« ÎnapoiContinuați »
WENDELL PHILLIPS, reformer and orator, was born in Boston in 1811; died there in 1884. He was a lover of liberty, and, in consequence, a strong abolitionist. Educated at Harvard College, and admitted to the bar, he refused to practice because he regarded the Constitution as it then was, as giving an unholy sanction to the development of one race by another. His speeches were admired for their clear logic, beautiful English and perfect delivery. He will always rank as one of the greatest of American orators.
THE BURIAL OF JOHN BROWN
WOW feeble words seem here! How can I hope to utter what your hearts are full of? I fear to disturb the harmony which his life breathes round this home. One and another of you, his neighbors, say, "I have known him five years," "I have known him ten years." It seems to me as if we had none of us known him. How our admiring, loving wonder has grown, day by day, as he has unfolded trait after trait of earnest, brave, tender, Christian life! We see him walking with radiant, serene face to the scaffold, and think, what an iron heart, what devoted faith! We take up his letters, beginning "My dear wife and children, every one," see him stoop on the way to the scaffold and kiss that negro child-and this iron heart seems all tenderness. Marvelous old man! We hardly said it when the loved forms of his sons, in the bloom of young devotion, encircle
him, and we remember he is not alone, only the majestic center of a group. Your neighbor farmer went, surrounded by his household, to tell the slaves there will still be hearts and right arms ready and nerved for the service. From this roof four, from a neighboring roof two, to make up that score of heroes. How resolutely each looked into the face of Virginia, how loyally each stood at his forlorn post, meeting death cheerfully, till that master voice said, "It is enough." And these weeping children and widow see so lifted up and consecrated by long, single-hearted devotion to his great purpose that we dare, even at this moment, to remind them how blessed they are in the privilege of thinking that in the last throbs of those brave young hearts, which lie buried on the banks of the Shenandoah, thoughts of them mingled with love to God and hope for the slave.
He has abolished slavery in Virginia. You may say this is too much. Our neighbors are the last men we know. The hours that pass us are the ones that we appreciate least. Men walked Boston streets when night fell on Bunker's Hill, and pitied Warren, saying, "Foolish man! Threw away his life! Why didn't he measure his means better?" Now we see him standing colossal on that blood-stained sod, and severing that day the tie which bound Boston to Great Britain. That night George III. ceased to rule in New England. History will date Virginia Emancipation from Harper's Ferry. True, the slave is still there. So, when the tempest uproots a pine on your hills, it looks green for months-a year or two. Still it is timber, not a tree. John Brown has loosened the roots of the slavery system; it only breathes-it does not live-hereafter.
F I stood here to-night to tell the story of Napoleon, I should take it from the lips of Frenchmen, who find no language rich enough to paint the great captain of the nineteenth century. Were I here to tell you the story of Washington, I should take it from your hearts,-you, who think no marble white enough on which to carve the name of the Father of his Country. I am about to tell you the story of a negro who has hardly left one written line. I am to glean it from the reluctant testimony of Britons, Frenchmen, Spaniards-men, who despised him as a negro and a slave, and hated him because he had beaten them in many a battle.
Let us pause a moment, and find something to measure him by. You remember, Macaulay says, comparing Cromwell with Napoleon, that Cromwell shows the greater military genius, if we consider that he never saw an army till he was forty; while Napoleon was educated from a boy in the best military schools in Europe. Cromwell manufactured his own army; Napoleon at the age of twenty-seven was placed at the head of the best troops Europe ever saw. They were both successful; but, says Macaulay, with such disadvantages, the Englishman showed the greater genius. Whether you allow the inference or not, you will at least grant that it is a fair mode of measurement. Apply it to Toussaint. Cromwell never saw an army till he was forty; this man never saw a soldier till he was fifty. Cromwell manufactured his own army-out of what? Englishmen— the best blood in Europe. Out of the middle class of Englishmen-the best blood in the island. And with it he conquered what? Englishmen-their equals. This man manufactured his army, out of
what? Out of what you call the despicable race of negroes, debased, demoralized by two hundred years of slavery; one hundred thousand of them imported into the island within four years, unable to speak a dialect intelligible to each other. Yet out of this mixed, and, as you say, despicable, race he forged a thunderbolt, and hurled it at what? At the proudest blood in Europe, the Spaniard, and sent him home conquered; at the most warlike blood in Europe, the French, and put them under his feet; at the pluckiest blood in Europe, the English, and they skulked home to Jamaica. Now, if Cromwell was a general, at least this man was a soldier. I know it was a small territory; it was not as large as the continent; but it was as large as that Attica, which, with Athens, for a capital, has filled the earth with its fame for two thousand years. We measure genius by quality, and not by quantity.
Further, Cromwell was only a soldier; his fame stops there. Not one line in the statute book of Britain can be traced to Cromwell; not one step in the social life of England finds its motive-power in his brain. The state he founded went down with him to his grave. But this man no sooner put his hand on the helm of state, than the ship steadied with an upright keel, and he began to evince a statesmanship as marvelous as his military genius. History says that the most statesmanlike act of Napoleon was his proclamation of 1802, at the place of Amiens, when believing that the indelible loyalty of a nativeborn heart is always a sufficient basis on which to found an empire, he said: "Frenchmen, come home. I pardon the crimes of the last twelve years; I blot out its parties; I found my throne on the hearts of all Frenchmen,”—and twelve years of unclouded success showed how wisely he judged. This was in 1802. In 1800 this negro made a proclamation; it runs thus: "Sons of St. Domingo, come home. We never
meant to take your houses or your lands. The negro only asked that liberty which God gave him. Your houses wait for you; your lands are ready; come and cultivate them;"-and from Madrid and Paris, from Baltimore and New Orleans, the emigrant planters crowded home to enjoy their estates, under the pledged word that was never broken of a victorious slave.
It was 1800. The world waited fifty years before, in 1846, Robert Peel dared to venture, as a matter of practical statesmanship, the theory of free trade. Adam Smith theorized, the French statesmen dreamed, but no man at the head of affairs had ever dared to risk it as a practical measure. Europe waited until 1846 before the most practical intellect in the world, the English, adopted the great economic formula of unfettered trade. But in 1800, this black, with the instinct of statesmanship, said to the committee who were drafting him a Constitution: “Put at the head of the chapter of commerce that the ports of St. Domingo are open to the trade of the world." With lofty indifference to race, superior to all envy or prejudice, Toussaint had formed this committee of eight white proprietors and one mulatto, not a soldier nor a negro on the list, although Haytien history proves that, with the exception of Rigaud, the rarest genius has always been shown by pure negroes.
Again, it was in 1800, at a time when England was poisoned on every page of her statute book with religious intolerance, when a man could not enter the House of Commons without taking an Episcopal communion, when every State in the Union, except Rhode Island, was full of the intensest religious bigotry. This man was a negro. You say that is a superstitious blood. He was uneducated. You say that makes a man narrow-minded. He was a Catholic. Many say that is but another name for intol