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Essays
Philanthropic and Moral.

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Essays,
Philanthropic and Moral,


by
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler:


Principally Relating
to the
Abolition of Slavery in America.

“Daughters of the Pilgrim sires, Dwellers by their mouldering graves, Watchers of their altar fires, Look upon your country’s slaves! Are not woman’s pulses warm, Beating in this anguish’d breast? Is it not a sister’s form, On whose limbs these fetters rest? Oh then, save her from a doom, Worse than all that ye may bear; Let her pass not to the tomb ’Midst her bondage and despair.”

Philadelphia:
Published by T. E. Chapman.
New York:
Baker, Crane & Day.
18451845.

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Philanthropic and Moral Essays.
By
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler.

Effects of Slavery.


“A wretch! a coward! ay, because a slave!”

And it must be ever thus!—it is in the very nature of slavery
to cast a benumbing influence, like that of the torpedo, over its
unhappy victims—degrading every nobler faculty, and freezing
up the very life-springs of intellectual excellence. Men say,
truly, that the slave is a degraded being, debased—ay, almost
beneath the level of humanity. What matters it then, that he
should be scorned, and despised, and trampled upon? A slave!
that vilest thing in creation—who shall extend the hand of benevolence
to wipe the cold dews of suffering from his forehead,
or stoop to whisper in his ear the words of hope and consolation?
—A shade of sadness may cloud the brow of the master,
when his faithful dog sinks to death at his feet—but will he
shed one tear over the grave of the wretch, who has lived from
youth to age, toiling, toiling on, through summer’s heat, and
winter’s cold, in one unvarying round of labour for his service?
—And why should he?—It was the scourge of the task-master,
not the ready impulse of grateful affection, that urged him on
in his daily routine of toil—and though his lip might sometimes
murmur the words of ready obedience, the tyrant well knew
that the low deep curses of deadly hatred were flung back in
secret return for oft-repeated blows and menaces.

What wonder is it that the slave should be the veriest outcast
on the face of God’s beautiful creation? But who has made
him thus? Was it the omnipotent Jehovah!—the God of love, 7 A4v 8
of justice, and of mercy?—No! the answer must come in the
deep voice of thunder, and in the still small whisper of the
midnight couch—no!—it was man—his brother—created by
the same hand, and in the same image—that hath become his
oppressor, and wrought him this foul wrong. “Yoked with
the brute, and fetter’d to the soil,”
with the iron hand of tyranny
pressing him to the earth—and the thick veil of intellectual
darkness drawn forever around him—how could he be otherwise
than as he is? But, “give liberty to the captive”—fling
aside his fetters—and bid him stand proudly erect in all the
majesty of a freeman—and his soul—his mind—his whole
character will soon remodel itself to the dignity of his outward
form—he will be again a man, the image and noblest work of
his Creator! Would to Heaven the hour of his emancipation
had already arrived! That it is approaching by slowly progressive
footsteps, there can be no doubt. The system of
slavery must not, will not, forever cast its dark stigma on the
fair pages of our country’s annals. Already the voice of justice
and of mercy has gone forth. Man has arisen in his
compassionate strength, to aid the cause of the oppressed—and
the gentler sympathies of woman’s soul have been awakened
from their long slumber. She has remembered that many of
her cherished luxuries have been wet with the tears of wretchedness,
and that the zephyr which flutters around her tasteful
garb, comes heavily laden with the sighs of the oppressed.
Oh! will she not then cast from her whatever is to others the
source of a sore evil—and bathe her lip, and array her form,
only in those things which are untainted by the hot breath of
human agony? Much may be effected by woman—important
consequences have, in all ages of the world, been produced by
her influence—and when was she ever a loiterer in the cause
of justice and humanity?

Female Education.

The great effort of female education should be, to qualify
woman to discharge her duties, not to exalt her till she despises
them; to make it her ambition to merit and display the character
of the most amiable and intelligent of her sex, rather than
aspire to emulate the conduct and capacity of men. In our A5r 9
country, where, under the mild light of Christianity, free institutions
guaranty freedom of thought, of expression, of action,
the full and free development of mind may be expected; and
here, if in any country on earth, women may hope to take their
true, their most dignified stations, as the helpers, the companions,
of educated and independent men. And while our citizens
are endeavouring so to improve their inestimable privileges, that
the men of future ages may be better and happier for their
labours, have women no share in the important task? Their
influence on the manners is readily and willingly conceded by
every one; might not their influence on the mind be made
quite as irresistible, and far more beneficial, and that, too, without
violating in the least, the propriety which, to make their
examples valuable, should ever mark their conduct? The business
of instruction is one of vast interest, because fraught
with such important consequences to Americans. It is necessary
that all our people should be instructed, as universal education
is the main pillar that must eventually support the temple
of our liberty. It is therefore a duty sacredly binding on our
legislators to provide for the instruction, during childhood and
youth, of every member of our republic. But while there are
so many pursuits, more lucrative and agreeable to active and
ambitious young men, there will be a lack of good instructors
—of those who are willing to make it their business. Let,
then, the employment of school-keeping be principally appropriated
to females. They are both by temper and habit admirably
qualified for the task—they have patience, fondness for
children, and are accustomed to seclusion, and inured to self-
government. Is it objected that they do not possess sufficient
soundness of learning—that their acquirements are showy,
superficial, frivolous? The fault is in their education, not in
the female mind. Only afford them opportunities for improvement,
and motives for exertion; let them be assured, that,
“to sing, to dance,To dress, to troll the tongue, and roll their eyes,”
is not all that is required to make young ladies agreeable or
sought by the gentlemen—that they may converse sensibly
without the charge of pedantry, and be intelligent without the
appellation of a blue; in short, that they are expected to be
rational, and required to be useful—and they will not disappoint
public expectation.

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Dreaming.

It is a pleasant thing to dream. I do not mean in sleep,—
for such dreams are generally too vague and indistinct—but
when you are broad awake at mid-day or in the dim twilight.
Upon a hot August noon, when there is not one cloud rioting
upon the face of the dazzling sky, to give your eye a momentary
relief from its intense brightness—when the clear
sun-beams are poured, with a scorching light, full upon the
glaring brick buildings opposite to your apartment, and reflected
back from the hot pavement, till the lazy air, that lingers about
among them, seems almost to become visible from the heat it
has gathered, and comes to you with a heavy, parching sultriness.
Or on a dreary November day, when the rain commences
with a slow, steady drizzle, increasing gradually into
larger drops, till it comes down in a heavy, regular, monotonous
shower—and the trees, if there happen to be any within
sight of your window, seem actually to shiver with the damp
chilliness of the weather, as they stand stretching out their
wet limbs, with the rain dripping rapidly from the few brown
and curled leaves left upon them, to those that lie still more
withered beneath—oh, it is delicious then to shut the door of
your thoughts upon the outward creation that is around you,
and forget yourself in an ideal world—glorious and beautiful!
Fancy, like a loosened falcon, springs up on an exulting wing,
and bears you free and unfettered wherever you may list.—
The morning sun seems to light up for your eyes, the magnificence
of Alpine scenery; or the twilight air of Cashmere
steals luxuriously over your lips and forehead, bathing them
with the gathered fragrance of her roses. You may weave
around yourself a tissue of romantic adventures, or exchange
the low ceiling and narrow walls of your own apartment, for
the mountain breezes of the Catskill, or the dazzling display
of lights, beauty and fashion, in a ball-room at Saratoga.

Nor have your own “transmogrifications” a whit less of the
wonderful. Were it not that yourself has been the magician,
you would be positively in doubt as to your own identity.
Your little lead-coloured eyes, the light of whose beams could
never be persuaded to turn in the same direction, are transformed
into heavenly azure, and their long lids drop over them with
a most amiable expression of melancholy—your non-descript A6r 11
nose becomes suddently twisted into perfection, and your whole
face, which, after a month’s daily inspection in the glass, with
the hope of discovering some unobtrusive loveliness, you were
compelled to acknowledge monstrously “plain,” you find astonishingly
altered into the very extremity of beauty—while
your silken tresses, which had formerly approached somewhat
too near to the colour of vermilion, to be accurately described
by the poetical epithet of “Golden,” in a most appropriate
manner “cap the climax” of your loveliness. Then you may
imagine yourself peerless and unrivalled, the brightest star on
the horizon of fashion—and practise, if you please, the haughty
curl of your exquisite lip, with which you intend to receive
the adoration of your worshippers, or the graceful bend of
your superlative head with which you will accede to Mr. ――’s
entreaty that you will allow him that infinity of honour, the
pleasure of dancing with you.

If you prefer the “sentimental,” you may fancy yourself
seated with your guitar, where the quiet moonbeams steal in
between clustering branches of the rose and honeysuckle, to listen
to your melody. But woe to your dream, should you forget so
deeply as to give sound to the witching of your voice! alas, alas,
you have never yet been able to persuade the ungentleness of
your voice into the formation of one note of harmony, or prevail
upon your disobliging ear to retain the recollection of a
tune—and the beautiful bubble world of your fancy, with all
its glorious rain-bow hues, is dashed at once into nothing!

But better and pleasanter than all this, is it to go out on a
calm Sabbath morning, into the thick woods, and lie down on
a green bank, by the twisted roots of an old tree—where the
stream that steals with a gentle voice between the grassy banks,
hath a purer melody in its tone than the rich swell of church-
music;—and the sweet wild flowers, those fair and perishing
things, frail as our brightest hopes, and like them springing up
everywhere around us—lift up their delicate leaves with a
lesson for your heart to study;—and the honey-bee, that
comes with its soft hum to drink their sweets, is a kind monitor,
teaching you thus to gather into the storehouse of your
thoughts, the sweet recollections of well-spent moments.

The dreams of our sleep are sometimes happy—but they
have ever their waking hour; and the beautiful creations of
our unslumbering fancy, too soon leave us only the remembrance A6v 12
that they were but shadows—with sometimes, too, a
sigh over the far different fate that heaven hath assigned us.
But that visionary mood which purifies the heart while it gives
it happiness, leaves nothing of bitterness, even when it is
broken in upon by the ruder voice of the world.

You will “find calm thoughts beneath the whispering tree,”
and the low rustle of the forest leaves, that comes to you with
the cool breeze, hath a soothing influence for the heart. The
song of the birds will be understood like a familiar language,
and the insect forms that flit past you in the scattered sunshine,
have each a separate history; or you may gift them with higher
perceptibilities, and they will be to you for friends and fellow
worshippers.

Indifference.

We believe it is generally acknowledged that there is more
danger to be apprehended to any cause, from the lukewarmness
of its pretended friends, than from the bitterest hostility
of its professed enemies. The attacks of the one will always
rouse up opponents to repel them. The lethargy of the other
palsies even the hand of zeal, and infects with a benumbing
influence the energies of the warmest hearted. It is this lifelessness,
this apathy, that is the more dangerous enemy to the
cause of Emancipation. We have been frequently astonished
at the perfect indifference manifested when this subject is adverted
to, even by those whom we might suppose would be
most easily interested, and among some who openly profess to
reprobate the system of slavery. You may speak of the
wrongs and sufferings of our coloured population; you may
tell them of all the evils attendant upon slavery; you may
recount, if they will listen to you so long, a harrowing tale of
human misery, till your own cheek burns, and heart swells at
the recital, and when you have concluded, they will turn coldly
away, and answer, “All this may be very true—but why do
you tell it to us? the fault is not ours, nor the remedy in our
power; it is useless, therefore, to distress ourselves with the
thought of wretchedness which we cannot relieve.”
Yet they
will almost always conclude with acknowledging that the system B1r 13
of slavery is both criminal and disgraceful, and with a wish
that it was abolished altogether:—while at the same time, to
judge from their conduct, they seem perfectly determined not
to raise so much as a little finger in aid of that object. “And
what more can we do,”
such persons may perhaps exclaim,
“than to give our best wishes to the cause of emancipation?”
You can do a great deal more—you can give it your active
exertions
—and you must do so, if you would ever behold the
day when the cry of the oppressed shall be heard no more
“within our borders.” You should form yourselves into societies
ties for the opposition of slavery. Your interest will, by that
means, be kept awake, you will have better opportunities both
of acquiring and diffusing information upon the subject, and
your aid, altogether, will be more effective. Nor should you
imagine you have completed your duty by declaring yourselves
the enemies of oppression—you should endeavour to prevail
upon your friends to do likewise
.

The subject is one of the utmost importance, both to the
moral and political interests of our country, and should occupy
your thoughts, and be made the theme of your conversation,
not only in your stated meetings for its discussion, but while
you are engaged in your daily occupations, or when you have
gathered into a friendly circle around the evening hearth. We
do not expect the influence of women to have any immediate
or perceptible effect upon the councils of the Senate-house
but let their efforts be steadily directed to arousing the public
mind to the importance of this subject, and keeping awake that
attention by every means in their power, and we have no
doubt but they will be speedily and beneficially felt. It is useless
to talk of the difficulties of the case, of the danger of
intermeddling with a subject which even men approach with
timidity, and of the total impossibility of our effecting any
change in the course of circumstances. We do not see the
least impossibility in the matter, and we deny that there is any.
But we do know that it is impossible to remove from the bosom
of our country a crime that should weigh her plumed head in
shame to the very dust, by sitting passively down, and wishing
it were otherwise. That there may be difficulties in the case,
we admit, but it would be absurd to suppose that it is entirely
without remedy. Let the general attention be but thoroughly
excited, let men be forced into the necessity of acting, and efficientB B1v 14
remedial measures will soon be devised and adopted:—
and so we may yet see the folds of our “star-spangled banner”
floating unsullied on the free air, and the dark sin, which
hath so long polluted our country, atoned for and forgiven.

Our Duties.

“It will do not good”—is an answer we have received so
often, when endeavouring to awaken our friends to the subject
of emancipation, that we are positively weary of hearing it
repeated, and almost out of patience—just as if the success or
failure of our endeavours could in the least affect the question
of right or wrong!

Is the performance of duties to God and our fellow-creatures
the less emphatically urged upon us, because we choose to
imagine it will have no effect on the mass of human crime and
misery? Nay, is there not even guilt in such reasoning?
Because we think that other people will do wrong in spite of
our efforts to prevent them, should we join in upholding them
in their iniquity, and participate with them in the enjoyment of
the fruits of it? And in such a case we need scarcely demand,
which would be most deeply criminal—those who thoughtlessly
and blindly press forward on a career of guilt, or those, who,
fully awake to its sinfulness, persist in lending their support?

That the system of slavery, as existing among us in the very
bosom of these free States, is a dark outrage upon justice and
humanity, we presume there are few among our own sex hardy
enough to dispute. If there be any such, they must daringly
maintain a false argument in the very face of conscience, or
have been strangely blinded by a long series of years of
prejudice.

“But what signifies our combating an evil that we can never
subdue?”
What signifies a conscience void of offence in the
sight of the everlasting One? What signifies the calm retrospective
reflection of the twilight hour, broken in upon by no
secret consciousness of blood-guiltiness? It is only for you to
act, and to leave to Him—the Omnipotent—the judgment and
direction of your usefulness.

Because you, in the short-sightedness of morality, behold
no way for the redemption out of their bonds, of an oppressed B2r 15
people, is His power limited, “His hand shortened, that it cannot
save?”
And have we not good grounds for believing, that
on the offering, however humble, of a sincere and contrite spirit,
he will bestow his blessing? We are told that faith—trusting
and unfaltering faith—in the power of the Almighty, is sufficient
for the removal of mountains—and yet you, because to
the eye of human reason your path seems clouded with difficulties,
sit down in utter apathy, nor lift up even so much as
your voices of prayer, in behalf of a smitten people!

Yet, though there are a fearful number who still listen with
a strange indifference to the soul-harrowing eloquence of human
suffering, thank heaven! we have no cause of despair.
A voice has gone forth over the sleeping pool, to trouble its
waters, and there are many who have already gone down and
cleansed themselves from the guilt of African oppression. A
spirit is at work among the people that will not easily be quieted
—a leaven, whose vital principle will not be destroyed till the
whole mass is leavened.

Charity.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,”
saith St. Paul, “and have not charity, I am become as sounding
brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift
of prophecy, and understand all mystery, and all knowledge,
and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains,
and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all
my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Now as we profess to be a nation of Christians, it is but natural
to suppose, that a quality, which appears to be the most
essential principle of that religion, should be in good esteem
among us, and that the outward form of it, at least, should be
held in observance. But is this the case? We will read you
a description of charity, by the same inspired writer, and bid
you ask the same question of your consciences.

“Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh
no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

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Now which of all these principles does not slavery violate?
Where is the long suffering that our slave-holders exhibit, when
the most trifling offence on the part of their human cattle is
visited by the horsewhip? What is their kindness in claiming
from their brethren a daily routine of unmitigated, unrewarded
toil, through a long series of years, to feed their luxury?

“Charity envieth not”—and truly envy herself could scarcely
grudge the few poor comforts we have left the slave—but is not
envy of the superior luxuries and comforts of others, one of
the main inducing causes of that oppression? As for that humility
which is so distinguishing a feature in charity and in
the Christian religion, we know that it is utterly inconsistent
with the very nature of absolute power. Are we not mightily
puffed up with out own superiority? Do we not proudly vaunt
ourselves as being even of a higher species than our negro
brethren? And is it seemly that we should cause oppression
with a high hand to rule upon the earth, rioting in the groans
of human agony? Charity seeketh not even that which is her
own, but we uphold those who wring with violence from the
hands of others that which is not their own. Go ask the poor
victim, a female, too, perhaps—who stands there all bleeding
and lacerated with many stripes, what was the magnitude of
the offence that hath been punished with such severe chastisement
—and what will be the answer? Some trifling employment
forgotten or neglected—or perhaps the passionate outpourings
of grief for some beloved one from whom she has
been forcibly separated!

Yet will this very text, in the very seat of slavery, be solemnly
pronounced from the pulpit, and be characterised as
containing some of the sublimest principles of our religion, and
commented upon with overpowering eloquence, till the heart
of man will glow within his bosom, and the warm tears gush
out from the gentle eyes of women—and they will go out
from the house of worship, and forget that they are nourishing
up within their own households, a system that is at open variance
both with that, and every other principle of the Christian
religion.

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The Harmans.

Is it not a delightful evening? We will go down the hill
by the old school-house—but we shall not meet any merry
groups of the scholars, for it is the harvest holy-days—then
turn at the mill, and pass Robert Harman’s pretty farm-house.
If you look over the hill, you can see the top of one of its
chimneys peeping out from among the trees, now;—there—
where that smoke-curl is rising.

The wood sweeps in a curve round the foot of the hill before
we reach it; but you will not be fatigued, for when we descend
a few steps further we shall quite lose the warm sunshine. How
beautiful it looks on the top of that old wood—and here on this
hill slope, the long tree-shadows are drawn so distinctly!

When we pass this clump of oaks, we shall come within
sight of the open fields and meadows. Do you see yon cloverfield?
It is quite purple with blossoms, and the first breeze
that comes this way will be loaded with perfume; there is
mingled with it a scent of fresh hay, too—farmer Harman
cannot yet have finished carrying in his first crop. Ah! there
he is, with his “hands” all busily employed around him; the
wagon has just been brought out, and they are about to commence
loading. I intend you shall be acquainted with Robert
Harman
: he is one of the finest specimens of our western
country farmer—the most useful man in the neighbourhood,
and respected by all about him. He was elected to a seat in
the state legislature, a couple of years since, and there is considerable
talk of his being held up for senator at the next
election.

Ha! there goes Rolla scampering across the field, to seek
out his crony, little George Harman. Many a joyous frolic
have they had together, while I have looked on and wondered
which of the two was most delighted—the boy or the dog.
There is Ned, too, staggering under the weight of a fork-load
of hay, which he fancies he can deposit on the wagon.—There
it comes! down in a thick shower about his head, almost
smothering him: he is fairly covered with it! I wish you
could see his face now, as he turns to romp with Rolla. I can
almost see the flash of his black eyes from here! He is one
of the wildest young rogues in the neighbourhood, and almost
as big as his brother Robert, who is two years older.—Bob is B2 B3v 18
most like his mother, both in looks and character—quieter and
more delicate. Yet gentle and timid as you would take him
to be, there are few men more inflexible or more courageous on
any point of duty or principle: the Indian’s torture would
scarcely make him flinch.

Here is the house: you cannot more than catch an occasional
glimpse of the stone walls, it is so thickly covered with vines.
That multiflora rose almost covers the end of the long piazza—
and the beautiful coral, and the scented monthly honeysuckle,
creep in twisted luxuriance up its pillars. Then there are the
sweet clematis, and the passion-vine, and the jessamine, scattered
about on frames; but the two last are not yet in bloom.
Then there are the Washington-bower, and the glacina, with
its profusion of blue flowers, climbing up the sides of the house,
and almost covering even the chimney. Those trees, almost
bending beneath the multitude of their blossoms, are the scented
acacia: that which is loaded with red flowers, on the other side
of the house, is a horse-chestnut—and this so covered with
white waxen-like flowers is the philadelphus. Then do but
look what a quantity of roses! white and red, of all shades!—
from the delicate purity of the white bramble, to the deep
crimson of the small burgundy, or still deeper coloured velvet
rose. Some of them almost look in at the windows of the
pretty little parlour; and if you would look in there too, you
would see a plain room, to be sure, but the most perfect neatness,
and a large book-case filled with well selected books.
You would know that by the very binding—and the last numbers
of several periodicals, lying on the table. There is a
piano, too—and some good engravings and pictures in watercolours
hanging about the wall.

There is Mary Harman herself!—spreading the supper-table,
under that great tree. She is a pretty woman, and she is what
is a great deal better—very amiable, and an excellent wife and
mother. Let us walk on a little further, to a seat which I
will find for you on the banks of the creek, and I will tell you
something of her history.

Do you recollect the large house situated on the left of Col.
Carlington’s
plantation, in Virginia? That, with the farm attached
to it, was formerly the property of Robert Harman. It
was a much handsomer place then, than it is now; for the trees B4r 19
have been cut down from about it, and the shrubbery has been
sadly neglected of late years.

Well, I will tell you of a conversation that took place between
Robert and his wife, on the green lawn in front of that
very house. Little Bob, the oldest boy, was just one year old
at the time, and his father had given the slaves a holy-day,
because it was his birth-day.

“How happy their black faces looked!” said Robert, as they
left the lawn, after having each received a trifling present from
their mistress. Mary turned her face towards her husband;
but there was a shade of sadness mingled with the tenderness
of its expression.

“Nay, now,” continued he, laughing, “I know all you are
going to say about happiness being incompatible with slavery
—but I am sure they are better off than if they were free, you
are so kind to them!”

“They are slaves, nevertheless:” said she, “and though
they may seem gay and mirthful—even contented—their lightheartedness
is only the absence of immediate care, not the indwelling
sense of a deep happiness. How can they know the
fullness of bliss which I feel when hanging on your arm, or
pressing my lips upon the fair forehead of my babe, in the
consciousness, that no hand, save that of our God, hath the
power to separate us! What do they know of the delight of
studying the beauties of the natural or the intellectual world!
You say truly, that your plough-horses know scarcely less of
the harassing cares of life than they! but is the mere absence
of care sufficient for the happiness of a rational being? Would
you, dear Robert, purchase a dull forgetfulness of evil, at the
expense of the high nature of your intellectual being, sensitive
as it is to pain, as well as gladness? I know you would not!
Yet, poor as it is, even that much of bliss is denied to the slave—
for, debased as his nature may be, he is still human—and he
can think! We imagine they rush exultingly to the dance,
when it may be only to drown the bitterness of their dark forebodings.
I wish you had sometimes watched their dark countenances,
as I have done, when you have carelessly spoken of
liberty! and then the sin—oh! Robert, surely there must be
deep sin in making merchandize thus of our brethren—deeming
them scarcely better than the clods they till—they whom
God hath created in his own image.”

B4v 20

“But what can I do, dear Mary? I will acknowledge that
I do not think the system of slavery is right; but you know
that I received most of them from my father, with the plantation.
The estate is already mortgaged for more than half its
value, and if I free the slaves, which form the most valuable
part of my property, I shall probably have to dispose of it altogether.
For myself, I should care but little, for I am already
almost wearied of this life of inaction; but I could not become
a tiller of the earth here—where we have mated with the
proudest—for your sake, I could not! Could I bear to see
eyes look coldly on you, that have been accustomed to gaze
only in admiration and respect? Can I drag you down from
the station in which I found you in your father’s house, and
plunge you in comparative poverty?—Would not our boy, too,
in future upbraid me? I wish, from the bottom of my soul, I
wish that the system of slavery was abolished altogether—it is
a national iniquity—a shameful blot upon our boasted constitution
—but for an individual to attempt its extinction were folly!”

Mary raised her eyes—they were suffused with tears.
“Dearly as I love you, Robert, dearly as I love this boy; better,
far better, than my own life, I would rather behold you,
even day by day, winning an uncertain subsistence by your
own exertions, than to share with you in this guilty luxury and
splendour—for guilty that must be, which is purchased with
wrong to another. Do not think of me, do not fear for me—
the loss of wealth cannot render me unhappy—oh no! the
thought of wealth like that comes with a deadly sickness upon
the heart, a sensation of utter hollowness! even poverty, abject
poverty, would be preferable to such splendour; but that will
not be consequent on the emancipation of your slaves; it is but
somewhat to circumscribe our wishes, and we shall still be independent.
We must both be more actively employed, it is
true—but it will be better than living in idleness on the labour
of others. Then how many temptations will you not escape
from! From how many evils will this boy be preserved! for
what is there so likely to harden the heart, and to nourish up
all its evil passions, as the possession of absolute power?”

“Well, Mary,” said her husband, “my slaves shall be free!
—but then we must leave here; and I have no other property
than those western lands—will you go there?”

“Oh how willingly!” exclaimed she; and her husband then B5r 21
first saw the deep thankfulness of her countenance. She had
caught his hand to her lips, when he spoke the word “free,” and
he felt her hot tears raining upon it; but she did not speak nor
lift her face till he had concluded.

“Remember, love, you must leave these vines that you have
nourished up into beauty, and the bowers beneath which we sat
together so often, and all the pleasant remembered places
where we have passed our ‘happy bridal days,’ and the comforts
that you have enjoyed so long, and all the familiar faces
that we have known, and the friends, too, that we have loved—
and go out into a place unknown to us, and a comparative wilderness
—will you go, dear Mary?”

Her face was still wet with that passion of grateful tears,
but it was now serene and smiling. “I will!”

“And can you leave the home of your childhood, and your
father, and your mother, and your brothers, and the sister who
has grown up by your side, and been to you like another self,
almost, for so many years?”

Mary’s face grew very white, and there was a deep, but
momentary struggle; she was firm in the unfaltering sense of
her duty, her woman’s spirit grew strong within her, and she
answered calmly and steadily—“I will go!”

And they came.

Wilhelmine.

I love to wander amid the silence of a rural burial-place;
where the long grass curtains so luxuriantly the low couches
of the sleepers there; and the low branches of the ancient trees
fling over them a deep shadow.

There is one down in that wooded valley, where I have sat
for hours together, almost as if I were holding communion
with its still inhabitants. It has no tomb-stones, and if it were
not for the deep eloquence of those heaped-up mounds of earth,
and the air of solemnity about that venerable building, you
might take it to be a common pasture-field. Let us go sit
down upon one of those old graves, and I will tell you the
history of the first gentle bride that plighted her nuptial troth
within these gray walls.

B5v 22

Beautiful Wilhelmine! many a year hath gone by, since
there, from her heart’s pure altar, the quiet incense of her devotion
rose up into the high courts of heaven! Long since
has she passed away from the pleasant places where she was
once a dweller, but her memory is still lingering about among
them, as the spirit of fragrance will hover over the frail blossom,
long after its beauty has departed.

It was a century since, almost, that the meek girl of whom I
spake, stood up within that low-roofed worship-house, to
breathe the vows of her unchangeable fidelity. She was of
the race of England’s noblest; but the power of God’s word
had come upon her heart and smote her, so that all the gauds
and vanities of her high estate became to her as nothing, and
she grew to be one of the humblest worshippers of a despised
sect—a sister in the faith of Fox and Penn and Whitehead.

Then the magnificence of her apparelling, the brilliance of
her dazzling jewelry, and the splendour of her father’s house,
came to be as a heavy burden upon her gentle spirit; her heart
turned sick within her at the empty glories of the world, and for
the sake of her soul’s peace, she dared not any more bow down
to its idle vanities. So the affectionate girl was made to endure
rather to be an alien from her father’s house, and from the love
of her stately mother, than to win back their parental blessing
and forgiveness by a sinful apostacy from the high nature of
her religious testimony.

Many a sore struggle had she, that gentle creature, with the
yearning tenderness, the agonising affection of her smitten
heart, before her spirit was made strong for the sacrifice, and
she gave herself wholly up to God. Then there was a deep
peace settled upon her soul; and in her meek humility, she
became a beloved friend in the house of one who had once
been a menial in that of her father. And they came hither to
this beautiful wilderness—her aged protectors in the calm unbendingness
of their piety, and that young Christian unfaltering
in her high trust, that they might worship in the peacefulness
of their pure religion.

But the glorious spirit of that exalted creature was not long
uncompanied here in these solitary places. There was a
youth, not indeed of her own proud rank, but one who, for the
majestic capacities of his intellect, might have been the mate
of princes. But he, too, had subdued the earthliness of his B6r 23
spirit, till his pulse stirred no longer at the promptings of ambition,
and he became to her a dear friend.

It was by his side that she stood up, beneath that forest-
covered roof, at the time of which I told you, to breathe, in
the calm steadfastness of her heart, the promise of her nuptial
troth. It was the first Christian bridal that had been celebrated
in these, then, almost untrodden places, and there was a still
profounder depth of sympathizing silence gathered over their
lone temple, as they rose up and stood side by side, with their
hands clasped together, she, in the stainlessness of her exceeding
beauty,—a most sublime creature,—with the simplicity of
her bridal robes, bearing no other ornament than their perfect
whiteness; and he bending over her in the depth of his holy
affection, and uttering the solemn words of his love, severally
and distinctly, in the low, deep cadences of the heart’s tones.

There was a short pause, and then her sweet musical voice
spake over the same words, only less audible, and disturbed
with the swelling up of a few tears.

But why should I go on to tell you further? For a brief
space she moved about, the light and blessing of his quiet
home. But there was a gradual change at work upon her,
breathing still more of spirituality into the dazzlingness of her
beauty, and seeming even in this world to be overpowering the
remains of her mortal nature, till it became as a mere shadow,
and then she slept.

The Country.

“The meanest flow’ret of the vale, The simplest note that swells the gale, The common air, the sun, the skies, To him are opening paradise.” Gray.

I pity the man who can glance his eye over the above
beautiful lines, without feeling that they have often been the
unspoken language of his own heart. To myself, their discovery
formed an epoch in the annals of imagination; and often
when I have been alone amid the loveliness of nature, they B6v 24
have come to my thought like a channel, whereby my heart
might pour out the overflowing of its happiness.

But in order to feel the full force of the sentiment, the reader
should watch, as I have done, the slowly progressive footsteps
of Spring, from the first green blade that peeps out from the
withered grass, like an advanced guard sent forward to reconnoitre,
till even the complaining boughs of the sturdy old
forests brighten into good humour beneath her smiles, and
wear her livery as meekly as the humblest blossom they
shadow. He should see, from day to day, the tints of the
evening sky, gradually mellowing into their most perfect softness,
and know how pleasantly the streams are murmuring in
their green places, where the flowers that he loves are blossoming
the brightest, and the birds carolling the same songs that
he listened to in his early years, when he delighted to watch them
flitting around him, till he almost fancied he could recognize
their individual forms. He must know and feel all this, and
yet be pent up to breathe the air of a populous city, till his
heart, like a caged bird, sickens for liberty—and then find himself
at once, as it were, transported into the midst of the green
hills and shaded waters of his childhood’s home. They may
talk of the pleasure of a summer excursion to Long-Branch,
or to Saratoga—and pleasure there may undoubtedly be—but
it is nothing, absolutely nothing, to the delight of having escaped
from
“The cold heartless city,With its forms and dull routine,”
into a very paradise of rocks, hills, woods, wild flowers, and
waterfalls, where you may revel like a child in fresh air and
sunshine, till you feel that even existence alone is blessed;
where the name of stranger is in itself a passport to hospitality,
but where the name of a friend secures to you a reception,
like that of a child of their own families, in the homes of a
plain, but unsophisticated and warm-hearted people.

C1r 25

John Woolman.

Have you ever, gentle reader, chanced to meet with the
History of the Life of John Woolman?

If you have not, then go, I pray you, to the library of some
ancient Quaker of your acquaintance, and borrow it. But do not
read it then—not, at least, if the Wept of the Wish-ton-wish,
with half its leaves still uncut, is lying upon your table—or if
you have only just peeped between the pages of one of the
annuals;—but when you are wearied of all these things;
when you sit among your “pleasant company of books,” listless
and discontented; when your heart turns sick with the
long details of human crime and misery, written within your
volumes of history; when biography serves but to humble
you, with the knowledge that the best have been so frail, and the
wisest so ignorant; when philosophy, which has led you with
a proud wing among the secret influences of nature, leaves you
but a knowledge of your own ignorance—and poetry, glorious
poetry, that you thought had almost become a portion of the
life-spring of your heart,—you fed so long on its magnificent
imaginings—comes only with a dazzling garishness to your
worn and feverish spirit—then go forget yourself for a while,
in the unpretendingness of John Woolman’s auto-biography.

Were you ever ill of a fever?—and do you recollect the
blessedness with which you closed your eyes, when the cool
fingers of a beloved friend, came and pushed aside the loose
hair, and were laid upon your hot forehead. With such a
moonlight feeling, will the pure simplicity of Woolman come
to your sick heart. There is no glitter of fancy, no display
of stupendous intellect, no splendid imaginations to bewilder
you into tears, with their intensity of brightness; it is not
even a tale of striking or romantic incident; but it is the beautiful
history of a meek heart laid open before you, in all its
guilelessness. You will become familiar with a character of
the most perfect humility, full of a simple majesty, yet gentle
as a very child, unfaltering in its quiet self-denial, and unbending
to its own weaknesses, assuming no superior sanctity,
lifting not up the voice of stern judgment against the frailties
of others, and gifted with all the holy and affectionate
charities of life.

You will feel a purifying influence steal gradually over your C C1v 26
heart, while you bend over the quiet pages, calming the rude
beatings of its pulse into a thankful evenness, and cooling the
impatient irritation of your spirit, with the lesson of its gentle
words, till you feel almost as if the unworldly moments of your
childhood’s time had again come back to you.

The Sightless.

“I did not always think, Ellen,” said Catherine Dorman, “that
I could have been so happy as I now feel, under this affliction.
When I first knew that I was no more to see the familiar faces
that I had so long loved, I thought that as deep a darkness
would be forever upon my heart, as that which dwelt perpetually
around me in the outward world.”

The speaker was a young pale girl, who was sitting with
the companion she addressed upon the steps of a vine-wreathed
portico. As she turned her face while she spoke, it caught a
slight flush from the rich glow of a summer sunset, and her
beautiful eye—beautiful even amidst its darkness—seemed
to discourse almost as eloquently as in former hours.

Ellen answered only by stooping to touch her lips to the
quiet brow of her companion.

“It is true,” resumed the gentle speaker, “that there are sometimes
moments when I feel impatient and sorrowful; but when
I hear the soft step of my mother, or the approaching tread of
your own light foot, Ellen, your affection seems such a deep
fountain of blessedness, that I wonder how I could for an instant
have yielded to repinings. I did not love you half so
well, my friend, when I could read your eloquent thoughts in
your gentle eyes, as now that your face has become to me only
as a memory.”

“Then how finely acute are the other perceptions rendered by
blindness! I did not know half the exquisite touches of the
human voice till now—nor the thousand melodies of nature
—nor the numberless delicate varieties of perfume that are
mingled in the smell of the sweet flowers—nor the almost
impalpable differences of touch; and, although I can no longer
look abroad upon the living forms of nature, I have them all
pictured here upon my heart, vividly and distinctly—as a lens C2r 27
will throw back into a darkened apartment, in beautiful miniature
proportions, a perfect shadowing of the outward scene.”

“It is true I cannot see the beautiful blossoms that are
clustering in such profusion about my head, but I could tell
them all over by their names; and although I may not look
again, dear Ellen, upon the glorious sunset sky, that we have
watched together so often, yet I know how the clouds are
sprinkled, in their golden shadowing, over the blue concave—
so I will not be sad that you must gaze upon them in loneliness.”

“Surely, ‘God tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb,’” murmured
Ellen, while an affectionate tear trembled on her eyelids:
then in a quicker and clearer voice she added, “Shall
we sing, dear Catherine?”
—and the music of their sweet
voices went up together: Oh, hallow the beautiful sunset hour,When it comes with the hush of its chastening power!Though the thoughts of the world, through the day-glare have beenBetwixt God and thy heart like a shadowing screen,Now the hot pulse of nature is still’d into rest,So cool thou the fever that burns in thy breast.The time of the twilight!—oh! cherish it well,For its whispering hush hath a holy spell!And the weary burden of earthly care,Is flung from the heart by the spirit’s prayer;And the haunting thoughts of the sinful day,Should pass with its garish beam away.The sunset hour!—how its bright hues speakOf the dying smile on the Christian’s cheek!And the stirring leaves, with their low sweet tone,Have a voice to the listening spirit known;And holier thoughts on your breast have power,’Midst the hush of the beautiful sunset hour.

Opposition to Slavery.

The subject of Emancipation appears, frequently, to be considered
merely as one of taste or fancy, which is to be engaged in
only by those whose inclination leads them to consider it an
object of interest. But opposition to slavery is not a thing to C2v 28
be entered upon only through a transient excitement, or for a
display of benevolent feeling, or the indulgence of an amiable
humanity; and which it is allowable to neglect in the absence
of these or any other selfish motives. It should be considered
the conscientious discharge of an imperative duty, and the only
means of avoiding a participation in guilt. It is folly to say
that we have no agency in the oppression of the slave, while
we are revelling in the luxuries produced by his extorted labour.
It is vain to endeavour to clear ourselves of the obloquy, by
heaping execrations on those more immediately concerned; so
long as we continue to be partakers of its fruits, are we active
supporters of the system of slavery. It may be said that we
do this unwillingly—that we cannot, in fact, altogether avoid
it—and that our principles are in direct opposition to slavery.
But this does not absolve us from the necessity of making
some exertion to remedy the evil of which we complain. If
it is so very difficult, in the present state of things, to keep
ourselves from partaking of the fruits of iniquity, then ought
we to feel the more urgently constrained to make use of every
effort in our power to exterminate the system which so widely
extends its poisonous influence.

If you find it impossible now to obtain all the articles you
may wish, “uncontaminated by the taint of slavery,” then it
rests with you to relax not your endeavours until it is no longer
impossible. Make use of the products of free labour, whenever
by any efforts you are able to procure them. Do not
suffer yourselves to remain inert, because you suppose your exertions
will be unfelt: it is well to be engaged in a good cause,
even if all the energies devoted to its service should be ineffectual
to advance its interests one step. But here your exertions will not
be wasted—you can do much. Besides promoting the consumption
of free produce, the influence of woman may be
widely felt in awaking a more general interest in the cause of
Emancipation. By forming societies for the publication and
distribution of tracts and pamphlets relative to that subject, information
respecting slavery might be largely disseminated,
and the feelings of many hitherto unthinking persons aroused
into detestation of a system which is a source of so much
misery and degradation. The evil is of a nature, that, in the
present state of mental cultivation, cannot be long or generally
tolerated, after its character has been fully exposed and reflected C3r 29
upon. In England much good has been done by this means.
Thousands of pamphlets and cards, containing a concise
account of the nature of colonial slavery, have been distributed
by female societies, and a large portion of our own sex are engaged,
heart and hand, with their brethren in the work of its
extermination. The same measure would, no doubt, here be
productive of equally beneficial results, and we hope ere long
to see it adopted.

A Legend of Brandywine.

“We went on In vain—there was no living one— But many an English mother’s care, And many a lady’s love, lay there. #ornament Oh blessed Virgin! who might be Unmoved that mournful sight to see! ’Twas a warrior youth, whose golden hair All lightly waved in the dewy air; Slumbering he seem’d, but drew no breath, His sleep was the heavy sleep of death.”

“Now, by the dukedom of Northumberland, but this is
strange!”
exclaimed a young British officer, as he reined in
his steed, on the brow of a hill, and gazed earnestly at the surrounding
landscape.

“What is it that is so strange, Percy?” demanded a fellow-
soldier who rode up to him at the instant.

The speakers were both young men, and the first of them
eminently beautiful.

The profusion of fair curls that clustered over his white forehead,
the regularity of his features, the delicacy of his complexion,
and the gentle expression of his blue eye, might have
given a feminine loveliness to his countenance, had it not been
for the manly firmness that was written on his serious lip, and
the high-thoughted melancholy of his brow. The companions C2 C3v 30
continued conversing in a low tone, as they passed slowly
down the declivity—at length their voices became more distinct.

“Ay,” said Percy; “the scenery that I have loved from my
childhood is not more familiar to me than this.”

“What can you mean?” exclaimed his friend, in evident
surprise. “That I am to die here!” answered Percy. His
face was very pale, and though he spoke steadily, it was with
an evident effort.

“I am serious—I am not raving, Ashton. I have seen tha t
landscape again and again—it has come to my dreams, and
been before me when I have closed my eyes in the dim twilight.
There was a fearful conflict here, too—and I was in the midst,
with a burning cheek, and a flashing eye, caring not for the
sight of blood, nor for the carnage that was around me, till I
lay upon the red, wet earth, amidst the ghastly faces of slain
men.
Then for a while there was an indistinctness in the vision,
till presently I was no longer in the open air, and my whole
frame was burning with insupportable agony. The groans of
the maimed and dying wretches who were near me, rang continually
in my ears, and unknown faces were bending over me
in offices of kindness. I was sensible then, and I knew that I
was dying, and the thought of my mother came like a gush
of fiery lead upon my heart. Yet then, after the dream had
left me, I cared but little for its monitions. I felt, it is true,
that I ought not to come here bathing my hands causelessly in
human blood, yet a wild indignation for a fancied wrong, and
a thirst for the glory of a conqueror, urged me on—so my
mother’s prayers were wasted, and I came. And now I know
that I am to die here.”

His friend listened in painful silence, and after a short pause,
Percy continued. “This is not cowardice, Ashton, though you
may perhaps consider it such—but no—you will not—we have
been known to each other too long and too intimately for such
a thought.”

He took out his watch, and after looking at the hour, placed
it in his friend’s hand. “I shall never need it more, but you
will keep it, Ashton, in remembrance of one who loved you—
and these papers—will you take charge of them? there is a
letter which I wish you to deliver to my mother; and tell”
――

At this instant the advanced lines of the American army C4r 31
appeared hurrying forward at a quick run, and in a few moments
the friends were mingling in the wild affray of battle.

The day was fast wearing to a close. The smoke-clouds
were still hovering over the war-field of Brandywine, but its
wild uproar had died away into a fearful silence; for the victory
was won and lost. On what had been that day the scene
of the deadliest conflict, stood the low walls and shaded roof
of a Quaker worship-house. On its floor warm life-blood was
poured out, as if it had been a libation of red wine; and instead
of the quiet prayer and thanksgiving that had been wont
to ascend from those walls, the convulsive groans of mortal
agony, and the wild beseeching prayer for mercy to the parting
spirit, now went up together.

The floor and the rude benches were covered with the wounded,
and many of the peaceful men who had met there on the
last Sabbath in their accustomed worship, were now, though
sick and pale with the carnage around them, administering aid
and comfort to the sufferers. One of these knelt to support the
head of a young officer, who lay apparently lifeless in his arms,
while another bent over his form, holding one of his hands,
and occasionally moistening his lips, and bathing his pale
brow.

“Does he live?” demanded Ashton gaspingly, as he entered
and stole hurriedly towards the group.

“He breathes, but life is waxing faint—very;” was the
answer.

Ashton gazed a moment upon that still white countenance,
till he felt as if a sudden blindness had come over him, and,
flinging himself on his knees by the side of his friend, he
sobbed audibly.

“Percy, dear Percy!” he exclaimed in his agony, “will you
not speak to me, will you only look at me but once more?”

His voice seemed to rekindle for an instant the fleeting spark
of animation in the bosom of Percy, for he half lifted his
heavy eyelids, and stretched out his hand towards his friend.

“God bless you, Ashton,” murmured he; “tell my mother
that my last earthly thoughts were of her—that I died happy,
and I trust, forgiven of my sins—and tell Constance—but no,
it will be better not—but do not let them take the portrait from
my neck, Ashton.”

His voice grew fainter as he concluded, and when, with a C4v 32
feeble pressure of the venerable hand that still retained his
within its grasp, he strove to speak somewhat of his kindly
thanks, the words died away inarticulately from his lips. Ashton
bent over him—tearless, breathless, with the intensity of his
feelings—but no warm breath came upwards to his cheek.
Percy was dead.

How I love the beautiful repose of a country Sabbath. The
very breezes seem to go by with a quieter tone, and the light
clouds to rest even more peacefully than their wont, upon the
bosom of the pure sky. Then what an air of serenity has the
venerable house of prayer, that stands so embowered among
its shadowing trees—surely the heart that enters there must be
hushed and softened with its purifying influence. Shall we not
go up, and join with those who worship there?

Ay, let us go—for we may well humble ourselves before our
God, upon a spot that was once scathed by the desolation of
man’s ravage. This valley, that now looks so lovely in its
slumbering tranquillity, once rang with all the wild turmoil of
battle. Behind yonder hills, you may hear the murmurs of the
shaded Brandywine, and here, where you now stand, the earth
was red with slaughter, on the day of that fight. On that
height Lafayette received his first wound in the service of our
country—these fields, where the luxuriant corn is now bending
so gracefully to the breeze, were then the death-couch of many
men—and that building, around which young and old are so
quietly gathering, stood once the centre of a sanguinary conflict,
and was crowded with its victims.

This, then, is the battle scene of Brandywine, and here, if
tradition may be credited, lie unmarked by a single memorial,
the remains of one of the proud race of Northumberland.

The New Year.

“Passing away, is written upon the world, and all that it contains.”

The year hath gone by. Winter, with its piercing chillness;
its storms and its melancholy blasts; its pleasant gatherings
round the cheerful fireside, and its hours of suffering to C5r 33
those against whom it has been leagued with poverty—Spring,
following in his footsteps, like pity after sorrow, and “pouring
balm into the wounds he made,”
has flung the garment of
gladness over stricken Nature in her hour of desolation—
Summer, with his hot breath, his thunderbolts, his forked
lightnings, and the blessings of his plenteous fruits—and
Autumn, gathering those fruits into the garner, and again
pressing upon the brow of Nature the signet of decay,—have
fingered with us for their allotted time, and have all departed.

It is well for us, at the close of the year, to look back at the
moments that have past, and consider whether they have made
us wiser and better than we were at its commencement, or
whether too great a portion of them has not been unprofitably
wasted. When we call back to memory these forgotten hours,
what shall we find in the account which they have carried in
against us? Have we been properly grateful for the good gifts
we have received from the Giver of all good, and bowed submissively
to the afflictions with which he has been pleased to
visit us? Have we offered up “the morning and the evening
sacrifice”
of a spirit conscious of its own frailties, and seeking
after holier things? Or have we to reproach ourselves, that
“we have left undone those things which we ought to have
done; and have done those things which we ought not to have
done?”
That we have nurtured pride and vanity secretly
within our hearts, and suffered anger and discontent too frequently
to obtain an undue empire over us?

A year! How rapidly it has passed away! seeming to
some of us scarcely more than the memory of an indistinct
dream, it has wrought upon us so little change. To others it
has been an important era, crowded with eventful incident, and
indelibly impressed upon the recollection by the alterations it
has made in character, or feeling, or circumstance. Thousands
hailed its entrance with gladness, whose hearts are now crushed
by some unsparing desolation, or lie cold and pulselesrs beneath
the withered grass.

And who, of those that now interchange the customary
salutations of the New Year, may say that they will ever be
witnesses of its dying hour? Surely, then, it is fitting that the
present moments should not be suffered to pass unprofitably—
that we should erect in our hearts some monument of good
deeds, whereby we may know that they have been.

C5v 34

Then, amid the festivities that are attendant upon the season,
and the serious thoughts that ought to be gathered around its
passing hours, shall the poor and miserable plead in vain for
the dole of compassion? Woman was not formed to look upon
scenes of suffering with a careless eye: it is alike her privilege
and her duty to impart consolation to the sorrows of the afflicted,
and relief to the necessities of the destitute. And whose
cup is so crowded with wretchedness as that of the slave?
from whom may he hope for sympathy, if her heart is closed
against the cry of his agony? The New Year! oh, suffer it
not to go by and leave him still bending hopelessly beneath
the weight of his fetters—uncheered by the soothing of compassion,
and the knowledge that the exertions of Woman, at
least, will be given to the cause of his Emancipation!

Right and Wrong.

That the errors of one person are no excuse for those of
another, most persons are very willing to admit—when the
aphorism is not used in application to themselves. Yet how
often is it urged in palliation of offences, that others are equally
guilty! If we had no conscience; if the laws of God were
neither written upon our hearts, nor within the volume of
truth, this plea might justly be available. But as it is, however
powerful the force of example may be, the errors of the
best and wisest cannot justify those of the weakest individual.
Therefore, the moment it is proved to us by those laws, that
any course of conduct is wrong, that instant it behoves us to
alter it, before an infatuated persistence deepens out fault into
a dark iniquity. No matter though it is a subject which all
whom we have been accustomed most to reverence, look upon
with carelessness and indifference—no matter for the example
of the most pious—if you are acting contrary to the commands
of God, shall the opinions of men sustain you in a career of
sinfulness? If the characters of the most righteous are still imperfect,
then it is needful that they become better than they
have yet been; and for those who have many sins to rise up
against them, is there not more cause that they should garner
up the memory of some good deeds in the store-house of conscience?
It is true that in many matters there exists a great C6r 35
contrariety of opinion; some persons esteeming innocent those
things which others condemn as deeply sinful;—but this doubt
can exist only with regard to secondary duties—the “weightier
matters of the law”
are so plain, that unless they are wilfully
blind, “those who run may read;” and those things we can
neither neglect ourselves, nor support the violation of them in
others, without positive guilt.

If, then, right and wrong are distinctly pointed out before us,
are we to be governed in our choice of them by expediency,
or the customs of the world, or the opinions of men? Certainly
not. We are not to calculate upon the good or the evil, that
may ensue by our adherence to the principles of right—nor
what sacrifices must be made—nor what privations may have
to be endured—it is for God’s creatures to act as he has been
pleased to designate, labouring diligently in his service, and
trusting to him to apportion the increase.

Harriet Rogers.

“How very beautiful!” I exclaimed mentally.

I was in a village house of worship, and the above observation
was excited by a female who sat opposite to me. She was
not very young—she might have been twenty-eight, or possibly
thirty years; but her features were finely regular, and her
complexion still wore an undiminished brilliancy. It must
have been undiminished in its beauty, for it was one of the
most perfect whiteness I have ever seen, smooth and polished
—more like a sheet of hot-pressed letter-paper than any thing
else I can think of—and with a tinge of carmine scarcely deeper
than that of the most delicate petal of the damask rose.
In common with many others, she had laid aside her bonnet
on account of the excessive heat of the weather, and her dark
hair, arranged with the utmost simplicity beneath a plain gauze
cap, contrasted beautifully with the fine intellectual forehead
over which it was parted. Her lip had probably once been redder
than it was at present, and past hours might have seen a
more frequent flush of laughing sunlight upon her cheek, for
now the long fringes of her eye bent over it with a continual
pensiveness. For that eye—think of all the descriptions you
have ever read in poetry of the eye of woman—of its veined C6v 36
lid, with the long drooping curled lash—its expressive diamond
light—its melting liquid lustre—and its pencilled, arched, indescribable
brow—and separate whatever may seem to you most
beautiful, to attach to the idea of a large melancholy hazel eye.

It was this subdued sadness, mingled too as it was with so
much sweetness of expression, such perfect unrepiningness,
that interested me far more than I should otherwise have been.
Even the gladness of the lovely faces that sometimes flit around
me like scattered sunshine, frequently awakens only a feeling
of pensiveness that it should be so little abiding—but a countenance
like hers, over which the world’s sorrow had already
flung a veil of spirituality—how could I pass it by unnoticed?

By her sat a little urchin as unlike her as possible. Not in
feature, for in that there was some trifling resemblance—but
in her whole manner and character. I never saw such an
expression of untameable joy, as was exhibited in the face of
that child; it seemed blended with the very existence of the
light-hearted creature; and though it was now subdued into
comparative seriousness, the lashes of her dark blue eyes were
occasionally lifted with an animated glance that actually seemed
to emit flashes of light. You could scarcely look on her
without a feeling of gladness—yet once, when she looked up
suddenly, while her mother’s eyes were fixed on her in sad
tenderness, the smile for a moment entirely forsook her lip, and
I saw a large tear gathering over her eye-lashes.

After the worship was concluded, I enquired the history of
that woman. They told me she was one to whom the Angel
of Grief
had ministered—but that I already knew—and that
she had drunk deeply of the bitterness of his vial.

She had wedded in her bright youth, with a high hope that
life should be to her a long sunny dream of happiness. But
she had leaned her heart upon a broken reed, and it gave way
and crushed her. They told me there were three graves out
in their grassy burial place, over which hot tears had fallen,
when were laid there the perished blossoms of her heart—and
the strong stem, round which its tendrils had entwined themselves
—perhaps too fondly.

I told you that she had wedded with high hopes;—but they
had been crushed by another hand than that of death. He
came by only to finish the ruin. Long before Harriet Rogers
became a widow, had her husband ceased to be worthy of her. D1r 37
Yet intemperate and unprincipled as he became, she still clung
to him, in the steadfastness of her woman’s heart, with a depth
of holy affection that no unkindness could subdue, with a hope
of his being yet restored to virtue, that no unworthiness could
crush.

But death, a fearful unprepared-for doom, came suddenly
upon him; and then she felt that all the tears she had shed
over the pure beings whom she had already laid to rest, were
happiness—ay bliss—to the few scalding drops that fell as if
they were wrung one by one from her seared heart, slowly
and separately upon his still brow;—noble and beautiful as it
was, and yet so stricken with the shame of guilt!—about to
go down to the grave with such a deep cloud forever resting
upon it! And then the thoughts of what was beyond those
gloomy portals!—she could not dwell upon it, and with a
half-uttered groan, she covered up her face, and they bore her
away insensible.

She did not see him again; but day by day there grew to
be less of agony in her prayers, and as the darkness passed
gradually away from her heart, she mingled once more, as she
had been wont to do, among her beloved friends. The pure
piety of her spirit, refined and deepened by suffering, dared
not waste itself in gloomy repinings:—but, though long years
had passed away, she never could forget.

And I wondered no more at the melancholy written upon
her beautiful countenance.

Slavery.

The more we reflect upon this subject, the more strange
does it appear, that it can be tolerated in a Christian country—
among a people, too, refined and enlightened as we proudly
claim to be, whose laws stoop even to the protection of the brute
creation. Yet even in the very face of our republican courts,
are men publicly sold and purchased by their fellow-men, in
the open market-places, and in the broad gaze of the pure daylight;
while the hot gush of shame, that should blind and suffocate
them with the consciousness of ignominy, is totally unfelt.
Woman, too—“bright, high-souled, glorious woman,”
will suffer herself to be ministered to by the hand of slavery— D D1v 38
can behold herself surrounded by miserable and degraded beings,
yet make no effort to snatch them from the pit into which
they have been thrust.

The patriotism of the American ladies has been lauded to
the skies, for having refused the use of tea during the revolutionary
contest, because that article had been one of the exciting
causes of the quarrel. It is probable that under similar
circumstances, most of them, at the present day, would act
after the same manner. And do not the calls of patriotism, as
well as of religion, still more imperatively urge to every exertion
that may tend to remove their country from the darkness
of crime and infamy? Yet they, who, amid the gloom of
former years, unhesitatingly bore privations and sacrifices, that
they might strengthen the hands of those, who, on the field of
warfare, were contending for liberty, now shrink not from the
luxuries which have been wrung with heart-sickening inhumanity
from the hands of the helpless and oppressed. If there
were no other cause for hate, to the system of slavery, its
mean selfishness should alone be sufficient to raise every voice
in opprobrium against it. But when we reflect, that disgusting
and dishonourable as it is, this is one of the fairest traits in its
character, it is really surprising how the gentle and the good
can be so little offended by its vileness. We should imagine
that the tears of contrition for the past, could be dried only by
the high resolve of instant reformation, and the nobler and better
conduct of future life. But, alas! how few are there, who,
like a Minge, a Smith, or a Ridgely, have the nobility of spirit,
that can refuse to weigh the claims of interest against those of
right. Yet the cause of emancipation is a holy one, and however
tardy may be its progress, there can be no doubt but it
will eventually triumph. With reference to this subject, we
have liberty to quote the encouraging sentiments of one of our
own sex, whose interest in the subject is probably inferior to
none, and who has looked with a watchful eye upon the signs
of the times.

“All reformations are slow (or gradual) in proportion to the
abuse designed to be removed; hence from all necessity, this
must be slow, as it exceeds in magnitude all others on the habitable
globe; for what degradation, either of body or mind,
can be named, which is not comprehended in this greatest of
abominations, African slavery? the demoralizing effects of D2r 39
which, not less to the master than to the slave, exceeds all
others in the known world; for evidence of which, we need
only refer to the state of mankind, in those parts of the earth
cursed by its existence.
But a good work is begun, and I believe a change in public
opinion is taking place; and if we can but have patience with
dull, heedless, and inattentive lukewarm professors, I doubt not
many of us will see a brighter day. Much anxiety, labour,
and toil, must first me endured; but what is this, in comparison
to restoring to the most inestimable rights of man, hundreds
of thousands of our fellow-beings?”

Fashion Spectacles.

He was a strange looking old man, and he bewildered me
exceedingly. Whether he belonged to the rank of magicians,
sprites, or genii, I was unable to determine; but that he was
something out of the common way, I was quite certain. Once
I had half made up my mind, that it was the famous old wizard,
Michael Scott—for he had a high pointed cap, and a long beard
hanging down upon his breast, and trimmed into a peak: then
I tried to move, so as to place him between myself and the
candle, that I might discover whether, like Ossian’s ghost-heroes,
the light would “twinkle dimly through his form,”—but with
that inability for motion, which we so frequently feel in dreams,
I remained fastened to my seat, and my doubts were totally
insolvable. But whatever he might be, his appearance was
certainly very queer.

“What are you doing?” said the strange old man.

“I am altering this dress,” answered I; “it is old fashioned.”

“When was it made?”

“Last month.”

“Put on these spectacles,” said the strange old man.

I stammered a little, for the proposition startled me: “I
thank you. But I could do nothing with them.—I can see to
rip this seam perfectly well, I assure you.”

“Put them on, I tell you!” exclaimed he, with such a terrible
frown, that they were over my eyes almost before I was
aware.

The scene was all changed before me. I was in a mighty D2v 40
temple, where thousands of my own sex were gathered to worship
the presiding divinity. The rarest productions of the loom,
of various kinds, but of the finest texture, and the choicest colours,
were fantastically twisted around each other, so as to
form a kind of throne, on which she was seated. On the altar
before her, lay heaps of jewelry, strings of pearl, diamonds,
and other precious stones, and all manner of personal ornaments,
piled up in glittering confusion. Envoys from different
quarters of the globe, were continually bringing their offerings
to her feet, and numberless females, who officiated as priestesses,
were employed about her person, altering its decorations, and
adorning her in a different manner. But I observed that her
dress had no sooner been adjusted according to her directions,
than she became dissatisfied with it, and ordered some other
form substituted for that which she had but the instant before
applauded.

These various changes were instantly imitated by her votaries,
whose manner of worship seemed to be by thus humouring her
caprice. Those who were too far distant to discover the manner
of the goddess herself, copied, as well as they were able,
that of the most favoured devotees; so that the whole place
seemed to be continually in motion.

“This is the Temple of Fashion,” said my companion;
“come with me, and I will show you from whose hands are
gathered the oblations which crowd her altar.”

He conducted me to a window at one side of the edifice, and
I looked out upon a widely diversified scene. Far off in the
distance, I could catch a shadowy glance of mines, where men
were wearing out their lives in search of the glittering treasures
of the earth. In another quarter, groups of people,—men,
women, and children—were embracing each other, with tears
and bitter lamentations, till others, who stood by, forcibly separated
them from each other, leaving some to weep in lonely
desolation, and bearing others away to a distant market-place,
where they were publicly sold. Still I watched their destination,
as they were borne away by their future masters. They
were placed among a people who were accounted wise and virtuous;
they were surrounded by cultivation and refinement,
yet they were ignorant and degraded, for the book of knowledge
was forbidden to be unfolded before them. They were
driven unwillingly to toil, day after day, and the fruits of their D3r 41
labour were claimed by others. Those to whom my attention
was principally directed, were employed in the care and cultivation
of a species of tree, from whose pods, when ripe, they
gathered a white, downy substance, which was collected into
large quantities, and carried away into a place where hundreds
of beings—many of them squalid, debased, and miserable—
were employed throughout their whole lives, in causing it to
undergo various operations, till it came from their hands transformed
into fabrics of exquisite delicacy and beauty, meet to
be employed in forming the garments of Fashion. Others
passed their days in watching the life and death of successive
races of a certain species of insect, that from its shroud they
might form her festival robes. Men dared the torrid sunbeams,
that they might minister to her fancied wants, or gathered the
spoils of the cold regions of the north, that her votaries might
lay them at her footstool.

Neither was it over dress only, that she exercised so despotic
a sway. Manners, opinions, and taste, were all regulated according
to her will. Nay, so enthusiastically infatuated were
some of her worshippers, that they would unhesitatingly sacrifice
comfort, health, moral principle, and the holiest affections of
the heart, in obedience to her dictates.

But without, in front of the temple, methought I heard the
clamour of many voices, uttering murmurs and revilings against
the witcheries of the tyrant, and the obsequious compliance
with which her orders were attended to. These were fathers
and husbands, who had been ruined, both in happiness and
wealth, by the folly and extravagance of their relatives. The
voice of lamentation, mingled also with that of execrations for
some who had stood high among her list of favourites, after
having expended their whole fortune in her service, were now
cast out destitute, to wail their former devotion to her will, or
for their lost station, now occupied by more fortunate competitors.

I was about to give utterance to some very wise and moral
reflections, upon the folly of the assembled multitude, when the
strange old man, with an exclamation of impatience, dashed
the spectacles violently from my eyes, and the whole scene
vanished. The old man, too, had vanished—cap, beard, and
all—I began to be in doubt of my own substantiality! Yet
there I was, broad awake, too, by this time, with my disorganizedD2 D3v 42
dress lying upon my lap.—The extricated sleeve had fallen
on the hearth during my dream, and was almost totally consumed.
Fortunately, however, the fashion had changed while
I was asleep, and the quantity of stuff which had been required
for the formation of one sleeve, was now amply sufficient for
both.

Ignorance.

One of the worst features in the character of slavery, is the
perpetual darkness which it so assiduously gathers round the
minds of its victims. Knowledge and rebellion appear to be
almost synonymous terms in the mind of the slaveholder, or at
least the idea of the latter appears to succeed that of the former,
almost as regularly as though it were thus properly defined.
Then, too, it affords such a convenient avenue to
escape from the reproaches of others, or of their own consciences,
from the degrading ignorance of their negroes to plead
the danger that would result from their instruction. But if
mention is made of the propriety of emancipating the slaves in
their present condition, then instantly their masters are alarmed
at the consequences that they are pleased to think must necessarily
ensue, if so many uneducated and degraded beings were,
as they term it, “let loose upon society.” Thus, although they
acknowledge that slavery is an evil, and very willingly join in
lamentations for its existence, they cannot consent that it should
be abolished, until their slaves are fitted for emancipation by a
preparatory education, and still, on account of a just regard to
their own safety, cannot suffer them to receive the blessings
of instruction while they continue in a state of bondage. This,
we believe, is nearly the sum of much of the reasoning employed
by the southern planters with regard to the subject in question.
We are willing to make all due allowances for the effects
of long continued habits and prejudices; we feel more disposed
to compassionate than to blame—but we cannot acknowledge
that any arguments are reasonable, which have for their object
the support of injustice. Yet even if elevating and refining
their minds by some degree of literary attainments, might have
some tendency to render the weight of their fetters a less endurable
burden, surely, not the least shadow of such danger D4r 43
could be apprehended from their instruction in morality and
religion. Oh! let all those of our own sex, with whom the
power may lie, contribute their utmost to the advancement of
the eternal welfare of those immortal beings, over whom fortune
has given them the temporal control. Will they not extend
the hand of christian and sisterly fellowship to those, who,
females though they be, are debarred from so many of the
dearest privileges of the sex? Will they not plead with those
over whose minds they may exercise a pure and rightful influence,
to rescue the female slave from her present state of degradation?
Certainly, we may hope that they will do so, unless
the poisonous properties of slavery are such as to deaden the
vital principle of every good thing within the reach of its
effects.

Letters on Slavery.
No. I.

To the Ladies of Baltimore.

In thus addressing you upon the subject of American Slavery,
we cannot hope to offer to your notice much newness or
brilliancy of argument or reasoning—much original information
—or many unappropriated sentiments;—the wrongs of the
Negroes, and the injustice of their oppressors, have been long
since pourtrayed by the thrilling lips of eloquence—and the
means for their emancipation, to which we shall invite your
attention, have been already pointed out. We can, therefore,
do but little more than reiterate what has been said by others.
Yet notwithstanding we have confessed thus much, we are still
induced to address you; in the hope that an appeal directed
particularly to yourselves, condensing what we consider the
most important arguments, and presenting the subject in such
a point of view as we conceive may be most interesting to you,
may, perhaps, succeed in arresting your attention, and bending
an hour of your serious thought upon the miserable beings by
whom you are surrounded.

We need not waste words in attempting to inspire you with
a conviction of the criminality of the slave system. It must
certainly be, to every one of you, self-evident! Both its barbarity
and iniquity have been long since acknowledged, and D4v 44
that too, in an age which we are apt to consider as far less enlightened
than this. Until the minds of christians were blinded
by a participation in this evil, an abhorrence of the idea of
enslaving their fellow-creatures was a necessary consequence
of its suggestion.—A late writer upon this subject, has the following
passage, with respect to the commencement of African
Slavery:

“The infamy of being the first who brought the miserable
sons of Africa as slaves from their native soil, attaches itself
to the Portuguese, who, as early as 14811481, built a castle on the
Gold coast, and from thence ravaged the country, and carried
off the inhabitants to Portugal, where they were sold into
bondage. In 15031503, slaves were first taken from the Portuguese
settlements in Africa to the Spanish possessions in America;
and from that time to 15111511, large numbers were exported to
the colonies of Spain, by permission of King Ferdinand V.
After his death, a proposal was made to the regent of Spain,
Cardinal Ximenes, by Las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa, to establish
a regular commerce in African slaves, under the plausible and
well-intentioned, but fallacious pretext of substituting their
labour in the colonies for that of the native Indians, who were
rapidly becoming exterminated by the severity of their labour,
and the cruel treatment of their Spanish masters. To the immortal
honour of Cardinal Ximenes, he rejected the proposition
on the ground of the iniquity of slavery itself in the abstract,
and also, the great injustice of making slaves of one nation,
for the liberation of another. The Cardinal appears, therefore,
to have been the first avowed opponent of this traffic in
men.
After the death of this prelate, the Emperor, Charles V.,
in 15171517, encouraged the slave-trade, and granted letters patent
for carrying it on; but he lived to see his error, and most
nobly renounced it, for he ordered, and had executed, a complete
manumission of all African slaves in his American dominions.
About this time, Pope Leo X. gave to the world this
noble declaration: ‘That not only the Christian religion, but
nature, herself, cried out against a state of slavery!’
In the
year 15621562, in the reign of Elizabeth, the English first stained
their hands with the negro traffic; Captain, afterwards Sir J.
Hawkins
, made a descent on the African coast, and carried away
a number of the natives, whom he sold to the Spaniards in D5r 45
Hispaniola; and, although censured by the Queen, it appears
that he still continued to prosecute the trade. The French
commenced this business about the same time, although Louis
XIII.
gave the royal sanction with reluctance, and only when
soothed by the delusive pretext of converting the Africans to
Christianity.”

The importation of slaves into the British colonies was
strongly opposed by many of them, and in particular by some
of those who are now most tenacious of the evil thus entailed
upon them. Can any circumstances have occurred since then,
to render slavery more humane or more christian-like in its
character? We think not. Every succeeding year that has
been suffered to elapse without an effort to remove this stain,
has but served, in an increasing ratio, to magnify the iniquity
of the practice. Every year—nay, every month, every day,
that still passes idly by, must continue to deepen the enormity
of our country’s guilt.

Can then the female sex, who form so large a part of her
population, be free from the pollution of this sin? Had they
all used properly their influence as christian women, in opposition
to this crime, would it till this day have darkened the
volumes of our country’s history? We have no hesitation in
saying that it would not, nor in asserting that they have yet a
duty to perform for the advancement of its abolition.

Letters on Slavery.
No. II.

To the Ladies of Baltimore.

We have already said, that we have nothing new to communicate
on the subject of slavery. It has been long since pronounced
iniquitous and inhuman. The wise and good have,
from its very commencement, poured out denunciations upon its
execrable tyranny. What is wanted, therefore, is not so much
an acknowledgement of its wickedness, as a general desire for
its immediate extinction, and an individual resolution to promote
that end. Are there any among you, who do not wish
that its abolition was already accomplished throughout all the
borders of our land? Is there one of you, over whose thoughts D5v 46
it has not come like a chilling damp, in her moments of patriotic
enthusiasm? Yet at the very moment you acknowledge
slavery, in the aggregate, to be sinful, there are, perhaps,
slaves employed in some of your own households, or those of
your dearest friends, without your ever “laying it to heart,”
that you or they are partaking in the unrighteousness you
reprobate. It is true that you have the ready plea of custom
and the laws of the state, but the very arguments that are
used for its palliation, tend only to prove the whole system
radically wrong. We do not impute to you any other than
gentle and humane treatment of those under your charge—
we do not allude reproachfully to the circumstance of your
possessing them. You have grown up with this system of
things tolerated everywhere around you, till it appears to you
natural, and you almost forget the possibility of its being
otherwise. You have so long seen it sanctioned by the
practice of those whom you have been accustomed to esteem
and reverence, that you scarcely look upon it as requiring individual
disapprobation; though were you questioned on the
subject, you would probably express a wish that it had never
been introduced into our country. There are others among
you, who would not so far tolerate the practice of slavery, as
to hold negroes in their own possession, and who probably
consider, that by this passive act, they perform all the duty
that is required of them in this respect. But what difference
can there be, whether the luxuries with which their tables are
spread, or the tasteful garb that arrays their forms, be the productions
of slaves in the employ of another or themselves?
We beseech all those whom we are addressing, to reason with
themselves calmly upon this subject. Think of slavery as it
exists in other states of the union—think of the domestic
slave-trade, with all its horrors—wives and husbands forcibly
torn asunder—parents parted from their children—friend from
friend, brother from sister,—never again to meet on the earth.
tThese are not circumstances of singular or rare occurrence.
“New Orleans is the complete mart of the domestic slave-
trade, and the Mississippi is becoming a common highway for
this traffic.”
To what scenes of heart-rending misery is not a
clue given by these few words! Shrink not for once from their
contemplation, we conjure you! Let imagination call up before
you the glazed eye of despair—let the fearful shrieks of hearts D6r 47
that are bursting with their insupportable agony, ring in your
ears,—place yourselves for a moment in the situation of these
miserable victims—fancy yourselves, after the delirious wildness
of that separation had past, immured in the suffocating
hold of the ship, gasping in vain for one breath of the pure
air of heaven, with an indistinct weight of misery pressing on
your hot brain, and your hearts crushed and stupified with
their wretchedness, forgetting the language of hope forever!
Oh! would you not entreat to be preserved from such a doom,
with far more earnestness than you would petition for life
itself! And surely, those who are hourly liable to be the victims
of so much suffering, will not plead in vain for your
compassion.

Letters on Slavery.
No. III.

To the Ladies of Baltimore.

Once more, for a few moments, we solicit your attention.
We need not attempt any further to excite your compassion for
the slave, nor horror for the system which is the source of his
calamities. If a knowledge of the sufferings of the one, and
the iniquity of the other, has not been sufficient to awaken
these feelings, and your own benevolent natures have failed to
prompt your ready sympathy, we can have but little hope of
arousing the dormant principle. But we think not that your
heart-pulses beat so languid a response to the voice of misery;
we know that there are at least some among you, who have
long felt upon this subject, as it best becomes them to feel—
who look with anxiety and regret on the broad cloud that flings
its deep shadow over their country—and reflect with pain and
humiliation on the degradation which she still continues to heap
upon so many of her children. We would converse with
you, then, on the means that may be most efficient in alleviating
their condition, and most successful in loosening the fetters of
their bondage; and in what measure your own power may be
instrumental in effecting this purpose. Shrink not back under
a conviction of your own weakness—remember that though
your exertions may be apparently insufficient to tear one link D6v 48
from the shackles of human slavery, your influence, like a reviving
leaven, will be silently diffusing a corresponding feeling
over the minds of others, and thus, to speak in the figurative
language of the Indian, clearing away the briars that now obstruct
the path of Emancipation. Let an association be formed
among you, having for its object the support of the free system
and the diffusion of your principles. Union will give you
activity and strength—it will enable you to devise and carry
into effect plans, which you would find it otherwise impossible
to execute; and while it imparts authority to the sentiments
you inculcate, will give a wider extent to the sphere of your
usefulness. In other states of the Union, the voice of woman
has been already heard pleading that the bruised reed, Ethiopia,
may not be utterly broken; that the wounds that have been
inflicted upon her heart may be bound up, and the tears of suffering
may be wiped away from her eyes. And will not you,
also, stretch forth the ready hand of assistance, and strive to
lift up from the earth, the mourning brow of the trodden and
oppressed one? Can you be insensible to the bliss of shedding
light over the soul that was in darkness, or of pouring the oil
of gladness over the heads of them that were despised and
afflicted? No: it is impossible that you should be thus dull
to the pleasures of benevolence—the warm gush of your feelings
may have flowed in hidden places, but its well-spring is
not the less deep for its hitherto silent course. Let that fountain
now shed its refreshing streams over the parched ground of this
wilderness, and the blessing of the Holy One may cause it to
become a fruitful land.

One thing further we would forcibly impress upon your
minds—do not delay the commencement of this good work
until a more convenient season. Procrastination is highly prejudicial
both to yourselves and the objects of your mercy; and
you know not how long the power of usefulness may be granted
you. Consult, therefore, immediately with each other, and
you know not how long the power of usefulness may be granted
you. Consult, therefore, immediately with each other, and
with your own hearts, upon the duties that may be allotted
you to perform, in removing from your land a system that
is so crowded with shame and sinfulness as that of African
Slavery.

E1r 49

Excuses.

It is difficult sometimes to restrain a smile, even when we
cannot feel otherwise than grieved, at the readiness with which
people will find arguments to persuade themselves that they
have no manner of concern in slavery, or part to act in its extinction.

Is the necessity of opposing it impressed upon them, they
will object, that their own daily participation in its fruits renders
them unfit labourers in the soil of emancipation. This
might be supposed to be favourable, as it leads immediately to
a discussion of the advantage of encouraging free labour, and
the wished-for point is already looked upon as half gained.
But this is far from succeeding as a natural consequence. A
long array of arguments respecting its inconvenience, uselessness,
&c. are set forth in formidable order, concluding with
alleging the utter impossibility of refraining in all instances
from the produce of slavery, or of articles that proceed either
directly or indirectly from that source. This is acknowledged,
but not without still pleading for even a partial patronization
of the free system, just so far as may not be very inconvenient;
and this is answered with the opinion, that unless they
could put away from them entirely, every thing of this nature,
they do not consider it worth while in any instance to attempt
doing so. Shall we hint to such reasoners, the parable of the
“widow’s mite,” or shall we attempt to refute their arguments?
To do this, we should scarcely suppose that any thing further
was necessary, than to remind them of the dangerous tendency
of such principles, were we to suffer ourselves to apply them
to our general character and actions. They do not consider
that they are absolved from all moral or religious duties, because
it is difficult to mould themselves into absolute perfection.
They do not think it useless to place any restraint upon their
angry feelings in a moment of provocation, because they may
sometimes be hurried into an impatient expression; nor to
withhold the relief that it is in their power to afford to poverty,
because it is impossible to supply the wants of all to whom it
is a source of suffering. Neither should they refuse to contribute,
with what strength they may, towards breaking the
fetters of the slave, even though they cannot altogether avoid
partaking of the fruit of his extorted labours.

E E1v 50

There is another class, who are waiting apparently for a
particular revelation upon the subject—till the voice of conscience
shall reproach them for their passive tolerance of the
system of slavery, in language too plain, and too painful, to
be mistaken or resisted. But they wait not to be thus driven
to the performance of other duties which are enjoined by reason
and humanity; and why, then, should they wait to be thus
instructed in this? The voice of conscience is at all times audible,
unless we wilfully turn a dull ear to her monitions—but
her thunders are sometimes reversed until it is too late for us to
feel them, except as in punishment for the offences, we vainly
looked for them to prevent.

Female Character.

It has often been remarked, that in sickness there is no hand
like woman’s hand, no heart like woman’s heart; and there is
not. A man’s heart may swell with unutterable sorrow, and
apprehension may rend his mind; yet place him by the sick
couch, and in the shadow rather than the light of the sad lamp
that watches it; let him have to count over the long dull hours
of night, and wait, alone and sleepless, the struggle of the gray
dawn in the chamber of suffering; let him be appointed to this
ministry, even for the sake of the brother of his heart, or the
father of his being, and his grosser nature, even where it is
most perfect, will tire; his eye will close, and his spirit grow
impatient of the dreary task; and though love and anxiety
remain undiminished, his mind will own to itself a creeping in
of irresistible selfishness, which, indeed, he may be ashamed
of, and struggle to reject, but which, despite of his efforts, remains
to characterize his nature, and prove in one instance, at
least, his manly weakness. But see a mother, a sister, or a
wife, in his place. The woman feels no weariness, and owns
no recollection of self. In silence and depth of night she
dwells, not only passively, but so far as the qualified term expresses
our meaning, joyously. Her ear acquires a blind man’s
instinct, as from time to time it catches the slightest stir, or
whisper, or breath of the now more than ever loved one, who
lies under the hand of human affliction. Her step, as in obedience E2r 51
to an impulse or a signal, would not waken an insect;
if she speaks, her accents are a soft echo of natural harmony,
most delicious to the sick man’s ear, conveying all that sound
can convey of pity, comfort, and devotion; and thus, night
after night, she tends him like a creature sent from a higher
world: when all earthly watchfulness has failed, her eye never
winked, her mind never palled, her nature, that at other times is
weakness, now gaining a superhuman strength and magnanimity;
herself forgotten, and her sex alone predominant.

Education of Slaves.

In this age of intellectual advancement, when the cultivation
of the mind is considered an object of primary importance, and
such strenuous efforts are making for a wider diffusion of knowledge
through almost all classes of society, it is strange that
the education of one portion, and that a very extensive one,
should be almost totally forgotten or neglected.

Men will cheerfully tear themselves away from the delights
of home and society, and even peril their lives in order to convey
the words of the gospel into distant climes, and implant in
the bosoms of those who know not Christ, a knowledge of the
divine principles of Christianity. Woman will resign her ornaments,
abridge her pleasures, and exert all her influence for the
same purpose; and yet at the same time, almost at their doors
—nay, in the very bosoms of their families, there are beings
far more ignorant and degraded than those distant ones whom
they are struggling to save.

It may be that the religious tenets of the Hindoo, or the
American Indian, have been formed in error, that
“In the scattering of the leaves of life,His page was written more imperfectly,”
yet who can doubt that, according to their knowledge, many
of them worship the God of their fathers, with all the sincerity
of deep devotedness, and that they possess many noble and
surprising traits of character? But the slave—what knowledge,
—what instruction, religious or moral, can he obtain, but that
which we ourselves see fit to impart to him? And if those to
whose charge he is particularly entrusted, suffer his mind, his E2v 52
very soul, to consume away in the most debasing ignorance,
how will they be prepared to answer the solemn question—
“Why put ye not my money to the exchangers, that at my
coming I might have received mine own with usury?”

Let not his moral character be complained of, nor his intellectual
powers be vilified, until the experiment of his instruction
has been fairly tried. There are many who are perfectly convinced
of the injustice of the system of slavery, and who would
joyfully aid in its abolition, did they not consider its victims,
by their long formed habits and character, totally unfitted for
liberty, and that their enfranchisement would be alike an evil
to themselves, and to their former masters. Here then is a
field in which the influence of woman may effect much. Let
it be her task—the task of those who wish to behold their
country freed from a crime, in which they are perhaps compelled
to participate,—to extend the hand of compassionate
guidance to those unfortunate beings, who are rising up beneath
their care—to instil, with unwearying gentleness, into their
young minds, the sublime truths of the Christian religion, and
impress them firmly with unfaltering principles of morality—
and there can be no doubt but the effects of her benevolence
will be widely visible. Let it not be said that the slave population
can only be kept in subjection while in a state of ignorance.
Will the knowledge that his patient endurance of suffering,
is complacently beheld in heaven, teach the slave to rebel
against his earthly master? or will an undoubting faith in those
promises which tell that his ready forgiveness of injuries will
win for him the privilege to
“Wear his immortality as free,Beside the crystal waters,”
as those who have been his oppressors, dispose him to forfeit
that happiness by fostering a spirit of revenge? It is clear
that it cannot! and it is sincerely hoped that societies among
the ladies of the south, for the education of the youthful slave
population, will, ere long, hold a conspicuous place among
those which have been already formed for the benefit of that
class of our citizens.

E3r 53

Letters to Isabel.
No. I.

We have often spoken, dear Isabel, on the subject of African
slavery, and I know that you will again rally me for recurring
to what you laughingly term my “dark-visaged enthusiasm.”
But I have extracted from you a promise to listen to me patiently,
and no fears of your raillery must deter me from
attempting to inspire you with a portion of the interest which
I feel for the wronged children of Africa.

What would I not give to know that you had entered, heart
and soul, into their cause! It surprises me that you have not
already done so—and the more deeply I reflect on your character,
so in proportion does my astonishment increase.—You
fire at the mention of the wrongs of Greece! The name of
liberty you cherish like a sacred thing. I have seen your
cheek glow and your eye flash with the ardour of your patriotic
feelings—yet you look coldly and calmly on the blot that
so foully dishonours your country’s escutcheon! Strange!—
good too, and pious as you are—gentle and merciful, even to the
meanest worm that crawls in its worthlessness beneath your
tread—with a heart so alive to the impulses of humanity, so
full of tenderness and high romantic feeling, and so steadily
calm in the execution of its duties—and yet on this subject—
one that should long since have stirred every pulse of your
heart, every sympathy of your bosom— so carelessly, so culpably
indifferent!—Think not that I am harsh, dear Isabel: even
you acknowledge that the system of which I speak is a great
evil—you admit that it is sinful to press the iron yoke of oppression
upon the neck of any of God’s creatures: how much
less then upon those whom he hath created in his own image!
and how can you escape the infection of that guilt, unless you
openly lift up your hand in remonstrance against it? It is not
sufficient that you are not an immediate participant in this iniquity.
You are a willing partaker in its advantages, you
share freely in all the luxuries purchased by that deep sin, you
hold out a bribe, as it were, for its perpetration; yet, because
the blood of your brother is not upon your own hand, you
hope to fling from you all its awful responsibility! But when
the voice of that blood, crying out from the ground, riseth up
into the high courts of Heaven, think you, Isabel, that those E2 E3v 54
will be held guiltless, who have stood by and beheld the iron
of his fetters wearing away into his very soul, and yet have
lifted no hand to shield, no voice beseeching mercy for the sufferer?
Oh, believe it not! Do not, I entreat you, soothe
yourself into a fatal calmness with this hope! You may shut
your ear now to the cry of the oppressed; you may persuade
yourself that the sphere of your duty extends not thus far;—
but when the last shadowy film has gathered over your eye,
and your spirit hath passed through the valley of the shadow
of death—when all the deceitful mists you had so industriously
folded about you are suddenly scattered, and every sense is
rendered fearfully acute by the absence of the weakness of
mortality—when every unforgiven sin rises up to your recollection
with a terrible distinctness—when, with all the intensity
of an immortal nature, with a love, to which the warmest
transports of earthly enthusiasm are cold and feeble, you shall
adore the perfection and the excellence of the Holy One—do
you not think that you will then remember, with all the bitterness
of regret, that when the voice of the agony of his people
went forth over the land, you gave it no heed? that when you
saw them smitten wrongfully, bruised and wounded without a
cause, you went carelessly by “on the other side,” nor stopped
to pour over their wounds the healing tears of compassion?

Do not, my friend, drive this subject from your mind, as
one on which it is painful to reflect! If you cannot bear even
a recital of the sufferings of a wronged people, how can they
endure, on and on, hopelessly and forever? You shall hear
from me again, ere long—till then, adieu.

Letters to Isabel.
No. II.

Dear Isabel:—You tell me that you think my language is
too strong. You say that you are no advocate for slavery, but
that existing circumstances would render it extremely “inconvenient”
(that I believe was your term) for you to become an
avowed opponent of it at present; and that while so many, who
are open professors of religion, humanity, and benevolence,
rest undisturbed by the rebukes of conscience; you cannot E4r 55
believe that it is demanded of you, who are so vastly inferior
in all these points, particularly to concern yourself about the
subject—especially as you are convinced that all your sacrifices
would be of no avail.

Methinks that “inconvenience” is a strange term, Isabel, to
associate with an act of duty—for it is as such I would press
it upon your attention:—and the circumstance of this strikingly
momentous subject having been hitherto so long and so strangely
neglected, is the very reason that your exertions are necessary
now; for if apathy and indolence had not long since applied
the same salve to the rebukes of conscience, slavery would ere
this have ceased to exist.

Then the conduct of others can be no excuse for you. If the
path of duty is plain before you, ought you to wait for the
example of others to incline you to enter it? Surely not! you
know, my friend, that we are to be answerable each for ourselves;
we can claim no forgiveness for neglected duties because
others have offended in the same manner. Their education,
their prejudices, may have gathered a mist around their
mental vision, causing them to behold objects totally reversed
from their real situation, as sailors are said sometimes to behold
a distant vessel with its hull apparently elevated in the air,
and its masts resting on the waters; and surely in such a case
you would not join with the ignorant and misinformed, in asserting
that such was its actual situation!

Slavery, my friend, must be either positively right, or positively
wrong. There is no middle point on which it may rest.
It is not a thing to be merely disapproved of—coldly warred
with as a venial offence. It violates all the most essential principles
of the Christian religion. I am not raving, Isabel! I
can appeal to that volume which I have seen wet with your
own repentant tears, for the truth of my assertions! If the
most distinct, the most sublime declarations of the gospel are
to be wholly reversed in their acceptation, then indeed is slavery
innocent, and I may lay down my pen, and congratulate you
that our country is indeed blessed—a shining light to all the
inhabitants of the earth! But do you, can you, for one instant
imagine slavery to be consistent with the holy principles of
Christianity? And if it is not, surely it is at our own peril that
we trifle with our knowledge of its guilt! As to the availingness
of your exertions, it is not for you to judge:—even if they E4v 56
should be apparently unfelt, (which you cannot tell,) still it is
as imperatively your duty to cleanse your hand from injustice.

Do you wait for an express call? till your angry conscience
shall press you down to the dust with its terrible upbraiding?
Alas, my friend, that hour may come too late! If the case
were a doubtful one, then indeed it might be right to wait till
the finger of God had expressly taught you; but when your
person and your heart tell you that you are lending your support
to a system of crime and injustice, can you expect to be
absolutely forced into righteousness? You know that I love
you, dearest Isabel—you cannot doubt that: but even at the
risk of alienating your affection, must I speak thus plainly!—
I entreat, I implore, I conjure you, before you God, to commune
with your own heart upon this subject—and then answer
to your conscience, whether I have not spoken to you the truth!

Letters to Isabel.
No. III.

No, my dear Isabel, it is not sufficient that you silently disapprove
of iniquity—you should openly avow your disapprobation,
that your example may be of benefit to others. You
speak very pathetically, to be sure, of the haunting recollections
of poundcakes and ice-creams doomed so often to be
passed by untasted! and that this may frequently be the case,
I will acknowledge. But what kind of devotion to the cause
of justice and mercy, can that be, which would shrink from
offering a few sacrifices of inclination and luxury upon their
altar? If it were for no other purpose but to give evidence of
your sincerity, you ought willingly to submit to so trifling a
deprivation—for trifling I cannot but consider it, in relation to
the momentous object it is intended to support. But it is not a
mere question of expediency, it is one of positive right or wrong
—and surely, my friend, we have enough of thoughtless, unpremeditated
sins to answer for, without deliberately heaping
up condemnation for ourselves. Even if there were no other
world, dear Isabel, either for ourselves or the unhappy slave,
the hope of ameliorating his temporal condition, would be well
worth every exertion, every sacrifice, you could make. But
when both they and we have to look forward to an eternity E5r 57
think of it, Isabel—an eternity of after life—when we reflect
that there will come a fearful, retributive hour, when we must
answer for “the deeds done in the body”—and think how we
shall meet together then, the oppressor and the victim—the one
to answer for a life devoted to selfish gratification, and the
other mourning over the darkness of his soul—a darkness
which we have either formed or perpetuated—when we think
upon the subject in this light, my friend,—of what overwhelming
importance does it not appear!

Our country has long lain in a state of slumbering lethargy;
as if she had forgotten all the misery and the iniquity she was
fostering within her bosom. But she is now awake, conscious
of the full enormity of the evil, and the guilt—and woe be to
her if she cleanse not her polluted hands! We have not the
excuse of early and long cherished prejudices—or of ignorance
of the fatal effects of the Upas breath of slavery—the proof is
before us—the guilt and the consequences have been thoroughly
made known to us, and at our peril it must be, if we refuse to
listen to the warning voice of admonition!

Letters to Isabel.
No. IV.

With what pleasure do I congratulate you, my beloved
friend, upon the noble resolution you have adopted! I fear not,
now, that you will shrink from, or grow weary of, the sacrifices
that it may impose upon you; or that the temptations of luxury
will overpower your self-denial.—No, dear Isabel! your gentle
spirit will appreciate too well the consciousness of having
done right. Your simple meal will be sweetened with the reflection
that it is at least unpolluted, and though your form may
perhaps be arrayed less daintily, there will be a calm satisfaction
within your bosom, which the amplest gratification of an
idle vanity could never afford. Yet although you have thus
resolved upon taking an open stand in opposition to slavery,
you still accuse me of exaggeration, and unnecessary warmth
when speaking of this subject. But believe me, Isabel, I have
not done so;—nay, I had almost said that it was impossible I
could. What, my friend, can it be exaggeration to say that it E5v 58
is a dark and fearful wickedness to make merchandise of men?
Why, do we not hold up as fit objects of punishment those who
are guilty of purloining the property of their fellows, and those
who would wilfully become dealers therein? Then what terms
of abhorrence can there be sufficiently strong to apply to a
system which causes so many thousands to become robbers, or
the upholders of those who are robbers, of the property of the
immortal God! Is not this trade in human beings carried on
in the very bosom of our own country, tearing husbands from
their wives, parents from their children, and trampling down
all the holy relations of social and domestic life, as if it were
meant by the Eternal that they should be of no avail? And
can it be possible that too much warmth can be used in speaking
upon this subject?

But even looking upon slavery in its mildest form, allowing
the slave to be kindly treated, and well provided for—though
he may not at present be miserable, what warrant has he for
the continuance of these blessings? Death, or pecuniary ruin,
may overtake his master, and the negro be transferred at once
into wretchedness. But how seldom is it that their situations
are thus favourable!

But we will speak more of this anon, dear Isabel. In the
mean time, do not rest satisfied with what you have now done.
Exert yourself in raising up other supporters to the cause of
freedom, and in doing whatever may be in your power to loose
the shackles of the oppressed.

Letters to Isabel.
No. V.

I adverted in my last letter, Isabel, to the situation of the
slaves under the most favourable circumstances—subjected to
the control of a kind master, well fed, comfortably clothed,
and not oveworked—possessed of a comfortable habitation to
shield him from the inclemency of the weather, and provided
for in sickness, or old age, without the exertion of any of his
own energy or forethought. Supposing this to be true of the
whole of the American slaves—which we know it is not—and
allowing the whole of them to be well contented with their E6r 59
situation, still, my friend, we have no right to retain them in
bondage: the claims of justice, though not of humanity, are
violated almost equally as if they were subjected to the greatest
cruelties. And after all, Isabel, if such were the benefits universally
shared among them, what would be the amount of all
these boasted comforts! not actually equal to those enjoyed by
the trusty house-dog! for he is exempted from labour. But is
a mere absence of the harassing cares of life, a sufficiency of
happiness to satisfy the cravings of an immortal nature? Is
the circumstance of refraining from the exercise of unnecessary
cruelties towards those whom we have made our servants
forever, sufficient to atone for their mental darkness? And how
may they drink at the well-spring of life and knowledge, when
we have sealed it for only ourselves? Oh! Isabel, have we
not a fearful account to render for this iniquity?


“Woe for those who trample o’er a mind— A deathless thing!—They know not what they do, Or what they deal with—Man perchance may bind The flower his step hath bruised; or light anew The torch he quenches: or to music wind Again the lyre-string from his touch that flew— But for the soul!—oh! tremble and beware To lay rude hands upon God’s mysteries there!”

The oppression of the body may be endurable, but that of
the spirit is, indeed, death!

You have, doubtless, heard it asserted, that in mental capacity,
the negro is naturally the inferior of the white man; but
I will not insult you by supposing you, for an instant, capable
of giving it credence. It is true that our slaves are not wise,
nor learned, nor possessed of high intellectual superiority; if
they were, more than half our objections to slavery would be
obviated; but to assert that they are by nature incapable of
this, would be adding sin to sin, by attempting to charge the
effects of our own iniquity upon the hands of God! It is true,
that the negroes, who were originally torn away from their
palm-tree homes in Africa, were not possessed of gifted souls,
and highly cultivated intellects; they were, to use our own
often misapplied term, barbarians; but by placing and retaining
them here among us, we have become, in the widest sense of E6v 60
the term, “our brothers’ keepers”—and most assuredly will
their blood be required at our hands. Forgive me, dear Isabel,
if I weary you, for how can I bear that you should reflect
with indifference on a subject that so deeply interests me?

Letters to Isabel.
No. VI.

I wish you were near me, Isabel;—your familiar voice
would come to me soothingly, and I am sick at heart with the
horrors that perpetually unfold themselves as I look upon this
system of wickedness. Did you read the last No. of the
Genius of Universal Emancipation?“Three thousand
wretches immured within the hold of a single ship!”
Have you
never shuddered over a description of the horrors of the Black
Hole
at Calcutta? but what were they, to what must have been
endured by these miserable beings! The thought of them has
haunted me, Isabel! How many of the heart’s best affections
must have been violently wrenched asunder, when they were
dragged away from their happy homes!—you know that home,
be it where it may, has always a strong tie—and then when the
torn fibres of their hearts were all quivering and bleeding with
their agony and indignation, to be buried, suffocated, in that horrible
dungeon, till the hot air that they gaspingly inhaled seemed
like liquid fire to their burning lips and throats that were parched
to a scorching dryness—and they raved and shrieked in their
delirious agony, and tore their flesh that they might once
more moisten their lips, even if it were with their own blood!
Then, in the deep hush of midnight, when the empty sails
swung heavily around the masts, when the glassy waters lay
unheaving in the calm moon-lit sleep, and the smothered cry,
that rose up at intervals from the bosom of that ship, came
fearfully upon the depth of that profound silence—then ever
and anon the sound of a dull, heavy plunge into the still waters,
told again and again, that a human being had found an
unwept grave in their vast abyss.

Yet even this, is not the worst of the horrible images of barbarity
that are thronging about my brain! I took up an old newspaper
yesterday, and—but I cannot tell you, Isabel; you would
cover up your face, and grow deadly sick, ere you had finished F1r 61
half the terrible recital. Is it not strange that man can be
changed into such a monster of cruelty as he sometimes is? Deliberately
sporting with the agony of his fellow-creatures as if he
were indeed a very demon! And this is the work of Slavery!
Can the denunciations that are heaped upon it, be too severe,
my friend? Should any one who bears the name of a woman
and christian, for an instant tolerate such wickedness?—or
should they not fling from them the luxuries that are purchased
by such means, as if they were a deadly poison; and
pledge themselves never to remit their efforts for the extinction
of this curse, till it no longer sheds its blight upon our
country?

Letters to Isabel.
No. VII.

You tell me that you have read and reflected on the subject
of slavery, till you are melancholy and discouraged. You ask
me when the dispositions of men will ever be softened into
humanity—when we may hope that the claims of justice will
be felt to be stronger than those of interest—and how—even
if they were willing to make some atonement to the negro for
his past wrongs—the abolition of slavery might be accomplished?
I will tell you frankly, Isabel, I do not know. I will
acknowledge that there is but too much cause for melancholy,
while reflecting on the situation of our enslaved brethren—yet
do not for this, my friend, suffer yourself to become discouraged
in a good work. We know that liberty is the natural right
of every man, who has not by his crimes rendered it a forfeit
to the laws of his country: we know that our negroes have
been by no just laws deprived of their freedom, and we know
that it is one of the deadliest in the long catalogue of human
crimes, thus to desolate and ruin the hearts and the immortal
souls of men. Surely then, the path we are to pursue is plain
before us; and it becomes us not to suffer ourselves to be disquieted
with vain doubtings. Were there scarce any hope, to
the eye of human reason, that slavery would ever be abolished,
still, I should not consider that we had sufficient cause to remit
our exertions;—the principles of justice are forever the same,
and a knowledge of duty is not with impunity to be trifled F F1v 62
with. Yet we are not without a reasonable hope of the speedy
approach of the hour of emancipation. If those who profess
themselves favourable to that cause, would give it something
beside mere wishes, there can be no doubt but important alterations
in existing circumstances would ere long be the result.
Do you recollect the description in the Lady of the Lake,
of the almost magical effect produced by the approach of the
signal-cross of Roderick Dhu? With such an awakening spirit
should the call of benevolence and justice go forth, gathering
all hearts to their standard! Is it not strange that men will
make such sacrifices, as they frequenly do, only to obtain distinction
in the sight of men, and are so dead to emulation in
deeds for which they might glory in the sight of heaven! The
question of how abolition will be accomplished, must be the
province of other and wiser heads than ours to determine—but
though to the minds of those whose perceptions have become
clouded by the suggestions of prejudice or interest, there may
appear to be darkness, or difficulty, upon the path, yet we know
there is one, whose power can turn the gloom of midnight
into the brightness of noonday!

Letters to Isabel.
No. VIII.

The world, dear Isabel?—I am scarcely better acquainted
with it than yourself. I only know that it contains enough of
injustice and inhumanity to render one heartily sick of it sometimes,
and a sufficiency of beauty and bliss to make it a paradise,
where we might be content to dwell forever, were it not
so defaced and darkened by man’s sinfulness. The cup of
life was given us by the hands of our Maker, pure and bright,
but the ingratitude of man hath drugged it with bitterness.

I wonder not at your sadness, Isabel. You have lived, as
it were, almost in the midst of a vision;—you had heard of
misery and wretchedness, but the words brought with them
rather an unmeaning sound, than a sense of their real import;
—for yourself, a star, a flower, a sunbeam, or a strip of blue
sky in the clouded firmament, were sufficient to bring you
happiness,—and how could you know that other hearts were F2r 63
breaking in silence? But now that you have learned to reflect,
to think of the happiness of others, as well as your own, and
to gaze upon the varied and accumulated forms of misery,
portrayed upon the pages of the world’s volume, and worse
than this—when you witness the selfishness and heartlessness
of your fellow mortals,—I wonder not, dear Isabel, that you
should turn away and weep. But these feelings will gradually
pass away from you, my friend, and though you may still
mourn over the calamities that you cannot alleviate, yet the
consciousness of having done all in your power, will give you
a far deeper happiness than you could have won by stifling
the impulses of compassion amidst the excitement of gaiety
and mirth.

You tell me that you can do little else but weep over the
sufferings of those slaves, whose condition you would almost
give your life to alleviate. And would you rather not give
those tears, than to purchase exemption from the sadness that
occasions them, with an increase of cold-hearted selfishness?
I think you would. If there were no other life to look forward
to, than the few years that are allotted us in this world, we
might, perhaps, be justifiable in seeking to forget both our unhappiness,
and that of others; since forgetfulness would be
the highest bliss that we could hope. But when we regard
this world only “as a school of education for the next,” we
need not grudge the few hours of sadness that compassion may
give to the crimes and miseries of our fellow-beings. Pursue
steadily the course you have begun, my friend, with respect to
slavery—and though it may appear to others, and even to yourself,
that all your exertions are totally unfelt “as the dust of
the balance,”
yet you have a witness in your own soul, Isabel,
that will tell you it is well to pursue the path of duty for its
own sake. Shall we refuse to hearken to the commands of
God, that we should “do justly and love mercy,” until we
have stipulated that a reward for our obedience shall be given
us in the success of our works? Surely it is enough of grace
for us that we are permitted to place our humble offerings at
his footstool! and we should be guilty of insolent presumption,
did we dare to solicit a further recompense. What! may we
stand chaffering and parleying with the Eternal, respecting the
terms on which we will undertake the performance of our
duty? I know that you would shrink from such an idea, F2v 64
Isabel! and yet in fact we do this, when, as with regard to
the case of slavery, we refuse to pursue the dictates of conscience,
because, to the eye of frail mortality, no glorious
results await in guerdon for our successful exertions. Oh, it
becomes us to look narrowly into our own hearts, lest we suffer
ourselves to be beguiled by the wisdom of the serpent, in
the specious arguments wherewith we soothe our consciences,
and to press onward with an undoubting trust in that path,
which has been by the commands of a just God made plain
before us!

Woman.

“Woman’s eye, In hall or cot, wherever be her home, Hath a heart-spell too holy and too high, To be o’erpraised e’en by her worshipper—Poesy.” Halleck.

We sincerely wish that woman would make use of that
heart-spell, which the poet speaks of so enthusiastically—not
to win the transient admiration of a ball-room assembly—not
in adding new admirers to her triumphant list of conquests;
but in advocating the cause of the oppressed, in exciting the
compassion of the proud lords of the creation, for the thousands
of her fellow-creatures, of her own sex, too, doomed to drain
to its very dregs, of the horrors of a cup of bitterness. If she
listens with a dull ear to the beseeching agony of her own sex
—she whose peculiar claim to the fostering of all the kind and
delicate affections of the heart, has long been acceded to—with
what face can she heap the opprobrium of cruelty and tyranny
upon those whose characters, both by nature and education,
are fitted to a sterner mould? Woman—why, she will “weep
over a faded flower”
—because it reminds her of fading hope,
and of the frailness of mortality! and then if a rhymester
happen to come within telescope distance, her “sweet sensibility”
will be trumpeted to the four corners of the Union!
Now we are not of those who would dull one of the finer feel ings
of woman’s bosom—unless they are so very exquisitely F3r 65
fine
, that she can refuse her sympathy and relief to the actual,
overwhelming misery of her fellow mortals—because she cannot
bear to listen to the painful recital!
Then indeed we too
are tempted to exclaim, “Oh la!”

But will she, can she, listen with cold indifference—or perhaps
a momentary shudder—to tales that should almost madden
her with the agonizing swell of her sympathetic feelings
—and turn coldly away and forget them? Can she hear of
one of her own sex being fastened by the neck to a cart, and
in that manner dragged rapidly through the streets—and of
other instances of a similar nature, and yet say that her interference
is uncalled for, and unneeded? Or should we not,
every woman of us, north and south, east and west, rise up
with one accord, and demand for our miserable sisters a restitution
of the rights and privileges of her sex?

Mental Reminiscences.

It is pleasant to look back over the history of our mental
life—to reflect upon its various changes of sentiment and feeling
—to call up to recollection the different acquirements which
have formed, as it were, the several stages of our intellectual
progress. There are probably few persons who have not felt
a gush of exultation, when the opinions or partialities of childhood
have been justified by the approval of their riper years,
or who do not remember with satisfaction the enthusiastic delights
which attended the acquisition of certain ideas. Not
long since, I casually met with a copy of the first book that I
ever to my knowledge was possessed of. I question whether
a volume of Mrs. Hemans or Miss Landon would not have
been thrown by at that moment, for those imperfectly recollected
pages, or whether its stiff pictures and childish rhymes could
have afforded me more gratification, even when my days were
numbered by months instead of years. I can remember, too,
even now, the bewilderment and excitement of feeling, with
which I bent over the pages of the Saracens, and mingled
my very spirit with their romance. The high-wrought sentiments,
the achievements, and the misfortunes, of the heroic
Malek Adel, and the glorious lady Matilda, wrought like a spell F2 F3v 66
over my imagination, till I felt as though I were in the midst
of a new creation. I know not whether the world may have
given its voice of praise to these volumes, or whether they do
actually possess any superior degree of interest, for I have
never since examined them—but I gave myself up unresistingly
to their fascination. It was like being ushered into the midst
of a new creation—and I paused not to inquire whether it was
one of imagination or reality. The recollection of what I had
read, followed me to my pillow, and in my dreams; and when
the Sabbath morning interposed betwixt me and the still unfinished
history, I stole away to the drawer where it was deposited,
to gaze upon the cover of the leaves which I dared not open.
I have since wondered that I did resist the temptation of doing
so—it was an instance of juvenile self-control, that might shame
many of the weaker resolutions of my after years. Thus freshly,
and so hoarded up as treasures, do the memories of infancy
come back upon the heart in after years, yet then, when the
world itself seems but little more than a visionary creation of
romance, we look forward to the coming hours of life, as those
which are the storehouses of life’s richest pleasures;—and this,
in despite of all that is said of the unshadowed bliss of our infant
days, is principally true; for however we may profess to
envy the happiness of childhood, there are but few who would
willingly return to it again.

Selfishness.

This has been said to be the predominant feeling of all hearts,
mingling with the best and noblest traits of character, and the
main-spring of all our virtues. We love our country and our
friends, it is asserted, because they are ours;—our fellow-beings,
because they have been created after the same image;
and we are generous and humane, for the reason that the reverse
would be painful to ourselves. Thus all the noblest
qualities of the heart may be traced to the impulses of one narrow
feeling, and the broad philanthropy of a Howard, becomes
but a species of refined selfishness.

But however true it may be, that the practice of the generous
virtues is productive of happiness to ourselves, in a proportion F4r 67
equal to that which it may be the means of bestowing
upon others, yet the feelings which invite their possessors
to such a course of action are very different from the sordid
egotism to which we are accustomed to apply the name of
selfishness.

That this principle does frequently influence our conduct to
a degree of which we are ourselves conscious, must be admitted;
but it is extremely wrong to suffer our exertions in behalf of
our fellow-creatures, to be limited in their extent, by this feeling.
But we cannot do this, without openly violating our express
duties. We were not intended to live solely for ourselves, even
if it were possible for all our hopes and wishes to be thus concentred;
nor can we serve one Divine Master as we ought,
while we are regardless of the happiness of one human being;
and to know of the existence of misery, should even be sufficient
to call forth our instant exertions for its relief. It is not
the least among the blessings with which we have been favoured
by a kind of Providence, that we should have so strong an incentive
to good deeds in the knowledge that they bring to our feelings.
The gifts of God are a double blessing, because they
are not only the source of happiness to ourselves, but impart
to us the higher privilege of bestowing it upon others.

But it must not be supposed that the offered boon is one which
we are permitted to receive or decline, at pleasure. When we
neglect to employ the means with which we have been thus favoured,
even though it should amount to no more than the possession
of “one talent,” we become unworthy of the goodness
of our Creator, and deserve to be deprived of that which we
have as a just reward, for the selfishness with which we have
suffered our hearts to be corroded. Is it not well then, when
we sum up the blessings by which we are ourselves surrounded,
to enquire of our hearts how much we have done to alleviate
the distresses and calamities of others? Nay, even though we
ourselves are miserable, cannot we contribute something to
lessen the unhappiness of others? Undoubtedly we may, and
ought, to the utmost of our power, do so. When we, therefore,
take a survey of the world as it exists around us, and examine
the various forms of wretchedness that we behold, what F4v 68
do we find most forcibly to claim the interference of our benevolent
energies? Is there not one word, one name, that concentrates
in itself all our ideas of degradation and misery? and
that name men have given to the being whom they have made
the lowest and vilest in the scale of human existence. That
word is slavery—that being is the slave! Some calamities
with which the human race are afflicted, appear to be the particular
visitation of God; but this has its origin wholly in the
wickedness of man. To the extirpation of this great evil, should
be given the prayers and the sympathy of every heart—the
aid of every hand. We are not to confine our views only to
alleviating the temporal condition of the slave; his moral and
intellectual elevation is an object of tenfold more importance,
but his emancipation must be first accomplished, for till then,
these cannot be effectually secured. The possibility of the subject
being one which can excite no interest in our bosoms,
should not be allowed to have the least weight in determining
our conduct. We are not to consider whether our exertions in
behalf of suffering humanity will be productive of gratification
to our own selfish feelings, but whether we shall not disobey
the reiterated commands of God by withholding them.

Associations.

We said something, a short time since, upon the propriety
and usefulness of forming Societies for the diffusion of knowledge
relative to slavery, and we have again resumed the subject
for the purpose of more fully expressing our sentiments.
Of the advantages resulting from associations in support of
any object, we need to say but little, for they are of themselves
sufficiently obvious; and there can be no doubt but that their
influence exerted in the manner mentioned, would be highly
beneficial to the cause of Emancipation. The abolition of
slavery can only be effected by the powerful voice of public
sentiment. To awaken and to give a right direction to this
sentiment, can certainly, then, be an object of no secondary
importance, and we think no better means can be made use of,
for the attainment of that end, than the extension of such
knowledge as may induce those, who are now indifferent, to F5r 69
reflect on the enormities that are combined in this system of
slavery.

There are many among us who are alike ignorant and careless
of the guilt and the wretchedness, which they are thoughtlessly
or unconsciously assisting to support. These should be
aroused from their torpid insensibility; they should be reminded
that their boasted banner of freedom waves over thousands
of degraded slaves—that while they bear the name, and profess
the principles, of Christians, they are openly nourishing injustice
—that the stain of blood-guiltiness and oppression is upon
their land, and that each of them is in some degree responsible
for her crimes, unless they lift up their voice against them.

We know that there are many among our own sex, who
are sincerely averse to slavery, and who deeply commiserate
the condition of those who are suffering beneath its oppression;
—why then will they not decisively attempt something
for the relief of its victims? Are these ladies impressed
with the belief that their utmost exertions would be unavailing?
We can only entreat them at least to make a trial of them;
and if they do fail, it will not be without the satisfaction of
knowing that they have done what they could, to promote the
welfare of their fellow-creatures, and that though in the sight of
men their efforts may have been wasted, there is One eye that
has looked upon them approvingly. But much the greater degree
of probability is on the side of their success—gradual it
may be,—perhaps almost imperceptible in its immediate effects,
but not the less productive of certain benefit. The moral feeling
of our country requires renovation. She is hard of heart
and tyrannical, while she fancies herself humane and generous.
With one hand she displays to the nations of the earth
her ensigns of liberty and justice, with the other she presses
the brow of humanity to the dust. To instil juster sentiments
into the minds of those who are to be the future guardians of
her welfare, her statesmen and her counsellors, should be the
task of woman. But to effect this, her own feelings must be
warmly and generally interested in the cause of emancipation:
there must be a unison of purpose and sentiment, which cannot
be attained but by means of associations. Opposition to
slavery can be rendered popular and general by no other method;
and whether they are intended for the support of free
labour, or for the circulation of such sentiments as may give a F5v 70
right tone to public opinion on the subject of slavery, or, what
is still better, for the furtherance of both these designs, they
are calculated to be of essential service to the cause they advocate.
They give the supporters of that cause an opportunity
of numbering their friends—they are an evidence that the
opinions expressed are not merely the effervescence of excited
feeling in scattered individuals, and that the members of them
are willing to labour for the extermination of the evil of which
they disapprove; while many, with whom the impulses of
what they may, perhaps, consider a doubtful duty, would be
too weak a spring to invite them to action, might be led by the
interest, which is excited by mutual emulation and similarity
of feeling, to become steady and conscientious opposers of
slavery.

Review of Mrs. Hemans’ Poetry.

It is not our purpose to enter into an examination of the
general literary character of the lady above mentioned. Her
poetry has been too widely diffused, and the beauty of her sentiments
too generally acknowledged, even by those who do not
rank among her professed admirers, to render such a discussion
necessary. She has been said to divide the palm of poetic
merit with Miss Landon; but while we would detract nothing
from the excellence of the younger rival, we believe there are
few who do not turn with pleasure from the noonday brightness
of her page—the scorching breath of woman’s blighted
heart, and the dazzling splendour of chivalric tournament, to
the gentle pensiveness of the moonlight genius of Hemans.
Her name, amid those of the sister votaries of the muse, is like
the star Lyræ amid the constellation from which it derives its
name—amid the bright, brightest.

We confess the remarks do not so well apply to the volume
which we intend particularly to notice at present, as to some
of her other productions. Yet, from its title, the Records of
Women
should have been one of the best among them; for in
what should female genius be supposed capable of excelling,
if not in dwelling proudly on the exalted merits of her own
sex, or extracting from their heart’s chords all their hidden
melody, to pour in a flood of inspiration over her page? It is F6r 71
true, there are many beautiful passages scattered throughout
the volume—as we intend presently to show—but they are frequently
weakened by repetition, and by the ideas being too
much diffused. Arabella Stewart, the first and longest piece
in the volume, together with the above faults, contains some
extremely fine passages. Mrs. H.Hemans, after a short narrative of
the history of the heroine, says the poem is “meant as some
record of her fate, and the imagined fluctuation of her thoughts
and feelings”
during her imprisonment and separation from
her husband.—It is supposed to commence while she is yet “Fostering for his sakeA quenchless hope of happiness to be;And, feeling still, her woman spirit strongIn the deep faith that lifts from earthly wrongA heavenward glare,”
and before a fruitless effort to escape had quenched the bright
lamp of reason. The following lines pourtray very finely the
buoyant spirit of youthful hope, and the rich, deep feelings of
womanly affection:— “I bear, I strive, I bow not to the dust,That I may bring thee back no faded form,No bosom chill’d and blighted—And thou art, too, in bonds! yet droop thou not,Oh, my beloved! there is one hopeless lot,and that not ours.” “If thou wert goneTo the grave’s bosom with thy radiant brow,If thy deep, thrilling voice, with that low toneOf earnest tenderness, which even nowSeems floating through my soul, were music takenForever from this world—Oh! thus forsaken,Could I bear on?”
Again, after measures had been secretly taken for her escaping
and rejoining Seymour—her husband—she exclaims— “We shall meet soon—to think of such an hour!Will not my heart, o’erburden’d with its bliss,Faint and give way beneath me, as a flowerBorne down and perishing by noontide’s kiss!”

F6v 72

The simile which ends the verse, we think uncommonly
beautiful. She succeeded in making her escape, but was unfortunately
discovered, and conducted back into captivity.
The ensuing passage is finely expressive of the total blight of
her heart after this event: “Oh, never in the worthOf its pure cause, let sorrowing love on earthTrust fondly—never more!—the hope is crush’dThat lit my life, the voices within me hush’d,That spoke sweet oracles—and I returnTo lay my youth as in a burial urn,Where sunshine may not find it.”

The above passages we think some of the most beautiful in
the book:—and they are beautiful. There are others, perhaps,
equally so, and some that are vastly inferior—but with these
we will have nothing to do. We wish to extract only such as
may be read again and again without weariness:—but the
volume which can produce such passages is certainly worth a
perusal throughout, even if a considerable portion of its contents
does fall below their standard. Passing over several
shorter pieces, we come to Properzia Rossi. This poem is
more spiritual throughout, and is not so long as the first mentioned.
It is in many parts equally beautiful, though of a different
character. The heroine—a sculptor—is supposed to
be engaged on her last work, a statue of Ariadne: “The bright work growsBeneath my hand, unfolding, as a rose,Leaf after leaf to beauty; line by line,I fix my thought, heart, soul, to burn, to shineThrough the pale marble’s veins—it grows, and nowI give my own life’s history to thy brow,Forsaken Ariadne! thou shalt wearMy form, my lineaments; but oh, more fair!Touch’d into lovelier being by the glowWhich in me dwells, as by the summer’s lightAll things are glorified.”
After describing the blight in her heart, she adds— “Yet the world will seeLittle of this, my parting work, in thee—G1r73Thou shalt have fame! Oh, mockery! give the reedFrom storms a shelter—give the drooping vineSomething round which its tendrils may entwine—Give the parch’d flower a rain-drop—and the meedOf love’s kind words to woman! Worthless fame,That in his bosom wins not for my nameThe abiding place it ask’d! Yet how my heartIn its own fairy-land of song and artOnce beat for praise!” “But I goUnder the silent wings of peace to dwell,From the slow wasting, from the lonely pain,The inward burning of the words, ‘in vain,’Sear’d on the heart, I go.”

We have no room for further extracts or remarks at present,
and we conclude with advising every lady, who has not already
done so, to procure and read Mrs. Hemans’ poems throughout.

The Funeral.

I waked from my first slumber in Pennsdale, on a bright
Sabbath morning—or, in the phraseology of my uncle’s family,
First-day—and after breakfast, prepared for a three or four
miles’ ride to meeting. The usual distance was this day to be
somewhat lengthened, in order to attend a funeral—that of an
aged man, one of the patriarchs of Pennsdale. I had long
known him by name, for he had been throughout the course of
a long life the most intimate friend of my grandfather; and it
was not without a feeling of saddened interest, that I listened,
as we rode slowly up the lane towards the house, to a short
account of his life and character from the lips of my uncle.—
He concluded with saying—“Yet though few men have been
more generally regarded with a feeling of affectionate veneration,
his death will not be very bitterly lamented. It was not
one of those which afflict the heart of the survivor alike with
grief and terror; he had outlived most of the friends of his
youth, and had long been like a ripened sheaf waiting for the
harvester.”

In a few moments, I was standing by the coffin. The face G G1v 74
before me was deeply furrowed with the lines of age, but the
expression it still wore was so calm, so peaceful, so full of benevolence,
that I felt I could have dearly loved him; and the
tears almost started to my eyes at the thought that he could
not now bestow on me one look of kindness.

His son, a man considerably advanced in years, was seated
by the head of the coffin. His face was sorrowful, but calm
and perfectly resigned. The grand-children of the deceased
were seated near him, but though the tears fell fast and almost
unconsciously from many of their eyes, they were rather the
tears of tenderness than of deep affliction;—called forth by
the memory of all the happy hours they had spent by his
side, or seated on his knee, and the thought of all his gentle
words of admonition and affection.

The coffin was at length closed, and placed in the simple
hearse, and the procession moved forward. The meeting-house
of Pennsdale was situated in a still, secluded spot, and was
completely embowered by large forest trees, while the ground
on all sides rose from it in a gentle slope, seeming almost to
shut it out from the world, and from all sights save the azure
of the heavens and the universal green of the earth. It was
an old stone building, and very small, and as plainly constructed
as possible. Behind it was the grave-yard;—enclosed by
low stone walls, and shaded all round by immense elms, though
none were suffered to intrude within its limits. I was scarcely
ever more surprised than on entering it. The Quaker burial
places in general—I have been in many of them—present
nothing but an undulated surface of verdure. But here every
grave had its memorial—rose bushes planted at the head and
foot, entwining their branches and scattering their perfume,
and their luxuriant branches over the remains of the beloved
ones—sometimes half hiding from view a simple tablet of wood
or marble. The sweet-briar and wild honeysuckle almost
covered the walls, filling the air with their fragrance—while
the song of the woodland bird and the ceaseless hum of the
honey-bee went up for hymn and requiem.

We gathered round the open grave, and there was a deep
silence—silence in the heart as well as in the outward world.
Most of those who were assembled there, remembered well the
face that was now to be seen of them no more; and while
their thoughts wandered over the scenes of his past life, they G2r 75
could not fail to return to their bosoms strengthened and purified.
A few solemn words were spoken, and then that form
was shut from them on earth forever.

We retired into the meeting-house.—There was one seat
left vacant—one that had seldom been so, even amid summer’s
heat or winter’s storms, for upwards of thirty years past.
The time of worship passed over in silence, but the faces of
those about me became gradually lightened, and when it was
concluded, the usual friendly greetings were interchanged and
kindly words spoken, by voices that were indeed more serious
than their accustomed tone, but from hearts that were peaceful
and happy.

Domestic Economy.

As the increased expense, incurred by making use of the
productions of free labour, is often among the reasons assigned
for neglect of that method of opposition to Slavery, it may
perhaps be well to examine how far such an objection is entitled
to consideration. For our own part, we do not think it
should be allowed the least weight in determining our conduct.
We do not conceive that it is any more excusable to make use
of slave-wrought articles, on account of their cheapness, than
we have to indulge in whatever else may please our fancy, at
the expense of the unpaid creditor. Yet, as a close attention
to household economy is certainly the duty of every female,
let us enquire if it is not possible to indulge their feelings of
humanity, and satisfy the claims of justice, without extending
the limits they have prescribed for their expenses. The difference
in the price of the articles, though trifling, may still,
when the income of a family is barely sufficient to cover its
expenses, deserve to be taken into account. But if the expressed
philanthropy is sincere, if there is really a wish felt to lift
the yoke from the neck of our enslaved countrymen, in every
case, short of actual poverty, might the change from slave to
free produce be made without adding one item to the expenditure,
or even in the least encroaching on the aggregate of
comfort. It is but to forego some paltry gratification, to resign
some trifle in which the vanity only is concerned, (and who
has not such offerings to make,) and a fund is at once provided, G2v 76
sufficient for the purpose. Is it not better to eat coarse food,
unspoiled by rapine and injustice? Is it not better to wear a
plain garb, than to be pranked out in delicate or fashionable
array, which has been won by oppression? Surely it is! and
if the importance of the subject was more frequently and carefully
examined, we believe there are many who would be not
unwilling to give such a proof of their devotion to the cause of
emancipation.

Inconsistency.

Almost three centuries since, at a time when Europe was
just emerging from the mental darkness which had been long
spread over it, the unprincipled Pope Leo X., little scrupulous
as he was with regard to the means of acquiring wealth, declared
“that not only the christian religion, but that nature
herself, cried out against a state of slavery.”
Elizabeth of
England
, though she shrank not from the commission of a
crime which will forever cast a stigma upon her character—
the execution of the unfortunate Queen of Scots—in expressing
her opinion of the guilt of violently separating men from their
homes and families, and forcing them into a state of bondage,
gave it as her sentiment, that “it would be detestable, and
would call down the vengeance of heaven upon the undertakers.”

Such were the opinions entertained with regard to slavery,
at the commencement of this horrible traffic, which has since
poured out such an ocean of innocent blood. Opinions expressed
too, at a time when its heart-sickening cruelty was rather
to be inferred from its nature, than absolutely demonstrated by
previous example;—though, even then, its horrible inhumanity
was sufficiently apparent—and expressed, too, by those who
were not, as princes have seldom been, remarkable for an enthusiastic
devotion to the principles of justice. Yet now, when
the light of reason and knowledge has been shed, in no stinted
increase, over the earth, slavery not only has her strenuous
advocates among men of refinement and intelligence, but still
exists, uncensured and sanctioned by the laws of a nation
which professes a close observance of the rules of christianity
and moral justice, and which claims no second place among G3r 77
the free, the liberal, and the enlightened of the earth. The
foreign Slave-trade has, it is true, been abolished—has been
declared piracy. But our country still clings to the guilt, of
which, in the face of the world, she has, by that act, openly
avowed her conviction; and the domestic traffic in human
flesh, is still unforbidden. The dark shadow of the slave vessel
yet lies upon our bright rivers, and the long shriek of hearts
in their mortal agony, rises on the ear, as the brutal driver
hurries before him his brother herd, and the dearest natural ties
are parted forever.

Strange inconsistency! that we should foster at home, what
we denounce as deadly iniquity abroad! As if the American
air, hostile to every finer feeling, had deadened all kindly emotions,
as well in the bosom of the slave as of his tyrant, and
their ties of home, of kindred, and of friends, were no longer
worthy a regardful thought. True, the ravage of fertile plains,
the glare of burning villages, and the horrors attendant upon
the “middle passage,” are no longer sanctioned. But what then?
are we to consider the evil abolished, because an attempt has
been made to confine it to our own door? Do fetters cease to
gall when they are worn beneath an American sun; or does a
breaking heart agonize less when its cords are, one by one,
torn away, that it must more slowly sink to death, than when
a fierce grasp has severed them at once, and it bursts with its
first throb of unendurable anguish?

Oh, if we would but teach ourselves to reflect! If we would
think on all the hearts that so bleed and die beneath the torn
fibres of affection—on all the misery that is daily endured—
on all the guilt that is incurred—if we would picture to ourselves
the infant, wrenched shrieking from the clinging arms
of its mother—the wretched wife, torn away in her frantic grief,
from the last embrace of her purchased husband—brethren and
sisters, who grew up under one roof, scattered asunder, like
withered leaves beneath the autumn tempest, and knowing each
other’s place upon the earth no more forever. Surely, we
would “lay our mouths in the dust, in shame and sorrow, for
the heartless indifference we have so long manifested for the
sufferings of the oppressed.”

G2 G3v 78

The Enfranchisement.

It was a pretty-looking cottage—with its roof half covered
with the boughs of a great tree, and vines creeping up about
the doors and windows. The garden, with its gay flowers,
tempting berries, and fine vegetables, was almost without a
weed; while the paling that surrounded both that and the grass-
plot, in front of the house, fairly glistened with its fresh covering
of white-wash.

The old woman was seated in a large arm-chair, just outside
of the door. Her countenance was one of the finest I
have ever seen. She had probably past seventy summers, but
her brow yet remained as dark as the still brilliant eye over
which it was arched. The lines of age were distinctly, but not
deeply traced upon her cheek and forehead; and her mouth
and chin, though wearing them much more visibly than her
other features, retained their characteristic marks of firmness
and dignity. Her whole face was beaming with mingled benevolence,
gratitude, and devotion. By her side was sitting a
little dark-faced urchin of some half dozen years—and grouped
round them, either seated on the grass, or on a long bench beneath
the tree, several other descendants of Africa, whose happy
faces, glowing with intelligence and feeling, spoke nothing
of that consciousness of abasement and degradation, which is
so often written upon the countenances of their race.

Shall I tell you the history of that group? It is a tale of
female generosity, and negro gratitude.

That woman—she in the elbow-chair, with the open bible
upon her knee—was a native, and till within these few years
a resident, of Kentucky. Her husband was an owner of slaves
—her father had been—and in her youth she thought but little
of the sinfulness of laying unrighteous hands upon the property
of God. But when the gentle creatures that called her
“mother,” gathered about her with their loving eyes, and she
listened to their soft voices in the evening twilight, she felt how
wretched would be her lot, if it were in the power of man’s
hand to tear them from her arms forever; and she thought of
them, and commiserated the condition of the miserable slave.
At first it was compassion only that led her to sympathise with G4r 79
their unhappy fate; but the conviction soon came to her heart,
that slavery was unjustifiable wickedness in the sight of the
Almighty. She entreated her husband, almost with the earnestness
of one beseeching for her own life, to liberate their slaves.
He refused—and she wept secretly and in silence—but by every
means in her power she strove with tireless perseverance to
alleviate the bitterness of their lot. She was their instructor,
their friend, their benefactress, moving about among them more
like a parent than a mistress, preserving their respect by the
quiet dignity of her manner, and winning their enthusiastic
gratitude and love, by her kindness and affection.

When her husband died, they were distributed among their
children, who had all married, and left the paternal roof. Again
she renewed her solicitations for the freedom of those objects
of her care—and again she was repulsed—ay, even by her
own children was her prayer refused to be granted. She did
not stoop to remonstrance, but her resolution was taken—and
great as was the sacrifice, she accomplished the holy purpose of
her heart. She purchased those slaves, from the oldest to the
youngest—she accompanied them here, to Ohio, where she
might bestow on them the blessing of liberty—she expended
almost her last cent in the performance of her high deed of
justice; and they flung themselves at her feet in an overwhelming
burst of gratitude—disenthralled—enfranchised!

And they have never forgotten her kindness. She owes all
the comforts with which she is surrounded, to their unwearying
industry: to labour for her, to serve her, and to obey her lightest
word, is alike their pride and their happiness—and on this
evening they are all met together at her cottage, to celebrate
the anniversary of their emancipation.

“Is it a true story?”

Why—recollect ’t is summer twilight, and there is the moon,
just rising over the tree-tops; so a little embellishment may be
pardonable. But the circumstance of that widow having thus
purchased and manumitted those slaves, and the story of their
gratefully labouring for her support—is really the truth.

G4v 80

Conversation.

Among the methods employed by the female friends of
emancipation, to benefit the unhappy slave, and extend to other
bosoms the sympathy for his situation, which they themselves
feel, must not be overlooked the useful and very obvious one,
of frequent conversation on that subject. Those who are
already interested will, by pursuing this course among themselves,
find their feelings still more deeply engaged in the
cause of freedom, their purposes strengthened, and their minds
excited to more sedulous perseverance; while an allusion to
the subject, in the presence of others, may open the door to an
instructive discourse, awaken the dormant sensibilities, and
perhaps arouse into action those who have never before had
their attention directed to the subject. Opportunities for this
are rarely wanting in society, and a few words so uttered may
perhaps leave an abiding impression on a mind previously unoccupied
by prejudices, and prepare it to receive, with attention,
any future information relative to the system. Let not any be
discouraged from adverting to this topic by the belief that they
shall fail to interest their hearers; it is better to risk the mortification
of being listened to with repulsive coldness, than to fail
of using every proper exertion, in a cause where so much is
needful in order to ensure success. Besides, where there is
least expectation of securing attention, the attempt to do so is
sometimes rewarded by a more than ordinary display of it;—
or, if productive of no immediate effect, the words may be
like bread, which, being “cast upon the waters, shall be found
after many days.”
If those who are now most deeply interested
for our slave population endeavour to trace those feelings of
interest to their spring, they will, probably, in many instances,
find that they have their rise from quite as trifling a source as
a casual conversation. Cowper’s beautiful poem, The
Negro’s complaint,
was distributed all over England under
the title of A subject for Conversation at the Tea-table; and
was supposed to be productive of so much good effect that
Clarkson has thought it worthy of notice in his History of
the Abolition.
An abstinence from slave produce, if of no
other service, would be valuable on account of its frequently
giving rise to such conversations, and we hope that the few
advocates of that system, will suffer no suitable opportunity
for representing its advantages to pass unimproved.

G5r 81

Star-light.

“They are all up—the innumerable stars!”

There is something inexpressibly solemn in the silence of a
starry moonlight. The splendour of the moon is beautiful, but
it has less of high magnificence, less of the upliftedness of
thought, with which we gaze on those immeasurably distant
constellations. The moonless sky has nothing of that surpassing
loveliness that presses with a tangible weight of pleasure
upon the heart; but there is more unearthliness in the high
imaginations that gather around the spirit, when the dark blue
concave is bended over the raised brow, and written all over
with a visible sermon of light, teaching the heart a holy lesson
with its unapproachable purity.

The wearying toil of the day has given way to a deep repose,
and the very slave hath sunk into a short-lived slumber.
Alas, alas, bright watchers! that ye should look down in your
pure light upon a world of so much sinfulness. That ye should
behold man fettered by his brother, and the heart of woman
crushed by those who should seek to shelter it from the blasts
of all sorrow. Woe for man’s cruelty! that hath made so
many anguished hearts to keep ward with you, and send up
the beseeching cry of wretchedness, instead of the deep hymn
of adoration, beneath your beams!

Prejudice.

When we consider the strength of early impressions, and
the readiness with which even our own more matured minds
receive a bias from trifling circumstances, the necessity will
easily be perceived of using the utmost watchfulness, in order
to guard the minds of the young from the influence of erroneous
impressions. Upon the friends of the negro we would particularly
impress the duty of extreme wariness, in order to preserve
those under their care from the contagion of the prevailing prejudices
against that unhappy race. Suffer not those who are rising
into life to enter its arena, as too many of ourselves have done,
with their feelings warped by early misrepresentations, and G5v 82
their ideas of a dark skin inseparably connected with unworthiness
of character. There are few females who have not, in
some way or other, a degree of influence over the mind of childhood.
Let them exert that influence for the benefit of their
negro brethren. Let them carefully search out, and endeavour
to eradicate from the minds of their young friends or relatives,
any feelings of dislike or contempt, that may have been acquired
from derogatory opinions of the coloured race, which
have been expressed in their presence; and thus fit them, in
after-life, to be the friends and advocates of the cause of the
slave.

We do not say, that the vices of the negro should be glossed
over, and his faults concealed or palliated, in order to effect
this. But it is surely most unjust, because many of them have
been hitherto degraded beings, to insinuate the idea into the
mind of the child, that all are, and must ever remain so. If
he is told that they are ignorant and debased, let the inducing
causes of their situation be pointed out to him;—let him see
the difficulties they have to contend with; and let him be told,
that some among them have nobly succeeded in conquering all
the opposing force of untoward circumstances, and rising into
high respectability. He will them form a true estimate of their
respective situations. He will see that the negroes have not
risen to a higher grade in society because their efforts to do so
have been continually baffled and discountenanced, by the contempt
and unrelenting prejudices of the whites; and instead
of despising them for what they are, he will endeavour to elevate
their character, and to infuse a higher tone of moral feeling
into their minds, by inspiring them with self-respect, and
teaching them that they may, by exertion, reach a station in
life worth contending for.

Obedience.

Ought it not to be a source of shame to us, when we reflect
upon the unhesitating enthusiasm with which many of the votaries
of a heathen faith enter into the performance of what
they deem their religious duties, that our own obedience to the
commands ofour Eternal Lawgiver should be so tardily rendered, G6r 83
so measured according to the rules of a calculating convenience?

The pilgrim, who worships at the shrine of Mecca, has dared
the perils of the desert, and the deadly breath of the poisonous
simoom, that he may pour his prayer on what he deems the
holiest spot of the earth’s regions;—the wretch who lies mangled
and writhing in tortures beneath the car of Juggernaut,
voluntarily tore himself away from all the twining affections
of the heart, in the hope that he might win an abode in heaven
as the recompense of his self-immolation;—the mother who
lays her only infant in his bark of flowers, upon the bosom of
the sacred Ganges, as a pure and stainless offering to her God,
is sustained in the hour of that terrible sacrifice by a wild devotedness
of religion, that, erring as it may be, gives proof, at
least, of sincerity and singleness of heart. But we—whose
religion requires of us only our own happiness—whose heaven
is to be won, not by devoting ourselves to wretchedness on
earth, but by obedience to laws, which, like Him from whom
they emanate, are full of mercy and universal love—we, with a
strange perverseness, dash away from us the cup of our bliss,
and refuse submission!

We profess to be a Christian people—to kindle the devotion
of our hearts at the altars of the unchangeable Jehovah; yet
our actions turn his holiest precepts into mockery. He hath
bidden us to love our brethren; but we have made them miserable
slaves—degraded them into chattels—brutes—to be tasked
and sold at our pleasure. He hath charged us to return good
for evil; but we heap up injuries upon those who have done us
no evil. The Hindoo offers himself a willing sacrifice; but
we crush the hearts of thousands of our brethren beneath the
car of a demon far more horrible than the eastern idol. The
“voice of our brother’s blood crieth out against us from the
ground”
—and shall we dare to hope that we shall be held
guiltless concerning it? Shall we soothe ourselves with the
belief, that our iniquity will never be met by retributive
justice?

G6v 84

Spring Flowers.

“The wise Read nature like the manuscript of Heaven, And call the flowers its poetry.”

I love the fair and beautiful blossoms that are scattered so
abundantly in the spring season over the field, and by the quiet
edges of the wood, or when their sunny petals tremble to the
pleasant murmuring of the streams, that go by like merchantmen
trafficking their melody for gales of odour. I would not
gather the first flowers that lift up their delicate heads to meet
me in my spring path;—it seems to me, almost as if they
were gifted with a feeling, and a perception of the loveliness
of nature, and I cannot carelessly pluck them from their frail
stems and throw them aside to their early withering—’t is like
defacing the pages of a favourite book of poetry, round which
the spirit of the bard seems hovering still in a preserving
watchfulness.

Beautiful flowers! they are the “jewelry” of spring, and
bravely do they decorate her laughing brow, gladdening all
hearts with her exceeding loveliness. But no! there are some
hearts for whom her voice has no cadences of joy, her beauty
no power to hasten the lagging pulses. How can the glorious
spring speak rejoicingly to those over whose degraded brows
the free gales seem to breathe revilings, instead of peacefulness
and high thoughts, and for whose ears the gush of melody
seems only to syllable one reproachful name? Gladness and
beauty are not for the sympathies of the wretched, and far better
than the brightness of the vernal sunshine does the dreariness
of winter harmonize with the desolate spirit of the slave.

Oh, that the warm breathings of universal love might drive
out from the bosoms of men, the cold unfeeling winter of indifference,
with which they have so long regarded the sufferings
of their oppressed brethren! that the beautiful blossoms
of Christian compassion and holy benevolence, springing up in
their hearts, might shed over them the fragrance of the memory
of good deeds! Then should the benediction of those that
were ready to perish, come upon them like the blessing of “the H1r 85
early and the latter rain,”
and the grateful tears of the forlorn
ones rest on them as a fertilizing dew, clothing them with happiness
like a thick mantle of summer verdure.

The Dying Slave.

“I was in the right mood for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination.”

He lay on a straw couch, with his face half turned towards
the sinking sun. The skin was drawn tightly over his forehead,
as though it was parched and shrunken by extreme age; but
the restless and uneasy wanderings of his eye told that he still
claimed some companionship with earthly feelings.

He was a slave, and for more than an hundred years he had
gone forth to the daily toil of a bondman. It was said that in
the “father-land,” from which he had been torn by unprincipled
violence, he had been a prince among his people. In the
first days of his slavery, he had been fierce and ungovernable,
nor could his haughty spirit ever be tamed into subjection until
it had been subdued by gratitude. The father of his present
master had, in his childhood, by interfering to save him from
punishment, received on his own body the blows intended for
the slave; and from that moment he became to his youthful
master a devoted servant. The child had grown up to
manhood, flourished throughout his term of years, and faded
away into the grave, but still the aged Afric lingered upon the
earth; and it was for the son of that man that he now waited,
and, to use his own expression, “held back his breath,” until
he should behold him.

At length the light of the low cabin door was darkened, as
the master stooped his tall form to enter the dwelling of his
slave. “I have come,” said he, as he approached: “what would
you with me?”

The negro raised himself up with a sudden energy, and
stretched out his withered hand. “Have I not borne you in my
arms in your helpless infancy,”
said he, “and should I not
now once more behold you before I die? Heed me, master!
ere yon sun shall set, the last breath will have passed my lips H H1v 86
—its beams are fast growing more aslant and yellower—tell
me, before I die, if have II have not served you faithfully?”

“You have!”

“I have been honest and true—I have never spoken to you
a falsehood—I have never deserved the lash?”

“To my knowledge, never!” said his master.

“Then there is but one more boon that I would crave of
you:—I am going home,—to revisit the scenes of my youth—
to mingle with the spirits of my friends! Suffer me not to return
to them a slave! My fathers were proud chieftains among
their native wilds—they sought out the lion in the midst of his
secret recesses—they subdued the strength of the savage
tiger—they were conquerors in battle—they never bowed to
man—they would spurn a bondman from their halls! Oh tell
me
,”
exclaimed he, seizing his master’s hand in the rising excitement
of his feelings,—“oh, tell me, while I may yet hear
the sound, that I am once more free!”

“Your wish is granted,” said his master, “you are a
freeman.”

“A freeman!” repeated the negro, slowly sinking back upon
his couch, and clasping his hands above his head with all his
remaining energy—“write it for me, master!”

The gentleman tore a leaf from his pocket-book, and pencilling
a hasty certificate of his freedom, handed it to the slave.
The old man lifted up his head once more, as he received it,
and the last ray of sunlight streamed across his countenance,
as with a strange smile he gazed upon the paper; then falling
suddenly back, he once more repeated the name of freedom,
and expired.

Doing as Others Do.

We would not willingly ascribe to selfishness or callous feeling,
the general reluctance, which so evidently prevails, to
engage in an active and practical opposition to slavery. With
some, the fear of ridicule may operate—the dread of being
supposed to assume a superior sanctity;—or a diffidence of appearing
to adopt a higher standard of moral purity, than those
whom they have been accustomed to look up to with respect
and veneration. But we believe the principal reason why so
little is done, may be found in the disposition of individuals to H2r 87
be guided by the opinion and example of others who are unconcerned
upon the subject, rather than to give it a close and
thoughtful examination themselves, and follow up the decision
of judgment with active support. “My parents, or my husband,
or my friends, do not see the necessity of restricting themselves
to free labour produce,”
serves as a satisfactory excuse to many,
who would willingly follow a contrary example. Yet would
it not be well for these to consider how far they are justifiable
in excusing themselves with such a plea. They cannot look
into the hearts of others—they do not know whether the
subject has been placed before the minds of their friends in its
proper light, or how far it has been resisted as an unwelcome
intruder. Neither can they tell how far their own example
does, or might, affect the actions of those to whom they themselves
look for instruction. But in pursuing the course which
humanity dictates, they cannot be mistaken. The slave is before
them, helpless, fettered, and miserable. Their sister, woman,
amidst her bonds and her degradation, calls upon them
for mercy and succour; she is faint and sick with her burden
of toil and wretchedness; and will they refuse to listen
to the voice of her sad tears? Instead of calling on their friends
to fly with them at once to the relief of the sufferer, mingling
their tears with hers, soothing her sorrows and cheering her
heart once more with the light of hope, will they engage in a
heartless consultation, whether their duty requires of them to
yield her their assistance, and which of them shall first go forward
to offer her relief? Alas! let them remember, that while
they delay, her wounds are still bleeding, her aching brow is
burning with insupportable anguish, and that the long deferred
aid may perhaps come too late!

Slave Luxuries.

I believe it is Addison who declared, in one of his essays,
that the sight of a luxuriously spread table, always exhibited
to his imagination, the sight of innumerable diseases lying in
ambush among the dishes. An idea, somewhat similar to this,
has arisen in my mind with respect to an entertainment imbued
with the spirit of the slave-cultivated cane. I have fancied
that the death-sigh of some unfortunate victim of oppression H2v 88
might yet be trembling on the bosom of a jelly, and the rich
flavour of a conserve conceal the briny tears that have mingled
with the saccharine crystals that enter into its composition. A
pound-cake seems like the sepulchre of the broken heart with
which it may, perhaps, have been purchased, and the delicious
ice to wear the red tinge of human blood. If those who unscrupulously
partake of these delicacies, had beheld the horrors
by which they are too often purchased, if they could witness,
gathered up before them, all the agony endured by their fellow-
creatures, only that the gratification of their palates might be
ministered to, I believe there are few females who would retain
any desire to taste of the blood-polluted banquet. Yet why
should the sight of blood be needed, when they know it has
been shed, to awaken their sleeping sensibilities? Under other
circumstances they would shudder to be told that the morsel
upon their lips, or the garments upon their forms, had been
torn by rapine and murder from the hands of their rightful
possessors; and who can assure them that the price of the
very article now before them, has not been the life of a fellow-
creature? The whole system of slavery is replete with barbarity,
and there are numerous instances of the o’erwearied slave
having perished with exhaustion amidst his toil, or died beneath
the tortures of the mercilessly inflicted lash;—and how can it
be said that the object for which such cruelties are perpetrated,
is free from the stain of blood?

Slaveholding.

“Oh, execrable son! so to aspire Above his brethren; to himself assuming Authority usurped, from God not given; He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; but man o’er man He made not lord; such title to himself Reserving, human left from human free.” Milton.

When slaveholding is abolished we may aspire to the character
of a civilized nation; until that era we may expect to
be characterized by posterity as a race of savages. Cruelty H3r 89
and oppression are yet unexpunged vestiges of heathen barbarism.
The spirit of Christianity and philosophic refinement,
are both directly and unalterably opposed to them; and before
these they must eventually disappear, leaving future ages to reflect
with astonishment on their long protracted existence. Were
it not for the strange obliquity of our moral eyesight, occasioned
by prejudice and long familiar custom, we should regard
with becoming horror and repugnance the savagely unnatural
practice of enslaving our fellow-creatures, and making merchandize
of human flesh. To one whose feelings have not
been rendered obtuse by long acquaintance with the system of
slavery, the bare imagination of a slave-market would be productive
of feelings of utter abhorrence. To place before the
mind’s eye a view of Christian men gathered together for the
purpose of chaffering about the purchase of their brethren, disputing
for their possession, and meting out the price of human
limbs in paltry pieces of coin:—to behold the miserable objects
of their scandalous traffic—terrified and heart-stricken mothers,
whose frighted infants cling shrieking about them for protection
—youthful females shrinking painfully from the exposure
of their situation, and goaded forward by the rude lash and
brutal oath into public notice—husbands and fathers awaiting
in sullen anguish the decision which is to them the parting
knell from all they love—and aged men that have, perhaps,
worn out their lives in toil for those who are now about to
transfer them, for a paltry pittance, to a stranger’s service—
who that has the feelings of a human being would not be filled
with mingled emotions of grief and shame and detestation at
such a scene! Yet these are only the outlines of the picture,
the less obvious touches of the reality are crowded with much
that is still more harrowing to the feelings; the appealing look,
the convulsive sigh, the disregarded prayer—these we have
not attempted to pourtray:—nor aught of the varied circumstances
of peculiar and individual wretchedness that are of perpetual
recurrence.

How can it be believed that the authors of so much misery
are professors of the religion of the meek and merciful Jesus!
that gentle, compassionate Woman can lend her sanction to
such a system, and join the oppressor in the gains of his dark
iniquity. It is a bitter thing to feel that this is the truth—to H2 H3v 90
know that such scenes are of daily occurrence in our country;
and still more painful to witness the indifference with which
they are regarded by so large a portion of the community.

Time.

“‘Time is the warp of life,’ he said, ‘oh tell The young, the gay, the fair, to weave it well.’”

“He has lived long, who has lived well,” was the impressive
sentiment we lately read on a tombstone in a country burial
place. It was twilight: a few moments earlier, the merry
voices of “the playful children just let loose” from the school-
house, that stood a few paces distant, had thrilled in the clear
evening air over the cold gray memorials of death, but the
place was now deserted and silent, except the hum of the wind
through the branches of the scattered cedars. It was a time
for serious thought; and as we stood in that place of graves,
we gave ourselves up to the reflections it was so well calculated
to excite. There lay the head of infancy, and the weary
brow of the “ancient of days”—the arm of manly strength,
and the flowing tresses of beauty—the pastor, amid his silent
but inattentive congregation, not as heretofore uttering the
monitions of the Christian law, but with a lip despoiled of all its
eloquence.

There were none among the tombstones whose inscription
arrested our attention more forcibly than the one above mentioned;
—it told so much of the value of our passing moments—
of the rich treasure of a few hours that have been crowded with
good deeds. Who would not rather die in early youth, with
their parting moments brightened by the consciousness of
having been useful to their fellow-creatures, than to fritter
away the years of a Methusaleh in vanity and nothingness?
And yet how many of the hours of life are thus wasted! How
many of the bitter tears of misery, which might so easily be
wiped away, if each one were less devoted to a selfish pursuit
after happiness, are suffered to flow on, uncared for, and unregarded!
The influence of Woman, in determining the amount
of human felicity, is, perhaps, even more powerful than that H4r 91
of her brethren. They must go out, and endure the rudest
buffetings of the world, in nerving their minds to a stern pursuit
of their various purposes; but she, in the sheltered bower
of her domestic retirement, has leisure to analyse the strange
workings of the human heart, and to instil into it high principles
of virtue. It should never satisfy her to be a merely brilliant
and fascinating being. Her own gratification should ever be
to a woman only a secondary consideration; and though her
lot may thus be one of endurance and self-denial, she will
learn that the endeavour to secure happiness for others, will
impart it also to her own bosom. Let her look abroad upon
the immensity of suffering that is poured upon the hearts of
her fellow-creatures from the vial of slavery; let her behold
her unoffending sisters, with a bleeding heart, and too often
with lacerated limbs, driven out to their daily labour—the
parent torn from the embraces of the child, the wife from her
husband, the sister from the brother: let her think how many
of life’s severest trials she would endure—sickness, abject
poverty, nay, even death itself, rather than such a separation,
and resolve, at once, however long her efforts may seem to be
exerted unavailingly, in endeavouring to relax the unyielding
hand of oppression, never for one instant to remit them, till
her own heart is cold in death, or injustice has ceased to
triumph.

Sunset.

“Stroke away the curls from your face, Eleanor, that I
may see your eyes; and tell me what you have been thinking
of for the last half hour.”

“I have been watching the sunset, sister; since the broad
western sky was spread out like a sea of glory, fringing every
island cloud that lay upon its surface with a shore of gold, till
now that it has faded into a pure, transparent yellowness, and
seems to spring up like a transparent arch of amber to meet
the blue vault above. Do you see yonder mountain-tops which
are just visible, like a bank of clouds, at the edge of the horizon?
—I have been thinking, sis, how that clear ocean of ether,
with the floating isles of vapour that lie upon its surface, resembles
our present life;—for you see that, beautiful as it is,
it has no abiding place;—while yonder, shadowy indeed, and H4v 92
dimly seen, yet still sufficiently discernible to give us full assurance
of their reality, are stretched out beyond it the perpetual
shores of eternity.”

“And do you really deem yonder beautiful and waveless
sky a fit emblem of our present existence?”

“And is not life beautiful, sister,—with its wealth of outpouring
affections, its perpetual gathering up of new thoughts,
and feelings, and attainments, its hours of high-wrought reflection,
its thousand links upon the heart, and more than all,
its moments of silent holiness, when we may partake of the bliss
of angels in the privilege of loving and worshipping, like them,
our Eternal Father? It may have, ’t is true, its hours of
chastening, but from His hand shall we not endure its bitterness
patiently?

“)It is not from His hand that we are visited with the bitterest
of our afflictions; it is man’s guilt and inhumanity that have
so marred the fair picture of life, and drugged its bright cup
with poison. Cruelty and oppression and selfishness shed a
dark blight upon our glorious world, and pollute our altars with
hypocrisy and unholiness. Man is the slave of man; the
neck of woman bowed down to the yoke of injustice, the most
sacred ties of the human heart are rent asunder at the command
of a tyrant; and yet we go on from day to day, absorbed
in our own pursuits, and ‘lay none of these things to
heart.’”

The Map.

Ay, it is the map of Africa—there is the seat of ancient
Carthage—there is Egypt—there is the spot from whence
arose the bright day-star of science—the birth-place of intellectual
glory, where the human mind first arose in its strength,
and arrayed itself with knowledge, as the garment of a conqueror.
They may talk of Rome, the “Niobe of Nations,”
sitting in voiceless woe amidst the melancholy ruins of her
former grandeur; but what is her fate to that of Africa? hapless,
unpitied Africa! “weeping for her children, and refusing
to be comforted, because they are not”
—because they have
been torn from her with ruthless violence, that they might be
immolated on the altars of the unrighteous mammon!

H5r 93

When the hearth-stones of Ramah were drenched in blood,
and soft, laughing eyes looked up in innocent confidence
through the golden curls that clustered over their brows, at the
stern hands that were lifted for slaughter—then Africa received
in her arms, and sheltered in her bosom, the Christian’s infant
Saviour from the destroying wrath of Herod—and the Christian
hath requited her by making her children a prey to unholy
avarice and cruelty—by plunging her amidst calamity and
bloodshed, and carrying desolation throughout her borders!

Sources of Influence.

“If we look around not only on the external, but on the moral and
mental distinctions among mankind, and consider the ignorance, the miseries
and the vices of others as a ground for our more abundant gratitude;
what sort of feeling will be excited in certain persons by a sight and
sense of those miseries, those vices, and that ignorance, of which their
own influence, or example, or neglect, has been the cause?”

Hannah More.

There is no power so widely diffused, or of which we are
so little able to compute the final extent, as that of Influence.
As a spark, originating in the most humble source, or falling
at first unnoticed or disregarded, is capable, as it kindles and
spreads, of producing a vast and uncontrollable conflagration;
—so may a seemingly obscure individual, give the first impulse
to a sentiment, that, like the rushing flame, shall bear down in
its course the whole broad fabric of some long enduring error.
Such instances, it may be said, are exceedingly rare;—and we
grant it. But though it would be preposterous for every individual
to expect to influence the opinions of a world, there are
few, indeed, whose sphere is so contracted, and whose character
of so little weight, as not to hold some ascendancy, either for
good or for evil, over the minds and habits of others, and
through them over another and wider circle, producing effects
of which, they, who gave the first impetus to the sentiment
are totally unconscious. Let not any then attempt to palliate
or excuse an error of which they are conscious, by the idle and
dangerous plea, that they harm no one but themselves. They H5v 94
do not—they cannot know this—and it is most probably as
false with regard to others, as it is injurious to themselves.—
It is scarcely more those who fill a high and conspicuous station
among men—the great, the wise and the talented—who exert
a controlling force over general character, than undistinguished
woman in her quiet retirement. And if through perilous and
culpable indolence, or wilful carelessness, she neglects the duty
and the power assigned her, suffering them to lie dormant, to
be exerted only as chance may direct, or employed for selfish
or unworthy purposes, “will it not be sin—sin of no light
grade or venial character.”

Oh let her seriously reflect upon this,—let her consider that
what appears but a venial fault in her own conduct, may be
the source of crime and misery to others; and surely she will
look warily to her way, lest, in her errors, those whom she
best loves may be led astray also.

The Slave Trader.

“A christian broker in the trade of blood— He buys, he sells, he steals, he kills for gold.”

There is no character which, to our view, presents such a
mass of total and unmingled depravity as that of the slave trader;
—the habitual and mercenary dealer in the bones and sinews
of his fellow-beings. All the qualities that we most hate,
and that are usually divided in single portions through a whole
community, seem in him alone to have met in an undivided
band. The fierce bandit exhibits in his reckless career a spirit
of determined daring, not unfrequently mingled with flashes of
wayward generosity; and even the skulking midnight assassin
needs a species of dogged courage to support him in his dangerous
course of guilt. But the sanctioned pirate of the law,
the licensed pedlar in blood and agony, stands secure and protected
in his hazardless villany, and employs the safer art of
transmuting into gold, the life-drops of those who can seek no H6r 95
redress, who can offer no defence against his cruelty. We
detest the avaricious wretch who can wring the last cent from
the hand of sickness and poverty, and chuckle as he adds to
his heaped-up store, the narrow pittance of the widow and the
orphan. Yet when he dragged down into poverty and distress,
those whom he might have made blessed and happy, he left
them at least the privilege of enduring and suffering together.
If he tore away the last paltry coin from his starving debtor,
he did not, at least, lacerate his back with stripes in answer to
his appeals for mercy. But the slave-dealer—he demanded
the payment of no debt—he tore away no gold from the hand
of his victim. It was the heart which he made his prey—and
rifled it of all love, all hope, all the brightness of life. When
the wretched father of a family knelt before him, beseeching
mercy and compassion, he did not coldly bid them go labour
for their support, but he wrenched them away from him forever.
When the agonized mother wept before him, and he cast
her prayer to the idle winds, it was not to petition that he
would leave wherewith to provide bread for her children, but
that he would leave her only one, of all her infants, upon
which to pour out the affections of her bereaved bosom. And
what is the passion that urges him on in his career of inhumanity
and crime? Avarice! mean, heartless, soul-destroying
avarice! The same thirst of gold that roots every finer feeling
from the bosom of the grasping miser—that steels the heart of
the felon murderer—and prompts the abandoned “wrecker” to
secure his spoil by plunging the knife into the heart of the
shipwrecked mariner.

Tea-table Talk.
Helen and Maria.

“Dear me, Helen, I cannot conceive why you think that
taking a lump of sugar in your tea, or eating a piece of cake,
or a preserve, can do any harm to the slaves. And when you
are in company it must be so disagreeable, and look so singular,
to decline eating almost every thing that is offered you!
I think you must almost starve sometimes!”

“I have never yet been driven to such an extremity,” answered H6v 96
her friend, smiling; “but I will acknowledge that it is
certainly very disagreeable to be obliged so frequently to disappoint
the kindness of my friends; neither is it at all pleasant
to appear singular in one’s notions, which however is not now
greatly to be feared, since abstinence from slave articles has
become lately quite common. But even if that was not the
case, my reasons are, I believe, sufficiently strong to render
singularity in this respect entirely proper, and to enable me to
bear the imputation of it patiently.”

“But you have eaten of such things all your life, till lately,
and never thought it wrong; and all the rest of your family
make use of them, so that, begging your pardon, cousin Helen,
I cannot think it otherwise than very silly for you to make
such a fuss about it now.”

“In telling me that I have made use of slave produce
through the whole of my life until lately, you have mentioned
an excellent reason, my dear Maria, why I should patiently
and cheerfully endure any privations that an abstinence from
it may impose upon me now. But because I have done wrong
ignorantly, or because those whom I most love have not the
same views with myself in that respect, shall I continue to sin
against my conscience?”

“I suppose you should not, if the use of slave produce
really were wrong, or could be done without altogether;—but
other people do not think it wrong, and why should you be
more particular?”

“Shall I tell you why I think it wrong, Maria?”

“Oh! now, you want to tell me some horrid story about the
treatment of the slaves. I do not know how you can bear to
think and talk about such things.”

“How, then, dear Maria, can you wonder that I should refuse
to assist in creating them. It is indeed very painful to
think upon the vast amount of suffering produced by slavery
but not half so painful, cousin, as to assist in producing it. Do
not imagine that I think I deserve credit for my abstinence from
slave luxuries, or what I suppose you would call necessary
articles. I claim none—to partake of them would be to me
far the greater punishment. There are times when I almost
shudder at the thought, and when I feel as if I could almost
as easily endure the taste of human blood, as of the sweetness I1r 97
of the slave-grown cane! It is wonderful to me how any female,
who has even a partial knowledge of the horrors of
slavery, can be willing to support such a system, or can receive
the least enjoyment from the indulgence in comforts and luxuries
which are purchased by the sacrifice of so many lives.
We shudder to think of the immolation of human beings by
savage nations, at the altars of their gods; but when our own
gratification is in question, we become careless of the poured-
out blood of thousands!”

“Now you are severe, Helen! Do you think I would continue
to use slave produce, especially when I could avoid doing
so by any means, if I thought all I made use of would occasion
the loss of life to any human being?”

“Yet you must acknowledge, Maria, for I believe you are
aware of the fact, that, even excluding those who have sunk
under the pressure of long continued toil and hardships, the
number of the miserable beings who have been deprived of
their lives by actual violence is immense. And the cause of
slavery, and all its attendant ills, can only be found in the profits
of its extorted labour.”

“But, cousin, all the slave produce I should use in the whole
course of my life would make no difference in the number of
slaves. Abstinence would only punish myself, without any
benefit to those you compassionate.”

“The articles you make use of cannot be produced without
some time and labour, be the quantity what it may. Allowing
the labour of a slave for six or twelve years to produce all the
various slave-grown products which you may use during the
course of your life, would not he who was so occupied be in
effect your slave, during the time he was thus employed? Do
you not receive as much benefit from his oppression as the individual
who is his nominal owner, but in fact, for that length
of time, only your agent? Nor will the circumstances of this
portion of labour, being divided among many persons, create
any difference. You must excuse me for considering that for
the time that is necessary to produce the articles you consume,
you are a slave-holder; or that you are doing worse, by paying
another for the commission of a crime which you would not
dare to commit yourself!”

“You speak very plainly, Helen; but I will not be offended, I I1v 98
for I know you feel strongly—nay, I will even acknowledge
that I have taken my last cup of tea without sugar, and that
it was not so very disagreeable. But I will talk no more upon
the subject now, only to say that if I was fairly convinced
you were right, I believe I would give up the use at least of
slave sugar.”

Maternal Influence.

“The immense force of first impressions is on the side of the mother.
In the moral field she is a privileged labourer. Ere the dews of morning
begin to exhale, she is there. She breaks up a soil which the root of error
and the thorns of prejudice have not pre-occupied. She plants germs
whose fruit is for eternity.”

Mrs. Sigourney.

Is there one among our maternal readers who will not pause
upon the above impressive lines, to reflect, for a moment,
on the awful responsibility of her station? Will not the name
of Africa—poor injured Africa—rise to her thoughts, and
her heart swell, and her eyes moisten with the high resolve
that she, at least, will never lead the young beings who are
sporting by her side to become instruments in the work of
oppression? Will she not remember that the fate of thousands
may, perhaps, be measurably committed to her hand—
that she may bring the rosy lip, now running over with
the fulness of its innocent mirth, to pledge holy vows at
the altar of Emancipation, and that all its eloquence shall be
poured out in the defence of the oppressed—or that her tuition
may prepare another auxiliary for the ranks of the powerful
oppressor. Let her not think it a matter of indifference, that
they should now, in their thoughtless infancy, be the innocent
upholders of a system which in after life they ought to abhor.
A misplaced indulgence now may make the beauties of life
of higher consequence to them than the rights and tears of
thousands;—the gratification of your own loving vanity in
their attire may render of no avail the lessons of a life-time.
Do not say it would be folly to impose such restrictions upon
children. Nothing can be folly which teaches them the noble
virtue of self-denial in a righteous cause. Teach them early
to pity the poor slave. Let their sacrifices be made voluntarily: I2r 99
as they will be, if the reason and feelings have been trained
properly; and they will not be felt as such. Surely, children
cannot be too early taught that their own pleasures should
never infringe upon the rights of another. It is a lesson that
must be commenced with the first awakening of reason to be
inculcated efficiently, and when ye look upon them in the
purity of their early years, let not their forms be arrayed in a
garb that may well be to you a dark omen of the sin that will
fling its evil mantle over their coming hours.

Importunity.

It appears to be considered no small grievance by some of
our gentle sisters, that the subject of slavery should so frequently
be forced before their attention by the friends of Emancipation.
They complain that it is but little short of persecution
or slavery in itself, to be so frequently obliged to endure remonstrances
on their inactivity, to be so perpetually called upon
for their aid and sympathy, or so often reminded of what, they
are told, is their duty.

To us, this extreme sensitiveness seems not to belong to consciences
so wholly untouched by the subject as they would be
willing to appear. Persons are not usually disturbed at the
approach of what is totally indifferent to them. We should
rather suppose that their irritations proceeded, perhaps truly
unconsciously, from a fear that such troublesome interference
might dissipate the slumbers, which they have been at some
pains to force upon a sense of duties which it might be troublesome
to perform. Yet, if they were really as indifferent as
they would persuade themselves they have a right to be, that
would not be a sufficient reason why the voice of remonstrance
should be silenced. Were it a subject that concerned only the
personal gratification of the pleaders, then indeed their friends
might justly complain if they were wearied with importunity.
But this is not the case. Opposition to slavery is not a theme to
be taken up merely in compliance with a prevailing fashion, or
an individual taste or inclination. It is a question which concerns
the vital interests of millions of human beings—of thousands
—of hundreds of thousands of our own sex; and those I2v 100
of us who feel that the influence of woman must and will be
felt in its discussion, have a right to demand that it should be
examined patiently. What! are we to behold our fellow-creatures
suffering and oppressed—must we see, as it were, tears of
blood wrung out, drop by drop, from the crushed hearts of our
sisters, and yet stifle the indignant agony of our own bosoms,
and fear to lift up our voices in their behalf, because you have
grown weary of the harrowing tale of their anguish? Shall
we smother the convictions of conscience, and silence the
promptings of humanity, rather than intrude a disagreeable
theme upon your ear? And turning to the helpless beings
whose cause our God and our religion command us to plead
as earnestly as if it were our own, shall we tell them, as the
dim eye is lifted towards us in passionate supplication, that we
are conscious our united efforts would release them from their
soul-destroying bonds, but that you are wearied of the subject,
and we like not to press it upon your attention! Would you
not condemn, as a heartless wretch, the individual who could
act thus by one single sufferer? How much less then may we
so betray the cause of thousands! “Strike me,” said the
Athenian orator, “if you will but hear me!” and shall we desist
to press upon your attention a subject of far greater
moment than any merely political one that was ever agitated,
because you have grown impatient of the often repeated topic?
No! we must still again and again present it before you. We
must not cease to assail you with our importunity till weariness
is changed into interested and active compassion. If your
hearts turn sickening away from the thought of so much
wretchedness, reflect, then, that no exertions, no sacrifices of
yours can be too great, that have for their object the alleviation
of the lot of those who are actually groaning under its endurance.
Even though you may not be certain of success, it
is worth while, at least, to endeavour to do good; and should
your efforts fall short of their desired end, you will be amply
rewarded for them in the satisfaction of having done what you
could, and in the consciousness that your brothers’ blood will
never lie with a burning weight upon your souls.

I3r 101

Reasons for Flogging the Slaves.

To those whose humane feelings have not been utterly debased,
the afflictions of suffering nature, when the heart is
bereaved of the dearest objects of its affection, appeal with an
irresistible claim for compassion and sympathy. Who will not
say that the heart must be dead to even the most common feelings
of humanity, ere it can witness without some softening,
the grief of an affectionate child for the loss of a beloved parent?
Who would not shudder to make the sorrows of a
bereaved wife the object of ridicule, still less to convert the natural
exhibition of her woe into an offence demanding the
infliction of a barbarous punishment? What mother, bending
over the cold and pale brow of her beautiful and loved, would
not feel it an inhuman cruelty to be denied the privilege of pouring
out her grief in tears and lamentations? And how still
more barbarous would such a restriction seem to her, if instead
of resigning her darling in his unspotted innocence into the
arms of God, he had been wrested from her by the hand of
violence, and forced far and forever from her sheltering arms,
to struggle alone beneath all the bitterness of life, and die at
last on the bosom of ignominy? Yet such is the lot of the
slave. Not only are all the dearest and strongest ties of her
heart wantonly rent asunder, but the gushing forth of the natural
feelings of her affection and tenderness, are arrested with
cruel punishment. It is criminal in a slave to sink, heart-
broken, under oppression. The possession of the best and
holiest feelings with which the merciful God has enriched the
human heart, is assigned as a reason why they must be ranked
with the stubborn brutes, and, even more unmercifully than
they, lacerated with the horse-whip! A female writer, on the
subject of slavery in the West Indies, says, that a naval officer,
who had been in the East Indies, was trying to prove to her,
“that the negroes must be flogged;” and his proof was this:
“that when they lose a father, or mother, or perhaps a lover,
they sulk, (that is, they are broken-hearted,) and then nothing
will do but flogging them
, and flogging them severely.”

Nor is it only in the West India Islands, that the lash is thus
used to silence the affecting bursts of filial or maternal sorrow.
The forms of a million females in our own country, may be
made to bleed and writhe beneath the barbarous thong. A I2 I3v 102
million female hearts may be lacerated, at the will of tyrant
man, by being wrenched from the objects of their fondest love.
Oh, how can their happier sisters lie down and rise up with the
knowedge of these things upon their souls, and strive not to
release them from the grasp of such a thraldom!

The Parting.

It has been well and beautifully said that there is no medicine
for a wounded heart, like the sweet influences of Nature.
The broad, still, beautiful expansion of a summer landscape—
the stealing in of the sunlight by glimpses among the trees—
the unexpected meeting with a favourite blossom, half hidden
among the luxuriant verdure—the sudden starting of a wild
bird, almost from beneath your feet—the play of light and
shade upon the surface of the gliding brook, and the ceaseless,
glad, musical ripple of its waters—the gushing melody poured
from a thousand throats, or the rapid and solitary warble, breaking
out suddenly on the stillness, and withdrawn again almost
as soon as heard—the soft, hymn-like murmur of the honey-
bees—and above all, the majesty of the blue, clear, bending
sky!—from all these steals forth a spirit of calm enjoyment,
that mingles silently with the darker thoughts of the heart, and
removes their bitterness. “If thou art worn and hard beset,With sorrows that thou wouldst forget—If thou wouldst read a lesson that will keepThe heart from fainting, and the soul from sleep,Go to the woods and hills!—no tearsDim the sweet look that Nature wears.”

Yet there are moods of the soul, that even the ministering
tenderness of Nature cannot brighten. There are sorrows
which she cannot soothe, and, too often, alas! darker passions,
which all her sweet and balmy influences cannot hush into
tranquility. When the human heart is foul with avarice, and
the unblest impulses of tyranny, the eloquence of her meek
beauty is breathed in vain. The most sublime and lovely
scenes of nature have been made the theatre of wrong and
violence; and the stony heart of the oppressor, though surrounded I4r 103
by the broad evidences of omnipotent love, has persisted,
unrelenting, in the selfishness of its own device.

There was all the gloriousness of summer beauty round the
little bay, in whose sleeping waters rested a small vessel, almost
freighted for her departure. A few human beings, only, were
to be added to her cargo, and as her spiry masts caught the first
rays of the beaming sunlight, the frequent hoarse and brief
command, and the ready response of the seamen, told that they
were about to weight anchor and depart. Among those who
approached the shore, was a household group, a mother and
her babes, the price of whose limbs lay heaped in the coffers
of one who called himself a Christian, and who were now
about to be torn from the husband and the father forever. It
was a Christian land; and, perchance, if the bustle of the departing
vessel had not drowned its murmur, the voice of praise
and prayer to the merciful and just God, might have been
dimly heard floating off upon the still waters. But there was
no one to save those unhappy beings from the grasp of unrighteous
tyranny. The husband had been upon the beach since
day-break, pacing the sands with a troubled step, or lying in
moody anguish by the water’s edge, covering his face from the
breaking in of the glorious sunlight, and pleading at times with
the omnipotent God, whom, slave as he was, he had learned to
worship, for strength to subdue the passionate grief and indignation
of his heart, and for humility patiently to endure his
many wrongs.

A little fond arm was twined about his neck, and the soft
lip of a young child was breathing loving, but half sorrowful
kisses all over his burning forehead.

“Father! dear father! we are going! will you not come
with us? look where my mother, and my sisters and brothers
are waiting for you.”

With a shuddering and convulsive groan the unhappy man
arose, and lifted the frighted child to his bosom.

“Will you not go with us, father?” repeated the boy: but
the slave made him no answer, except by straining him to his
bosom with a short bitter laugh, and imprinting one of his sobbing
kisses upon his cheek. With a convulsive effort for the
mastery, he subdued the workings of his features, and with a
seemingly calm voice and countenance, approached his children.
One by one he folded them in his arms, and, breathing over I4v 104
them a prayer and a blessing, gave them up forever. Then
once more he strove to nerve his heart for its severest trial.—
There was one more parting;—one more sad embrace to be
given and returned.—There stood the mother of his children
—his own fond and gentle wife, who had been for so many
years his heart’s dearest blessing; and who, ere one short hour
had passed, was to be to him as if the sea had swallowed her
up in its waves, or the dark gloomy earth had hidden her beneath
its bosom! A thousand recollections and agonizing feelings
came rushing at once upon his heart, and he stood gazing
on her, seemingly bewildered and stupified, motionless as a
statue, and with features to which the very intensity of his passion
gave the immobility of marble; till suddenly flinging up
his arms with a wild cry, he dropped at once senseless to the
earth, with the blood gushing in torrents from his mouth and
nostrils. And the miserable wife, amid the shrieks of her despair,
was hurried on board the vessel, and borne away from
him, over the calm, sleeping, and beautiful sea, forever. A fact.

Human Unhappiness.

“To her fair work did nature link The human soul that through me ran; And much it grieved my heart to think, What man has made of man.” Wordsworth.

There is much in the world to make the heart sad. Much
poverty, much suffering, much guilt, much of that inward
wretchedness that bows down the soul to the dust, with the
weight of its agony. Even amidst the loveliest scenes of nature,
when the heart, touched by her sweet influences, opens
itself to the balmy spirit of happiness, that is diffused all around,
even there will come mingling with the gush of its emotions, the
thought of the misery that rankles in the bosoms of thousands.
It is not only “the dark places of the earth” that “are full of
wickedness;”
where science and refinement glow with the brightest I5r 105
lustre, where knowledge has been poured in a strong flood
over the human mind, where the altars of the Christian religion
have been raised to the worship of the Most High, and where the
lives of thousands have been shed, like autumn leaves, in defence
of liberty—there, even there, are shackled millions!
There “man has made of man a slave,” an implement of labour,
a thing to be tasked, and scourged, and sold, at his pleasure!
Nor is this all—nor the worst. There is the tearing
asunder of all the heart-strings, when at the command of mammon,
all the ties of life are violently broken, that the price of
human limbs may heap the coffers of the oppressor. Nor is
this yet all. There is the degradation, the compelled ignorance,
the abasement of the high intellectual faculties, from which
escape is utterly hopeless. All these are concomitants of
American slavery—of that slavery which is contemplated without
abhorrence—certainly without any effort for its removal,—
by thousands of females, though they are aware what multitudes
of their own sex are prostrated under this cruel load of
oppression.

Hannah Kilham,
The English Female Philanthropist.

There is much in the character of this noble-hearted woman
that deeply interests our feelings. The high philanthropy of
her spirit, and the unwearied zeal with which she gave herself
to the pursuance of its dictates, are worthy of all honour.
We behold her, day by day, with a patience and perseverance
that difficulty could not exhaust, nor fatigue subdue, devoting
herself to the study of the African languages, that she might
carry light and knowledge to a land of darkness and ignorance,
and to those for whom all the nations of christendom had united
in mingling a cup of degradation and bitterness. We behold
her resigning without a murmur the dearly cherished comforts
of home and friends, and, undeterred by the hardships to be
endured, unappalled by the pestilential nature of the climate,
devoting herself, if need be, to die for the cause in which she
had embarked. What a beautiful picture do the extracts from
some of her letters present! Surrounded by her young charge,
many of them just rescued from the poisonous hold of a slave- I5v 106
ship, we behold her endeavouring to instil into their minds lessons
of moral and intellectual brightness—watching with affectionate
earnestness over the unfolding of their mental natures,
and seeking to turn their minds to the source from which she
herself sought direction and assistance in her arduous task.
With what affectionate interest does she speak of them!—the
portals of her heart were not rudely barred against them because
their brows were darker than her own! Then came the closing
scene. It is ever an awful thing to die, yet there are times
and circumstances by which even a death-bed may be illumined
with a solemn brightness and beauty. When the Christian lies
down to the sleep of the grave, surrounded by those he loves,
and trusts ere long to embrace again—when the hand of affection
supports the failing frame—when the soft, fragrant airs
of evening come stealing in to dry the moisture from the cold
brow—when even the aspect of the beautiful earth seems to
tell of a still brighter and better world, and the clear ambered
sky of the sunset seems like an opening gate leading to paradise
—there is, at least, for the weakness of humanity, a soothing
in their soft influences; and the heart even of the Christian
may shrink less from the gloomy passage of the grave,
when light is thus gleaming in at both its portals. But to be
smitten with sickness, destitute of almost all the comforts it
requires, far from home and the tenderness of those to whom
the heart is turning with irrepressible affection, to languish in
a sultry atmosphere, and on the bosom of the great deep, with
the flapping sail overhead, and the hoarse cries of the seamen
breaking in upon the few intervals of repose—thus to be hurried
off to the grave by the swift stroke of pestilence, lends
even death a more fearful aspect. It was thus she died—died
in the cause of a noble philanthropy. And her name should
be as a rallying word to urge on her sex to pursue the task of
alleviating the condition and elevating the minds of the long
oppressed race of Africa.

I6r 107

Spring.

It is the season of gladness—exulting, abounding gladness.
There is joy over all the face of the earth. Joy in the breeze
and in the sunshine—in the springing of every green blade,
and the unfolding of every blossom; joy in the broad stretch
of the smiling heavens; joy over the mountain tops, and in the
quiet depths of the “green-haired valleys.” It is poured out
on the air in the song of the birds, in the hum of the awakened
insects, in the perfume of the thousand flowers. The fetterless
streams have caught its influence, and go carolling along
their pleasant paths, and tossing up their tiny waves to the
smiling sunbeams. It is well for the human heart to be opened
to these pleasant influences; well to suffer them to steal in
and perform their allotted ministering offices there, till it is
insensibly won from its wonted selfishness, into a better and
holier nature. If the gloriousness and beauty of the creation
declare to us, all over the earth, that God is love, they should
also impress upon the heart, the sinfulness of aiding, be it as
indirectly as it may, in the oppression of his children. They
should teach us sympathy for the miserable, and fill us with
earnest desires for the moral and intellectual improvement of
all the human race. They should speak to every bosom of the
claims of the wronged slave, and bid every hand engage in
the task of loosening his fetters.

The Voice of Conscience.

It is frequently urged as a plea for indifference and inaction
with regard to Emancipation, that the mind has never been
particularly impressed with the subject, and that the conscience
has always remained at rest concerning it. But this we do not
conceive to be by any means a valid argument, unless we
have diligently called upon, and carefully attended to the
suggestions of the mental counsellor. Conscience does not
always give her advice unasked; we sometimes walk blindly
in a wrong path; but, though we may perhaps be held guiltless,
so long as we remain unconsciously slumbering, yet, if
we obstinately turn away from the hand that would awaken
us, and refuse to open our eyes that we may discover whether I6v 108
light or darkness is around us, surely, we are not less culpable
than if we knowingly persisted in error.

There seems to be prevalent, a strange opinion, that it is incumbent
upon none to become advocates for the rights of humanity,
in the persons of the enslaved Africans, but those who
have received an especial intimation of their duty in that respect;
that the productions of slavery, which are undeniably
its foundation and support, may be freely partaken of by all
but those to whom they have been forbidden in a voice that
might not be gainsayed. In other things we listen to the tones
of reason, we seek her guidance to the gate of conscience, and ask
her interpretation of the hidden responses of the bosom oracle.
Shall we not then, in like manner, expect to be enlightened in
this matter, by a patient investigation and search after knowledge?
We know that many persons have been called from
a life of sin and disobedience, by the terrible voice of God,
sounding like a clear trumpet-note to the innermost recesses of
their bosoms. But who would therefore be so mad, as to suppose
that we may with impunity persist in a course of impiety,
until an irresistible summons comes to turn us from our path,
as to Saul of Tarsus, at the broad noon-day? So neither have
we any reason to believe, that a particular revelation will be
vouchsafed to us with regard to our conduct here. If the system
is repugnant to the known general laws of religion and
morality; if it is contrary to the written commands of God,
and to those which are whispered, in the heart’s silent hour, to
the spiritual ear, then we know of a truth it must be wickedness;
and it follows, as a natural and inevitable consequence,
that we are called upon to lend our influence to its destruction,
and that we cannot innocently in any way be partakers therein.
We know that the enslaved negroes are human beings;—our
brethren and our sisters; that they are “sick and an hungered,
and in prison,”
and shall we dare to assert that our duty does
not require us “to minister unto them,” till we have received
a particular command to do so? There are others who seem
to fear to enter lightly and with unconsecrated foot upon a field
which presents a work of such magnitude, that God’s own
hand seems only competent to the completion of the task.
And if it were only a labour of religious reformation—one of
those mighty overthrowings which sometimes take place when
the finger of the Almighty is at work secretly in the mysterious K1r 109
depths of the human bosom, then might we indeed justly
dread to lay unhallowed hands upon the Ark of the Covenant.
But this is a plain question of Christian duty. The
simple performance of a right action—no more involving the
danger of an officious interference, than the thousand beneficent
deeds for which we uniformly bestow the tribute of our
applause on others, or receive the reward of an approving conscience
in ourselves. As reasonably might we hesitate to
perform the commonest duties of humanity, because our hands
were not clear of all evil, as to make our imperfections an excuse
for suffering our brethren to remain unaided in their bondage.
The rule upon which we are to act, was long since promulgated.
It is written upon every page of the Christian religion
—it is graven upon a broad scroll of light in words that
may be read to the farthest extremity of the universe. “All
things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even
so do ye unto them: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself.”

Men-selling.

Slavery! what a name for Christian lips! what a fraternal
greeting from the lips of freemen. I rose up as if from a
dream. I had looked upon the advertisement till my eyes
grew dim and my senses bewildered. I knew it was not a
strange thing—I had seen such, although not frequently, before;
but I had not, perhaps, perfectly caught their import, for
I repeated the words now again and again, without a full comprehension
of their meaning. They spoke of a sale of human
beings with all the heartless and accustomed terms of trade;
men, women, and children were to be disposed of at auction
to the highest bidder. How could it be? In what had these
miserable beings forfeited the rights of humanity? Had the
Almighty resumed his benefaction, and given them to be a
spoil for those whom he had once made their brethren? Were
they no longer possessed of the high capacities of an undying
nature—had their destiny been changed, and a new portion
assigned them, so that they were not in this life to win an
eternity of future bliss or misery? Such might have seemed
to be their lot, from the fate that awaited them. They were
to be sold and purchased as chattels—mere implements of K K1v 110
labour; they were to drudge out a life of toil like the laborious
ox, with whom they were classed in fellowship; their days
were to wear away without a consciousness of their capabilities
of mind, without knowledge, without thought, without religion.
And yet these beings were men! men upon whom a merciful
Creator had bestowed the boon of an immortal nature; whose
souls had been kindled from the same spark as that which gave
animation to the haughty forms of their oppressors. They were
human beings, and they who bought and they who sold them,
were in form and fashion like unto themselves. Nay, they
called upon one God as their mutual Father,—upon one
Saviour for redemption and everlasting life. Was it strange
that I should gaze with a sick incredulity upon the paper which
gave evidence of such broad and heartless contempt of the
divine law, and of the commonest dictates of humanity.

Well-wishers.

There is a class of persons professedly favourable to the
cause of emancipation, who nevertheless content themselves
with vague hopes and wishes for the discontinuance of slavery,
at some indefinite period, without once attempting to hasten the
hour of its approach, by any thing like active exertion. They
are perfectly willing that the good work of emancipation should
be accomplished—that millions of their fellow-creatures should
be raised from the miserable condition of beasts of burden, to
the rank of men, and useful citizens—provided, only, that such
consent involves nothing like personal exertion, no possible inconvenience
to themselves, during the process of this transformation.
They acknowledge the deep iniquity of the system
of slavery, but they act as if the admission of its criminality,
instead of being merely prefatory to amendment, was amply
sufficient of itself to satisfy all the demands of justice, to
silence all the reproaches of conscience. They appear to have
one species of justice for their theory, and another, vastly
lower in its standard, for actual practice;—or rather, the high
and true rule of moral equity by which they mete out justice
between themselves, swerve instantly from their even measure,
when the rights of their sable brethren are brought into competition
with their own convenience, or their prejudices. Certainly, K2r 111
say they, every man has a just and natural right to his
own person, and to the control of his own conduct, so long as
it interferes not with the well-being of others,. Yet should the
ancestors of any individual, unfortunately guilty of having
been gifted by his Maker with a sable brow, have been violently
wrenched in some terrible scene of ruin and conflagration from
their native home, and having been dragged to some distant
land, there sold into perpetual bondage—then, under such circumstances,
the right of the individual to his own flesh and
sinews, or of the Creator to the being whom he has made, is
superseded and invalidated by the claims of one who hath
bought him for money, or received him as a lawful inheritance;
and, although we regard with horror the idea of trafficking in
human flesh, or holding our fellow-men in a state of slavery,
yet we would not be so unjust as to wish rashly to deprive the
slaveholders of their property. We know that the employment
of free labourers would be much more advantageous to
the planter, but we can convince him of this only by practical
experiment; and it is not worth while for us to undergo the
expense and inconvenience of obtaining free articles, unless
every one else would do the same. So stands the argument;
and so, were it committed to their hands, would the destinies
of the slave stand unaltered for ages, unless some terrible convulsion,
like the sudden springing of a mine, should at once
tear asunder the bonds of the slave, and overwhelm his master
beneath the falling ruins of his wall of oppression.

A Prison Scene.

There is much said of the misery induced by the internal
slave trade; tale after tale is repeated of the separation of
families—of the dearest ties of the affections violently broken—
of hearts closely allied in their natural affinities, as the leaves
that flourish upon one bough, torn rudely asunder and left to
bleed and wither far distant from each other and from the
parent stem that nourished them. Yet, terrible as are the catastrophes
which sometimes arise out of such scenes, we believe
they seldom come before the heart in the startling vividness of
reality. The ear has been so long habituated to the repulsive
terms of slavery, that it almost ceases to regard them; and K2v 112
the mention of a sale of human beings is heard by many persons
with as little emotion as if they were unbreathing chattels.
To others, the very enormity of the circumstance gives it an
air of unreality. The reason may yield an unwilling assent
to the facts, but the imagination turns loathing away from the
view of so detestable a traffic, and the mind refuses to receive
the comprehension of such a scene. To some, indeed, the existence,
at the present day, of so foul a disgrace to our country,
is almost unknown. The abolition of the foreign slave-trade
is conceived to have removed from slavery the most objectionable
features, and they are not aware that piratical traders
abroad, and regular unblushing dealers in human flesh and
sinews in our own land, still pour out to the children of Africa
a cup of intolerable cruelty.

These reflections were suggested by our accidentally meeting
the other day with a short narration of the following circumstance.
A gentleman who visited the prison in Washington
City
, found in one of the cells a negro mother and three children,
who had been brought from Maryland, and were confined
there for sale. They were offered in “one lot,” or for the
accommodation of purchasers they would be parted and disposed
of separately to different individuals. Upon enquiring
more particularly into their history, the gentleman found that
she was the mother of nine children, and the wife of a free
man. He had toiled industriously and hard to provide for his
family, and as they grew of an age to satisfy the rapacious
cravings of the monster who claimed them for his prey, the
children had been torn one by one from the sheltering arms of
parental affection, and sold into a distant captivity. At last
his wife, and his three only remaining ones, were snatched
away, and he was left, in his declining years, alone and desolate,
to weep beside his forsaken hearth-stone.

And she—to whose woman’s heart had come all that weight
of unutterable suffering—what was to be her future lot?
Were the loving eyes that she had gazed upon so long, and
the soft voices whose tones she had treasured up in her heart
till they had become her world of happiness, to be seen and
heard no more forever? Who could know the agony of her
bereaved spirit, as she sat amid the dark loneliness of that
damp cell! who could tell what images of despair were gathering
with a horrid distinctness about her brain, as the thought K3r 113
of a still further separation came upon her soul, when the hollow
echo of an approaching foot-fall caught her ear, and with
a wild shriek she sprang forward and clasped her infants to
her bosom as if she would have hidden them in the very centre
of her heart from the grasp of the spoiler! And can woman
—free, happy, cherished woman—think unmoved upon these
things? She whose compassionate nature is moved for the
sufferings of the lowest of the animal creation; whose sympathy
may be won upon even by the passing grief of happy
childhood! Surely she will not forget the tears shed openly
and in secret by her victim sister under the stinging lash, over
the unaccomplished task at hot noon-day, in the silence of the
dark midnight, upon the faces of the doomed infants, and amid
the silence of the gloomy prison cell, where, though guiltless
of crime, she has been made to share the abode and the punishment
of the criminal.

Consumers.

“The enormous crimes and miseries inseparable from the
system of slave cultivation have at length been fully exposed;
henceforth the guilty responsibility of slave-holding rests with
the consumer of slave produce. Let conscience, therefore, do
her office, and fix the conviction of blood-guiltiness in our own
bosoms.”

That if there were no consumers of slave produce, there
would be no slaves, is an axiom too self-evident to the meanest
capacity, to require us to use a single argument in its demonstration.
But that the class of consumers share equally in the
guilt of slavery with those who are the more immediate upholders
of the system, will not probably, by the multitude, be
so readily admitted,. Even while they acknowledge themselves
to be the main supporters of this scheme of oppression, they
would exonerate themselves from any portion of its turpitude;
as if it were possible for them to be innocent of a crime of
which they are wilfully the cause! Can they employ another
in the commission of evil, enjoy the advantage of his villany,
and yet suppose that the stain of iniquity clings only to him
who was but the agent of their will? Were they disinterested
reasoners, we think such would not be their decision. Their K2 K3v 114
own hands do not, it is true, wield the blood-extorting lash, or
rivet the fetter, but they know that it is done by others, in order
to afford at the cheapest rate the luxuries which they will
neither resign, nor make one exertion to obtain from the hands
of freemen. They have no hesitation in branding the trafficker
in human flesh with the stigma of shame and cruelty; but while
they would not for the universe engage personally in the exercise
of so much barbarity, they will not relinquish one single
iota of the comforts it procures for them. Is this consistency?
Is such fastidiousness the result of humanity;—or has it not
rather, if fairly examined, its root in mere selfishness? Their
education has unfitted them for mingling actively in scenes of
cruelty; they would sicken and shudder at the sight of wantonly
shed blood, and the agonizing cries of a breaking heart would
frighten sleep from their pillows, or were like a haunting spirit
to their dreams. Is it so vastly meritorious, then, to consign
to other hands what would be revolting to their feelings? Or
may such sensibility claim its spring from the nobler principles
of beneficence and justice, while they unhesitatingly receive
from the hands of another, that which they have not nerve
enough to obtain for themselves? Let them remember when
they execrate the enormities of the slave system, that it is
themselves who hold out the inducements for their perpetration.
Guilty as the slave-holder may be, let them not flatter themselves
that he alone is guilty. To them the criminality and
hideousness of slavery are clearly discernible. But he is mentally
benighted. The bribe which they have given him, the
unrighteous mammon, “hath perverted his judgment.” He is
compassed about with the iron bands of prejudice,—he fancies
that to break the fetters of his slaves would be to insure his
own ruin.—But it is the purchasers of his ill-gotten produce,
who have woven around him this filmy web of prejudice. Let
them but make it his interest to be just, and his moral perceptions
will be clear as the day-light. Emancipation will no
longer appear to him a visionary scheme, ruinous and impracticable.
His opinions will be grounded on wiser and juster
reasoning, and he will make haste to render back their liberty
to those from whom he has so long withheld it. He who clings
with so tenacious a grasp to his gathered stores of human
wealth, while we hate his crime, may claim our pity for his
self-delusion and his unhappy situation. But what have those K4r 115
to advance in behalf of their heartless conduct, who, with the
full light of conviction around them, obstinately persist to abet
him in his error? Nothing, absolutely nothing, beyond the
miserable and even criminal plea of self-convenience, or a disinclination
to encounter a trivial portion of salutary self-denial!
—And they, who can so lightly weigh their own gratification
against the intolerable anguish of their sister’s lot,—who count
the sacrifice of a few paltry luxuries, too vast a ransom for the
redemption of thousands and tens of thousands of their fellow-
creatures from a fate of servitude and darkness, are the good,
the amiable, and the gentle of the earth. Such a maze of inconsistency
is the human heart! We could fling away the pen,
and weep in very shame and bitterness for the hard-heartedness
of our sex. One would suppose that the bare knowledge of
the terrible price at which those cherished comforts have been
procured, would cause a woman to turn shuddering and loathingly
away as though they were infected with a taint of blood.
And the curse of blood is upon them! Though the dark red
stain may not be there visibly, yet the blood of all the many
thousands of the slain, who have died amid the horrors and
loathsomeness of the slave-ship—been hurled by capricious
cruelty to the yawning wave, or sprang to its bosom in the
madness of their proud despair—of those who have pined away
to death beneath the slow tortures of a broken heart, who have
perished beneath the tortures of inventive tyranny, or on the
ignominous gibbet—all this lies with a fearful weight upon this
most foul and unnatural system, and that insatiable thirst for
luxury and wealth in which it first originated, and by which it
is still perpetuated.

Influence of Slavery on the Female Character.

This is not one of the least important points of view, in
which we are all called upon to examine the effects of slavery.
On the right formation of the female character depends so
much, not only of her own happiness, but of the well-being
of all who are nearly connected with her, that whatever circumstances
possess the power of moulding her mind and habits,
imperatively demand a careful examination. The debasing K4v 116
effects of slavery on those who are its victims, are too painfully
obvious to require a portraiture. On these, therefore, we need
not dwell, but may turn at once to their fairer, and more fortunate
sisters.

It is on all sides acknowledged, that the domestic circle is
the proper sphere of woman. We do not say that her talents
and influence should be confined within these boundaries, but
however beneficially they may be felt abroad, if homebred usefulness
forms no part of her character, be her claims on our
respect and admiration what they may, she fails of one half
of her perfection. A knowledge of “household” good is one of
the most essential branches of female education. “I will venture
to affirm,”
says the venerable Hannah More, “that let a
woman know what she may, yet if she knows not this, she is
ignorant of the most indispensable, the most appropriate branch
of female knowledge.”
It is not in the fair, fluttering thing of
fashion, the beautiful wonder and admiration of the hour, lovely
though she may be, and possibly even gifted with high attainments
of mind and character, that we are to look for the
true standard of female excellence. “Ye cannot serve God
and Mammon,”
is not a more undeniable allegation, than that
woman cannot at once satisfy the demands of fashionable and
domestic life. They are wholly incompatible with each other,
and whatever is yielded to the importunity of the one, detracts
from the power of satisfying the claims of the other. In deciding
this destiny of our country-women in unfitting them for
the calm pleasures of domestic life, and leading them into the
tumultuous vortex of folly and vanity—in giving them an education
of showy accomplishments, instead of cultivated minds,
and well regulated tempers—in teaching them the wish to
shine, rather than the ambition to be useful—the desire of
wealth and expensive pleasures, rather than intellectual advancement
—in leading them to prefer the uneasy excitement of a
crowd, to the quiet enjoyment of books, retirement, and rational
conversation—the flattery and admiration of the many, to
the sober approbation of the few—in teaching them to consult
rather their inclinations than their duty—to follow the dictates
of fancy or caprice, instead of reflective judgment—we believe
the slave system will be found a powerful agent. Those who
have been accustomed from youth to the ready service of dependants,
rarely acquire habits of industry and extensive usefulness. K5r 117
The mind as well as the body sinks into habits of
listless indolence, and is suffered to remain inactive and unoccupied,
or fritters away its noble energies in the trifling excitements
of vanity and fashion.—Wealth becomes of immense
importance as the means of supporting her extravagance, and
of rivalling or eclipsing her compeers in their love of folly:
her responsibility, her high nature as a rational creature are almost
forgotten or unheeded; anxious rather to outshine her equals
in their petty distinctions of splendour and display, than to
raise those who are beneath her to a higher standard of intellectual
and moral worth, she learns to trifle away the loan of
her existence, and to waste in selfish gratifications, the thousands
that have been wrung with the most odious injustice from the
hand of unrewarded toil. Thus with a heart undisciplined by
self-control, a mind enervated by frivolous pursuits, and a
temper accustomed to the indulgence of all its humours, how
frail is the bark of her happiness! How imperfectly is she
calculated to fill the station and perform the duties assigned
her by the hand of Providence. In prosperity, a thing, it may
be, of beauty and grace, but of unsubstantial endowments—in
adversity without support, and without resource, and in neither
performing the duties of a consistent Christian. Nor is the
evil we speak of confined to that district to which slavery is
limited. The frequent intercourse between the inhabitants of
the different states, gives a ready transmission to manners and
habits. The ladies of the north imitate those of the south, and
a fondness for show, ornament, and extravagance, almost to the
exclusion of a desire for the better wealth of substantial acquirements
and moral excellence, invades all classes of society.

Mental Metempsychosis.

Could we but persuade those with whom we plead, in behalf
of the slave, to imagine themselves for a few moments in his
very circumstances, to enter into his feelings, comprehend all
his wretchedness, transform themselves mentally into his very
self, they would not surely long withhold their compassion.
Let them feel the heart-brokenness of being separated from all
they love—take the long last glance at all that is dear to them, K5v 118
and while the brain is reeling, and the hot brow throbbing with
agony, know that their sufferings excite only the heartless jest,
or the brutal curse—let the fetter lie with its wearing weight
upon their wrists, as they are driven off like cattle to the market,
and the successive strokes of the keen thong fall upon their
shoulders till the flesh rises in long welts beneath it, and the
spouting blood follows every blow—let them go day after day
with their sick hearts, to their unceasing and hopeless toil, fainting
beneath the hot sun, or exposed to all the pitiless beating
of the elements—let them yield up their hearts again for a
while to the gentle influences of affection, till they feel almost
as if there was yet something like to happiness in their lot, and
then know suddenly that they are to gaze no more upon their
beloved objects forever—let them enter into the desolateness
of that moment; stand alone and forsaken in the world; without
religion, without a friend in earth or heaven, to whom they
may turn for consolation in their hour of trial; with no kind
accents to soothe, no hope to cheer them—oh! would they but
endeavour to realize the bitterness of such a lot, surely, surely,
they would rush to the rescue of the thousands who are agonizing
beneath its endurance.

Evening Retrospection.

“Did I this day for small or great, My own pursuits forego, To lighten by a feather’s weight, The mass of human woe?” Jane Taylor.

The twilight is a fit season for retrospection. There is a
soothing for the seared spirit in its hushing influence, and when
the restless and wandering thoughts have gathered themselves
back to the heart, and settled down like quiet waters, the mental
eye may look down amidst their deep places, taking note
of all its imperfections. Among these imperfections may we
not properly class the want of a warm and active interest in
the happiness and well-being of all our fellow creatures? If,
absorbed in the pursuit of our own enjoyments, or yielding all
our attention to our own pursuits, or our own cares, we neglect K6r 119
to inquire how we may alleviate the misfortunes or contribute
to the welfare of our fellow beings, we cannot be otherwise than
culpable. Our power over the situation of others may seem
almost as nothing, but let us remember how much things trifling
in themselves, contribute to the amount of human happiness,
and that in the sight of our beneficent Judge, it is less the
offering, than the spirit which prompts that offering, that is
esteemed of value. If it should seem too great a subtraction
from our own comforts, or to press too heavily on our time and
our industry, to resign those articles which have been purchased
by human misery, and to exert ourselves as we ought in the
cause of emancipation, let us compare our situation with that
of those whose wretchedness we would feign pass by, and surely
the contrast will render the sacrifice easy. If the advocates
of emancipation would daily, in a retrospect of their conduct,
carefully examine whether they have done all they could have
done in behalf of the victims of our country’s injustice, and on
each succeeding one do their best to relieve the neglect and the
indolence that the past might acknowledge, the cause of abolition
would go forward with an accelerated pace, that would
soon bring it to a triumphant conclusion.

The Favourite Season.

It is thy favourite season, Coz. The gorgeous clouds of
sunset have almost departed, and the air has grown dim amidst
its perfect tranquility, like a starry eye whose brightness hath
been shadowed by the depth of a delicious feeling.—Come, let
us go abroad, and stand upon that old bridge thou wot’st of,
where we may watch the still shadows that lie on the smooth
deep places of the stream, and the flashing ripples that go on
singing to the gentle light. Or, if thou sayest, we will take
the wood path, that leads over the scattered stones of yonder
drawling rivulet, to where the green sod slopes away nearly to
the water’s edge from the heaped-up pile of webs, and the old
half-burnt tree stands in its bleakness, like a solitary watcher
in the solemn twilight. Is it not pleasant to be so together in
the gentle hush, while indistinct shadowings of happiness come
over the heart, like the soft dimness upon the clinquant waters? K6v 120
—and, look, friend, seest thou not yonder bright spark—the
star thou lovest—a beautiful and lonely thing in the blue heavens,
shining like a far-seen beacon, to summon all hearts to
the gathering place of prayer! The wild-bird catches the light
of its pale beams as he hurries homeward to his nest, and its
first twinkling ray is the signal that “Summons ‘home the bee,’And sets the weary labourer free”
from his day-long task of industry. Oh, there is gladness of
spirit in the twilight hour to those who are indeed free, and
who may eat in fearlessness of heart, amidst their band of loved
and loving ones, the bread which they have wrung with a
strong sinew from the earth.—What matters it that, from the
rising to the setting of the sun, they may have bent their limbs
to the service of another? The twilight brings them their reward,
and they go onwards to their humble homes with an unstooping
mien, and the blessed consciousness that no hand dare
invade the privileges of their home sanctuary. But the slave
—how may he lift up a glad eye to yon bright messenger? A
release from toil, if release indeed it brings him, lifts not the
heavy yoke of servitude from off his neck, nor gives to his
heart one delightful throb of security and happiness. He too
may have a home, a wife, and a smiling group of young loving
ones, yet happy amid their childish ignorance, who have been
wont to meet his returning step with the fond name of father.
But the threshold and the hearth-stone that he left at the early
dawn, surrounded by faces of glad innocence, may now be
stripped and desolate, or echo back from its solitary walls only
the sad voice of maternal lamentation. He knows not but tomorrow’s
sun may find him a far distant wanderer, torn away
from all the breathing affections of his bosom, and transferred
to another master and another scene, as reckless as though his
heart were pulseless as the unsuffering clod. May the peacefulness
of the pure twilight impart its tranquillity to his bosom
—or soothe with its tender light the darkness of his fate? Will
it teach him to forget that he is a slave?—a wronged, depised,
degraded slave! Alas, the scar of his fetters is too deeply
printed in his soul, and the dim air cannot cover it with its
shadow.