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But in these States it is believed by men of the most devoted piety, and exalted philanthropy, and after patient and prayerful survey of the whole ground, that immediate and unconditional abolition would be a revolution involving the entire South in ruin ; breaking up all social order and peace and safety; and, in fact, inflicting on the slaves themselves irreparable mischief. It would suddenly give them a liberty for which they are wholly unprepared, and which would be only a license for indolence and crime. It would convert them, inevitably, from a contented and cheerful peasantry, into a horde of outlaws, a multitude of paupers with whom the white population could never amalgamate, who must forever feel them. selves (witness their condition even at the North) degraded and outcast from the kindred and privi. leges of the superior caste; who, deprived of the master's protection, and no longer bound to their governors by the kindly and almost filial ties now existing, would endure perpetual humiliation and insult, and drag out a sullen life of envy and hatred and wretchedness; or, if instigated to revenge and insurrection, be certainly crushed, and either annihilated, or subjugated to an iron bondage, a military rule, from the rigors of which they would look back to their former state as one, not only of comparative, but real, substantial, con. trasted liberty and happiness.
If, however, slavery be a crime, I repeat it, the consequences of abolition should not be considered at all. It is, then, of first rate importance that we inquire into the moral character of slavery. If it be a sin, all discussion as to the policy which should
be adopted towards the Ethiopian race among us is precluded and superseded.
Let me finish this letter by assuring you that, if my great distance from you did not prevent it, I would submit all I write to your judgment before allowing it to be published; since nothing could mortify and grieve me more than to utter a word which you or anybody can regard as not deferential and affectionate. If, then, a syllable escapes me in this correspondence which you think might have been softened or omitted, I beg you, once for all, to forgive it. Ascribe it to the haste with which I have to write. Ascribe it to the state of my nerves, which keep me constantly restless and in pain. Ascribe it, in short, to any thing but a want of that sincere esteem and love with which I am, my dear brother, Yours,
TO THE REV. FRANCIS WAYLAND, D. D.
MY DEAR BROTHER
The issue now before us regards the essential moral character of slavery ; and on such a ques. tion I am strongly disposed to pass by all ethical and metaphysical dissertation, and appeal at once to the only standard of right and wrong which can prove decisive. For my own part, I am heartily
sick and weary of the controversies and debatés waged and waging on every side, in which each party is contending, not for truth, but victory, and which have effected just nothing, for the want of some arbiter recognised by all, and whose decree shall be final and infallible. Now such an um. pire we have. Whatever importance others may attach to the deductions of human reasoning, and thus impiously array against the Scriptures those “oppositions of science falsely so called," which the Apostle terms “profane and vain babblings,” you and I have long since put on our shields one motto—“ Let God be true and every man a liar.” There are, indeed, some truths which are seen, like the sun, by their own light; but when the character of any human action admits of discussion at all, it admits, almost always, of indefinite discussion. The question itself of innocence and guilt is necessarily complex; and it is vain, too, in this day of knowledge and mental discipline, to expect any such signal results as formerly be. longed to the trial by battle. No matter how an advocate seems to establish his opinions, they will
invulnerable. 6. He that is first in his own cause, seemeth just ; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him ;" and the result of this searching invariably is, that, at least in the judg. ment of the neighbor's party, the first becomes last and the last first.
It is, then, the responses of the sacred oracles to which we must after all appeal. But as we may rest assured that no science, truly so called, will be found opposed to revelation ; and as I abhor and abjure the blasphemy which would charge the
Bible with countenancing sin; I shall suspend what still appears to me (with deference) to be the unequivocal argument from the Scriptures, until I examine the logic usually employed on this subject-my principal object being to vindicate the inspired volume from having, at any time or place, permitted and regulated a crime of the darkest malignity.
Now, in order to clear away rubbish, and arrive at once at the point, let me remind you that it is simply the essential character of slavery which we are discussing ; and that slavery is a term whose meaning can be easily and accurately defined. Slavery is bondage. It is (to give Paley's idea in other language) the condition of one to whose ser-) yice another has a right, without the consent or contract of the servant. The addition you make to this definition is really included in it; the original right involving, of course, all rights necessarily and properly implied. But, my dear brother, while I concur fully in the conclusions you draw from the premises assum
umed, it really seems to me that those premises beg the whole question, and take for granted the only thing I ever denied. I am now referring to your second communication. Nothing can be more carefully and lucidly rea. soned, and the abolitionists declare they “ have read no argument from any quarter so simple and yet so conclusive against slavery." after several times perusing this letter, will my brother forgive my saying that it presents to my mind precisely the following problem, and no other :-Slavery being admitted to be an aggre. gate of erimes, it is required to prove that slavery
is criminal. As to which you very justly add, “I do not perceive how the subject, in this view, admits of any argument.”
Let me go a little into detail. Your conclusion is, that slavery is not only a moral evil, but as great a sin as we can conceive of;" and this you derive from two propositions, both of which I humbly apprehend to be fallacious. First, you affirm that the right of the master is irreconcilable with the right of the slave to “ the blessings of moral and intellectual cultivation, and the privi. leges of domestic society ;" which I deny. Why, indeed, should it be? When you hire a servant for a year, he is under obligation to “labor for your benefit” that year; but does your right to his ser. vice, or your right to “ use all means necessary to the original right,” conflict with his right to “ the blessings of moral and intellectual cultivation, and the privileges of domestic society ?” The terms « moral cultivation" signify, I presume, improvement in holiness. Now, suppose a slave to have the word of God, and to enjoy all the means of grace, why should his moral improvement be impossible because he labors for my benefit ? In fact, might not his very position shelter him from many of those temptations of pride, and avarice, and ambi. tion, which are most fatal to piety ?* Then, again, as to intellectual cultivation : the laboring population in all countries have but little taste or time for literature ; but if our slaves were taught to
* All the Greek fathers, and many eminent commentators, maintain that the true meaning of 1 Cor. vii. 21, is, “Even if liberty may be thine, remain rather in the state of the slave, as it is propitious to piety." See Chrys. Hom.