Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50, December, 1861

Part 4 out of 5

evening. For this service, the salary fixed generations before was five
dollars, and summer and winter, rain or shine, he was always at his post
at the instant.

When the old man rang the evening-bell on the Thanksgiving-Day whereof I
write, he aroused Jacob and his wife from deep reverie.

"Oh, Jacob!" said the latter, "such a waking dream as I have had! I
thought they all stood before me,--all,--every one,--none missing! And
they were little children again, and had come to say their prayers
before going to bed! They were all there, and I could not drive it from
my heart that I loved Samson best!"

His name had hardly been mentioned between them for fifteen years.

Jacob Newell, with a strange look, as though he were gazing at some
dimly defined object afar off, slowly spoke,--

"I have thought sometimes that I should like to know where he lies, if
he is dead,--or how he lives, if he be living. Shall we meet him? Shall
we meet him? Five goodly spirits await us in heaven; will _he_ be there,
also? Oh, no! he was a bad, bad, bad son, and he broke his father's

"He was a bad son, Jacob, giddy and light-headed, but not wholly bad.
Oh, he was so strong, so handsome, so bright and brave! If he is living,
I pray God that he may come back to see us for a little, before we
follow our other lost ones!"

"If he should come back," said Jacob, turning very white, but speaking
clearly and distinctly, "I would drive him from my door, and tell him
to be gone forever! A wine-bibber, dissolute, passionate, headstrong,
having no reverence for God or man, no love for his mother, no sense
of duty towards his father; I have disowned him, once and forever, and
utterly cast him out! Let him beware and not come back to tempt me to
curse him!"

Still from the distance, overpowering and drowning the headlong rush of
passion, came the soft booming of the evening-bell.

"I hear the church-bell, Jacob: we have not long to hear it. Let us not
die cursing our son in our hearts. God gave him to us; and if Satan led
him astray, we know not how strong the temptation may have been, nor how
he may have fought against it."

Jacob Newell had nought to say in answer to this, but, from the passion
in his heart, and from that egotism that many good men have whose
religious education has taught them to make their personal godliness a
matter to vaunt over, he spoke, foolishly and little to the point,--

"Ruth, did Satan ever lead _me_ astray?"

"God knows!" she replied.

There came a rap at the door.

The melody of the church-bell was fast dying away. The last cadences of
sound, the last quiver in the air, when the ringer had ceased to ring
and the hammer struck the bell no more, lingered still, as a timid and
uncertain tapping fell upon the door.

"Come in!" said Jacob Newell.

The door was slowly opened.

Then there stood within it a tall, muscular man, a stranger in those
parts, with a ruddy face, and a full, brown beard. He stood grasping
the door with all his might, and leaning against it as for support.
Meanwhile his gaze wandered about the room with a strange anxiety, as
though it sought in vain for what should assuredly have been found

"Good evening, Sir," said Jacob Newell.

The stranger made no reply, but still stood clinging to the door, with a
strange and horrible expression of mingled wonder and awe in his face.

"'Tis a lunatic!" whispered Ruth to her husband.

"Sir," said Jacob, "what do you want here to-night?"

The stranger found voice at length, but it was weak and timorous as that
of a frightened child.

"We were on the train, my wife and I, with our three little ones,--on
the train snowed in five miles back,--and we ask, if you will give it,
a night's lodging, it being necessary that we should reach home without
paying for our keeping at the hotel. My wife and children are outside
the door, and nearly frozen, I assure you."

Then Ruth's warm heart showed itself.

"Come in," she said. "Keep you?--of course we can. Come in and warm

A sweet woman, with one child in her arms, and two shivering beside her,
glided by the man into the room. They were immediately the recipients of
the good old lady's hospitality; she dragged them at once, one and all,
to the warmest spot beside the hearth.

Still the man stood, aimless and uncertain, clutching the door and
swaying to and fro.

"Why do you stand there at the door? Why not come in?" said Jacob
Newell. "You must be cold and hungry. Ruth--that's my wife, Sir--will
get you and your family some supper."

Then the man came in and walked with an unsteady step to a chair placed
for him near the fire. After he had seated himself he shook like one in
an ague-fit.

"I fear you are cold," said Ruth.

"Oh, no!" he said.

His voice struggled to his lips with difficulty and came forth

The old lady went to a corner cupboard, and, after a moment's search,
brought forth a black bottle, from which she poured something into a
glass. It smelt like Jamaica rum. With this she advanced towards the
stranger, but she was bluntly stopped by Jacob,--

"I am afraid the gentleman has had too much of that already!"

For an instant, like a red flash of lightning, a flush of anger passed
across his features before the stranger meekly made answer that he had
tasted no liquor that day. Ruth handed him the glass and he drained it
at a gulp. In a moment more he sat quietly upright and proceeded gravely
to divest himself of his heavy shawl and overcoat, after which he
assisted in warming and comforting the children, who were growing sleepy
and cross.

Ruth bustled about with her preparations for giving the strangers a
comfortable supper, and Jacob and his unexpected guest entered into

"I used to be acquainted hereabout," the stranger began, "and I feel
almost like getting among friends, whenever I visit the place. I rode
over with old Gus Parker to-day, from where the train lies bedded near
the five-mile cut, but I was too busy keeping the children warm to ask
him any questions. I came here because your son Mark Newell and I were
old cronies at school together. I--I don't see him here to-night,"--the
stranger's voice trembled now,--"where is he?"

"Where we must all follow him, sooner or later,--in the grave!"

"But he had brothers,--I've heard him say," the stranger
continued,--with an anxiety in his tone that he could by no means
conceal; "I believe he had--let me see--three brothers and two sisters.
Where are _they_?"

"All gone!" cried Jacob Newell, rising and pacing the room. Then
suddenly facing his singular guest, he continued, speaking rapidly and
bitterly, "You have three children,--I had six! Yours are alive and
hearty; but so were mine; and when I was a young man, like you, I
foolishly thought that I should raise them all, have them clustering
around me in my old age, die before any of them, and so know no
bereavements! To-day I stand here a solitary old man, sinking rapidly
into the grave, and without a relation of any kind, that I know of, on
the face of the earth! Think that such a fate may yet be yours! But the
bitterness of life you will not fully know, unless one of your boys--as
one of mine did--turns out profligate and drunken, leaves your fireside
to associate with the dissolute, and finally deserts his home and all,

"If that son of yours be yet alive, and were ever to return,--suddenly
and without warning, as I have broken in upon you to-night,--if he
should come to you and say, 'Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and
before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son!' what should
you say to him?"

"I should say, 'For fifteen years you have deserted me without giving
mark or token that you were in the body; now you have come to see me
die, and you may stay to bury me!' I should say that, I think, though
I swore to Ruth but now that I would curse him, if ever he
returned,--curse him and drive him from my door!"

"But if he came back penitent indeed for past follies and offences, and
only anxious to do well in the future,--if your son should come in that
way, convincing you with tears of his sincerity, you surely would be
more gentle to him than that! You would put away wrath, would you not? I
ask you," the stranger continued, with emotion, "because I find myself
in the position we suppose your son to be placed in. I am going home
after an absence of years, during all which time I have held no
communication with my family. I have sojourned in foreign lands, and now
I come to make my father and my mother happy, if it be not too late for
that! I come half hoping and half fearing; tell me what I am to expect?
Place yourself in my father's position and read me my fate!"

While he spoke, his wife, sitting silent by the fire, bent low over the
child she held, and a few quiet tears fell upon the little one's frock.

Ruth Newell, moving back and forth, in the preparation of the stranger's
supper, wore an unquiet and troubled aspect, while the old farmer
himself was agitated in a manner painful to see. It was some seconds
before he broke the silence. When he spoke, his voice was thick and

"If I had a son like you,--if those little children were my
grandchildren,--if the sweet lady there was my son's wife,--ah,
then!----But it is too late! Why do you come here to put turbulent,
raging regrets into my heart, that but for you would be beating calmly
as it did yesterday, and the day before, and has for years? Ah! if my
son were indeed here! If Samson were indeed here!"

The stranger half arose, as though to spring forward, then sank back
into his seat again.

But the little child sitting in her mother's lap by the fire clapped her
hands and laughed a childish, happy laugh.

"What pleases my little girl?" asked the mother.

"Why, '_Samson_'" the child said,--"_that's what you call papa!_"

Then Ruth, who stood by the table with a pitcher of water in her
hand, staggered backwards like one stricken a violent and sudden
blow!--staggered backwards, dropping the pitcher with a heavy crash as
she retreated, and crossing her hands upon her bosom with quick, short
catchings of the breath! Then crying, "My son! my son!" she threw
herself, with one long, long sob, upon the stranger's neck!

* * * * *

The story is told. What lay in his power was done by the returned
prodigal, who did not come back empty-handed to the paternal roof. His
wife and children fostered and petted the old people, till, after the
passage of two or three more Thanksgiving-Days, they became as cheerful
as of old, and they are now considered one of the happiest couples in
the county. Do not, on that account, O too easily influenced youth,
think that happiness for one's self and others is usually secured by
dissolute habits in early life, or by running away from home. Half the
occupants of our jails and alms-houses can tell you to the contrary.

* * * * *


Winter rose-leaves, silver-white,
Drifting o'er our darling's bed,--
He's asleep, withdrawn from sight,--
All his little prayers are said,
And he droops his shining head.

Winter rose-leaves, falling still,
Go and waken his sad eyes,
Touch his pillowed rest, until
He shall start with glad surprise,
And from slumber sweet arise!

* * * * *


In the British House of Commons, some eighty years ago, two newly chosen
members took their places, each of whom afterwards became distinguished
in the history of that body. They had become acquainted at the
University of Cambridge, were strongly united by friendship, and had
each, on attaining to manhood, formed the deliberate purpose of entering
public life. Of these two, one was William Pitt, the other was William

Neither of these members of Parliament had at this time passed the age
of twenty-one, and the latter was of extremely youthful appearance.
Small of stature and slight in frame, his delicate aspect was redeemed
from effeminacy by a head of classic contour, a penetrating and
melodious voice, an address which always won attention. His superior
social endowments were fully recognized by the companions of his
leisure; nor was his influence lessened by the fact, that by the death
of his father and uncle he had become the only male representative of
his family and the master of a goodly inheritance. He paid from the
first close attention to the business of the House, and, though by
no means anxious to be heard, showed, that, when called out by any
occasion, he was fully competent to meet it. Representing his native
city of Hull, his first public speech was on a topic immediately
connected with her interests.

The brilliant career of Mr. Pitt commenced, as the reader knows, in
early life. Passing by the mental exploits of his boyhood, we meet him
at his entrance upon the public service. He had no sooner become a
member of the House of Commons than it began to be remarked that in him
appeared to be reproduced those same qualities of statesmanship which
had marked his illustrious father, Lord Chatham. Such powers, evinced
by one who was but just stepping upon the stage of public life, first
excited surprise, which was quickly followed by admiration. That
strength of thought and keenness of analysis, which, seizing upon a
subject, bring out at once its real elements of importance, and present
them in their practical bearings, deducing the course dictated by a wise
policy, had hitherto been regarded, by those who found themselves the
willing auditors of a youth, as the ripened fruits of experience alone.

England was at this time at war not only with her American colonies, but
with France, Spain, and Holland. Weakened by these prolonged conflicts,
her finances drained, her huge debt increasing every day, her condition
called loudly for a change of policy. The cause of American Independence
was not without its advocates in the House, and among these Mr. Pitt
was soon found, uttering his sentiments without reserve. Probably no
individual of that body exerted a stronger influence than he in securing
for this country the full recognition of her rights. Of the manner in
which he was accustomed to treat of the American War, here is a single
specimen. After speaking of it as "conceived in injustice, brought forth
and nurtured in folly," and continually draining the country of its
vital resources of men and treasure, he proceeds:--

"And what had the British nation gained in return? Nothing but a series
of ineffective victories and severe defeats,--victories celebrated only
by a temporary triumph over our brethren, whom we were endeavoring to
trample down and destroy,--which filled the land with mourning for
dear and valuable relatives slain in the vain attempt to enforce
unconditional submission, or with narratives of the glorious exertions
of men struggling under every difficulty and disadvantage in the sacred
cause of liberty. Where was the Englishman, who, on reading the accounts
of these sanguinary and well-fought battles, could refrain from
lamenting the loss of so much British blood spilled in such a contest,
or from weeping, whichever side victory might be declared?"

It was not unusual for Mr. Pitt, when he addressed the House on a topic
of sufficient magnitude to call forth his powers, to be followed
by plaudits so loud and long-continued that the next speaker found
difficulty in securing quiet in order to be heard. While in the youth
was recognized the sagacity of the late Lord Chatham, it was declared
that the eloquence of the father was exceeded by that of the son. Signal
services to the country were augured, even by his opponents, from one of
such extraordinary abilities and manifest integrity of purpose. He began
to be looked upon as capable of holding the highest trusts, fitted for
the gravest responsibilities. Hardly can history furnish a parallel to
the case of so young a person solicited by his sovereign to take the
lead of his administration, and declining the honor. Yet such, in this
instance, was the fact.

A change in the Ministry having become necessary, it was proposed that
Mr. Pitt should be appointed First Lord of the Treasury in the place of
Lord Shelburne. That this appointment should be made was known to be
expressly desired by the King. The friends of the young statesman were
delighted. They advised by all means that the offer should at once be
accepted. But, undazzled by his own unprecedented success, he weighed
the matter coolly and deliberately.

That Mr. Pitt had a due sense of his own powers is evident. Early in his
political life he had expressed his unwillingness to hold office under
circumstances where he must execute measures which had originated in
other minds rather than his own. As this was declining beforehand all
subordinate office, an excessive modesty could hardly have been the
cause of his backwardness at this juncture. It must be sought elsewhere.
It is found in the opinion which he entertained that the Ministry now
about to be formed could never be an efficient one. The union which had
recently taken place between parties whose political enmity had
been extreme indicated to him an equally extreme opposition to the
Government. The coalition between Lord North and Mr. Fox would, he
anticipated, be the occasion of such a tide of hostility in the House of
Commons as he was too wary to be willing to stem.

It was argued that he was needed; that an exigency had arisen which no
one but himself could adequately meet; the country, in her adverse hour,
must have his services; the King desired them, solicited them. With a
remarkable degree of reticence he declined all these overtures, and in
a letter addressed to his sovereign gave a most respectful, but decided

Yet fame still followed him, and honor and office still claimed him
as their rightful recipient. With the lapse of time came changes, and
public affairs presented themselves in new and unexpected aspects. The
vast empire of the East loomed up before the vision of statesmen and
legislators in hitherto unimagined splendors, and with claims
upon attention which could not be set aside. At the India House
considerations of momentous interest had arisen. Mr. Pitt entered deeply
into these affairs, connected as they were with the onward progress of
British rule in Hindostan. A crisis occurred at this time, in which,
having the power, he could serve his country with manifest advantage to
her interests. At this juncture the offer of the King was renewed. It
came now just at the right time, and the young statesman was found as
ready to accept as he had before been prompt to decline. Mr. Pitt became
the Prime-Minister of George III., and henceforth his history is blended
with the movements of the Government.

Mr. Wilberforce had also at this time taken a strong hold upon public
life. His energies were enlisted in favor of the Governmental party,
of which Mr. Pitt had become the leader. Returning from a journey into
France, which they had made together, these two friends entered
upon their respective duties. With regard to the question at issue,
Yorkshire, the largest county in England, had not yet defined her
position with a sufficient degree of distinctness. Here Mr. Wilberforce
possessed landed estates, and here he was prepared to uphold the
consistency and integrity of the Administration. That peculiar
persuasive power, that silver-toned eloquence, which in after years won
for him so much influence in the House of Commons, here perhaps for the
first time found full play and triumphant success. His power over the
minds of men certainly was brought to a rigorous test.

It was on a chilly day, amid falling hail, that he addressed a crowd of
people in the castle-yard at York. They had listened already to several
speakers, were weary, and about to separate, when Mr. Wilberforce
appeared on the stand and began to speak. Silence was at once secured,
and so perfectly were they swayed by his words that all signs
of opposition or impatience disappeared. For more than an hour,
notwithstanding unfavorable circumstances, he held their attention,
winning them to harmony with his own political views. This was not all.
Before the assembly dispersed, it was whispered from one to another, "We
must have this man for our county member." The election of a member for
Yorkshire was nigh at hand, and when its results were made known, he
found himself in the influential position of "a representative of the
tenth part of England."

To this same member for Yorkshire, in conjunction with the
Prime-Minister of England, we are indebted for the first Parliamentary
agitation of a topic which has since been fruitful enough in discussion,

The introduction of this subject into Parliament, during the
administration of Pitt, was by no means the fruit of a sudden impulse,
but was rather the matured expression of a series of preliminary
efforts. In private circles, the Slave-Trade had been already denounced
and protested against, as unworthy of a civilized, not to say a
Christian people. In certain quarters, too, the press had become the
exponent of these sentiments. Possibly, in their beginnings, no person
did more in the exertion of those means which have wrought into the
heart of the English people such undying hatred to Negro Slavery than
the amiable recluse whose writings can never die so long as lovers of
poetry continue to live. Who has not at times turned away from the
best-loved of the living poets, to regale himself with the compact,
polished, sweetly ringing numbers of Cowper? On the subject of Slavery
he had already given expression to his thoughts in language which at the
present day, in certain portions of the United States, must subject his
works to a strict expurgatorial process. He had exposed to the world the
injustice of the system, and had thrown around his words the magic of

It would not, of course, be possible to proceed in these reminiscences
without coming at once upon the names of Granville Sharp and Thomas
Clarkson. The clerk who became a law-student, that he might be qualified
to substantiate the truth that a slave could not exist on British
soil, the Cambridge graduate, awakened by the preparation of his own
prize-essay to a sympathy with the slave, which never, during a long
life, flagged for an hour, need not be eulogized to-day. The latter of
these gentlemen repeatedly visited Mr. Wilberforce and conferred with
him upon this subject, imparting to him the fruit of his own careful and
minute investigations. These consisted of certain well-authenticated
items of information and documentary evidence concerning the trade and
the cruelties growing out of it. The public efforts which followed,
though hardly originated by these conferences, were probably hastened
by them. Nor should it be forgotten that a small knot of individuals,
mostly Quakers, had associated themselves under the name of "The London
Committee." This, if not an anti-slavery society, was the nucleus of
what afterwards became one. These hitherto unrecognized efforts were
about to receive fresh encouragement and acquire new efficiency. The
influences which had worked in silence and among a few were about to be
brought out to the light.

It was on the 5th of May, 1788, that a motion was introduced into the
House of Commons having for its object the abolition of the Slave-Trade.
It was brought forward by Mr. Pitt. He intended to secure its discussion
early in the next session. Mr. Wilberforce, he hoped, would then be
present, whose seat was now vacant by reason of severe illness. He had
been, indeed, at one time, given over by his physicians, but had been
assured by Mr. Pitt, that, even in case of a fatal result of his
disease, the cause of African freedom should not die.

The idea of possible legislation on this subject was no sooner broached
than it was at once taken up and found able advocates. Here Pitt and Fox
were of one mind, and were supported by the veteran advocate for justice
and right, Edmund Burke. The latter had some years before attempted to
call attention to this very subject. Certain Bristol merchants,
his wealthy constituents, had thus been grievously offended at the
aberrations of the representative of their city. As early as 1780 he had
drawn up an elaborate "Negro Code," of which it may be said, that, had
some of its regulations been heeded, at least one leaf in the world's
history would have presented a different reading from that which it now
bears. Mr. Burke was at this time in the decline of life, and was well
pleased that other and younger advocates were enlisted in the same great

A bill was brought forward at this session, by one of the friends of the
cause, Sir W. Dolben, for lessening immediately the cruelties of the
trade. It will be remembered that up to this time slave-ships had sailed
up the Thames all unmolested, were accustomed to fit out for their
voyages, and, having disposed of their cargoes, to return. A vessel of
this description had arrived at the port of London. The subject of the
traffic having become invested with interest, a portion of the members
of the House paid a visit to the ill-starred craft. The deplorably
narrow quarters where hundreds of human beings were to be stowed away
during the weeks that might be necessary to make their passage produced
upon the minds of these gentlemen a most unfavorable impression. The
various insignia of the trade did not tend to lessen this, but rather
changed disgust into horror. Something must be done for the reformation
of these abuses, and that immediately. The bill for regulating the trade
passed both Houses, notwithstanding a vigorous opposition, and became
a law. By the provisions of this bill the trade was so restricted that
owners and officers of vessels were forbidden by law to receive such
excessive cargoes as they had hitherto done. The number of slaves should
henceforth be limited and regulated by the tonnage of the ship. This was
something gained. But the anti-slavery party, though in its infancy, had
already begun to show the features of its maturer days. Its strenuous
and uncompromising nature began to manifest itself. The law for
regulating the trade displeased the members who sought its abolition.
They were, however, pacified by the assurance that this was by no means
regarded as a remedy for the evil, but simply as a check upon its

In the spring of the following year, in pursuance of Mr. Pitt's motion,
the subject was again brought forward. Mr. Wilberforce was now ready for
the occasion, and on the 12th of May, 1789, in a speech of three hours
and a half, he held the attention of the House, while he unfolded the
African Slave-Trade in its several points of view,--its nature, being
founded in injustice, its cruelties, the terrible mortality of the
slave-ship, the demoralizing influence of the trade upon British
sailors, and the astonishing waste of life among them, as well as among
the captive negroes.

The speech was declared to be one of the ablest ever delivered before
the House. The speaker was also well sustained by Pitt and Fox. Mr.
Burke said of this performance,--"The House, the nation, and Europe are
under great and serious obligations to the honorable gentleman, for
having brought forward the subject in a manner the most masterly,
impressive, and eloquent." "It was," said Bishop Porteus, who was
present, "a glorious night for this country."

The subject was now fairly afloat. The anti-slavery agitation had sprung
to a vigorous life. The "irrepressible conflict" was begun. Nor can it
be denied that its beginning was highly respectable. If there be any
good in elevated social rank joined to distinguished ability, if there
be any advantage in the favor of honorable and right-minded men, any
dignity in British halls of legislation, the advocate of anti-slavery
doctrines may claim alliance with them all.

One inevitable effect of the interest thus awakened was to render those
enlisted in favor of the trade aware of their position, and alert to
prevent any interference on the part of the Government. The alarm
spread. The merchants of Liverpool and Bristol must maintain their
ground. In various quarters were set forth the advantages of the trade.
It was no injustice to the negro, but rather a benefit. The trader was
no robber or oppressor; he was a benefactor, in that by his means the
native African was taken from a heathen land and brought to live among
Christians. At home, he was the victim of savage warfare; by the
slave-ship his life was prolonged and his salvation rendered possible.

Witnesses on both sides were now summoned for examination before
Parliamentary committees. The premises from which conclusions had been
drawn must be thoroughly sifted. The evidence collected was manifold;
to dispose of it required time, and with time the opponents of the
Abolition Bill gathered strength. The next year and the following
its advocates still maintained its claims. The third year of its
presentation opened with high hopes of its success. Its friends had
increased in number, and so marked was the inferiority of their
opponents in talents and influence, at this time, that the contest was
known as "The War of the Pigmies against the Giants." But the pigmies,
being numerous, gained the vote, and it only remained for the giants to
return with renewed vigor to the contest in the following year.

In 1792 the debate began with spirit. During this discussion Mr. Pitt
was most prominent. The great subject of the Resources of Africa had
recently engaged his attention. This subject, then an almost untried
theme, seems not unlikely in our day to take precedence of all others
in connection with the fate of the negro. It has been argued, and that
wisely, that only by strengthening the African at home can he ever be
respected abroad. In the productions of his native soil lie materials
for trade vastly better than the buying and selling of men, women, and
children. The fomenting of wars, whereby captives may be secured,
may well be superseded by the culture of the coffee-tree and the

Mr. Clarkson, who left no effort untried which might in any manner
promote the interests of the cause, regarded as one important means
to this end the diffusion of knowledge concerning that unknown and
mysterious region. He had therefore procured from Africa specimens of
some of the actual products of the country, to which he called the
attention of the Premier. The specimens of ivory and gold, of ebony and
mahogany, of valuable gums and cotton cloth, awoke a new vein of thought
in the mind of the statesman. The resources of such a country should be
brought into use for her own benefit and for the promotion of commerce.
When his turn came to address the House, he presented this view,
pursuing it at some length, and attacking on this ground the trade in
slaves. That exuberant imagination which he was accustomed to rein in,
yet which well knew how to sport itself in its own airy realm, was
here suffered to take wing. He pictured to his enraptured audience the
civilization and glory of Africa, when, in coming years, delivered
from the curse of the Slave-Trade, she should take her place among the

Wilberforce, in writing to one of his friends concerning this speech,
after mentioning the admiration expressed by one who was no friend to
Pitt, adds,--"For the last twenty minutes he seemed really inspired."

A bill was introduced at this time for putting an end to the whole
business in a certain number of years. The year 1800 was named as the
extreme limit of the continuance of the traffic, that department of it
by which British vessels supplied foreign nations being abandoned at

The bill for gradual abolition displeased those who were most deeply
interested in the matter. The clear-headed sagacity of Pitt, the
patriotism of Fox, and the moral sense of Wilberforce led them to the
expression of the same view. There could be no compromise between right
and wrong; that which required redress some years hence required it now.
It was, moreover, they were certain, in some minds only a pretext for
delay, as the event proved.

If the advocates of the discontinuance of the Slave-Trade had in the
beginning anticipated an easy victory, they had before this become
convinced of their mistake. The prospect, which had looked bright
and hopeful, pointing to a happy consummation, after a period of
encouragement again grew dark and doubtful. Instead of a speedy
adjustment, they found themselves involved in a long contest. Opponents
increased in strength and activity. Wars and convulsions, rending the
nations of Europe, engrossed the thoughts of public men. As years passed
on, the Abolition Bill became a sort of fixture. It grew into a saying,
that "only the eloquence of Pitt and Wilberforce" made the House willing
to endure its mention at all. The amount of documentary evidence became
formidable in quantity and tedious in detail. For collecting this
evidence Mr. Clarkson had now the most ample means, in the persons of
those who, whether as sailors, soldiers, or scientific men, had become
acquainted with Western Africa. In the work of reducing these masses of
facts to a system, making them available for purposes of public debate,
a most efficient aid was found in Mr. Zachary Macaulay. The father of
the celebrated historian was most unrelaxing in his zeal for Abolition,
and, possessing a memory of singular tenacity, he came to be
regarded, in this peculiar department of knowledge, as a very perfect
encyclopedia. Nor, in mentioning the advocates of the suppression of the
monster evil, should we ever forget one who to an overflowing goodness
of heart added an inimitable richness and delicacy of humor,--James
Stephen. His influence in Parliament was always given in favor of
Abolition, and he was also the author of several able pamphlets on the
subject. He had been at one period of his life a resident in the West
India Colonies, and the hatred of the slave-system which he there
imbibed remained unchanged through life.

While, as has been seen, these labors were becoming complicated and
arduous, the opposition was growing not only strong, but violent.
Anti-slavery petitions, intended for presentation in Parliament, must be
sent in strong boxes, addressed, not to the leaders of the cause, but
to private persons, lest they should be opened and their contents
destroyed. Mr. Wilberforce is requested, when writing to a friend
in Liverpool, not to frank his own letter, lest it should never be
received. Correspondence on this subject must be carried on anonymously,
and addressed to persons not known to be interested. This was not the
worst. To random words of defiant opposition were added threats
of personal violence. For a space of two years the friends of Mr.
Wilberforce were annoyed by a desperate man who had declared that he
would take the life of the Yorkshire member. But, to do justice to the
advocates of the trade, there was one form of violence which they appear
never to have contemplated:--secession. The injured slave-merchants of
that time never thought of conspiring against the government under which
they lived. That was reserved for a later day.

Yet, while appearances were so dark, the cause was actually gaining
ground. The moral sense of the nation was becoming aroused. The
scattered sympathies of the religious classes were concentrating.
Already public sentiment in certain quarters was outgrowing the
movements of Parliament, and the impatient friends of the negro declared
that the leaders of the cause had given up!

In rebutting this charge, Mr. Wilberforce took high ground. He declared
that for himself his aim in this thing was the service of God, and, that
having committed himself to this enterprise, he was not at liberty to go
back. Believing that these efforts on behalf of an injured people were
in accordance with the will of the Almighty, he expressed himself
confident that the divine attributes were enlisted in the work and sure
of the ultimate success of the cause. Of his sincerity and honesty in
this matter we need not speak. By common consent he takes place among
those who in this world have been permitted to illustrate on an extended
scale the power and beauty of the Christian life. As a reformer of the
abuses of society he is often cited as a model, uniting to a singular
purity and sweetness of spirit an immovable firmness of will. To these
blended and diverse qualities was owing, in a great measure, the final
success of the long-contested Abolition Bill. Seldom, indeed, has the
patience of an advocate been put to a severer test than during the
protracted period that the bill for the suppression of the Slave-Trade
was before the House. To push it forward when there was an opening,
and to withdraw when effort was useless or worse than useless, was the
course pursued for a series of years. The subject, meanwhile, was never
lost sight of; when nothing more could be done, the House were reminded
that it was still in reserve.

Early in the present century a favorable conjuncture of events led to
vigorous efforts for the attainment of the long desired object. The
antagonistic policy was now rather to hinder the progress of the
Abolition Bill than to oppose the ultimate extinction of the trade. Of
the supporters of this policy it was remarked by Mr. Pitt, that "they
who wished to protract the season of conflict, whatever might be their
professions, really wished to uphold the system."

Notwithstanding certain covert efforts on the part of the opposition,
the prospect gradually brightened. Several new and influential members
were added to the London Society,--among them Henry Brougham. The Irish
members, who, in consequence of the completed union with England, took
their seats in Parliament, were almost to a man in favor of Abolition.
In 1805 success seemed about to be obtained. But before the final
passage of the Abolition Bill came sorrow of heart to its friends. Mr.
Pitt, having run a political career whose unexampled brilliancy and
usefulness had well fulfilled his early promise, died in the very prime
of life. A year had hardly passed, when his great political rival, Mr.
Fox, was no more. Both of these distinguished men had been, as we have
seen, from the beginning of the contest, the friends of Abolition.
Said Mr. Fox, on his death-bed,--"Two things I wish earnestly to see
accomplished: peace with Europe, and the abolition of the Slave-Trade;
but of the two I wish the latter."

Notwithstanding the death of its friends, the Abolition Bill was
steadily making its way. The "vexed question" of near twenty years was
about to be set at rest. Opposition had grown feeble, and in May, 1807,
the bill which made the Slave-Trade a crime wherever the British rule
extended passed both Houses and became a law.

It was a day of triumphant joy. This was felt by the friends of
Abolition at large, and especially by its advocates. These received
everywhere the warmest congratulations. Mr. Wilberforce, on entering the
House of Commons just before the passage of the bill, was greeted with
rounds of applause.

That Slavery had received its death-blow was fully believed at this
time. Africa being delivered from the traffic, the institution itself,
its supplies being cut off, must necessarily wither and die. This was
the common view of the matter; and the more effectually to secure this
result, negotiations were entered into with other European governments
for the suppression of the trade in their dominions. In America, the
Congress of the United States passed a law prohibiting the African
Slave-Trade after the year 1808, the period indicated in the
Constitution,--the law taking effect a few years later. Napoleon,
restored from his first banishment, and once more wielding the sceptre
of power, caused a law to be passed forbidding the trade in the French
Colonies. The friends of the negro were everywhere high in hope that the
days of Slavery were numbered. Starved out, the monster must inevitably
die. So sure were they of this result, that in England their efforts had
all along been directed against the trade. The institution itself had
been comparatively untouched.

A few years passed, and it began to be evident to those who had been
active in the great conflict that the law against the Slave-Trade was
less effectual than had been anticipated. The ocean was wide, the
African coast a thousand miles long, and desperate men were not wanting
who were disposed to elude the statute for the sake of large gains.
Nor need they fail to secure suitable markets for the sale of their
ill-gotten cargoes. But into this part of our subject it may not be well
to pry too closely.

If the friends of the African cause had supposed their work
accomplished, when their first success was attained, their error was
soon corrected. It was pleasant to repose upon the laurels so dearly
won; but another battle must be fought, and this necessity soon became
apparent. But a few years elapsed and the negro was again made the
subject of legislative consideration. Mr. Wilberforce was still a member
of the House, though most of those with whom he had been associated at
the beginning of his public life were dead. Forty years had passed since
he first took his seat, but he was ready once more to take up the cause
of the defenceless. The abuses perpetrated against the West Indian negro
called loudly for Governmental interference.

Since 1807 little had been done save the passage of the Registry Bill,
which had been secured by Mr. Wilberforce in 1816. This was of the
nature of an investigation into the actual state of the West India
Colonies with respect to the illicit commerce in slaves. Mild as this
measure appeared, it proved the opening wedge of much that followed. It
was in fact the first of a series of movements which issued in momentous
events, even the emancipation of all the slaves in the British Colonies.
The passage of this bill was followed by an increased expression of
interest in the matter of Negro Slavery; this was evinced in a number of
valuable publications issued at this time,--able pamphlets from the pens
of Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Stephen, and others. The labors of the London
Society have already been noticed; and after the passage of the law of
1807 we find in existence the "African Institution," under which name
the friends of the negro were associated for the purpose of watching
over his interests, more particularly with regard to the operation
of the law. But during the period of repose which followed the first
anti-slavery triumph, a portion of this body, losing its original
activity, had become comparatively supine.

In 1818, Thomas Fowell Buxton, whose Quaker mother had instilled into
him a hatred of African Slavery, became a member of Parliament. Having
soon after joined himself to the African Institution, he became somewhat
mortified at the apathy of the friends of the slave, as here embodied.
He was frank and outspoken, and gave expression to his indignant feeling
without reserve. The next day the young member for Weymouth found
himself addressed by Wilberforce, for whom he entertained a high
veneration, and warmly thanked for the earnest utterance of his
sentiments the evening before.

After this Mr. Wilberforce conferred freely with Mr. Buxton upon the
subject of Slavery in its manifold details. In a letter written not far
from this time he unfolded the matter concerning the negroes of the West
Indian plantations, the cruelties to which they were subjected, and the
abuses which grew out of the system. Something must be done. Measures
must be taken of a protective character at least, and the work must be
prosecuted with vigor. Such was the view presented by Mr. Wilberforce.
Warned by age and infirmity that the period of his retirement from
public life could not be far distant, he wished that the cause which
had been with him a paramount one might be passed to able and faithful

How Mr. Buxton responded to this call the subsequent history of the
anti-slavery cause unfolds. He had already shown, that, as a member of
the House, he was to make no light impression, whatever might be the
objects which should enlist his efforts.

At this juncture there was formed in London a new anti-slavery society.
Its object was explicitly stated to be "the mitigation and gradual
abolition of Slavery throughout the British dominions." In looking over
the names of its officers and leading members, we find not those of the
early Abolitionists alone: by the side of Zachary Macaulay we find the
name of his more distinguished son, and that of Wilberforce is similarly

In behalf of the African there existed a somewhat widely spread public
sympathy, the fruit of the previous long-continued presentation of
the subject, and at this time it seemed about to be aroused. Several
petitions, having reference to Slavery, were sent into the House of
Commons. The first of these came from the Quakers, and Mr. Wilberforce,
on presenting it, took occasion to make an address to the House. In
place of Mr. Pitt now stood Mr. Canning, who inquired of Mr. Wilberforce
if he intended to found upon his remarks any motion. He replied,--"No;
but that such was the intention of an esteemed friend of his." Mr.
Buxton then announced his intention of submitting to the House a
motion that the state of Slavery in the British Colonies be taken into

On the 15th of May, 1823, the expected debate took place. Mr. Buxton
began by moving a resolution, "That the state of Slavery is repugnant
to the principles of the British Constitution and of the Christian
Religion, and that it ought to be gradually abolished throughout the
British Colonies, with as much expedition as may be found consistent
with a due regard to the well-being of the parties concerned."

A lively debate followed, and certain resolutions drawn up by Mr.
Canning were finally carried. These articles, as well as Mr. Buxton's
motion, had in view a gradual improvement in the condition and character
of the slaves. In pursuance of the object to be attained, circular
letters were addressed to the Colonial authorities, recommending, with
regard to the negroes, certain enlargements of privileges. These
letters were extremely moderate in their tone. The reforms were simply
recommended, not authoritatively enjoined; in the language of Mr.
Canning, the movement was such a one "as should be compatible with the
well-being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the Colonies,
and with a fair and equitable consideration of the rights of private

Moderate as were the measures first set on foot for the improvement
of the social state of the slaves, the authors were not by that means
secured from opposition. This was accompanied, on the part of the West
India planters, by such an extreme violence as was hardly expected, at
least by the Premier, who had so favorably met the introduction of the
subject, if he had not actually committed himself to the work. The
leaders of the movement, who had but just now been borne onward by the
wave of public approval, found themselves fiercely denounced. Here is a
brief paragraph which appeared at that time in a Jamaica newspaper:--

"We pray the imperial Parliament to amend their origin, which is
bribery; to cleanse their consciences, which are corrupt; to throw
off their disguise, which is hypocrisy; to break off with their false
allies, who are the saints; and finally, to banish from among them the
purchased rogues, who are three-fourths of their number."

Among the reforms recommended to the Colonists, by the circular letters
of the Government, was one which had reference to the indecent flogging
of the female slaves, and also a suggestive restraint upon corporal
punishment in general. This called forth in a Colonial paper
the following, which certainly has the merit of being entirely

"We did and do declare the whip to be essential to West India
discipline, ay, as essential, my Lord Calthorpe, as the freedom of the
press and the trial by jury to the liberty of the subject in Britain,
and to be justified on equally legitimate ground. The comfort, welfare,
and happiness of our laboring classes cannot subsist without it."

These specimens of the fierceness of abuse with which the Government
was assailed may perhaps prepare the reader for that last resort of
indignant discontent on the part of the governed,--the threat of
secession! Yes; Jamaica will break away from the tyranny of which she is
the much abused object, she will free herself from the oppression of the
mother country, and then,--what next?--she will seek for friendship and
protection from the United States! How soon this threat, if persisted in
and carried out into action, would have been silenced by the thunder of
British cannon, we need not stay to consider.

To this clamor of the opposition the more timid of the Anti-Slavery
party were disposed to yield, at least for a season. The Government
showed little disposition to press the improvements which it had
recommended. Mr. Canning seemed apprehensive that he had committed
himself too far, and was inclined to postpone, to wait for a season, to
give the West Indians time for reflection, before legislating further.
The chief advocate of the slave began to realize, that, of those who
had encouraged and cooeperated with him, but few, in a moment of real
difficulty, could be relied upon. But he was not to be baffled. "Good,
honest Buxton" had made up his mind that the world should be somewhat
the better for his having lived in it, and he had chosen as the object
of his beneficent labors the very lowest of his fellow-subjects,--the
negro slave of the West Indies. He was, moreover, a vigorous thinker
and an invincible debater, and, once embarked in this cause, he had no
thought of drawing back. So exclusive was his zeal, that at one time Mr.
O'Connell, vexed that the claims of his constituents were set aside,
electrified the House by exclaiming, "Oh! I wish we were blacks!" The
Irish orator had all along supported the Abolition cause, and spoken
words of good cheer to Mr. Buxton; but now his impatient patriotism
finds vent in exclaiming,--"If the Irish people were but black, we
should have the honorable member from Weymouth coming down as large as
life, supported by all the 'friends of humanity' in the back rows, to
advocate their cause."

There was truth here, as well as wit, showing not only Mr. Buxton's
absorption in the cause which he had espoused, but his inspiring
influence on other minds. His indomitable energy was always sure to grow
stronger after defeat, and the strength of his own belief in the justice
of his cause of itself increased the faith of its friends.

In the onward course of events the violence of the West Indians assumed
different phases, and one of the most memorable of these had respect to
the religious teachers of the slaves. They had been sent out by various
bodies of Christians in England, commencing nearly a hundred years
before these anti-slavery efforts. The object of the missionary was a
definite one, to christianize the negroes. He knew well, before engaging
in his work, that those who might come under his instruction were
slaves, and because they were slaves the call was all the louder upon
his compassion. Yet his path of duty lay wide enough from any attempt
to render the objects of his Christian efforts other than they were in
their civil relations. Such were the instructions which the missionaries
were accustomed to receive, on leaving England for a residence among the
Colonists. Nor was there ever, from the beginning to the ending of this
stirring chapter in the history of Slavery, reason to believe that these
instructions had been disobeyed. Their labors had in some instances been
encouraged by the planters, and their influence acknowledged to be a
valuable aid in the management of the negroes. But in these days
of excitement and insubordination the missionaries were accused of
encouraging disobedience in the slaves. When outbreaks occurred, the
guilt was laid to the charge of the Christian teachers. Upon a mere
suspicion, without a shadow of evidence, they were seized and thrown
into prison. One of the most melancholy instances of this was that of
the Rev. J. Smith, who was sentenced to be hanged, but died in prison,
through hardships endured, before the day of execution arrived. He was
only one of several who suffered at the hands of the West Indians the
grossest injustice. The case of Mr. Shrewsbury was at one time brought
before the House. Mr. Canning made reference to him as "a gentleman in
whose conduct there did not appear to be the slightest ground of blame
or suspicion." He was a Wesleyan missionary at Barbadoes, and, having
fallen under suspicion, was also condemned to die. Among other charges,
he was accused of having corresponded with Mr. Buxton. Said the latter,
in an address to the House,--"I never wrote to him a single letter,
nor did I know that such a man existed, till I happened to take up a
newspaper, and there read, with some astonishment, that _he was going to
be hanged for corresponding with me!_"

If Englishmen and Christian ministers were condemned to death on such
allegations, adduced at mock trials, it is not strange that negroes
sometimes lost their lives on similar grounds. After a rising among
these people, several having been executed, the evidence of the guilt of
a certain portion was reviewed in the House of Commons. The witness was
asked whether he had found guns among the insurgents. He replied, "No;
but he was shown a place where guns had been"! Had he found bayonets?
"No; but he was shown a basket where bayonets had been"! Unfortunately,
the victims of this species of evidence were already hung when the
review of the trial took place.

This last incident brings us to another feature of those times, the
actual insurrections which took place among the slaves. Passing by the
lesser excitements of Barbadoes and Demerara, we come to the great
rising in Jamaica in 1832. A servile war is generally represented as
displaying at every point its banners of flame, plashing its feet
meanwhile in the blood of women and children. But the great insurrection
of 1832, which, as it spread, included fifty thousand negroes in its
train, was in the beginning simply a refusal to work.

Fiercely discussed by the masters, emancipation began to be spoken of
among the slaves. Necessarily they must know something about it; but, in
their distorted and erroneous impressions, they believed that "the
Great King of England" had set them free, and the masters were wilfully
withholding the boon.

There was one, a negro slave, whose dark glittering eye fascinated
his fellows, and whose wondrous powers of speech drew them, despite
themselves, into the conspiracy. But he planned no murders, designed no
house-burnings; to those who, under solemn pledge of secrecy, joined
him, he propounded a single idea. It was this. If we, the negroes, who
are as five to one, compared to the white men, refuse to work any more
until freedom is given, we shall have it. There will be some resistance,
and a few of us will be killed; but that we must expect. This, in
substance, was the ground taken by Sharpe, who, as a slave, had
always been a favorite both with his master and others. This was the
commencement of the great insurrection. Its leader had not counted upon
the excitable spirit of the slaves when once aroused. Holding as sacred
the property of his master, he believed his followers would do the same,
until the light of burning barns and out-houses revealed the mischief
which had begun to work. Yet, in the sanguinary struggle which followed,
it is to be remembered that the excesses which were committed, the
wanton waste of life, were on the part of the white residents, who meted
out vengeance with an unsparing hand,--not on the part of the negroes.

One effect of this uprising of the slaves was, in England, to deepen the
impression of the evils of the system under which they were held. If the
mere discussion of Slavery were fraught with such terrible consequences,
how could safety ever consist with the thing itself? By discussion they
had but exercised their own rights as Englishmen. Of what use to them
was Magna Charta, if they must seal their lips in silence when a public
abuse required to be corrected, a gigantic wrong to be righted? Must
they give up the ocean and the land to the dominion of the slave-owner
and slave-trader, hushing the word of remonstrance, lest it should lead
to war and bloodshed? No; they would not do this. The thing itself which
had caused these commotions must perish.

Here was a decided gain for the friends of the slave in Parliament.
Mr. Buxton, in alluding to the fearful aspect of the times, asks the
pertinent question, "How is the Government prepared to act in case of a
general insurrection among the slaves?" We give the closing paragraphs
of his speech at this crisis.

"I will refer the House to the sentiments of Mr. Jefferson, the
President of the United States. Mr. Jefferson was himself a slave-owner,
and full of the prejudices of slave-owners; yet he left this memorable
memorial to his country: 'I do, indeed, tremble for my country when I
remember that God is just, and that His justice may not sleep forever. A
revolution is among possible events; the Almighty has no attribute which
would side with us in such a struggle.'

"This is the point which weighs most heavily with me. The Almighty has
no attribute that will side with us in such a struggle. A war with an
overwhelming physical force, a war with a climate fatal to the European
constitution, a war in which the heart of the people of England would
lean toward the enemy: it is hazarding all these terrible evils; but all
are light and trivial, compared with the conviction I feel that in such
a warfare it is not possible to ask nor can we expect the countenance of

While events tended to bring the whole system of Slavery into odium, the
leaders of the Abolition party were themselves changing their ground.
They had begun with the hope of mitigating the hardships of the slave's
lot,--to place him upon the line of progression, and so ultimately to
fit him for freedom. But they had found themselves occupying a false
position. Slowly they came to the conclusion that for the slave little
could be accomplished in the way of improvement, so long as he remained
a slave. The complete extinction of the system was now the object aimed
at. At a crowded Anti-Slavery meeting held in May, 1830, Mr. Wilberforce
presided. The first resolution, moved by Mr. Buxton, was this,--"That no
proper or practicable means be left unattempted for effecting, at the
earliest period, the entire abolition of Slavery throughout the British
dominions." At a meeting held in Edinburgh similar language was used by
Lord Jeffrey. Said Dr. Andrew Thomson, one of the most influential of
the Scottish clergy,--"We ought to tell the legislature, plainly and
strongly, that no man has a right to property in man,--that there
are eight hundred thousand individuals sighing in bondage, under the
intolerable evils of West Indian Slavery, who have as good a right to be
free as we ourselves have,--that they ought to be free, and that they
_must_ be made free!"

Another element at this time wrought in favor of the Abolitionists. Of
the missionaries who had suffered persecution in the Colonies, numbers
had returned to England. These religious teachers, while plying their
vocation in the West Indies, had acted in obedience to the instructions
received from the societies which employed them. Necessarily, while in a
slave country, they had been silent upon the subject of Slavery. But in
truth they liked the institution as little as Mr. Buxton himself. Once
in England, the seal of silence melted from their lips. Everywhere
in public and in private they made known the evils and cruelties of
Slavery. Some of these persons had been examined by Parliamentary
committees, and being acquitted of every suspicion of mis-statement,
their testimony received this additional sanction. The tale of wrong
which they revealed was not told in vain. Each returned missionary
exerted an influence upon the religious body which he represented. The
aggregate of this influence was great.

If, in the latter stages of the Emancipation effort, the backwardness of
the Administration was an evil omen, making final success a difficult
achievement, this was balanced by reform in Parliament. At the recent
elections, anti-slavery sentiments in the candidate were in some
quarters requisite to success. A story is told of a gentleman who had
spent some time canvassing and found abundant evidence of this. At an
obscure village he had been hailed with the question, whether he was
trying to get into the Lords or Commons. "But," added the simple
questioners, "whichever you do get into, you must vote for the poor

To the aid of the Emancipation leaders there came now a new element, a
power so strong that it required no small share of skill to hold it in,
that it might work no evil in contributing to the desired end.

Since the commencement of efforts for the slave a considerable period
had passed. These efforts extended, in fact, over nearly half a century.
During that time, pamphlet after pamphlet and volume after volume had
set forth the evils and abominations of Slavery, forcing the subject
upon the public attention. The leaven had worked slowly, and for a
portion of the time in comparative silence; but the work was done. The
British people were aroused. The great heart of the nation was beating
in response to the appeals for justice and right which were made in
their ears. The world can scarce furnish a parallel to this spectacle of
moral sublimity. It was the voice of a people, calling, in tones that
must be heard, for justice and freedom,--and that not for themselves,
but for a distant, a defenceless race.

The publication of a circular inviting Anti-Slavery delegates to London,
a movement made by the leaders of the cause, in its results took the
most enthusiastic by surprise. More than three hundred appeared in
answer to the call. Mr. Buxton met them in Exeter Hall. With a rampant
freedom of opinion, there was little prospect of harmony of action being
attained, however desirable it might be. Through the influence of Mr.
Buxton and his coadjutors, these men of conflicting theories were
brought into such a degree of harmonious action that an address was
drawn up embodying their sentiments and laid before Lord Althorp, at
that time the head of the Administration. The strong outside pressure of
the nation at large upon the Government was evident. The strength of the
Emancipationists in Parliament, also, had been carefully estimated, and
success could no longer be doubted.

The fourteenth of May, 1833, witnessed an animated debate in the House.
While the advocates of Emancipation desired for the negro unconditional
freedom, they found the measure fettered by the proposal of Mr. Stanley,
the Colonial Secretary, that he be placed for a number of years in a
state of apprenticeship. Twelve years of this restricted freedom was,
by the influence of Mr. Buxton, reduced to seven, and the sum of twenty
millions of pounds sterling being granted to the slave-owners, the bill
for the abolition of Negro Slavery passed the House of Commons. With
some delay it went through the Upper House, and on the 28th of August,
receiving the royal assent, it became a law. The apprenticeship system
was but short-lived, its evil-working leading to its abolition in its
fourth year.

* * * * *

It has been often said, with how much of truth it is not our purpose
here to inquire, that in this country the mention of the evils of
Slavery is and must be fraught with most evil consequences. Yet the
agitation of this subject, whether for good or evil, in the United
States, is intimately connected with the whole movement in England. In
the earlier stages of the measures directed against the trade, a hearty
response was awakened here; nor could the subsequent act of emancipation
fail to produce an impression everywhere, and most of all among
ourselves. United to the English nation by strong affinities, one with
them in language and literature, yet cleaving still to the institution
which England had so energetically striven to destroy, could it be
otherwise than that such a movement on her part should awaken an eager
interest among us? Could such an event as the release from slavery
of eight hundred thousand negroes in the British Colonies pass by
unnoticed? To suppose this is preposterous. It is not too much to say,
that the effect of British emancipation was, at the time it took place,
to give in certain portions of the United States an increased degree of
life to the anti-slavery sentiment. No words could have been uttered,
which, reaching the shores of America, would have been half so emphatic
as this one act of the British nation. Among the causes which have
nourished and strengthened the anti-slavery sentiment among us this, has
its place. Verily, if England gave us the poison, she has not been slow
to proffer to us the antidote.

* * * * *

Concerning the actual fruits of Emancipation, it may be asked, What have
they been? The world looked on inquiringly as to how the enfranchised
negroes would demean themselves. One fact has never been disputed. This
momentous change in the social state of near a million of people took
place without a single act of violence on the part of the liberated
slaves. Neither did the measure carry violence in its train. So far the
act was successful. But that all which the friends of Emancipation hoped
for has been attained, no one will assert. When, however, we hear of the
financial ruin of the Islands, as a consequence of that measure, it may
be well to inquire into their condition previous to its taking place.
That the West India Colonies were trembling on the brink of ruin at the
close of the last century is evident from their repeated petitions
to the mother country to take some measures to save them from utter
bankruptcy. This can hardly be laid to the extinction of Slavery, for
both Slavery and the Slave-Trade were at that time in the height of
successful operation.

Again, if the West Indian negro is not to-day all that might be wished,
or even all that, under the influence of freedom, he had been expected
to become, there may possibly be a complication of causes which has
prevented his elevation. He has been allowed instruction, indeed, to
some extent; the continued labors of those who contended for his freedom
have secured to him the schoolmaster and the missionary. But this is not
enough. Has he been taught the use of improved methods of agriculture,
the application of machinery to the production of required results? Has
he been encouraged to works of skill, to manufacturing arts even of the
ruder kind? Has he not rather been subjected to the same policy which,
before the Revolution, discountenanced manufactures among ourselves,
and has caused the fabrics of the East Indies to be disused, and the
factories of Ireland to stand still?

These questions need not be pursued. Yet, amid the conflicting voices of
the evil days upon which we are fallen, now and then we hear lifted up a
plea for Emancipation, an entreaty for the removal of the accursed thing
which has plunged the happiest nation upon earth into the direst of

Of the causes which have affected the success of Emancipation in the
case before us, it may be remarked, that, so far as their action has
been pernicious, they would operate among ourselves less than in any
colony of Great Britain, abundantly less than in the West Indies. The
greater variety of employments with which the Maryland or Kentucky negro
is familiar, his more frequent proficiency in mechanical pursuits,
combined with other circumstances, render him decidedly a more eligible
subject for freedom than the negro of Jamaica.

The changes which may issue in this country from the present commotions
it were vain to predict. It may not, however, be unwise, in considering,
as we have done, an achievement nobly conceived and generously
accomplished, to examine carefully into the causes which may have
rendered it otherwise than completely successful in its results.

* * * * *


Flag of the heroes who left us their glory,
Borne through their battle-fields' thunder and flame,
Blazoned in song and illumined in story,
Wave o'er us all who inherit their fame!
Up with our banner bright,
Sprinkled with starry light,
Spread its fair emblems from mountain to shore,
While through the sounding sky
Loud rings the Nation's cry,--

Light of our firmament, guide of our Nation,
Pride of her children, and honored afar,
Let the wide beams of thy full constellation
Scatter each cloud that would darken a star!
Up with our banner bright, etc.

Empire unsceptred! what foe shall assail thee,
Bearing the standard of Liberty's van?
Think not the God of thy fathers shall fail thee,
Striving with men for the birthright of man!
Up with our banner bright, etc.
Yet if, by madness and treachery blighted,
Dawns the dark hour when the sword thou must draw,
Then, with the arms of thy millions united,
Smite the bold traitors to Freedom and Law!
Up with our banner bright, etc.

Lord of the Universe! shield us and guide us,
Trusting Thee always, through shadow and sun!
Thou, hast united us: who shall divide us?
Keep us, O, keep us, the MANY IN ONE!
Up with our banner bright,
Sprinkled with starry light,
Spread its fair emblems from mountain to shore,
While through the sounding sky
Loud rings the Nation's cry,--

* * * * *


"Life has few things better than this," said Dr. Johnson, on feeling
himself settled in a coach, and rolling along the road. We cannot agree
with the great man. Times have changed since the Doctor and Mr. Boswell
travelled for pleasure; and we much prefer an expedition to Moosehead,
or a tramp in the Adirondack, to being boxed up in a four-wheeled ark
and made "comfortable," according to the Doctor's idea of felicity.

Francis Galton, Explorer, and Secretary to the Royal Geographical
Society, we thank you sincerely for teaching us how to travel! Few
persons know the important secrets of how to walk, how to run, how to
ride, how to cook, how to defend, how to ford rivers, how to make rafts,
how to fish, how to hunt, in short, how to do the essential things that
every traveller, soldier, sportsman, emigrant, and missionary should
be conversant with. The world is full of deserts, prairies, bushes,
jungles, swamps, rivers, and oceans. How to "get round" the dangers of
the land and the sea in the best possible way, how to shift and contrive
so as to come out all right, are secrets well worth knowing, and Mr.
Galton has found the key. In this brief article we shall frequently
avail ourselves of the information he imparts, confident that in these
war-days his wise directions are better than fine gold to a man who is
obliged to rough it over the world, no matter where his feet may wander,
his horse may travel, or his boat may sail.

Wherewithal shall a man be clothed? We begin at the beginning with
flannel always. Experience has taught us that flannel next the skin is
indispensable for health to a traveller, and the sick- and dead-lists
always include largely the names of those who neglect this material.
Cotton stands Number Two on the list, and linen nowhere. Only last
summer jolly Tom Bowers got his _quietus_ for the season by getting hot
and wet and cold in one of his splendid Paris linen shirts, and now he
wears calico ones whenever he wishes to "appear proper" at Nahant or

"The hotter the ground the thicker your socks," was the advice of an old
traveller who once went a thirty-days' tramp at our side through the
Alp country in summer. We have seen many a city bumpkin start for a
White-Mountain walk in the thinnest of cotton foot-coverings, but we
never knew one to try them a second time.

Stout shoes are preferable to boots always, and a wise traveller never
omits to grease well his leather before and during his journey. Don't
forget to put a pair of old slippers into your knapsack. After a hard
day's toil, they are like magic, under foot. Let us remind the traveller
whose feet are tender at starting that a capital remedy for blistered
feet is to rub them at night with spirits mixed with tallow dropped
from a candle. An old friend of ours thought it a good plan to soap the
inside of the stocking before setting out, and we have seen him break a
raw egg into his shoes before putting them on, saying it softened the
leather and made him "all right" for the day.

Touching coat, waistcoat, and trousers, there can be but one choice.
Coarse tweed does the best business on a small capital. Cheap and
strong, we have always found it the most "paying" article in our
travelling-wardrobe. Avoid that tailor-hem so common at the bottom
of your pantaloons which retains water and does no good to anybody.
Waistcoats would be counted as superfluous, were it not for the
convenience of the pockets they carry. Take along an old dressing-gown,
if you want solid comfort in camp or elsewhere after sunset.

Gordon Cumming recommends a wide-awake hat, and he is good authority on
that head. A man "_clothed_ in his right mind" is a noble object; but
six persons out of every ten who start on a journey wear the wrong
apparel. The writer of these pages has seen four individuals at once
standing up to their middles in a trout-stream, all adorned with black
silk tiles, newly imported from the Rue St. Honore. It was a sight to
make Daniel Boone and Izaak Walton smile in their celestial abodes.

A light water-proof outside-coat and a thick pea-jacket are a proper
span for a roving trip. Don't forget that a couple of good blankets also
go a long way toward a traveller's paradise.

We will not presume that an immortal being at this stage of the
nineteenth century would make the mistake, when he had occasion to tuck
up his shirt-sleeves, of turning them outwards, so that every five
minutes they would be tumbling down with a crash of anathemas from the
wearer. The supposition that any sane son of Adam would tuck up his
sleeves inside out involves a suspicion, to say the least, that his wits
had been overrated by doting relatives.

"Grease and dirt are the savage's wearing-apparel," says the Swedish
proverb. No comment is necessary in speaking with a Christian on this
point, for cold water is one of civilization's closest allies. Avoid the
bath, and the genius of disease and crime stalks in. "Cleanliness is
next to godliness," remember.

In packing your knapsack, keep in mind that sixteen or twenty pounds are
weight enough, till, by practice, you can get pluck and energy into your
back to increase that amount.

_Roughing it_ has various meanings, and the phrase is oftentimes
ludicrously mistaken by many individuals. A friend with whom we once
travelled thought he was roughing it daily for the space of three
weeks, because he was obliged to lunch on _cold_ chicken and _un-iced_
Champagne, and when it rained he was forced to seek shelter inside very
inelegant hotels on the road. To rough it, in the best sense of that
term, is to lie down every night with the ground for a mattress, a
bundle of fagots for a pillow, and the stars for a coverlet. To sleep in
a tent is semi-luxury, and tainted with too much effeminacy to suit the
ardor of a first-rate "Rough." Parkyns, Taylor, Gumming, Fremont, and
Kane have told us how much superior are two trunks of trees, rolled
together for a bed, under the open sky, to that soft heating apparatus
called a bed in the best chamber. Every man to his taste,--of course,
but there come occasions in life when a man must look about him and
arrange for himself, _somehow_. The traveller who has never slept in the
woods has missed an enjoyable sensation. A clump of trees makes a
fine leafy post-bedstead, and to awake in the morning amid a grove of
sheltering nodding oaks is lung-inspiring. It was the good thought of a
wanderer to say, "The forest is the poor man's jacket." Napoleon had a
high opinion of the bivouac style of life, and on the score of health
gave it the preference over tent-sleeping. Free circulation is a great
blessing, albeit we think its eulogy rather strongly expressed by the
Walden-Pondist, when he says, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have
it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather
ride on earth in an ox-cart with a free circulation, than go to heaven
in the fancy car of an excursion-train, and breathe a _malaria_ all the
way." The only objection to out-door slumber is dampness; but it is easy
to protect one's self in wet weather from the unhealthy ground by boughs
or India-rubber blankets.

One of the great precautions requisite for a tramp is to provide against
thirst. Want of water overtakes the traveller sometimes in the most
annoying manner, and it is well to know how to fight off the dry fiend.
Sir James Alexander cautions all who rough it to drink well before
starting in the morning, and drink nothing all day till the halt,--and
to keep the lips shut as much as possible. Another good authority
recommends a pebble or leaf to be held in the mouth. Habit, however,
does much in this case as in every other, and we have known a man, who
had been accustomed at home to drink at every meal four tumblers of
water, by force of will bring his necessity down to a pint of liquid per
day, during a long tramp through the forest. One of the many excellent
things which Plutarch tells of Socrates is this noteworthy incident of
his power of abstinence. He says, whenever Socrates returned from any
exercise, though he might be extremely dry, he refrained nevertheless
from drinking till he had thrown away the first bucket of water he had
drawn, that he might exercise himself to patience, and accustom his
appetite to wait the leisure of reason.

From water to fire is a natural transition. How to get a blaze just when
you want it puzzles the will sometimes hugely. Every traveller should
provide himself with a good handy steel, proper flint, and unfailing
tinder, because lucifers are liable to many accidents. Pliny recommended
the wood of mulberry, bay-laurel, and ivy, as good material to be rubbed
together in order to procure a fire; but Pliny is behind the times, and
must not be trusted to make rules for General McLellan's boys. Of course
no one would omit to take lucifers on a tramp; but steel, flint, and
tinder are three warm friends that in an emergency will always come up
to the strike. To find firewood is a knack, and it ought to be well
cultivated. Don't despise bits of dry moss, fine grass, and slips of
bark, if you come across them. Twenty fires are failures in the open air
for one that succeeds, unless the operator knows his business. A novice
will use matches, wood, wind, time, and violent language enough to burn
down a city, and never get any satisfaction out of all the expenditure;
while a knowing hand will, out of the stump of an old, half-rotten tree,
bring you such magnificent, permanent heat, that your heart and your
tea-kettle will sing together for joy over it. In making a fire, depend
upon it, there is something more than _luck_,--there is always talent
in it. We once saw Charles Lever (Harry Lorrequer's father) build up a
towering blaze in a woody nook out of just nothing but what he scraped
up from the ground, and his rare ability. You remember Mr. Opie the
painter's answer to a student who asked him what he mixed his colors
with. "Brains, Sir," was the artist's prompt, gruff, and right reply. It
takes brains to make a fire in a rainy night out in the woods; but it
can be done,--if you only know how to begin. We have seen a hearth made
of logs on a deep snow sending out a cheerful glow, while the rain
dripped and froze all about the merry party assembled.

A traveller ought to be a good swimmer. There are plenty of watery
crossings to be got over, and often there are no means at hand but what
Nature has provided in legs and arms. But one of the easiest things in
the world to make is a raft. Inflatable India-rubber boats also are now
used in every climate, and a full-sized one weighs only forty pounds.
General Fremont and Dr. Livingstone have tested their excellent
qualities, and commend them as capable of standing a wonderful amount
of wear and tear. But a boat can be made out of almost anything, if one
have the skill to put it together. A party of sailors whose boat had
been stolen put out to sea and were eighteen hours afloat in a crazy
craft made out of a large basket woven with boughs such as they could
pick up, and covered with their canvas tent, the inside being plastered
with clay to keep out as much of the water as possible.

In fording streams, it is well, if the water be deep and swift, to carry
heavy stones in the hands, in order to resist being borne away by the
current. Fords should not be deeper than three feet for men, or four
feet for horses.

Among the small conveniences, a good strong pocket-knife, a small "hard
chisel," and a file should not be forgotten. A great deal of real work
can be done with very few tools. One of Colt's rifles is a companion
which should be specially cared for, and a water-proof cover should
always be taken to protect the lock during showers. There is one rule
among hunters which ought always to be remembered, namely,--"Look at
the gun, but never let the gun look at you, or at your companions."
Travellers are always more or less exposed to the careless handling of
fire-arms, and numerous accidents occur by carrying the piece with the
cock down on the nipple. Three-fourths of all the gun accidents are
owing to this cause; for a blow on the back of the cock is almost sure
to explode the cap, while a gun at half-cock is comparatively safe.

Don't carry too many eatables on your expeditions. Dr. Kane says his
party learned to modify and reduce their travelling-gear, and found that
in direct proportion to its simplicity and to their apparent privation
of articles of supposed necessity were their actual comfort and
practical efficiency. Step by step, as long as their Arctic service
continued, they went on reducing their sledging-outfit, until they at
last came to the Esquimaux ultimatum of simplicity,--_raw meat and a fur
bag_. Salt and pepper are needful condiments. Nearly all the rest are
out of place on a roughing expedition. Among the most portable kinds of
solid food are pemmican, jerked meat, wheat flour, barley, peas, cheese,
and biscuit. Salt meat is a disappointing dish, and apt to be sadly
uncertain. Somebody once said that water had tasted of sinners ever
since the flood, and salted meat sometimes has a taint full as vivid.
Twenty-eight ounces of real nutriment _per diem_ for a man in rough
work as a traveller will be all that he requires; if he perform severe
tramping, thirty ounces.

The French say, _C'est la soupe qui fait le soldat_, and we have always
found on a tramping expedition nothing so life-restoring after fatigue
and hunger as the portable soup now so easily obtained at places where
prepared food is put up for travellers' uses. Spirituous liquors are no
help in roughing it. On the contrary, they invite sunstroke, and various
other unpleasant visitors incident to the life of a traveller. Habitual
brandy-drinkers give out sooner than cold-water men, and we have seen
fainting red noses by the score succumb to the weather, when boys
addicted to water would crow like chanticleer through a long storm of
sleet and snow on the freezing Alps.

It is not well to lose your way; but in case this unpleasant luck befall
you, set _systematically_ to work to find it. Throw terror to the idiots
who always flutter and flounder, and so go wrong inevitably. Galton the
Plucky says,--and he has as much cool wisdom to impart as a traveller
needs,--when you make the unlively discovery that you are lost, ask
yourself the three following questions:--

1. What is the least distance that I can with certainty specify, within
which the path, the river, the sea-shore, etc., that I wish to regain,

2. What is the direction, in a vague, general way, in which the path or
river runs, or the sea-coast tends?

3. When I last left the path, etc., did I turn to the left or to the

As regards the first, calculate deliberately how long you have been
riding or walking, and at what pace, since you left your party; subtract
for stoppages and well-recollected zigzags; allow a mile and a half per
hour as the pace when you have been loitering on foot, and three and a
half when you have been walking fast. Occasional running makes an almost
inappreciable difference. A man is always much nearer the lost path than
he is inclined to fear.

As regards the second, if you recollect the third, and also know the
course of the path within eight points of the compass, (or one-fourth
of the whole horizon,) it is a great gain; or even if you know your
direction within twelve points, or one-third of the whole horizon, that
knowledge is worth something. Don't hurry, if you get bewildered. Stop
and think. Then arrange matters, and you are safe. When Napoleon was
once caught in a fog, while riding with his staff across a shallow arm
of the Gulf of Suez, he _thought_, as usual. His way was utterly lost,
and going forward he found himself in deeper water. So he ordered his
staff to ride from him in radiating lines in all directions, and such
of them as should find shallow water to shout out. If Napoleon had been
alone on that occasion, he would have set his five wits to the task of
finding the right way, and he would have found it.

Finally, cheerfulness in large doses is the best medicine one can take
along in his out-door tramps. We once had the good-luck to hear old
Christopher North try his lungs in the open air in Scotland. Such
laughter and such hill-shaking merry-heartedness we may never listen to
again among the Lochs, but the lesson of the hour (how it rained that
black night!) is stamped for life upon our remembrance. "Clap your back
against the cliff," he shouted, "and never mind the deluge!" Rest,
glorious Christopher, under the turf you trod with such a gallant
bearing! Few mortals knew how to rough it like you!

* * * * *


Timoleon, a man prosperous in all his undertakings, was wont to ascribe
his successes to good-luck; but that he did not mean to give credit to
any blind Goddess of Fortune is evident from his having built an altar
to a certain divine something which he called Automatia, signifying
Spontaneousness, or a happy promptitude in following the dictates of his
own genius. The Liberator of Sicily, to be sure, did not live in an age
of newspapers, and was not liable at every turn to have his elbow jogged
by Public Opinion; but it is plain that his notion of a man fit to lead
was, that he should be one who never waited to seize Opportunity from
behind, and who knew that events become the masters of him who is slow
to make them his servants.

Thus far nothing has been more remarkable in the history of our civil
war than that its signal opportunities have failed to produce on either
side any leader who has proved himself to be gifted with this happy
faculty. Even our statesmen seem not to have felt the kindling
inspiration of a great occasion. The country is going through a
trial more crucial, if possible, than that of the Revolution; but no
state-paper has thus far appeared, comparable in anything but quantity
to the documents of our heroic period. Even Mr. Seward seems to have
laid aside his splendid art of generalization, or to have found out the
danger of those specious boomerangs of eloquence, which, launched from
the platform with the most graceful curves of rhetoric, come back not
seldom to deal an untimely blow to him who sets them flying. The people
begin to show signs of impatience that the curtain should be so slow to
rise and show them the great actor in our national tragedy. They are so
used to having a gigantic bubble of notoriety blown for them in a week
by the newspapers, though it burst in a day or two, leaving but a drop
of muddy suds behind it, that they have almost learned to think the
making of a great character as simple a matter as that of a great
reputation. Bewildered as they have been with a mob of statesmen,
generals, orators, poets, and what not, all of them the foremost of this
or any other age, they seem to expect a truly great man on equally easy
terms with these cheap miracles of the press,--grown as rapidly, to be
forgotten as soon, as the prize cauliflower of a county show. We have
improvised an army; we have conjured a navy out of nothing so rapidly
that pines the jay screamed in last summer may be even now listening for
the hum of the hostile shot from Sumter; why not give another rub at our
Aladdin's lamp and improvise a genius and a hero?

This is, perhaps, very natural, but it is nevertheless unreasonable.
Heroes and geniuses are never to be had ready-made, nor was a tolerable
specimen of either ever produced at six months' notice. Dearly do
nations pay for such secular births; still more dearly for their
training. They are commonly rather the slow result than the conscious
cause of revolutions in thought or polity. It is no imputation on
democratic forms of government, it is the unexampled prosperity of
nearly half a century that is in fault, if a sudden and unforewarned
danger finds us without a leader, whether civil or military, whom the
people are willing to trust implicitly, and who can in some sense
control events by the prestige of a great name. Carlyle and others have
for years been laying to the charge of representative and parliamentary
government the same evils whose germ certain British critics, as
ignorant of our national character as of our geography, are so kindly
ready to find in our democracy. Mr. Stuart Mill, in his essay on
"Liberty," has convinced us that even the tyranny of Public Opinion is
not, as we had hastily supposed, a peculiarly American institution, but
is to the full as stringent and as fertile of commonplace in intellect
and character under a limited as under a universal system of suffrage.

The truth is, that it is not in our institutions, but in our history,
that we are to look for the causes of much that is superficially
distasteful and sometimes unpleasantly disappointing in our national
habits,--we would not too hastily say in our national character. Our
most incorrigible blackguards, and the class of voters who are at the
mercy of venal politicians, have had their training, such as it is,
under forms of government and amid a social order very unlike ours.
Disgust at the general dirtiness and corruption of our politics, we are
told, keeps all our leading men out of public life. This appears to us,
we confess, a rather shallow misconception. Our politics are no dirtier
or more corrupt than those of our neighbors. The famous _Quam parva
sapientia regitur mundus_ was not said in scorn by the minister of a
republic, but in sober sadness by one whose dealings had been lifelong
with the courts and statesmen of princes. The real disgust lies in the
selfish passions that are called into play by the strife of party and
the small ambitions of public men, and not in any mere coarseness in the
expression of them. We are not an elegant people: rather less so, on the
whole, even in the aristocratic South than in the democratic North. In
this past year of our Lord eighteen hundred sixty-one, we have no doubt,
and we shudder to think of it, that by far the larger proportion of
our fellow-citizens shovelled their green-peas into their mouths with
uncanonical knife-blades, just as Sir Philip Sidney did in a darker age,
when yet the "Times" and the silver fork were not. Nay, let us make a
clean breast of all these horrors at once, it is probably true that
myriads of fair salmon were contaminated with the brutal touch of
steel in scenes of unhallowed family-festival. The only mitigating
circumstance is that such luxuries are within the reach of ten Americans
where one European sees them any nearer than through the windows of the
victualler. No, we must yield the point. We are not an elegant people,
least of all in our politics; but we do not believe it is this which
keeps our first-rate men out of political life, or that it is the result
of our democratic system.

It has been our good-fortune hitherto that our annals have been of that
happy kind which write themselves on the face of a continent and in the
general well-being of a people, rather than in those more striking and
commonly more disastrous events which attract the historian. We have
been busy, thriving, and consequently, except to some few thoughtful
people like De Tocqueville, profoundly uninteresting. We have been
housekeeping; and why does the novelist always make his bow to the hero
and heroine at the church-door, unless because he knows, that, if they
are well off, nothing more is to be made of them? Prosperity is the
forcing-house of mediocrity; and if we have ceased to produce great men,
it is because we have not, since we became a nation, been forced to pay
the terrible price at which alone they can be bought. Great men are
excellent things for a nation to have had; but a normal condition that
should give a constant succession of them would be the most wretched
possible for the mass of mankind. We have had and still have honest and
capable men in public life, brave and able officers in our army and
navy; but there has been nothing either in our civil or military history
for many years to develop any latent qualities of greatness that may
have been in them. It is only first-rate events that call for and mould
first-rate characters. If there has been less stimulus for the more
showy and striking kinds of ambition, if the rewards of a public career
have been less brilliant than in other countries, yet we have shown,
(and this is a legitimate result of democracy,) perhaps beyond the
measure of other nations, that plebeian genius for the useful which has
been chiefly demanded by our circumstances, and which does more than war
or state-craft to increase the well-being and therefore the true glory
of nations. Few great soldiers or great ministers have done so much for
their country as Whitney's cotton-gin and McCormick's reaper have done
for ours. We do not believe that our country has degenerated under
democracy, but our position as a people has been such as to turn our
energy, capacity, and accomplishment into prosaic channels. Physicians
call certain remedies, to be administered only in desperate cases,
_heroic_, and Providence reserves heroes for similar crises in the body
politic. They are not sent but in times of agony and peril. If we have
lacked the thing, it is because we have lacked the occasion for it.
And even where truly splendid qualities have been displayed, as by our
sailors in the War of 1812, and by our soldiers in Mexico, they have
been either on so small a scale as to means, or on a scene so remote
from European interests, that they have failed of anything like
cosmopolitan appreciation. Our great actors have been confined to what,
so far as Europe is concerned, has been a provincial theatre; and an
obscure stage is often as fatal to fame as the want of a poet.

But meanwhile has not this been very much the case with our critics
themselves? Leading British statesmen may be more accomplished scholars
than ours, Parliament may be more elegantly bored than Congress; but we
have a rooted conviction that commonplace thought and shallow principles
do not change their nature, even though disguised in the English of
Addison himself. Mr. Gladstone knows vastly more Greek than Mr. Chase,
but we may be allowed to doubt if he have shown himself an abler
finance-minister. Since the beginning of the present century it is safe
to say that England has produced no statesmen whom her own historians
will pronounce to be more than second- or third-rate men. The Crimean
War found her, if her own journalists were to be believed, without a
single great captain whether on land or sea, with incompetence in every
department, civil and military, and driven to every shift, even to
foreign enlistment and subsidy, to put on foot an army of a hundred
thousand men. What an opportunity for sermonizing on the failure of
representative government! In that war England lost much of her old
prestige in the eyes of the world, and felt that she had lost it. But
nothing would have been more unphilosophical than to have assumed that
England was degenerate or decrepit. It was only that her training had
been for so long exclusively mechanical and peaceful. The terrible, but
glorious, experience of the Indian Rebellion showed that Englishmen
still possessed in as full measure as ever those noble characteristics
on which they justly pride themselves, and of which a nation of kindred
blood would be the last to deny them the praise. When the heroic
qualities found their occasion, they were not wanting.

We do not say this as unduly sensitive to the unfriendly, often
insulting and always unwise, criticisms of a large proportion of the
press and the public men of England. In ordinary times we could afford
to receive them with a good-natured smile. The zeal of certain new
converts to Adam Smith in behalf of the free-trade principles whose
cross they have assumed, their hatred and contempt for all heretics to
what is their doxy and therefore according to Dean Swift orthodoxy, and
the _naive_ unconsciousness with which they measure and weigh the
moral qualities of other nations by the yards of cotton or tons of
manufactured iron which they consume for the benefit of Manchester and
Sheffield, are certainly as comic as anything in Aristophanes. The
madness of the philosopher who deemed himself personally answerable for
the obliquity of the ecliptic has more than its match in the sense of
responsibility shown by British journalists for the good conduct of the
rest of mankind. All other kingdoms, potentates, and powers would seem
to be minors or lunatics, and they the divinely appointed guardians
under bonds to see that their unhappy wards do no harm to themselves or
others. We confess, that, in reading the "Times," we have been sometimes
unable to suppress a feeling of humorous pity for the young man who
_does_ the leading articles, and who finds himself, fresh from Oxford
or Cambridge and the writing of Latin verses, called suddenly to the
autocracy of the Universe. We must pardon a little to the _imperii
novitas_, to the necessity of having universal misinformation always on
tap in his inkstand. He summons emperors, kings, ministers, even whole
nations, to the inexorable blackboard. His is the great normal school of
philosophy, statesmanship, political economy, taste, and deportment. He
must help Cavour to a knowledge of Italy, teach Napoleon to appreciate
the peculiarities of French character, interpret the American
Constitution for Mr. Lincoln. He holds himself directly accountable to
heaven and earth, alike for the right solution of the Papal Question
and for the costume of his countrymen in foreign parts. Theology or
trousers, he is infallible in both. Gregory the Seventh's wildest
dream of a universal popedom is more than fulfilled in him. He is the
unapproachable model of quack advertisers. He pats Italy on the head and
cries, "Study constitutional government as exemplified in England, and
try Mechi's razor-strops." For France he prescribes a reduction of army
and navy, and an increased demand for Manchester prints. America he
warns against military despotism, advises a tonic of English iron, and a
compress of British cotton, as sovereign against internal rupture. What
a weight for the shoulders of our poor Johannes Factotum! He is the
_commissionnaire_ of mankind, their guide, philosopher, and friend,
ready with a disinterested opinion in matters of art or _virtu_, and
eager to furnish anything, from a counterfeit Buddhist idol to a
poisoned pickle, for a commission, varying according to circumstances.

But whatever one may think of the wisdom or the disinterestedness of the
organs of English commercial sentiment, it cannot be denied that it is
of great importance to us that the public opinion of England should be
enlightened in regard to our affairs. It would be idle to complain that
her policy is selfish; for the policy of nations is always so. It would
be foolish to forget that the sympathy of the British people has always
declared itself, sooner or later, in favor of free institutions, and of
a manly and upright policy toward other nations, or that this sympathy
has been on the whole more outspoken and enduring among Englishmen
than in any other nation of the Old World. We may justly complain that
England should see no difference between a rebel confederacy and a
nation to which she was bound by treaties and with which she had so long
been on terms of amity gradually ripening to friendship. But do not
let us be so childish as to wish for the suppression of the "Times
Correspondent," a shrewd, practised, and, for a foreigner, singularly
accurate observer, to whom we are indebted for the only authentic
intelligence from Secessia since the outbreak of the Rebellion, and
whose strictures, (however we may smile at his speculations,) if rightly
taken, may do us infinite service. Did he tell us anything about the
shameful rout of Bull Run which could not have been predicted beforehand
of raw troops, or which, indeed, General Scott himself had not
foreboded? That was not an especially American disgrace. Every
nationality under heaven was represented there, and an alarm among the
workmen on the Plains of Shinar that the foundations of the Tower
of Babel were settling could not have set in motion a more polyglot
_stampede_. The way to blot out Bull Run is as our brave Massachusetts
and Pennsylvania men did at Ball's Bluff, with their own blood, poured
only too lavishly. To our minds, the finest and most characteristic
piece of English literature, more inspiring even than Henry's speech
to his soldiers on the eve of Agincourt, is Nelson's signal, "England
expects every man to do his duty." When we have risen to that level and
are content to stand there, with no thought of self, but only of our
country and what we owe her, we need wince at no hostile sneer nor dread
any foreign combination. Granted that we have been a little boyish and
braggart, as was perhaps not unnatural in a nation hardly out of its
teens, our present trial is likely to make men of us, and to leave us,
like our British cousins, content with the pleasing consciousness
that we are the supreme of creation and under no necessity of forever
proclaiming it. Our present experience, also, of the unsoundness of
English judgment and the narrowness of English views concerning our
policy and character may have the good result of making our independence
in matters of thought and criticism as complete as our political

Those who have watched the tendencies of opinion among educated
Englishmen during the last ten or fifteen years could hardly be
surprised, that, when the question was presented to them as being
between aristocratic and democratic ideas, between a race of gentlemen
and a mob of shopkeepers and snobs, they should have been inclined to
sympathize with the South. There have been unmistakable symptoms of
a reaction in England, since 1848 especially, against liberalism in
politics and in favor of things as they are. We are not to wonder that
Englishmen did not stop to examine too closely the escutcheon and
pedigree of this self-patented nobility. With one or two not very
striking exceptions, like Lord Fairfax and Washington, (who was of kin
to one of the few British peers that have enjoyed the distinction of
being hanged,) the entire population of America is descended from the
middle and lower classes in the old countries. The difference has been,
that the man at the South who raised cotton and sold it has gradually
grown to consider himself a superior being by comparison with his own
negroes, while the man at the North who raised potatoes and sold them
has been content with the old Saxon notion that he was as good as his
neighbors. The descendant of the Huguenot tradesman or artisan, if in
Boston, builds Faneuil Hall or founds Bowdoin College; if in Charleston,
he deals in negroes and persuades himself that he is sprung from the
loins of Baldwin, King of Jerusalem. The mass of the population at the
South is more intensely democratic, so far as white men are concerned,
than the same class at the North.

There is a little inconsistency in the English oracles in this respect;
for, while they cannot conceal a kind of sympathy with the Southern
Rebels in what is supposed to be their war upon democratic institutions,
they tell us that they would heartily espouse our cause, if we would but
proclaim a crusade against Slavery. Suppose the Squires of England had
got up a rebellion because societies had been formed for the abolition
of the Corn-Laws; which would the "Times" have gone for putting down
first, the rebellion or the laws? England professes not to be able to
understand the principles of this wicked, this unholy war, as she calls
it. Yet she was not so slow to understand the necessity of putting down
the Irish Insurrection of 1848, or the Indian Rebellion ten years later.
She thinks it impossible for the Government of the United States to
subdue and hold provinces so vast as the Cotton States of America; yet
she neither foreboded nor as yet has found any impracticability in
renewing and retaining her hold on the vaster provinces of British
India,--provinces inhabited, all of them, by races alien in blood,
religion, and manners, and many by a population greatly exceeding that
of our Southern States, brave, warlike, and, to some extent, trained in
European tactics. To have abandoned India would have been to surrender
the greatness of England. English writers and speakers, in discussing
our affairs, overlook wholly the fact that a rebellion may be crushed by
anything except force of arms. Among a people of the same lineage and
the same language, but yesterday contented under the same Constitution,
and in an age when a victory in the stock-market is of more consequence
than successes in the field, political and economical necessities may be
safely reckoned on as slow, but effective, allies of the old order of
things. The people of this country are too much used to sudden and
seemingly unaccountable political revolutions not to be able to forfeit
their consistency without any loss of self-respect; and the rapidity
with which the Southern Rebellion was forced up to its present
formidable proportions, mainly by party management, is not unlikely to
find its parallel in suddenness of collapse. But whether this prove to
be the fact or not, nay, even if the reestablishment of the Union had
been hopeless from the first, a government which should have abandoned
its capital, which should have flinched from the first and plainest duty
of self-preservation, which should have admitted by a cowardly surrender
that force was law, that treason was constitutional, and fraud
honorable, would have deserved and received the contempt of all
civilized nations, of England among the first.

There is no such profound and universal alienation, still less such an
antagonism in political theory, between the people of the Northern and
Southern parts of the Union, as some English journals would infer from
the foolish talk of a few conceited persons in South Carolina and
Virginia. There is no question between landholders on the one side and
manufacturers and merchants on the other. The bulk of the population,
North and South, are holders of land, while the average size of the
holdings of land under cultivation is probably greater in the Free than
in the Slave States. The largest single estate in the country is, we
believe, in Illinois. Generalizations are commonly unsafe in proportion
as they are tempting; and this, together with its pretty twin-brother
about Cavaliers and Roundheads, would seem to have been hatched from the
same egg and in the same mare's-nest. If we should take the statements
of Dr. Cullen and Mr. Smith O'Brien for our premises, instead of the
manifest facts of the case, our conclusion in regard to Ireland would
be an anachronism which no Englishman would allow to be within half
a century of the actual condition of things. And yet could the Irish
revolutionists of thirteen years ago have had the advantage of a
ministry like that of Mr. Buchanan,--had every Irish officer and soldier
been false to his honor and his allegiance,--had Ireland been supplied
and England stripped of arms and munitions of war by the connivance
of the Government,--the riot of 1848 might have become a rebellion as
formidable as our own in everything but territorial proportions. Equally
untrue is the theory that our Tariff is the moving cause of Southern
discontent. Louisiana certainly would hardly urge this as the reason of
her secession; and if the Rebel States could succeed in establishing
their independence, they would find more difficulty in raising a
national revenue by direct taxes than the North, and would be driven
probably to a tariff more stringent than that of the present United
States. If we are to generalize at all, it must be on broader and
safer grounds. Prejudices and class-interests may occasion temporary
disturbances in the current of human affairs, but they do not
permanently change the course of the channel. That is governed by
natural and lasting causes, and commerce, in spite of Southern
Commercial Conventions, will no more flow up-hill than water. It is
possible, we will not say probable, that our present difficulties may
result to the advantage both of England and America: to England, by
giving her a real hold upon India as the source of her cotton-supply,
and to America by making the North the best customer for the staple of
the South.

We believe the immediate cause of the Southern Rebellion to be something
far deeper than any social prejudice or political theory on the part of
slaveholders, or any general apprehension of danger to their peculiar
property. That cause is a moral one, and is to be found in the
recklessness, the conceit, the sophistry, the selfishness, which are
necessarily engendered by Slavery itself. A generation of men educated
to justify a crime against the Law of Nature because it is profitable,
will hardly be restrained long by any merely political obligation, when
they have been persuaded to see their advantage in the breach of it. Why
not, then, at once lay the axe to the root of the mischief? Why did not
England attack Irish Catholicism in 1848? Why does not Louis Napoleon
settle the Papal Question with a stroke of his pen? Because the action
of a constitutional government is limited by constitutional obligations.
Because every government, even if despotic, must be guided by policy
rather than abstract right or reason. Because, in our own case, so much
pains have been taken to persuade the people of some peculiar sanctity
in human property, and to teach them the duty of yielding their moral
instincts to their duty as citizens, that even the Free States are by no
means ripe for a crusade. The single and simple duty of the Government
is to put down resistance to its legitimate authority; it meddles,
and can meddle, with no claim of right except the monstrous one of
rebellion. An absolute ruler in advance of his people has been more
than once obliged to abandon his reforms to save his throne; a popular
government which should put itself in the same position might endanger
not only its own hold upon power, (a minor consideration,) but, in such
a crisis as ours, the very frame of society itself. We must admit
that the administration of Mr. Lincoln has sometimes seemed to us
over-cautious; that, while it has not scrupled, and wisely has not
scrupled, to go behind the letter of the law to its spirit, in dealing
with open abettors of treason in the Free States, because they were
perverting private right to public wrong, it has been as scrupulous of
meddling with a rebel's legal right in man, though that man were being
used for a weapon or a tool against itself, as if to touch it were
anathema. The divinity, which is only a hedge about a king, becomes a
wall of triple brass about a slaveholder.

But while we should prefer a more daring, or at least a more definite
policy on the part of the Government, we do not think the time has come
for turning the war into a crusade. The example of saints, martyrs,
and heroes, who could disregard consequences because the consequences
concerned only themselves and their own life, is for the private man,
and not for the statesman who is responsible for the complex life of the
commonwealth. To carry on a war we must have money, to get money we must
have the confidence of the money-holders, who would not advance a dollar
on a pledge of the finest sentiments in the world. There is something
instructive in the fate of that mob of enthusiasts who followed the
banner of Walter the Penniless, a name of evil omen. It saves trouble to
say that we must fight the Devil with fire; though, when the Devil is
incarnate in human beings, that policy has never been very successful
at Smithfield or elsewhere. But in trying the fiery cure of a servile
insurrection, we should run the risk of converting the whole white
population of the South into devils of the most desperate sort, with
whom any kind of reconciliation, even truce, would be impossible.

We hope and believe that the end of this war will see the snake of
Slavery scotched, if not killed. Events move,--slowly, to be sure, but
they move,--and the thought of the people moves with them unconsciously
to fulfil the purposes of God. Government can do little, perhaps, in
controlling them; but it has no right to the power it holds, if it has
not the insight and the courage to make use of them at the right moment.
If the supreme question should arise of submitting to rebellion or of
crushing it in a common ruin with the wrong that engendered it, we
believe neither the Government nor the people would falter. The time for
answering that question may be nearer than we dream; but meanwhile
we would not hasten what would at best be a terrible necessity, and
justifiable only as such. We believe this war is to prepare the way for
the extinction of Slavery by the action of economical causes, and we
should prefer that solution to one of fire and blood. Already the system
has received a death-blow in Maryland and Missouri. In Western Virginia
it is practically extinct. If the war is carried on with vigor, it
may become so before long in East Tennessee. Texas should be taken
possession of and held at any cost, and a territory capable of supplying
the world with cotton to any conceivable amount thrown open to free

However regarded, this war into which we have been driven is, in fact, a
war against Slavery. But emancipation is not and could not be the object
of the war. It will be time enough to consider the question as one of
military necessity when our armies advance. To proclaim freedom from the
banks of the Potomac to an unarmed, subject, and dispirited race, when
the whole white population is in arms, would be as futile as impolitic.
Till we can equip our own army, it is idle to talk of arming the slaves;
and to incite them to insurrection without arms, and without the
certainty of support at first and protection afterward, would be merely
sacrificing them to no good end. It is true, the war may lack the ardent
stimulus that would for a time be imparted to it by a direct and obvious
moral purpose. But we doubt whether the impulse thus gained would hold
out long against the immense practical obstacles with which it would be
confronted and the chill of disappointment which is sure to follow an
attempt to realize ideal good by material means. Nor would our gain in
this respect more than compensate for the strength which would be added
to the rebels by despair. It is a question we have hardly the heart to
discuss, where our wishes, our hopes, almost our faith in God, are on
one side, our understanding and experience on the other.

Nor are we among those who would censure the Government for undue
leniency. If democracy has made us a good-natured people, it is a strong
argument in its favor, and we need have no fear that the evil passions
of men will ever be buried beyond hope of resurrection. We would not
have this war end without signal and bitter retribution, and especially
for all who have been guilty of deliberate treachery; for that is a kind
of baseness that should be extirpated at any cost. If, in moments of
impatience, we have wished for something like the rough kingship
of Jackson, cooler judgment has convinced us that the strength of
democratic institutions will be more triumphantly vindicated by success
under an honest Chief Magistrate of average capacity than under a man
exceptional, whether by force of character or contempt of precedent.

Is this, then, to be a commonplace war, a prosaic and peddling quarrel
about Cotton? Shall there be nothing to enlist enthusiasm or kindle
fanaticism? Are we to have no Cause like that for which our English
republican ancestors died so gladly on the field, with such dignity
on the scaffold?--no Cause that shall give us a hero, who knows but a
Cromwell? To our minds, though it may be obscure to Englishmen who look
on Lancashire as the centre of the universe, no army was ever enlisted


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