Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

The Rev. Dr. M'Neile, who had been requested by the respected host to express to Mrs. Stowe the hearty congratulations of the first meeting of friends she had seen in England, thus addressed her: “Mrs. Stowe: I have been requested by those kind friends under whose hospitable roof we are assembled to give some expression to the sincere and cordial welcome with which we greet your arrival in this country. I find real difficulty in making this attempt, not from want of matter, nor from want of feeling, but because it is not in the power of any language I can command to give adequate expression to the affectionate enthusiasm which pervades all ranks of our community, and which is truly characteristic of the humanity and the Christianity of Great Britain. We welcome Mrs. Stowe as the honored instrument of that noble impulse which public opinion and public feeling throughout Christendom have received against the demoralizing and degrading system of human slavery. That system is still, unhappily, identified in the minds of many with the supposed material interests of society, and even with the well being of the slaves themselves ; but the plausible arguments and ingenious sophistries by which it has been defended shrink with shame from the facts without exaggeration, the principles without compromise, the exposures without indelicacy, and the irrepressible glow of hearty feeling-0, how true to nature ! - which characterize Mrs. Stowe's immortal book. Yet I feel assured that the effect produced by Uncle Tom's Cabin is not mainly or chiefly to be traced to the interest of the narrative, however captivating, nor to the exposures of the slave system, however withering: these would, indeed, be sufficient to produce a good effect; but this book contains more and better than even these ; it contains what will never be lost sight of — the genuine application to the several branches of the subject of the sacred word of God. By no part of this wonderful work has my own mind beon so permanently impressed as by the thorough legitimacy of the application of Scripture, - no wresting, no mere verbal adaptation, but in every instance the passage cited is made to illustrate something in the narrative, or in the development of character, in strictest accordance with the design of the passage in its original sacred context. We welcome Mrs. Stowe, then, as an honored fellow-laborer in the highest and best of causes; and I am much mistaken if this tone of welcome be not by far the most congenial to her own feelings. We unaffectedly sympathize with much which she must feel, and, as a lady, more peculiarly feel, in passing through that ordeal of gratulation which is sure to attend her steps in every part of our country; and I am persuaded that we cannot manifest our gratitude for her past services in any way more acceptable to herself than by earnest prayer on her behalf that she may be kept in the simplicity of Christ, enjoying in her daily experience the tender consolations


of the Divine Spirit, and in the midst of the most flattering commendations saying and feeling, in the instincts of a renewed heart, ‘Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name be the praise, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." "

PROFESSOR Stowe then rose, and said, "If we are silent, it is not because we do not feel, but because we feel more than we can express. When that book was written, we had no hope except in God. We had no expectation of reward save in the prayers of the poor. The surprising enthusiasm which has been excited by the book all over Christendom is an indication that God has a work to be done in the cause of emancipation. The present aspect of things in the United States is discouraging. Every change in society, every financial revolution, every political and ecclesiastical movement, seems to pass and leave the African race without help. Our only resource is prayer. God surely cannot will that the unhappy condition of this portion of his children should continue forever. There are some indications of a movement in the southern mind. A leading southern paper lately declared editorially that slavery is either right or wrong: if it is wrong, it is to be abandoned: if it is right, it must be defended. The Southern Press, a paper established to defend the slavery interest at the seat of government, has proposed that the worst features of the system, such as the separation of families, should be abandoned. But it is evident that with that restriction the system could not exist. For instance, a man wants to buy a cook ; but she has a husband and seven children. Now, is he to buy a man and seven children, for whom he has no use, for the sake of having a cook? Nothing on the present occasion has been so grateful to our feelings as the reference made by Dr. M'Neile to the Christian character of the book. Incredible as it may seem to those who are without prejudice, it is nevertheless a fact that this book was condemned by some religious newspapers in the United States as anti-Christian, and its author associated with infidels and disorganizers; and had not it been for the decided expression of the mind of English Christians, and of Christendom itself, on this point, there is reason to fear that the proslavery power of the United States would have succeeded in putting the book under foot. Therefore it is peculiarly gratifying that so full an indorsement has been given the work, in this respect, by eminent Christians of the highest character in Europe ; for, however some in the United States may affect to despise what is said by the wise and good of this kingdom and the Christian world, they do feel it, and feel it intensely.” In answer to an inquiry by Dr. M'Neile as to the mode in which southern Christians defended the institution, Dr. Stowe remarked that" a great change had taken place in that respect during the last thirty years. Formerly all Christians united in condemning the system ; but of late some have begun to defend it on scriptural grounds. The Rev. Mr. Smylie, of Mississippi, wrote a pamphlet in the defensive ; and Professor Thornwell, of South Carolina, has published the most candid and able statement of that argument which has been given. Their main reliance is on the system of Mosaic servitude, wholly unlike though it was to the American system of slavery. As to what this American system of slavery is, the best documents for enlightening the minds of British Christians are the sommercial news papers of the slaveholding states. There you see slavery as it is, and certainly without any exaggeration. Read the advertisements for the sale of slaves and for the apprehension of fugitives, the descriptions of the persons of slaves, of dogs for hunting slaves, &c., and you see how the whole matter is viewed by the southern mind. Say what they will about it, practically they generally regard the separation of families no more than the separation of cattle, and the slaves as so much property, and nothing else. Their own papers show that the pictures of the internal slave trade given in Uncle Tom, so far from being overdrawn, fall even below the truth. Go on, then, in forming and expressing your views on this subject. In laboring for the overthrow of American slavery you are pursuing a course of Christian duty as legitimate as in laboring to suppress the suttees of India, the cannibalism of the Fejee Islands, and other barbarities of heathenism, of which human slavery is but a relic. These evils can be finally removed by the benign influence of the lovó of Christ, and no other power is competent to the work.”


The Chairman, (A. Hodgson, Esq.,) in opening the proceedings, thus addressed Mrs. Beecher Stowe : “ The modesty of our English ladies, which, like your own, shrinks instinctively from unnecessary publicity, has devolved on me, as one of the trustees of the Liverpool Association, the gratifying office of tendering to you, at their request, a slight testimonial of their gratitude and respect. We had hoped almost to the last moment that Mrs. Cropper would have represented, on this day, the ladies with whom she has coöperated, and among whom she has taken a distinguished lead in the great work which you had the honor and the happiness to originate. But she has felt with you that the path most grateful and most congenial to female exertion, even in its widest and most elevated range, is still a retired and a shady path ; and you have taught us that the voice which most effectually kindles enthusiasm in millions is the still small voice which comes forth from the sanctuary of a woman's breast, and from the retirement of a woman's closet- - the simple but unequivocal expression of her unfaltering faith, and the evidence of her generous and unshrinking self-devotion. In the same spirit, and as deeply impressed with the retired character of female exertion, the ladies who have so warmly greeted your arrival in this country have still felt it entirely consistent with the most sensitive delicacy to make a public response to your appeal, and to hail with acclamation your thrilling protest against those outrages on our common nature which circumstances have forced on your observation. They engage in no political discussion, they embark in no public controversy ; but when an intrepid sister appeals to the instincts of women of every color and of every clime against a system which sanctions the violation of the fordest affoctions and the disruption of the tenderest ties; which snatches the clinging wife from the agonized husband, and the child from the breast of its fainting mother; which leaves the young and innocent female a helpless and almost inevitable victim of a licentiousness controlled by no law and checked by no public opinion, - it is surely as feminine as it is Christian to sympathize with her in her perilous task, and to rejoice that she has shed such a vivid light on enormities which can exist only while anknown or unbelieved. We acknowledge with regret and shame that that fatal system was introduced into America by Great Britain ; but having in our colonies returned from our devious paths, we may without presumption, in the spirit of friendly suggestion, implore our honored transatlantic friends to do the same. The ladies of Great Britain have been admonished by their fair sisters in America, (and I am sure they are bound to take the admonition in good part,) that there are social evils in our own country demanding our special vigilance and care. This is most true; but it is also true that the deepest sympathies and most strenuous efforts are directed, in the first instance, to the evils which exist among ourselves, and that the rays of benevolence which flash across the Atlantic are often but the indication of the intensity of the bright flame which is shedding light and heat on all in its immediato vicinity. I believe this is the case with most of those who have taken a prominent part in this great movement. I am sure it is preëminently the case with respect to many of those by whom you are surrounded; and I hardly know a more miserable fallacy, by which sensible men allow themselves to be deluded, than that which assumes that every emotion of sympathy which is kindled by objects abroad is abstracted from our sympathies at home. All experience points to a directly opposite conclusion; and surely the divine command, 'to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,' should put to shame and silence the specious but transparent selfishness which would contract the limits of human sympathy, and veil itself under the garb of superior sagacity. But I must not detain you by any further observations. Allow me, in the name of the associated ladies, to present you with this small memorial of great regard, and to tender to you their and my best wishes for your health and happiness while you are sojourning among us, for the blessing of God on your children during your absence, and for your safe return to your native country wlion your mission shall be accomplished. I have just been requested to state the following particulars : In December last, a few ladies met in this place to consider the best plan of obtaining signatures in Liverpool to an address to the women of America on the subject of negro slavery, in substance coinciding with the one so nobly proposed and carried forward by Lord Shaftesbury. At this meeting it was suggested that it would be a since gratification to many if some testimonial could be presented to Mrs. Stowe which would indicate the sense, almost universally entertained, that she had been the instrument in the hands of God of arousing the slumbering sympathies of this country in behalf of the suffering slave. It was folt desirable to render the expression of such a feeling as general as possible; and to effect this is

[ocr errors]

was resolved that a subscription should be set on foot, consisting of contributions of one penny and upwards, with a view to raise a testimonial, to be presented to Mrs. Stowe by the ladies of Liverpool, as an expression of their grateful appreciation of her valuable services in the cause of the negro, and as a token of admiration for the genius and of high esteem for the philanthropy and Christian feeling which animate her great work, Uncle Tom's Cabin. It ought, perhaps, to be added, that some friends, not residents of Liverpool, have united in this tribute. As many of the ladies connected with the effort to obtain signatures to the address may not be aware of the whole number appended, they may be interested in knowing that they amounted in all to twentyone thousand nine hundred and fifty-three. Of these, twenty thousand nine hundred and thirty-six were obtained by ladies in Liverpool, from their friends either in this neighborhood or at a distance ; and one thousand and seventeen were sent to the committee in London from other parts, by those who preferred our form of address. The total number of signatures from all parts of the kingdom to Lord Shaftesbury's address was upwards of five hundred thousand.”

PROFESSOR STOWE then said, “ On behalf of Mrs. Stowe I will read from her pen the response to your generous offering: 'It is impossible for me to express the feelings of my heart at the kind and generous manner in which I have been received upon English shores. Just when I had begun to realize that a whole wide ocean lay between me and all that is dearest to me, I found most unexpectedly a home and friends waiting to receive me here. I have had not an hour in which to know tho heart of a stranger. I have been made to feel at home since tho first moment of landing, and wherever I have looked I have seen only the faces of friends. It is with deep feeling that I have found myself on ground that has been consecrated and made holy by the prayers and efforts of those who first commenced the struggle for that sacred cause which has proved so successful in England, and which I have a solemn assurance will yet be successful in my own country. It is a touching thought that here so many have given all that they have, and are, in behalf of oppressed humanity. It is touching to remember that one of the noblest men which England has ever produced now lies stricken under the heavy hand of disease, through a last labor of love in this cause. May God grant us all to feel that nothing is too dear or precious to be given in a work for which such men have lived, and labored, and suffered. No great good is ever wrought out for the human race without the suffering of great hearts. They who would serve their fellow-men are ever reminded that the Captain of their salvation was made perfect through suffering. I gratefully accept the offering confided to my care, and trust it may be so employed that the blessing of many “who are ready to perish” will return upon your heads. Let me ask those - those fathers and mothers in Israel - who have lived and prayed many years for this cause, that as they prayed for their own country in the hour of her struggle, so they will pray now for ours. Love and prayer can hurt no one, can offend no one, and prayer is a real power. If the hearts of all the real Christians of England are poured out in prayer,

« ZurückWeiter »