Imágenes de páginas







IT often occurs that useful men are found to have derived their origin from parents in an obscure condition. Many individuals in whom native talents were lodged, which by education might have blessed and even astonished the world, have passed on unnoticed to the grave, while others have been the ornaments of science, of religion, and of civil liberty. It is delightful to behold such men overcoming all the obstacles which encompass their path, and pressing their way onward through every form of opposition. The life of one who has risen to distinction by his own efforts, and has thought, and laboured, and suffered for the welfare of mankind, is worthy of being delineated for the entertainment and instruction of the world.

In various periods of time there have been Africans whose intellectual powers and attainments would be an ornament to any age or country. Among warriors few have held a higher rank than Hanno and Hannibal.

The poetic works of Terence were admired in the Augustan age, and have survived the devastations of two thousand years. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, whose memory is dear to all Christendom, and Augustine, bishop of Hippo, the successful defender of the church from Pelagius and his heresies, were sons of Africa.

It is believed that, could a full and faithful biography of the worthy subject of this memoir be furnished, it would do much to exemplify what unaided vigour of mind, even in unfavourable circumstances, can effect. It would place before the community an instance of unfeigned piety and sanctified genius. This is the manifest tendency of all the records which can now be procured respecting him, and of all the recollections of those who knew him, in the most interesting and trying situations in which he was placed. If these shall so exhibit the various parts of his life as to give the prominent features of his character, they can hardly fail to mitigate the unreasonable prejudices against the Africans in our land, to encourage those who, though beset by difficulties, are anxious to improve their minds and their hearts, and, finally, to exemplify the power of divine grace over the affections and lives of men.

LEMUEL HAYNES was born July 18th, 1753, at West Hartford, Connecticut. He was a partially coloured man, his father being of unmingled African extraction, and his mother a white woman of respectable ancestry in New-England. He bore up the name of neither father nor mother, but probably of the man under whose roof he received his birth. Tradition says that his mother, in a fit of displeasure with her

host for some supposed neglect, called her child by his


"Mothers love, and love for ever." The affection of a mother to her new-born infant is one of the most powerful and active of the natural instincts. But mothers "may forget." This unhappy child was abandoned by his parents in early infancy, and was never, to the end of life, favoured with a single expression of a mother's kindness. He was thus an orphan, not by the bereaving hand of God, but by the cold neglect of those who ought to have been his most affectionate guardians. The tincture of his skin he knew to be an obstacle to his being identified in interest and in life with those among whom he dwelt. His susceptible mind soon began to feel its forlorn condition. In the bitterness of his grief, he must often have uttered his complaint in language like the following:-"Let the day perish wherein I was born; let darkness and the shadow of death stain it." His mother refused to visit him or to see him. Tradition says, that when a lad, he providentially met his mother in an adjoining town, at the house of a relative; and then he fondly expected that he should at least receive some kind attentions from her. But he was sadly disappointed. She was determined to elude the interview. At length he caught a glimpse of her as she was attempting to escape from him. Vexed and mortified at such an instance of unnatural contempt from his mother, he accosted her in the language of severe but merited rebuke.*

Though thus contending with troubles which would have destroyed the elasticity of common minds, an un

"Mater! tu non timebas semel; si timueras,-me a gravissimo dolure, atque te ipsam, a maximo pudore, servavisses.”

seen hand had been directing the destinies of the poor boy. A remarkable providence had placed him, in early infancy, in a kind and religious family, where all his wants were well supplied. Now he realized the " orphan's hope"-" When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." This part of the story can be best told in his own simple language:

[ocr errors]

"When I was five months old I was carried to Granville, Massachusetts, and bound out as a servant to Deacon David Rose till I was twenty-one. He was a man of singular piety.* I was taught the principles of religion. His wife, my mistress, had peculiar attachment to me: she treated me as though I was her own child. I remember it was a saying among the neighbours, that she loved Lemuel more than her own children."

The people of Middle Granville, among whom he passed the first thirty-two years of his life, were a choice company of emigrants from Durham, Connecticut. They had been brought up under the ministry of the Rev. Nathaniel Chauncey, and he had consecrated most of them, in their infancy, with the sacramental water. They possessed the bold and intelligent spirit

* Deacon Rose was remarkable for his spirituality and communion with God. He was often called in to pray with the sick and the dying, and he was endowed with the gift, and especially with the spirit of prayer. Such was his holy walk with God, that his face seemed to shine, like that of Moses after he had been with God on the mount. He felt tenderly concerned for the salvation of sinners, and, as he had opportunity, solemnly admonished them, and often with good effect. It is related, in illustration of his character in this respect, that, on going one morning into a neighbour's house, he said to the woman-" Good morning: how do you do? How does your soul do?" This salutation was uttered with so much tenderness, that the woman was instantly brought under pungent conviction of sin, which soon resulted in a hope in the Lord Jesus unto salvation.

« AnteriorContinuar »