase is oftentimes ludicrously mistaken by many individuals. A friend with whom we once travelled thought he was roughing it daily for the space of three weeks, because he was obliged to lunch on cold chicken and un-iced Champagne, and when it rained he was forced to seek shelter inside very inelegant hotels on the road. To rough it, in the best sense of that term, is to lie down every night with the ground for a mattress, a bundle of fagots for a pillow, and the stars for a coverlet. To sleep in a tent is semi-luxury, and tainted with too much effeminacy to suit the ardor of a first-rate "Rough." Parkyns, Taylor, Gumming, Fremont, and Kane have told us how much superior are two trunks of trees, rolled together for a bed, under the open sky, to that soft heating apparatus called a bed in the best chamber. Every man to his taste,—of course, but there come occasions in life when a man must look about him and arrange for himself, somehow. The traveller who has never slept in the woods has missed an enjoyable sensation. A clump of trees makes a fine leafy post-bedstead, and to awake in the morning amid a grove of sheltering nodding oaks is lung-inspiring. It was the good thought of a wanderer to say, "The forest is the poor man's jacket." Napoleon had a high opinion of the bivouac style of life, and on the score of health gave it the preference over tent-sleeping. Free circulation is a great blessing, albeit we think its eulogy rather strongly expressed by the Walden-Pondist, when he says, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather ride on earth in an ox-cart with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion-train, and breathe a malaria all the way." The only objection to out-door slumber is dampness; but it is easy to protect one's self in wet weather from the unhealthy ground by boughs or India-rubber blankets.
One of the great precautions requisite for a tramp is to provide against thirst. Want of water overtakes the traveller sometimes in the most annoying manner, and it is well to know how to fight off the dry fiend. Sir James Alexander cautions all who rough it to drink well before starting in the morning, and drink nothing all day till the halt,—and to keep the lips shut as much as possible. Another good authority recommends a pebble or leaf to be held in the mouth. Habit, however, does much in this case as in every other, and we have known a man, who had been accustomed at home to drink at every meal four tumblers of water, by force of will bring his necessity down to a pint of liquid per day, during a long tramp through the forest. One of the many excellent things which Plutarch tells of Socrates is this noteworthy incident of his power of abstinence. He says, whenever Socrates returned from any exercise, though he might be extremely dry, he refrained nevertheless from drinking till he had thrown away the first bucket of water he had drawn, that he might exercise himself to patience, and accustom his appetite to wait the leisure of reason.
From water to fire is a natural transition. How to get a blaze just when you want it puzzles the will sometimes hugely. Every traveller should provide himself with a good handy steel, proper flint, and unfailing tinder, because lucifers are liable to many accidents. Pliny recommended the wood of mulberry, bay-laurel, and ivy, as good material to be rubbed together in order to procure a fire; but Pliny is behind the times, and must not be trusted to make rules for General McLellan's boys. Of course no one would omit to take lucifers on a tramp; but steel, flint, and tinder are three warm friends that in an emergency will always come up to the strike. To find firewood is a knack, and it ought to be well cultivated. Don't despise bits of dry moss, fine grass, and slips of bark, if you come across them. Twenty fires are failures in the open air for one that succeeds, unless the operator knows his business. A novice will use matches, wood, wind, time, and violent language enough to burn down a city, and never get any satisfaction out of all the expenditure; while a knowing hand will, out of the stump of an old, half-rotten tree, bring you such magnificent, permanent heat, that your heart and your tea-kettle will sing together for joy over it. In making a fire, depend upon it, there is something more than luck,—there is always talent in it. We once saw Charles Lever (Harry Lorrequer's father) build up a towering blaze in a woody nook out of just nothing but what he scraped up from the ground, and his rare ability. You remember Mr. Opie the painter's answer to a student who asked him what he mixed his colors with. "Brains, Sir," was the artist's prompt, gruff, and right reply. It takes brains to make a fire in a rainy night out in the woods; but it can be done,—if you only know how to begin. We have seen a hearth made of logs on a deep snow sending out a cheerful glow, while the rain dripped and froze all about the merry party assembled.
A traveller ought to be a good swimmer. There are plenty of watery crossings to be got over, and often there are no means at hand but what Nature has provided in legs and arms. But one of the easiest things in the world to make is a raft. Inflatable India-rubber boats also are now used in every climate, and a full-sized one weighs only forty pounds. General Fremont and Dr. Livingstone have tested their excellent qualities, and commend them as capable of standing a wonderful amount of wear and tear. But a boat can be made out of almost anything, if one have the skill to put it together. A party of sailors whose boat had been stolen put out to sea and were eighteen hours afloat in a crazy craft made out of a large basket woven with boughs such as they could pick up, and covered with their canvas tent, the inside being plastered with clay to keep out as much of the water as possible.
In fording streams, it is well, if the water be deep and swift, to carry heavy stones in the hands, in order to resist being borne away by the current. Fords should not be deeper than three feet for men, or four feet for horses.
Among the small conveniences, a good strong pocket-knife, a small "hard chisel," and a file should not be forgotten. A great deal of real work can be done with very few tools. One of Colt's rifles is a companion which should be specially cared for, and a water-proof cover should always be taken to protect the lock during showers. There is one rule among hunters which ought always to be remembered, namely,—"Look at the gun, but never let the gun look at you, or at your companions." Travellers are always more or less exposed to the careless handling of fire-arms, and numerous accidents occur by carrying the piece with the cock down on the nipple. Three-fourths of all the gun accidents are owing to this cause; for a blow on the back of the cock is almost sure to explode the cap, while a gun at half-cock is comparatively safe.
Don't carry too many eatables on your expeditions. Dr. Kane says his party learned to modify and reduce their travelling-gear, and found that in direct proportion to its simplicity and to their apparent privation of articles of supposed necessity were their actual comfort and practical efficiency. Step by step, as long as their Arctic service continued, they went on reducing their sledging-outfit, until they at last came to the Esquimaux ultimatum of simplicity,—raw meat and a fur bag. Salt and pepper are needful condiments. Nearly all the rest are out of place on a roughing expedition. Among the most portable kinds of solid food are pemmican, jerked meat, wheat flour, barley, peas, cheese, and biscuit. Salt meat is a disappointing dish, and apt to be sadly uncertain. Somebody once said that water had tasted of sinners ever since the flood, and salted meat sometimes has a taint full as vivid. Twenty-eight ounces of real nutriment per diem for a man in rough work as a traveller will be all that he requires; if he perform severe tramping, thirty ounces.
The French say, C'est la soupe qui fait le soldat, and we have always found on a tramping expedition nothing so life-restoring after fatigue and hunger as the portable soup now so easily obtained at places where prepared food is put up for travellers' uses. Spirituous liquors are no help in roughing it. On the contrary, they invite sunstroke, and various other unpleasant visitors incident to the life of a traveller. Habitual brandy-drinkers give out sooner than cold-water men, and we have seen fainting red noses by the score succumb to the weather, when boys addicted to water would crow like chanticleer through a long storm of sleet and snow on the freezing Alps.
It is not well to lose your way; but in case this unpleasant luck befall you, set systematically to work to find it. Throw terror to the idiots who always flutter and flounder, and so go wrong inevitably. Galton the Plucky says,—and he has as much cool wisdom to impart as a traveller needs,—when you make the unlively discovery that you are lost, ask yourself the three following questions:—
1. What is the least distance that I can with certainty specify, within which the path, the river, the sea-shore, etc., that I wish to regain, lies?
2. What is the direction, in a vague, general way, in which the path or river runs, or the sea-coast tends?
3. When I last left the path, etc., did I turn to the left or to the right?
As regards the first, calculate deliberately how long you have been riding or walking, and at what pace, since you left your party; subtract for stoppages and well-recollected zigzags; allow a mile and a half per hour as the pace when you have been loitering on foot, and three and a half when you have been walking fast. Occasional running makes an almost inappreciable difference. A man is always much nearer the lost path than he is inclined to fear.
As regards the second, if you recollect the third, and also know the course of the path within eight points of the compass, (or one-fourth of the whole horizon,) it is a great gain; or even if you know your direction within twelve points, or one-third of the whole horizon, that knowledge is worth something. Don't hurry, if you get bewildered. Stop and think. Then arrange matters, and you are safe. When Napoleon was once caught in a fog, while riding with his staff across a shallow arm of the Gulf of Suez, he thought, as usual. His way was utterly lost, and going forward he found himself in deeper water. So he ordered his staff to ride from him in radiating lines in all directions, and such of them as should find shallow water to shout out. If Napoleon had been alone on that occasion, he would have set his five wits to the task of finding the right way, and he would have found it.
Finally, cheerfulness in large doses is the best medicine one can take along in his out-door tramps. We once had the good-luck to hear old Christopher North try his lungs in the open air in Scotland. Such laughter and such hill-shaking merry-heartedness we may never listen to again among the Lochs, but the lesson of the hour (how it rained that black night!) is stamped for life upon our remembrance. "Clap your back against the cliff," he shouted, "and never mind the deluge!" Rest, glorious Christopher, under the turf you trod with such a gallant bearing! Few mortals knew how to rough it like you!
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SELF-POSSESSION vs. PREPOSSESSION.
Timoleon, a man prosperous in all his undertakings, was wont to ascribe his successes to good-luck; but that he did not mean to give credit to any blind Goddess of Fortune is evident from his having built an altar to a certain divine something which he called Automatia, signifying Spontaneousness, or a happy promptitude in following the dictates of his own genius. The Liberator of Sicily, to be sure, did not live in an age of newspapers, and was not liable at every turn to have his elbow jogged by Public Opinion; but it is plain that his notion of a man fit to lead was, that he should be one who never waited to seize Opportunity from behind, and who knew that events become the masters of him who is slow to make them his servants.
Thus far nothing has been more remarkable in the history of our civil war than that its signal opportunities have failed to produce on either side any leader who has proved himself to be gifted with this happy faculty. Even our statesmen seem not to have felt the kindling inspiration of a great occasion. The country is going through a trial more crucial, if possible, than that of the Revolution; but no state-paper has thus far appeared, comparable in anything but quantity to the documents of our heroic period. Even Mr. Seward seems to have laid aside his splendid art of generalization, or to have found out the danger of those specious boomerangs of eloquence, which, launched from the platform with the most graceful curves of rhetoric, come back not seldom to deal an untimely blow to him who sets them flying. The people begin to show signs of impatience that the curtain should be so slow to rise and show them the great actor in our national tragedy. They are so used to having a gigantic bubble of notoriety blown for them in a week by the newspapers, though it burst in a day or two, leaving but a drop of muddy suds behind it, that they have almost learned to think the making of a great character as simple a matter as that of a great reputation. Bewildered as they have been with a mob of statesmen, generals, orators, poets, and what not, all of them the foremost of this or any other age, they seem to expect a truly great man on equally easy terms with these cheap miracles of the press,—grown as rapidly, to be forgotten as soon, as the prize cauliflower of a county show. We have improvised an army; we have conjured a navy out of nothing so rapidly that pines the jay screamed in last summer may be even now listening for the hum of the hostile shot from Sumter; why not give another rub at our Aladdin's lamp and improvise a genius and a hero?
This is, perhaps, very natural, but it is nevertheless unreasonable. Heroes and geniuses are never to be had ready-made, nor was a tolerable specimen of either ever produced at six months' notice. Dearly do nations pay for such secular births; still more dearly for their training. They are commonly rather the slow result than the conscious cause of revolutions in thought or polity. It is no imputation on democratic forms of government, it is the unexampled prosperity of nearly half a century that is in fault, if a sudden and unforewarned danger finds us without a leader, whether civil or military, whom the people are willing to trust implicitly, and who can in some sense control events by the prestige of a great name. Carlyle and others have for years been laying to the charge of representative and parliamentary government the same evils whose germ certain British critics, as ignorant of our national character as of our geography, are so kindly ready to find in our democracy. Mr. Stuart Mill, in his essay on "Liberty," has convinced us that even the tyranny of Public Opinion is not, as we had hastily supposed, a peculiarly American institution, but is to the full as stringent and as fertile of commonplace in intellect and character under a limited as under a universal system of suffrage.
The truth is, that it is not in our institutions, but in our history, that we are to look for the causes of much that is superficially distasteful and sometimes unpleasantly disappointing in our national habits,—we would not too hastily say in our national character. Our most incorrigible blackguards, and the class of voters who are at the mercy of venal politicians, have had their training, such as it is, under forms of government and amid a social order very unlike ours. Disgust at the general dirtiness and corruption of our politics, we are told, keeps all our leading men out of public life. This appears to us, we confess, a rather shallow misconception. Our politics are no dirtier or more corrupt than those of our neighbors. The famous Quam parva sapientia regitur mundus was not said in scorn by the minister of a republic, but in sober sadness by one whose dealings had been lifelong with the courts and statesmen of princes. The real disgust lies in the selfish passions that are called into play by the strife of party and the small ambitions of public men, and not in any mere coarseness in the expression of them. We are not an elegant people: rather less so, on the whole, even in the aristocratic South than in the democratic North. In this past year of our Lord eighteen hundred sixty-one, we have no doubt, and we shudder to think of it, that by far the larger proportion of our fellow-citizens shovelled their green-peas into their mouths with uncanonical knife-blades, just as Sir Philip Sidney did in a darker age, when yet the "Times" and the silver fork were not. Nay, let us make a clean breast of all these horrors at once, it is probably true that myriads of fair salmon were contaminated with the brutal touch of steel in scenes of unhallowed family-festival. The only mitigating circumstance is that such luxuries are within the reach of ten Americans where one European sees them any nearer than through the windows of the victualler. No, we must yield the point. We are not an elegant people, least of all in our politics; but we do not believe it is this which keeps our first-rate men out of political life, or that it is the result of our democratic system.
It has been our good-fortune hitherto that our annals have been of that happy kind which write themselves on the face of a continent and in the general well-being of a people, rather than in those more striking and commonly more disastrous events which attract the historian. We have been busy, thriving, and consequently, except to some few thoughtful people like De Tocqueville, profoundly uninteresting. We have been housekeeping; and why does the novelist always make his bow to the hero and heroine at the church-door, unless because he knows, that, if they are well off, nothing more is to be made of them? Prosperity is the forcing-house of mediocrity; and if we have ceased to produce great men, it is because we have not, since we became a nation, been forced to pay the terrible price at which alone they can be bought. Great men are excellent things for a nation to have had; but a normal condition that should give a constant succession of them would be the most wretched possible for the mass of mankind. We have had and still have honest and capable men in public life, brave and able officers in our army and navy; but there has been nothing either in our civil or military history for many years to develop any latent qualities of greatness that may have been in them. It is only first-rate events that call for and mould first-rate characters. If there has been less stimulus for the more showy and striking kinds of ambition, if the rewards of a public career have been less brilliant than in other countries, yet we have shown, (and this is a legitimate result of democracy,) perhaps beyond the measure of other nations, that plebeian genius for the useful which has been chiefly demanded by our circumstances, and which does more than war or state-craft to increase the well-being and therefore the true glory of nations. Few great soldiers or great ministers have done so much for their country as Whitney's cotton-gin and McCormick's reaper have done for ours. We do not believe that our country has degenerated under democracy, but our position as a people has been such as to turn our energy, capacity, and accomplishment into prosaic channels. Physicians call certain remedies, to be administered only in desperate cases, heroic, and Providence reserves heroes for similar crises in the body politic. They are not sent but in times of agony and peril. If we have lacked the thing, it is because we have lacked the occasion for it. And even where truly splendid qualities have been displayed, as by our sailors in the War of 1812, and by our soldiers in Mexico, they have been either on so small a scale as to means, or on a scene so remote from European interests, that they have failed of anything like cosmopolitan appreciation. Our great actors have been confined to what, so far as Europe is concerned, has been a provincial theatre; and an obscure stage is often as fatal to fame as the want of a poet.
But meanwhile has not this been very much the case with our critics themselves? Leading British statesmen may be more accomplished scholars than ours, Parliament may be more elegantly bored than Congress; but we have a rooted conviction that commonplace thought and shallow principles do not change their nature, even though disguised in the English of Addison himself. Mr. Gladstone knows vastly more Greek than Mr. Chase, but we may be allowed to doubt if he have shown himself an abler finance-minister. Since the beginning of the present century it is safe to say that England has produced no statesmen whom her own historians will pronounce to be more than second- or third-rate men. The Crimean War found her, if her own journalists were to be believed, without a single great captain whether on land or sea, with incompetence in every department, civil and military, and driven to every shift, even to foreign enlistment and subsidy, to put on foot an army of a hundred thousand men. What an opportunity for sermonizing on the failure of representative government! In that war England lost much of her old prestige in the eyes of the world, and felt that she had lost it. But nothing would have been more unphilosophical than to have assumed that England was degenerate or decrepit. It was only that her training had been for so long exclusively mechanical and peaceful. The terrible, but glorious, experience of the Indian Rebellion showed that Englishmen still possessed in as full measure as ever those noble characteristics on which they justly pride themselves, and of which a nation of kindred blood would be the last to deny them the praise. When the heroic qualities found their occasion, they were not wanting.
We do not say this as unduly sensitive to the unfriendly, often insulting and always unwise, criticisms of a large proportion of the press and the public men of England. In ordinary times we could afford to receive them with a good-natured smile. The zeal of certain new converts to Adam Smith in behalf of the free-trade principles whose cross they have assumed, their hatred and contempt for all heretics to what is their doxy and therefore according to Dean Swift orthodoxy, and the naive unconsciousness with which they measure and weigh the moral qualities of other nations by the yards of cotton or tons of manufactured iron which they consume for the benefit of Manchester and Sheffield, are certainly as comic as anything in Aristophanes. The madness of the philosopher who deemed himself personally answerable for the obliquity of the ecliptic has more than its match in the sense of responsibility shown by British journalists for the good conduct of the rest of mankind. All other kingdoms, potentates, and powers would seem to be minors or lunatics, and they the divinely appointed guardians under bonds to see that their unhappy wards do no harm to themselves or others. We confess, that, in reading the "Times," we have been sometimes unable to suppress a feeling of humorous pity for the young man who does the leading articles, and who finds himself, fresh from Oxford or Cambridge and the writing of Latin verses, called suddenly to the autocracy of the Universe. We must pardon a little to the imperii novitas, to the necessity of having universal misinformation always on tap in his inkstand. He summons emperors, kings, ministers, even whole nations, to the inexorable blackboard. His is the great normal school of philosophy, statesmanship, political economy, taste, and deportment. He must help Cavour to a knowledge of Italy, teach Napoleon to appreciate the peculiarities of French character, interpret the American Constitution for Mr. Lincoln. He holds himself directly accountable to heaven and earth, alike for the right solution of the Papal Question and for the costume of his countrymen in foreign parts. Theology or trousers, he is infallible in both. Gregory the Seventh's wildest dream of a universal popedom is more than fulfilled in him. He is the unapproachable model of quack advertisers. He pats Italy on the head and cries, "Study constitutional government as exemplified in England, and try Mechi's razor-strops." For France he prescribes a reduction of army and navy, and an increased demand for Manchester prints. America he warns against military despotism, advises a tonic of English iron, and a compress of British cotton, as sovereign against internal rupture. What a weight for the shoulders of our poor Johannes Factotum! He is the commissionnaire of mankind, their guide, philosopher, and friend, ready with a disinterested opinion in matters of art or virtu, and eager to furnish anything, from a counterfeit Buddhist idol to a poisoned pickle, for a commission, varying according to circumstances.
But whatever one may think of the wisdom or the disinterestedness of the organs of English commercial sentiment, it cannot be denied that it is of great importance to us that the public opinion of England should be enlightened in regard to our affairs. It would be idle to complain that her policy is selfish; for the policy of nations is always so. It would be foolish to forget that the sympathy of the British people has always declared itself, sooner or later, in favor of free institutions, and of a manly and upright policy toward other nations, or that this sympathy has been on the whole more outspoken and enduring among Englishmen than in any other nation of the Old World. We may justly complain that England should see no difference between a rebel confederacy and a nation to which she was bound by treaties and with which she had so long been on terms of amity gradually ripening to friendship. But do not let us be so childish as to wish for the suppression of the "Times Correspondent," a shrewd, practised, and, for a foreigner, singularly accurate observer, to whom we are indebted for the only authentic intelligence from Secessia since the outbreak of the Rebellion, and whose strictures, (however we may smile at his speculations,) if rightly taken, may do us infinite service. Did he tell us anything about the shameful rout of Bull Run which could not have been predicted beforehand of raw troops, or which, indeed, General Scott himself had not foreboded? That was not an especially American disgrace. Every nationality under heaven was represented there, and an alarm among the workmen on the Plains of Shinar that the foundations of the Tower of Babel were settling could not have set in motion a more polyglot stampede. The way to blot out Bull Run is as our brave Massachusetts and Pennsylvania men did at Ball's Bluff, with their own blood, poured only too lavishly. To our minds, the finest and most characteristic piece of English literature, more inspiring even than Henry's speech to his soldiers on the eve of Agincourt, is Nelson's signal, "England expects every man to do his duty." When we have risen to that level and are content to stand there, with no thought of self, but only of our country and what we owe her, we need wince at no hostile sneer nor dread any foreign combination. Granted that we have been a little boyish and braggart, as was perhaps not unnatural in a nation hardly out of its teens, our present trial is likely to make men of us, and to leave us, like our British cousins, content with the pleasing consciousness that we are the supreme of creation and under no necessity of forever proclaiming it. Our present experience, also, of the unsoundness of English judgment and the narrowness of English views concerning our policy and character may have the good result of making our independence in matters of thought and criticism as complete as our political emancipation.
Those who have watched the tendencies of opinion among educated Englishmen during the last ten or fifteen years could hardly be surprised, that, when the question was presented to them as being between aristocratic and democratic ideas, between a race of gentlemen and a mob of shopkeepers and snobs, they should have been inclined to sympathize with the South. There have been unmistakable symptoms of a reaction in England, since 1848 especially, against liberalism in politics and in favor of things as they are. We are not to wonder that Englishmen did not stop to examine too closely the escutcheon and pedigree of this self-patented nobility. With one or two not very striking exceptions, like Lord Fairfax and Washington, (who was of kin to one of the few British peers that have enjoyed the distinction of being hanged,) the entire population of America is descended from the middle and lower classes in the old countries. The difference has been, that the man at the South who raised cotton and sold it has gradually grown to consider himself a superior being by comparison with his own negroes, while the man at the North who raised potatoes and sold them has been content with the old Saxon notion that he was as good as his neighbors. The descendant of the Huguenot tradesman or artisan, if in Boston, builds Faneuil Hall or founds Bowdoin College; if in Charleston, he deals in negroes and persuades himself that he is sprung from the loins of Baldwin, King of Jerusalem. The mass of the population at the South is more intensely democratic, so far as white men are concerned, than the same class at the North.
There is a little inconsistency in the English oracles in this respect; for, while they cannot conceal a kind of sympathy with the Southern Rebels in what is supposed to be their war upon democratic institutions, they tell us that they would heartily espouse our cause, if we would but proclaim a crusade against Slavery. Suppose the Squires of England had got up a rebellion because societies had been formed for the abolition of the Corn-Laws; which would the "Times" have gone for putting down first, the rebellion or the laws? England professes not to be able to understand the principles of this wicked, this unholy war, as she calls it. Yet she was not so slow to understand the necessity of putting down the Irish Insurrection of 1848, or the Indian Rebellion ten years later. She thinks it impossible for the Government of the United States to subdue and hold provinces so vast as the Cotton States of America; yet she neither foreboded nor as yet has found any impracticability in renewing and retaining her hold on the vaster provinces of British India,—provinces inhabited, all of them, by races alien in blood, religion, and manners, and many by a population greatly exceeding that of our Southern States, brave, warlike, and, to some extent, trained in European tactics. To have abandoned India would have been to surrender the greatness of England. English writers and speakers, in discussing our affairs, overlook wholly the fact that a rebellion may be crushed by anything except force of arms. Among a people of the same lineage and the same language, but yesterday contented under the same Constitution, and in an age when a victory in the stock-market is of more consequence than successes in the field, political and economical necessities may be safely reckoned on as slow, but effective, allies of the old order of things. The people of this country are too much used to sudden and seemingly unaccountable political revolutions not to be able to forfeit their consistency without any loss of self-respect; and the rapidity with which the Southern Rebellion was forced up to its present formidable proportions, mainly by party management, is not unlikely to find its parallel in suddenness of collapse. But whether this prove to be the fact or not, nay, even if the reestablishment of the Union had been hopeless from the first, a government which should have abandoned its capital, which should have flinched from the first and plainest duty of self-preservation, which should have admitted by a cowardly surrender that force was law, that treason was constitutional, and fraud honorable, would have deserved and received the contempt of all civilized nations, of England among the first.
There is no such profound and universal alienation, still less such an antagonism in political theory, between the people of the Northern and Southern parts of the Union, as some English journals would infer from the foolish talk of a few conceited persons in South Carolina and Virginia. There is no question between landholders on the one side and manufacturers and merchants on the other. The bulk of the population, North and South, are holders of land, while the average size of the holdings of land under cultivation is probably greater in the Free than in the Slave States. The largest single estate in the country is, we believe, in Illinois. Generalizations are commonly unsafe in proportion as they are tempting; and this, together with its pretty twin-brother about Cavaliers and Roundheads, would seem to have been hatched from the same egg and in the same mare's-nest. If we should take the statements of Dr. Cullen and Mr. Smith O'Brien for our premises, instead of the manifest facts of the case, our conclusion in regard to Ireland would be an anachronism which no Englishman would allow to be within half a century of the actual condition of things. And yet could the Irish revolutionists of thirteen years ago have had the advantage of a ministry like that of Mr. Buchanan,—had every Irish officer and soldier been false to his honor and his allegiance,—had Ireland been supplied and England stripped of arms and munitions of war by the connivance of the Government,—the riot of 1848 might have become a rebellion as formidable as our own in everything but territorial proportions. Equally untrue is the theory that our Tariff is the moving cause of Southern discontent. Louisiana certainly would hardly urge this as the reason of her secession; and if the Rebel States could succeed in establishing their independence, they would find more difficulty in raising a national revenue by direct taxes than the North, and would be driven probably to a tariff more stringent than that of the present United States. If we are to generalize at all, it must be on broader and safer grounds. Prejudices and class-interests may occasion temporary disturbances in the current of human affairs, but they do not permanently change the course of the channel. That is governed by natural and lasting causes, and commerce, in spite of Southern Commercial Conventions, will no more flow up-hill than water. It is possible, we will not say probable, that our present difficulties may result to the advantage both of England and America: to England, by giving her a real hold upon India as the source of her cotton-supply, and to America by making the North the best customer for the staple of the South.