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Chapter 11: Mischief let loose.

A wild-cat-like creature was abroad. To it the Abolitionists were to be thrown. It was to destroy Garrison, make an end of Thompson, and suppress between its enormous jaws the grandest moral movement of the century. Besides doing up this modest little programme, the beast, O wonderful to say, was also to crown its performances by “saving” the Union. Rejoicing in the possession of such a conservative institution, the politicians, the press, and public opinion uncaged the monster, while from secure seats they watched the frightful scenes of fury and destruction enacted by it in the national arena.

These scenes began in the summer of 1834, and in the city of New York. They were ushered in by the breaking up of an anti-slavery celebration on the Fourth of July by the clack and roar of several hundred young rowdies, gathered for the purpose. Their success but whetted the appetite of the spirit of mischief for other ventures against the Abolitionists. As a consequence New York was in a more or less disturbed state from the fourth to the ninth of the month. The press of the city, with but a single exception (The Evening Post) meanwhile goaded the populace on by false and inflammatory representations touching the negroes and their friends, to the [209] rioting which began in earnest on the evening of the ninth. That night a mob attacked Lewis Tappan's house on Rose street, breaking in the door, smashing blinds and windows, and playing havoc generally with the furniture. On the following evening the rioters assailed the store of Arthur Tappan, on Pearl street, demolishing almost every pane of glass in the front of the building. On the same evening the mob paid its respects to Rev. Dr. Cox, by breaking windows both at his house and at his church. The negro quarters in the neighborhood of Five Points, and their houses in other parts of the city, were raided on the night of the Ith, and much damage done by the lawless hordes which for nearly a week wreaked their wrath upon the property of the negroes and their anti-slavery friends.

After this brave beginning, the wild-cat-like spirit continued, these ferocious demonstrations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire. The slavery agitation had increased apace. It had broken out in Congress on the presentation of anti-slavery petitions. The fire thus kindled spread through the country. Southern excitement became intense, amounted almost to panic. The activity of the anti-slavery press, the stream of anti-slavery publications, which had, indeed, increased with singular rapidity, was exaggerated by the Southern imagination, struck it with a sort of terror. There were meetings held in many parts of the South, tremendous scenes enacted there. In Charleston, South Carolina, the post-office was broken open by an aristocratic mob, under the lead of the famous RobertY. Hayne, and a bonfire made [210] of the Abolition mail-matter which it contained. As this Southern excitement advanced, a passionate fear for the stability of the Union arose in the heart of the North. Abolition and the Abolitionists had produced these sectional disturbances. Abolition and the Abolitionists were, therefore, enemies of the “glorious Union.” Northern excitement kept pace with Southern excitement until, in the summer of 1835, a reign of terror was widely established over both sections. To Garrison, from his Liberator outlook, all seemed “Consternation and perplexity, for perilous times have come.” They had, indeed, come in New York, as witness this from the pen of Lydia Maria Child, who was at the time (August 15) in Brooklyn. Says she:

I have not ventured into the city, nor does one of us dare to go to church to-day, so great is the excitement here. You can form no conception of it. 'Tis like the time of the French Revolution, when no man dared trust his neighbor. Private assassins from New Orleans are lurking at the corners of the streets to stab Arthur Tappan, and very large sums are offered for any one who will convey Mr. Thompson into the slave States. . . . There are several thousand Southerners now in the city, and I am afraid there are not seven hundred among them who have the slightest fear of God before their eyes. Mr. Wright [Elizur] was yesterday barricading his doors and windows with strong bars and planks an inch thick. Violence in some form seems to be generally expected.

Great meetings to put the Abolitionists down afforded vents during this memorable year to the pentup [211] excitement of the free States. New York had had its great meeting, and had put the Abolitionists down with pro-slavery resolutions and torrents of proslavery eloquence. Boston, too, had to have her great meeting and her cataracts of pro-slavery oratory to reassure the South of the sympathy and support of “the great body of the people of the Northern States.” The toils seemed everywhere closing around the Abolitionists. The huge head of the asp of public opinion, the press of the land was everywhere busy, day and night, smearing with a thick and virulent saliva of lies the brave little band and its leader. Anti-slavery publications, calculated to inflame the minds of the slaves against their masters, and intended to instigate the slaves to servile insurrections, had been distributed broadcast through the South by the emissaries of anti-slavery societies. The Abolitionists advocated the emancipation of the slaves in the South by Congress, intermarriages between the two races, the dissolution of the Union, etc. All of which outrageous misrepresentations were designed to render the movement utterly odious to the public, and the public so much the more furious for its suppression.

It was in the midst of such intense and widespread excitement that Boston called its meeting to abolish the Abolitionists. It was the month of August, and the heat of men's passions was as great as the heat of the August sun. The moral atmosphere of the city was so charged with inflammable gases that the slightest spark would have sufficed to produce an explosion. The Abolitionists felt this and carried themselves the while with unusual circumspection. They [212] deemed it prudent to publish an address to neutralize the falsehoods with which they were assailed by their enemies. The address drawn up by Garrison for the purpose was thonght “too fiery for the present time,” by his more cautious followers and was rejected. The Liberator office had already been threatened in consequence of a fiery article by the editor, denouncing the use of Faneuil Hall for the approaching pro-slavery meeting. It seemed to the unawed and indignant champion of liberty that it were “better that the winds should scatter it in fragments over the whole earth-better that an earthquake should engulf itthan that it should be used for so unhallowed and detestable a purpose!” The anti-abolition feeling of the town had become so bitter and intense that Henry E. Benson, then clerk in the anti-slavery office, writing on the 19th of the month, believed that there were persons in Boston, who would assassinate George Thompson in broad daylight, and doubted whether Garrison or Samuel J. May would be safe in Faneuil Hall on the day of the meeting, and what seemed still more significant of the inflamed state of the public mind, was the confidence with which he predicted that a mob would follow the meeting. The wildcatlike spirit was in the air — in the seething heart of the populace.

The meeting was held August 2 st, in the old cradle of liberty. To its call alone fifteen hundred names were appended. It was a Boston audience both as to character and numbers, an altogether imposing affair, over whom the mayor of the city presided and before whom two of the most consummate orators of the commonwealth fulmined against the Abolitionists. [213] One of their hearers, a young attorney of twenty-four, who listened to Peleg Sprague and Harrison Gray Otis that day, described sixteen years afterward the latter and the effects produced by him on that audience. Our young attorney vividly recalled how “ ‘Abolitionist’ was linked with contempt, in the silver tones of Otis, and all the charms that a divine eloquence and most felicitous diction could throw around a bad cause were given it; the excited multitude seemed actually ready to leap up beneath the magic of his speech. It would be something, if one must die, to die by such a hand — a hand somewhat worthy and able to stifle anti-slavery, if it could be stifled. The orator was worthy of the gigantic task attempted; and thousands crowded before him, every one of their hearts melted by that eloquence, beneath which Massachusetts had bowed, not unworthily, for more than thirty years.”

Here is a specimen of the sort of goading which the wild-cat-like spirit of the city got from the orators. It is taken from the speech of Peleg Sprague. The orator is paying his respects to George Thompson, “an avowed emissary,” “a professed agitator,” who “comes here from the dark and corrupt institutions of Europe to enlighten us upon the rights of man and the moral duties of our own condition. Received by our hospitality, he stands here upon our soil, protected by our laws, and hurls firebrands, arrows, and death into the habitations of our neighbors and friends, and brothers; and when he shall have kindled a conflagration which is sweeping in desolation over our land, he has only to embark for his own country, and there loQk serenely back with indifference [214] or exultation upon the widespread ruin by which our cities are wrapt in flames, and our garments rolled in blood.”

The great meeting was soon a thing of the past but not so its effects. The echoes of Otis and Sprague did did not cease at its close. They thrilled in the air, they thrilled long afterward in the blood of the people. When the multitude dispersed Mischief went out into the streets of the city with them. Wherever afterward they gathered Mischief made one in their midst. Mischief was let loose, Mischief was afoot in the town. The old town was no place for the foreign emissary, neither was it a safe place for the arch-agitator. On the day after the meeting, Garrison and his young wife accordingly retreated to her father's home at Brooklyn, Conn., where the husband needed not to be jostling elbows with Mistress Mischief, and her als.

Garrison's answer to the speeches of Otis and Sprague was in his sternest vein. He is sure after reading them that, “there is more guilt attaching to the people of the free States from the continuance of slavery, than those in the slave States.” At least he is ready to affirm upon the authority of Orator Sprague, “that New England is as really a slaveholding section of the republic as Georgia or South Carolina.” Sprague, he finds, “in amicable companionship and popular repute with thieves and adulterers; with slaveholders, slavedealers, and slavedestroyers; . . . with the disturbers of the public peace; with the robbers of the public mail; with ruffians who insult, pollute, and lacerate helpless women; and with conspirators against the lives and liberties of New England citizens.” [215]

To Otis who was then nearly seventy years of age Garrison addressed his rebuke in tones of singular solemnity. It seemed to him that the aged statesman had transgressed against liberty “under circumstances of peculiar criminality.” “Yet at this solemn period,” the reprobation of the prophet ran, “you have not scrupled, nay, you have been ambitious, to lead and address an excited multitude, in vindication of all imaginable wickedness, embodied in one great system of crime and blood — to pander to the lusts and desires of the robbers of God and his poor — to consign over to the tender mercies of cruel taskmasters, multitudes of guiltless men, women, and childrenand to denounce as an ‘unlawful and dangerous association’ a society whose only object is to bring this nation to repentance, through the truth as it is in Jesus.”

These audacious and iconoclastic performances of the reformer were not exactly adapted to turn from him the wrath of the idol worshipers. They more likely added fuel to the hot anger burning in Boston against him. Three weeks passed after his departure from the city, and his friends did not deem it safe for him to return. Toward the end of the fourth week of his enforced absence, against which he was chafing not a little, an incident happened in Boston which warned him to let patience have its perfect work. It was on the night of September 17th that the dispositions of the city toward him found grim expression in a gallows erected in front of his house at 23 Brighton street. This ghastly reminder that the fellow-citizens of the editor of the Liberator continued to take a lively interest in him, “was made in real [216] workmanship style, of maple joist five inches through, eight or nine feet high, for the accommodation of two persons.” Garrison and Thompson were the two persons for whom these brave accommodations were prepared. But as neither they nor their friends were in a mood to have trial made of them, the intended occupants consen td to give Boston a wide berth, and to be somewhat particular that they did not turn in with her while the homicidal fit lasted.

This editing his paper at long range, and this thought of life and safety Garrison did not at all relish. They grew more and more irksome to his fearless and earnest spirit. For his was a “pine-and-fagot” Abolitionism that knew not the fear of men or their wrath. But now he must needs have a care for the peace of mind of his young wife, who was, within a few months, to give birth to a child. And her anxiety for him was very great. Neither was the anxiety of devoted friends and followers to be lightly disregarded. All of which detained the leader in Brooklyn until the 25th of the month, when the danger signals seemed to have disappeared. Whereupon he set out immediately for his post in Boston to be at the head of his forces. He found the city in one of those strange pauses of popular excitement, which might signify the ebb of the tide or only the retreat of the billows. He was not inclined to let the anti-Abolition agitation subside so soon, before it had carried on its flood Abolition principles to wider fields and more abundant harvests in the republic. Anxious lest the cat-like temper of the populace was falling into indifference and apathy, he and his disciples took occasion to prod it into renewed wakefulness and [217] activity. The instruments used for this purpose were anti-slavery meetings and the sharp goad of his Liberator editorials. The city was possessed with the demon of slavery, and its foaming at the mouth was the best of all signs that the Abolition exorcism was working effectively. So, in between the glittering teeth and the terrible paws was thrust the maddening goad, and up sprang the mighty beast horrible to behold.

One of these meetings was the anniversary of the formation of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society which fell on October 14th. The ladies issued their notice, engaged a hall, and invited George Thompson to address them. Now the foreign emissary was particularly exasperating to Boston sensibility on the subject of slavery. He was the veritable red rag to the pro-slavery bull. The public announcement, therefore, that he was to speak in the city threw the public mind into violent agitation. The Gazette and the Courier augmented the excitement by the recklessness with which they denounced the proposed meeting, the former promising to Thompson a lynching, while the latter endeavored to involve his associates who were to the “manner born” in the popular outbreak, which was confidently predicted in case the “foreign vagrant” wagged his tongue at the time appointed.

Notwithstanding the rage of press and people the meeting was postponed through no willingness on the part of the ladies, but because of the panic of the owners of the hall lest their property should be damaged or destroyed in case of a riot. The ladies, thereupon, appointed three o'clock in the [218] afternoon of October 21st as the time, and the hall adjoining the Anti-Slavery Office, at 46 Washington street, as the place where they would hold their adjourned meeting. This time they made no mention of Mr. Thompson's addressing them, merely announcing several addresses. In fact, an address from Mr. Thompson, in view of the squally outlook, was not deemed expedient. To provide against accidents and disasters, he left the city on the day before the meeting. But this his enemies did not know. They confidently expected that he was to be one of the speakers. An inflammatory handbill distributed on the streets at noon of the 21st seemed to leave no doubt of this circumstance in the proslavery portion of the city.

The handbill referred to ran as follows:

Thompson, the abolitionist!!!

That infamous foreign scoundrel, Thompson, will hold forth this afternoon at the Liberator office, No. 48 Washington street. The present is a fair opportunity for the friends of the Union to snake Thompson out! It will be a contest between the Abolitionists and the friends of the Union. A purse of $100 has been raised by a number of patriotic citizens to reward the individual who shall first lay violent hands on Thompson, so that he may be brought to the tar-kettle before dark. Friends of the Union, be vigilant!

Boston, Wednesday, 12 o'clock.

That Wednesday forenoon Garrison spent at the anti-slavery office, little dreaming of the peril which was to overtake him in that very spot in the afternoon. He went home to an early dinner, since his wife was a member of the society, and he himself was [219] set down for an address. As he wended his way homeward, Mischief and her gang were afoot distributing the aforesaid handbills “in the insurance offices, the reading-rooms, all along State street, in the hotels, bar-rooms, etc.,” and scattering it “among mechanics at the North End, who were mightily taken with it.” Garrison returned about a half hour before the time appointed for the meeting. He found a small crowd of about a hundred individuals collected in front of the building where the hall was situated, and on ascending to the hall more of the same sort, mostly young men, choking the access to it. They were noisy, and Garrison pushed his way through them with difficulty. As he entered the place of meeting and took his seat among the ladies, twenty had already arrived, the gang of young rowdies recognized him and evinced this by the exclamation: “That's Garrison!” The full significance of the crowd just without the hall did not seem to have occurred to the man whom they had identified. He did not know that they were the foam blown from the mouth of a great mob at the moment filling the streets in the neighborhood of the building where he sat with such serenity of spirit. His wife who had followed him from their home saw what Garrison did not see. The crowd of a hundred had swelled to thousands. It lay in a huge irregular cross, jammed in between the buildings on Washington street, the head lowering in front of the antislavery office, the foot reaching to the site where stood Joy building, now occupied by the Rogers, the right arm stretching along Court street to the

Court House, and the left encircling the old State [220] House, City Hall and Post-office then, in a gigantic embrace. All hope of urging her way through that dense mass was abandoned by Mrs. Garrison, and a friend, Mr. John E. Fuller, escorted her to his home, where she passed the night.

Meantime the atmosphere upstairs at the hall began to betoken a fast approaching storm. The noises ominously increased on the landing just outside. The door of the hall was swung wide open and the entrance filled with rioters. Garrison, all unconscious of danger, walked over to these-persons and remonstrated in his grave way with them in regard to the disturbance which they were producing,winding up with a characteristic bit of pleasantry: “Gentlemen,” said he, “perhaps you are not aware that this is a meeting of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, called and intended exclusively for ladies, and those only who have been invited to address them. Understanding this fact you will not be so rude and indecorous as to thrust your presence upon this meeting.” But he added, “If, gentlemen, any of you are ladies in disguise-why only apprise me of the fact, give me your names, and I will introduee you to the rest of your sex, and you can take seats among them accordingly.” The power of benignity over malignity lasted a few moments after this little speech, when the situation changed rapidly from bad to worse. “The tumult continually increased,” says an eye-witness, “with horrible execrations, howling, stamping, and finally shrieking with rage. They seemed not to dare to enter, notwithstanding their fury,, but mounted on each other's shoulders, so that a row of hostile heads appeared over the slight partition, [221] of half the height of the wall which divides the society's rooms from the landing place. We requested them to allow the door to be shut; but they could not decide as to whether the request should be granted, and the door was opened and shut with violence, till it hung useless from its hinges.”

Garrison thinking that his absence might quiet these perturbed spirits and so enable the ladies to hold their meeting without further molestation volunteered at this juncture to the president of the society to retire from the hall unless she desired him to remain. She did not wish him to stay but urged him to go at once not only for the peace of the meeting but for his own safety. Garrison thereupon left the hall meaning at the time to leave the building as well, but egress by the way of the landing and the stairs, he directly perceived was impossible, and did what seemed the next best thing, entered the anti-slavery office, separated from the hall by a board partition. Charles C. Burleigh accompanied him within this retreat. The door between the hall and the office was securely locked, and Garrison with that marvelous serenity of mind, which was a part of him, busied himself immediately with writing to a friend an account of the scenes which were enacting in the next room.

The tempest had begun in the streets also. The mob from its five thousand throats were howling “Thompson! Thompson!” The mayor of the city, Theodore Lyman, appeared upon the scene, and announced to the gentlemen of property and standing, who were thus exercising their vocal organs, that [222] Mr. Thompson was not at the meeting, was not in the city. But the mayor was a modern Canute before the sea of human passion, which was rushing in over law and authority. He besought the rioters to disperse, but he might as well have besought the waves breaking on Nastasket Beach to disperse. Higher, higher rose the voices; fiercer, fiercer waxed the multitude; more and more frightful became the uproar. The long-pent — up excitement of the city and its hatred of Abolitionists had broken loose at last and the deluge had come. The mayor tossed upon the human inundation as a twig on a mountain stream, and with him for the nonce struggled helplessly the police power of the town also.

Upstairs in the hall the society and its president are quite as powerless as the mayor and the police below. Miss Mary S. Parker, the president, is struggling with the customary opening exercises. She has called the meeting to order, read to the ladies some passages from the Bible, and has lifted up her voice in prayer to the All Wise and Merciful One “for direction and succor, and the forgiveness of enemies and revilers.” It is a wonderful scene, a marvelous example of Christian heroism, for in the midst of the hisses and threats and curses of the rioters, the prayer of the brave woman rose clear and untremulous. But now the rioters have thrown themselves against the partition between the landing-place and the hall. They are trying to break it down; now, they have partially succeeded. In another moment they have thrown themselves against the door of the office where Garrison is locked. The lower panel is dashed in. Through the opening they have caught sight of [223] their object, Garrison, serenely writing at his desk. “There he is! That's Garrison! Out with the scoundrel!” and other such words of recognition and execration, burst from one and another of the mob. The shattering of the partition, the noise of splitting and ripping boards, the sharp crash caused by the shivering of the office door, the loud and angry outcries of the rioters warn the serene occupant of the office that his position has become one of extreme peril. But he does not become excited. His composure does not forsake him. Instead of attempting to escape, he simply turns to his friend, Burleigh, with the words, “You may as well open the door, and let them come in and do their worst.” But fortunately, Burleigh was in no such extremely non-resistant mood.

The advent of the mayor and the constables upon the scene at this point rescued Garrison from immediately falling into the hands of the mob, who were cleared out of the hall and from the stairway. Now the voice of the mayor was heard urging the ladies to go home as it was dangerous to remain; and now the voice of Maria Weston Chapman, replying: “If this is the last bulwark of freedom, we may as well die here as anywhere.” The ladies finally decided to retire, and their exit diverted, while the operation lasted, the attention of the huge, cat-like creature from their object in the anti-slavery office. When the passing of the ladies had ceased, the old fury of the mob against Garrison returned. “Out with him!” “Lynch him!” rose in wild uproar from thousands in the streets. But again the attention of the huge, cat-like creature was diverted from its object in the second [224] story of the building before which it was lashing itself into frenzy. This time it was the anti-slavery sign which hung from the rooms of the society over the sidewalk. The mob had caught sight of it, and directly set up a yell for it. The sensation of utter helplessness in the presence of the multitude seemed at this juncture to return to the chief magistrate of the city. It was impossible to control the cataractlike passions of the rioters. He heard their awful roar for the sign. The din had risen to terrific proportions. The thought of what might happen next appalled him. The mob might begin to bombard the sign with brickbats, and from the sign pass to the building, and from the building to the constables, and then-but the mayor glanced not beyond, for he had determined to appease the fury of the mob by throwing down to it the hateful sign. A constable detached it, and hurled it down to the rioters in the street. But by the act the mayor had signified that the rule of law had collapsed, and the rule of the mob had really begun. When the rioters had wreaked their wrath upon the emblem of freedom, they were in the mood for more violence. The appetite for destruction, it was seen, had not been glutted; only whetted. Garrison's situation was now extremely critical. He could no longer remain where he was, for the mob would invade the building and hunt him like hounds from cellar to garret. He must leave the building without delay. To escape from the front was out of the question. A way of escape must, therefore, be found in the rear. All of these considerations the mayor and Garrison's friends urged upon him. The good man fell in with this counsel, [225] and, with a faithful friend, proceeded to the rear of the building, where from a window he dropped to a shed, but in doing so was very nearly precipitated to the ground. After picking himself up he passed into a carpenter's shop, meaning to let himself down into Wilson's Lane, now Devonshire street, but the myriad-eyed mob, which was searching every portion of the building for their game, espied him at this point, and with that set up a great shout. The workmen came to the aid of the fugitive by closing the door of the carpenter's shop in the face of his pursuers. The situation seemed desperate. Retreat from the front was cut off; escape from the rear anticipated and foiled. Garrison perceived the futility of any further attempts to elude the mob, and proposed in his calm way to deliver himself up to them. But his faithful Achates, John Reid Campbell, advised him that it was his duty to avoid the mob as long as it was possible to do so. Garrison thereupon made a final effort to get away. He retreated up stairs, where his friend and a lad got him into a corner of the room and tried to conceal his whereabouts by piling some boards in front of him. But, by that time, the rioters had entered the building, and within a few moments had broken into the room where Garrison was in hiding. They found Mr. Reid, and demanded of him where Garrison was. But Reid firmly refused to tell. They then led him to a window, and exhibited him to the mob in the Lane, advising them that it was not Garrison, but Garrison's and Thompson's friend, who knows where Garrison is, but refuses to tell. A shout of fierce exultation from below greeted this announcement. Almost [226] immediately afterward, Garrison was discovered and dragged furiously to the window, with the intention of hurling him thence to the pavement. Some of the rioters were for doing this, while others were for milder measures. “Don't let us kill him outright!” they begged. So his persecutors relented, coiled a rope around his body instead, and bade him descend to the street. The great man was never greater than at that moment. With extraordinary meekness and benignity he saluted his enemies in the street. From the window he bowed to the multitude who were thirsting for his destruction, requesting them to wait patiently, for he was coming to them. Then he stepped intrepidly down the ladder raised for the purpose, and into the seething sea of human passion.

Garrison must now have been speedily torn to pieces had he not been quickly seized by two or three powerful men, who were determined to save him from falling into the hands of the mob. They were men of great muscular strength, but the muscular strength of two or three giants would have proven utterly unequal to the rescue, and this Mr. Garrison's deliverers evidently appreciated. For while they employed their powerful arms, they also employed stratagem as well to effect their purpose. They shouted anon as they fought their way through the excited throng, “He is an American! He shan't be hurt!” and other such words which divided the mind of the mob, arousing among some sympathy for the good man. By this means he was with difficulty got out of Wilson's lane into State street, in the rear of the old State House. The champion was now on historic ground, [227] ground consecrated by the blood of Crispus Attucks and his fellow-martyrs sixty-five years before. His hat was lost, much of his clothing was stripped from his body, he was without his customary glasses, and was therefore practically blind. He could hear the awful clamor, the mighty uproar of the mob, but he could not distinguish them one from another, friend from foe. Nevertheless he “walked with head erect, calm countenance flashing eyes like a martyr going to the stake, full of faith and manly hope” according to the testimony of an eye-witness. Garrison himself has thrown light on the state of his mind during the ordeal. “The promises of God,” he afterward remembered, sustained his soul, “so that it was not only divested of fear, but ready to sing aloud for joy.”

The news now reached the ears of the mayor that Garrison was in the hands of the mob. Thereupon the feeble but kindly magistrate began to act afresh the role of the twig in the mountain stream. He and his constables struggled helplessly in the human current rushing and raging around City Hall, the head and seat of municipal law and authority. Without the aid of private citizens Garrison must inevitably have perished in the commotions which presently reached their climax in violence and terror. He was in the rear of City Hall when the mayor caught up to him and his would-be rescuers. The mayor perceived the extremity of the situation, and said to the Faneuil Hall giants who had hold of Garrison, “Take him into my office,” which was altogether more easily said than done. For the rioters have raised the cry “to the Frog Pond with him!” Which order will be [228] carried out, that of the magistrate or that of the mob?

These were horrible moments while the two hung trembling in the balance. But other private citizens coming to the assistance of the mayor struck the scales for the moment in his favor, and Garrison was finally hustled, and thrust by main force into the south door of the City Hall and carried up to the mayor's room. But the mob had immediately effected an entrance into the building through the north door and filled the lower hall. The mayor now addressed the pack, strove manfully in his feeble way to prevail upon the human wolves to observe order, to sustain the law and the honor of the city, he even intimated to them that he was ready to lay down his life on the spot to maintain the law and preserve order. Then he got out on the ledge over the south door and spoke in a similar strain to the mob on the street. But alas! he knew not the secret for reversing the Circean spell by which gentlemen of property and standing in the community had been suddenly transformed into a wolfish rabble.

The increasing tumult without soon warned the authorities that what advantage the mayor may have obtained in the contest with the mob was only temporary and that their position was momentarily becoming more perilous and less tenable. It was impossible to say to what extreme of violence a multitude so infuriated would not go to get their prey. It seemed to the now thoroughly alarmed mayor that the mob might in their frenzy attack the City Hall to effect their purpose. There was one building in the city, which the guardians of the law evidently agreed could resist the rage of the populace, and [229] that building was the jail. To this last stronghold of Puritan civilization the authorities and the powers that were, fell back as a dernier resort to save Garrison's life. But even in this utmost pitch and extremity, when law was trampled in the streets, when authority was a reed shaken in a storm, when anarchy had drowned order in the bosom of the town, the Anglo-Saxon passion for legal forms asserted itself. The good man, hunted for his life, must forsooth be got into the only refuge which promised him security from his pursuers by a regular judicial commitment as a disturber of the peace. Is there anything at once so pathetic and farcical in the Universal history of mobs?

Pathetic and farcical to be sure, but it was also well meant, and therefore we will not stop to quarrel with men who were equal to the perpetration of a legal fiction so full of the comedy and tragedy of civilized society. But enough — the municipal wiseacres having put their heads together and evolved the brilliant plan of committing the prophet as a disturber of the peace, immediately set about its execution, which developed in the sequence into a bird of altogether another color. For a more perilous and desperate device to preserve Garrison's life could not well have been hit upon. How was he ever to be got out of the building and through that sea of ferocious faces surging and foaming around it. First then by disguising his identity by sundry changes in his apparel. He obtained a pair of trousers from one kindly soul, another gave him a coat, a third lent him a stock, a fourth furnished him a cap. A hack was summoned and stationed at the south door, a posse [230] of constables drew up and made an open way from the door to it. Another hack was placed in readiness at the north door. The hack at the south door was only a ruse to throw the mob off the scent of their prey, while he was got out of the north door and smuggled into the other hack. Up to this point, the plan worked well, but the instant after Garrison had been smuggled into the hack he was identified by the mob, and then ensued a scene which defies description; no writer however skillful, may hope to reproduce it. The rioters rushed madly upon the vehicle with the cry: “Cut the traces! Cut the reins!” They flung themselves upon the horses, hung upon the wheels, dashed open the doors, the driver the while belaboring their heads right and left with a powerful whip, which he also laid vigorously on the backs of his horses. For a moment it looked as if a catastrophe was unavoidable, but the next saw the startled horses plunging at break-neck speed with the hack up Court street and the mob pursuing it with yells of baffled rage. Then began a thrilling, a tremendous race for life and Leverett street jail. The vehicle flew along Court street to Bodoin square, but the rioters, with fell purpose flew hardly less swiftly in its track. Indeed the pursuit of the pack was so close that the hackman did not dare to drive directly to the jail but reached it by a detour through Cambridge and Blossom streets. Even then the mob pressed upon the heels of the horses as they drew up before the portals of the old prison, which shut not an instant too soon upon the editor of the Liberator, who was saved from a frightful fate to use a Biblical phrase but by the skin of his teeth. [231]

Here the reformer safe from the wrath of his foes, was locked in a cell; and here, during the evening, with no abatement of his customary cheerfulness and serenity of spirit, he received several of his anxious friends, Whittier among them, whom through the grated bars he playfully accosted thus: “You see my accommodations are so limited, that I cannot ask you to spend the night with me.” That night in his prison cell, and on his rude prison bed, he slept the sleep of the just man, sweet and long:

When peace within the bosom reigns,
     And conscience gives th' approving voice;
Though bound the human form in chains,
     Yet can the soul aloud rejoice.

'Tis true, my footsteps are confined-
     I cannot range beyond this cell--
But what can circumscribe my mind,
     To chain the winds attempt as well!

The above stanzas he wrote the next morning on the walls of his cell. Besides this one he made two other inscriptions there, to stand as memorabilia of the black drama enacted in Boston on the afternoon of October 21, 1835.

After being put through the solemn farce of an examination in a court, extemporized in the jail, Garrison was discharged from arrest as a disturber of the peace! But the authorities, dreading a repetition of the scenes of the day before, prayed him to leave the city for a few days, which he did, a deputy sheriff driving him to Canton, where he boarded the train from Boston to Providence, containing his wife, and together they went thence to her father's at Brooklyn, [232] Conn. The apprehensions of the authorities in respect of the danger of a fresh attack upon him were unquestionably well founded, inasmuch as diligent search was made for him in all of the outgoing stages and cars from the city that morning.

In this wise did pro-slavery, patriotic Boston translate into works her sympathy for the South.

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