But doing justice, as I always will, to those who have been unjustly calumniated, at the same time I must admit that there is a point connected with slavery in America which renders it more odious than in other countries; I refer to the system of amalgamation, which has, from promiscuous intercourse, been carried on to such an extent, that you very often meet with slaves whose skins are whiter than their master's.
At Louisville, Kentucky, I saw a girl, about twelve years old, carrying a child; and, aware that in a slave state the circumstance of white people hiring themselves out to service is almost unknown, I inquired of her if she were a slave. To my astonishment, she replied in the affirmative. She was as fair as snow, and it was impossible to detect any admixture of blood from her appearance, which was that of a pretty English cottager's child.
I afterward spoke to the master, who stated when he had purchased her, and the sum which he had paid.
I took down the following advertisement for a runaway slave, which was posted up in every tavern I stopped at in Virginia on my way to the springs. The expression of, "in a manner white" would imply that there was some shame felt it holding a white man in bondage:—
"Fifty Dollars Reward.
"Ran away from the subscriber, on Saturday, the 21st instant, a slave named George, between twenty and twenty-four years of age, five feet five or six inches high, slender made, stoops when standing, a little bow legged; generally wears right and left boots and shoes; had on him when he left a fur cap, a checked stock, and linen roundabout; had with him other clothing, a jean coat with black horn buttons, a pair of jean pantaloons, both coat and pantaloons of handsome grey mixed; no doubt other clothing not recollected. He had with him a common silver watch; he wears his pantaloons generally very tight in the legs. Said boy is in a manner white, would be passed by and taken for a white man. His hair is long and straight, like that of a white person; looks very steady when spoken to, speaks slowly, and would not be likely to look a person full in the face when speaking to him. It is believed he is making his way to Canada by way of Ohio. I will give twenty dollars for the apprehension of said slave if taken in the county, or fifty dollars if taken out of the county, and secured so that I recover him again.
"Andrew Beirne, junior,
"Union Monroe City,
"July 31st, 1838. Virginia."
The above is a curious document, independently of its proving the manner in which man preys upon his fellow-man in this land of liberty and equality. It is a well-known fact, that a considerable portion of Mr Jefferson's slaves were his own children. If any of them absconded, he would smile, thereby implying that he should not be very particular in looking after them; and yet this man, this great and good man, as Miss Martineau calls him, this man who penned the paragraph I have quoted, as having been erased from the Declaration of Independence, who asserted that the slavery of the negro was a violation of the most sacred rights of life and liberty, permitted these his slaves and his children, the issue of his own loins, to be sold at auction after his demise, not even emancipating them, as he might have done, before his death. And, but lately, a member of congress for Georgia, whose name I shall not mention, brought up a fine family of children, his own issue by a female slave; for many years acknowledged them us his own children; permitted them to call him by the endearing title of papa, and eventually the whole of them were sold by public auction, and that, too, during his own lifetime!
But there is, I am sorry to say, a more horrible instance on record and one well authenticated. A planter of good family (I shall not mention his name or the state in which it occurred, as he was not so much to blame as were the laws), connected himself with one of his own female slaves, who was nearly white; the fruits of this connexion were two daughters, very beautiful girls, who were sent to England to be educated.
They were both grown up when their father died. At his death his affairs were found in a state of great disorder; in fact, there was not sufficient left to pay his creditors. Having brought up and educated these two girls and introduced them as his daughters, it quite slipped his memory that, having been born of a slave, and not manumitted, they were in reality slaves themselves. This fact was established after his decease; they were torn away from the affluence and refinement to which they had been accustomed, sold and purchased as slaves, and with the avowed intention of the purchaser to reap his profits from their prostitution it must not, however, be supposed that the planters of Virginia and the other Eastern states, encourage this intercourse; on the contrary, the young men who visit at the plantations cannot affront them more than to take notice of their slaves, particularly the lighter coloured, who are retained in the house and attend upon their wives and daughters. Independently of the moral feeling which really guides them (as they naturally do not wish that the attendants of their daughters should be degraded) it is against their interest in case they should wish to sell; as a mulatto or light male will not fetch so high a price as a full-blooded negro; the cross between the European and negro; especially the first cross, i.e. the mulatto, is of a sickly constitution, and quite unable to bear up against the fatigue of field labour in the West. As the race becomes whiter, the stamina is said to improve.
Examining into the question of emancipation in America, the first inquiry will be, how far this consummation is likely to be effected by means of the abolitionists. Miss Martineau, in her book, says, "The good work has begun, and will proceed." She is so far right; it has begun, and has been progressing very fast, as may be proved by the single fact of the abolitionists having decided the election in the state of Ohio in October last. But let not Miss Martineau exult; for the stronger the abolition party may become, the more danger is there to be apprehended of a disastrous conflict between the states.
The fact is that, by the constitution of the United States, the federal government have not only no power to interfere or to abolish slavery, but they are bound to maintain it; the abolition of slavery is expressly withheld. The citizens of any state may abolish slavery in their own state but the federal government cannot do so without an express violation of the federal compact. Should all the states in the Union abolish slavery, with the exception of one, and that one be Maryland, (the smallest of the whole of the states,) neither the federal government, or the other states could interfere with her. The federal compact binds the general government, "first, not to meddle with the slavery of the states where it exists, and next, to protect it in the case of runaway slaves, and to defend it in case of invasion or domestic violence on account of it."
It appears, therefore, that slavery can only be abolished by the slave state itself in which it exists; and it is not very probable that any class of people will voluntarily make themselves beggars by surrendering up their whole property to satisfy the clamour of a party. That this party is strong, and is daily becoming stronger, is very true: the stronger it becomes the worse will be the prospects of the United States. In England the case was very different; the government had a right to make the sacrifice to public opinion by indemnification to the slave-holders; but in America the government have not that power; and the efforts of the abolitionists will only have the effects of plunging the country into difficulties and disunion. As an American author truly observes, "The American abolitionists must trample on the constitution, and wade through the carnage of a civil war, before they can triumph—"
Already the abolition party have done much mischief. The same author observes, "The South has been compelled, in self-defence, to rivet the chains of slavery afresh, and to hold on to their political rights with a stronger hand. The conduct of the abolitionists has arrested the improvements which were in progress in the slave states for the amelioration of the condition of the slave; it has broken up the system of intellectual and moral culture that was extensively in operation for the slave's benefit, lest the increase of his knowledge should lend him a dangerous power, in connection with these crusading efforts; it has rivetted the chains of slavery with a greatly increased power, and enforced a more rigorous discipline; it has excluded for the time being the happy moral influence which was previously operating on the South from the North, and from the rest of the world, by the lights of comparison, by the interchange of a friendly intercourse, and by a friendly discussion of the great subject, all tending to the bettering of the slave's condition, and, as was supposed, to his ultimate emancipation. Before this agitation commenced, this subject, in all its aspects and bearings, might be discussed as freely at the South as anywhere; but now, not a word can be said. It has kindled a sleepless jealousy in the South toward the North, and made the slave-holders feel as if all the rest of the world were their enemies, and that they must depend upon themselves for the maintenance of their political rights. We say rights, because they regard them as such; and so long as they do so, it is all the same in their feelings, whether the rest of the world acknowledge them or not. And they are, in fact, political rights, guaranteed to them by the constitution of the United States."
It is not, however, impossible that the abolition party in the Eastern and Northern states may be gradually checked by the citizens of those very states. Their zeal may be as warm as ever; but public opinion will compel them, at the risk of their lives, to hold their tongues. This possibility can, however, only arise from the Northern and Eastern states becoming manufacturing states, as they are most anxious to be. Should this happen, the raw cotton grown by slave labour will employ the looms of Massachusetts; and then, as the Quarterly Review very correctly observes, "by a cycle of commercial benefits, the Northern and Eastern states will feel that there is some material compensation for the moral turpitude of the system of slavery."
The slave proprietors in these states are as well aware as any political economist can be, that slavery is a loss instead of a gain, and that no state can arrive at that degree of prosperity under a state of slavery which it would under free labour. The case is simple. In free labour, where there is competition, you exact the greatest possible returns for the least possible expenditure; a man is worked as a machine; he is paid for what he produces, and nothing more. By slave labour, you receive the least possible return for the greatest possible expense, for the slave is better fed and clothed than the freeman, and does as little work as he can. The slave-holders in the eastern states are well aware of this, and are as anxious to be rid of slavery as are the abolitionists; but the time is not yet come, nor will it come until the country shall have so filled up as to render white labour attainable. Such, indeed, are not the expectations expressed in the language of the representatives of their states when in congress; but, it must be remembered, that this is a question which has convulsed the Union, and that, not only from a feeling of pride, added to indignation at the interference, but from if feeling of the necessity of not yielding up one tittle upon this question, the language of determined resistance is in congress invariably resorted to. But these gentlemen have one opinion for congress, and another for their private table; in the first, they stand up unflinchingly for their slave rights; in the other, they reason calmly, and admit what they could not admit in public. There is no labour in the eastern states, excepting that of the rice plantations in South Carolina, which cannot be performed by white men; indeed, a large proportion of the cotton in the Carolinas is now raised by a free white population. In the grazing portion of these states, white labour would be substituted advantageously, could white labour be procured at any reasonable price.
The time will come, and I do not think it very distant, say perhaps twenty or thirty years, when, provided America receives no check, and these states are not injudiciously interfered with, that Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, (and, eventually, but probably somewhat later, Tennessee and South Carolina) will, of their own accord, enrol themselves among the free states. As a proof that in the eastern slave states the negro is not held in such contempt, or justice toward him so much disregarded, I extract the following from an American work:—
"An instance of the force of law in the southern states for the protection of the slave has just occurred, in the failure of a petition to his excellency, PM Butler, governor of South Carolina, for the pardon of Nazareth Allen, a white person, convicted of the murder of a slave, and sentenced to be hung. The following is part of the answer of the governor to the petitioners:—
"'The laws of South Carolina make no distinction in cases of deliberate murder, whether committed on a black man or a white man; neither can I. I am not a law-maker, but the executive officer of the laws already made; and I must not act on a distinction which the legislature might have made, but has not thought fit to make.'
"That the crime of which the prisoner stands convicted was committed against one of an inferior grade in society, is a reason for being especially cautious in intercepting the just severity of the law. This class of our population are subjected to us as well for their protection as our advantage. Our rights, in regard to them, are not more imperative than their duties; and the institutions, which for wise and necessary ends have rendered them peculiarly dependent, at least pledge the law to be to them peculiarly a friend and a protector.
"The prayer of the petition is not granted.
"Pierce M Butler."
In the western states, comprehending Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, the negroes are, with the exception perhaps of the two latter States, in a worse condition than they ever were in the West India islands. This may be easily imagined, when the character of the white people who inhabit the larger portion of these states is considered a class of people, the majority of whom are without feelings of honour, reckless in their habits, intemperate, unprincipled, and lawless, many of them having fled from the eastern states, as fraudulent bankrupts, swindlers, or committers of other crimes, which have subjected them to the penitentiaries—miscreants defying the climate, so that they can defy the laws. Still this representation of the character of the people inhabiting these states must, from the chaotic state of society in America, be received with many exceptions. In the city of New Orleans, for instance, and in Natchez and its vicinity, and also among the planters, there are many most honourable exceptions. I have said the majority: for we must look to the mass— the exceptions do but prove the rule. It is evident that slaves, under such masters, can have but little chance of good treatment, and stories are told of them at which humanity shudders.
It appears, then, that the slaves, with the rest of the population of America, are working their way west, and the question may now be asked:—Allowing that slavery will be soon abolished in the eastern states, what prospect is there of its ultimate abolition and total extinction in America?
I can see no prospect of exchanging slave labour for free in the western states, as, with the exception of Missouri, I do not think it possible that white labour could be substituted, the extreme heat and unhealthiness of the climate being a bar to any such attempt. The cultivation of the land must be carried on by a negro population, if it is to be carried on at all. The question, therefore, to be considered is, whether these states are to be inhabited and cultivated by a free or a slave negro population. It must be remembered, that not one-twentieth part of the land in the southern states is under cultivation; every year, as the slates are brought in from the east, the number of acres taken into cultivation increases. Not double or triple the number of the slaves at present in America would be sufficient for the cultivation of the whole of these vast territories. Every year the cotton crops increase, and at the same time the price of cotton has not materially lowered; as an everywhere increasing population takes off the whole supply, this will probably continue to be the case for many years, since it must be remembered, that, independently of the increasing population increasing the demand, cotton, from its comparative cheapness, continually usurps the place of some other raw material; this, of course, adds to the consumption. In various manufactures, cotton has already taken the place of linen and fur; but there must eventually be a limit to consumption: and this is certain, that as soon as the supply is so great as to exceed the demand, the price will be lowered by the competition; and, as soon as the price is by competition so lowered as to render the cost and keeping of the slave greater than the income returned by his labour, then, and not till then, is there any chance of slavery being abolished in the western states of America. See Note 4.
The probability of this consummation being brought about sooner is in the expectation that the Brazils, Mexico, and particularly the independent State of Texas, will in a few years produce a crop of cotton which may considerably lower its price. At present, the United States grow nearly, if not more, than half of the cotton produced in the whole world, as the return down to 1831 will substantiate.
Cotton grown all over the world in the years 1821 and 1831; showing the increase in each country in ten years.
============================================ Y Y1821 lbs. Y1831 lbs. Y ————————————-—————-—————- YUnited States Y180,000,000Y385,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YBrazil Y 32,000,000Y 38,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YWest Indies Y 10,000,000Y 9,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YEgypt Y 6,000,000Y 18,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YRest of Africa Y 40,000,000Y 36,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YIndia Y176,000.000Y180,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YRest of Asia Y185,000,000Y115,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YMexico and South America,Y 44,000,000Y 35,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- Yexcept Brazil Y Y Y ————————————-—————-—————- YElsewhere Y 8,000,000Y 4,000,000Y ————————————-—————-—————- YIn the World Y630,000,000Y820,000,000Y ============================================
The increase of cotton grown all over the world in ten years is therefore 190,000,000 lbs. Brazil has only increased 6,000,000; Egypt has increased 12,000,000; India, 5,000,000. Africa, West indies, South America, Asia, have all fallen off; but the defalcation has been made good by the United States, which have increased their growth by 205,000,000 of lbs.
In the Southern portion of America there are millions of acres on which cotton can be successfully cultivated, particularly Texas, the soil of which is so congenial that they can produce 1,000 lb. to the 400 lb. raised by the Americans; and the quality of the Texian cotton is said to be equal to the finest sea island produce. It is to Texas particularly that we must look for this produce, as it can there be raised by white labour; [see Note] and being so produced, will, as soon as its population in creases to a certain extent, be able to under sell that which is grown in America by the labour of the slave.
Increase of cotton grown in the United States, from the year 1802 to 1831.
+====+==========+======+==========+ YYearsYlbs. YYears.Ylbs. Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1802Y 55,000,000Y 1817Y130.000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1803Y 60,001,000Y 1818Y125,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1804Y 65,000,000Y 1819Y167,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1805Y 70,000,000Y 1820Y160,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1806Y 80,000,000Y 1821Y180,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1807Y 80,000,000Y 1822Y210,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1808Y 75,000,003Y 1823Y185,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1809Y 82,000,000Y 1824Y215,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1810Y 86,000,000Y 1825Y256,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1811Y 80,000,000Y 1826Y300,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1812Y 75,000,006Y 1827Y270,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1813Y 75,000,000Y 1828Y325,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1814Y 70,000,000Y 1829Y365,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1815Y100,000,000Y 1830Y360,000,000Y +——-+—————-+———+—————-+ Y 1816Y124,000,000Y 1831Y385,000,000Y +====+==========+==+========+
It may be asked: how is it, as Texas is so far south, that a white population can labour there? It is because Texas is a prairie country, and situated at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. A sea-breeze always blows across the whole of the country, rendering it cool, and refreshing it notwithstanding the power of the sun's rays. This breeze is apparently a continuation of the trade-winds following the course of the sun.
From circumstances, therefore, Texas, which but a few years since was hardly known as a country, becomes a state of the greatest importance to the civilised and moral world.
I am not in this chapter about to raise the question how Texas has been ravished from Mexico. Miss Martineau, with all her admiration of democracy, admits it to have been "the most high-handed theft of modern times;" and the letter of the celebrated Dr Charming to Mr Clay has laid bare to the world the whole nefarious transaction. In this letter Dr Charming points out the cause of the seizure of Texas, and the wish to enrol it among the federal states.
"Mexico, at the moment of throwing off the Spanish yoke, gave a noble testimony of her loyalty to free principles, by decreeing 'That no person thereafter should be born a slave, or introduced as such into the Mexican states; that all slaves then held should receive stipulated wages, and be subject to no punishment but on trial and judgment by the magistrate.' The subsequent acts of the government fully carried out these constitutional provisions. It is matter of deep grief and humiliation, that the emigrants from this country, while boasting of superior civilisation, refused to second this honourable policy, intended to set limits to one of the greatest of social evils. Slaves come into Texas with their masters from the neighbouring states of this country. One mode of evading the laws was, to introduce slaves under formal indentures for long periods, in some cases, it is said, for ninety-nine years; but by a decree of the state legislature of Coahuila and Texas, all indentures for a longer period than ten years were annulled, and provision was made for the freedom of children during this apprenticeship. This settled, invincible purpose of Mexico to exclude slavery from her limits, created as strong a purpose to annihilate her authority in Texas. By this prohibition, Texas was virtually shut against emigration from the southern and western portions of this country; and it is well known that the eyes of the south and west had for some time been turned to this province as a new market for slaves, as a new field for slave labour, and as a vast accession of political power to the slave-holding states. That such views were prevalent we know; for, nefarious as they are, they found their way into the public prints. The project of dismembering a neighbouring republic, that slaveholders and slaves might overspread a region which had been consecrated to a free population, was discussed in newspapers as coolly as if it were a matter of obvious right and unquestionable humanity. A powerful interest was thus created for severing from Mexico her distant province."
The fact is this:—America, (for the government looked on and offered no interruption,) has seized upon Texas, with a view of extending the curse of slavery, and of finding a mart for the excess of her negro population: if Texas is admitted into the Union, all chance of the abolition of slavery must be thrown forward to such an indefinite period, as to be lost in the mist of futurity; if, on the contrary, Texas remains an independent province, or is restored to its legitimate owners, and in either case slavery is abolished, she then becomes, from the very circumstance of her fertility and aptitude for white labour, not only the great check to slavery, but eventually the means of its abolition. Never, therefore, was there a portion of the globe upon which the moral world must look with such interest.
England may, if she acts promptly and wisely, make such terms with this young state as to raise it up as a barrier against the profligate ambition of America. Texas was a portion of Mexico, and Mexico abolished slavery; the Texians are bound (if they are Texians and not Americans) to adhere to what might be considered a treaty with the whole Christian world; if not, they can make no demand upon its sympathy or protection, and it should be a sine qua non with England and all other European powers previous to acknowledging or entering into commercial relations with Texas, that she should adhere to the law which was passed at the time that she was an integral portion of Mexico, and declare herself to be a Free State—if she does not, unless the chains are broken by the negro himself, the cause and hopes of emancipation are lost.
There certainly is one outlet for the slaves, which as they are removed thither and farther to the west will eventually be offered:—that of escaping to the Indian tribes which are spread over the western frontier, and amalgamating with them; such indeed, I think, will some future day be the result, whether they gain their liberty by desertion, insurrection, or manumission.
Of insurrection there is at present but little fear. In the eastern slave states, the negroes do not think of it, and if they did, the difficulty of combination and of procuring arms is so great, that it would be attended with very partial success. The intervention of a foreign power might indeed bring it to pass, but it is to be hoped that England, at all events, will never be the party to foment a servile war. Let us not forget that for more than two centuries we have been particeps criminis, and should have been in as great a difficulty as the Americans now are, had we had the negro population on our own soil, and not on distant islands which could be legislated for without affecting the condition of the mother country. Nay, at this very moment, by taking nearly the whole of the American cotton off their hands in exchange for our manufactures, we are ourselves virtually encouraging slavery by affording the Americans such a profitable mart for their slave labour.
There is one point to which I have not yet adverted, which is, Whether the question of emancipation is likely to produce a separation between the Northern and Southern states? The only reply that can be given is, that it entirely depends upon whether the abolition party can be held in check by the federal government. That the federal government will do its utmost there can be no doubt, but the federal government is not so powerful as many of the societies formed in America, and especially the Abolition Society, which every day adds to its members. The interests of the North are certainly at variance with the measures of the society, yet still it gains strength. The last proceedings in congress show that the federal government is aware of its rapid extension, and are determined to do all in its power to suppress it. The following are a portion of the resolutions which were passed last year by an overwhelming majority.
The first resolution was; "That the government is of limited powers, and that by the constitution of the United States, congress has no jurisdiction whatever over the institution of slavery in the several states of the confederacy;" the last was as follows: "Resolved, therefore, that all attempts on the part of congress to abolish slavery in the district of Columbia, or the territories, or to prohibit the removal of the slaves from state to state; or to discriminate between the constitution of one portions of the confederacy and another, with the views aforesaid, are in violation of the constitutional principles on which the union of these States rests, and beyond the jurisdiction of congress; and that every petition, memorial, resolution, proposition, or paper touching or relating in any way or to any extent whatever to slavery as aforesaid, or the abolition thereof, shall without any farther action thereon, be laid on the table, without printing, reading, debate, or reference." Question put, "Shall the resolutions pass?" Yeas, 198; Noes, 6—Examiner.
These resolutions are very firm and decided, but in England people have no idea of the fanaticism displayed and excitement created in these societies, which are a peculiar feature in the states, and arising from the nature of their institutions. Their strength and perseverance are such that they bear down all before them, and, regardless of all consequences, they may eventually control the government.
As to the question which portion of the States will be the losers by a separation, I myself think that it will be the northern slates which will suffer. But as I always refer to American authority when I can, I had better give the reader a portion of a letter written by one of the southern gentlemen on this subject. In a letter to the editor of the National Gazette, Mr Cooper, after referring to a point at issue with the abolitionists, not necessary to introduce here, says—"I shall therefore briefly touch upon the subject once more; and if farther provocation is given, I may possibly enter into more details hereafter; for the present I desire to hint at some items of calculation of the value of the Union to the North.
"1. Mr Rhett, in his bold and honest address, has stated that the expenditures of the government for twenty years, ending 1836, have been four hundred and twenty millions of dollars; of which one hundred and thirty were dedicated to the payment of the national debt. Of the remainder, two hundred and ten millions were expended in the northern, and eighty millions in the southern states. Suppose this Union to be severed, I rather guess the government expenditure of what is now about fifteen millions a-year to the North, would be an item reluctantly spared. No people know better what to do with the 'cheese-parings and the candle-ends' than our good friends to the North.
"2. I beg permission to address New York especially. In the year 1836 our exports were one hundred and sixteen millions of dollars, and our imports one hundred and forty millions. It is not too much to assign seventy-five millions of these imports to the state of New York. The South furnishes on an average two-thirds of the whole value of the exports. It is fair, therefore, to say, that two-thirds of the imports are consumed in the South, that is, fifty millions. The mercantile profit on fifty millions of merchandise, added to the agency and factorage of the Southern products transmitted to pay for them, will be at least twenty per cent. That is, New York is gainer by the South, of at least ten millions of dollars annually; for the traffic is not likely to decrease after the present year. No wonder 'her merchants are like princes!' Sever the Union, and what becomes of them!
"3. The army, the navy, the departments of government, are supported by a revenue obtained from the indirect taxation of custom-house entries, the most fraudulent and extravagant mode of taxation known. Of this the South pays two-thirds. What will become of the system if the South be driven away!
"4. The banking system of the Northern states is founded mainly on the traffic and custom of the South. Withdraw that for one twelve-month, and the whole banking system of the North"
— tumbles all precipitate Down dash'd.
"Suppose even one state withdrawn from the Union, would not the pecuniary intercourse with Europe be paralysed at once?
"5. The South even now are the great consumers of New England manufactures. We take her cotton, her woollen goods, her boots and shoes. These last form an item of upwards of fourteen millions annually, manufactured at the North. Much also of her iron ware comes to the South; many other 'notions' are sent among us, greatly to the advantage of that wise people, who know better the value of small gains and small savings than we do.
"6. What supports the shipping of the North but her commerce; and of her commerce two-thirds is Southern commerce. Nor is her commerce in any manner or degree necessary to the South; Europe manufactures what the South wants, and the South raises what Europe wants. Between Europe and the South there is not and cannot be any competition, for there is no commercial or manufacturing, of territorial interference to excite jealousies between them. We want not the North. We can do without the North, if we separate to-morrow. We can find carriers and purchasers of all we have to sell, and of all we wish to buy, without casting one glance to the North.
"7. The North seems to have a strange inclination to quarrel with England. The late war of 1812 to 1814 was a war for Northern claims and Northern interests, now we are in jeopardy from the unjust interference in favour of the patriots of Canada; and a dispute is threatened on account of the north-eastern boundary. The manufacturing and commercial interferences of the north with Europe will always remain a possible, if not a probable, source of disputes. The North raises what Europe raises; commercially they need not each other—they are two of a trade, they raise not what each other wants—they are rivals and competitors when they go to war. Does not the South, who is not interested in it, pay most part of the expense, and is not the war expenditure applied to the benefit of the North? Sever, if you please, the Union, and the North will have to pay the whole expense of her own quarrels.
"8. Our system of domestic servitude is a great eye-sore to the fanatics of the North. But there are very many wise and honest men in the North; ay, even in Massachusetts. I ask of these gentlemen, does not at least one-third of the labour produce of every Southern slave ultimately lodge in the purse of the North! If the South works for itself it works also for the Northern merchant, and views his prosperity without grudging.
"9. Nor is it a trifling article of gain that arises from the expenditure of southern visitors and southern travellers, who spend their summers and their money in the north. The quarrelsome rudeness of northern society is fast diminishing this source of expenditure among us. Sever the Union, and we relinquish it altogether. We can go to London, Paris, or Rome, as cheaply and as pleasantly as to Saratoga or Niagara.
"Such are some of the advantages which the north derives from a continuance of that union which her fanatic population is so desirous to sever. A population with whom peace, humanity, mercy, oaths, contracts, and compacts, pass for nothing—whose promises and engagements are as chaff before the wind—to whom bloodshed, robbery, assassination, and murder, are objects of placid contemplation—whose narrow creed of bigotry supersedes all the obligations, of morality, and all the commands of positive law. With such men what valid compact can be made? The appeal must be to those who think that a deliberate compact is mutually binding on parties of any and every religious creed. To such men I appeal, and ask, ought you not resolutely to restore peace, and give the south confidence and repose?
"I have now lived twenty years in South Carolina, and have had much intercourse with her prominent and leading men; not a man among them is ignorant how decidedly in most respects, the south would gain by a severance from the north, and how much more advantageous is this union to the north than to the south. But I am deeply, firmly persuaded that there is not one man in South Carolina that would move one step toward a separation, on account of the superior advantages the north derives from the union. No southern is actuated by these pecuniary feelings; no southern begrudges the north her prosperity. Enjoy your advantages, gentlemen of the north, and much good may they do ye, as they have hitherto. But if these unconstitutional abolition attacks upon us, in utter defiance of the national compact, are to be continued, God forbid this union should last another year.
"I am, sir, your obedient servant,
"Many fine looking districts were pointed out to me in Virginia, formerly rich in tobacco and Indian corn, which had been completely exhausted by the production of crops for the maintenance of the slaves. In thickly peopled countries, where the great towns are at hand, the fertility of such soils may be recovered and even improved by manuring, but over the tracts of country I now speak of, no such advantages are within the farmer's reach."—Captain Hall.
"Many, very many, with whom I met, would willingly have released their slaves, but the law requires that in such cases they should leave the state; and this would mostly be not to improve their condition, but to banish them from their home, and to make them miserable outcasts. What they cannot at present remove, they are anxious to mitigate, and I have never seen kinder attention paid to any domestics than by such persons to their slaves. In defiance of the infamous laws, making it criminal for the slave to be taught to read, and difficult to assemble for an act of worship, they are instructed, and they are assisted to worship God."—Rev Mr Reid.
"The law declares the children of slaves are to follow the fortunes of the mother. Hence the practice of planters selling and bequeathing their own children."—Miss Martineau.
The return at present is very great in these western states; the labour of a slave, after all his expenses are paid, producing on an average 300 dollars (65 pounds) per annum to his master.
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER FORTY THREE.
REMARKS—RELIGION IN AMERICA.
In theory nothing appears more rational than that every one should worship the Deity according to his own ideas—form his own opinion as to his attributes, and draw his own conclusions as to hereafter. An established Church appears to be a species of coercion, not that you are obliged to believe in, or follow that form of worship, but that, if you do not, you lose your portion of certain advantages attending that form of religion, which has been accepted by the majority and adopted by the government. In religion, to think for yourself wears the semblance of a luxury, and like other luxuries, it is proportionably taxed.
And yet it would appear as if it never were intended that the mass should think for themselves, as everything goes on so quietly when other people think for them, and everything goes so wrong when they do think for themselves: in the first instance where a portion of the people think for the mass, all are of one opinion; whereas in the second, they divide and split into many molecules, that they resemble the globules of water when expanded by heat, and like them are in a state of restlessness and excitement.
That the partiality shown to an established church creates some bitterness of feeling is most true, but being established by law, is it not the partiality shown for the legitimate over the illegitimate? All who choose may enter into its portals, and if the people will remain out of doors of their own accord, ought they to complain that they have no house over their heads. They certainly have a right to remain out of doors if they please, but whether they are justified in complaining afterward is another question. Perhaps the unreasonableness of the demands of the dissenters in our own country will be better brought home to them by my pointing out the effects of the voluntary system in the United States.
In America every one worships the Deity after his own fashion; not only the mode of worship, but even the Deity itself, varies. Some worship God, some Mammon; some admit, some deny, Christ; some deny both God and Christ; some are saved by living prophets only; some go to heaven by water, while some dance their way upwards. Numerous as are the sects, still are the sects much subdivided. Unitarians are not in unity as to the portion of divinity they shall admit to our Saviour; flap-fists, as to the precise quantity of water necessary to salvation; even the Quakers have split into controversy, and the men of peace are at open war in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
The following is the table of the religious denominations of the United States, from the American Almanac of 1838:
TABLE OF THE RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
============================================ Y YCongreg- YMinisters YCommun- YPopul- Y —————————————-—————————————- Y Yations Y Yicants Yation Y —————————————-—————————————- YBaptists Y 6,319Y 4,239Y452,000}Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YFreewillers Y 753Y 612Y38,876} Y4,300,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YSeventh Day Y 42Y 46Y4,503} Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YSix Principle Y 16Y 16Y2,117} Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YRoman Catholics Y 433Y 389Y Y 800,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YChristians Y 1,000Y 800Y 150,000Y 300,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YCongregationalistsY 1,300Y 1,150Y 160,000Y1,400,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YDutch Reformed Y 197Y 192Y 22,215Y 450,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YEpiscopalians Y 850Y 899Y Y 600,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YFriends Y 500Y Y Y 100,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YGerman Reformed Y 600Y 180Y 30,000Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YJews Y Y Y Y 15,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YLutherans Y 750Y 257Y 62,226Y 540,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YMennonites Y 200Y Y 30,000Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YWesleyans Y Y 2,764Y650,103}Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YProtestants Y Y 400Y50,000} Y2,000,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YMoravians Y 24Y 33Y 5,745Y 12,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YMormonites Y Y Y 12,000Y 12,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YN Jerusalem ChurchY 27Y 33Y Y 5,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YPresbyterians Y 2,807Y 2,225Y274,084}Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YCumberland Y 500Y 450Y50,000} Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YAssociate Y 183Y 87Y16,000} Y2,175,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YReformed Y 40Y 20Y3,000} Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YAssociate ReformedY 214Y 116Y12,000} Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YShakers Y 15Y 45Y 6,000Y Y —————————————-—————————————- YTunkers Y 40Y 40Y 3,000Y 30,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YUnitarians Y 200Y 174Y Y 180,000Y —————————————-—————————————- YUniversalists Y 653Y 317Y Y 600,000Y ============================================
In this list many varieties of sects are blended into one. For instance, the Baptists, who are divided; also the Friends, who have been separated into Orthodox and Hicksite, the Camelites, etcetera, etcetera. But it is not worth while to enter into a detail of the numerous minor sects, or we might add Deists, Atheists, etcetera.—for even no religion is a species of creed. It must be observed, that, according to this table, out of the whole population of the United States, there are only 1,983,905, (with the exception of the Catholics, who are Communicants,) that is, who have openly professed any creed; the numbers put down as the population of the different creeds are wholly suppositions. How can it be otherwise, when people have not professed? It is computed, that in the census of 1840 the population of the States will have increased to 18,000,000, so that it may be said that only one ninth portion have professed and openly avowed themselves Christians.
Religion may, as to its consequences, be considered under two heads: as it affects the future welfare of the individual when he is summoned to the presence of the Deity, and as it affects society in general, by acting upon the moral character of the community. Now, admitting the right of every individual to decide whether he will follow the usual beaten track, or select for himself a by-path for his journey upward, it must be acknowledged that the results of this free-will are, in a moral point of view, as far as society is concerned, any thing but satisfactory.
It would appear as if the majority were much too frail and weak to go alone upon their heavenly journey; as if they required the support, the assistance, the encouragement, the leaning upon others who are journeying with them, to enable them successfully to gain the goal. The effects of an established church are to cement the mass, cement society and communities, and increase the force of those natural ties by which families and relations are bound together. There is an attraction of cohesion in an uniform religious worship, acting favourably upon the morals of the mass, and binding still more closely those already united. Now, the voluntary system in America has produced the very opposite effects; it has broken one of the strongest links between man and man, for each goeth his own way: as a nation, there is no national feeling to be acted upon; in society, there is something wanting, and you ask yourself what is it? and in families it often creates disunion: I know one among many others, who, instead of going together to the same house of prayer, disperse as soon as they are out of the door: one daughter to an Unitarian chapel, another to a Baptist, the parents to the Episcopal, the sons, any where, or no where. But worse effects are produced than even these: where any one is allowed to have his own peculiar way of thinking, his own peculiar creed, there neither is a watch, nor a right to watch over each other; there is no mutual communication, no encouragement, no parental control; and the consequence is, that by the majority, especially the young, religion becomes wholly and utterly disregarded.
Another great evil, arising from the peculiarity of the voluntary system is, that in any of the principal sects the power has been wrested from the clergy and assumed by the laity, who exercise an inquisition most injurious to the cause of religion: and to such an excess of tyranny is this power exercised, that it depends upon the laity, and not upon the clergy, whether any individual shall or shall not be admitted as a communicant at the table of our Lord.
Miss Martineau may well inquire, "How does the existing state of religion accord with the promise of its birth? In a country which professes to every man the pursuit of happiness in his own way, what is the state of his liberty in the most private and individual of all concerns?"
Referring to religious instruction, Mr Carey in his work attempts to prove the great superiority of religious instruction and church accommodation in America, as compared with those matters in this country. He draws his conclusions from the number of churches built and provided for the population in each. Like most others of his conclusions, they are drawn from false premises: he might just as well argue upon the number of horses in each country, from the number of horse-ponds he might happen to count in each. In the first place, the size of the churches must be considered, and their ability to accommodate the population; and on this point, the question is greatly in favour of England; for, with the exception of the cities and large towns, the churches scattered about the hamlets and large towns are small even to ridicule, built of clap-boards, and so light that, if on wheels, two pair of English post-horses would trot them away, to meet the minister.
Mr Carey also finds fault with the sites of our churches as being unfortunate in consequence of the change of population. There is some truth in this remark: but our churches being built of brick and stone cannot be so easily removed; and it happens that the sites of the majority of the American churches are equally unfortunate, not as in our case, from the population having left them, but from the population not having come to them. You may pass in one day a dozen towns having not above twenty or thirty private houses, although you will invariably find in each an hotel, a bank, and churches of two or three denominations, built as a speculation, either by those who hold the ground lots or by those who have settled there, and as an inducement to others to come and settle. The churches, as Mr Carey states, exist, but the congregations have not arrived; while you may, at other times, pass over many miles without finding a place of worship for the spare population. I have no hesitation in asserting, not only that our 12,000 churches and cathedrals will hold a larger number of people than the 20,000 stated by Mr Carey to be erected in America, but that as many people, (taking into consideration the difference of the population,) go to our 12,000, as to the 20,000 in the United States.
Neither is Mr Carey correct when he would insinuate that the attention given by the people in America to religious accommodation is greater than with us. It is true, that more churches, such as they are, are built in America; but paying an average of 12,000 pounds for a church built of brick or stone in England, is a very different thing from paying 12,000 dollars for a clap-board and shingle affair in America, and which, compared with those of brick and mortar, are there in the proportion of ten to one. And further, the comparative value of church building in America is very much lowered by the circumstance that they are compelled to multiply them, to provide for the immense variety of creeds which exist under the voluntary system. When people in a community are all of one creed, one church is sufficient; but if they are of different persuasions, they must, as they do in America, divide the one large church into four little ones. It is not fair, therefore, for Mr Carey to count churches.
[Note. "We know also that large sums are expended annually for the building of churches or places of worship, which in cities cost from 10,000 to 100,000 dollars each; and in the country from 500 to 5,000 dollars."—Voice from America, by an American Gentleman. [What must be the size of a church which costs 500 dollars?]]
But, although I will not admit the conclusions drawn from Mr Carey's premises, nor that, as he would attempt to prove, the Americans are a more religious people than the English, I am not only ready, but anxious to do justice to the really religious portion of its inhabitants. I believe that in no other country is there more zeal shown by its various ministers, zeal even to the sacrifice of life; that no country sends out more zealous missionaries; that no country has more societies for the diffusion of the gospel and that in no other country in the world are larger sums subscribed for the furtherance of those praise-worthy objects as in the Eastern States of America. I admit all this, and admit it with pleasure; for I know it to be a fact: I only regret to add that in no other country are such strenuous exertions so incessantly required to stem the torrent of atheism and infidelity, which so universally exists in this. Indeed this very zeal, so ardent on the part of the ministers, and so aided by the well-disposed of the laity, proves that what I have just now asserted is, unfortunately, but too true.
It is not my intention to comment upon the numerous sects, and the varieties of worship practised in the United States. The Episcopal church is small in proportion to the others, and as far as I can ascertain, although it may increase its members with the increase of population, it is not likely to make any vigorous or successful stand against the other sects. The two churches most congenial to the American feelings and institutions are the Presbyterian and Congregationalist.
"The Congregationalists answer to the Independents of England and are sympathetically, and to a great extent, lineally descendants of the Puritans."—Voice from America, p. 62.
They may, indeed, in opposition to the hierarchy of the Episcopal, be considered as Republican churches; and admitting that many errors have crept into the established church from its too intimate union with the State, I think it will be proved that, in rejecting its errors and the domination of the mitre, the seceders have fallen into still greater evils; and have, for the latter, substituted a despotism to which every thing, even religion itself, must in America succumb.
In a republic, or democracy, the people will rule in every thing: in the Congregational church they rule as deacons; in the Presbyterian as elders. Affairs are litigated and decided in committees and councils, and thus is the pastoral office deprived of its primitive and legitimate influence, and the ministers are tyrannised over by the laity, in the most absurd and most unjustifiable manner. If the minister does not submit to their decisions, if he asserts his right as a minister to preach the word according to his reading of it, he is arraigned and dismissed. In short, although sent for to instruct the people, he must consent to be instructed by them, or surrender up his trust. Thus do the ministers lose all their dignity and become the slaves of the congregation, who give them their choice, either to read the Scriptures according to their reading, or to go and starve. I was once canvassing this question with an American, who pronounced that the laity were quite right, and that it was the duty of the minister to preach as his congregation wished. His argument was this:—"If I send to Manchester for any article to be manufactured, I expect it to be made exactly after the pattern given; if not, I will not take it: so it is with the minister: he must find goods exactly suited to his customers, or expect them to be left on his hands!"
And it really would appear as if such were the general opinion in the United States. Mr Colton, an American minister, who turned from the Presbyterian to the Episcopal church, in his "Reasons for Episcopacy," makes the following remarks:—
[I must request the reader's forbearance at the extreme length of the quotations, but I cannot well avoid making them. Whatever weight my opinion, as the opinion of an observant traveller may have, it must naturally be much increased if supported, as it always is when opportunity offers, by American authority.]
Speaking of the deacons and elders of their churches, he says—"They may be honest and good men, and very pious: but in most churches they are men of little intellectual culture; and the less they have, the more confident and unbending are they in their opinions. If a minister travels an inch beyond the circle of their vision in theology, or startles them with a new idea in his interpretation of Scripture, it is not unlikely that their suspicions of his orthodoxy will be awakened. If he does any thing out of the common course, he is an innovator. If, from the multiplicity of his cares and engagements, he is now and then obliged to preach an old sermon, or does not visit so much as might be expected, he is lazy. For these and for other delinquencies, as adjudged by these associates, it becomes their conscientious duty to admonish him. He who is appointed to supervise the flock, is himself supervised. 'I have a charge to give you,' said a deacon to me once, the first time and the moment I was introduced to him, after I had preached one or two Sabbaths in the place, and, as it happened, it was the first word he said after we shook hands, adding, 'I often give charges to ministers.' I knew him to be an important man, and the first in the church; but as I had nothing at stake there that depended on his favour, I could not resist the temptation of replying to him in view of his consequential airs, 'You may use your discretion, sir, in this particular instance; but I can tell you that ministers are sometimes overcharged.' However, I did not escape.
"The American clergy are the most backward and timid class in the society in which they live; self-exiled from the great moral question of the time; the least informed with true knowledge—the least efficient in virtuous action—the least conscious of that Christian and republican freedom which, as the native atmosphere of piety and holiness, it is their prime duty to cherish and diffuse,"—Miss Martineau. I quote this paragraph to contradict it. The American clergy are, in the mass, equal, if not superior, to any in the world: they have to struggle with difficulties almost insurmountable, (as I shall substantiate) and worthily do they perform their tasks.
"It seems to be a principle in Presbyterian and Congregational churches, that the minister must be overlooked by the elders and deacons; and if he does not quietly submit to their rule, his condition will be uncomfortable. He may also expect visitations from women to instruct him in his duty; at least, they will contrive to convey to him their opinions. It is said of Dr Bellamy, of Bethlehem, Connecticut, who was eminently a peace-maker, and was always sent for by all the churches in the country around, or a great distance, to settle their difficulties, that having just returned from one of these errands, and put up his horse, another message of the same kind came from another quarter—'And what is the matter?' said the Doctor to the messenger. 'Why,' said he, 'Deacon has—' 'Has—that's enough—There never is a difficulty in a church, but some old deacon is at the bottom of it.'
"Unquestionably, it is proper, wise, and prudent, for every minister to watch and consult the popular opinion around him, in relation to himself, his preaching, and his conduct. But, if a minister is worthy to be the pastor of a people, he is also worthy of some confidence, and ought to receive deference. In his own proper work he may be helped, he may be sustained, but he cannot be instructed by his people; he cannot in general be instructed by the wisest of them. Respectful and kind hints from competent persons he may receive, and should court—he may profit by them. But, if he is a man fit for his place, he should retain that honour that will leave him scope, and inspire him with courage to act a manly part. A Christian pastor can never fulfil his office, and attain its highest ends, without being free to act among his people according to the light of his conscience and his best discretion. To have elders and deacons to rule over him, is to be a slave—is not to be a man. The responsibilities, cares, burdens, and labours of the pastoral office are enough, without being impeded and oppressed by such anxieties as these. In the early history of New England, a non-conformist minister, from the old country, is represented to have said, after a little experience on this side of the water, 'I left England to get rid of my lords the bishops; but here I find in their place my lords, the brethren and sisters; save me from the latter, and let me have the former.'
"It has actually happened—within a few years—in New England, and I believe in other parts of the country, that there has been a system of lay visitation of the clergy for the purpose of counselling, admonishing, and urging them up to their duty; and that these self-commissioned apostles, two and two, have gone from town to town, and from district to district of the country, making inquisition at the mouth of common rumour, and by such methods as might be convenient, into the conduct and fidelity of clergymen whom they never saw; and, having exhausted their means of information, have made their way into the closets of their adopted proteges; to advise, admonish, pray with, and for them; according as they might need. Having fulfilled their office, they have renewed their march, 'staff and script,' in a straightforward way, to the next parish, in the assigned round of their visitations, to enact the same scene, and so on till their work was done.
"Of course, they were variously received; though, for the most part, I believe they have been treated civilly, and their title to this enterprise not openly disputed. There has been an unaccountable submission to things of this kind, proving indeed that the ministers thus visited were not quite manly enough; or that a public opinion, authorising these transactions, had obtained too extensive a sway in their own connexion, and among their people, to be resisted. By many, doubtless, it was regarded as one of the hopeful symptoms of this age of religious experiment.
"I have heard of one reception of these lay apostles, which may not be unworthy of record. One pair of them—for they went forth 'two and two,' and thus far were conformed to scripture—both of them mechanics, and one a shoemaker, having abandoned their calling to engage in this enterprise, came upon a subject who was not well disposed to recognise their commission. They began to talk with him: 'We have come to stir you up.'—'How is the shoe business in your city?' said the clergyman to the shoemaker, who was the speaker: for it was a city from which they came. The shoemaker looked vacant, and stared at the question, as if he thought it not very pertinent to his errand; and, after a little pause, proceeded in the discharge of his office: 'We have come to give your church a shaking.'—'Is the market for shoes good?' said the clergyman. Abashed at this apparent obliquity, the shoemaker paused again; and again went on in like manner. To which the clergyman: 'Your business is at a stand, sir, I presume; I suppose you have nothing to do.' And so the dialogue went on; the shoemaker confining himself to his duty, and the clergyman talking only of shoes: in varied and constantly-shifting colloquy, till the perverse and wicked pertinacity of the latter discouraged the former; and the shoemaker and his brother took up their hats, 'to shake off the dust of their feet,' and turn away to a more hopeful subject. The clergyman bowed them very civilly out of doors, expressing his wish, as they departed, that the shoe business might soon revive. Of course, these lay apostles, in this instance, were horror-struck; and it cannot be supposed they were much inclined to leave their blessing behind them.
"I believe I do not mistake in expressing the conviction that there are hundreds, not to say thousands, of the Presbyterian and Congregational clergy, who will sympathise with me thoroughly in these strictures on the encroachments of the laity upon pastoral prerogative; who groan under it; who feel that it ought to be rebuked and corrected, but despair of it; and who know that their usefulness is abridged by it to an account that cannot be estimated."
[The Reverend Mr Reid mentions a very whimsical instance of the interference of the laity in every possible way. He says, that being at church one Sabbath, there was one reverend old man, certainly a leader among them, who literally, as the preacher went on with his sermon, kept up a sort of recitation with him as, for instance, the preacher continuing his sermon—
The duty here inferred is, to deny ourselves—
Elder. And enable us to do it.
Preacher. It supposes that the carnal mind is enmity against God—
Elder. Ah, indeed, Lord, it is.
Preacher. The very reverse of what God would have us to be—
Elder. God Almighty knows it's true.
Preacher. How necessary, then, that God should call upon us to renounce everything—
Elder. God help us!
Preacher. Is it necessary for me to say more?
Preacher. Have I not said enough?
Elder. Oh, yes, quite enough.
Preacher. I rejoice that God calls me to give up every thing—
Elder. Yes, Lord, I would let it all go.
Preacher. You must give up all—
Preacher. Your pride—
Elder. My pride.
Preacher. Your envy.
Elder. My envy.
Preacher. Your covetousness—
Elder. My covetousness.
Preacher. Your anger.
Elder. Yes—my anger.
Preacher. Sinner, then; how awful is your condition!
Elder. How awful!
Preacher. What reason for all to examine themselves.
Elder. Lord, help us to search our hearts!
Preacher. Could you have more motives? I have done.
Elder. Thank God.—Thank God for his holy word. Amen.]
"It can hardly be denied, I think, that the prevalence of this spirit has greatly increased within a few years, and become a great and alarming evil. This increase is owing, no doubt, to the influence and new practices introduced into the religious world by a certain class of ministers, who have lately risen and taken upon themselves to rebuke, and set down as unfaithful, all other ministers who do not conform to their new ways, or sustain them in their extravagant career."
The interference, I may say the tyranny, of the laity over the ministers of these democratic churches is, however, of still more serious consequences to those who accept such arduous and repulsive duty. It is a well-known fact, that there is a species of bronchitis, or affection of the lungs, peculiar to the ministers in the United States, arising from their excessive labours in their vocation. I have already observed, that the zeal of the minister is even unto death: the observations of Mr Colton fully bear me out in my assertion:—
"There is another serious evil in the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations, which has attained to the consequence of an active and highly influential element in these communities. I refer to the excessive amount of labour that is demanded of the clergy, which is undermining their health, and sending scores to their graves every year, long before they ought to go there. It is a new state of things, it must be acknowledged, and might seem hopeful of good, that great labours and high devotion to the duties of the Christian ministry in our country will not only be tolerated, but are actually demanded and imperatively exacted. At first glance, it is a most grateful feature. But, when the particulars come to be inquired into, it will be found that the mind and health-destroying exactions now so extensively made on the energies of the American clergy, particularly on these two classes I am now considering, are attributable, almost entirely, to an appetite for certain novelties, which have been introduced within a few years, adding greatly to the amount of ministerial labour, without augmenting its efficiency, but rather detracting from it. Sermons and meetings without end, and in almost endless variety, are expected and demanded; and a proportionate demand is made on the intellect, resources, and physical energies of the preacher. He must be as much more interesting in his exercises, and exhibitions as the increased multiplicity of public religious occasions tend to pall on the appetite of hearers. Protracted meetings from day to day, and often from week to week, are making demands upon ministers, which no human power can sustain and, where these are dispensed with, it is often necessary to introduce something tantamount, in other forms, to satisfy the suggestions and wishes of persons so influential as to render it imprudent not to attempt to gratify them. In the soberest congregations, throughout nearly all parts of the land, these importunate, and, without unkindness, I am disposed to add, morbid minds are to be found, often in considerable numbers. Almost everywhere, in order to maintain their ground and satisfy the taste of the times, labours are demanded of ministers in these two denominations enough to kill any man in a short period. It is as if Satan had come into the world in the form of an angel of light, seeming to be urging on a good work, but pushing it so hard as to destroy the labourers by over exaction.
"The wasting energies—the enfeebled, ruined health—the frequent premature deaths—the failing of ministers in the Presbyterian and Congregational connexions from these causes all over the country, almost as soon as they have begun to work—all which is too manifest not to be seen, which everybody feels that takes any interest in this subject, are principally, and with few exceptions, owing to the unnecessary exorbitant demands on their intellectual powers, their moral and physical energies. And the worst of it is, we not only have no indemnification for this amazing, immense sacrifice, by a real improvement of the state of religion, but the public mind is vitiated: an unnatural appetite for spurious excitements, all tending to fanaticism, and not a little of it the essence of fanaticism, is created and nourished. The interests of religion in the land are actually thrown backward. It is a fever, a disease which nothing but time, pains, and a change of system can cure. A great body of the most talented, best educated, most zealous, most pious, and purest Christian ministers in the country—not to disparage any others—a body which in all respects will bear an advantageous comparison with any of their class in the world, is threatened to be enervated, to become sickly, to have their minds wasted, and their lives sacrificed out of season, and with real loss to the public, by the very means which prostrates them, even though we should leave out of the reckoning the premature end to which they are brought. This spectacle, at this moment before the eyes of the wide community, is enough to fill the mind of an enlightened Christian with dismay. I have myself been thrown ten years out of the stated use of the ministry by this very course, and may, therefore, be entitled to feel and to speak on the subject. And when I see my brethren fallen and falling around me, like the slain in battle, the plains of our land literally covered with these unfortunate victims, I am constrained to express a most earnest desire, that some adequate remedy may be applied."
It is no matter of surprise, then, that I heard the ministers at the camp meeting complain of the excess of their labours, and the difficulty of obtaining young men to enter the church; [The Rev Mr Reid observes, speaking of the Congregationalists, "When I rose to support his resolution, as requested, all were generously attentive. At the close I alluded emphatically to one fact in the report, which was, That out of 4,500 churches there were 2,000 not only void of educated pastors, but void of pastors, and I insisted that, literally, they ought not to sleep on such a state of things."—Reid and Matheson's Tour] who, indeed, unless actuated by a holy zeal, would submit to such a life of degradation? what man of intellect and education could submit to be schooled by shoemakers and mechanics, to live poor, and at the mercy of tyrants, and drop down dead like the jaded and over laden beast from excess of fatigue and exertion? Let me again quote the same author:
"It is these excessive, multitudinous, and often long protracted religious occasions, together with the spirit that is in them, which have been for some years breaking up and breaking down the clergy of this land? It has been breaking them up. It is commonly observed, that a new era has lately come over the Christian congregations of our country in regard to the permanence of the pastoral relation. Times was, in the memory of those now living, when the settlement of a minister was considered of course a settlement for life. But now, as every body knows, this state of things is entirely broken up; and it is, perhaps, true that, on an average, the clergy of this country do not remain more than five years in the same place." ["I was sorry to find that, in this part of the State, the ministers are so frequently changing the scene of their pastoral labours. The fault may sometimes be in themselves: but from conversations I have heard on the subject, I am inclined to believe that the people are fond of a change."—Rev Mr Reid] And it is impossible they should, in the present state of things. They could not stand it. So numerous are their engagements; so full of anxiety is their condition in a fevered state of the public mind acting upon them from all directions; so consuming are their labours in the study and in public, pressed and urged upon them by the demands of the time; and, withal, so fickle has the popular mind become under a system that is forever demanding some new and still more exciting measure—some new society—some new monthly or weekly meeting, which perhaps soon grows into a religious holiday—some special effort running through many days, sometimes lasting for weeks, calling for public labours of ministers, of the most exciting kind throughout each day, from the earliest hour of the morning to a late hour of night; for reasons and facts of this kind, so abundant, and now so obvious to the public, that they need only to be referred to, to be seen and appreciated, it is impossible that ministers should remain long in the same place. Their mental and physical energies become exhausted, and they are compelled to change; first, because it is not in the power of man to satisfy the appetite for novelties which is continually and from all quarters making its insatiate demands upon them; and next; that, if possible, they may purchase a breathing time and a transient relief from the overwhelming pressure of their cares and labours.
"But, alas! there is no relief: they are not only broken up, but they find themselves fast breaking down. Wherever they go, there is the same demand for the same scene to be acted over. There is—there can be—no stability in the pastoral relation, in such a state of the public mind: and, what is still more melancholy and affecting, the pastors themselves cannot endure it—they cannot live. They are not only constantly fluctuating—literally afloat on the wide surface of the community—but their health is undermined—their spirits are sinking—and they are fast treading upon each others' heels to the grave, their only land of rest.
"Never since the days of the apostles, was a country blessed with so enlightened, pious, orthodox, faithful, willing clergy, as the United States of America at this moment; and never did a ministry, so worthy of trust, have so little independence to act according to their conscience and best discretion. They are literally the victims of a spiritual tyranny that has started up and burst upon the world in a new form—at least, with an extent of sway that has never been known. It is an influence which comes up from the lowest conditions of life, which is vested in the most ignorant minds, and, therefore, the more unbending and uncontrollable. It is an influence which has been fostered and blown into a wide-spread flame by a class of itinerating ministers, who have suddenly started up and overrun the land, decrying and denouncing all that have not yielded at once to their sway; by direct and open efforts shaking and destroying public confidence in the settled and more permanent ministry, leaving old paths and striking out new ones, demolishing old systems and substituting others, and disturbing and deranging the whole order of society as it had existed before. And it is to this new state of things, so harassing, so destructive to health and life, that the regular ministry of this country (the best qualified, most pious, most faithful, and in all respects the most worthy Christian ministry that the church has ever enjoyed in any age) are made the victims. They cannot resist it, they are overwhelmed by it."
The fact is, that there is little or no healthy religion in their most numerous and influential churches; it is all excitement. Twenty or thirty years back, the Methodists were considered as extravagantly frantic, but the Congregationalists and Presbyterians in the United States have gone far ahead of them; and the Methodist church in America has become to a degree Episcopal, and softened down into, perhaps, the most pure, most mild, and most simple of all the creeds professed.
I have said that in these two churches the religious feeling was that of excitement: I believe it to be more or less the case in all religion in America; for the Americans are a people who are prone to excitement, not only from their climate, but constitutionally, and it is the caviare of their existence. If it were not so, why is it necessary that revivals should be so continually called forth—a species of stimulus, common, I believe, to almost every sect and creed, promoted and practised in all their colleges, and considered as most important and salutary in their results. Let it not be supposed that I am deprecating that which is to be understood by a revival, in the true sense of the word; not those revivals which were formerly held the benefit of all, and for the salvation of many: I am raising my voice against the modern system, which has been so universally substituted for the reality; such as has been so fully exposed by Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, and, by Mr Colton, who says—
"Religious excitements, called revivals of religion, have been a prominent feature in the history of this country from its earliest periods, more particularly within a hundred years and the agency of man has always had more or less to do in their management, or in their origination, or in both. Formerly, in theory, (for man is naturally a philosopher, and will always have his theory for every event, and every fact,) they were regarded as Pentecostal seasons—as showers from heaven; with which this world below had nothing to do but to receive, and be refreshed by them as they came. A whole community, or the great majority of them, absorbed in serious thoughts about eternal things, inquiring the way to heaven, and seeming intent on the attainment of that high and glorious condition, presents a spectacle as solemn as it is interesting to contemplate. Such, doubtless, has been the condition of many communities in the early and later history of American revivals; and it is no less true that the fruits have been the turning of many to God and his ways.
"The revivals of the present day are of a very different nature." [The American clergymen are supported in their opinion on the present revivals and their consequences by Doctors Reid and Matheson, who, otherwise favourable to them, observe, "These revival preachers have denounced pastors with whom they could not compare, as dumb dogs, hypocrites, and formalists, leading their people to hell. The consequences have been most disastrous. Churches have become the sport of derision, distraction, and disorder. Pastors have been made unhappy in their dearest connexions. So extensive has been this evil, that, in one presbytery of nineteen churches, there were only three who had settled pastors; and in one synod, in 1832, of a hundred and three churches, only fifty-two had pastors."] "There are but two ways by which the mind of man can be brought to a proper sense of religion—one is by love, and the other by fear; and it is by the latter only that modern revivals become at all effective. Bishop Hopkins says, very truly—'Have we any example in the preaching of Christ and his apostles, of the use of strong individual denunciation? Is there one sentence in the word of inspiration to justify the attempt to excite the feelings of a public assembly, until every restraint of order is forgotten, and confusion becomes identified with the word of God." ["The Primitive Church Compared," etcetera, by the Bishop of Vermont.] Yet such are the revivals of the present day, as practised in America. Mr Colton calls them—"Those startling and astounding shocks which are constantly invented, artfully and habitually applied, under all the power of sympathy, and of a studied and enthusiastic elocution, by a large class of preachers among us. To startle and to shock is their great secret— their power."
The same author then proceeds:
"Religion is a dread and awful theme in itself. That is, as all must concede, there are revealed truths belonging to the category. To invest these truths with terrors that do not belong to them, by bringing them out in distorted shapes and unnatural forms; to surprise a tender and unfortified mind by one of awful import, without exhibiting the corresponding relief which Christianity has provided; to frighten, shock, and paralyse the mind with alternations and scenes of horror, carefully concealing the ground of encouragement and hope, till reason is shaken and hurled from its throne, for the sake of gaining a convert, and in making a convert to make a maniac (as doubtless sometimes occurs under this mode of preaching, for we have the proof of it,) involves a fearful responsibility. I have just heard of an interesting girl thus driven to distraction, in the city of New York, at the tender age of fourteen, by being approached by the preacher after a sermon of this kind, with a secretary by his side with a book and pen in his hand, to take down the names and answers of those who, by invitation, remained to be conversed with. Having taken her name, the preacher asked, 'Are you for God or the devil?' Being overcome, her head depressed, and in tears, she made no reply. 'Put her down, then, in the devil's book,' said the preacher to his secretary. From that time the poor girl became insane; and, in her simplicity and innocence, has been accustomed to tell the story of her misfortunes."
And yet these revivals are looked up to and supported as the strong arm of religion. It is not only the ignorant or the foolish, but the enlightened and the educated also, who support and encourage them, either from a consideration of their utility, or from that fear, so universal in the United States, of expressing an opinion contrary to the majority. How otherwise could they be introduced once or twice a year into all the colleges, the professors of which are surely most of them men of education and strong mind? Yet such is the fact. It is announced that some minister, peculiarly gifted to work in revivals, is to come on a certain day. Books are thrown on one side, study is abandoned, and ten days perhaps are spent in religious exercises of the most violent and exciting character. It is a scene of strange confusion, some praying, some pretending to pray, some scoffing. Day after day it is carried on, until the excitement is at its height, as the exhortations and the denunciations of the preacher are poured into their ears. A young American who was at one of the colleges, and gave me a full detail of what had occurred, told me that on one occasion a poor lad, frightened out of his senses, and anxious to pray, as the vengeance and wrath of the Almighty was poured out by the minister, sunk down upon his knees and commenced his prayer with "Almighty and diabolical God!" No misnomer, if what the preacher had thundered out was the truth.
As an example of the interference of the laity, and of the description of people who may be so authorised, the same gentleman told me that at one revival a deacon said to him previous to the meeting, "Now, Mr —, if you don't take advantage of this here revival and lay up a little salvation for your soul, all I can say is, that you ought to have your (something) confoundedly well kicked."
What I have already said on this subject will, I think, establish two points, first, that the voluntary system does not work well for society; and secondly, that the ministers of the churches are treated with such tyranny and contumely, as to warrant the assertion, that in a country, like the United States, where a man may, in any other profession, become independent in a few years, the number of those who enter into the ministry must decrease at the very time that the population and demand for them will increase.
We have now another question to be examined, and a very important one, which is:—Are those who worship under the voluntary system supplied at a cheaper rate than those of the established churches in this kingdom?
I say this is an important question, as there is no doubt that one of the principal causes of dissenting has been the taxes upon religion in this country, and the wish, if it were attainable, of worshipping at free cost. In entering into this question, there is no occasion to refer to any particular sect, as the system is much the same with them all, and is nearly as follows:
Some pious and well disposed people of a certain persuasion, we will say, imagine that another church might, if it were built, be well filled with those of their own sect: and that, if it is not built, the consequences will be that many of their own persuasion will, from the habit of attending other churches, depart from those tenets which they are anxious should not only be retained by those who have embraced them, but as much as possible promulgated, so as to gather strength and make converts—for it should be borne in mind that the sectarian spirit is one great cause of the rapid church-building in America. [Churches are also built upon speculation, as they sometimes are in England.] One is of Paul, another of Apollos. They meet, and become the future deacons and elders, in all probability, to whom the minister has to bow; they agree to build a church at their own risque: they are not speculators, but religious people, who have not the least wish to make money, but who are prepared, if necessary, to lose it.
Say then that a handsome church (I am referring to the cities) of brick or stone, is raised in a certain quarter of the city, and that it costs 75,000 dollars. When the interior is complete, and the pews are all built, they divide the whole cost of the church upon the pews, more or less value being put upon them according to their situations. Allowing that there are two hundred pews, the one hundred most eligible being valued at five hundred dollars each; and the other one hundred inferior at two hundred and fifty dollars; these prices would pay the 75,000 dollars, the whole expense of the church building.
The pews are then put up to auction; some of the most eligible will fetch higher prices than the valuation, while some are sold below the valuation. If all are not sold, the residue remains upon the hands of the parties who built the church, and who may for a time be out of pocket. They have, however, to aid them, the extra price paid for the best pews, and the sale of the vaults for burial in the church-yard. Most of the pews being sold, the church is partly paid for. The next point is to select a minister, and, after due trial, one is chosen. If he be a man of eloquence and talent, and his doctrines acceptable to the many, the church fills, the remainder of the pews are sold, and so far the expenses of building the church are defrayed; but they have still to pay the salary of the minister, the heating and lighting of the church, the organist, and the vocalists: this is done by an assessment upon the pews, each pew being assessed according to the sum which it fetched when sold by auction.
I will now give the exact expenses of an American gentleman in Boston, who has his pew in one of the largest churches.
He purchased his pew at auction for seven hundred and fifty dollars, it being one of the best in the church. The salaries of the most popular ministers vary from fifteen hundred to three or four thousand dollars. The organist receives about five hundred; the vocalists from two to three hundred dollars each. To meet his share of these and the other expenses, the assessment of this gentleman is sixty-three dollars per annum. Now, the interest of seven hundred and fifty dollars in America is forty-five dollars, and the assessment being sixty-three—one hundred and eight dollars per annum, or twenty-two pounds ten shillings sterling for his yearly expenses under the voluntary system. This, of course, does not include the offerings of the plate, charity sermons, etcetera, all of which are to be added, and which will swell the sum, according to my friend's statement, to about thirty pounds per annum. ["A great evil of our American churches is, their great respectability or exclusiveness. Here, being of a large size and paid by Government, the church is open to all the citizens, with an equal right and equal chance of accommodation. In ours, the dearness of pew-rent, especially in Episcopal and Presbyterian, turns poverty out of doors. Poor people have a sense of shame, and I know many a one, who, because he cannot go to Heaven decently, will not go at all."—Sketches of Paris by an American Gentleman.]