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John Jay Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison, Chapter 2: the Background (search)
re him. Let us, however, go to the bottom of the whole matter. On January 13th, 1840, Dr. Charles Follen, a German enthusiast and one of the few highly educated men among the Abolitionists, was burned alive in the ill-fated steamer Lexington, while on a journey from New York to Boston. Follen was a young doctor of laws and a teacher at the University of Jena, who had been prosecuted for his liberal opinions by the reactionary governments of Prussia and Austria in 1824. He had fled to Switzerland and thence to the United States. His friends in this country secured him a post as lecturer, and afterwards as professor, at Harvard College; which post he lost through expressing his opinions on slavery. He afterwards took a pastorate in the Unitarian Church and lost it through the same cause. Follen was what Goethe used to call a Schoene Seele, --beloved of all. He was an especial friend of Channing's. His tragic death was at the time considered by the Abolitionists as the severes
John Jay Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison, Chapter 6: Retrospect and prospect. (search)
atory, robed in mantles of lead. They emerge, each bent down with his weight of logic, blinded by his view of the inherited curse — nursing his critique of the constitution; they file across the pages of our history from Jefferson to Lincoln — sad, perplexed men. The solution given by Garrison to the puzzle was that the law must give way, that the Constitution was of no importance, after all. This is what any American would have answered had the question concerned the Constitution of Switzerland or of Patagonia. But, for some reason, our own Constitution was regarded differently. I suppose that the politics, theology, and formal organization of the whole world are never so important as they pretend to be. The element of material interest in these matters gives them their awful weight to contemporaries. When we are dealing with a past age this element evaporates, and we see clearly that most of the importances of the world have no claim to our reverence. Now when a man has fel
John Jay Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison, Chapter 7: the man of action (search)
it were, handed to Garrison from without from on high, from within. He puts it on, and enters the lists: he puts it off, and takes supper with his family. As for the kind of man which he really was, the testimony is universal and uniform. I copy one or two phrases almost at random, from among the innumerable descriptions of him. Richard D. Webb, an Irish Abolitionist, and a very old friend of all the Anti-slavery people, wrote: I . . . spent three weeks with the Garrisons in Paris and Switzerland. It was a time of intense enjoyment, for I exceedingly liked my companions .... As to Mr. Garrison himself, he is the most delightful man I have ever known — magnanimous, generous, considerate, and, as far as I can see, every way morally excellent. I can perceive that he has large faith, is very credulous, is not deeply read, and has little of the curiosity or thirst for knowledge which educated people are prone to. But, take him for all in all, I know no such other man. His children ar