previous next

[214] should I therefore condemn all the people? Should I fall foul, like another Smelfungus, of all that is beautiful? Should I go out of the way to find dishonorable motives for conduct which is apparently benevolent and philanthropic? I know something of the conduct of England in regard to the slave trade. I know it from mingling with the people, and from conversation with many leaders on the subject. And I solemnly believe that, if ever a nation was disinterested in its conduct, it is England in her great, gigantic, magnificent exertions for the suppression of the slave-trade. General Cass's suggestions to the contrary,—his insinuations about material interests,–were only worthy of a man like Duff Green. I am desirous that all honest endeavor should receive its reward in the esteem of the world. Is it charitable to seek a low motive for conduct which is the natural product of a high motive? . . .

I heard De Gerando lecture, say, twenty times. I was at his soirees, say, five times, and dined with him once. He never appeared to me a weak man; and I should rebuke myself, if I so called the author of the great work on ‘Bienfaisance.’ He is no longer in the enjoyment of fresh powers; but, my dear George, may not you and I both thank God, if, living to his age, we shall be enabled to look back upon a life as actively employed in high labors of public usefulness as the Baron de Gerando's?

July 8, 1842.

After an interval of two days, I return to you, my dear George. I hope you will not think me cool or unkind in what I have written on the other sheet. Perhaps I value too much (and yet can anybody value too much?) charity and kindliness in our appreciation of others. This world is full of harshness. It is easier to censure than to praise: the former is a gratification of our self-esteem; while to praise seems, with minds too ambitious and ungenerous, a tacit admission of superiority. It is a bane of society, wherever I have known it,—and here in Boston as much as in London,—a perpetual seeking for something which will disparage or make ridiculous our neighbors. Their conduct is canvassed, and mean and selfish motives are attributed to them. Their foibles are dragged into day. I do not boast myself to be free from blame on this account; and yet I try to find what is good and beautiful in all that I see, and to judge my fellow-creatures as I would have them judge me. There is a verse in Pope's ‘Universal Prayer’ which is full of beauty. I wish it were graven on tablets in all our churches. You will pardon me for quoting what is to you so trite:—

‘Teach me to feel another's woe,
     To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
     That mercy show to me.’

When in Europe, I mingled in different countries with people of various characters. I am thankful that my impressions of all the countries that I saw, and of many people in those countries, are agreeable. I received much kindness: for this I am grateful. Not that I did not see much misery, much coarseness, much ignorance, much want of refinement, much injustice; but

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Pope (2)
Duff Green (1)
De Gerando (1)
Lewis Cass (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 8th, 1842 AD (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: