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know the truth. Duty is otherwise inconceivable and impossible, and Pilate might well put the taunting question, What is truth? Obligation can receive no definition, which does not comprise within itself an act of knowledge. Honestly to contend against truth! The very words are a solecisın. They do violence to our most assured and homebred intuitive convictions. Yet the question recurs, Are not men honestly in error? Yes. . But will not moral integrity guide men into the truth, or rather is it not itself truth in its highest form, realized in act and being? We must still an
The seeming paradox and contradiction attending a naked statement of these principles will vanish, if we transfer our analogy between spiritual and material sight to the organs for receiving and transmitting the same. All men have the power of vision.* They have an intuition and an indubitable intuition of outward objects—such that no two disagree as to the visual qualities of any object laid before them. But then some are near-sighted through defect in the construction or arrangement of the various lenses, that set the object or the rays Howing from it, in a fit attitude for the seeing eye. They need spectacles of various adaptations for the rectification of these inequalities. Even where these are not requisite, the practised eye far outruns the untutored vision in discerning fitness of proportion, delicacy of shade, and harmony in the whole. Not only so, but the situation of the object must be rightly adjusted to the eye. Who would admire the Venus De Medici, or the Apollo Belvidere, when too far distant to be clearly seen? Or what soul would recognize in them the bodying forth of an ideal beauty, in visible expression, if displayed in the uncouth and hideous disguises given to them in a concave mirror ? Who would be called blind or untasteful for being unable to discern their glories in twilight?
In like manner, the mind's eye sees clearly and decides surely on whatever is laid before it, though it ofttimes needs the spectacles of information and experience to place the object in a right attitude before it. Who would be pronounced stupid for not knowing whether a monarchy is of benign or ruinous tendency, without knowing what a monarchy is? Or knowing this generally, yet being ignorant of its
ramified channels of influence, how could such an one properly judge of its merits or demerits? Yet when familiar with all its diversities of operation, who could hesitate to pronounce upon its worthiness and title to support? Could it be doubted that whatever government excites all our nobler impulses and activities, holds sacred the relations of justice, and supplies the largest measure of liberty and inducements to all, to elevate and ennoble themselves, without license to interrupt others in the same pursuits, ought to be upheld and advanced? On the other hand, would not that government and those rulers, that left our fortunes and persons at the merciless caprice of unfeeling wretches, that repressed all worthy and manly aspirations and aims, and treated its subjects as mere ministers of its own avarice, sensuality, and rage, deserve unqualified. execration and total subversion? Can, or does any undegraded man doubt here? But to determine what governments and constitutions have this influence, is a problem of less easy solution. This demands statesmanship, experience, practical wisdom.
Here most men are near-sighted. They need the telescope of education and experience.
How then shall we define the true sphere, within which all men's judgments are alike infallible, and no one can be guide to another, from that in which all are fallible in degrees varying with their intellectual endowments, discipline, culture, and experience? From that wbich affords scope for, and gives significance to, the epithets wise or unwise, prudent or rash, narrow or comprehensive ? Plainly the conscience, with its associated objects and organs, must be assigned to the former. This is our inward and spiritual vision. The true perception of right and wrong, and of the objects qualified by them, without which these words are mere pulsations of air, is the primary constituent, the fundamental condition of all accountability. In proportion as it is dinimed or blunted by the wickedness of men, are they plunged into misery and ruin. " Where no vision is, the people perish.” Yet where this vision is quickest and strongest, there yet remain objects to be seen, and powers of putting them in a fit position for the seeing agent. These constitute what is ordinarily meant by the intellect of man, considered as an inquiring, discovering, deducing faculty. The conscience is imperative and immediate in its decisions, when the actual relation of things is seen. By its own
light, it intuitively affirms certain things to be right or wrong. Yes, the intellect of one man may see certain actions to involve the thing against which conscience has issued its veto, while another may see otherwise. Thus no conscience doubts, that the intention to convey an import counter to known truth, to another, is wrong and indefeasible. Yet, how often has the subtlety of casuists been tasked on the question, Is a lie ever justifiable? The perplexity lies in the want of intellectual discrimination between what does, and what does not, constitute a lie: some seeing in a contradiction as to words, a necessary lie as to the things; others believing, that, if the impression of irony were intentionally conveyed from speaker to hearer, any other language than the contrary of truth would have amounted to intended and sinful falsehood. It does not consist in any doubt as to the intrinsic wickedness of a lie. An illustration here occurs to us, which was furnished by an infidel sophist in elucidation of our meaning, while we were combatting bis argument for the fallibility of conscience, whence he was about to step, by an easy transition, to its non-existence. Said he, " You mean to say, that if a servant brings me a note, purporting to be an injunction of some service upon me by my father, my conscience indubitably determines, that, if it be genuine, I ought to obey it. But it may be forged, and whether it be so or not, I arn to determine by all the light at my command, but I may after all decide hesitatingly. The uncertainty here, very clearly, is not chargeable on my conscience, but my intellect." A truer and clearer exemplification of the thing could not be imagined. While then the conscience is immediate and imperative in its commands, and infallible in its judgments, the understanding may waver and misjudge of the circumstances, which contain the thing on which judgment has been passed.
Now to weigh slavery in this balance, What are the spontaneous, unbiassed sentiments of men in regard to it?
The possession of control over another does not in itself awake our abborrence or reprobation. Were it so, all superintendence among men, individual and public, would be done away. To buy a slave for the purpose of liberating him, or of exercising a control required by his truest well-being, is not slave-dealing. To treat slaves affectionately, and lead them to the discharge of all their duties to God and man, is not to act on the principle, or incur the guilt of slavery.
And all have felt, that such analogies were incommensurate with the subject, and a frail prop for the maintenance of slavery.
THE ESSENCE OF SLAVERY, IS A DISREGARD OF THE SACRED AND ETERNAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN PERSON AND THING. All men know, and feel, and act upon this distinction, though few are able, or ever attempt to define and state it to themselves. They know it to be their duty to regard it, and they instantly judge it a heinous crime, in king or master, to neglect it, either in reference to subject or servant. We acknowledge our obligations to the greatest thinker of the age, for the substance of what follows in the way of defining the difference of person from thing, in which there is nothing striking, except that it is so simple and just, that we wonder we never had come to it before. The distinction is briefly this; A thing may be made a means to an end entirely and of itself. A person cannot be made a means to an end of which itself is not a part. My beast I employ simply as a minister to my own pleasure or interest, all the attentions and expense which I bestow upon it, being intended to fit it more perfectly for this end. But I employ a drudge with a barrow, instead of a horse with a cart, and pay him a consideration beyond the mere meat and drink, requisite to give him the bodily strength demanded by his -task. Persons alone are subjects of morality; and as morality through its organ the conscience, constitutes the ends of our conduct, and subordinates all things else, as parts or means to itself, so persons, in whom alone morality becomes realized and actual, and who alone have the idea of right, or of having a right, alone can constitute themselves ends, and alone have the right or power of appropriating, or acquiring ownership in any substance ; which phrase means the power and right of subordinating it to their own interests and ends. Now the main ingredient of despotism in government, and of slavery in individuals, is, that persons are degraded to the rank of mere things, catering for the gratification and interests of others. It is not the circumstance of possessing or exercising rule over them—this may be a duty --but of treating them as impersonal agents, whom we are bound to regard no more scrupulously, than we should a horse or a waterfall. We ask, whether this be not the element, that constitutes subordination slavery, and starts that VOL. III.
detestation which all generous souls feel, and ought to feel, against the oppressor.
Now we wish to be explicitly understood, as saying, that, not against the restriction of liberty, or the exaction of labor from any class of men, does sentence of condemnation come from the universal and intuitive convictions of the human race, but against the stilling and extinction of personality, and with it of humanity. The much bandied epithet, “manstealing," does not necessarily belong to the bare assumption and exercise of guardianship and direction of another's labor; but it does justly characterize this trampling down, this extracting, this pilfering of manhood, which levels men to the rank of brutes and market-ware. What monster hesitates to condemn, without extenuation, such servitude and its authors, whether in the forın of beginning, or of settled continuance, of forcing into, or retaining in bondage, of first inhumanly robbing of whatever is sacred and endearing, or of perpetuating the thest? Who does not know, that slavery, when it denotes a state not implied by other terms, indicates an ownership in what is not transferable, a degradation to a marketable commodity, of what cannot have an exchangeable value, of beings personal, spiritual, responsible, to things profitable, convenient, irresponsible. All feel it to be an estimating by the weights, measures, and coin of commerce in impersonal things, of the worth of that, which dare not acknowledge any valuation or measurement of itself, or acknowledge any equivalent not in its own coin. For moral worth with its correspondent obligations, and worldly commodities, are mutually incommensurable. The former is to the latter as time to space; no conceivable amount of the former can equal an infinitesimal extent of the latter. The reason is, that the difference respects kind, not degree. No price can pay for the forfeiture or surrendry of the soul, its duties and rights, they are not marketable ; no! though the whole world should be given in exchange for them !
It is unnecessary to go further in showing that mankind (not all calling themselves men) believe, or that their belief is well founded, that slavery, as distinguished from subordination and dutiful subjection, is wrong, morally and religiously, and, therefore to all intents, wrong. In the light of the principle which carried us to this conclusion, we may discover the true and false in many disputes, now pushed with ardor, either directly upon slavery, or in close neighborhood to it.