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of the Bible hazardous to the peace and welfare of any community! But so it is. Give the negroes the Bible, and you virtually charter their freedom. When did the Bible ever circulate freely and generally among a people without inspiring them with a love of liberty, and eventually ensuring them liberty? The connection of civil liberty with religious knowledge is so obvious that it has long been a hackneyed topic of declamation, in reference to every other people except the African slaves. To them, indeed, many affect to imagine that the Bible may be sent to render them more contented with their lot, to enable them to endure the driver's lash, to be insensible to the pang of separation from a husband, a wife, a parent, or a child, at the bidding of avarice or caprice; and to hug their chains in passive submission. As if they were by nature either better than all other men, or so far inferior to all others as to be incapable of feeling or appreciating the motives by which they are actuated.
Here then is a dilemma, rather awkward, indeed, for an American philanthropist to look at. We must either keep the negroes in profound ignorance of the Bible, or, by bestowing it on them, we must contemplate their eventual emancipation.
Partial experiment-particular cases-prove nothing. A few individuals, here and there, may, by religious instruction, become the better servants, and, if really pious, live happily in bondage. But let the Bible shed its light upon, and unfold its treasures to the whole coloured population, and an impulse shall be given
to the mighty mass which no earthly power can resist or control. Twenty white men might live very obedient to their masters' pleasure in Algiers; but twenty thousand, however Christian they might be, would not hesitate to regain their liberty at the hazard of destroying the whole city, and of burying in its ruins the entire population. Such, whether right or wrong, is human nature. If the Bible be expected to achieve such miracles of passive obedience and non-resistance, why not send it to the Greeks, to teach them the grace of patience and submission, instead of furnishing them with money and arms to spread death and desolation around them? With what dignity and truth might not the Turkish despot retort upon Christian freemen their inconsistency and contradictions!
Our Christian ancestors, with the Bible in every man's hands, and confessedly the most pious race on the globe, resisted even to blood, the very first encroachment on their political rights, and to secure them, involved their country in all the horrors of a civil war. And who has ever blamed them for thus withstanding, and for ultimately establishing the perfect independence of their country? Let us beware then of the kind of logic which we apply to men of like passions with ourselves. Assuredly, the day of retribution is at hand. It will be a terrible day; unless, by the seasonable intervention of our charities, we avert it.
Here is scope enough for all the charitable wisdom and enterprise of all our statesmen, philanthropists, scholars, ministers, and Christians. When shall the
united energies of American charity and patriotism be brought to bear upon it with efficiency and success?
The slaves, I repeat, must be free, and will be free upon the soil which they now inhabit. I have not hazarded the assertion lightly, nor without having in mind a plan for the purpose:—but this is not the occasion for its development. My remarks on this fearful subject have been this day pronounced in a corner,where, if they do no good, they can do no harm. I should not have spoken thus in a slave-holding State. Prudence, benevolence, would have forbid it. When I shall have pitched my tent among the wretched sufferers beyond the mountains, I shall humbly look to Heaven for direction as to the line of conduct which duty may require me to pursue.
I have wandered from my subject,-perhaps from my province,—but I have wandered purposely.
As the author, in the preceding Discourse, has taken occasion to animadvert, with considerable freedom, upon the subject of slavery, he begs leave to say, that, at the time, he had not the most distant idea of publishing his remarks; and when, upon solicitation, he consented to the printing of the Discourse, he did not anticipate its circulation much beyond the limits of the village in which it was delivered. Since, however, it is possible a copy or two may find their way to some sections of our country where the author would regret that his sen
timents or feelings should be misapprehended, or misrepresented, he further adds, that he had no intention. to censure any particular portion of his fellow-citizens more than another. Modern slavery, with all its evils and horrors, is the sin of Christendom. As it exists among us, it originated under the British Government. It is an evil which we have inherited. It is acknowledged to be an evil, and lamented as such, by all our citizens. In some places it is felt to a much greater extent than in others. In several of the British colonies, it has assumed an aspect the most horrific and portentous. And it was, probably, rather from its character, as there presented, that the author received his impressions, than from what has yet occurred among ourselves. Still, the injustice, and the danger, and the demoralizing influence of slavery exist, in awful prominence, in this land of liberty and Christianity. Who will deny it? Nor are the author's anticipations in regard to the future at all singular; or more fearful than have been often expressed by far abler judges. Mr. Jefferson, in a letter to Governor Coles, written ten years ago, predicts a catastrophe as tragical, at least, as Mr. Wilberforce himself would have cared to hazard. "Yet (says Mr. J.) the hour of emancipation is advancing in the march of time. It will come; and whether brought on by the generous energy of our own minds, or by the bloody process of St. Domingo, excited and conducted by the power of our present enemy, if once stationed permanently within our country, offering asylum and arms to the oppressed, is a leaf of our history not yet turned over."
That our slaves will be free at some not very distant day, seems to be taken for granted by every body. The grand question is, how shall the work of emancipation be accomplished? When shall it be commenced? That the negroes can ever be transported across the ocean, is an idea too chimerical to be seriously entertained by any man. The probability is, that an increase rather than a diminution of their numbers will be the consequence of the benevolent but tardy efforts of our Colonization Societies. When did any country lose in numbers by sending colonies abroad? From Europe the whole continent of America has been lately peopled, and yet Europe has been steadily increasing in population. But space is not here allowed for the argument.
In asserting that the slaves must be free in the land where they now live, their future amalgamation with the whites was not contemplated as desirable, or even possible. Nor is it necessary that they should reside together in the same State or community any longer than it shall be found mutually agreeable and beneficial. Territory may be assigned them for their exclusive habitation whenever they shall be capable of managing their own concerns.
No rash or sudden emancipation would be just, or wise, or politic, or humane. It would be Quixotism and madness to think of giving liberty to the whole mass at once, without any previous training or discipline. What plan could be devised and carried into effect for such a safe and gradual emancipation, as would be consistent with the acquired rights of their holders, and prove a