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Chapter 1: re-formation and Reanimation.—1841.

Actively accused of infidelity, on both sides of the Atlantic, Garrison restates his religious belief, but attends the closing sessions of the Chardon-Street Convention. He labors diligently in the field to revive the anti-slavery organization with Frederick Douglass at Nantucket, with N. P. Rogers in New Hampshire. He begins to entertain disunion views. Alienation and hostility of Isaac Knapp.

If a man's reputation were his life, the scene of this biography would now properly shift once more to England. Collins's mission to raise funds for the support1 of the Standard encountered the obstacles for which Mr. Garrison had prepared him “in consequence of the introduction of the new-organization spirit . . . in England,” Ante, 2.417. in connection with and as a sequel to the World's2 Convention. The defence of the old organization was imposed upon him from the start, and this, of course, involved a special vindication of its leader—a task made doubly difficult after Colver's slanders had been3 industriously put in circulation under the official cover of the4 Executive Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. ‘The Sabbath [Chardon-Street] Convention,’ wrote Collins to Mr. Garrison, from Ipswich, the home of Clarkson, on January 1, 1841, “has completely changed the issue. Woman's rights and non-governmentism are quite respectable when compared to your religious views.” Ms. In a recent interview, procured with much difficulty, and only in an unofficial capacity, with [2] Clarkson, his family were unwilling to have Collins touch on the subject of the division among the American abolitionists. Allusion to this or to Mr. Garrison led the venerable philanthropist to speak of the evils resulting from destroying the Sabbath or religion, and of the dangerous influence of Owenism. ‘It required no sagacity,’ adds Collins, ‘to see his design in referring to Owen,5 etc. . . Owenism, in Great Britain, is considered6 double-distilled infidelity. Your views are being considered of the Owen school.7 You are the Great Lion which stands in my way.’ Likewise, on February 3, Collins writes to Francis Jackson: “Garrison is a hated and persecuted man in England. Calumny and reproach are heaped upon him in the greatest possible degree.” Ms. And, in a letter to Mr. Garrison himself, Richard D. Webb,8 on May 30, reported that Joseph Sturge, the weightiest member of the London Committee, regarded the mere defence of Garrison and Collins by Elizabeth Pease and William Smeal ‘as a species of persecution directed against himself, and as a gratuitous giving up of the slave's cause.’ When Miss Pease had obtained from9 America a truthful statement of Mr. Garrison's part in the Chardon-Street Convention, at the hands of the Quaker James Cannings Fuller, the London Committee10 refused her request to give it the same currency which11 they had given to Colver's libel.

W. L. Garrison to Elizabeth Pease, Darlington, England.

Boston, March 1, 1841.
12 I am very much obliged to you for your letter by the Britannia, and do not regret, on the whole, that bro. Collins has concluded to remain until the sailing of the steamer of the 4th inst., though I trust he will not miss coming at that time, for his presence here now is indispensable. In whatever he has been called to encounter, on your side of the Atlantic, by the evil spirit that reigns there, as well as here, in the anti-slavery ranks, I deeply sympathize with him. The [3] attempt of Nathaniel Colver to injure his character is exciting among all the true-hearted friends of our cause among us an intense feeling of indignation and abhorrence; and in the sequel it will be sure to recoil upon the head of that unhappy man.

Equally abortive will be the effort of N. C. to affect my13 religious character by his absurd and monstrous statement to Joseph Sturge, that I have headed an infidel convention. Even supposing the charge were true, I should like to know by what authority British abolitionists, as such, undertake to judge me, for this cause, on the anti-slavery platform. I need not say to you, that the charge is both groundless and malicious; that my religious views are of the most elevated, the most spiritual character; that I esteem the holy scriptures above all other books in the universe, and always appeal to ‘the law and the testimony’ to prove all my peculiar doctrines; that, in regard to my religious sentiments, they are almost identical with those of Barclay, Penn, and Fox; that, respecting the Sabbath, the church, and the ministry, Joseph Sturge and I (if he be a genuine Friend) harmonize in opinion; that I believe in an indwelling Christ, and in his righteousness alone; that I glory in nothing here below, save in Christ and him crucified; that I believe all the works of the devil are to be destroyed, and our Lord is to reign from sea to sea, even to the ends of the earth; and that I profess to have passed from death unto life, and know by happy experience that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

The truth is, N. Colver has a mortal antipathy to all the distinctive views of Friends, and he regards them all as infidel; yet he writes to Joseph Sturge as though he fully agreed with him as to the nature of the Sabbath, and as though I held purely infidel views on this subject!! Why does not Joseph Sturge, as an honest man and a sincere friend to the anti-slavery cause (I will not refer to his former professions of personal friendship for me), inform me by letter of what he has received from N. Colver and others, touching my religious character? Why does he not express a wish to hear what I can say in self-defence? I confess, I am grieved and astonished at his conduct, and am forced to regard him much less highly than I once did. By the next packet, I hope to be able to address a letter to him on this subject.

I am sorry, very sorry (and very much surprised, too), that14 bro. Collins should have applied to the London Committee for [4] aid or approbation. It was an error of judgment, simply; but,15 after what we, who sent him out, have said of that Committee, it looks upon the face of it like an imposition.16 We supposed he would make his appeal to the abolitionists at large and take17 his chance accordingly. I fear, also, that he may not have been so guarded at all times in his language as could have been desirable, respecting the transfer of the Emancipator—a18 transfer that was certainly very dishonorable, and wholly unworthy of the character of those who participated in it.19 Yet I doubt not that the mission of J. A. C. will do much for our persecuted20 enterprise.

For what you have done to aid him, we all feel under the deepest obligations. May Heaven reward you a hundred-fold! Fear not that truth shall not triumph over falsehood, right over wrong, and freedom over slavery.21


Colver was efficiently seconded by Torrey, temporarily22 conducting the Massachusetts Abolitionist, who brought the most cruel accusations against Collins's integrity and manhood; and by Phelps, who dressed up Mrs. Chapman's report of his own remarks at the Chardon-Street Convention, and gave his personal coloring to what was said by others—all to prove the Convention's infidel character and Mr. Garrison's complicity. This he first ventilated in the New England Christian Advocate,23 and24 then despatched abroad through the sectarian channels controlled by the London Committee. Mr. Garrison's reply was prompt, and warmed with a natural25 indignation, for to the charge of infidelity were added fresh insinuations of ‘no marriage’ doctrines, calculated to26 horrify still more the English mind. In fact,

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