Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

was left in moderate circumstances, and all the members of the family who were old enough, were obliged to work. Before he was twelve years old, his educational advantages were slight. When seventeen, he became deeply interested in the cause of temperance. He had heard something of certain movements in the east, but had neither seen pledges, nor read addresses. A little sociéty of thirteen members was formed upon the total abstinence basis. It is a little singular that this original teetotal society had not a member who was professedly a christian, or who was of age. Not long after, however, the society changed its constitution so as to conform to those of new societies which afterward sprang up upon the basis of the old pledge. A few, however, would not recede, and among these was Codding. He delivered addresses upon the subject in many places. Before he was twenty-one years old, he had delivered over one hundred temperance speeches. He also took up the subject of corporeal punishment in schools, opposing the customary use of the rod, with a good deal of zeal.

For three years, Codding was teacher in the English department of Canandaigua academy, at the same time pursuing higher and collegiate studies himself. The since well-known S. A. Douglas, the little giant, was studying at Canandaigua, while he was there. He was then, as now, devoted to politics-read the political newspapers eagerly and carefully, and was

much more of a politician than a scholar. Before leaving Canandaigua academy, Mr. Codding was, probably, as accomplished a scholar as ordinary college graduates: he was such in the opinion of competent judges.

When twenty-three years old, he entered Middlebury College, in Vermont. While a freshman, he delivered a temperance speech in the town, which created a good deal of excitement, and he was waited upon by a committee who complained of his speech. In his junior year, needing money, and being familiar with the studies of the term, he got leave of absence to teach, or engage in a benevolent agency. He had for some time felt deeply interested in the cause of the slave, and engaged himself for the term to the Vermont Anti-slavery Society, to lecture. He went out into the towns, and was met by mobs of ruffians, in many instances, and excitement attended his lectures everywhere. The story was widely circulated that he was a member of Middlebury College, and the faculty, fearing that he was adding to their unpopularity, got together, and declared that he was away without liberty, and they therefore censured him. Of this shameful act he was not apprised, and knew nothing. of it till he returned to college. Upon meeting his fellow-students, the noble young advocate of liberty found that he was in disgrace. He went to work in a manly fashion to make potent the injus

tice of the faculty. He demanded a college meeting-got his facts ready for the press, and threatened the officers with their publication in the public journals, unless they would rescind their vote of censure. They finally gave him a letter of explanation in which it was fully admitted that he was not away from college without leave. He was now upon his former standing, but their cruel conduct stung him to the heart, and having established his innocence of the charges against him, he left the college forever.

He immediately engaged himself as a public lecturer to the American Anti-slavery Society, and spent the winter in Vermont. In the spring he had orders to go to Massachusetts. The very first place he lectured in, he was mobbed. It was in the town of Brighton, and on the Sabbath. It was a beautiful, sunny, summer afternoon, and at the hour of five, the people assembled in the church to hear Mr. Codding deliver his address upon American slavery. He entered the house where the stillness of a New England Sabbath prevailed. But out of doors a wild mob was fast gathering, and their harsh shouts contrasted strangely with the still beauty of the Sabbath. Two of the boldest of the mob entered the church. Mr. Codding was in the midst of an opening prayer, when they rushed to the pulpit and seized him, dragged him down into the aisle, intending to pull him out into the street, and then wreak their ven

geance upon him. But the audience, by this time, were roused to a state of excitement, and two young men who had known Codding at college being present, seized upon the intruders, overcame them, and binding them with handkerchiefs, forwarded them into the front slip, and forced them to hear one antislavery lecture, at least!

The next winter, Mr. C. was sent into Maine, and he had the honor of addressing the members of the legislature for three hours upon the Texas question. It was one of the greatest speeches he ever made, and its effect was astonishing. It was afterward said that it made above forty members over into abolitionists. In Brunswick, he was mobbed. In Calais, he commenced a course of lectures, but a few lawyers got the people together to vote him out of town. He attended the meeting, demanded the right to speak on the resolutions against him, which had been introduced, and having got the floor, used his time to good purpose. A set of desperadoes called "the Indians," from the fact that, dressed as Indians, they committed acts they dared not commit in their real characters, were present, and by appealing to their natural prejudices against lawyers, Mr. Codding arrested their attention, and got the meeting adjourned till the next night, when he met resolution after resolution, defeated each one, triumphed over the lawyers, and delivered his course of lectures without

disturbance. While in Maine, Mr. Codding, for a time, edited an anti-slavery journal-the first estab lished there. He was, after leaving Maine, with Judge Jay, mobbed in Bedford, New York. After being two years in Maine, and laying the foundation of the liberty party in that state, he received an invitation to visit Connecticut, which he accepted. He remained in Connecticut three years, making in all parts of the state the warmest friends. With S. M. Booth, he established the Christian Freeman, now the Republican. In 1842, he went west, to Illinois and Wisconsin. He delivered a great course of lectures in Chicago, and in Waukesha, Wisconsin, he established the first anti-slavery paper in that statethe journal now edited by Mr. Booth, at Milwaukee. He also preached for a time to a Congregational church in Waukesha, and afterwards to independent congregations in Joliet and Lockport, Illinois.

While once delivering a lecture in Southern Illinois, Mr. Codding was seized by his neckerchief, and a pistol was presented at his breast by an infuriated beast in the shape of a man, but the calm fearlessness of Mr. Codding overcame him, and at his bidding the pistol dropped to the floor. He was at one time lecturing, when a perfect volley of eggs was thrown at him, and he drenched with them. One eye was much hurt by a missile, yet he preserved his humor through

« AnteriorContinuar »