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Girolamo Savonarola (search for this): chapter 8
ate Emancipation, was the vortex of an unseen whirlpool. Through his brain spun the turbillion. Something was to break forth; for the power was bursting its envelope. The flood issued in the form in which we know it — with purposed vilification, with excoriating harshness, with calculated ferocity. Only in this manner could it issue: the dam could hold the flood no longer, nor lift it into poetic expression. If you take the great political agitators of the world like Luther, Calvin, Savonarola, Garibaldi, or certain of the English church reformers, you will find that these men always live under a terrible strain, and they generally give way somewhere. No one can imagine how fierce is the blast upon a man's nervous system, when he stands in the midst of universal antagonism, solitary and at bay. The continuousness of the trial is apt to wear upon the character of reformers. Through vanity, or love of power, or through sheer nervous exhaustion, they become guilty of cruelty or
Abner Ross (search for this): chapter 8
r, they saw the floggings and the despair. A hundred volumes might be compiled out of old newspapers by culling advertisements like the following from the Charleston Courier in 1825: Twenty dollars reward. Ran away from the subscriber, on the 14th instant, a negro girl named Molly. She is 16 or 17 years of age, slim made, lately branded on her left cheek, thus, R, and a piece is taken off her left ear on the same side; the same letter is branded on the inside of both her legs. Abner Ross Fairfield District, S. C. Let any serious-minded man read a few pages of the Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, or of Theodore D. Weld's book on American Slavery, before he decides to discountenance strong language. The people of the South did not know about the horrors of slavery, and taught their children not to see them; they glossed them over, as the inevitable unpleasantnesses of life are always glossed over. John S. Wise was a typical child of the South, save that he had a Northern mot
Guiseppe Garibaldi (search for this): chapter 8
tion, was the vortex of an unseen whirlpool. Through his brain spun the turbillion. Something was to break forth; for the power was bursting its envelope. The flood issued in the form in which we know it — with purposed vilification, with excoriating harshness, with calculated ferocity. Only in this manner could it issue: the dam could hold the flood no longer, nor lift it into poetic expression. If you take the great political agitators of the world like Luther, Calvin, Savonarola, Garibaldi, or certain of the English church reformers, you will find that these men always live under a terrible strain, and they generally give way somewhere. No one can imagine how fierce is the blast upon a man's nervous system, when he stands in the midst of universal antagonism, solitary and at bay. The continuousness of the trial is apt to wear upon the character of reformers. Through vanity, or love of power, or through sheer nervous exhaustion, they become guilty of cruelty or tainted wit
William Ellery Channing (search for this): chapter 8
led extravagant. They are appalling. They are magnificent. And they came much nearer to expressing the general opinion of the country in 1842 than the milder words quoted above came to expressing the contemporary opinion of 1832. Education was marching, the case was beginning to be understood. Within three years after Garrison's denunciation of the Constitution as an agreement with Hell, the Annexation of Texas brought thousands of the most conservative minds in the country, including Channing, to the point of abandoning the Constitution; and when in 1854 Garrison publicly burned the Constitution on the Fourth of July, the incident was of slight importance. Civil War was already inevitable: the dragon's teeth had been sown: the blades of bright bayonets could be seen pushing up through the soil in Kansas. We see, then, the profound unity of Garrison's whole course, and may examine with indulgence some minor failures in logic which are very characteristic of him — very charact
Henry A. Wise (search for this): chapter 8
. Let any serious-minded man read a few pages of the Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, or of Theodore D. Weld's book on American Slavery, before he decides to discountenance strong language. The people of the South did not know about the horrors of slavery, and taught their children not to see them; they glossed them over, as the inevitable unpleasantnesses of life are always glossed over. John S. Wise was a typical child of the South, save that he had a Northern mother. He was the son of Henry A. Wise, the famous Governor of Virginia, and he has given us a book of memoirs, The end of an era, which will be read as long as the Civil War is remembered. John S. Wise had never heard of a slave-auction, till a Northern uncle, whom he met or visited in Philadelphia, took him to see Uncle Tom's Cabin on the stage. This was in the fifties, and when John S. Wise was a young lad. On returning to Richmond he visited a slave-auction, and was as much horrified as a Northern boy would have been.
ich is really a distributive furnace, and overflows to a lesser degree in other men. The aerolites which fall in Terra del Fuego show much the same chemical nature as those of Iceland. So of these accusing, flaming aerolites of politics. The Jewish prophet is the most soft-hearted of them all, and it is to this variety that Garrison belongs. These men see the suffering of the world, and they see or feel the relation between the suffering of one man and the selfishness of the next. The greentlemen those Pharisees were, to whom Christ used such strong language. How inoffensive their vices — a little usury, some business villainy, perhaps, a good deal of conventional hypocrisy, front pews in church, public charity-giving. That old Jewish society was probably the most moral society that ever existed. If we consider its thousand years of prophets, its literature of ethics and of devotion, its popular passion for theology, its passion for those discussions which went on constantly
r small, is not so much an individual, as a part of the consciousness of all men. He acts in a particular way upon the force of life, just as a prism acts in a particular way upon light. He is formed by pressure of some sort, and appears at critical times, just as a prism is created by pressure in the womb of the mountain. His understanding of his own function is uncertain, and there have been many plain-minded prophets who could suffer martyrdom, but not explain. I cannot find that even Socrates exactly understood the theory of agitation. The world sometimes thinks of these men as stupid people who know not what they would be at. We should think of them as spirits who enact a lesson rather than as moralists who read a lecture. Let every man carry home what he can from the auto-da-fe. The prophets are hot volcanic lava, rolling out of some hidden furnace — which is really a distributive furnace, and overflows to a lesser degree in other men. The aerolites which fall in Terra
hrough the mighty logic of natural law as the movement spread. Persecution purifies any new religion. As the wave of persecution which had held the Abolitionists together from 1830 to 1837 began to subside, quarrels broke out. It was not until 1850 when the triumph of the Slave Power in the passage of the Compromise Bill, gave rise to a new and short persecution, that the Anti-slavery people enjoyed again a short period of unity and peace. The inevitable quarrels over creed and dogma set i an inquiry into the expediency of passing yet another law, by which every one who shall dare peep or mutter against the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law shall have his life crushed out. When we learn, however, that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 provided that the negro in Massachusetts might be identified through the mere affidavit of the slaveholder agent; that the slave could not testify himself; that there was no trial by jury; that the commissioner's fee was doubled if the slaveholder
f the country in 1842 than the milder words quoted above came to expressing the contemporary opinion of 1832. Education was marching, the case was beginning to be understood. Within three years after Garrison's denunciation of the Constitution as an agreement with Hell, the Annexation of Texas brought thousands of the most conservative minds in the country, including Channing, to the point of abandoning the Constitution; and when in 1854 Garrison publicly burned the Constitution on the Fourth of July, the incident was of slight importance. Civil War was already inevitable: the dragon's teeth had been sown: the blades of bright bayonets could be seen pushing up through the soil in Kansas. We see, then, the profound unity of Garrison's whole course, and may examine with indulgence some minor failures in logic which are very characteristic of him — very characteristic, indeed, of all practical-minded men who, after making one fault of logic, proceed to joggte themselves back again t
age would be harsh. Such is the explanation of the strong language of Anti-slavery. The Abolitionists were the only people in the country who effectually saw what was going on. They saw the slave-block, they saw the child reft from the mother, they saw the floggings and the despair. A hundred volumes might be compiled out of old newspapers by culling advertisements like the following from the Charleston Courier in 1825: Twenty dollars reward. Ran away from the subscriber, on the 14th instant, a negro girl named Molly. She is 16 or 17 years of age, slim made, lately branded on her left cheek, thus, R, and a piece is taken off her left ear on the same side; the same letter is branded on the inside of both her legs. Abner Ross Fairfield District, S. C. Let any serious-minded man read a few pages of the Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, or of Theodore D. Weld's book on American Slavery, before he decides to discountenance strong language. The people of the South did not know a
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