Sidor som bilder

The inference as to the duties of this people towards the slaves, is clear. We have not power to unbind the chains of the oppressed by immediate interference, but we are deeply responsible for the part we can, and ought to bear, in snapping them asunder. We are of one blood with the holders of slaves, bound to them by ties, national, social, fraternal. The tone and temper manifested by us, in regard to this great national sin, will be looked upon by our southern brethren, as likely to err rather on the side of austerity and sternness, than on the side of laxity. * Let us then dismiss all temporizing and shifting expedients, and manfully face the real enemy. Let the people be taught to have faith in the truth, and arm themselves with its spirit and its all-sufficing energy. Infidelity to truth, or the spirit of truth, puts us afloat in the trackless and unfathomed abyss of aimless policy and unsatisfying calculation. Let us not in any wise disguise or extenuate the inhumanity, the reckless debasement and pollution of body and soul, the unholy barter of what is above price, which, though not necessarily belonging to all possible relations of master and servant, give color and substance to the crime of slavery. Let those fiendish combinations which are conspiring to strengthen, perpetuate and systematize this iniquity, by cramping individual benevolence under the strong arm of legislative tyranny, be exposed to the scorn and detestation of the human race. Let the traffickers in human blood, and the abettors of the traffic, be manacled in the noisome cavities wherein they thrust their fellows, and pent up from all communion with men; for their very touch and breath are pollution. Let those howling wolves, that break into the sacred fold of family ties, those fiery scorpions, that extort toil with the sting of the lash, be visited with that infamy and generous execration, to which their bestial cruelty and hardihood entitle them. Let not such wickedness be apologized for, or connived at, but let us on all proper and expedient occasions, vent our indignation against it, and let us not hesitate to contend for its immediate, absolute overthrow.

* The revilings and contemptuous denunciation of northern character, of which southern papers and politicians are so prolific, do not express the genuine feelings of the people. In conversation with an intelligent South Carolinian, who was ultra in his adherence to southern feelings and principles, and to slavery among the rest, we were struck with a remark of this purport, “We know that you New Englanders always have reasons for what you do, and, sometimes, provokingly good ones too!"

Such an emancipation, however, does not imply, that the slaves ought to be loosed from all supervision and restraint. It would be inhuman to expose them to the luckless and fluctuating chances, which their thriftlessness and incompetency to manage, arising from their long degradation, must induce. It would be like casting off children to look for themselves. Their masters ought to prepare them for freedom, before they bestow it, or to make suitable provision for such preparation. It is the duty of each individual master, and of the slave-state legislatures, to open the door of HOPE, the prospect of privileges, emolument and honor, proportioned to thrist and true worth. The absence of such stimulants is enough to debase and wither the character of any people, bond or free, for without them human nature droops in despair and inactivity, and its generous impulses stagnate. Masters ought not, therefore, to be told, that their authority is only commensurate with the consent of the slave. The principle is false, and in the way of their plainest duties.

Much less ought the slaves to be told so. Vexed, galled and ground down to the dust, as they are, a small potion from the cup of radicalism may be enough, to infuriate and instigate them to whelm us all in one vast and terrible convulsion, and to make shipwreck of our and their true welfare, on a sea of blood. Their natural instincts of obedience to kind and well-wishing masters, should be cherished and strengthened. They should be taught to regard their true interests, as inseparably bound up in their hearty co-operation with such masters, and all those mutual affections should be cultivated, without which their state is one of distress and misery. All the rewards of honorable exertion, the avenues to respectability, as far as possible, with all the incitements of perseverance and industry, should be open to them. Nor should they be taught to regard the guardianship and supervision of their masters as incompatible with this. They ought not to feel that subordination is one with degradation, but should be content to occupy the place to which their endowments and necessities destine them, and they should consider their truest dignity and elevation of character, as consisting in the due fulálment of their appointed sphere of duty. No legislative obstacles should stifle or imprison their aspirations and efforts, to reach the conscious pride and dignity of freemen. On the presentation of sufficient proofs of competency, they should be allowed to run their race for

political or other distinctions. It may be, however, that their debasement is such, that stronger proofs of this fitness become necessary, on their part, than on the part of the wbites; while, in the latter case, obstacles to the acquisition of political power are too few and yielding. And it may be, that color is the token by which the class of persons required to furnish such proofs, is recognized and determined; as a certain amount of property is often made the criterion of fitness among our white population.

Nor does their color, therefore, ostracize them from the rights of men. It merely indicates, how far it is well for them to discharge certain offices, in order to enjoy their rights most fully and beneficially. It may be, that their long enslavement, comparative inferiority to the whites, combined with the deeply rooted prejudices which are abroad in fact, (whether justly or not, we do not inquire,) will preclude them from fair and equable competition. It is matter of rejoicing, that a noble and comprehensive charity is extensively patronized in our land, which aims to conquer this obstacle. It opens an asylum to the aspiring spirits among the blacks, on their native soil, where they are no longer aliens and bondmen to interest or prejudice, are independent and untrammelled, have equals for rivals, and labor without disadvantage or restriction. That the very aim, therefore, of the Colonization Society presupposes that slavery ought to cease, no reasonable man can doubt. That its movements are all in the line of its extermination, just as would be the guarding of the marriage tie, or the performance of any other duty towards the slaves, there is as little room to doubt. But that this is all our duty towards them, that this indirect and partial enterprise, this circuitous skirmishing in the neighborhood of slavery, supersedes the necessity and duty of an open, direct and fearless reprobation of the sin-of 'striking a blow directly at its vitals, we do not believe. Let those consider the matter, who are satisfied that they have nothing more to do, than to make some slight contributions to its resources.

And let those too bethink themselves, who are envenoming the blacks, and all capable of being touched by their phrenzy with hate, bitterness and fury against the founders and patrons of this noble charity. Let them cease those coarse and spiteful vituperations, which are hopelessly alienating the true friends of the blacks from all sympathy and co-operation with themselves, and from all further consideration of their duties in reference to the subjects. Let them beware, how they prejudice the blacks, who are ambitious, unsatisfied and restless here, against that retreat from oppression to the independence and dignity of manhood, which has been provided for them. Let them beware, how they infuse turbulence, envy and petulance, into those, whom they delude to continue here, or who are otherwise compelled to remain. “Let as many servants as are under the yoke, count their masters worthy of all honor." And let them remember the divine command, to withdraw from such as teach otherwise. As the foot cannot say it is not of the body, because it is not the hand, so neither can the servant say, he is not a man, nor occupying his place as a man, because he is not master. And as the eye cannot say to the ear, " what need have I of thee?” so neither can servant say to master, or master to servant, what need have I of thee?"

And lastly let those bethink themselves who persist in these abominations. If they fail to repent and undo their iniquities, let them learn from the past, the fate that awaits them. History is but a ceaseless unfolding of the weal or wo consequent on principles maintained, or principles violated. The revulsion of the unpitying, indiscriminate caprice of Charles I. on his own head, shows how far it is safe for one human being to treat superciliously or irreverently in others, that which puts them above the rank of beings merely sentient, and confers rights even as it imposes duties which no man can destroy, or rightfully fail to recognize. So certainly operative is this tendency, that the imprisonment of a few innocent seamen, which occasioned pecuniary loss too small to be considered, and whose condition placed them below any other sympathy than the consciousness of a causeless and intolerable wrong perpetrated against that higher being which we feel workiog within us in common with all, aroused and embattled a whole people in their defence. Whence came Clarkson's and Wilberforce's triumph, when, after being thwarted again and again, they bounded back at each repulse with augmented vigor, and at length bore down all the obstructions of self-interested wickedness, which witnessed its own discomfiture in the irrepressible rejoicings of a whole people? They maintained the truth, against those who had outraged the truth. How comes it, that a despised band of pugnacious and awry speculators, in spite of the hateful bitterness and personality which season their appeals, are yet starting increased sympathy and enlarging alliances, anid the very salt of the earth, which though grieved and repulsed by the acrid and virulent tone of their writings, is not content to remain indifferent or inactive, in forwarding their ultimate aim? There is no mistaking this voice, nor its origin. It is saying to oppressors, in tones too mighty to be longer smothered, “ quit your inhumanity and stay your oppressions.” The primary instincts · of man, the spirit of civilization, the diffusion of knowledge, the growth and spread of civil liberty, all erect themselves in dire array before you, and warn you, not to lay yourselves bare to the gathering thunder-burst of indignation from all human kind! If you obstinately resist the light, and grind down God's image into commixture with the dust, think not to evade the fit retributions of eternity or time. The day is speeding on, when it will be vain mockery to plead, that God winks at the times of ignorance. His people will feel and know the hollowness of the plea; and their hearts yearn with a sympathy as strong as their love of God, towards the oppressed.

But if no human heart should beat in pity for the victims of violated huinanity, there is a Being, the pulsations of whose heart vibrate through the universe, and who holds all things in the hollow of his hand. He has said, vengeANCE IS MINE, and that vengeance is denounced in no stinted measure against the oppressor. The crisis is at hand and if you do not avert it by a speedy repentance, by doing justice and loving mercy, it must come, when this mass of humanity, this latent body of etherial fire which now lies crushed and smothered under the burthens grievous to be borne, imposed upon it by your cruelty, will swell and burst its fetters, and overwhelm you in the shock. The intimations of God's ordinary providence, show that the lash and the stocks will not long avail to keep out light and knowledge. Nor does He fail to visit enormous and high-handed wickedness with special judgments. In vain do you appeal to the laws of his theocracy, in justification of barring out the victims of your cruelty from all knowledge of themselves and God, from all hope here, or bereafter. The periodical proclamation of ransom to the Hebrew slaves, their protection from wanton and capricious cruelty, the sedulous instruction given them in their duties to God and man, rebuke the impious


VOL. 111.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »