Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

take to be her gravest fault, the present few who have read it, more especially writer takes to be her highest merit. the death of Eva, or the part, where She has brought home really evan- Aunt Chloe finds out the death of her gelical and purely Christian religion to husband, can for a moment dispute it; the common vulgar life of slaves, not it is as perfect as that of Dickens or to degrade but to adorn it. She has Thackeray, and as complete as that of been no writer of a penny religious Sterne, without the French tinge of tract, which grows offensive in its sentiment; whilst the humour and morality, and whines in its every ap- wit have much of that complete and peal to the Deity ; but by the force of English (air which Fielding possesses. her genius, she has made the religion The work itself is English in its nawhich does not choose many noble, or ture, and we take it as a high complimany great, or many wise, but chiefly ment, that the author's tendencies are the ignorant, the humble, and the meek, towards the English. Thackeray will acceptable to the man of cultivated not allow Swift, Irish born, to be an taste, and of classical learning. She Irishman; "he had," he says, "nothing does not only show us Tom a true con- of the Irishman in him." So with vert to Christianity, whilst the elegant Mrs. Stowe, the reader of delicate perand refined St. Clair is yet ignorant of ception will find no Americanism, in its comfort; but she shows us little the spirit of the book, although its Eva, the child, a minister unto her scenes and characters are of the young father, wise beyond his wisdom, learned republic. · But as the reader has alin that lore which "to the Greeks was ready been saturated, ere this, with foolishness."

critique, remark, discussion on, song And for this she is condemned. Ah, from, and review upon, “Uncle Tom's brother reader, who shall set a bound Cabin,” we will mercifully spare him, to the mercy of our common Father ? | and return to its author. who shall know what wisdom and

Since “Uncle Tom" she has written what thought is clothed in the rugged little, or at least no work of note. She brow of the porter who carries your has, however, a work in preparation, trunk, or the beggar who may sweep which will no doubt realise a large your crossing? Do not let you and I price, she having been offered, and imagine we alone are wise. Great

having refused, the sum of ten thouknowledge we may have, no doubt, sand dollars for the copyright of her and the weariness, which a wise king celebrated work. declared to come from many books,

In appearance Mrs. Stowe is debut knowledge alone is acquired, wis- scribed as being of the middle size, is dom comes from God. If we believe lady-like and prepossessing, decidedly that the black Adherbal “exsul patriâ, not handsome, the mouth large but domo, solus et omnium honestarum expressive, the eyes deep and full of rerum egens," nearly breaks his heart

thought and feeling. "These eyes," at Jugurtha's cruelty,* why not credit

says an authority,"are of blueish that the black Uncle Tom has also grey, and have an expression of intelfeelings. If we view naturally, and ligence and wit, which lights them up, almost poetically, Touissant L'Ouver- and fairly sparkles in them.” She has ture pining in that mountain prison,

been the mother of a numerous proand dying of a broken heart, away

geny, five of whom are still living. To from his beloved family, treacherously raise an earnest and deep feeling, imprisoned, after having freed his which should, perhaps at once and country, and by his government and proximately, or perhaps remotely, lead laws, given proofs of the highest intel

to the abolition of slavery, a deep and lect, why should we deny the same

earnest soul was needed, which should faculties of endurance and affection to

know and feel the miseries it deUncle Tom, the field-hand of a Yankee

nounced. In the subject of this bioplanter ? Let us beware how we judge graphy, such an one has been found, of others as too good ; the coward has

abundantly gifted with those qualities. an innate disbelief in bravery, the

Living for seventeen years in the midst thief in honesty.

of these cruelties, she has arisen and In regard to the pathos of the work,

denounced them in a voice which rings

through Christendom, and yet in no * Sallustii Jugurtha xiv.

bitter or vengeful spirit, for it is not the least of Mrs. Stowe's merits that, hearts of thousands of her readers, whilst she has endeavoured to give who will have abundant cause to bless freedom to the slave, she has at the the day when they took up-perhaps same time brought pure and holy re- for idle amusement_“Uncle Tom's ligion, and true Christianity to the Cabin.”

SAMUEL HOPKINS,

THE EARLIEST ABOLITIONIST. ALL the men who are capable of great-trines in a style which commanded atness do not achieve it. Not even all tention. A hearing once gained, they those who are both capable and worthy. took hold of the strongest minds, and Sometimes they devote themselves to impressed them with a conviction that the object of the hour, to some war of there must be a revolution in forms of politics or controversy in theology, faith. They drew powerful distinctions and, forgetting the future, ensure that between doctrinal and vital Christithe future shall forget them. Some- anity. They argued that there must times they see in the small circle of be works, and not a mere barren belief. their daily life, things which must be Hopkins was now a young man. His done, if done at all, by earnest, patient was one of those natures which are more men; and they do them, preferring duty truthful than intellectual. His mind to fame. Sometimes, but more seldom, was firm rather than pliant. Hard to they never find their places in the move, but when moved not soon stayed. world, and, missionless and purpose- More gifted with steadiness and perless, wander on their weary way severance than activity; and yielding through that existence of which the to principle more easily than impulse. end is the only thing certain.

A mind of the true old Teutonic " Who knows the name of Samuel mould-sluggish, except under the Hopkins now? Whose eyes light up, influence of strong motives; lying whose heart beats faster, whose blood | little upon the surface, and requiring courses on with a warmer glow, when to be stirred in its depths by some they read that homely designation ? deep-reaching force. There are names such as are usually In 1740, the celebrated Whitefield found in the pages of biographies, visited the college at New Haven, and which, allied as they are to the world's preached there. The stagnant waters history, cause the mind to teem with began to move. Whitefield did not high associations ; but Samuel Hop- in most minds produce conviction. In kins! Who is he? where did he live ? many he engendered opposition ; but what did he do? What acts of his he awoke inquiry, and introduced give him a claim to the memory of the doubt. The most conservative are world?

compelled to destroy before they can The birth-place of Samuel Hopkins rebuild. The next spring, Gilbert was Wateringbury, in Connecticut; the Tennant, the New Jersey revivalist, year, 1721. He appears—for the de- followed Whitefield. If not so subtle, tails on this head seem somewhat he was more energetic, impressive, and scanty—to have been born in the powerful; and he produced a great middle class of life, and of religious effect. Men began to rouse themselves parents, who looked to placing their son as though from a long sleep. They in the ministry as the highest point of began to feel that knowledge was their ambition. His special training only one of the qualities required for began in 1736, under the inspection of the vocation of the preacher. Those a neighbouring clergyman. In 1737 who had looked to the ministry as a he went to college and pursued the comfortable position, bringing at once ordinary routine of study. Shortly respectability and subsistence, saw that after this time Whitefield, Edwards, to minister truly required patient, and Tennant went through the pains-taking charity ; that it was a lacountry, preaching their peculiar doc-bour in which they must never weary; and that earnest men, if they would per-| This was in the year 1743. The scene form it, must sacrifice self in untiring of his labours was at some distance devotion. These reflections glanced from the residence of Edwards; and into the mind of Samuel Hopkins the parting was a sore trial to both of that mind which afterwards proved so them: but in 1750 Edwards went to devoted and bold; and it wavered be Stockbridge, as a missionary to the neath their force. It was at this time Indians; and until 1758 they were that David Brainard, who was a mem again in close and constant communiber of the college, seeing probably the | cation. Then Edwards was again recontest that was going on in the heart moved to Princetown, and his death, of the young student, spoke to him which Hopkins mentions as one of the plainly and forcibly, and convinced him severest afflictions he ever had, soon that he had yet to learn what was the after took place. true spirit of Christianity.

At Sheffield he remained for sixteen Distinct and different as the web of years, and then went to Newport, the life is in each religious man, as well as second town in point of importance in in all others, there is always one New England, and in 1770 he became thread which is woven into it. Of what the minister of the first Congregational ever form or phase of creed a man may church founded there. The Congrebe, he passes through no easy or plea- gationalists, it may be remarked, have sant period of life when he changes his produced some of the most energetic faith.

and able advocates of the abolition of In this state, Samuel Hopkins was negro slavery; and it is to that sect now tossed about like a helmless bark Mrs. Beecher Stowe and her family upon a raging sea ;-and he paints the belong. Newport was then the great same old life-picture of agony as his slave-mart of the Northern States of fellows-a picture with dim outlines | America ; and here a new experience and faint colours, as though the veil of came before Hopkins. He had seen the eternal mystery were drawn across slavery as an institution had been it-obscure to the senses, but telling | familiar with it from his birth; he had upon the imagination with all the force even shared in it himself by owning a of half concealment. In this condition slave at New Barrington, and selling -as all those of soft and tender na him when he left that place; but he tures will — he yearned for a guide had never thought of the origin of the through the valley of the shadow. Fol system or of its rightfulness. Here he lowing Tennant, there came to New was brought into contact with it in its Haven the elder Edwards-one of the | very beginning, and in its most fearful most powerful theologians America . form. The sailors who manned the ever produced -- and on his strength ships talked freely — boastfully, perHopkins resolved to rely for aid. So, haps, of the process of slave-catching. forsaking college and leaving his fa- They joked over the horrors of the pasther's house, he set out on horseback sages--the crammed hold, out of which to traverse the eighty miles to North- day by day black corpses, bearing the ampton, where Edwards resided. When marks of suffocation, were draggedhe arrived the Puritan philosopher was the fever amid the crowd the dead from home; but he had a wife who, to and dying together, and no escape for a large share of his intellect, added that the healthy—the baffling calms of the softness and tenderness of devotion tropics, the scarcity of water, and the which is so peculiarly and distinctively pent-up wretches under the burning the property of woman. She seeing sky parched to madness, and flung the disturbed state of the young truth- overboard to end their torments. All seeker, encouraged him to remain, and this Hopkins heard ; and time after solaced his gloom and led him on to time he saw the captured slaves emerge more cheerful views.

from the ship, woe-begone, emaciated In due time Edwards returned, and skeletons. All this Hopkins saw. A for some months the disciple remained new view of slavery was opened up, under his chosen master, and was then before which his heart sank, his spirit ordained to the university. His first faltered, and his soul shrunk terrorappointment was at Great Barrington stricken. What an institution, he (then called Sheffield), in the western thought, for a free country. portion of the State of Massachusetts. ! From the cruelty to the wrongful

nes of the practice was but a short | upon preparing a sermon upon the step. Could it be right, this outrage on subject. Over that sermon many carthe affections.this buying and selling next days and nights were spent; but of human life-this bartering of God's at length it was ready. The sabbath creatures. Brain and heart answered, came: the minister stood face to “No, it is a foul crime against humanity face with his flock. Hopkins had no

a dread sin against the faith of the fear now. The sense of danger did Cross !”

not enter his mind. The great idea What was he to do? He asked that which possessed it left no space there of his soul and we must now recall for smaller or meaner ones. He was the time and the circumstances in ready to sacrifice not only his position, which that one man- poor man too his congregation, his church--but life -put to his inner self that solemn itself, so that he might once, only once, query. There was no movement | bear testimony against a vast and against slavery. His was one of the appalling wrong. The sermon began first hearts into which the solemn and went on, and the preacher with voice had come, denouncing it. The searching eyes watched the faces of command which he felt to wash his the congregation. He had taken care hands of it, sounded as hard as that not to say bitter things, in bitter words olden injunction, " If thy right eye to men, for the first time to be aroused offend thee, put it out." The cry of, to a true sense of their own acts. He “ Freedom for the slave !" had not yet spoke "more in sorrow than in anger." gone forth. It pealed through him ; He did not strive for eloquence, but where was he to find a responsive though high truth, unadded to, must echo--where rouse one? In England, needs, "like perfect music joined to there was as yet no movement. In all noble words," have been eloquent. Christendom, there was no pity for negro He did not raise any subtle theological suffering and wrong. In all America, point, but, taking his own doctrine, the the institution was established. He doctrine of the sect he founded, and was alone-- weak man before a gigan- which has since perished, he insisted tic evil--face to face with a foe out of that the essence of Christianity conall comparison with his apparent sisted in unselfish, disinterested benestrength. Nay moro, his own friends volence, totally inconsistent with the were slave-traflickers, so were his own act of reducing human beings to the congregation ; slave-trading was the condition of slaves, and utterly opposed commerce of the place --the foundation to the cruelties with which mlaveand the support of its wealth and trading was accompanied. prosperity. To do his duty, he, iso Apart from its success or want of lated as he was, must stand up against success, that sermon was one of the all this. Well might he hesitate finent efforts of moral heroism ever before the magnitude of the attempt performed in the world. It was a and its dangers. Well might that grand act, bearing all the merit of question, What was he to do? echo devotion, all the chivalry of selfthrough his heart, awaking among its sacrifice. What a lesson to the thoufears molemn thoughts. It was for mands of men who, filling American Hopkinga life question, and, what pulpits to-day, tolorate, defend, justify was more, he felt it to be so.

slavery, try to reconcile it with Chris Aye, what was he to do? In that tianity, for fear of losing their influence. self-asked question he had raised a If they were really followers of their spirit which would not be laid. How Manter-truly ministers of him who was he to answer it?

knows no distinction between bond and · He was to answer it as he ought to free ; and if, like Samuel Hopkins, they answer it--as he did answer it. He had the manliness, the truthfulness, the had made up his mind that slavery courage, to take the right side, slavery war cruel, wrong, antichristian ; and as could not endure for a year. a Christian man, above all as a Chris | The congregation did not show any tian minister, he felt not only that he indignation. Their first emotion was could not countenance it, but was that of surprise, when they heard that bound to denounce it. Ho thought which they had till then never deemed long and anxiously over the best course anything but a righteous, lawful to pursue, and nt length he resolved | traffic attacked. But as the preacher

waad

warmed with his subject, and gave force carrying with him his church, the and animation to his words, deep at members of which passed a notable tention was first aroused, and then resolution. Notable, we say, as being grave, serious thought. They had the work of one man standing alone hearts in them-those old puritans. and uplifting his voice for “ God and They had that earnest, down-right the right;" notable as being passed by faith, which is now so scarce in the a body of slaveholders ; notable withal world. They had strong energies and as being the first, the key-note of that stern wills, which made them firm, or eternal protest which, sounded in rather obstinate, when they were heaven by the hand of divinity, will roused, either for good or evil. Among never cease to echo on earth in human them there was not much of wit or hearts against men being sold by man merriment; but when they thought or into bondage. acted, their hearts went with their Here it is :heads and hands. Many a rich mer “Resolved, That the slave trade and chant, who sent his ships to the Afri the slavery of the Africans, as it has can coast-many a wealthy trader, I existed among us, is a gross violation who bought slaves by droves, went of the righteousness and benevolence home that day from that old Newport which are so much inculcated in the Church with down-cast eyes, and sad Gospel, and therefore we will not tolerate face, and chastened step; and if he it in this church.did buy and sell slaves the next day, There spoke out the true God-fearing, did it with some inward misgivings- man-defying, wealth-deserting, consome prickings of conscience, as the science-loving old puritan spirit. That words of that sermon rang in his ears. spirit which, in old times, would not An American writer has said elo- submit to be tolerated; which sent quently and truly, “ It well may be men away from house, kindred, and doubted, whether, on that sabbath day, civilization, across the Atlantic, when the angels of God, in their wide survey the ocean was a path of danger; which of His universe, looked down upon a led them to a desert shore tenanted by nobler spectacle than that of the minis- savages. Brave old spirit, that which ter of Newport, rising up before his the world would be better for now! slave-holding congregation, and de- | Plain enough indeed, “We will not manding, in the name of the Highest, tolerate it." Grammatically considerthe deliverance of the captive, and ed, somewhat deficient, those bold the opening of the prison-doors to words of Samuel Hopkins and his them that were bound !'"

puritan church members, but, morally An impression once produced, Hop-considered, how all-sufficient! What kins was not the man to let it re- a visible, distinct, line of demarcation remain unimproved. Again and again it draws between the men who had he returned to the attack. He ap- consciences worth saving for eternity pealed to his congregation on behalf of and those who had none of more value the slaves, to put an end to the occa than'money-bags. sion of so much of suffering ; he en | A noble sight it must have been the treated them, for their own sakes, to church meeting at which that resoluhold back from that wrong which tion was put and carried ; a notecould only end in greater wrong and worthy debate that as any in fearfullest retribution — to abandon“Hansard,” but unreported withal. A that course which, through the degra- grand assembly, too, those great-headed, dation of others, led down step by step broad-browed, square-faced, stronglyto their own degradation; and he com- marked elders, with their priest chairmanded them, in the name of that God | man. A few speeches, grave, short, whose true minister he was, to come slow, with ponderous words and quaint out from among those who showered antique phrases, and then the decision. injuries upon his creatures. A congre They did not waste words when their gation which could subdue their self- minds were made up, but acted out love to hear such words as these was their thoughts in deeds. Slavery may likely to do more to heed them; and endure for years; it may sink yet Samuel Hopkins had at last the proud deeper into the corruption of the hot triumph-a glory greater than the south ; it may, if that be possible, diadem sheds around kingly brows--of aggravate its horrors; but its end is

« НазадПродовжити »