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Historical Scarecrows.

the cheapest and, at the same time, the readiest of all subterfuges, when logic is lacking, is the Historical Bugaboo. Its employment is quite independent of sense or of scholarship. A single event, no matter how ancient, may be turned into a fresh fight upon twenty widely different occasions, and be pertinaciously, and often effectively obtruded, without the least regard to the indisputable fact, that the world is considerably older than it was on the day of its creation. The failure of past republics is made proof prophetic of the instability of all popular governments. Commonwealths must go to ruin eighteen centuries after Christ, because Commonwealths went to ruin ten centuries before Christ. History is only written to prove that “Nought is everything, and everything is Nought.”

Is it proposed, in countries principally Protestant, to emancipate the Catholics? Remember St. Bartholomew! Is it argued that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed? Think of the red rivers of the French Revolution! Do we ask for justice to the American Slave? Men with hearts as hard as their bigotry, or that of St. Dominic himself, parade the butcheries of St. Domingo! The fact of the massacres is sufficient. What caused them — who was in the right, and who was in fault — whether the Blacks did anything to be praised instead of blamed — these are minor considerations, unworthy of the attention of men who know absolutely [326] nothing of that sad history, and who could not for their lives, upon a cross examination, tell us whether Toussaint was a black or a white man, what he did while living, or where, or under what circumstances, he died. It is enough to “scream” St. Domingo! and every abolitionist is considered to be effectually graveled. It is in this idiotic way that History is abused. The Express do n't know much, but it can whine “St. Domingo!” The Herald never makes a pretence of argument, but it can bawl “St. Domingo!” Women can whimper it — platform prophets can howl it — cross and crusted conservatives can adduce it victoriously — and persons vibrating between duty and dollars, finding that a defence of Slavery upon the Judaic basis involves abstinence from sausages, can abandon Palestine for the West Indies without interfering with their breakfasts.

It is of but little use to ask these people to hear the whole story. Why should they listen, if, by being tolerably well informed, they are to be diddled out of a good chronic cry? Why tell them that, after the decree of the French Convention of 1784 had confirmed the emancipation of the colony, the most respectable authorities declare that the freedmen were peaceable and industrious, working upon their own plantations and for their old masters? That of course is n't a fact of any importance. Why tell these historical gentlemen, who know everything, that nine-tenths of the atrocities committed by the Blacks were incited by the Whites and Mulattoes? That is of no consequence. Why show that, under [327] Toussaint, the colony flourished, the Whites living happily upon their plantations, the estates well and cheerfully cultivated by the Blacks, until the expedition of Le Clerc, sent forward by that wily Italian, to whom the very name of Liberty was detestable, arrived for the single purpose of restoring Slavery? What followed — the tearing of the Negroes by bloodhounds — the wholesale massacre of the Blacks — the infinite cruelties inflicted by the planters — is not so well known as the final expulsion of the French, and the horrors by which it was attended. That the Blacks took an ample revenge is not denied. That they were always humane is not asserted. But it is, nevertheless, equally true, that if ever cruelties were provoked it was when the needless and unjustifiable interference of Bonaparte aroused passions which, in men of a different complexion, would have been considered worthy only of the warmest praise.

Such is the case of St. Domingo. Admitting all. that the advocates of Human Bondage say of it, it proves nothing against Emancipation, and everything against Re-enslavement. To any rash deductions from its darker features, we are at liberty to oppose all the other experiences of modern times. Not to enter into more details, we fearlessly appeal to the great experiment in the British West Indies. We are aware of the commercial objections which have been made to that measure — the complaint of meagre crops and of reduced incomes — the ruin which it is asserted has overtaken the landed proprietors. But we are not now considering a question of pounds sterling, [328] or of the diminished value of sugar-estates. We are investigating the chances of social safety and order under the new relations which Emancipation establishes. According to the doctrine of the Negrophobist, the West India Blacks should have cut every Englishman's throat — and the worst that Thomas Carlyle, in his diabolical hatred of the African, can say is, that while he can get pumpkins for nothing, the Freedman will not dig potatoes! This the sternest moralist will admit is something less than the murders, rapes, and arsons which should have followed that memorable First of August, and which we are invited to believe will follow our own memorable First of January.

For ourselves, if we are to be guided in our present duties by the precedents of the past, we prefer to select our own examples, and to draw our own conclusions. If the latest English newspapers come to us freighted with sarcastic sneers at the Emancipation of the American Slave, we can read them with equanimity, when we remember that Mr. Dundas, in 1792, proposed, in Parliament, the Emancipation of the British Blacks — that Mr. Burke proposed a bill for the same great purpose — that Mr. Pitt avowed that the abolition of the Slave Trade must be followed by the abolition of Slavery — that Sir Samuel Romilly, in pronouncing the doom of a barbarous commerce, anticipated the time “when the West Indies should no more be cultivated, as now, by wretched Slaves, but by happy and contented laborers,” ----that the careless but kind-hearted Sheridan declared, [329] that the abolition of the Slave-Trade was “the proper preamble to the entire abolition of Slavery,” --that Lord Grenville, then Prime Minister, moved Emancipation in the House of Lords--and, finally, that old Dr. Johnson used to drink, as a favorite toast, “a speedy insurrection of the Slaves of Jamaica, and success to them!”

These were the views of enlightened English statesmen and thinkers nearly a century ago. These opinions, familiar as they are to our own educated classes, have done much to create and strengthen that hostility to Slavery which the great organ of the British shopkeepers now stigmatizes as fanaticism and folly. Let it rave! Let its passion for pounds sterling get the better of its moral principles! The world moves, and a century hence men will read its leading articles as they now read the Tory diatribes of Sir Roger L'Estrange.

January 13, 1863.

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