I shall assume, as self-evident truths, that the liberty of a people is a gift of God and nature: That liberty consists in an independency upon the will of another: -That by the name of slave we understand a man who can neither dispose of his person or goods, but enjoys all at the will of his master: -That no man can have a right over others, unless it be by them granted to him. . . . That which is not just is not law; and that which is not law, ought not to be in force: - That he who oppugns the public liberty, overthrows his own. . . . That there is no safety where there is no strength, no strength without union, no union without justice, no justice where faith and truth are wanting:-That the right to be free is a truth planted in the hearts of men, and acknowledged so to be by all that have hearkened to the voice of nature. . . . Vide Algernon Sidney's Discourses on Government - the Declaration of American Independence - the Constitutions and Bills of Rights of the several States, etc., etc. (Life of William Lloyd Garrison, by his Children. Vol. I, p. 200.) This pronouncement was amplified in the salutatory address in the first number, as follows:Assenting to the "self-evident truth" maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights-among which are life, liberty, and the pu suit of happiness, "I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. . . . I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation . . . urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest - I will not equivocate - I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch - AND I WILL BE HEARD. (Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 224-225.) The young man just turned twenty-six who thus marked out the path he was to follow for thirty-five years was an extraordinarily single-minded and rugged character. His like has too rarely appeared in America. Arrogant, dictatorial, intolerant, he might be, as his warmest friends admitted; but it is a foolish judgment that will dismiss him thus. Unyielding as granite, sheer Yankee will driven by a passionate energy, he was born for hazardous leadership. He was a man utterly unacquainted with fear. Lied about daily, threatened, bullied, charged with every sin in the Decalogue and every crime on the statute-book, he could not be coerced nor intimidated nor turned aside from his purpose. An ascetic who cared nothing for ease or preferment; a pacifist who fought only with the sword of the spirit; a stern moralist prophesying wrath upon a nation of mockers, and pronouncing doom upon a people that had forgotten God, he was an agitator fashioned after the ancient Hebraic pattern. The stature of such a man cannot be measured by conventional standards. Outwardly a somewhat prosaic Baptist, deeply religious and in his younger days bigotedly orthodox, he was in reality a spiritual child of the Old Testament, a modern Puritan on whom had fallen the mantle of the Prophets. New England Calvinism never bred so Puritan a soul. Hebraism was in his marrow - its noble austerity, its consuming passion. He daily walked with righteousness and communed with conscience. He carried God's scales into the market place. He would not accept his law of men. Constitution and statutes were vain and foolish pronouncements to him if h judged them to be contrary to the divine enactments. He counted property in negroes and cotton as nothing when weighed in the balance of justice. A human soul, whether in black skin or white, was of far greater worth in his eyes than all the warring kingdoms of this world. As fully as John Humphrey Noyes he reembodied the root-and-branch righteousness of English Commonwealth times. Others might lash the sins of his generation with whips; he would scourge them with nettles and scorpions. He would raise such a clamor about men's ears that the drowsiest must awake. He would light such a fire in the slave market of America that the evil thing should be consumed as stubble in the white flame of righteousness. Such primitive Hebraism, quite evidently, is calculated to make troublesome citizens who are certain to get themselves heartily disliked by those who approve of the world as it is. Any invasion of the devil's realms will create an uproar, for the devil is prompt to defend his own. Righteousness may prophesy in the gates, but the buying and selling of the poor goes on as usual. Amongst comfortable folk conscience is rarely at home when justice knocks at the door; it is gone a-visiting, or is busy, or is waiting upon Caesar, or is gone forth to pray. Comfortable folk do not like clamor, even from the prophets, and are content to leave justice to God with the hope that He will not disturb business. If the tithes are duly paid, it is a mean and censorious God that will ask how the money was got. Hence comfortable folk, north as well as south, did not like Garrison; and not liking him they were zealous to damn him. He was made out to be a bogy man, busily engaged in stirring up Nat Turner insurrections, inciting peaceful and contented slaves to discontent, flouting the Constitution and seeking to disrupt the Union. His righteousness was so great a stumbling-block that he was held to be an atheist by eminent formalists who knew of righteousness only by hearsay, and learned of God only from report. It was reckoned to him a major sin that he forgot his manners, for must not the Lord's work be carried on in seemly fashion, and the money-changers be scourged from the temple politely? "The first movement here at the North, was a rank onset and explosion," said the eminent Dr. Bushnell. "The first sin of this organization was a sin of ill manners. They did not go to work like Christian gentlemen. . . . The great convention which met at Philadelphia drew up a declaration of their sentiments . . . by which they willfully and boorishly cast off the whole South from them" (Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, Vol. II, p. 132, Note). What could be done with a fellow who insisted that the devil is rarely put in a quake by courteous treatment, and who had never learned that the Hebrew prophets bore themselves like Christian gentlemen? That he spoke with plebeian directness was unquestionably true. These are your men of "caution," and "prudence," and "judiciousness" [he exclaimed in a speech at Philadelphia, May 14, 1838]. Sir, I have learned to hate those words. Whenever we attempt to imitate our great Exemplar, and press the truth of God, in all its plainness, upon the conscience, why, we are very imprudent; because, forsooth, a great excitement will ensue. Sir, slavery will not be overthrown without excitement, a most tremendous excitement. (Ibid., Vol. II, p. 215. Note.) If clerical gentlemen disliked Garrison, gentlemen of State Street disliked him much more heartily, and being the responsible custodians of law and order, they upheld existing institutions in their own way. Your Tory is always a Fascist at heart, and the Boston Tories naturally adopted the principle of direct action. Unpleasant things happened to Garrison in consequence. He was denounced at a most respectable meeting in Faneuil Hall, "at which Washington was cheered for being a slave-holder." He was mobbed in his print-shop by "gentlemen of property and standing from all parts of the city," and was thrown into jail by a timid mayor to save his life. Not since the days of Tom Paine had such unmeasured vituperation been poured out on the head of an American. It would seem that it was a perilous business to defend the downtrodden or to remind church-members of the injunction "to undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free." When conscience throws down the gauntlet to economics it is certain to get some hard knocks. It is ill-trained for a rough and tumble contest; its scruples will not permit it to hit below the belt. But the Tory suffers no handicap of scruple and plants his blows where he can. On the occasion of an Abolition convention announced to be held within the shadows of Wall Street, Bennett's New York Herald exemplified the sweetness and light of the commercial mind in such pronouncements as this: What business have all the religious lunatics of the free states to gather in this commercial city for purposes which, if carried into effect, would ruin and destroy its prosperity? . . . Public opinion should be regulated. These abolitionists should not be allowed to misrepresent New York. . . . When free discussion does not promote the public good, it has no more right to exist than a bad government that is dangerous and oppressive to the common weal. It should be overthrown. On the question of the usefulness to the public of the packed, organized meetings of these abolitionists, socialists, Sabbath-breakers, and anarchists, there can be but one result arrived at by prudence and patriotism. They are dangerous assemblies-calculated for mischief, and reasonable in their character and purposes. . . . That half-a-dozen madmen should manufacture opinion for the whole community, is not to be tolerated. (Ibid., Vol. III, pp. 283-284.) In consequence of which appeals to "prudence and patriotism" the meeting was broken up, public opinion was judiciously regulated, and the Bible and Constitution vindicated by a Bowery mob under the leadership of a ward-heeler. It was from the impact of such ruthless opposition that Garrison's strategy took form; and it was direct and uncompromising and outspoken-as sternly logical as Calhoun's. There were no shades in his thinking but only, black and white, righteousness and sin. Expediency was not in his vocabulary. He was as narrow as he was intense. The catholic intellectual interests of the times touched him but little. Transcendentalism lay quite outside his world of thought. He was a religious soul rather than a speculative intellect, and he measured all things by the principles of primitive Christianity. As a young man he preferred the Calvinism of Lyman Beecher to the Unitarianism of Channing, but later he came to perceive the intimate relation between the major premises of Unitarianism and his social ideals. It is idle to seek a political philosopher in a Hebrew moralist. His somewhat naive political conceptions were an amalgam of French equalitarianism and Yankee perfectionism. The Declaration of Independence was his one political textbook, in the light of which he judged Congressional enactments and interpreted the Constitution. With Charming he assumed an ethical sanction for natural rights, and this assumption conducted straight to the doctrine of the higher law. As early as 1830 his conscience was prepared to appeal from laws and statutes to ethics, on the principle that "that which is not just is not law." By 1837 he had accepted the philosophy of spiritual anarchism as set forth in the new gospel of perfectionism, and from this flowed naturally the doctrines of Nullification and disunion. With amazing frankness Garrison published his views to friends and enemies, bringing all the hornets of conservatism about his ears. A furious discussion arose within the Abolition ranks on the question of loyalty to the political state, and the scandal of Garrison's Fifth Monarchy doctrine spread far. What that doctrine was he was at great pains to make clear. Writing to Henry C. Wright on the Quaker doctrine of non-resistance, he insisted on the sinfulness of all force whether in a private or public capacity, and then asserted: Human governments will remain in violent existence as long as men are resolved not to bear the cross of Christ, and to be crucified unto the world. But in the Kingdom of God's dear Son, holiness and love are the only magistracy. It has no swords, for they are beaten into ploughshares - no spears, for they are changed nto pruning hooks-no military academy, for the saints cannot learn war any more - no gibbet, for life is regarded as inviolate-no chains, for all are free. And that kingdom is to be established upon the earth, for the time is predicted when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. (Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, Vol. II, p. 149.) From such premises he deduced the conclusion that government is a cross that God permits men to endure as punishment for their sins. When they shall voluntarily quit their sins political government will cease. Human governments "are the results of human disobedience to the requirements of heaven; and they are better than anarchy just as a hailstorm is preferable to an earthquake, or the small-pox to the Asiatic cholera." From the silence of the Bible as to the form of such governments, he inferred not that each might claim a divine sanction, "but that the kingdom which Christ has established on earth is ultimately to swallow up or radically to subvert all other kingdoms." . . . "Shall we, as Christians, applaud and do homage to human government? or shall we not rather lay the axe at the root of the tree, and attempt to destroy both cause and effect together?" Foolish are the speculations about the best form of human government: "What is government but the express image of the moral character of a people?" (Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 150-151.) This is of course undiluted perfectionism, in which Garrison was the most ardent of believers. Prosaic political theory had lost all significance for him; he had got himself drunk on the new wine and was in no mood to listen to the counsels of expediency. Like John Humphrey Noyes he declared war upon the existing political state. He voluntarily disfranchised himself. He raised the banner of "disloyalty" in the Liberator, and summoned the Abolitionists to separate themselves from the unclean government that protected the sin of slavery. That the Constitution recognized the hateful system was sufficient proof to Garrison that the Constitution itself was unclean. Let it be consumed by its own iniquity In 1843 he began an uncompromising attack upon it by nailing to the masthead of the Liberator his famous phrase, "A Covenant with Death and an Agreement with Hell," to which he soon added the words, "No Union with Slaveholders." He broke with many of his oldest friends, with Whittier and Gerrit Smith and James Birney, assailing them bitterly for meddling with third-party movements in the hope of curing the evil by political action. There followed, in consequence, a whirlwind and tempest of debate that brought a disastrous schism upon the Abolition movement. Cries of disloyalty and sedition filled all ears; but Garrison was indifferent to the storms that gathered about his head. He would go forward though he went alone. With every advance of the slave power his hatred of the Constitution, under cover of which its advances were made, grew more bitter. He outran southern fire eaters in advocacy of Nullification and secession. It became his daily work to undo the labors of Webster and bring the fundamental law into common contempt. The doctrine of no compromise with sin made no account of the complexities of social problems-the immediate, root-and-branch eradication of slavery or immediate dissolution of the Union, were his alternatives. "We dissolved the Union by a handsome vote, after a warm debate," wrote Edmund Quincy in 1843; "the question was . . . wrapped up by Garrison in some of his favorite Old Testament Hebraisms by way of vehicle, as the apothecaries say" (ibid., Vol. III, p. 88). It was at a Fourth of July meeting, following the Anthony Burns affair of 1854, that Garrison made use of the striking appeal that attests his extraordinary boldness and skill as an agitator. After contrasting the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the present state of the Republic, he went on: He should now proceed to perform an action which would be the testimony of his own soul, to all present, of the estimation in which he held the pro-slavery laws and deeds of the nation. Producing a copy of the Fugitive Slave Law, he set fire to it, and burnt it to ashes. Using an old and well-known phrase, he said, "And let all the people say, Amen"; and a unanimous cheer and shout of "Amen" burst from the vast audience. In like manner Mr. Garrison burned the decision of Edward G. Loring in the case of Anthony Burns . . . the multitude ratifying the fiery immolation with shouts of applause. Then, holding up the U. S. Constitution, he branded it as the source and parent of all the other atrocities, - "a covenant with death and agreement with hell" - and consumed it to ashes on the pot, exclaiming, "So perish all compromises with tyranny! and let all the people say, Amen!" A tremendous shout of "Amen" went up to heaven in ratification of the deed, mingled with a few hisses and wrathful exclamations from some who were evidently in a rowdyish state of mind, but who were at once cowed by the popular feeling. (Ibid., Vol. III, p. 412.) In such fashion did this disciple of the gospel of peace carry the war into Macedonia. The law of conscience had come into collision with the law of the land, and he followed conscience. For Garrison majority votes held no mandate. He had come to regard the political state as the mother of all mischiefs; for behind this thing of shreds and patches he saw unscrupulous politicians whose profession was the deceiving of simple minds, befogging moral issues with heir myths and cults-their appeals to patriotism and the Constitution-and bringing the law of God into contempt. It was the spiritual bondage of the North that held the negro in slavery, Garrison had come to believe, and to free the conscience of the North was the great duty devolving upon the Abolitionists. With his intense single-mindedness he saw no other duty, and in doing that duty he would use no other weapon than the sword of the spirit. It is fortunate, perhaps, that the prophet knows so little of the resourcefulness of the market place on which he pronounces judgment, or his zeal might suffer abatement. Slavery was not destroyed by the conscience of Massachusetts, but by the economics of free labor. The free-soilers were more dangerous to it for they fought with material weapons; and old John Brown of Ossawatomie, more Hebraic even than Garrison, was a sterner realist, who took care to load his Sharp's rifle while girding on the sword of the spirit. From the prophet to the soldier is but a step, from the sword of the spirit to musket and ball, from conscience to the Emancipation Proclamation. Single-minded men-the Garrisons and John Browns - marshaling the discontent of their generation, sometimes do succeed in removing mountains but unfortunately they leave a great scar, and the débris litters the whole countryside. Other mountains may even arise from the waste of the leveling. After the Emancipation Proclamation came the Fourteenth Amendment, and out of that came the triumphant gospel of "due process of law." The devil understands the ways of the world too well to become discouraged at a temporary set-back, for if righteousness succeed in breaking the bonds that bind a generation, he knows that the market place carries an ample stock of new cords to replace those that are broken.
II JOHN G. WHITTIER Puritan QuakerIf Garrison was the flintiest character amongst the militant Abolitionists, Whittier was certainly the gentlest. Among many lovable men he was perhaps the most lovable. Bred in a faith that had never been dominant in New England, he escaped the induration that was the price the New England conscience paid for its hard dogma. No thick shell of Calvinism incrusted for him the soul of humanitarian religion. In the Society of Friends righteousness was not daily twisted into unloveliness, nor the beauty of holiness forgotten; and in consequence, it was easier for him than for his Calvinist neighbors to fashion his life upon the principles of the New Testament, and set Christ above the Prophets. Whittier's family escaped many temptations by following quiet paths to their own ends. Prosperity had never wooed the Massachusetts Quakers away from the simple life, as it had done with so many Philadelphia Friends, but a narrow domestic economy and social non-conformity had nourished their religion of peace and good will. Long before Charming discovered the religion of love in the teachings of French humanitarianism, the early Quakers had found that primitive gospel in the byways of Carolinian England, and had brought it to the new world. There they had borne testimony in their daily lives to the excellence of Christian fellowship, and there they had suffered the reproaches and the blows of bigoted conformists. Their faith had been tried in the fires of persecution, and the Society of Friends had justified its use of that most excellent of sectarian names. In the sincerity of their equalitarian fellowship the Quakers were the friends of humanity, of the poor and the outcast of this world. Their religion was of the week-day as well as the Sabbath. With its mystical doctrine of the inner light - of the Holy Spirit that speaks directly to the soul without the intermediation of priest or church - it unconsciously spread the doctrine of democracy in an autocratic world. It interpreted literally the principle that members of the Christian fellowship are equals in the sight of God and in each other's eyes - that on earth there is neither high nor low but a common brother hood in Christ. It quietly set aside the pretentions of priestly hierarchies, and substituted the principle that religion is a matter that lies with the individual and God. Naturally a "hireling ministry" could not look with favor on such doctrine, and the sharp hostility it aroused in theocratic New England, sprang from the realization that the ideals of the Quaker fellowship were dangerous to the ideals of a priestly theocracy. The autocratic rulers of Massachusetts Bay could see little good in the democracy of the Friends. As became a Quietist, the master passion of Whittier's life was ethical. He was neither a transcendental nor a Utopian visionary, but a primitive Christian, an apostle of good will and a friend of justice. Sprung from a long line of New England yeomen, wholly of the soil, simple in wants, quietly independent, he was the last lineal expression in our literature of the primitive faith, the last authentic echo of the spiritual democracy of the seventeenth century. A thorough Yankee in character, the Yankee never dominated him. As a young man, to be sure, he temporized with his Quakerism and dreamed fond dreams of worldly ambition. The stirrings of youthful romance awakened the desire to be a Byronic poet, and a Yankee knack with politics led him to meddle with the hope of representing his district in Congress. He was hand-in-glove with the time-serving Caleb Cushing, and the temptations of political intrigue almost led to his backsliding; but he soon put the devil behind him and gave security for his better behavior by coming out for the cause of Abolitionism. That was the end of his hopes of political preferment, and the more surely to burn his bridges he published in 1833, at his own cost, a little Abolition tract entitled Justice and Expediency, which was reissued by Lewis Tappan in a great edition and scattered broadcast. The same year he attended as delegate the National Anti-Slavery Convention at Philadelphia, and subscribed his name to its pronouncement. Thenceforth for over thirty years he gave his best strength to the cause, writing abundantly in prose and verse, serving as editor of Abolition publications, and suffering the unpleasant experiences common to the group, at one time being hunted by a mob and stoned. This deliberate alignment with an unpopular cause, this calm response to the summons of conscience, was the fruit of his Quaker training. It was no new experience for the Quaker to dissent. The Whittier family had been Come-outers for generations, sacrificing material well-being for their faith, and he had grown up in dissent. The long struggle for democratic freedom in Massachusetts was a familiar story to him. The record had come down by word of mouth and stories of early persecutions were fireside tales in the Whittier household. His ancestors had lived in the hard old Puritan theocracy, and yet detached from it; and this detachment had rendered them shrewdly critical and sensitive to injustice. With their quiet dissent from what the Quaker conscience regarded as unrighteous, and their practical nullification of unjust authority, Whittier was in full sympathy. His intimate knowledge of early Massachusetts history had taught him certain things which official historians had overlooked, the chief of which was that dissent had been the ally and friend of freedom in New England. From his youth up he had been a loving student of the old annals, of those intimate narratives that preserve the voice and manner of the past; and as he discovered how often persecution had left its stain on the record, he was drawn to consider the superstitious aberrations of a people supposedly devout. In middle life he gathered up in Leaves from Margaret Smith's Journal of Massachusetts Bay, .1678-79, materials that he had long been collecting, and which, interpreted by a sympathetic imagination, provides surprisingly vivid account of life in New England in the second generation. All in all, it is Whittier's most notable achievement in prose. Pieced together out of old records, it is authentic as the yellow documents from which it was drawn. The soft light of romance lies upon its pages, sobered by historical fact and tempered by creative sympathy. Loving yet critical, quite devastating at times in its implications, it is an amazingly intimate narrative. The mind of Puritan New England is uncovered in these unpretentious pages, and it does not show to advantage. There was many a knot and seam in the old Puritan life, much that was mean and ugly woven into the honest web. The Puritan proneness to Quaker-baiting - aggravated to be sure by the ill manners of the Ranters; their vulgar credulity that encouraged witch-hunting; their callous treatment of the Indian and negro; their hardness of nature that made them grasping and censorious: such knots and seams in the Puritan character did not escape Whittier's eye, but they appear in the sketches of avaricious deacons, sour women, intolerant magistrates - the Deacon Doles and Goody Lakes and Roger Endicotts, whose bigotry tyrannized over the better natures of the community. Whittier sifted his materials carefully to gather up what good wheat there might be, yet the showing it must be confessed is but paltry. Honest Robert Pine who will have none unjustly treated, good Mr. Russ who counsels moderation in dealing with the unhappy victims of mob suspicion, Captain Samuel Sewall who speaks up bravely for the outcast-these are he remnant in Israel, the generous minority that cannot leaven he dour and credulous mass. Yet even they are not heroic figures o Whittier. His heroes are the Come-outers, and in particular Peggy Brewster - reminiscent evidently of his great-grandmother, the Quakeress Mary Peaslee, who married Robert Whittier in 1694 - who is the good Samaritan of the Puritan neighborhood, and whose loving-kindness wins a reluctant good will that stops short of toleration of her non-conformity. Such intimate studies in the psychology of persecution were a liberal education, and Whittier would have been no Quaker had he not learned his lesson. He was justified in not thinking well of the social conscience of respectable New England. Religious conformity, he had come to understand, had not kept alive the torch of freedom in Massachusetts, nor had Puritan righteousness befriended justice. Not the great of earth but the simple may be counted on to do God's work. So taking his lesson to heart he quietly put aside ambition, and like Peggy Brewster numbered himself among the remnant. Like her he would be a Come-outer and bear his testimony against the uncleanness of the American people in this matter of negro slavery. Not with musket and ball would he fight, like old John Brown; but with the sword of the spirit. The solution must lie with the conscience of the American people. As a Friend, a man of peace, he would not deal harshly with the supporters of slavery; he would not counsel violence. But as a Yankee with a gift for politics, he would use political means to jog a slothful conscience and marshal its forces. And so Whittier became the politician amongst the Abolitionists. He proved himself a skillful lobbyist. He was active in getting up petitions to Congress. He supported John Quincy Adams and put pressure on the slippery Caleb Cushing. He advocated the policy of boring from within the old parties, but when such methods proved futile he became an active leader in the third party movement. He was an early supporter of the Liberal party - that in 1844 drew enough votes from Clay in New York to defeat him for the Presidency - of the Free-Soil party, and later of the Republican party. It was this insistence upon the use of political methods that brought about the unhappy break with Garrison. Immediately it was no more than a difference over tactics, but it was embittered by a wide cleavage of political theory. With Garrison's conversion to spiritual anarchism the Abolition movement was sundered by a division between the perfectionists and the political actionists. The principle of non-voting and of refusing allegiance to the Constitution aroused strong opposition, and Whittier went with Birney and Gerrit Smith, with Jonathan Sewall, John Pierpont and the Tappans in rejecting the perfectionist policy. His political common sense turned naturally to political agencies to accomplish his ends. "Moral action apart from political" seemed to him an "absurdity." But when he applied the Quaker principle of Come-outism, and advocated separate party alignment, Garrison attacked him with his habitual intolerance. The latter feared a third party movement as certain to provide a rallying cry for the commercial interest to muster the mob to its support, and overwhelm the minority with the unthinking and selfish mass. "All political minorities," he argued, "are more or less liberal," and by throwing the Abolition strength to such organized minorities, the movement would be "feared and respected by all political parties" (Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, Vol. II, pp. 310-311). The wisest strategy, he believed, was to seek to hold the balance of power between the old parties - rewarding friends and punishing enemies - while laboring t arouse the conscience of America, for ballots without conscience were the enemies of justice. Whittier was no such root-and-branch spirit as Garrison, and in the political field he was a practical, somewhat prosaic Yankee, little given to abstract speculation, skillful in minor strategical skirmishes, inclined to opportunism. He belonged to no school of political thought. His equalitarianism came as a heritage from his Quaker religion rather than from political theory. To prepare himself for his work he read Milton and Burke. The pamphlets of the great Puritan appealed to him as the voice of the moral fervor of a heroic age, but Milton's aristocratic republicanism he seems to have examined no more critically than Burke's Whiggish legalism. Neither held anything in common with Quaker equaliarianism. Rousseau and Tom Paine and Jefferson, with whom he certainly would have sympathized, he seems not to have been acquainted with. In Whittier's New England they were in ill repute, and the young Whittier was as naively provincial in his political partisanship as was Garrison. Economics had no part in his thought, and the economic interests that divided Federalism and Anti-Federalism he seems never to have understood. Though sprung from six generations of farmers who tilled the same acres, he reveals no sympathy with agrarianism. He swallowed Clay and the American System without a qualm, and as a young editor he wrote with pride of the developing industrialism of Massachusetts. Neither in politics nor in economics was he a rebellious soul. He was conscience rather than intellect. He felt rather than thought. Only a moral issue could draw him into strife, and even in such contests he was ill equipped to lead the prosaic debates. His moral indignation found its natural expression in verse, and he early took his place as the poet of the Abolition movement, distilling into ready lyrics the emotion of the moment. A great, even a noteworthy poet, Whittier certainly was not. Compared with Whitman he is only a minor figure. Among the better known American poets Bryant alone is so narrow in range and barren in suggestion. His austere and meager life bred too little sensuousness of nature and too few intellectual passions. An over-frugal watering of the wine of paganism had left the New England character thin. The sap of humor that ran so boisterously through the veins of the West, exuding a rough wit from Davy Crockett to Mark Twain, was quite gone out of the Yankee blood. His homely imagination was unquickened by a hearty village life as was the case with the English Bunyan and the Scotch Burns. He had become a bundle of Yankee nerves, responding only to moral stimuli. The comment of Whitman sums up the Quaker poet adequately: Whittier's poetry stands for morality . . . as filtered through the positive Puritanical and Quaker filters; is very valuable as a genuine utterance. . . . Whittier is rather a grand figure-pretty lean and ascetic -no Greek-also not composite and universal enough (doesn't wish to be, doesn't try to be) for ideal Americanism. (Carpenter, Life of Whitman, p. 293.) Never a great artist, rarely a competent craftsman, he wrote for the most part impassioned commonplace, with occasional flashes that are not commonplace. The high-water mark of lyric indignation was reached in the lines to Webster. Written at white heat, they have the passionate directness of Thoreau's prose. Like other Abolitionists, Whittier had clung to his hopes of Webster in spite of frequent signs of the latter's backsliding. He did not sufficiently appreciate the economic alliances that tied Webster to State Street, and he underrated his presidential ambitions. But when the blow came with the Seventh of March Speech, it staggered him - not alone the defection of Webster, but the demonstrative approval of his wealthy constituents. For having "convinced the understanding and touched the conscience of a nation," Webster was formally thanked by some seven hundred addressers from the most respectable circles of Massachusetts-great men like Rufus Choate, George Ticknor, W. H. Prescott, President Jared Sparks and Professor Felton of Harvard, Moses Stuart and Leonard Woods of Andover Theological Seminary. It was an hour of profound discouragement that laid bare what colossal difficulties stood in the way of Abolitionism. "The scandalous treachery of Webster and the backing he has received from Andover and Harvard," wrote Whittier to Garrison, "show that we have nothing to hope for from the great political parties and religious sects" (William Sloane Kennedy, John G. Whittier, p. 113). The scathing lines of Ichabod were read throughout the North, and they must have rankled in Webster's heart. Even Whittier was troubled by their severity and thirty years later he wrote a second Webster poem which he set beside Ichabod in his collected works. The Lost Occasion is a testimony to the kindliness of Whittier's Quaker heart that did not love to offend; but no kindliness of memory could change or soften the just verdict of the lines:
Of all we loved and honored, naught Save power remains; A fallen angel's pride of thought, Still strong in chains. All else is gone; from those great eyes The soul is fled: When faith is lost, when honor dies, The man is dead! Then, pay the reverence of old days To his dead fame; Walk backward, with averted gaze, And hide the shame!If Whittier was ill acquainted with the Boston of State Street and the Back Bay, and the Cambridge of Harvard culture, he knew intimately the Massachusetts of the village and the farm, and the overwhelming repudiation of Webster and the Whig party, following the Seventh of March Speech, would seem to have justified his lyric confidence expressed in the vigorous heptameters of Massachusetts to Virginia. For those who lived in the social world of Commissioner Loring - professor of law at Harvard - and Rufus Choate, it was hard not to think that Massachusetts had come to degenerate days. The fine old-school Federalist, Josiah Quincy, commenting on the Boston that watched Sims returned to slavery, wrote
When the [Fugitive Slave] law passed, I did think the moral sense of the ommunity would not enforce it; I said that it never would be. But now find that my fellow-citizens are not only submissive to, but that they are earnestly active for, its enforcement. The Boston of 1851 is not the Boston of 1775. Boston has now become a mere shop-a place for buying and selling goods; and I suppose, also, of buying and selling men. (Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, Vol. III, p. 328.)And Lowell, living in the same mean atmosphere, wrote:
Massachusetts, God forgive her, She's akneelin' with the rest, She, thet ough' to ha' clung ferever In her grand old eagle-nest. (Biglow Papers, Part I, 1.)But Whittier professed to think better of the conscience of New England. A strong pride of the commonwealth runs through the lines that name over the towns of Massachusetts, from "free, broad Middlesex," westward and northward to the hills of Hampshire:
And sandy Barnstable rose up, wet with the salt sea spray; And Bristol sent her answering shout down Narragansett Bay! Along the broad Connecticut old Hampden felt the thrill, And the cheer of Hampshire's woodmen swept down from Holyoke Hill. The voice of Massachusetts! Of her free sons and daughters, Deep calling unto deep aloud, the sound of many waters! Against the burden of that voice what tyrant power shall stand? No fetters in the Bay State! No slave upon her land! When at last the long controversy was over and release from the struggle came to Whittier, his poetry grew richer and mellower. He was not made to be a fighter, and it was with a sigh of relief that he turned to the Elysian fields he had dreamed of, while he was turning with his plow the rough stubble of a cause. Looking back upon those arduous days, he sketched half whimsically his own portrait in The Tent on the Beach. And one there was, a dreamer born, Who, with a mission to fulfill, Had left the Muses' haunts to turn The crank of an opinion-mill, Making his rustic reed of song A weapon in the war with wrong, Yoking his fancy to the breaking-plough That beam-deep turned the soil for truth to spring and grow. Too quiet seemed the man to ride The wingéd Hippogriff Reform; Was his a voice from side to side To pierce the tumult of the storm? A silent, shy, peace-loving man, He seemed no fiery partisan To hold his way against the public frown, The ban of Church and State, the fierce Mob's hounding down. For while he wrought with strenuous will The work his hands had found to do, He heard the fitful music still Of winds that out of dream-land blew. The din about him could not drown What the strange voices whispered down; Along his task-field weird processions swept, The visionary pomp of stately phantoms stepped. The common air was thick with dreams, He told them to the toiling crowd; Such music as the woods and streams Sang in his ear he sang aloud; In still, shut bays, on windy capes, He heard the call of beckoning shapes, And, as the gray old shadows prompted him, To homely moulds of rhyme he shaped their legends grim.Many excellent things he did in those quiet later years; old time pictures like Snowbound, with its homely fireside economy long since buried under the snows of forgotten winters; vigorous tales like Abraham Davenport; ballads like Skipper Ireson's Ride, that have something of the spirit of the primitive. He had given thirty years of his life to the cause of social justice, and surely none would grudge him in old age his rambles in pleasanter fields. It was well that he could turn to the past, for the America of the new exploitative age, the New England of Lowell and Lawrence, he never understood. Black slavery he understood, but wage slavery he comprehended no more than did Garrison. To the end he remained a primitive soul, ill equipped to understand a materialistic philosophy of society. There is something pathetic in his Songs of Labor. His economics, like his democracy, was of a bygone time, having no kinship with a scrambling free-soilism or a rapacious capitalism. There is scant room in this world for the Friend with his unmilitant dream of the fellowship. With his passion for freedom, established in the gospel of righteousness, the Quaker Whittier was fast becoming an anachronism in industrial New England that was concerned about very different things. How old-fashioned he had become is suggested by certain lines that phrase his greetings to later times. Spare, somewhat halting in rhythm, yet transparently sincere, they constitute an apologia that New England need feel no shame for.
Yet here at least an earnest sense Of human right and weal is shown; A hate of tyranny intense, And hearty in its vehemence, As if my brother's pain and sorrow were my own. O Freedom! if to me belong Nor mighty Milton's gift divine, Nor Marvell's wit and graceful song, Still with a love as deep and strong As theirs, I lay, like them, my best gifts on thy shrine!
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
A Daughter of Puritanism
No more Puritan mind than Mrs. Stowe's ever contributed to the literature of New England. Her remarkable native gifts were unconsciously given specific shape by a rigid environment. For years the artist in her struggled to subdue the moralist, and never quite succeeded. Before she dipped her pen in ink her mind had taken its set. She could not hope to escape being a preacher. Daughter of a minister and wife of a minister, with brothers and sons ministers, she lived all her life in an atmosphere of religion. She was baptized in creeds and prattled the language of sermons as the vernacular of childhood. Born at a critical time for the old New England faith, her youth was passed amid the storm clouds of the Unitarian controversy, in an atmosphere charged with electricity. Connecticut was the very citadel of the Edwardean orthodoxy, and Litchfield was as rugged in its faith as the hills it nestled among; and when the old-school Calvinism of Boston was in danger of utter rout, it naturally turned to a Connecticut Daniel to save the venerable cause. Stout old Lyman Beecher was a host in himself. Son of a Connecticut blacksmith and himself brought up at the forge before he quitted it to seek learning at Yale College under Timothy Dwight, able, kindly, practical, with pronounced literary tastes and a capable pen, he was a stalwart Edwardean, militantly conservative, who damned our perverse human nature with incontrovertible logic. Harriet was eight years old when Channing preached his Baltimore sermon, and fourteen when her father was summoned to Hanover Street Church, Boston. Her childish heart had already been given to Baxter's Saint's Rest, and her imagination awakened by Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana. Theocratic New England lay enveloped for her in a haze of romance, more fascinating than any Sir Walter had woven about the Scottish Highlands; she had discovered there noble figures and heroic deeds to kindle an ardent hero worship. At fourteen she was converted-too easily it seems, for she could not demonstrate to the satisfaction of her spiritual counselors that she had been sufficiently under conviction of sin. Thereafter to the end of her life the greatest of all dramas for her was the drama of the soul concerned with the great business of salvation.
The surest clue to Mrs. Stowe's literary secret is to be found in her sympathetic understanding of the spiritual life of Puritan New England. She was a lifelong student of New England psychology, with its "profound, unutterable, and therefore unuttered melancholy" that resulted from open-eyed contemplation of grim fact. The past that lay bleak and stern behind the sober present she understood as few others did. Before her sympathetic eyes it fell into just proportions, and quite naturally she became the historian of her people. The autobiographical material that fills her later work - her husband's recollections in Old-Town Folks, and her own in Poganuc People - is much more than autobiography; it is intimate history of New England, written by one who in distilling her own experience was writing the chronicle of a race. In a brilliant chapter of the former work she gives a remarkable analysis of the intellectual development of Puritan New England, and provides he setting against which her own intellectual life should be placed. To overlook it is to miss the most suggestive commentary on her ork that has ever been written.
This daughter of Puritanism traces her intellectual antecedents back to the long struggle of Puritan rationalism with feudal custom and medieval ideas. The old English Puritans, "by nature the most reverential and most loyal portion of the community," in destroying the divine-right sovereignty of King Charles, were impelled to transfer that sovereignty to a higher King. In pulling down the temporal, they erected a divine sovereignty; and their passionate attachment to the new Sovereign was the natural response to "the pleading and yearning within them of a faculty robbed of its appropriate object, and longing for support and expression." But the theologies to which they yielded intellectual allegiance were a "legacy from past monarchical and medieval ages." To free themselves from this unhappy legacy, and create a democratic theology, was an arduous work that needed two hundred years to accomplish; and not until the Revolution spread a new social philosophy through America, did the work go forward rapidly. Wanting such a democratic philosophy Puritan New England wandered in the old theological fogs. It was Jonathan Edwards who first turned the New England mind to rationalism, and began that long "controversy" that was to unsettle so much. But unhappily the rationalism of Edwards was turned aside to reactionary ends, and his Treatise on True Virtue was "one of the strongest attempts to back up by reasoning the old monarchical r and aristocratic ideas of the supreme right of the king and upper classes." Nevertheless he set all New England to rationalizing, and it was this severe discipline that carried her people soberly through the Revolutionary War, and preserved them from the excesses which followed the Revolution in France. And it was this same discipline that prepared them for the eventual re-discovery of the humanity of Jesus and the democracy of his religion. New England had been struggling towards democracy through the bog of its feudal theology; it became consciously democratic with the appearance of the new theology (Old-Town Folks, Chapter XXIX).
This rationalistic bias of eighteenth-century New England suffices to explain for Mrs. Stowe the stern temper and angular individuality of the old Puritan Yankee. Her particular hero and saint was Jonathan Edwards, and her lesser hero and saint was Samuel Hopkins; and in both it was the courageous rationalism that appealed to her. In them, and more particularly in the former, she discovered the creative force that quickened a religion that was falling into dead formalism, that gave it fresh vitality and made it the central fact of everyday New England life. Across the world of her youth lay the shadow - or the light - of the great Edwards, and the great Hopkins was his intellectual heir. In another chapter of Old-Town Folks she sketches the Edwardean influence in bold outline.
The ministers of the early colonial days of New England, though well read, scholarly men, were more statesmen than theologians. Their minds ran upon the actual arrangements of society, which were in great measure left in their hands, rather than on doctrinal and metaphysical subtleties. They took their confession of faith just as the great body of Protestant reformers left it, and acted upon it as a practical foundation, without much further discussion, until the time of President Edwards. He was the first man who began the disintegrating process of applying rationalistic methods to the accepted doctrines of religion, and he rationalized far more boldly and widely than any publishers of his biography have ever dared to let the world know. He sawed the great dam and let out the whole waters of discussion over all New England, and that free discussion led to all the shades of opinion of our modern days. Little as he thought it, Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker were the last results of the current set in motion by Jonathan Edwards. (Chapter XIX.)
In this flood let loose by the metaphysical saw of Jonathan Edwards, Mrs. Stowe found the material for her New England tales. In no other pages does one realize so fully the tremendous, vital significance of religion to the children of Puritanism, nor appreciate how narrow a course their lives ran between the farm and the meeting-house. A domestic economy and a parochial theology absorbed their energies, and they took on sharp and angular imprints from a severe routine. It was a school of discipline that created individual character, and Mrs. Stowe possessed a loving eye for the odd and original. She delighted in emphasizing the theological differences that ran through Yankee families, giving little twists to character, and rising to the tongue in scraps of confirmatory Scripture. Large-hearted, motherly Grandmother Badger, in Old-Town Folks, was a stern Calvinist who daily threw predestination in the face of her easy-going Arminian husband, and exchanged syllogisms in a Sabbath-day "battle of the Infinities" with her son from Yale. Theology provided the staple of talk in the farmer's kitchen; it was the axis on which turned the simple country life. Old-Town Folks and Poganuc People are cross sections of old New England, with its lingering prejudices in favor of rank,1 its Arminian Parson Lothrop in wig and gold cane, and its Calvinist Dr. Cushing hostile to all democratic Jacobinism, its country yokels, its stubborn yeomen who parade their independence by voting the democratic ticket openly in the face of gentlemanly Federalists, its sharp contrasts of a stately old order and a somewhat bumptious new, yet with the hard New England granite snugly laid up and bonded with the mortar of religion -a strange dead world that emerges distinctly through the haze of Victorian sentiment. For Mrs. Stowe was a child of her own romantic generation as well as a daughter of Puritanism, and it was easy for her to discover suggestions of Utopia in a world where minister and people mingled theology with their corn-huskings and apple-bees.
Between these sketches and the Abolition novels stands The Minister's Wooing, with its Puritan heroine bleached into pure holiness under the cold sunshine of Hopkinsian theology, and its unworldly minister who demonstrated the sincerity of his creed of disinterested benevolence - of willing to be damned for the glory of God-by voluntarily yielding his betrothed to an earlier lover. It is a love story without sex, as befits the wooing of a Puritan nun by her spiritual father, set against a Yankee background of capable housekeeping and dignified tea-drinking, subdued to proper decorum by religion, and touched with tragedy by the shadow of damnation that falls on the unregenerate-a world in which the beauty of holiness is somewhat pale and austere, and where disinterested benevolence finds a thin and obdurate soil to strike root in. Mrs. Stowe was drawn to the theme, very evidently, by the impulse of her two Utopian enthusiasms, her interest in Abolition and her affection for the ways of old New England. Such romance as blossomed under those bleak skies she loved to gather into a Yankee nosegay, and in her sympathetic hands the old slave-running Newport becomes almost lovable and human. She might find the theology hard, but she forgave the sermon out of love for the preacher. As the historian of the human side of Calvinism she tempered dogma with affection. In unsympathetic print those old sermons were almost unbelievably harsh and ungainly; as theologians those bewigged preachers were dry as the chips of last year's woodpile; but as husbands and fathers and neighbors, they were usually kind and unselfish and helpful. Her father Lyman Beecher was an arid dogmatist on the Lord's Day, but on week-days he fished and hunted rabbits and went nutting with his sons, made garden or smoked hams, or helped a neighbor with plowing or haying, and was an unusually capable and cheery member of a busy little world. In the light of such domestic exegesis the bleakness of his theology was softened, and the dogmatic theologian became a very human person.
Thus instructed Mrs. Stowe found no difficulty in discovering the human side of Dr. Samuel Hopkins, or understanding how the hard doctrine might cover the gentlest of souls-that the very intensity of devotion to the logic of a stern creed betokened a depth of religious sincerity that would find issue in generous deeds. A thinker who can dig from the harsh soil of Calvinism the doctrine of disinterested benevolence will discover a tender conscience in his own bosom. One might hazard a guess, indeed, that the story of Samuel Hopkins was an unconscious defense of the New England ministers against the sharp charges of the Abolitionists that the clergy were half-hearted in the cause or openly hostile. With her conviction of the unselfish nobility of their lives, Mrs. Stowe must have taken a secret pleasure in revealing the good Doctor as a forerunner of the Abolitionists, and in pointing out that the crabbed logician of the Edwardean school, the theologian immersed in the abstractions of a grotesque system, was nevertheless a light set upon a hill, a primitive Christian with heart overflowing with loving-kindness, who understood the iniquity of slavery and turned shepherd to the outcast to his own hurt. The figure of the unworldly minister is drawn with loving hand and his angularities made less rugged. His noble spirituality shrivels and consumes the mean excuses of his slave-running parishoner; it spreads quietly over the countryside, and his daily life is a sermon that quickens hearts that his theology leaves cold. There is preaching aplenty in the book-quite too much for later stomachs; but it scarcely detracts from the significance of the story as a document of Puritan New England, revealing how a tender conscience was stirring beneath the crabbed exterior of the old Calvinism.
In the light of such antecedents and such training Mrs. Stowe's passionate concern over slavery becomes easily comprehensible. Her Puritan conscience was quickened by her warm human sympathies. She had come close to the hateful thing during the years spent at Cincinnati, where the Abolition sentiment of the Lane Seminary students aroused such bitter opposition that President Lyman Beecher was forced to approve the decision of the trustees to forbid any discussion of slavery, with the result that so great a hegira of students took place from Lane to Oberlin that the seminary was forced to close. Only the fact that two miles of Ohio mud provided defensive outworks saved the building and the houses of the teachers from the hands of the Cincinnati mob. She had visited in Kentucky; she had been to the slave markets; she had seen her father and brother aid runaway slaves by means of the underground railway. A profound sense of the iniquity of the system oppressed her, and when the Fugitive Slave Bill came to fill up the measure of her wrath, she poured out her heart in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Despite its obvious blemishes of structure and sentimentalism it is a great human document that stripped away the protective atmosphere from the sacred institution, and laid bare its elementary injustice. It brought the system home to the common feeling and conscience. The strong religious coloring emphasized the Abolition argument that slavery trafficked in Christian souls, and rendered it hateful to every humanitarian instinct. It was noble propaganda, and the humor and pathos, the passion for social righteousness, still linger in its pages to make a later generation wonder that our fathers should so long have tolerated this evil thing.
Five years later she published Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, a thoughtfully elaborated statement of the complex problem, with a suggested solution that only thrust into relief the fact that it had indeed become an irrepressible conflict - the same solution that had been hinted at thirty years before in Kennedy's Swallow Barn, namely, a system of paternalistic emancipation, based on the historical analogy of the extinction of English villeinage, the slaves to be treated as wards by the masters and educated for gradual emancipation. It was a feudal solution of a feudal problem, but it took higher humanitarian ground than human nature can, and Mrs. Stowe recognized the complex of passion and interests in which the problem was involved, by removing her southern emancipationist to Canada to try his experiment. More striking, perhaps, is the shift from the Christian pacifism of Uncle Tom's Cabin to the economics of Dred. The former had made appeal to the humanitarianism of the North; the latter proposed to appeal to the self-interest of the South. The slave states, Mrs. Stowe's heroine argued, were being ruined by slavery, and if they were to expect a sane economic future, they must destroy the wasteful system. The contrast between Yankee thrift under free labor and plantation shiftlessness under slave labor had been pointed out by Whittier in his Justice and Expediency as early as 1833 and by Caruthers in his Kentuckian in New York in 1834 - statements that perhaps drew Mrs. Stowe's attention to the economic phases involved; nevertheless the recognition of the complexity of the problem, and the attempt to deal with it adequately, lessened the popular appeal of Dred. The book is more skillfully done than Uncle Tom, it is far richer in background material - in vivid sketches of poor whites, of revivalist preachers, of plantation life - it provides in Old Tiff a delightful study of the negro servant and it suggests the perennial fear of a negro uprising; but it lacks the singleness of appeal that makes for telling propaganda. It was not its melodrama that hindered its success. The public had swallowed that in Uncle Tom with a hearty appetite. It was rather the dissipation of dramatic interest, the want of a striking figure to capture the imagination and sympathy. It is a better sociological study but a weaker story.
It was hard for the New England conscience to quit the pulpit and turn artist; and it was particularly hard for Mrs. Stowe with her ardent nature and multiplying domestic cares. She could bring her soul under discipline but not her art. She never trained herself in craftsmanship, never learned restraint, but suffered her pen to range freely as her emotions directed. The creative instinct was strong in her but the critical was wholly lacking. Richly endowed though she was her work has suffered the fate that pursues those who forget that beauty alone survives after emotion subsides.
1"It's a hard struggle for our human nature to give up titles and ranks, though," said Miss Mehitable. "For my part, I have a ridiculous kindness for them yet. I know it's all nonsense; but I can't help looking back to the court we used to have at the Government House in Boston." (Old-Town Folks, Chapter VI.)