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[188] article!! Here, then, seemed to be an extraordinary procedure, unparalleled for its complexion in this country at least, and dangerous to the freedom of public discussion—deserving, in a special manner, the animadversion of every watchful patriot:— An editor convicted of writing and publishing a ‘false, wicked and malicious libel,’ without any authentic evidence of his guilt, and upon the most whimsical pretenses!!—I solicited no sympathy for myself: I only requested editors to look at the law and the facts, and to vindicate their prerogative. ‘Let it be impressed upon your minds,’ says Junius, ‘let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the palladium of all your civil, political and religious rights.’ . . .

If I am prompted by ‘vanity’ in pleading for the poor, degraded, miserable Africans, it is at least a harmless, and, I hope, will prove a useful vanity. Would to God it were epidemical! It is a vanity calculated to draw down the curses of the guilty, to elicit the sneers of the malevolent, to excite the suspicion of the cold-hearted, to offend the timidity of the wavering, to disturb the repose of the lethargic;—a vanity that promises to its possessor nothing but neglect, poverty, sorrow, reproach, persecution and imprisonment—with the approbation of a good conscience, and the smiles of a merciful God. I think it will last me to the grave.

But why so vehement? so unyielding? so severe? Because1 the times and the cause demand vehemence. An immense iceberg, larger and more impenetrable than any which floats in the arctic ocean, is to be dissolved, and a little extra heat is not only pardonable, but absolutely necessary. Because truth can never be sacrificed, and justice is eternal. Because great crimes and destructive evils ought not to be palliated, nor great sinners applauded. With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men, I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.

The hearts of some individuals are like ice, congealed by the frigidity of a wintry atmosphere that surrounds, envelopes and obdurates. These may be melted by the rays of humanity, the warmth of expostulation, and the breath of prayer. Others are like adamantine rocks; they require a ponderous sledge and a powerful arm to break them in pieces, or a cask of powder to blow them up. Truth may blaze upon them with midday intenseness, but they cannot dissolve.

Everyone who comes into the world should do something to repair its moral desolation, and to restore its pristine loveliness;

1 Cf. Lib. 1.11, and S. J. May's Recollections, p. 37.

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