struggling against all that was evil in the land—in a cause worthy of universal acclaim—with fidelity and an unfaltering spirit—but during all that time he never conveyed to me, directly or indirectly, a word of cheer, or a whisper of encouragement. Consequently, we never met for an interchange of sentiments. Had we done so, though there is no probability that we should have seen eye to eye in all things, we might have been mutually benefited. I am sure that he misjudged my spirit, as well as misapprehended the philosophy of the anti-slavery reform; and I now think that I did not fully appreciate the difficulties of his situation or the peculiarities of his mind. His great mistake was—it amounted almost to infatuation—in supposing that a national evil like that of slavery, two centuries old, which had subdued to itself all the religious and political elements, and which held omnipotent sway over the land, could be overthrown without a mighty convulsion, or even much agitation, if wisely and carefully treated. He thought that it was the manner and the spirit of the abolitionists, and not the object they sought to accomplish, that so greatly excited the country, especially the Southern portion of it; and so, to set them a good example—to show them how easily they might propitiate the slaveholders while pleading for the emancipation of their slaves—he wrote his work on1 slavery, the circulation of which was deemed incendiary at the South, and the publication of which caused Gen. Waddy2 Thompson of South Carolina to exclaim, on the floor of Congress, that “Dr. Channing was playing second fiddle to Garrison and Thompson.” This was an instructive experiment to3 the Doctor, and he did not fail to profit by it.4
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Ante, 1.439, 466; 2.54, etc.
4 In 1853, having occasion to review the incident of his meeting with Dr. Channing at the State House (ante, 2: 96), Mr. Garrison wrote (Lib. 23: 154): ‘When Dr. Channing took me by the hand, it was only an act of ordinary civility on his part, as he did not catch my name, and did not know me personally; and, therefore, meant nothing at all by it. No interchange of opinions took place between us on that occasion. If, afterward [as reported by Miss Martineau], on ascertaining distinctly who it was that had been introduced to him, he remarked that “ he was not the less happy to have shaken hands with” me, I can only say that never, at any subsequent period, to the hour of his death, did he intimate a desire to see me again; and neither by accident nor design did we ever again meet each other face to face. The truth is, I was no favorite of Dr. Channing, at any time. He never gave me one word of counsel or encouragement. He never invited me to see him, that he might understand, from my own lips, my real feelings and purposes, and afford me the benefit of his experience and advice. My early, faithful, clear-sighted friend, Prof. Follen, tried to induce him to make my acquaintance, believing it would be mutually serviceable; but he never manifested any desire to do so. Of this, I never made any complaint. My self-respect and strong sense of propriety would not allow me to thrust myself upon his attention, or the notice of any other public man. I do not think he cherished toward me any personal unkindness—far from it. But my mode of dealing with slavery and its abettors was very distasteful to him; and between my philosophy of reform and his own there was a very great difference,—the difference between principle and sentiment. . . . His nerves were delicately strung. The sound of a ram's horn was painfully distressing to him. He was firmly persuaded that nothing but a silver trumpet was needed to cause the walls of Jericho to fall; and so he did his best upon his own. . . .’
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.