There is a great deal of freedom in the Exhibition. The servant who walks behind his mistress through the Park feels that he can crowd against her in the Exhibition. The Queen and the day labourer, the Prince and the merchant, the peer and the pauper, the Celt and the Saxon, the Greek and the Frank, the Hebrew and the Russ, all meet here upon terms of perfect equality. This amalgamation of rank, this kindly blending of interests, and forgetfulness of the cold formalities of ranks and grades, cannot but be attended with the very best results. I was pleased to see such a goodly sprinkling of my own countrymen in the Exhibition—I mean coloured men and women—well-dressed, and moving about with their fairer brethren. This, some of our pro-slavery Americans did not seem to relish very well. There was no help for it. As I walked through the American part of the Crystal Palace, some of our Virginian neighbours eyed me closely and with jealous looks, especially as an English lady was leaning on my arm. But their sneering looks did not disturb me in the least. I remained the longer in their department, and criticised the bad appearance of their goods the more. Indeed, the Americans, as far as appearance goes, are behind every other country in the Exhibition. The "Greek Slave" is the only production of Art which the United States has sent. And it would have been more to their credit had they kept that at home. In so vast a place as the Great Exhibition one scarcely knows what to visit first, or what to look upon last. After wandering about through the building for five hours, I sat down in one of the galleries and looked at the fine marble statue of Virginius, with the knife in his hand and about to take the life of his beloved and beautiful daughter, to save her from the hands of Appius Claudius. The admirer of genius will linger for hours among the great variety of statues in the long avenue. Large statues of Lords Eldon and Stowell, carved out of solid marble, each weighing above twenty tons, are among the most gigantic in the building.
I was sitting with my 400 paged guide-book before me, and looking down upon the moving mass, when my attention was called to a small group of gentlemen standing near the statue of Shakspere, one of whom wore a white coat and hat, and had flaxen hair, and trousers rather short in the legs. The lady by my side, and who had called my attention to the group, asked if I could tell what country this odd-looking gentleman was from? Not wishing to run the risk of a mistake, I was about declining to venture an opinion, when the reflection of the sun against a mirror, on the opposite side, threw a brilliant light upon the group, and especially on the face of the gentleman in the white coat, and I immediately recognized under the brim of the white hat, the features of Horace Greeley, Esq., of the New York "Tribune." His general appearance was as much out of the English style as that of the Turk whom I had seen but a moment before—in his bag-like trousers, shuffling along in his slippers. But oddness in dress, is one of the characteristics of the Great Exhibition.
Among the many things in the Crystal Palace, there are some which receive greater attention than others, around which may always be seen large groups of the visitors. The first of these is the Koh-i-noor, the "Mountain of Light." This is the largest and most valuable diamond in the world, said to be worth L2,000,000 sterling. It is indeed a great source of attraction to those who go to the Exhibition for the first time, but it is doubtful whether it obtains such admiration afterwards. We saw more than one spectator turn away with the idea that after all it was only a piece of glass. After some jamming, I got a look at the precious jewel, and although in a brass-grated cage, strong enough to hold a lion, I found it to be no larger than the third of a hen's egg. Two policemen remain by its side day and night.
The finest thing in the Exhibition, is the "Veiled Vestal," a statue of a woman carved in marble, with a veil over her face, and so neatly done, that it looks as if it had been thrown over after it was finished. The Exhibition presents many things which appeal to the eye and touch the heart, and altogether, it is so decorated and furnished, as to excite the dullest mind, and satisfy the most fastidious.
England has contributed the most useful and substantial articles; France, the most beautiful; while Russia, Turkey, and the West Indies, seem to vie with each other in richness. China and Persia are not behind. Austria has also contributed a rich and beautiful stock. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the smaller states of Europe, have all tried to outdo themselves in sending goods to the World's Fair. In Machinery, England has no competitor. In Art, France is almost alone in the Exhibition, setting aside England.
In natural productions and provisions, America stands alone in her glory. There lies her pile of canvassed hams; whether they were wood or real, we could not tell. There are her barrels of salt, beef, and pork, her beautiful white lard, her Indian-corn and corn-meal, her rice and tobacco, her beef tongues, dried peas, and a few bags of cotton. The contributors from the United States seemed to have forgotten that this was an exhibition of Art, or they most certainly would not have sent provisions. But the United States takes the lead in the contributions, as no other country has sent in provisions. The finest thing contributed by our countrymen, is a large piece of silk with an eagle painted upon it, surrounded by stars and stripes.
After remaining more than five hours in the great temple, I turned my back upon the richly laden stalls and left the Crystal Palace. On my return home I was more fortunate than in the morning, inasmuch as I found a seat for my friend and myself in an omnibus. And even my ride in the close omnibus was not without interest. For I had scarcely taken my seat, when my friend, who was seated opposite me, with looks and gesture informed me that we were in the presence of some distinguished person. I eyed the countenances of the different persons, but in vain, to see if I could find any one who by his appearance showed signs of superiority over his fellow-passengers. I had given up the hope of selecting the person of note when another look from my friend directed my attention to a gentlemen seated in the corner of the omnibus. He was a tall man with strongly marked features, hair dark and coarse. There was a slight stoop of the shoulder—that bend which is almost always a characteristic of studious men. But he wore upon his countenance a forbidding and disdainful frown, that seemed to tell one that he thought himself better than those about him. His dress did not indicate a man of high rank; and had we been in America, I would have taken him for an Ohio farmer.
While I was scanning the features and general appearance of the gentleman, the Omnibus stopped and put down three or four of the passengers, which gave me an opportunity of getting a seat by the side of my friend, who, in a low whisper, informed me that the gentleman whom I had been eyeing so closely, was no less a person than Thomas Carlyle. I had read his "Hero-worship," and "Past and Present," and had formed a high opinion of his literary abilities. But his recent attack upon the emancipated people of the West Indies, and his laborious article in favour of the re-establishment of the lash and slavery, had created in my mind a dislike for the man, and I almost regretted that we were in the same Omnibus. In some things, Mr. Carlyle is right: but in many, he is entirely wrong. As a writer, Mr. Carlyle is often monotonous and extravagant. He does not exhibit a new view of nature, or raise insignificant objects into importance, but generally takes commonplace thoughts and events, and tries to express them in stronger and statelier language than others. He holds no communion with his kind, but stands alone without mate or fellow. He is like a solitary peak, all access to which is cut off. He exists not by sympathy but by antipathy. Mr. Carlyle seems chiefly to try how he shall display his own powers, and astonish mankind, by starting new trains of speculation or by expressing old ones so as not to be understood. He cares little what he says, so as he can say it differently from others. To read his works, is one thing; to understand them, is another. If any one thinks that I exaggerate, let him sit for an hour over "Sartor Resartus," and if he does not rise from its pages, place his three or four dictionaries on the shelf, and say I am right, I promise never again to say a word against Thomas Carlyle. He writes one page in favour of Reform, and ten against it. He would hang all prisoners to get rid of them, yet the inmates of the prisons and "work-houses are better off than the poor." His heart is with the poor; yet the blacks of the West Indies should be taught, that if they will not raise sugar and cotton by their own free will, "Quashy should have the whip applied to him." He frowns upon the Reformatory speakers upon the boards of Exeter Hall, yet he is the prince of reformers. He hates heroes and assassins, yet Cromwell was an angel, and Charlotte Corday a saint. He scorns everything, and seems to be tired of what he is by nature, and tries to be what he is not. But you will ask, what has Thomas Carlyle to do with a visit to the Crystal Palace? My only reply is, "Nothing," and if my remarks upon him have taken up the space that should have been devoted to the Exhibition, and what I have written not prove too burdensome to read, my next will be "a week in the Crystal Palace."
The London Peace Congress—Meeting of Fugitive Slaves—Temperance Demonstration—The Great Exhibition: last visit.
LONDON, August 20.
The past six weeks have been of a stirring nature in this great metropolis. It commenced with the Peace Congress, the proceedings of which have long since reached you. And although that event has passed off, it may not be out of place here to venture a remark or two upon its deliberations.
A meeting upon the subject of Peace, with the support of the monied and influential men who rally around the Peace standard, could scarcely have been held in Exeter Hall without creating some sensation. From all parts of the world flocked delegates to this practical protest against war. And among those who took part in the proceedings, were many men whose names alone would, even on ordinary occasions, have filled the great hall. The speakers were chosen from among the representatives of the various countries, without regard to dialect or complexion; and the only fault which seemed to be found with the Committee's arrangement was, that in their desire to get foreigners and Londoners, they forgot the country delegates, so that none of the large provincial towns were at all represented in the Congress, so far as speaking was concerned. Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and all the important towns in Scotland and Ireland, were silenced in the great meeting. I need not say that this was an oversight of the Committee, and one, too, that has done some injury. Such men as the able Chairman of the late Anti-Corn Law League, cannot be forgotten in such a meeting, without giving offence to those who sent him, especially when the Committee brought forward, day after day, the same speakers, chosen from amongst the metropolitan delegation. However, the meeting was a glorious one, and will long be remembered with delight as a step onward in the cause of Peace. Burritt's Brotherhood Bazaar followed close upon the heels of the Peace Congress; and this had scarcely closed, when that ever-memorable meeting of the American Fugitive Slaves took place in the Hall of Commerce.
The Temperance people made the next reformatory move. This meeting took place in Exeter Hall, and was made up of delegates from the various towns in the kingdom. They had come from the North, East, West, and South. There was the quick-spoken son of the Emerald Isle, with his pledge suspended from his neck; there, too, the Scot, speaking his broad dialect; also the representatives from the provincial towns of England and Wales, who seemed to speak anything but good English.
The day after the meeting had closed in Exeter Hall, the country societies, together with those of the metropolis, assembled in Hyde Park, and then walked to the Crystal Palace. Their number while going to the Exhibition, was variously estimated at from 15,000 to 20,000, and was said to have been the largest gathering of Teetotalers ever assembled in London. They consisted chiefly of the working classes, their wives and children—clean, well-dressed and apparently happy: their looks indicating in every way those orderly habits which, beyond question, distinguish the devotees of that cause above the common labourers of this country. On arriving at the Exhibition, they soon distributed themselves among the departments, to revel in its various wonders, eating their own lunch, and drinking from the Crystal Fountain.
And now I am at the world's wonder, I will remain here until I finish this sheet. I have spent fifteen days in the Exhibition, and have conversed with those who have spent double that number amongst its beauties, and the general opinion appears to be, that six months would not be too long to remain within its walls to enable one to examine its laden stalls. Many persons make the Crystal Palace their home, with the exception of night. I have seen them come in the morning, visit the dressing-room, then go to the refreshment room, and sit down to breakfast as if they had been at their hotel. Dinner and tea would be taken in turn.
The Crystal Fountain is the great place of meeting in the Exhibition. There you may see husbands looking for lost wives, wives for stolen husbands, mothers for their lost children, and towns-people for their country friends; and unless you have an appointment at a certain place at an hour, you might as well prowl through the streets of London to find a friend, as in the Great Exhibition. There is great beauty in the "Glass House." Here, in the transept, with the glorious sunlight coming through that wonderful glass roof, may the taste be cultivated and improved, the mind edified, and the feelings chastened. Here, surrounded by noble creations in marble and bronze, and in the midst of an admiring throng, one may gaze at statuary which might fitly decorate the house of the proudest prince in Christendom.
He who takes his station in the gallery, at either end, and looks upon that wondrous nave, or who surveys the matchless panorama around him from the intersection of the nave and transept, may be said, without presumption or exaggeration, to see all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them. He sees not only a greater collection of fine articles, but also a greater as well as more various assemblage of the human race, than ever before was gathered under one roof.
One of the beauties of this great international gathering is, that it is not confined to rank or grade. The million toilers from mine, and factory, and workshop, and loom, and office, and field, share with their more wealthy neighbours the feast of reason and imagination spread out in the Crystal Palace.
It is strange indeed to see so many nations assembled and represented on one spot of British ground. In short, it is one great theatre, with thousands of performers, each playing his own part. England is there, with her mighty engines toiling and whirring, indefatigable in her enterprises to shorten labour. India spreads her glitter and paint. France, refined and fastidious, is there every day, giving the last touch to her picturesque group; and the other countries, each in their turn, doing what they can to show off. The distant hum of thousands of good humoured people, with occasionally a national anthem from some gigantic organ, together with the noise of the machinery, seems to send life into every part of the Crystal Palace.
When you get tired of walking, you can sit down and write your impressions, and there is the "post" to receive your letter, or if it be Friday or Saturday, you may, if you choose, rest yourself by hearing a lecture from Professor Anstead; and then before leaving take your last look, and see something that you have not before seen. Every thing which is old in cities, new in colonial life, splendid in courts, useful in industry, beautiful in nature, or ingenious in invention, is there represented. In one place we have the Bible translated into one hundred and fifty languages; in another, we have saints and archbishops painted on glass; in another, old palaces and the altars of a John Knox, a Baxter, or some other divines of olden time. In the old Temple of Delphi, we read that every state of the civilized world had its separate treasury, where Herodotus, born two thousand years before his time, saw and observed all kinds of prodigies in gold and silver, brass and iron, and even in linen. The nations all met there on one common ground, and the peace of the earth was not a little promoted by their common interest in the sanctity and splendour of that shrine. As long as the Exhibition lasts, and its memory endures, we hope and trust that it may shed the same influence. With this hasty scrap, I take leave of the Great Exhibition.
Oxford—Martyrs' Monument—Cost of the Burning of the Martyrs—The Colleges—Dr. Pusey—Energy, the Secret of Success.
OXFORD, September 10th, 1851.
I have just finished a short visit to the far famed city of Oxford, which has not unaptly been styled the City of Palaces. Aside from this being one of the principal seats of learning in the world, it is distinguished alike for its religious and political changes in times past. At one time it was the seat of Popery; at another, the uncompromising enemy of Rome. Here the tyrant, Richard the Third, held his court, and when James the First, and his son Charles the First, found their capital too hot to hold them, they removed to their loyal city of Oxford. The writings of the great Republicans were here committed to the flames. At one time Popery sent Protestants to the stake and faggot; at another, a Papist King found no favour with the people. A noble monument now stands where Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, proclaimed their sentiments and faith, and sealed them with their blood. And now we read upon the Town Treasurer's book—for three loads of wood, one load of faggots, one post, two chains and staples, to burn Ridley and Latimer, L1 5s. 1d. Such is the information one gets by looking over the records of books written three centuries ago.
It was a beautiful day on which I arrived at Oxford, and instead of remaining in my hotel, I sallied forth to take a survey of the beauties of the city. I strolled into Christ Church Meadows, and there spent the evening in viewing the numerous halls of learning which surround that splendid promenade. And fine old buildings they are: centuries have rolled over many of them, hallowing the old walls, and making them grey with age. They have been for ages the chosen homes of piety and philosophy. Heroes and scholars have gone forth from their studies here, into the great field of the world, to seek their fortunes, and to conquer and be conquered. As I surveyed the exterior of the different Colleges, I could here and there see the reflection of the light from the window of some student, who was busy at his studies, or throwing away his time over some trashy novel, too many of which find their way into the trunks or carpet bags of the young men on setting out for College. As I looked upon the walls of these buildings, I thought as the rough stone is taken from the quarry to the finisher, there to be made into an ornament, so was the young mind brought here to be cultivated and developed. Many a poor unobtrusive young man, with the appearance of little or no ability, is here moulded into a hero, a scholar, a tyrant, or a friend of humanity. I never look upon these monuments of education, without a feeling of regret, that so few of our own race can find a place within their walls. And this being the fact, I see more and more the need of our people being encouraged to turn their attention more seriously to self-education, and thus to take a respectable position before the world, by virtue of their own cultivated minds and moral standing.
Education, though obtained by a little at a time, and that, too, over the midnight lamp, will place its owner in a position to be respected by all, even though he be black. I know that the obstacles which the laws of the land, and of society, place between the coloured man and education in the United States, are very great, yet if one can break through these barriers, more can; and if our people would only place the right appreciation upon education, they would find these obstacles are easier to be overcome than at first sight appears. A young man once asked Carlyle, what was the secret of success. His reply was, "Energy; whatever you undertake, do it with all your might." Had it not been for the possession of energy, I might now have been working as a servant for some brainless fellow who might be able to command my labour with his money, or I might have been yet toiling in chains and slavery. But thanks to energy, not only for my being to-day in a land of freedom, but also for my dear girls being in one of the best seminaries in France, instead of being in an American school, where the finger of scorn would be pointed at them by those whose superiority rests entirely upon their having a whiter skin. But I am straying too far from the purpose of this letter.
Oxford is indeed one of the finest located places in the kingdom, and every inch of ground about it seems hallowed by interesting associations. The University, founded by the good King Alfred, still throws its shadow upon the side-walk; and the lapse of ten centuries seems to have made but little impression upon it. Other seats of learning may be entitled to our admiration, but Oxford claims our veneration. Although the lateness of the night compelled me, yet I felt an unwillingness to tear myself from the scene of such surpassing interest. Few places in any country as noted as Oxford is, but what has some distinguished person residing within its precincts. And knowing that the City of Palaces was not an exception to this rule, I resolved to see some of its lions. Here, of course, is the head quarters of the Bishop of Oxford, a son of the late William Wilberforce, Africa's noble champion. I should have been glad to have seen this distinguished pillar of the Church, but I soon learned that the Bishop's residence was out of town, and that he seldom visited the city except on business. I then determined to see one who, although a lesser dignitary in the church, is nevertheless, scarcely less known than the Bishop of Oxford. This was the Rev. Dr. Pusey, a divine, whose name is known wherever the religion of Jesus is known and taught, and the acknowledged head of the Puseyites. On the second morning of my visit, I proceeded to Christ Church Chapel, where the rev. gentleman officiates. Fortunately I had an opportunity of seeing the Dr., and following close in his footsteps to the church. His personal appearance is anything but that of one who is the leader of a growing and powerful party in the church. He is rather under the middle size, and is round shouldered, or rather stoops. His profile is more striking than his front face, the nose being very large and prominent. As a matter of course, I expected to see a large nose, for all great men have them. He has a thoughtful, and somewhat sullen brow, a firm and somewhat pensive mouth, a cheek pale, thin, and deeply furrowed. A monk fresh from the cloisters of Tintern Abbey, in its proudest days, could scarcely have made a more ascetic and solemn appearance than did Dr. Pusey on this occasion. He is not apparently above forty-five, or at most fifty years of age, and his whole aspect renders him an admirable study for an artist. Dr. Pusey's style of preaching is cold and tame, and one looking at him would scarcely believe that such an apparently uninteresting man could cause such an eruption in the Church as he has. I was glad to find that a coloured young man was among the students at Oxford.
A few months since, I paid a visit to our countryman, Alexander Crummel, who is still pursuing his studies at Cambridge—a place, though much inferior to Oxford as far as appearance is concerned, is yet said to be greatly its superior as a place of learning. In an hour's walk through the Strand, Regent, or Piccadilly Streets in London, one may meet half a dozen coloured young men, who are inmates of the various Colleges in the metropolis. These are all signs of progress in the cause of the sons of Africa. Then let our people take courage, and with that courage let them apply themselves to learning. A determination to excel is the sure road to greatness, and that is as open to the black man as the white. It was that which has accomplished the mightiest and noblest triumphs in the intellectual and physical world. It was that which has made such rapid strides towards civilization, and broken the chains of ignorance and superstition, which have so long fettered the human intellect. It was determination which raised so many worthy individuals from the humble walks of society, and from poverty, and placed them in positions of trust and renown. It is no slight barrier that can effectually oppose the determination of the will—success must ultimately crown its efforts. "The world shall hear of me," was the exclamation of one whose name has become as familiar as household words. A Toussaint, once laboured in the sugar field with his spelling-book in his pocket, amid the combined efforts of a nation to keep him in ignorance. His name is now recorded among the list of statesmen of the past. A Soulouque was once a slave, and knew not how to read. He now sits upon the throne of an Empire.
In our own country, there are men who once held the plough, and that too without any compensation, who are now presiding at the editor's table. It was determination that brought out the genius of a Franklin, and a Fulton, and that has distinguished many of the American Statesmen, who but for their energy and determination would never have had a name beyond the precincts of their own homes.
It is not always those who have the best advantages, or the greatest talents, that eventually succeed in their undertakings; but it is those who strive with untiring diligence to remove all obstacles to success, and who, with unconquerable resolution, labour on until the rich reward of perseverance is within their grasp. Then again let me say to our young men—Take courage; "There is a good time coming." The darkness of the night appears greatest just before the dawn of day.
Fugitive Slaves in England.
The love of freedom is one of those natural impulses of the human breast which cannot be extinguished. Even the brute animals of the creation feel and show sorrow and affection when deprived of their liberty. Therefore is a distinguished writer justified in saying, "Man is free, even were he born in chains." The Americans boast, and justly, too, that Washington was the hero and model patriot of the American Revolution—the man whose fame, unequalled in his own day and country, will descend to the end of time, the pride and honour of humanity. The American speaks with pride of the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill; and when standing in Faneuil Hall, he points to the portraits of Otis, Adams, Hancock, Quincy, Warren, and Franklin, and tells you that their names will go down to posterity among the world's most devoted and patriotic friends of human liberty.
It was on the first of August, 1851, that a number of men, fugitives from that boasted land of freedom, assembled at the Hall of Commerce in the City of London, for the purpose of laying their wrongs before the British nation, and at the same time, to give thanks to the God of Freedom for the liberation of their West India brethren, on the first of August, 1834. Little notice had been given of the intended meeting, yet it seemed to be known in all parts of the city. At the hour of half-past seven, for which the meeting had been called, the spacious hall was well filled, and the fugitives, followed by some of the most noted English Abolitionists, entered the hall, amid the most deafening applause, and took their seats on the platform. The appearance of the great hall at this juncture was most splendid. Besides the committee of fugitives, on the platform there were a number of the oldest and most devoted of the Slave's friends. On the left of the chair sat Geo. Thompson, Esq., M.P.; near him was the Rev. Jabez Burns, D.D.; and by his side the Rev. John Stevenson, M.A., Wm. Farmer, Esq., R. Smith, Esq.; while on the other side were the Rev. Edward Mathews, John Cunliff, Esq., Andrew Paton, Esq., J.P. Edwards, Esq., and a number of coloured gentlemen from the West Indies. The body of the hall was not without its distinguished guests. The Chapmans and Westons of Boston, U.S., were there. The Estlins and Tribes had come all the way from Bristol to attend the great meeting. The Patons of Glasgow had delayed their departure, so as to be present. The Massies had come in from Upper Clapton. Not far from the platform sat Sir Francis Knowles, Bart., still farther back was Samuel Bowly, Esq., while near the door were to be seen the greatest critic of the age, and England's best living poet. Macaulay had laid aside the pen, entered the hall, and was standing near the central door, while not far from the historian stood the newly-appointed Poet Laureat. The author of "In Memoriam" had been swept in by the crowd, and was standing with his arms folded, and beholding for the first time (and probably the last) so large a number of coloured men in one room. In different parts of the hall were men and women from nearly all parts of the kingdom, besides a large number who, drawn to London by the Exhibition, had come in to see and hear these oppressed people plead their own cause.
The writer of this sketch was chosen Chairman of the meeting, and commenced its proceedings by delivering the following address, which we cut from the columns of the Morning Advertiser:—
"The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, remarked that, although the metropolis had of late been inundated with meetings of various character, having reference to almost every variety of subject, yet that the subject they were called upon that evening to discuss differed from them all. Many of those by whom he was surrounded, like himself, had been victims to the inhuman institution of Slavery, and were in consequence exiled from the land of their birth. They were fugitives from their native land, but not fugitives from justice, and they had not fled from a monarchical, but from a so-called republican government. They came from amongst a people who declared, as part of their creed, that all men were born free, but who, while they did so, made slaves of every sixth man, woman, and child in the country (hear, hear). He must not, however, forget that one of the purposes for which they were met that night was to commemorate the emancipation of their brothers and sisters in the isles of the sea. That act of the British Parliament, and he might add in this case with peculiar emphasis, of the British nation, passed on the 12th day of August, 1833, to take effect on the first day of August, 1834, and which enfranchised 800,000 West Indian slaves, was an event sublime in its nature, comprehensive and mighty in its immediate influences and remote consequences, precious beyond expression to the cause of freedom, and encouraging beyond the measure of any government on earth to the hearts of all enlightened and just men. This act was the commencement of a long course of philanthropic and Christian efforts on the part of some of the best men that the world ever produced. It was not his intention to go into a discussion or a calculation of the rise and fall of property, or whether sugar was worth more or less by the act of emancipation. But the abolition of Slavery in the West Indies, was a blow struck in the right direction, at that most inhuman of all traffics, the slave trade—a trade which would never cease so long as slavery existed, for where there was a market there would be merchandise; where there was demand there would be a supply; where there were carcases there would be vultures; and they might as well attempt to turn the water, and make it run up the Niagara river, as to change this law. It was often said by the Americans that England was responsible for the existence of slavery there, because it was introduced into that country while the colonies were under the British Crown. If that were the case, they must come to the conclusion that, as England abolished Slavery in the West Indies, she would have done the same for the American States if she had had the power to do it; and if that was so, they might safely say that the separation of the United States from the mother country was (to say the least) a great misfortune to one-sixth of the population of that land. England had set a noble example to America, and he would to heaven his countrymen would follow the example. The Americans boasted of their superior knowledge, but they needed not to boast of their superior guilt, for that was set upon a hill top, and that too, so high, that it required not the lantern of Diogenes to find it out. Every breeze from the western world brought upon its wings the groans and cries of the victims of this guilt. Nearly all countries had fixed the seal of disapprobation on slavery, and when, at some future age, this stain on the page of history shall be pointed at, posterity will blush at the discrepancy between American profession and American practice. What was to be thought of a people boasting of their liberty, their humanity, their Christianity, their love of justice, and at the same time keeping in slavery nearly four millions of God's children, and shutting out from them the light of the Gospel, by denying the Bible to the slave! (Hear, hear.) No education, no marriage, everything done to keep the mind of the slave in darkness. There was a wish on the part of the people of the northern States to shield themselves from the charge of slave-holding, but as they shared in the guilt, he was not satisfied with letting them off without their share in the odium. And now a word about the Fugitive Slave Bill. That measure was in every respect an unconstitutional measure. It set aside the right formerly enjoyed by the fugitive of trial by jury—it afforded to him no protection, no opportunity of proving his right to be free, and it placed every free coloured person at the mercy of any unprincipled individual who might wish to lay claim to him. (Hear.) That law is opposed to the principles of Christianity—foreign alike to the laws of God and man, it had converted the whole population of the free States into a band of slave-catchers, and every rood of territory is but so much hunting ground, over which they might chase the fugitive. But while they were speaking of slavery in the United States, they must not omit to mention that there was a strong feeling in that land, not only against the Fugitive Slave Law, but also against the existence of slavery in any form. There was a band of fearless men and women in the city of Boston, whose labours for the slave had resulted in good beyond calculation. This noble and heroic class had created an agitation in the whole country, until their principles have taken root in almost every association in the land, and which, with God's blessing, will, in due time, cause the Americans to put into practice what they have so long professed. (Hear, hear.) He wished it to be continually held up before the country, that the northern States are as deeply implicated in the guilt of slavery as the South. The north had a population of 13,553,328 freemen; the south had a population of only 6,393,756 freemen; the north has 152 representatives in the house, the south only 81; and it would be seen by this, that the balance of power was with the free States. Looking, therefore, at the question in all its aspects, he was sure that there was no one in this country but who would find out, that the slavery of the United States of America was a system the most abandoned and the most tyrannical. (Hear, hear.)"
At the close of this address, the Rev. Edward Matthews, last from Bristol, but who had recently returned from the United States, where he had been maltreated on account of his fidelity to the cause of freedom, was introduced, and made a most interesting speech. The next speaker was George Thompson, Esq., M.P.; and we need only say that his eloquence, which has seldom or ever been equalled, and never surpassed, exceeded, on this occasion, the most sanguine expectations of his friends. All who sat under the thundering anathemas which he hurled against slavery, seemed instructed, delighted, and animated. No one could scarcely have remained unmoved by the pensive sympathies that pervaded the entire assembly. There were many in the meeting who had never seen a fugitive slave before, and when any of the speakers would refer to those on the platform, the whole audience seemed moved to tears. No meeting of the kind held in London for years created a greater sensation than this gathering of refugees from the "Land of the free, and the home of the brave." The following appeal, which I had written for the occasion, was unanimously adopted at the close of the meeting, and thus ended the great Anti-Slavery demonstration of 1851.
AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE WORLD.
We consider it just, both to the people of the United States and to ourselves, in making an appeal to the inhabitants of other countries, against the laws which have exiled us from our native land, to state the ground upon which we make our appeal, and the causes which impel us to do so. There are in the United States of America, at the present time, between three and four millions of persons, who are held in a state of slavery which has no parallel in any other part of the world; and whose numbers have, within the last fifty years, increased to a fearful extent. These people are not only deprived of the rights to which the laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, but every avenue to knowledge is closed against them. The laws do not recognise the family relation of a slave, and extend to him protection in the enjoyment of domestic endearments. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, are torn asunder, and permitted to see each other no more. The shrieks and agonies of the slave are heard in the markets at the seat of government, and within hearing of the American Congress, as well as on the cotton, sugar and rice plantations of the far South.
The history of the negroes in America is but a history of repeated injuries and acts of oppression committed upon them by the whites. It is not for ourselves that we make this appeal, but for those whom we have left behind.
In their Declaration of Independence, the Americans declare that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Yet one-sixth of the inhabitants of the great Republic are slaves. Thus they give the lie to their own professions. No one forfeits his or her character or standing in society by being engaged in holding, buying or selling a slave; the details of which, in all their horror, can scarcely be told.
Although the holding of slaves is confined to fifteen of the thirty-one States, yet we hold that the non-slave-holding States are equally guilty with the slave-holding. If any proof is needed on this point, it will be found in the passage of the inhuman Fugitive Slave Law, by Congress; a law which could never have been enacted without the votes of a portion of the representatives from the free States, and which is now being enforced, in many of the States, with the utmost alacrity. It was the passing of this law that exiled us from our native land, and it has driven thousands of our brothers and sisters from the free States, and compelled them to seek a refuge in the British possessions in North America. The Fugitive Slave Law has converted the entire country, North and South, into one vast hunting-ground. We would respectfully ask you to expostulate with the Americans, and let them know that you regard their treatment of the coloured people of that country as a violation of every principle of human brotherhood, of natural right, of justice, of humanity, of Christianity, of love to God and love to man.
It is needless that we should remind you that the religious sects of America, with but few exceptions, are connected with the sin of slavery—the churches North as well as South. We would have you tell the professed Christians of that land, that if they would be respected by you, they must separate themselves from the unholy alliance with men who are daily committing deeds which, if done in England, would cause the perpetrator to be sent to a felon's doom; that they must refuse the right hand of Christian fellowship, whether individually or collectively, to those implicated, in any way, in the guilt of slavery.
We do not ask for a forcible interference on your part, but only that you will use all lawful and peaceful means to restore to this much injured race their God-given rights. The moral and religious sentiment of mankind must be arrayed against slave-holding, to make it infamous, ere we can hope to see it abolished. We would ask you to set them the example, by excluding from your pulpits, and from religious communion, the slave-holding and pro-slavery ministers who may happen to visit this country. We would even go further, and ask you to shut your doors against either ministers or laymen, who are at all guilty of upholding and sustaining this monster sin. By the cries of the slave, which come from the fields and swamps of the far South, we ask you to do this! By that spirit of liberty and equality of which you all admire, we would ask you to do this. And by that still nobler, higher, and holier spirit of our beloved Saviour, we would ask you to stamp upon the head of the slaveholder, with a brand deeper than that which marks the victim of his wrongs, the infamy of theft, adultery, man-stealing, piracy, and murder, and, by the force of public opinion, compel him to "unloose the heavy burden, and let the oppressed go free."
A Chapter on American Slavery.
The word Englishman is but another name for an American, and the word American is but another name for an Englishman—England is the father, America the son. They have a common origin and identity of language; they hold the same religious and political opinions; they study the same histories, and have the same literature. Steam and mechanical ingenuity have brought the two countries within nine days sailing of each other. The Englishman on landing at New-York finds his new neighbours speaking the same language which he last heard on leaving Liverpool, and he sees the American in the same dress that he had been accustomed to look upon at home, and soon forgets that he is three thousand miles from his native land, and in another country. The American on landing at Liverpool, and taking a walk through the great commercial city, finding no difficulty in understanding the people, supposes himself still in New-York; and if there seems any doubt in his own mind, growing out of the fact that the people have a more healthy look, seem more polite, and that the buildings have a more substantial appearance than those he had formerly looked upon, he has only to imagine, as did Rip Van Winkle, that he has been asleep these hundred years.
If the Englishman who has seen a Thompson silenced in Boston, or a Macready mobbed in New-York, upon the ground that they were foreigners, should sit in Exeter Hall and hear an American orator until he was hoarse, and wonder why the American is better treated in England than the Englishman in America, he has only to attribute it to John Bull's superior knowledge of good manners, and his being a more law-abiding man than brother Jonathan. England and America has each its reforms and its reformers, and they have more or less sympathy with each other. It has been said that one generation commences a reform in England, and that another generation finishes it. I would that so much could be said with regard to the great object of reform in America—the system of slavery!
No evil was ever more deeply rooted in a country than is slavery in the United States. Spread over the largest and most fertile States in the Union, with decidedly the best climate, and interwoven, as it is, with the religious, political, commercial, and social institutions of the country, it is scarcely possible to estimate its influence. This is the evil which claims the attention of American Reformers, over and above every other evil in the land, and thanks to a kind providence, the American slave is not without his advocates. The greatest enemy to the Anti-Slavery Society, and the most inveterate opposer of the men whose names stand at the head of the list as officers and agents of that association, will, we think, assign to William Lloyd Garrison, the first place in the ranks of the American Abolitionists. The first to proclaim the doctrine of immediate emancipation to the slaves of America, and on that account an object of hatred to the slave-holding interest of the country, and living for years with his life in danger, he is justly regarded by all, as the leader of the Anti-Slavery movement in the New World. Mr. Garrison is at the present time but little more than forty-five years of age, and of the middle size. He has a high and prominent forehead, well developed, with no hair on the top of the head, having lost it in early life; with a piercing eye, a pleasant, yet anxious countenance, and of a most loveable disposition; tender, and blameless in his family affections, devoted to his friends; simple and studious, upright, guileless, distinguished, and worthy, like the distinguished men of antiquity, to be immortalized by another Plutarch. How many services never to be forgotten, has he not rendered to the cause of the slave, and the welfare of mankind! As a speaker, he is forcible, clear, and logical, yet he will not rank with the many who are less known. As a writer, he is regarded as one of the finest in the United States, and certainly the most prominent in the Anti-Slavery cause. Had Mr. Garrison wished to serve himself, he might, with his great talents, long since, have been at the head of either of the great political parties. Few men can withstand the allurements of office, and the prize-money that accompanies them. Many of those who were with him fifteen years ago, have been swept down with the current of popular favour, either in Church or State. He has seen a Cox on the one hand, and a Stanton on the other, swept away like so much floating wood before the tide. When the sturdiest characters gave way, when the finest geniuses passed one after another under the yoke of slavery, Garrison stood firm to his convictions, like a rock that stands stirless amid the conflicting agitation of the waves. He is not only the friend and advocate of freedom with his pen and his tongue, but to the oppressed of every clime he opens his purse, his house, and his heart: yet he is not a man of money. The fugitive slave, fresh from the whips and chains, who is turned off by the politician, and experiences the cold shoulder of the divine, finds a bed and a breakfast under the hospitable roof of Mr. Lloyd Garrison.
The party of which he is the acknowledged head, is one of no inconsiderable influence in the United States. No man has more bitter enemies or stauncher friends than he. There are those among his friends who would stake their all upon his veracity and integrity; and we are sure that the coloured people throughout America, bond and free, in whose cause he has so long laboured, will, with one accord, assign the highest niche in their affection to the champion of universal emancipation. Every cause has its writers and its orators. We have drawn a hasty and imperfect sketch of the greatest writer in the Anti-Slavery field: we shall now call attention to the most distinguished public speaker. The name of Wendell Phillips is but another name for eloquence. Born in the highest possible position in America, Mr. Phillips has all the advantages that birth can give to one in that country. Educated at the first University, graduating with all the honours which the College could bestow on him, and studying the law and becoming a member of the bar, he has all the accomplishments that these advantages can give to a man of a great mind. Nature has treated him as a favourite. His stature is not tall, but handsome; his expressive countenance paints and reflects every emotion of his soul. His gestures are wonderfully graceful, like his delivery. There is a fascination in the soft gaze of his eyes, which none can but admire. Being a great reader, and endowed by nature with a good memory, he supplies himself with the most complicated dates and historical events. Nothing can equal the variety of his matter. I have heard him more than twenty different times on the same subject, but never heard the same speech. He is personal, but there is nothing offensive in his personalities. He extracts from a subject all that it contains, and does it as none but Wendell Phillips can. His voice is beautifully musical, and it is calculated to attract wherever it is heard. He is a man of calm intrepidity, of a patriotic and warm heart, with manners the most affable, temper the most gentle, a rectitude of principle entirely natural, a freedom from ambition, and a modesty quite singular. As Napoleon kept the Old Guard in reserve, to turn the tide in battle, so do the Abolitionists keep Mr. Phillips in reserve when opposition is expected in their great gatherings. We have seen the meetings turned into a bedlam, by the mobocratic slave-holding spirit, and when the speakers had one after another left the platform without a hearing, and the chairman had lost all control of the assembly, the appearance of this gentleman upon the platform would turn the tide of events. He would not beg for a hearing, but on the contrary, he would lash them as no preceding speaker had done. If, by their groans and yells, they stifled his voice, he would stand unmoved with his arms folded, and by the very eloquence of his looks put them to silence. His speeches against the Fugitive Slave Law, and his withering rebukes of Daniel Webster and other northern men who supported that measure, are of the most splendid character, and will compare in point of composition with anything ever uttered by Chatham or Sheridan in their palmiest days. As a public speaker, Mr. Phillips is, without doubt, the first in the United States. Considering his great talent, his high birth, and the prospects which lay before him, and the fact that he threw everything aside to plead the slave's cause, we must be convinced that no man has sacrificed more upon the altar of humanity than Wendell Phillips.
Within the past ten years, a great impetus has been given to the anti-slavery movement in America by coloured men who have escaped from slavery. Coming as they did from the very house of bondage, and being able to speak from sad experience, they could speak as none others could.
The gentleman to whom we shall now call attention is one of this class, and doubtless the first of his race in America. The name of Frederick Douglass is well known throughout this country as well as America. Born and brought up as a slave, he was deprived of a mother's care and of early education. Escaping when he was little more than twenty years of age, he was thrown upon his own resources in the free states, where prejudice against colour is but another name for slavery. But during all this time he was educating himself as well as circumstances would admit. Mr. Douglass commenced his career as a public speaker some ten years since, as an agent of the American or Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Societies. He is tall and well made. His vast and well-developed forehead announces the power of his intellect. His voice is full and sonorous. His attitude is dignified, and his gesticulation is full of noble simplicity. He is a man of lofty reason, natural, and without pretension, always master of himself, brilliant in the art of exposing and of abstracting. Few persons can handle a subject with which they are familiar better than Mr. Douglass. There is a kind of eloquence issuing from the depth of the soul, as from a spring, rolling along its copious floods, sweeping all before it, overwhelming by its very force, carrying, upsetting, engulphing its adversaries, and more dazzling and more thundering than the bolt which leaps from crag to crag. This is the eloquence of Frederick Douglass. He is one of the greatest mimics of the age. No man can put on a sweeter smile or a more sarcastic frown than he: you cannot put him off his guard. He is always in good humour. Mr. Douglass possesses great dramatic powers; and had he taken up the sock and buskin, instead of becoming a lecturer, he would have made as fine a Coriolanus as ever trod the stage.
However, Mr. Douglass was not the first coloured man that became a lecturer, and thereby did service to the cause of his countrymen. The earliest and most effective speaker from among the coloured race in America, was Charles Lennox Remond. In point of eloquence, this gentleman is not inferior to either Wendell Phillips or Frederick Douglass. Mr. Remond is of small stature, and neat figure, with a head well developed, but a remarkably thin face. As an elocutionist, he is, without doubt, the first on the anti-slavery platform. He has a good voice, a pleasing countenance, a prompt intelligence, and when speaking, is calculated to captivate and carry away an audience by the very force of his eloquence. Born in the freest state of the Union, and of most respectable parents, he prides himself not a little on his birth and descent. One can scarcely find fault with this, for, in the United States, the coloured man is deprived of the advantages which parentage gives to the white man. Mr. Remond is a descendant of one of those coloured men who stood side by side with white men on the plains of Concord and Lexington, in the battles that achieved the independence of the colonies from the mother country, in the war of the Revolution. Mr. Remond has felt deeply, (probably more so than any other coloured man), the odious prejudice against colour. On this point he is sensitive to a fault. If any one will sit for an hour and hear a lecture from him on this subject, if he is not converted, he will at least become convinced, that the boiling cauldron of anti-slavery discussion has never thrown upon its surface a more fiery spirit than Charles Lennox Remond.
There are some men who neither speak nor write, but whose lives place them in the foremost ranks in the cause which they espouse. One of these is Francis Jackson. He was one of the earliest to give countenance and support to the anti-slavery movement. In the year 1835, when a mob of more than 5000 merchants and others, in Boston, broke up an anti-slavery meeting of females, at which William Lloyd Garrison and George Thompson were to deliver addresses, and when the Society had no room in which to hold its meetings (having been driven from their own room by the mob), Francis Jackson, with a moral courage scarcely ever equalled, came forward and offered his private dwelling to the ladies, to hold their meeting in. The following interesting passage occurs in a letter from him to the Secretary of the Society a short time after, on receiving a vote of thanks from its members:—
"If a large majority of this community choose to turn a deaf ear to the wrongs which are inflicted upon their countrymen in other portions of the land—if they are content to turn away from the sight of oppression, and 'pass by on the other side'—so it must be.
"But when they undertake in any way to impair or annul my right to speak, write, and publish upon any subject, and more especially upon enormities, which are the common concern of every lover of his country and his kind—so it must not be—so it shall not be, if I for one can prevent it. Upon this great right let us hold on at all hazards. And should we, in its exercise, be driven from public halls to private dwellings, one house at least shall be consecrated to its preservation. And if, in defence of this sacred privilege, which man did not give me, and shall not (if I can help it) take from me, this roof and these walls shall be levelled to the earth, let them fall if they must; they cannot crumble in a better cause. They will appear of very little value to me after their owner shall have been whipt into silence."
There are among the contributors to the Anti-Slavery cause, a few who give with a liberality which has never been surpassed by the donors to any benevolent association in the world, according to their means—the chief of these is Francis Jackson.
In the month of May, 1844, while one evening strolling up Broadway, New York, I saw a crowd making its way into the Minerva Rooms, and, having no pressing engagement, I followed, and was soon in a splendid hall, where some twelve or fifteen hundred persons were seated, and listening to rather a strange-looking man. The speaker was tall and slim, with long arms, long legs, and a profusion of auburn or reddish hair hanging in ringlets down his shoulders; while a huge beard of the same colour fell upon his breast. His person was not at all improved by his dress. The legs of his trousers were shorter than those worn by smaller men: the sleeves of his coat were small and short, the shirt collar turned down in Byronic style, beard and hair hid his countenance, so that no redeeming feature could be found there; yet there was one redeeming quality about the man—that was the stream of fervid eloquence which escaped from his lips. I inquired his name, and was informed that it was Charles C. Burleigh. Nature has been profuse in showering her gifts upon Mr. Burleigh, but all has been bestowed upon his head and heart. There is a kind of eloquence which weaves its thread around the hearer, and gradually draws him into its web, fascinating him with its gaze, entangling him as the spider does the fly, until he is fast: such is the eloquence of C.C. Burleigh. As a debater he is unquestionably the first on the Anti-slavery platform. If he did not speak so fast, he would equal Wendell Phillips; if he did not reason his subject out of existence, he would surpass him. However, one would have to travel over many miles, and look in the faces of many men, before he would find one who has made more personal sacrifices, or done more to bring about the Emancipation of the American Slaves, than Mr. Charles C. Burleigh.
Whoever the future historian of the Anti-Slavery movement may be, he will not be able to compile a correct history of this great struggle, without consulting the writings of Edmund Quincy, a member of one of the wealthiest, patriotic, and aristocratic families in New England: the prestige of his name is a passport to all that the heart could wish. Descended from a family, whose name is connected with all that was glorious in the great American Revolution, the son of one who has again and again represented his native State, in the National Congress, he too, like Wendell Phillips, threw away the pearl of political preferment, and devoted his distinguished talents to the cause of the Slave. Mr. Quincy is better known in this country as having filled the editorial chair of The Liberator, during the several visits of its Editor to Great Britain. As a speaker, he does not rank as high as some who are less known; as a writer, he has few equals. The "Annual Reports" of the American and Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Societies for the past fifteen or twenty years, have emanated from his pen. When posterity, in digging among the tombs of the friends of mankind, and of universal freedom, shall fail to find there the name of Edmund Quincy, it will be because the engraver failed to do his duty.
Were we sent out to find a man who should excel all others in collecting together new facts and anecdotes, and varnishing up old ones so that they would appear new, and bringing them into a meeting and emptying out, good or bad, the whole contents of his sack, to the delight and admiration of the audience, we would unhesitatingly select James N. Buffum as the man. If Mr. Buffum is not a great speaker, he has what many accomplished orators have not—i.e., a noble and generous heart. If the fugitive slave, fresh from the cotton-field, should make his appearance in the town of Lynn, in Massachusetts, and should need a night's lodging or refreshments, he need go no farther than the hospitable door of James N. Buffum.
Most men who inherit large fortunes, do little or nothing to benefit mankind. A few, however, spend their means in the best possible manner: one of the latter class is Gerrit Smith. The name of this gentleman should have been brought forward among those who are first mentioned in this chapter. Some eight or ten years ago, Mr. Smith was the owner of large tracts of land, lying in twenty-nine counties in the State of New York, and came to the strange conclusion to give the most of it away. Consequently, three thousand lots of land, containing from thirty to one hundred acres each, were given to coloured men residing in the State—the writer of this being one of the number.
Although universal suffrage is enjoyed by the whites in the State of New York, a property-qualification is imposed on coloured men; and this act of Mr. Smith's not only made three thousand men the owners of land, but created also three thousand voters. The ability to give, and the willingness to do so, is not by any means the greatest quality of this gentleman. As a public speaker, Mr. Smith has few equals; and certainly no man in his State has done more to forward the cause of Negro Emancipation than he.
We have already swelled the pages of this chapter beyond what we intended when we commenced, but yet we have called attention to only one branch of American Reformers. The Temperance Reformers are next to be considered. This cause has many champions, and yet none who occupy a very prominent position before the world. The first temperance newspaper published in the United States, was edited by William Lloyd Garrison. Gerrit Smith has also done much in promulgating temperance views. But the most noted man in the movement at the present time, and the one best known to the British public, is John B. Gough. This gentleman was at one time an actor on the stage, and subsequently became an inebriate of the most degraded kind. He was, however, reclaimed through the great Washingtonian movement that swept over the United States a few years since. In stature, Mr. Gough is tall and slim, with black hair, which he usually wears too long. As an orator, he is considered among the first in the United States. Having once been an actor, he throws all his dramatic powers into his addresses. He has a facility of telling strange and marvellous stories which can scarcely be surpassed; and what makes them still more interesting, he always happens to be an eyewitness. While speaking, he acts the drunkard, and does it in a style which could not be equalled on the boards of the Lyceum or Adelphi. No man has obtained more signatures to the temperance pledge than he. After all, it is a question whether he has ever been of any permanent service to this reform or not. Mr. Gough has more than once fallen from his position as a teetotaler; more than once he has broken his pledge, and when found by his friends, was in houses of a questionable character. However, some are of opinion that these defects have been of use to him; for when he has made his appearance after one of these debaucheries, the people appear to sympathize more with him, and some thought he spoke better. If we believe that a person could enjoy good health with water upon the brain, we would be of opinion that Mr. Gough's cranium contained a greater quantity than that of any other living man. When speaking before an audience, he can weep when he pleases; and the tears shed on these occasions are none of your make-believe kind—none of your small drops trickling down the cheeks one at a time;—but they come in great showers, so as even to sprinkle upon the paper which he holds in his hand. Of course, he is not alone in shedding tears in his meetings, many of his hearers usually join him; especially the ladies, as these showers are intended for them. However, no one can sit for an hour and hear John. B. Gough, without coming to the conclusion that he is nothing more than a theatrical mountebank.
The ablest speaker on the subject of Peace, is Charles Sumner. Standing more than six feet in height, and well proportioned, Mr. Sumner makes a most splendid and commanding appearance before an assembly. It is not his looks alone that attract attention—his very countenance indicates a superior mind. Born in the upper circle, educated in the first College in the country, and finally becoming a member of the Bar, he is well qualified to take the highest possible position as a public speaker. As an orator, Charles Sumner has but one superior in the United States, and that is Wendell Phillips. Mr. Sumner is an able advocate for the liberation of the American Slaves as well as of the cause of Peace, and has rendered great aid to the abolition movement.
The name of Elihu Burritt, for many reasons, should be placed at the head of the Peace Movement. No man was ever more devoted to one idea than he is to that of peace. If he is an advocate of Temperance, it is because it will promote peace. If he opposes Slavery, it is upon the grounds of peace. Ask him why he wants an "Ocean Penny Postage," he will tell you to engender the principles of peace. Everything with him hinges upon the doctrine of peace. As a speaker, Mr. Burritt does not rank amongst the first. However, his speeches are of a high order, some think them too high, and complain that he is too much of a cloud-traveller, and when he descends from these aerial flights and cloudy thrones, they are unwilling to admit that he can be practical. If Mr. Burritt should prove as good a statesman as a theorist, he would be an exception to most who belong to the aerial school. As a writer he stands deservedly high. In his "Sparks from the Anvil," and "Voice from the Forge," are to be found as fine pieces as have been produced by any writer of the day. His "Drunkard's Wife" is the most splendid thing of the kind in the language. His stature is of the middle size, head well developed, with eyes deeply set, and a prepossessing countenance, though not handsome; he wears an exterior of remarkable austerity, and everything about him is grave, even to his smile. Being well versed in the languages, ancient and modern, he does not lack variety or imagination, either in his public addresses or private conversation; yet it would be difficult to find a man with a better heart, or sweeter spirit, than Elihu Burritt.
A Narrative of American Slavery.
Although the first slaves, introduced into the American Colonies from the coast of Africa, were negroes of a very dark complexion with woolly hair, and it was thought that slavery would be confined to the blacks, yet the present slave population of America is far from being black. This change in colour, is attributable, solely to the unlimited power which the slave owner exercises over his victim. There being no lawful marriage amongst slaves, and no encouragement to slave women to be virtuous and chaste, there seems to be no limits to the system of amalgamation carried on between master and slave. This accounts for the fact, that most persons who go from Europe, or from the Free States, into Carolina or Virginia, are struck with the different shades of colour amongst the slaves. On a plantation employing fifty slaves, it is not uncommon to see one third of them mulattoes, and some of these nearly white.
In the year 1831, there resided in the state of Virginia, a slave who was so white, that no one would suppose for a moment that a drop of African blood coursed through his veins. His skin was fair, hair soft, straight, fine and white; his eyes blue, nose prominent, lips thin; his head well formed, forehead high and prominent; and he was often taken for a white free person, by those who did not know him. This made his condition as a slave still more intolerable; for one so white, seldom ever receives fair treatment at the hands of his fellow slaves; and the whites usually regard such slaves as persons, who, if not often flogged and otherwise ill treated, to remind them of their condition, would soon "forget" that they were slaves, and "think themselves as good as white folks." During that year, an insurrection broke out amongst the slave population, known as the Southampton Rebellion, or the "Nat Turner Insurrection." Five or six hundred slaves, believing in the doctrine that "all men are created equal," armed with such weapons as they could get, commenced a war for freedom. Amongst these was George, the white slave of whom we have spoken. He had been employed as a house servant, and had heard his master and visiters speak of the down-trodden and oppressed Poles; he heard them talk of going to Greece to fight for Grecian liberty, and against the oppressors of that ill-fated people. George, fired with the love of freedom, and zeal for the cause of his enslaved countrymen, joined the insurrection. The result of that struggle for liberty is well known. The slaves were defeated, and those who were not taken prisoners, took refuge in the dismal swamps. These were ordered to surrender; but instead of doing so, they challenged their proud oppressors to take them, and immediately renewed the war. A ferocious struggle now commenced between the parties; but not until the United States troops were called in, did they succeed in crushing a handful of men and women who were fighting for freedom. The negroes were hunted with dogs, and many who were caught were burnt alive; while some were hung, and others flogged and banished from the State.
Among those who were sentenced to be hanged, was George. He was placed in prison to await the day of execution, which would give him ten days to prepare for his doom. George was the son of a member of the American Congress, his mother being a servant in the principal hotel in Washington, where members of Congress usually put up. After the birth of George, his mother was sold to a negro trader, and he to a Virginian, who sent agents through the country to buy up young slaves to raise for the market. George was only about nineteen years of age, when he unfortunately became connected with the insurrection. Mr. Green, who owned George, was a comparatively good master, and prided himself on treating his slaves better than most men. This gentleman was also the owner of a girl who was perfectly white, with straight hair and prominent features. This girl was said to be the daughter of her own master. A feeling of attachment sprang up between Mary and George, which proved to be more than mere friendship, and upon which we base the burden of this narrative.
After poor George had been sentenced to death and cast into prison, Mary begged and obtained leave to visit George, and administer to him the comforts of religion, as she was a member of a religious body, while George was not. As George had been a considerable favourite with Mrs. Green, Mary had no difficulty in obtaining permission to pay a daily visit to him, to whom she had pledged her heart and hand. At one of these meetings, and only four days from the time fixed for the execution, while Mary was seated in George's cell, it occurred to her that she might yet save him from a felon's doom. She revealed to him the secret that was then occupying her thoughts, viz., that George should exchange clothes with her, and thus attempt his escape in disguise. But he would not for a single moment listen to the proposition. Not that he feared detection; but he would not consent to place an innocent and affectionate girl in a position where she might have to suffer for him. Mary pleaded, but in vain—George was inflexible. The poor girl left her lover with a heavy heart, regretting that her scheme had proved unsuccessful.
Towards the close of the next day, Mary again appeared at the prison door for admission, and was soon by the side of him whom she so ardently loved. While there, the clouds which had overhung the city for some hours, broke, and the rain fell in torrents amid the most terrific thunder and lightning. In the most persuasive manner possible, Mary again importuned George to avail himself of her assistance to escape from an ignominious death. After assuring him that she not being the person condemned, would not receive any injury, he at last consented, and they began to exchange apparel. As George was of small stature, and both were white, there was no difficulty in his passing out without detection: and as she usually left the cell weeping, with handkerchief in hand, and sometimes at her face, he had only to adopt this mode and his escape was safe. They had kissed each other, and Mary had told George where he would find a small parcel of provisions which she had placed in a secluded spot, when the prison-keeper opened the door, and said, "Come, girl, it is time for you to go." George again embraced Mary, and passed out of the gaol. It was already dark and the street lamps were lighted, so that our hero in his new dress had no dread of detection. The provisions were sought out and found, and poor George was soon on the road towards Canada. But neither of them had once thought of a change of dress for George when he should have escaped, and he had walked but a short distance before he felt that a change of his apparel would facilitate his progress. But he dared not go amongst even his coloured associates for fear of being betrayed. However, he made the best of his way on towards Canada, hiding in the woods during the day, and travelling by the guidance of the North Star at night.
One morning, George arrived on the banks of the Ohio river, and found his journey had terminated, unless he could get some one to take him across the river in a secret manner, for he would not be permitted to cross in any of the ferry boats; it being a penalty for crossing a slave, besides the value of the slave. He concealed himself in the tall grass and weeds near the river, to see if he could embrace an opportunity to cross. He had been in his hiding-place but a short time, when he observed a man in a small boat, floating near the shore, evidently fishing. His first impulse was to call out to the man and ask him to take him over to the Ohio side, but the fear that the man was a slaveholder, or one who might possibly arrest him, deterred him from it. The man after rowing and floating about for some time fastened the boat to the root of a tree, and started to a neighbouring farm-house. This was George's moment, and he seized it. Running down the bank, he unfastened the boat, jumped in, and with all the expertness of one accustomed to a boat, rowed across the river and landed on the Ohio side.
Being now in a free state, he thought he might with perfect safety travel on towards Canada. He had, however, gone but a few miles, when he discovered two men on horseback coming behind him. He felt sure that they could not be in pursuit of him, yet he did not wish to be seen by them, so he turned into another road, leading to a house near by. The men followed, and were but a short distance from George, when he ran up to a farm house, before which was standing a farmer-looking man, in a broad-brimmed hat and straight collared coat, whom he implored to save him from the "slave-catchers." The farmer told him to go into the barn near by; he entered by the front door, the farmer following, and closing the door behind George, but remaining outside, and gave directions to his hired man as to what should be done with George. The slaveholders by this time had dismounted, and were in the front of the barn demanding admittance, and charging the farmer with secreting their slave woman, for George was still in the dress of a woman. The Friend, for the farmer proved to be a member of the Society of Friends, told the slave-owners that if they wished to search his barn, they must first get an officer and a search warrant. While the parties were disputing, the farmer began nailing up the front door, and the hired man served the back door in the same way. The slaveholders, finding that they could not prevail on the Friend to allow them to get the slave, determined to go in search of an officer. One was left to see that the slave did not escape from the barn, while the other went off at full speed to Mount Pleasant, the nearest town. George was not the slave of either of these men, nor were they in pursuit of him, but they had lost a woman who had been seen in that vicinity, and when they saw poor George in the disguise of a female, and attempting to elude pursuit, they felt sure they were close upon their victim. However, if they had caught him, although he was not their slave, they would have taken him back and placed him in goal, and there he would have remained until his owner arrived.
After an absence of nearly two hours, the slave owner returned with an officer and found the Friend still driving large nails into the door. In a triumphant tone, and with a corresponding gesture, he handed the search-warrant to the Friend, and said, "There, Sir, now I will see if I can't get my Nigger." "Well," said the Friend, "thou hast gone to work according to law, and thou can now go into my barn." "Lend me your hammer that I may get the door open," said the slaveholder. "Let me see the warrant again." And after reading it over once more, he said, "I see nothing in this paper which says I must supply thee with tools to open my door; if thou wishes to go in, thou must get a hammer elsewhere." The sheriff said, "I will go to a neighbouring farm and borrow something which will introduce us to Miss Dinah;" and he immediately went in search of tools. In a short time the officer returned, and they commenced an assault and battery upon the barn door, which soon yielded; and in went the slaveholder and officer, and began turning up the hay and using all other means to find the lost property; but, to their astonishment, the slave was not there. After all hope of getting Dinah was gone, the slave-owner in a rage, said to the Friend, "My Nigger is not here." "I did not tell thee there was any one here." "Yes, but I saw her go in, and you shut the door behind her, and if she was not in the barn, what did you nail the door for?" "Can't I do what I please with my own barn door? Now I will tell thee; thou need trouble thyself no more, for the person thou art after entered the front door and went out at the back door, and is a long way from here by this time. Thou and thy friend must be somewhat fatigued by this time, wont thou go in and take a little dinner with me?" We need not say that this cool invitation of the good Quaker was not accepted by the slaveholders. George, in the meantime, had been taken to a Friend's dwelling some miles away, where, after laying aside his female attire, and being snugly dressed up in a straight collared coat, and pantaloons to match, was again put on the right road towards Canada. Two weeks after this found him in the town of St. Catharines, working on the farm of Colonel Strut, and attending a night school.
George, however, did not forget his promise to use all means in his power to get Mary out of slavery. He, therefore, laboured with all his might, to obtain money with which to employ some one to go back to Virginia for Mary. After nearly six months' labour at St. Catharines, he employed an English missionary to go and see if the girl could be purchased, and at what price. The missionary went accordingly, but returned with the sad intelligence that on account of Mary's aiding George to escape, the court had compelled Mr. Green to sell her out of the State, and she had been sold to a Negro trader and taken to the New Orleans market. As all hope of getting the girl was now gone, George resolved to quit the American continent for ever. He immediately took passage in a vessel laden with timber, bound for Liverpool, and in five weeks from that time he was standing on the quay of the great English seaport. With little or no education, he found many difficulties in the way of getting a respectable living. However, he obtained a situation as porter in a large house in Manchester, where he worked during the day, and took private lessons at night. In this way he laboured for three years, and was then raised to the situation of a clerk. George was so white as easily to pass for a white man, and being somewhat ashamed of his African descent, he never once mentioned the fact of his having been a slave. He soon became a partner in the firm that employed him, and was now on the road to wealth.
In the year 1842, just ten years after George Green (for he adopted his master's name) arrived in England, he visited France, and spent some days at Dunkirk. It was towards sunset, on a warm day in the month of October, that Mr. Green, after strolling some distance from the Hotel de Leon, entered a burial ground and wandered long alone among the silent dead, gazing upon the many green graves and marble tombstones of those who once moved on the theatre of busy life, and whose sounds of gaiety once fell upon the ear of man. All nature around was hushed in silence, and seemed to partake of the general melancholy which hung over the quiet resting place of departed mortals. After tracing the varied inscriptions which told the characters or conditions of the departed, and viewing the mounds 'neath which the dust of mortality slumbered, he had now reached a secluded spot, near to where an aged weeping willow bowed its thick foliage to the ground, as though anxious to hide from the scrutinizing gaze of curiosity the grave beneath it. Mr. Green seated himself upon a marble tomb, and began to read Roscoe's Leo X., a copy of which he had under his arm. It was then about twilight, and he had scarcely gone through half a page, when he observed a lady in black, leading a boy some five years old up one of the paths; and as the lady's black veil was over her face, he felt somewhat at liberty to eye her more closely. While looking at her, the lady gave a scream and appeared to be in a fainting position, when Mr. Green sprang from his seat in time to save her from falling to the ground. At this moment, an elderly gentleman was seen approaching with a rapid step, who from his appearance was evidently the lady's father, or one intimately connected with her. He came up, and in a confused manner, asked what was the matter. Mr. Green explained as well as he could. After taking up the smelling bottle which had fallen from her hand, and holding it a short time to her face, she soon began to revive. During all this time, the lady's veil had so covered her face, that Mr. Green had not seen it. When she had so far recovered as to be able to raise her head, she again screamed, and fell back into the arms of the old man. It now appeared quite certain, that either the countenance of George Green, or some other object, was the cause of these fits of fainting; and the old gentleman, thinking it was the former, in rather a petulant tone said, "I will thank you, Sir, if you will leave us alone." The child whom the lady was leading had now set up a squall; and amid the death-like appearance of the lady, the harsh look of the old man, and the cries of the boy, Mr. Green left the grounds and returned to his hotel.
Whilst seated by the window, and looking out upon the crowded street, with every now and then the strange scene in the grave-yard vividly before him, Mr. Green thought of the book he had been reading, and, remembering that he had left it on the tomb, where he had suddenly dropped it when called to the assistance of the lady, he immediately determined to return in search of it. After a walk of some twenty minutes, he was again over the spot where he had been an hour before, and from which he had been so unceremoniously expelled by the old man. He looked in vain for the book; it was no where to be found: nothing save a bouquet which the lady had dropped, and which lay half-buried in the grass from having been trodden upon, indicated that any one had been there that evening. Mr. Green took up the bunch of flowers, and again returned to the hotel.
After passing a sleepless night, and hearing the clock strike six, he dropped into a sweet sleep, from which he did not awake until roused by the rap of a servant, who, entering his room, handed him a note which ran as follows:—"Sir,—I owe you an apology for the inconveniences to which you were subjected last evening, and if you will honour us with your presence to dinner to-day at four o'clock, I shall be most happy to give you due satisfaction. My servant will be in waiting for you at half-past three. I am, sir, your obedt. servant, J. Devenant. October 23, to George Green, Esq."
The servant who handed this note to Mr. Green, informed him that the bearer was waiting for a reply. He immediately resolved to accept the invitation, and replied accordingly. Who this person was, and how his name and the hotel where he was stopping had been found out, was indeed a mystery. However, he waited impatiently for the hour when he was to see this new acquaintance, and get the mysterious meeting in the grave-yard solved.
The clock on a neighbouring church had scarcely ceased striking three, when the servant announced that a carriage had called for Mr. Green. In less than half an hour, he was seated in a most sumptuous barouch, drawn by two beautiful iron greys, and rolling along over a splendid gravel road, completely shaded by large trees which appeared to have been the accumulating growth of many centuries. The carriage soon stopped in front of a low villa, and this too was imbedded in magnificent trees covered with moss. Mr. Green alighted and was shown into a superb drawing room, the walls of which were hung with fine specimens from the hands of the great Italian painters, and one by a German artist representing a beautiful monkish legend connected with "The Holy Catherine," and illustrious lady of Alexandria. The furniture had an antique and dignified appearance. High backed chairs stood around the room; a venerable mirror stood on the mantle-shelf; rich curtains of crimson damask hung in folds at either side of the large windows; and a rich Turkey carpet covered the floor. In the centre stood a table covered with books, in the midst of which was an old fashioned vase filled with fresh flowers, whose fragrance was exceedingly pleasant. A faint light, together with the quietness of the hour gave beauty beyond description to the whole scene.
Mr. Green had scarcely seated himself upon the sofa, when the elderly gentleman whom he had met the previous evening made his appearance, followed by the little boy, and introduced himself as Mr. Devenant. A moment more, and a lady—a beautiful brunette—dressed in black, with long curls of a chesnut colour hanging down her cheeks, entered the room. Her eyes were of a dark hazel, and her whole appearance indicated that she was a native of a southern clime. The door at which she entered was opposite to where the two gentlemen were seated. They immediately rose; and Mr. Devenant was in the act of introducing her to Mr. Green, when he observed that the latter had sunk back upon the sofa, and the last word that he remembered to have heard was, "It is her." After this, all was dark and dreamy: how long he remained in this condition it was for another to tell. When he awoke, he found himself stretched upon the sofa, with his boots off, his neckerchief removed, shirt collar unbuttoned, and his head resting upon a pillow. By his side sat the old man, with the smelling bottle in the one hand, and a glass of water in the other, and the little boy standing at the foot of the sofa. As soon as Mr. Green had so far recovered as to be able to speak, he said, "Where am I, and what does this mean?" "Wait a while," replied the old man, "and I will tell you all." After the lapse of some ten minutes he rose from the sofa, adjusted his apparel, and said, "I am now ready to hear anything you have to say." "You were born in America," said the old man. "Yes," he replied. "And you were acquainted with a girl named Mary," continued the old man. "Yes, and I loved her as I can love none other." "The lady whom you met so mysteriously last evening is Mary," replied Mr. Devenant. George Green was silent, but the fountains of mingled grief and joy stole out from beneath his eye lashes, and glistened like pearls upon his pale and marble-like cheeks. At this juncture the lady again entered the room. Mr. Green sprang from the sofa, and they fell into each other's arms, to the surprise of the old man and little George, and to the amusement of the servants who had crept up one by one, and were hid behind the doors or loitering in the hall. When they had given vent to their feelings, they resumed their seats and each in turn related the adventures through which they had passed. "How did you find out my name and address," asked Mr. Green? "After you had left us in the grave-yard, our little George said, 'O, mamma, if there aint a book!' and picked it up and brought it to us. Papa opened it, and said 'the gentleman's name is written in it, and here is a card of the Hotel de Leon, where I suppose he is stopping.' Papa wished to leave the book, and said it was all a fancy of mine that I had ever seen you before, but I was perfectly convinced that you were my own George Green. Are you married?" "No, I am not." "Then, thank God!" exclaimed Mrs. Devenant. The old man who had been silent all this time, said, "Now, Sir, I must apologize for the trouble you were put to last evening." "And you are single now." "Yes," she replied. "This is indeed the Lord's doings," said Mr. Green, at the same time bursting into a flood of tears. Although Mr. Devenant was past the age when men should think upon matrimonial subjects, yet this scene brought vividly before his eyes the days when he was a young man, and had a wife living, and he thought it time to call their attention to dinner, which was then waiting. We need scarcely add, that Mr. Green and Mrs. Devenant did very little towards diminishing the dinner that day.
After dinner the lovers (for such we have to call them) gave their experience from the time that George Green left the gaol, dressed in Mary's clothes. Up to that time, Mr. Green's was substantially as we have related it. Mrs. Devenant's was as follows:—"The night after you left the prison," said she, "I did not shut my eyes in sleep. The next morning, about 8 o'clock, Peter, the gardener, came to the gaol to see if I had been there the night before, and was informed that I had, and that I left a little after dark. About an hour after, Mr. Green came himself, and I need not say that he was much surprised on finding me there, dressed in your clothes. This was the first tidings they had of your escape." "What did Mr. Green say when he found that I had fled?" "O!" continued Mrs. Devenant, "he said to me when no one was near, I hope George will get off, but I fear you will have to suffer in his stead. I told him that if it must be so I was willing to die if you could live." At this moment George Green burst into tears, threw his arms around her neck, and exclaimed, "I am glad I have waited so long, with the hope of meeting you again."
Mrs. Devenant again resumed her story:—"I was kept in gaol three days, during which time I was visited by the Magistrates and two of the Judges. On the third day I was taken out, and master told me that I was liberated, upon condition that I be immediately sent out of the State. There happened to be just at that time in the neighbourhood a negro-trader, and he purchased me, and I was taken to New Orleans. On the steam-boat we were kept in a close room where slaves are usually confined, so that I saw nothing of the passengers on board or the towns we passed. We arrived at New Orleans and were all put into the slave-market for sale. I was examined by many persons, but none seemed willing to purchase me; as all thought me too white, and said I would run away and pass as a free white woman. On the second day while in the slave-market, and while planters and others were examining slaves and making their purchases, I observed a tall young man with long black hair eyeing me very closely, and then talking to the trader. I felt sure that my time had now come, but the day closed without my being sold. I did not regret this, for I had heard that foreigners made the worst of masters, and I felt confident that the man who eyed me so closely was not an American.
"The next day was the Sabbath. The bells called the people to the different places of worship. Methodists sang, and Baptists immersed, and Presbyterians sprinkled, and Episcopalians read their prayers, while the ministers of the various sects preached that Christ died for all; yet there were some twenty-five or thirty of us poor creatures confined in the 'Negro Pen' awaiting the close of the Holy Sabbath, and the dawn of another day, to be again taken into the market, there to be examined like so many beasts of burden. I need not tell you with what anxiety we waited for the advent of another day. On Monday we were again brought out, and placed in rows to be inspected; and fortunately for me, I was sold before we had been on the stand an hour. I was purchased by a gentleman residing in the city, for a waiting-maid for his wife, who was just on the eve of starting for Mobile, to pay a visit to a near relation. I was then dressed to suit the situation of a maid-servant; and, upon the whole, I thought that in my new dress I looked as much the lady as my mistress.
"On the passage to Mobile, who should I see among the passengers, but the tall, long-haired man that had eyed me so closely in the slave-market a few days before. His eyes were again on me, and he appeared anxious to speak to me, and I as reluctant to be spoken to. The first evening after leaving New Orleans, soon after twilight had let her curtain down, and pinned it with a star, and while I was seated on the deck of the boat, near the ladies' cabin, looking upon the rippled waves, and the reflection of the moon upon the sea, all at once I saw the tall young man standing by my side. I immediately rose from my seat, and was in the act of returning to the cabin, when he in a broken accent said, 'Stop a moment; I wish to have a word with you. I am your friend.' I stopped and looked him full in the face, and he said, 'I saw you some days since in the slave-market, and I intended to have purchased you to save you from the condition of a slave. I called on Monday, but you had been sold and had left the market. I inquired and learned who the purchaser was, and that you had to go to Mobile, so I resolved to follow you. If you are willing, I will try and buy you from your present owner, and you shall be free.' Although this was said in an honest and off-hand manner, I could not believe the man to be sincere in what he said. 'Why should you wish to set me free?' I asked. 'I had an only sister,' he replied, 'who died three years ago in France, and you are so much like her, that had I not known of her death, I would most certainly have taken you for her.' 'However much I may resemble your sister, you are aware that I am not her, and why take so much interest in one whom you never saw before?' 'The love,' said he, 'which I had for my sister is transferred to you.' I had all along suspected that the man was a knave, and this profession of love confirmed me in my former belief, and I turned away and left him.