Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ing sects—the bitterness of religious parties—the meanness of religious literature—the vapidness of popular preaching—the laziness of traditionary divines—their horror of earnest thinking—their dread of unsanctified speculation-their wicked denunciation of those who dare to think? How much, again, is to be charged upon the ambitious worldliness--the superficial ethics—the unchristian practices and the anti-Christian principles of the mass of believers? How much may be traced to ecclesiastical politicians—to sanctimonious churchmen and wooden-headed theologians?

It is more important however that the fact be distinctly contemplated ; that the gulf is widening between theology and the pulpit on the one hand and literature and literary men on the other; that the speculative and practical theories of a very large number of leading English writers are decidedly and avowedly anti-Christian; that with the wide-spread circulation in the community of the higher kind of books, and the protean and many sided varieties which the lighter works assume, this evil becomes more insidiously subtle on the one hand, and more gigantically fearful on the other. The pulpit may argue and entreat with its utmost ability and fervor. The church may redouble her instrumentalities of worship, but to what purpose is all this, if the history that instructs and enlarges the intellect is pervaded with the subtle essence of a godless philosophy, and the attractive Monthly pours venomous contempt on sacred and venerated truths, or with biting satire robs them of their power. Especially dangerous are those works which inculcate speculative principles that are more or less distinctly hostile to the fundamental truths of the Christian system. Philosophy gratifies the intellect with the pleasure of the noblest activity; it offers the most grateful incense to human pride. It is also a necessity of man's being. If man thinks at all he must think consistently and think profoundly. In its less abstract forms philosophy is a favorite study in these times, and to illustrate and enforce philosophic principles, is a favorite employment with the most gifted minds. For these reasons no studies seem to us so important in their relation to the principles of educated men as philosophic studies. Certainly none are so intimately related to the Christian faith, or the antiChristian unbelief of the men who are to attain the highest culture among us—who as writers and speakers are to exert the most commanding influence. A thoughtful consideration of such a book as Thorndale can awaken and confirm no other impression.

We have no room to comment on a multitude of interesting questions that are either suggested or discussed in this various volume. We have said already that the psychological observations are acute and ingenious. Many of them indicate a mind of the highest philosophical ability, of various reading and independent thought. The passing observations on human life and human society show an acute observer and a sympathizing heart. The felicity of style and the wealth of imagination we have already noticed.

But with all its ability and power, with all its love and hope, this is a sad and depressing book. It fails to appease and adjust the conflict of opinions, which it so fully appreciates and so powerfully describes. It fails to give us the true philosophy of life, because it fails to find in it the discipline of a personal and voluntary soul, for a brighter and purer life with God. It fails to satisfy our human longings for a sympathizing, because a forgiving Redeemer. The cobbler whom it deigns to honor with its sympathy has not only a faith which is more satisfying to the heart of man, but he has the elements of a inore rational philosophy concerning the nature, the destiny, and the progress of the race, than this book can show. We turn from it with sadness—we are depressed and chilled by its failure to satisfy our hearts, and are disappointed that its science does not sway and fill our minds. We turn with thankfulness to our belief, which we trust expresses the conviction neither of a bigot, a dogmatist, or a devotee, that Paul and John teach not only a better faith, but also a sounder philosophy, than does the afthor of Thorndale.

a

ARTICLE VI.—THE OBERLIN-WELLINGTON RESCUE.

The proceedings in Ohio, in reference to the arrest and prosecution of several citizens of that State for the crime of rescuing a fugitive slave from his captors, constitute a marked feature in the history of the proceedings under the fugitive slave law. They have naturally awakened a wide-spread interest. The story is as follows. On the fifteenth day of September last, two slave catchers from Kentucky, having been for a few days previous at Oberlin, Ohio, induced a lad of about thirteen years of age, by the gift of twenty dollars, to entice a negro away

from his residence in that town, under the false pretense of giving him work, to a place where they could conveniently seize him and carry him off. Some citizens of Oberlin, who had been aware of the presence of these southern slave hunters in their neighborhood, and who had been apprehensive that an attempt would be made to kidnap some of the colored persons living in that vicinity, hearing what had been done, followed after and overtaking the captors and the captive at Wellington, some ten miles distant, rescued the captive from those who had seized him, and he is now free. Thirty-seven of the citizens of Oberlin and Wellington were indicted, for a violation of the fugitive slave act of 1850, in the United States District Court for the northern district of Ohio. Two of them have been convicted and sentenced: a few, under the influence of the result of the trials and convictions, which had taken place, entered a plea of noli contendere, and have also been sentenced ; and thirteen are now confined, in the county jail at Cleveland, to await their trial.

That the local interest in this prosecution has been very great, will not appear surprising, when it is remembered that the prisoners are highly respectable citizens of northern Ohio; one of them being a Professor in the Oberlin College and one having been a member of the State legislature. Never has VOL. XVII.

45

[ocr errors]

such a band of prisoners been confined in any jail in our country.

a On the afternoon of the Sunday following their imprisonment, Professor Peck preached to his fellow prisoners, and to such others as chose to assemble. A Cleveland newspaper says, “the extensive jail-yard was literally packed with human bodies—the space and street beyond filled, and every roof and shed, that afforded a prospect of the speaker, crowded.” The number present was estimated at over three thousand. At a later day a large convention of those who sympathized with the prisoners was held at Cleveland, at which were present, the Governor of the State of Ohio, representatives in congress, past and present, and other eminent civilians.

The interest thus manifested is not merely a local interest. The General Association of the State of Illinois has expressed its sympathy with the prisoners by a formal vote, and in many other portions of the country expressions of interest and sympathy have been made. Nor is this merely the interest of partisans, for it arises from the nature of the questions involved, affecting, as they do, the rights of all citizens.

Some features in the case, which show a disposition on the part of the federal officers to succeed in convicting and punishing these accused persons at all events, may receive a passing notice. We can only refer to the facts that one of the grand jurors, who found the bill of indictment, was the father of the lad, by whose purchased deception the negro was decoyed into the power of his enemies; that the petit jury, which tried the case of Bushnell, the first one tried, was selected from one political party, whose creed is reported to have been expressed by one of these jurymen in the following: language, “I think inore of the democratic party than of all the niggers in the land, and would rather sacrifice the whole of them to keep it safe ;” that one of this jury was a deputy marshal of the United States; that the attempt was made, and strenuously persisted in, to compel the other parties accused to go to trial before the same jury, who had just convicted Bushnell, and in arriving at their decision in his case, had passed on many of the material facts, which would be put in issue a second time on the trial of these other parties—which attempt was frustrated only by the firm and manly refusal of the accused to offer any defense before a jury, which had already prejudged their case, in the conviction of Bushnell; that the presiding judge caused to be entered on the records of his court, as a part of the proceedings, that the accused had voluntarily surrendered themselves into custody, notwithstanding the positive declaration of the parties themselves that they had not done so, thus compelling them to remain in confinement or obtain release, on giving bail, only by incurring, (to use their own language,) " the personal disgrace of acknowledging that they had done a very foolish action, [contrary to the fact,) and were ready to sneak away from the dilemma in which that act had placed them." This shows the animus of the court, falsifying facts to the prejudice of liberty, and resorting to technical quibbles for the purpose of punishing men not yet convicted of violating any law. We can only quote a few passages from the speech of Langston, a colored man, after his trial and conviction, when asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced; a speech which for impassioned eloquence, unshaken firmness and moral power is rivaled only by that of Robert Emmet, before Lord Norbury, when sentence of death was about to be pronounced upon him. To be properly appreciated the quotations should be read in the connection in which they occur.

[ocr errors]

“Being identified with that man by color, by race, by manhood, by sympathies, such as God has implanted in us all, I felt it my duty to go and do what I could toward liberating him. I had been taught by my revolutionary father, that the fundamental doctrine of this government was that all men have a right to life and liberty, and coming from the Old Dominion I brought into Ohio these sentiments deeply impressed upon my heart. I went to Wellington, and hearing from the parties themselves by what authority the boy was held in custody, I conceived, from what little knowledge I had of law, that they had no right to hold him. And as your Honor has repeatedly laid down the law in this Court, a man is free until he is proven to be legally restrained of his liberty, and I believe that upon that principle of law, those men were bound to take their prisoner before the very first magistrate they found, and there establish the facts set forth in their warrant, and that until th

should presume that their claim was unfornded, and to institute such proceedings for the purpose of securing an investigation as they might find warranted by the laws of this State.

"It is said that they had a warrant. Why then should they not establish its

did this every

« ПредишнаНапред »