« AnteriorContinuar »
boyish heart was intense, and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.
Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the south; the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.
What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I
a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity,are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy-a thin vail to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and
bloody, than are the people of these United States at this very hour."
Several years since, a few transatlantic friends of Mr. Douglass raised the necessary funds to purchase his freedom from his master, for, according to the laws of the United States, the brilliant orator was the property of a Maryland trafficker in human flesh! But for this, Mr. Douglass, to-day, would be in imminent danger of seizure and reënslavement. His genius would avail him nothing-were he a Cicero or Demosthenes, a human brute would have the legal right to horsewhip him into subjection.
To those foolish people who contend that the African race is essentially a brute race, and far inferior to any other existing, we commend Frederick Douglass. He is perfectly competent to defend his race, and is himself an argument that cannot be refuted, in favor of the capability of the negro race for the highest degree of refinement and intellectuality. The more such men his race can produce, the sooner the day of its freedom will come. The sooner will the free blacks of the north rise to an equality with the whites. That singular and horrible prejudice against color, which pervades all classes, and which not even the religion of the day has affected, will vanish, when, as a class, the negroes are not only industrious and virtuous, but distinguish themselves for their love of
learning and the fine arts. We mean no excuse for the negro-hating population of this country, but simply state a fact which black men should ponder. Every negro who acts well his part, is assisting his race to rise from its degrading enthrallment.
ICH ABOD CODDING.
LCHABOD CODDING is well known in the free states as one of the earliest, most faithful and eloquent advocates of anti-slavery reform in America, and he deserves a place in this series of sketches of distinguished agitators. He gave himself up to the cause of freedom when he was in his youth, and when, to be known as an anti-slavery advocate, was to endure obloquy and scorn—to risk not only reputation, but life. He is, according to our thinking, one of the most powerful advocates of reform in the country. His talents are varied; he is persuasively eloquent, as an orator, but is socially still more eloquent. We never met a more talented conversationist, and his power in social circles is exceedingly great. His manners are bland and winning, and yet he is strong and rigid in his positions. The reformer who is endeavoring to impress society with certain great truths, is often, too often, harsh and repulsive in his manners and conversation. He is like a rock against which the billows may dash forever without making an impression—but he is cold and bleak. Mr. Codding
unites with firmness a great deal of geniality and suavity of manner. His enemies soon love him when they know him. His conversation is fascinating, yet is utterly devoid of art. Its naturalness is one of its most charming characteristics. He is intensely earnest, overflows with anecdote and humor, and seems never to lack bright and genial thoughts, striking sentences, and apropos anecdotes. As an orator, he is surpassed by few living men. It is impossible, however, to compare him with his cotemporaries, for he is only like himself. His social characteristics follow him to the platform. He is at times vehement in his eloquence there, but oftener calmly in earnest-clear, frank and winning. One of his best speeches is not characterized by a continuous stream of eloquence, but here and there bubbles up with grand, or beautiful passages, and the whole speech has a web of logic stronger than steel.
In his personal appearance, Mr. Codding, at first sight, appears to be rather rough-and it is true that he has nothing of the fop in his composition. He is of medium height, has a fine, compact forehead, fine, dark hair, a large, homely mouth, but eyes of eloquent beauty. He has a rare voice, and reads finely. Mr. Codding was born in Bristol, Ontario county, New York, in the year 1811. His father died a short time previous to his birth, and he came into the world fatherless, and an inheritor of poverty. His mother