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LIBERTY AND SLAVERY.
DISGUISE thyself as thou wilt, still, slavery, still thou art a bitter draught; and, though thousands in all ages have been made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. It is thou, Liberty, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is grateful, and ever will be so, till nature herself shall change — no tint of words can spot thy snowy mantle, or chymic power turn thy sceptre into iron — with thee to smile upon him who eats his crust, the swain is happier than the monarch, from whose court thou art exiled. Gracious Heaven! grant me but health, thou great bestower of it, and give me but this fair goddess as my companion; and shower down thy mitres, if it seem good unto thy divine providence, upon those heads which are aching for them.
Pursuing these ideas, I sat down close by my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave
scope to my imagination.
I was going to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures born to no inheritance but slavery; but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it nearer me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me
- I took a single captive, and baving first shut him up in a dungeon, I then looked through the twilight of his grated door, to take his picture.
I beheld his body half wasted away with long expectation and confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was which arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer, I saw him pale and feverish; in thirty years the western breeze had not once fanned his blood — he had seen no sun, no moon, in all that timenor had the voice of friends or kinsman breathed through his lattice. His children
- But here my heart began to bleed — and I was forced to go on with another part of the portrait.
He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the further corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed; a little calendar of small sticks were laid at the head, notched all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there — he had one of these little sticks in his band, and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye towards the door, then cast it down — shook his head, and went on with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs, as he turned his body to lay his little stick upon the bundle. He gave a deep sigh-I saw the iron enter into his soul—I burst into tears—I could not sustain the picture of confinement which my fancy had drawn.
Gold is the only power which receives universal homage. It is worshipped in all lands without a single temple, and by all classes without a single hypocrite ; and often has it been able to boast of having armies for its priesthood, and hecatombs of human victims for its sacrifices. Where war has slain its thousands, gain has slaughtered its millions; for, while the former operates only with the local and fitful terrors of an earthquake, the destructive influence of the latter is universal and unceasing. Indeed, war itself — what has it often been but the art of gain practised on the largest scale ? the covetousness of a nation resolved on gain, impatient of delay, and leading on its subjects to deeds of rapine and blood! Its history is the history of slavery and oppression in all ages. For centuries, Africa, one quarter of the globe — has been set apart to supply the monster with victims — thousands at a meal. And, at this moment, what a populous and gigantic empire can it boast ! the mine, with its unnatural drudgery ; the manufactory, with its swarms of squalid misery; the plantation, with its imbruted gangs; and the market and the exchange, with their furrowed and care-worn countenances
- these are only specimens of its more menial offices and subjects. Titles and honors are among its rewards, and thrones at its disposal. Among its counsellors are kings, and many of the great and mighty of the earth are enrolled among its subjects. Where are the waters not ploughed by its navies? What imperial element is not yoked to its car ? Philosophy itself has become a mercenary in its pay; and science, a votary at its shrine, brings all its noblest discoveries, as offerings, to its feet. What part of the globe's surface is not rapidly yielding up its last stores of hidden treasure to the spirit of gain or retains more than a few miles of unexplored and unvanquished territory ? Scorning the childish dream of the philosopher's stone, it aspires to turn the globe itself into gold !
INFATUATION OF MANKIND, WITH REGARD TO THE
THINGS OF TIME.
But if no danger is to be apprehended, while the thunder of heaven rolls at a distance, believe me, when it collects over our heads, we may be fatally convinced, that a well-spent life is the only conductor that can avert the bolt. Let us reflect, that time waits for no man. Sleeping or waking, our days are on the wing. If we look to those that are past, they are but as a point. When I compare the present aspect of this city, with that which it exhibited within the short space of my own residence, what does the result present, but the most melancholy proof of human instability ? New characters in every scene, new events, new principles, new passions, a new creation insensibly arisen from the ashes of the old; which side soever I look, the ravage of death has nearly renovated all. Scarcely do we look around us in life, when our children are matured, and remind us of the grave; the great feature of all nature, is rapidity of growth and declension. Ages are renewed, but the figure of the world passeth away. God only remains the same. The torrent that sweeps by, runs at the base of his immutability; he sees, with indignation, wretched mortals, as they pass along, insulting him by the visionary hope of sharing that attribute, which belongs to HIM alone.
It is to the incomprehensible oblivion of our mortality, that the world owes all its fascination. Observe for what man toils. Observe what it often costs him to become rich and great — dismal vicissitudes of hope and disappointment - often all that can degrade the dignity of his nature, and offend his God! Study the matter of the pedestal, and the instability of the statue. Scarce is it erected scarce presented to the stare of the multitude — when death, starting like a massy fragment from the summit of a mountain, dashes the proud colossus into dust! Where then, is the promised fruit of all his toil ? Where the wretched and deluded being, who fondly promised himself that he had laid up much goods for many years ? Gone, my brethren, to his account, a naked victim, trembling in the hands of the living God! Yes, my brethren, the final catastrophe of all human passions, is rapid as it is awful. Fancy yourselves on that bed from which you never shall arise, and the reflection will exhibit, like a true and faithful mirror, what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue. Happy they who meet that great, inevitable transition, full of days ! Unhappy they who meet it but to tremble and despair! Then it is that man learns wisdom, when too late ; then it is that everything will forsake him, but his virtues or his crimes. To him the world is past; dignities, honors, pleasure, glory; past like the cloud of the morning! nor could all that the great globe inherits afford hiin, at that tremendous hour, as much consolation, as the recollection of having given but one cup of cold water to a child of wretchedness, in the name of Christ Jesus !
THE HORRORS OF WAR.
REAL war, my friends, is a very different thing from that painted image of it, which you see on a parade, or at a review; it is the most awful scourge that Providence employs for the chastisement
It is the garment of vengeance with which the Deity arrays himself, when he comes forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth.
Though we must all die, as the woman of Tekoa said, and are as water spilt upon the ground which cannot be gathered up, yet it is impossible for a humane mind to contemplate the rapid extinction of innumerable lives without concern. To perish in a moment, to be hurried instantaneously, without warning, into the presence of the Supreme Judge, has something in it inexpressibly awful and affecting. Since the commencement of those hostilities which are now so happily closed, it may be reasonably conjectured that not less than half-a-million of our fellow-creatures have fallen a sacrifice. Half-a-million of beings, sharers of the same nature, warmed with the same hopes, and as fondly attached to life as ourselves, have been prematurely swept into the grave; each of whose deaths has pierced the heart of a wife, a parent, a brother, or a sister. How many of these scenes of complicated distress have occurred since the commencement of hostilities, is known only to Omniscience: that they are innumerable cannot admit of a doubt. In some parts of Europe, perhaps there is scarcely a family exempt.
In war, death reigns without a rival and without control. War is the work, the element, or rather the sport and triumph of death, who glories, not only in the extent of his conquest, but in the richness of his spoil. In the other methods of attack, in the other forms which death assumes, the feeble and the aged, who at the best can live but a short time, are usually the victims; here it is the vigorous and the strong.
To confine our attention to the number of those who are slain in battle, would give but a very inadequate idea of the ravages of the sword. The lot of those who perish instantaneously, may be considered, apart from religious prospects, as comparatively happy, since they are exempt from those lingering diseases, and slow torments, to which others are liable. We cannot see an individual expire, though a stranger and an enemy, without being sensibly moved, and prompted by compassion to lend him every assistance in our power. Every trace of resentment vanishes in a moment; every other emotion gives way to pity and terror.