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Chapter 6: third mission to England.—1846.

In response to an invitation from the Glasgow Emancipation Society, Garrison revisits great Britain to join in the antislavery crusade against the Free Church of Scotland, for its collusion with American slaveholders. He speaks, with Thompson and Douglass, incessantly throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland; attends the World's Temperance Convention; helps form an Anti-slavery League; and demolishes the pro-slavery Evangelical Alliance. He pays a last visit to Clarkson, who shortly dies.

At the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society on January 30, 1846, the following resolution, of Mr. Garrison's moving, was adopted:
That the special thanks of this Society are proffered to our untiring coadjutor, Henry C. Wright, for the fidelity with which he has unmasked the vaunted Free Church of Scotland for conniving at the great iniquity of American slavery, by soliciting and receiving its pecuniary assistance and religious cooperation; for all his labors abroad, to secure in aid of our anti-slavery enterprise the generous sympathies and Christian cooperation of the good and philanthropic in England and Europe; and, in particular, for the revelation which he has made to them as to the guilty compromises of the American Union—thus invoking their moral abhorrence of such an unholy compact, and securing their righteous testimony against it. Lib. 16.22.

The secession of the Free Church of Scotland from the Established Church was consummated in May, 1843. The grounds of separation involved the voluntary abandonment of State support for the ministers of the denomination, and made necessary the raising of a Sustentation Fund. Before the date in question, therefore, Dr. Chalmers had arranged for an ecumenical collection, of1 which the American contingent was not to be despised. Charleston, the cradle of lovers of freedom—‘in the abstract’—was very prompt to respond to this appeal. Seven different ‘Evangelical’ denominations begged the2 Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D., to preach a sermon on it and pass the contribution box in his Presbyterian church, [151] which he did, with many touching references to ‘tyranny and oppression,’ and many tropes in which Liberty cut a pretty figure. This discourse had the desired effect in raising a sum of money, to which the mayor of the city contributed his mite and his name. And so pleased was the schismatic pastor of Free St. David's, Glasgow, that he reprinted the Rev. Dr. Smyth's unmoral rhetoric, with a prefatory note. To his surprise, however, a well-informed, but irreverent, Glasgow editor exposed “the flashy, high-sounding, unmeaning words” Lib. 14.57. of the Charleston divine; and, hoping that the money had not yet arrived, looked to see the Free Church treasurer send it back by return of steamer, as blood-stained, together with a sermon ‘suited to the circumstances of slaveholders,’ for the special benefit of the Rev. Dr. Smyth.

The poor editor found his excuse, perhaps, in the fact that religious Scotland was just then greatly exercised by the news that a South Carolina judge had passed3 sentence of death on a Northern man, John L. Brown, for aiding the escape of a female slave. The incident, except among abolitionists,4 created no excitement in this5 country. In England it was pathetically commented on in the House of Lords by Brougham and by the Lord6 Chief-Justice Denman, who spoke, as William Ashurst7 87. wrote to the Liberator, “in the name of all the Judges of England on this horrible iniquity.” Lib. 14.87. O'Connell thundered against it before the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery8 Society. A memorial to the nonentity known as the Churches of Christ in South Carolina, ‘as representing those of other provinces, confederated in the United States of America,’ was drawn up and signed by more9 than 1300 ‘ministers and office-bearers of Christian churches and benevolent societies in Lancashire, London, and elsewhere in England.’ Hardly was this surpassed by the Scotch conscience, which called great meetings— [152] some under the lead of the Glasgow Emancipation Society,10 but vigorously supported by the clergy; one, a town meeting, at Edinburgh, summoned by the Magistrates and11 Council. What more natural than to couple Brown's12 case with the action of the Free Church in accepting contributions from American slaveholders—and South Carolinian in particular?

The British protest—O'Connell's above all, the Southern judge bearing an Irish name13—was heard and felt in South14 Carolina; and, whether or not it was heeded, Brown's15 sentence was commuted to whipping. The Free Church was less sensitive, and its collecting agents, already landed in America, were guided neither by the home feeling nor by16 the timely admonition of the abolitionists. From the Tappans and their associates of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society they received in silence a long and solemn warning not to prosecute their tour through the17 South, since it would inevitably commit them to the palliation of slavery. They were also fully advised, in the same communication, of the pro-slavery character of the Presbyterian organization in this country.

This letter, dated April 2, 1844, was followed by one privately addressed on April 27 by Mr. Garrison to the18 Rev. William Chalmers, one of the Commissioners, inviting him to be one of the speakers at the approaching anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York. Mr. Chalmers, however, was not prone to make entangling alliances. He had happened to be in New Bedford on April 13, 14, when Mr. Garrison was lecturing on Non-Resistance, the Sabbath, the Ministry, and the Church; and though he took good care not to go and listen to him, he prudently preserved the placard announcing the lectures, and carried it to Scotland, that it might serve to explain the difficulties of the American churches with reference to the anti-slavery movement. Not only was he shocked by the subjects presented, and [153] the reported views advanced by the lecturer, but his keen eye detected on the placard a sneer at the Sabbath, which had not been designated by its holy name, but simply as ‘the next day’—to Saturday! So on May 1 he sat down and declined the invitation on the ground of conflicting engagements-not, however, withholding the pointed remark to Mr. Garrison, that, while having his own views as to slavery, he did not itemize Sabbath, Ministry, and Church among the sum of all villanies. Then, on the good advice of a shrewder friend, he pocketed the letter instead of mailing it, and gave it to the light through a19 Scotch paper a year later—meantime having, with his colleagues, picked up some twenty thousand dollars of20 American money as the reward of discretion on the controverted topic of slavery.

Nevertheless, the cry of the Glasgow Emancipation21 Society, ‘Send back the money!’ was not relaxed. Henry C. Wright, who had survived the rigors of the water-cure at Graefenberg and returned to Scotland, gave a22 powerful reinforcement to the movement, to which rallied also, across the border, Clarkson and George Thompson, and23 the Chartist leader, Henry Vincent. To their aid came24 over ocean, in the autumn of 1845, James N. Buffum of Lynn, and Frederick Douglass, who first took Ireland in25 their way, and then lent a hand in the agitation, till, in January, 1846, the latter could report, “Old Scotland boils like a pot!” Ms. to F. Jackson. The most extraordinary popular demonstrations were made against Free Church edifices—of course without the instigation or sanction of the abolitionists proper. The slaves' blood was realistically26 imistated with splotches of red paint on walls or steps, with or without the corresponding legend; and ‘Send back the money!’ was placarded all over Auld Reekie. Not a newspaper in Scotland could abstain from the melee, at27 the height of which Thompson was presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh.

The thoughts of the American group naturally turned to their old leader at home, as if his presence might give [154] the

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