Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of retaining it, will undoubtedly be found to have been handed down to the Hinsdales, and throughout the various branches of their descendants, as far as it can be traced.”

There are many more noisy reformers in the world than Elihu Burritt, but we know of few who are acquiring a purer and nobler reputation than his. He is by no means without faults, but his long and wearisome labors for his fellow-men shall not be fruitless, nor will his name ever be forgotten.

[ocr errors]

WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.

It is difficult, at the present time, to do full justice to William Lloyd Garrison. It remains for the future historian of this generation to accord to him the position which a prejudiced people cannot now allow him to occupy. There are so many millions who now hate Garrison, so many thousands of comparatively good men who dislike him, who consider him at least rash and headstrong, that he cannot hope, for many years, to be judged candidly and generously. We have no more doubt that fifty years hence the name of Garrison will be revered by the American nation, than we have of the ultimate overthrow of human slavery in this country. We look upon him as the great puritan of anti-slavery. Like one of the grand old Puritans, he is stern, solemnly enthusiastic, terribly severe upon wrong-doers, and unswerving from his idea of what is right. We think, also, like some of the Puritans, he is bigoted, as men with their thoughts directed intensely upon one object, are apt to be, but the future generation will look upon his severity of character, his bigotry, as we look upon the same faults in the grand men who laid the foundations of this republic-as spots upon the reputation of one of the noblest men that ever lived. Mr. Garrison is, we believe, a native of Massachusetts. At a very early age he was placed in a printing office, in Newburyport, by his mother, who was a poor widow, and a pious, worthy woman. In the short space of twelve months he was master of his trade, and at once went to work to assist his mother, in addition to supporting himself. At an early age he was fond of books, magazines, and newspapers, and read them with great avidity. He joined a club, and being invited to deliver an oration before it, he did so, to the gratification of all who listened to it. He was also at this time a contributor to the columns of the Newburyport Herald, furnishing for it several well-written essays, which attracted considerable attention. When he was twenty-one years old, he published his first poem in that journal. Shortly after, he set up a new paper, with the name of The Free Press," which was edited with so much vigor and earnestness of purpose, that it was well received by the more advanced class of readers at the north. He, however, soon removed to Vermont, where he published and edited the “Journal of the Times." This was as early as 1828, and he advocated in his paper gradual emancipation of every slave in the republic.” He also advocated with much zeal and power the cause of temperance. In September, 1829, he removed to Baltimore, for the purpose of editing the Genius of Universal Emancipationthere. While performing the duties of his office, a Newburyport merchant fitted out a small vessel, and filled it in Baltimore with slaves for the New Orleans market. It was a Yankee speculation in the flesh and blood of his fellow-men, and Mr. Garrison commented with great and deserved severity upon the transaction in his newspaper. The consequence was, he was prose. cuted in the courts, before slave-holding jurors, who were interested in getting him silenced, or at least severely rebuked. He was sentenced to pay a very heavy fine, and to be imprisoned until he paid it. He had not so much money, and never hoped even to be possessed of so much, and therefore calmly entered his dungeon. It was his first terrible experience of the cruelty of southern despotism. For administering a just rebuke to a man who had been making merchandize of his fellow-men, he was sent to hopeless confinement, and that, too, in free America! Can the reader wonder why Garrison is so bitter in his denunciations of slavery? While in his dungeon he composed the following beautiful and spirited verses :

66 the

“High walls and huge the body may confine,

And iron gates obstruct the prisoner's gaze,
And massive bolts may baffle his design,
And vigilant keepers watch his desirous way.

8

“Yet scorns the immortal mind this base control!

No chains can bind it and no cell enclose;
Swifter than light it flies from pole to pole,–

And in a flash from earth to heaven it goes.

“It leaps from mount to mount-from vale to vale,

It wanders plucking honeyed fruits and flowers ;
It visits home to hear the fireside tale,

Or in sweet converse pass the joyous hours.
'Tis up before the sun, soaring afar-
And in its watches wearies every star.”

Arthur Tappan volunteered to pay Mr. Garrison's fine, and he was thereupon released. He now gave up the attempt to publish an anti-slavery journal in Baltimore, though he did entertain the idea of publishing one in Washington. When he established the Liberator” in Boston, in January, 1831, he said:

*

“ In the month of August I issued proposals for publishing The Liberator" in Washington city ; but the enterprise, though hailed approvingly in different sections of the country, was palsied by public indifference. *

* During my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh evidence of the fact that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be effected in the free states, and particularly in New England, than at the south. " I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more frozen than among slave owners themselves. Of course there were individual exceptions to the contrary. This state of things afflicted

« AnteriorContinuar »