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To Miss Lucy Searle.

Wayland, June 5, 1861.
I return “Silas Marner” with cordial thanks. It entertained me greatly. His honest attempts at education were extremely amusing. What a genuine touch of nature was “Eppie in the tole hole!” What a significant fact it is in modern literature, that the working class are so generally the heroes. No princes in disguise are necessary now to excite an interest in the reader. The popular mind is educated up to the point of perceiving that carpenters, weavers, etc., are often real princes in disguise. The longer I live, the more entirely and intensely do my sympathies go with the masses.

I am glad to see some amendment with regard to sending back fugitive slaves. Those at Fort Monroe are to be protected so long as Virginia continues in rebellion. God grant that all the slave-holders may rebel, and remain in rebellion, till the emancipation of their slaves is accomplished! Success to Jeff. Davis, till he goads the free States into doing, from policy and revenge, what they have not manhood to do from justice and humanity! It is a dreadful thing, a most demoralizing thing, to have the laws of one's country at such variance with the laws of God. I never realized it so fully as when I heard your good, conscientious, intelligent friend say that he would send back a fugitive slave because the Constitution required it. When our fathers joined hands with slave-holders to form the Constitution, with their feet on the prostrate and helpless slaves, they did sad work for their descendants. If my father had made a compact with a rich neighbor that I would help [153] him rob a poor one, I should break the compact. Law is not law, if it violates principles of eternal justice. If drunken foreigners are hired to vote for a member of Congress, and the vote of that member causes the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, probably because he wishes to obtain some still higher office, am I bound to sell my soul to perdition because the iniquity has been framed into a law? The dictionary does not contain words enough to express my detestation of all laws framed for the support of tyranny. To keep that unrighteous compact with fellow-citizens was bad enough, but to keep it with rebels, who have over and over again violated all their part of the compact, is adding imbecility and absurdity to wickedness.

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