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depend on the internal peace and continued prosperity of this nation; we entreat them in behalf of the slaves, the objects of their sympathy; we entreat them as men of soberness and reason, as friends of man, as friends of Him who came to preach deliver. ance to the captives—we beg them not to reject this appeal, without a candid and serious consideration.
THE SLAVERY QUESTION. *
[QUARTERLY CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, 1836.]
This little book will do more for its author's reputation, with that portion of mankind whose favorable opinion is most to be desired, than any other one thing which has come from his pen. We have read it with almost unmingled satisfaction. The chapter of “explanations,” that on the evils of slavery,” that on the means of removing slavery,” and the short concluding chapter on the “duties of . the free States,” are the best parts of a book in which almost every page is very good. A fine and lofty moral spirit breathes through the whole. The only portion which betrays at all the habits of the Unitarian theologian, is the chapter in refutation of “the argument which the Scriptures are thought to furnish in favor of slavery.” Not that there is Unitarianism in that chapter ; indeed the whole book is orthodox in its air and spirit; and there are passages which, read with evangelical views, and construed as an evangelical reader would construe
* SLAVERY. By WrLLIAM E. CHANNING. Boston : 1835.
them, have a higher meaning, and a still greater cogency, than they could have had in the mind of their eloquent author. The seven pages in which the Scriptural argument is dispatched, betray the Unitarian only as they show that Dr. Channing is in the habit of reasoning from what he conceives to be the genius of Christianity, rather than from the inspired record of what Christianity is.
Dr. Channing's ground is, briefly, that so far as slavery divests its victims of all personal rights; so far as it reduces human beings to the rank and condition of cattle; so far, in a word, as it converts men into property, it is sin, simple, unqualified sin. He discriminates justly between the wrong of slavery, that is, the wrongfulness of those laws which make the negro a chattel, and refuse to recognize him in any other relation—and the guilt attached to the individual, who, not seeing how to lay down the authority committed to him by those laws, exercises that authority, not for his own emolument, but for the welfare of his servants. Upon those masters who hold the slave “not for his own good or for the safety of the State, but with precisely the same views with which they hold a laboring horse, that is, for the profit they can wring from him," he pours a torrent of eloquent indignation ; while he freely acknowledges, that all masters are not thus guilty. In regard to the means of removing slavery, he holds, that the best, safest, happiest remedy, is in the hands of the masters; that the institution of new relations between the master and the servant, without the master's full consent, though it may be far better than the perpetuity of the relations now exist
ing, cannot but be attended with disaster; that while the recognition of the slave as a man entitled to the benefits of good government ought to be immediate, his emancipation must be a gradual process; that the slave ought to be trained for self-support, by being taught to labor under the impulse of other and manlier motives than the mere terror of the lash, by seeing new privileges and honorable distinctions awarded to the honest and industrious; by being made to feel, that he has a family whose happiness depends on his industry, integrity and prudence, and by being imbued with the truths and motives of the Gospel of Christ. We need not say how entirely these views coincide with our own.
One chapter is devoted to abolitionism in the now technical meaning of that word. The author, while exhibiting his objections to the spirit and proceedings of the anti-slavery societies, vindicates them from the charge of designing to promote insurrection among the slaves, and denounces with great solemnity and earnestness the parricidal attempts that have been made to suppress their proceedings by violence. His greatest objection seems to be against the system of agitation, by which the antislavery men have sought to compass their ends. Of this system of agitation he says:
• From the beginning it created alarm in the considerate, and strengthened the sympathies of free States with the slave. holder. It made converts of a few individuals, but alienated multitudes. Its influence at the south has been evil without mixture. It has stirred up bitter passions and a fierce fanaticism, which have shut every ear and every heart against its arguments and persuasions. These effects are the more to be deplored, be
cause the hope of freedom to the slave lies chiefly in the disposition of his master. The abolitionist proposed, indeed, lo convert the slaveholders; and for this end he approached them with vituperation and exhausted on them the vocabulary of abuse! And he has reaped as he sowed. His vehement pleadings for the slaves have been answered by wilder ones from the slaveholder ; and, what is worse, deliberate defences of slavery have been sent forth, in the spirit of the dark ages, and in defiance of the moral convictions and feelings of the Christian and civilized world. Thus, with good purposes, nothing seems to have been gained. Perhaps (though I am anxious to repeľthe thought) something has been lost to the cause of freedom and humanity.'-pp. 141, 142.
On this text we offer a few comments, illustrating the recent history and present bearings of the slavery question in this country. What Dr. Channing says, is for the most part truly said, and well said; yet in some points it is far from being the whole truth.
The system of agitation pursued by the abolitionists has “strengthened the sympathies of the free States with the slaveholder.” True; yet this increased sympathy with slaveholders, is not produced by the system of agitation alone. It is by their schemes of agitation, taken in connection with their doctrine of immediate freedom, and their usurpation and perversion of the name of abolitionist, that' the anti-slavery societies have produced in the free States 80 considerable a reaction favorable to slavery. Dr. Channing finds himself compelled, by the persecutions and the mobs which have been got up against these societies, to take sides with a party whose doctrine of immediate emancipation he renounces, whose system of agitation he deprecates, and whose spirit of denunciation he abhors. Just so, thousands of