READER, you have been to Boston? No! Well, you follow a street till you come, not to a turn, but to a—stop, the wind all the time north-east. The sole direction there of all streets is north-east; if the wind ever in your teeth from that quarter of the compass, turn or stop as you list, be an honest way of judging. Vanes there on all the steeples are fixed towards a north-east star; and they, if let alone, have conscientiously resolved never to diverge from this Yankee meridian and magnetic line.
Other winds may possibly blow, but they turn into
north-easters; at all events the vanes pay no
attention to the unorthodox puffers. They have sworn
allegiance to one wind—the
wind; and they intend to stick to it! To belong down
east means something, depend on it! People there are
decidedly one-sided! The north-east wind has covered that
one side with a damp green moss, like the north side of trees in a western wilderness; it has blown prejudices and habits all through them into their bones and marrow. Like their own loyal vanes, the folks here, (some time ago, any how,) lie naturally right across you, go which way you like. And they carry their peculiar green mossiness a long time elsewhere, before it rubs off; for, 'cute, and cunning, and tricky as they may be, and easily as they do outwit all creation, a son of the north-east wind is readily, at first, distinguished south or west—he blows his own blast! He will guess and calculate for his own advantage beyond all doubt; but he cannot conceal his vane—it stands slap across your eyes,—north-east!
Fixedness is worth something. Why a vane, however, should value itself on sticking north-east, when a good wind comes off from south-west, is incomprehensible, specially if the one wind is no better than the other. But the true north-eastern feeling makes New England the country; its usages, and customs, and laws, and religion, and schools, and books, are enough for the Union, enough for the world!
True, to achieve and hold independence; to lay a
foundation for commerce; to have means and opportunity
of building up New England glory and prosperity in
the hour of weakness and peril and danger,
these 'cute and calculating sons of the north-east
wind, momentarily whirling their vane to other points, may have called on slavery folks, for aid and defence, and leagues of amity; and may have swapped notions for cotton and sugar grown from the toil and sweat of negroes;—but when these particlar Catholic Americans have nothing to fear from foreign power and no more to wish from their allies, they will give these quondam friends the cold shoulder, that is, the moss-side of their character, and stand north-east again!
Their self-glorification swells out even in school-books. In some histories and geographies the country of New England is considered the exact centre of the earth! and there places are referred not to a fixed meridian, but to some well known village, or factory, or mill-dam! while cold and heat are not measured by thermometers but by the weather of a New England winter or summer!
And the religion and morals of the world are compared or contrasted, and pushed up or down according to the new sliding scales of their never sufficiently rectified theologies and philosophies.
In order to condense a volume of piety and
patriotism and prejudice into a size and form to fasten
on the tender minds of infants and children the
the south, in certain school geographies, not
long since used everywhere, the South is represented
or personified by a picture "to
match," where a lordly and lazy planter flourishes a lash over a negro done up in a breech-cloth, and in chains, kneeling and imploring!
And all the while circulars and pamphlets were streaming towards that insulted South, calling on the young men of the slave-land to come on north east and be educated! Come, pay your quarter bills; this is a lawful and Christian use to make of your ill-gotten money—wrenched though it be from the forced labor of your slaves! Bah!
Many, very many, as was the case with our Mr. Leamington, do get, in time, all the north-east wholly worked out; but after all, strangers to an American climate will enjoy better moral, and mental, and political health, if they settle in our middle regions. At all events, let them avoid getting their vane fixed!
However, we must not become
illiberal; that north-east fashion is not for imitation.
Suppose, instead, we follow whither yon gentleman, whose
umbrella has just found its ribs on the wrong side, from
that puff, on turning the corner, is hastening. There is
something in the wind, now, that is certain. See!
how, with lips compressed over his set teeth, his head
down, that the wind may blow his hat on, but with
fluttering pants cut nearly through by a sharp shin
bone, his overcoat blown ever and anon from his
grip, like a sail from its fastening, and steaming off
south-west, how the man stems the air-tide, and is nearing the sudden ending of the way.
He now struggles like a hero up the steps of a house, where doors and passages are covered with black, tin signs, done in white letters, pointing to lawyers' dens, agents' traps, and ever so many commissioners' holes, where information may be had gratis! about some great New England North American scheme or—guzzle! But most visible, was one index directing to the Committee Room of the Philanthropic Society.
Having secured footing in the main entry, the gentleman stood, to blow and wipe off; after which, he examined with some anxiety his umbrella, now with the handle and ribs on the inside; but he seemed disturbed in equanimity, on discovering one whalebone dislocated and one broken short off, the splintered end thrust unnaturally and frightfully through the cotton—disturbed, indeed, for he talked to the article, thus—
"That's you, old cotton, is it? Well, if that ain't a loss of six shillins, I guess I don't know how to calculate! And if Philanthropic Society hadn't ought to make it good, I don't know what Society's good for—shouldn't admire if the 'tarnal wind had blown a hole through my best pants! Brother Somerville will allow it—don't know about old Sharpy, so well. No use, old cotton, to work for nauthin and find ourselves."
Soliloquy ended, the gentleman went up stairs to the Committee Room of the Philanthropic Society; and we may for curiosity enter with him. It was late in the spring—according to the Almanac—but June was in reality just at hand, and waiting to receive one of Winter's parting visitations. And that non-descript old fellow, to show he was in earnest and meant well, was blowing a most desperate north-east bugle, and, at the same time, was sleeting and raining constantly, and, in the recess times, by way of relaxation, was snowing, now large flakes, now spitting it out, in piece-meal. Hence coal fires were fuming from broken grates and dirty stoves.
The Committee Room, however, was enlivened by
a cheerful fire, the apartment being large and well
furnished with chairs, lounges and writing-tables.
Book cases adorned the room; and they were filled
with pamphlets and bound volumes of choice and
spirited literature. And cases with pigeon-holes
were crammed with letters and papers all tied up and
labelled—showing a large correspondence and a good
business. Among the books were Jay's Treatise,
and works by great Unknown
Philanthropists, such as—Slavery a Sin and a
Curse; Lash for a Slaver's Back; The Black a White;
Disunion Better than Union; The Emancipator's Guide;
The Railway Hand Book, &c., &c. The pigeon holes
led, "Tibbets—Escaped—Carried Back—Paid Nothing—Paid in Full," &c.
Files of papers hung from hooks, or lay on the tables; among which the most important were—The Alarm Gun; The North Black-White; The Liberator; The Castigator; The Anti-Exiler; Scorpion for Soul-Mongers; Boston Truth-Teller; The Anti-Cotton News; The No-Sugar Press, &c.
The walls were adorned with portraits of men the great leaders in philanthropism—the Wrights and the Garrisons of that age. Misplaced and looking indignant at being hung among the yellow Douglasses, the repentant Birneys, the Jerry Smiths of the day, were some Channings and Wilberforces. Somerville, as the Rev. Philander Tibbets, was hung—and properly enough—above all others.
The committee was a most remarkable body—chosen by the society to represent its components, and all the soul dwelling in philanthropism. The whole committee was not now in session; indeed, only five members were there—two gentlemen and three ladies. One gentleman had no definable color, yet passed for white; the other was nearly white—perhaps he was dis-colored. But two of the ladies were Anglo-Saxon, and white as most such—the other as black as Frank Freeman, and that was all that was possible.
Working and talking ceased at the entrance of the
man with the wounded cotton umbrella; and he was unanimously greeted with,
"How d' do, Brother Short; got the letters and papers?"
"Guess so—hadn't ought to come without them, I calculate. But that wont mend the whalebone and sew up the cotton of this here umbrella!" During which rather uncivil reply—brother Short—(a name disproportioned to his length)—laid off his overcoat and then stood upwards of six feet, thin as a lath, and made apparently just for his latitude, to go edge-ways through a north-easter.
"Please, Brother Short, hand them to me," said the white gentleman, adding, "there's a chair by Sister Southton!"
Brother Short sat down by the colored sister, and being thus near the fire, he issued forth his legs, looking like sections of fire hose, in order to dry and warm the feet away at the ends; and then hooking his hands above his head and leaning back, he lay all along silent and attentive to the reading. This duty the white gentleman always took on himself. But we must pause to introduce this remarkable personage.
He was the president of the society, and ex-officio
(and ex natura) president of the
committee: the Rev. Ananias Sharpington, D. D., a
tall and well-made man, always well-dressed, but
that clerically. His
countenance, severe usually, was often stern; his complexion was an atra-bilious, becoming on occasions black as a thunder gust; his nose had been copied from a hawk's, and had enough to do to keep peace between its opposite neighbors, two green-gray eyes everlastingly looking cross at each other. His mouth, when silent, shut up safe and secret, like the large breed of clams. The doctor's theology, and pulpit or platform manner, may be learned hereafter.
He was, perhaps, more cunning than wise; and could, hence, manage better than command; although in battle he would have stuck to it from obstinacy, if not courage. In his own estimation, and that of his friends, this reverend gentleman was, strictly speaking, the philanthropist and the philanthropist only. All his virtues were swallowed up in philanthropism—his vices were, of course, none.
But as philanthropism has many fields of labor,
and one man here does the shaving and the other
the lathering, Dr. Ananias Sharpington had judiciously
chosen the Black Ground as his department
of labor. He was the friend of the whole black
race—and that so absorbed his virtues, that he was
the friend of nothing else. In that one end and idea
of his existence, he was the sworn enemy and the
unrelenting persecutor of all slave dealers,
slaveholders, slave preachers, slave advocates, slave
thing; and with him all was virtue, and honor, and patriotism, that advised or aided the escape of slaves from their masters, all standing in the way of such escape being sin and Satan. Ruat coelum fiat justitia—was his motto; and understood to mean,—"Run off! Steal 'em! Phi, at justice!"
Hence Scripture, when inspired, accorded with reason—his reason; and Bible-saints had done right or wrong, and apostles had been mistaken or otherwise, as they were emancipators, i. e., philanthropists. The end of life was emancipation! If common law was not in favor, there must be uncommon law; and if the lower would not serve, we must try the higher; and if that higher law led to theft, murder, anarchy, all was fiat justa!
We need not be surprised that Somerville, even in his secular form, was a man after the doctor's own heart—of course his emancipation heart. Hence, at the doctor's own expense, that rascal was painted and hung as the Rev. Philander Tibbetts, in the committee-room, although many others deserved painting and hanging just as much. Whether the doctor was fully acquainted with the scoundrel's early excellencies is unknown, but that would not have disqualified him for his other vocation. Men that swallow camels, need not stick at the tail.
The One-Idea people resemble corporate bodies in
having—no conscience. Individually and separately
men may be honest, worthy, honorable, gentlemanly, but corporation is a body superior to souls; when, therefore, the otherwise good men have sold themselves to that incarnate form of the Devil for money, or power, or pleasure, or ambition, adieu to fine feelings, to honor and decency, to sabbath-day, to church, to country!
Unseat the One-Idea men from their hobby, and often they are all you wish men and citizens to be; but on the hobby!—Aye! then will the very same gallop to their end, and rough-shod, over humanity and religion, and through blood and fire!
Now the doctor was one of a class—an
emancipator,—soul and body! He preached emancipation; he
lectured emancipation; he prayed emancipation.
He wrote pamphlets on emancipation; he wrote editorials
on emancipation. He was emancipation embodied; his
mouth uttered it, his legs ran towards
it, his hands did it, his belly was full of it, his nose
was hooked into it, his eye squinted towards it! He
lived emancipation—and he intended to die it! His
heart throbbed at sight of a negro; he only wished
every negro was a slave that he might emancipate
him. He rubbed his hands in imitation of the London
alderman, and blessed God he had such a field
to work in—a slaveholding country! A negro was
his game, and whiter in his eyes than a white man!
And black was his all-absorbing color;—he wore
black stocks and black cotton stockings; delighted in funerals, because of black crape; drove a black horse; kept a black boy to black his boots; drank black tea—and in short, was black inside as well as out!
Of course, whatever soul the Philanthropic Society of North East had, was the Doctor; and with that soul and that head, the body corporate went the whole figure. The reader may discover yet what figure philanthropy modernized, can cut.
Taking up the newspapers as they lay, the illustrious president ran his eye over the columns, now reading an article, now making a comment, and to the edification of the committee, till, on looking into his favorite, the Boston Truth Teller—(a print full of truth, on one side)—his eye blazed up with indignation and joy at once. He instantly read out, with a most savage scowl on his brow, but with a smile, rather villanous, on his lips, the following:
"Arrived day before yesterday, the hermophradite
brig, Cutwater, Captain Seagrass. She brings no
passengers except the Rev!
Edward Leamington, and his lady
(?) with their two (white) children. A lady and gentleman,
however, of color are in the party; but these, we
presume, are deemed only—'niggers' in the South. They are,
we understand, held unrighteously as slaves, by this
Christian (?) minister!! They
say he claims to be a son of New
England—perhaps, a bastard! If he can look unabashed upon the free hills of his native land, as he leads or drives his brothers, he is more or less than—man! God forbid we should sit under the preaching of a slaver! And could any true philanthropist receive the communion from hands that have flourished a slaver's cowhide! Never!"
"Never!" shouted the Doctor, ferociously.
"Never!" squealed the ladies.
"Never, by —" added the quadroon.
"Work for us! dear brethren and sisters," exclaimed the doctor; "thank God we've something to do! our colored friends must be—emancipated! A wise Providence has thrown them within the reach of help; and we shall not overlook his manifest direction! Brother Harris and sister Southton, we depend on you, as usual, for information."
"Master Doctor—beg pardon—brother Sharpinton, I'll start on the scent like a blood-hound," answered Harris.
"I will git acquaint with the colored lady," said Miss Southton.
"Ah! here is a letter from Brother Somerville; I know his hand;" exclaimed the excited President, adding—"Let me look it over first."
"REV. AND VERY DEAR BROTHER:—I remain, this year, at Point Lookout, where we shall establish our new paper. It is to be called 'The Scarifier and Renovator.' I expect to edit awhile, myself. We'll make an impression on the soul-killers. Besides, I can do a vast amount of good here, in other ways. I have been instrumental, by the blessing of God, in freeing more than twenty-five, since my last, in March! Most of them, with a little help from my secret assistants in the lower countries, succeeded (you will be rejoiced to learn) in bringing off property enough to pay expenses, and afford a handsome remuneration. I forwarded the poor fugitives to the old fellow—you know where.
"Still, my very dear Sharpinton, my outlays are enormous! So that in addition to my salary, I must beg your influence to have my draft for $1785 honored—I shall send on nest mail.
"Like yourself, my very dear brother, I am, I trust, willing to spend, and to be spent, in this Holy Emancipation Cause—the cause of God—the cause of man—your cause! But you know my very dear and noble-hearted Sharpinton, we cannot spend without money. I suppose I may send the draft for $1875?
"I have just received a communication from the South that
my old friend Leamington will arrive at
Boston, shortly; and that he will bring two unhappy blacks as slaves—although he is called Rev.(?)—Frank Freeman is the man's name; the woman is called Carrie Wardloe. They are very black, and we cannot, I fear, use them to so great advantage; but still, dear Sharpinton, for their own sakes, you will know, they must be—emancipated. Frank did me a good turn—the fact is he helped me to escape from the infernal claws of the slavers—and that you know how to turn to the advantage of our glorious cause. Perhaps we might get up a marriage between brother F. and Carrie. That I leave to you—as I do every thing else, my very dear brother. Please not forget about that $1987—the fact is, I know you won't.
"Love to George Harris and sister Southton, and the other ladies of the Committee; also to brother Short.
Write soon, and say what you think about the draft—as I must have near $2000 to carry on the paper, even if I spend all I have, and then borrow. And that you will never allow.
"My very dear brother,
"P. S.—I might claim the $2000, you
know, as a matter of right, having exposed my life in carrying
out—you remember; but I prefer it as a love gift from the Society. Leamington, they say, gave nearly $5000 for Frank! Good heavens! that so valuable a man should be wearing out his life in slavery! I am almost tempted to come on and free such a man, myself—but then I remember you are there. I leave the money matter entirely to you.
The Doctor having in silence read the letter and postscript, said, "Somerville is worth a mountain of gold! He has emancipated twenty-five since last March! I really think the committee ought to allow him, for secret service this year, at least $2000, specially as he has established the paper. He calls it 'The Scarifier and Renovator' ——"
"Why master—I mean brother doctor—master—I mean Mr. Charles, has a salary twice as much as I git!" interrupted Mr. Harris.
"He's a white man," said Miss Southton, tartly.
The kind and noble-hearted emancipator looked a little surprised and rather hurt; but Mr. Short, looking towards the damaged cotton and pants, replied rather coarsely to the injurious implications:
"There's no calculation on colored people's
gratitude. They gits nauthin but kicks to hum afore we
free them, and then they wants to be paid for services
here afore they work out of debt to the society; I ad-
mire they don't never think of that; for my part if I was a committee-man, I'd vote for Brother Somerville's allowance."
"We vote for it—with all our hearts," said both the white ladies.
"And I give my vote decidedly that way," authoritatively added the doctor.
No man without the minutes before him, can say who of the committee had any eye to secret services of their own; but Mr. Short said to the white ladies afterwards, that "presidents were not to be sneezed at." The fellow had north-east about him and some fun too.
The president now observed, "We must all be of one mind; but it is time to adjourn. After prayer, I hope Brother Harris and Sister Southton will go and take a cup of tea with me, prior to the prayer meeting to-night.
Mr. Harris, who was then asked to lead in prayer, excused himself, and so likewise did Miss Southton, when the doctor, to save time, said the prayer himself.
In his prayer, as usual, some things were said about
the Philanthropic Society and its committee; And
some were said to the committee by way of exhortation,
rebuke, and direction, this being a way of certain
good folks when they wish to speak without interruption
or contradiction; a good deal was said
against slaveholders, et omne genus, (i. e., that sort of geniuses,) but specially against slaveholding and slave-dealing ministers; then a good deal was said of the speaker's own devoted attachment to the glorious and holy cause, with a little thanksgiving on behalf of Brother Somerville and indirect praise of the same; and a compliment was prayed-up for the more active agents in proportion to their zeal, by way of recommending all to Providence. A hope, however, was expressed that their main reward might be in another world—as possibly may be the case. Towards the end of the exercise, the good man became so fervent and eloquent, so honestly and patriotically warm and virtuously furious against "the vile and reprobate oppressors, the inhuman wretches, the semblances of man, the base dealers that put chains and fetters on better men," that when at the conclusion all cried out "Amen!"—the colored Christians called it out twice! And these were now so evidently won over to forgiveness and good humor, that they went home with the doctor to tea, and without a murmur. This was, then, a very able and efficient prayer!
After prayer meeting that evening, Mr. George
Harris whispered to a very colored gentleman; on
which the latter taking Mr. Harris' arm, the two
friends went to the doctor's study, where a judicious
plan was arranged for the freedom of the enslaved.
The very colored person was as dark as Frank; and
yet he was not bad-looking; and spite of a little coxcombry, was pretty 'cute and agreeable,—he had imbibed a little north-eastishness—was, in short, and (no offence meant,) a kind of black Yankee. His vanity, however, often placed him in rather ridiculous positions. Still he had the advantage of Mr. Harris, having been born free, and not being of his impetuous and rather vindictive spirit. On committees and the like, he was not so much cherished as the runaway quadroon; for their good sense to the contrary notwithstanding, emancipators, with all their praiseworthy resistance of their prejudices, still preferred the whiter-colored Africans as associates in small rooms and crowded assemblies; but Mr. Henry Williams, our new acquaintance, was the very man to win upon his own decidedly colored brethren, and especially such as Frank Freeman.
It is remarkable that writers of fictions make their heroes and heroines beautiful
mulattoes; always so, if they are to come North among
the free! But surely a black person is the best
representative of the blacks; and our sympathies should
be enlisted for the slave! and that, if ugly and black,
with crisped and matted hair; and not only for
"those whose blood can be seen blushing through
their cheeks, and their hair wavy and glossy and
rich as floss silk." Writers of fiction
kill off the jet
black—not knowing exactly how to work them advantageously to the North.
In some respects, Mr. Henry Williams resembled
a negro gentleman met by the author many years
ago in Philadelphia. The writer was in bad health,
and was ordered to take early morning walks.
Once walking out, as he advanced, he saw
approaching two young negro lads, fine-looking, and
dressed in the tip of the mode. The writer was
dressed as a clerical gentleman, and was some
twenty years the senior; in which case etiquette in
old times, led
white juniors to yield the wall. But
our African bucks rudely and scornfully crowded us
towards the curb-stone, almost into the gutter! Our
blood, owing maybe to its southiness, boiled! We
looked indignant—we felt unchristian! But oh!
how quick was all calmed into peace! for
immediately behind the dandy-negroes came a
genteely dressed and very black man—his age much
beyond ours. He had witnessed the rudeness of his
countrymen; he saw the righteous anger in our
looks; and when we were within a few paces of
one another, that man
took off his hat! waved me a courteous and graceful
salute! and motioned to the privileged side of the
pave! That negro—that black negro—was a man,
a gentleman, a Christian, spite of his thick lips,
big foot, and crisped hair! He spoke not—but his
action, his manner, his
smile, all cried out: "I crave pardon for the rudeness of my sons. I pray you, sir, judge not unfavorably of us all!"
I do not, noble unknown negro! and your God and my God knows, I wish the freedom of your race! while I may not seek their freedom at all hazards and to the utter overthrow of my own! I remember thee with more pleasure than the half-tipsy and impudent mulatto footman that guarded me home at midnight from the wedding of my aged black foster mother's adopted grand-child, who, in the dark and lonely street, and wishing thus to assert his equality, thrust his arm around and linked mine into his, saying—
"Sir! come, let us be equals, for once!"
"Why did you not knock him down?" say you. First, I was not able; secondly, I was afraid.