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[409]

Yes, abolitionism suited the purposes of the British aristocracy just then; and lords and ladies swarmed at negro-emancipation gatherings at Exeter Hall. On all such occasions three standing jokes were played off, to the infinite amusement of dukes and duchesses,—duchesses more particularly.

First, there must be a live American negro,--the blacker the better, sometimes; but they generally got one as little black as possible, and an octoroon threw them into the highest state of subdued frenzy admissible in the upper classes. The aforesaid negro must have escaped from the indescribable horrors and barbarities of slavery in the Southern States,—gashed, manacled —if he showed the manacles, so much the better—a sample of American barbarism, and a burning shame on the otherwise fair cheek of the goddess of American liberty.

‘Oh, yes,’ said my lord Brougham; ‘nothing stands in your way now but negro slavery. Abolish that, and every heart in England is with you.’

Secondly, at these Exeter Hall meetings they must have a live American abolitionist,—once a slaveholder who had emancipated his slaves. Here they found their man in the noble Judge Birney, as in the first they found a splendid specimen of a runaway octoroon in Frederick Douglas, Esq.,—the—black Douglas,--and who, bythe-by, made a better speech by far than any aristocrat in England.

Thirdly, and last of all, some ecclesiastic gentleman bestowed upon the proceedings the benediction.

This would have been well enough,—certainly so far as the benediction was concerned,—had not future events proved beyond a doubt that, at the very moment these curious things were occurring, the whole prestige

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