Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

service to the cause of truth and freedom.* This journal has been most efficiently seconded by the vigorous pen of the uncompromising ecitor of the Nonconformist. An appeal has also been made to the anti-slavery feeling and principles of the country, by means of public meetings; and the verdict has been all but unanimous, in condemnation of the compromise of which the Alliance was guilty. In London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Norwich, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aylesbury, Bristol, and other places,-before audiences unprecedented in numbers, - the question has been submitted. Did the Alliance prove faithless to its principles and professions on the subject of slavery, or did it not ? and out of thirty thousand persons so appealed to,-in meetings perfectly free and open, and to which the friends of the Alliance were in every instance specially invited, only seven individuals bave been found to vote in the negative. These meetings were commenced immediately after the termination of the sittings of the Alliance, and as the principal speakers at them have been somewhat unsparingly denounced in certain quarters, we will say a word respecting the men, and the motives by which we believe they were actuated. Of one of these gentlemen, at all events, we can speak with confidence.

Mr. George Thompson has been long known to us, and few men have rendered more important service to the abolition cause. We worked with him, in our own anti-slavery struggle, and were often astonished at his prodigious labours, as well as gratified by his deep earnestness and commanding eloquence. We have since watched his career with interest, and have never known him to swerve from the course to which he was pledged, or to fail in its advocacy. Whatever others may have done, he has been faithful in all exigences of the great question ; and on no occasion has he rendered more valuable service to the slave, or done himself more honour, than in his recent exposure of the temporising and unworthy policy of the Evangelical Alliance. That his exposures have been unsparing, his denunciations severe, we readily admit, nor do we blame him on this account. The course pursued was not to be characterised by soft and measured terms. In our solemn judgment it was faithless to the highest and noblest cause, the abandonment of ground deliberately taken, treacherous to principle, and full of cruelty to the slave. His labours, which few other men could have dis

* Can it be true, as we have heard it whispered, that certain persons who are concerned in the management and control of the Patriot,' have laid an interdict upon the further discussion of the question in the editorial columns ? "If so, it is time for the proprietors of that paper to look about them.

charged, have served to commend him still further to our respect and admiration,

Of his associate, Mr. Lloyd Garrison, we will only say, that the disposition evinced by some of our countrymen, to receive and retail the slanders of American slave holders and their abettors, does not redound to our national credit. We do not concur with Mr. Garrison in the propriety of all his measures ; we have heard language from his lips which we could not adopt, phrases and modes of speech to which we should take strong exception. But, notwithstanding this, we protest against the construction put on his language by some of our contemporaries, as wanting in justice to him, and in an equitable regard to the whole facts of the case. What has Mr. Garrison said of 'American religion’ severer or more denunciatory than the following words of Dr. Adam Clarke, when referring to the maintenance of slavery by a people professing the Christian faith. 'Oh! ye most flagitious of knaves and worst of hypocrites, cast off at once the mask of religion, and deepen not your endless perdition by professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, while ye continue in this traffic.'*

In the verdict returned at the meetings to which we have referred, we perfectly agree. We cannot but regard the conduct of the Alliance, from first to last, as a deliberate compromise, step by step, of the demands of truth, the rights of the slave, and the requirements of the law of Christ. The concessions of the British brethren in the Conference were, in our judgment, far more censurable than any thing said, done, or attempted by the American delegates. The British members were an overwhelming majority. They were men who,-scores and hundreds of them,-had made a loud profession of attachment to uncompromising anti-slavery principles. They were men who, many of them, had, in anti-slavery conventions, in the years 1840 and 1843, declared that there ought to be no religious communion with slaveholders; and yet, by subtle evasions, and imaginary cases, they sought to justify their refusal to exclude from their Alliance those for whom in the present day no excuse, which is in the least degree valid, can be set up. They did this to preserve a good understanding with men who left them no room to doubt of their pro-slavery sentiments, for they placed them on record, in documents which the Alliance have themselves given to the world. We will not trust ourselves to characterise such conduct as we think it deserves ; but will rather let it be described by Dr. Andrew Reed, who was a member of that body, but has set a bright example—not with

* The Christian Penny Magazine. Nov. p. 301. VOL. XX.

[ocr errors]

out its effect-by retiring from it, and assigns the following, amongst other reasons, for so doing :

• The final reason weighing on my mind connects itself with the question of slavery. Undoubtedly, the Alliance were at liberty to say whether they would deal with that question. They resolved, however, to take action on it; and in my judgment the course pursued is the most objectionable that it was possible to adopt. The Conference resolved unanimously, and under a strange ecstacy of mind, that slavery may be not only legal, but right; not only right, but in certain circumstances beneficial even to the slave. They afterwards met to rescind that resolution; not, be it observed, to meet the wishes of a small British party, who might have thought on reflection, that it yielded too much as against the slave; but to satisfy a controlling party, who thought it yielded too little! And, finally, it stultified itself by agreeing to expunge its own minutes, and to persuade itself and the public, that it had taken no action on a subject on which, in fact, it had been more deeply engaged than any other.

• This, I think, is doing gratuitous and incalculable evil. The subject is introduced to be trifled with and postponed. The vital interests of the slave are damaged, and, as far as possible, made questionable, and this great country-made penitent by the grace of Heaven for the monstrous wrong it had done, and giving evidence to the world of its sincerity, by inflicting on itself a penalty which stands alone in history—is made to take a lower and a most humiliating position before the eyes of all nations, and especially before those of France and America. If good is to be set against evil, the Alliance must realise a larger amount of good than the most sanguine of its friends will readily ascribe to it, to outweigh this enormous evil.

• Every member of the Alliance, as such, is now committed to hold the interests and rights of the bleeding slave in aheyance for years to come; and I cannot be a party to such a contract--no, not for an hour. I write this with intense grief. A fine opportunity, purchased, too, at much expense of time, toil, and property, has been lost; and fresh difficulties have been thrown in the way of that Christian Union which shall open its arms to every professing believer in Christ, and for which every kind and gracious spirit is sighing and supplicating.'

The end, thus far, of the matter remains to be related. At the late meeting in Manchester, to organize a British District Alliance, it was stated in a report, signed by Sir Culling Eardley Smith and Dr. Steane, that since the meeting in London about fifty members had withdrawn, while others had answered doubtfully, leaving future circumstances, and especially the proceedings of the present Conference, to determine the course they would ultimately adopt. On the morning of the second day of that Conference, a resolution was brought in by Rev. E. Bickersteth, and seconded by Rev. J. H. Hinton, declaring slaveholders ineligible to membership in the British branch of the Alliance. On this subject, Dr. Wardlaw, in his letter just published, says :

* It is quite clear, that the resolution just adopted at Manchester, as an article of the British organization, contains a principle which cannot be confined to British slaveholders. It is vain to blind ourselves to the consequence, or to attempt to conceal it; it breaks up the alliance with America. The state of church fellowship there, as already described, evidently, on the showing of our American brethren themselves, who were with us in the Conferences here, precludes its possibility on the principle of this resolution.'

We believe so, too, and it now remains to be seen in what light the 'American brethren' will regard this proceeding on the part of the Manchester conference. We had intended to prove, from an abundance of letters and American papers in our possession, that these American brethren claimed a proslavery triumph in the London Conference; and we are fully of opinion that they had a right to do so. What will they now say to this somewhat sudden change on the part of those who assured them at their valedictory meetings, that they left behind them those who would defend both their characters and the position that had been taken in London ? We are curious to know. But to what shall we attribute the altered course of proceeding? Mr. Bickersteth said, that unless the resolution was passed, the public would not believe that the British Alliance abominated slavery. But who had taught him this? From what facts did he draw such a conclusion? And how was it that the rest of his brethren came to adopt, so suddenly, the same opinion? We think no rational man can be at a loss to arrive at the truth on this matter, and however it may suit the humbled pride of a few mortified spirits to deny it, the fact will remain undoubted, (and every month will add some fresh illustrations), that the course pursued in London excited all but universal disgust and indignation, and that the erring parties discovered, between the fifth of September and the fifth of November, that they must retrace their steps, or the Alliance would be a nonentity, and the attempt to form it upon the principles adopted in the Conference on the subject of slavery, would be but to add another to the many proofs furnished to the world, that a paramount regard for the everlasting principles of truth and rectitude, and a holy and undaunted resolution to take those principles as the sole guide in the treatment of every question requiring decision, must precede union.

Should the Alliance fulfil the expectation which it has excited, that it will give to the world a faithful report of the various speeches delivered during its sittings, we shall probably return

to the subject, and avail ourselves of the opportunity of offering some suggestions which the length of our present article prevents us from now doing.

Brief Hotices.

New-Year's Day; a Winter's Tale. By Mrs. Gore. With Illustra

tions, by George Cruikshank. London: Fisher and Co. The example of Mr. Dickins appears to be infectious, and numerous competitors are now contesting with him the favour of juvenile readers during their season of annual festivity. Mrs. Gore is amongst the number, and the title of her present volume sufficiently indicates her design. It is exempt from the vicious qualities which have excluded fiction from many of our juvenile circles, and is adapted to cherish rather than repress the kindlier charities of our nature. A tendency to exaggerate in the portraiture of character is its main fault, and the issue of the tale is singularly out of keeping with the joyous, yet innocent recreations associated by our young people with New-year's-day. The tale is light, and its earlier and closing chapters are full of interest. John Talbot, the old and faithful servant of Sir Jasper, and George Foreman, the suffering and patient youth, pining away in an obscure court in the neighbourhood of St. James's, are the most fascinating pictures of the volume; yet, strange to say, a broken heart in the one case, and a premature death in the other, are the end to which they are conducted. The close of the tale is therefore sombre and painful. A dark cloud settles over the personages in whose fate we have been most interested, which the marriage of Miss Hallet with Lord Wroxton does not serve even partially to enlighten. This is a great fault in the artist, and ought especially to have been avoided in such a work. The impression left on the reader should have been pleasing, and we see no good reason why it was not so.

The Evangelical Alliance : Can Churchmen and Dissenters unite in it?

or, can Evangelical Non-Conformists hold Christian fellowship with State Episcopalians? By the Rev. William Thorn, London :

Jackson and Walford. We perfectly concur with Mr. Thorn in his main position, and commend his tract to the candid perusal of our readers. It is a searching, honest, and fearless exposure of an effort from which, whatever incidental good may arise, we anticipate much ultimate evil.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »