« AnteriorContinuar »
MR. THOMPSON’S SPEECH
In Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery in the
British West India Islands, on the First Anniversary of that event, by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
Mr. Thompson said: I shall not advert prospectively, nor retrospectively, to the emancipation of Englishmen. We who are engaged in a struggle similar to that of the British advocates of outraged humanity, -are to take up their example. Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, and the French, will emulate the deed. The day of triumph is certain ;-there is no human power which can prevent it, or prescribe its limits; no impiety shall say to the bounding wave Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther.' The irresponsible spirit, the sublimity and moral prowess of Columbia, are the guarantees of the great achievement. We may be misrepresented and vilified; but be not disturbed at this. The same epithets now bestowed upon us, were bestowed upon a Clarkson and a Wilberforce, when one in Parliament, and the other out of it, devoted time, and talents, comfort, and reputation, to the noble work. All the filthy channels of the dictionary were turned upon a Wilberforce, and they fell like water upon the back of the swan, leaving its purity and loveliness unspotted and unruffled.
We learn by the event, which we commemorate, the folly of striving for less than the whole: we must struggle for complete justice; we must ask nothing, and acquiesce in nothing short of that. The planters from the West Indies, and from the Cape of Good Hope, all respectable men, besought the British nation to be moderate in doing right. 0, we must cut off only the claws of the monster, leaving his jaws to crush the bodies and bones of our brethren. They said we must mitigate, mitigate, mitigate; we beseech you, be not rash, but mitigate ; and in 1822, Mr. Canning, the Lords and Commons, the King and the
Church, men and women, combined to mitigate. What was the result? The planters of Jamaica burned, in the public square, the mitigating act, at 12 o'clock at night. And twelve o'clock it was with the hopes of the abolitionists; for the hour approached when the dawn streaked the dark horizon, and grew brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. No matter how much we mitigate and soften; no matter whether truth come as a tomahawk, or in the form of an instrument of cupping, to a delicate lady, if the truth come at all, we are still fanatics. Wilberforce was called, to the day of his death, a hoary-headed fanatic by the whole pro-slavery phalanx, but when he died, the illustrious and the lowly, thronged around his bier. I saw with these eyes, the deep religious reverence which his memory inspired, and the heartfelt homage which his virtues drew from a vast and splendid train. Royalty, nobility, bishops, Parliament and people, pressed to pay the great tribute of tears to the pure and exalted of the earth, whose spirit had returned to its Father in heaven.
How sleep the good who sink to rest,
To dwell a weeping hermit there.
In this cause, you cannot escape calumny. Here is our brother, who has addressed us to day, (referring to Mr. May.) Do his mild and persuasive words, which one would think might soften the hardest heart, save him from the tongue of slander ? Is not he a mark as well as I, who am rough and unspun, and not afraid to stir up the bile, so that men may see it, and detest it.
I accuse the press of the United States of dishonesty: There is Antigua, and there are the Bermudas, free as the air above, and the waters around them, and serene and , peaceful, and prosperous as free; and what press has spoken-what daily or weekly vehicle of intelligence, has presented this prominent fact, by which the age itself will be quoted in times to come ? Is it told in Charleston ? No. Is it told in Richmond ? Is it told in New York or New Haven? No. In Boston ? No. A tempest in a slop basin has been got up in Jamaica ; and a scene of desolation, and hanging slaves, has been painted for the gaze of the good people throughout the length of the land.
My friend did not mention the Cape of Good Hope and the Mauritius. More than twenty British colonies, subsisting in peace, and maintaining order in the transit of an unparalleled revolution, without crime, without violence, without turbulence or tumult! 'T is the death knell of American slavery. American slavery cannot last ten years longer. Let who will sink or swim, American slavery perishes. The monster reels and will down, and we shall tread upon his neck.
But it is said to be presumptuous and wrong in me to meddle with this question in the United States, because I am ignorant of it; and yet those who say this have never thought proper to show any of my errors !
It is, they say, an unconstitutional question. Ay, it is unconstitutional to feel for human suffering; it is unconstitutional to be generous to the abject, or indignant at crime; it is unconstitutional to preach, to pray, to weep. Hold, weeping mother there; your tears are unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional to print, to speak, to say that two and two make four, in the country where the ashes of George Washington lie! They say we shall not prove that two and two are four.
Are the friends of abolition enemies of the Union ? The fastest, firmest, fondest friends of the Union, are abolitionists. I have thought that the constitution might stand, and slavery fall; that slavery might die, and the constitution live-live healthy and perennial. I have thought it might live, and the black man and the white man rejoice under its broad and protecting banner. But I will not dwell upon this, as our friends have gone, whose special benefii it was intended. [The speaker
was supposed to allude to a few persons, who had appeared rather restless, for some time, and had at this stage simultaneously retreated below the stairs.]
Abolition was unconstitutional in the West Indies. It was an infringement of their charter, as my friend, Mr. Child, who has shown such an intimate acquaintance with the West India colonies, knows.
But go to the hut of a free Antigonian, live with him, see a Bermudian toss up a free child, and say if there be aught unconstitutional in these. Look to them of Jamaica, when the three and five years, (a paltry chandler shop business,) have expired; and declare of those regenerated men, if the genius of emancipation have committed anything unconstitutional there.
For the present, you must be prepared to be libelled. When slavery shall have fallen, out of the ruins you may dig a pretty fair reputation. You must not expect your portraits to be excellently drawn, especially by southern jimners. You may be represented with hoofs, and horns, and other appendages of a certain distinguished personage, who shall be nameless. It is in vain to regret, or strive to eschew this. Your reputation is already gone. You are in the case of poor Michael Cassio. tion, reputation, reputation, I've lost my reputation.' 'But yesterday, rich men bowed, and bade me good morning in State street. The periodicals were delighted with my articles, and returned substantial proofs of approbation. Now my paragraphs of an inch long are suspected; and I seldom see the sunshine of a smile.
But never mind, reputation will come by and by. We have as good a reputation as the Gallileans had, or as their Master had, and who could have a better? Take it inversely, and you will hit it about right (at least if you have all given as little cause as I have.) We have the testimony of the Most IIigh for our principles. In the language of the Declaration of sentiment, man may fail, but principles never.' The mustard seed is sown, or to change ihe figure, the acorn is planted; nay it is not an acornthe oak is set and shall grow, and spread over the black and the white its strong and ample boughs, and when cut down it shall be the bulwark of your glory, and the guarantee of your safety. (Mr. Thompson sat down amidst great applause.)
MR. THOMPSON AT LYNN.
FROM THE LYNN RECORD.
This distinguished young friend and disciple of Wilberforce, and justly celebrated orator, who has been repeatedly invited by the Anti-Slavery Society of this town, arrived on Saturday afternoon last, and was received with great satisfaction and delight. The society had a meeting on business, at the Town Hall, at the close of which, Mr. Thompson addressed a large crowded assembly of people, ladies and gentlemen, nearly two hours, in a strain of eloquence and power, quite beyond any thing we ever heard, and equally beyond our power to describe. All were held, as if by enchantment, to the close. It would be difficult to decide in which he most excelled, matter or manner. He took a comprehensive and varied view of the enormous injustice and evil of slavery, and brought up and considered the most prominent and popular objections to the plan of immediate abolition, and exposed their hypocrisy and absurdity in his own peculiar and effectual manner of cutting sarcasm. The effect was evidently great.
After Mr. Thompson had closed, a stern Pharisaical looking man, who had been sitting near the speaker, announcing himself as a preacher of the Gospel, from the South, desired the privilege of putting a few questions to Mr. Thompson, which was readily granted, and the questions as readily answered, to the satisfaction of the audience generally. The object of the stranger was to cavil and carp at what had been said. But the tables were adroitly turned upon the poor man, in a manner least expected, and most mortifying to him. One of the questions, in substance at least, was Do you
every slaveholder a thief?' 'I consider every person who holds and claims the right of holding his fellow being, as propertu, A MAN STEALER.'.