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is the calumniator who dares to affirm that you have been turbulent and quarrelsome since I began my labors in your behalf?
behalf? Where is the man who is so ignorant as not to know or perceive that, as a people, you are constantly improving in knowledge and virtue? No, brethren; you will bear a unanimous testimony that I have not implanted in your
malice toward your persecutors but on the contrary forgiveness of injuries. And I can as truly aver that in all my intercourse with you as a people I have not seen or heard anything of a malignant or revengeful spirit. No, yours has been eminently a spirit of resignation and faith under the most aggravating circumstances.
I will notice but one other charge which the enemies of our cause have brought against me. It is that I am unduly exciting your hopes and holding out to your view prospects of future happiness and respectability which can never be realized in this country. Pitiful complaint! Because I have planted a solitary rose, as it were, in the wilderness of suffering in which your race has so long wandered, to cheer your drooping hearts, I am sharply reproved for giving even this little token of good things to come—by those too who make loud professions of friendship for you, that is if you will go to Liberia, but who are constantly strewing in your path briars and thorns and digging pits into which you may stumble to rise no more. These querulous complainants who begrudge every drop of comfort which falls upon your thirsty lips as a miser mourns the loss of a penny seem to forget or discard the promise of Jehovah, that “the wilderness shall bud and blossom like the rose." I have faith to believe that this promise will ultimately be fulfilled even in this land of republicanism and Christianity. Surely I may
be pardoned when so many are endeavoring to break down all your rising hopes and noble aspirations if I urge you not to despair, for the day of redemption will assuredly come. Nay, I may still be forgiven if I transcend the limits of probability and suffer my imagination to paint in too glowing colors the recompense which is to be yours; since, strive as I may, I can scarcely hope to equalize the heart-crushing discouragements and assaults made by your enemies.
All things considered, you have certainly done well as a body. There are many colored men whom I am proud to rank among my friends; whose native vigor of mind is remarkable; whose morals are unexceptionable; whose homes are the abode of contentment, plenty, and refinement. For my own part, when I reflect upon the peculiarities of your situation; what indignities have been heaped upon your heads; in what utter dislike you are generally held even by those who profess to be the ministers and disciples of Christ; and how difficult has been your chance to arrive at respectability and affluence, I marvel greatly, not that you are no more enlightened and virtuous, but that you are not like wild beasts of the forests. I fully coincide with the sentiment of Mr. Jefferson, that the men must be prodigies who can retain their manners and morals under such circumstances. Surely you have a right to demand an equal position among mankind.
Oh, if those whose prejudices against color are deeply rooted—if the asserters of the natural inferiority of the people of color would but even casually associate with the victims of their injustice and be candid enough to give merit its due, they could not long feel and act as they now do. Their prejudices would melt like frost-work before the blazing sun; their unbelief would vanish away, their con
tempt be turned into admiration, their indifference be roused to benevolent activity, and their dislike give place to friendship Keeping aloof from your society, ignorant of the progress which you are making in virtue, knowledge, and competence, and believing all the aspersions of malice which are cast upon your character, they at length persuade themselves that you are utterly worthless and nearly akin to the brute creation. Cruel men! cruel women! thus hastily and blindly to pass condemnation upon those who deserve your compassion and are worthy of your respect!
Be this your encouragement in view of our separation. Although absent from you in body I shall still be with you in spirit. I go away, not to escape from toil, but to labor more abundantly in your cause. If I
may do something for your good at home I hope to do more abroad. In the meantime, I beseech you fail not, on your part, to lead quiet and orderly lives. Let there be no ground whatever for the charge which is brought against you by your enemies, that you are turbulent and rude. Let all quarrelling, all dramdrinking, all profanity, all violence, all division, be confined to the white people. Imitate them in nothing but what is clearly good and carefully shun even the appearance of eyil. Let them, if they will, follow the devices and perform the drudgery of the devil; but be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. Conquer their aversion by moral excellence'; their proud spirit by love; their evil acts by acts of goodness; their animosity by forgiveness. Keep in your hearts the fear of God and rejoice even in tribulation; for the promise is sure that all things shall work together for good to those who love his name.
As for myself, whatever may be my fate--whether I fall in the springtime of manhood by the hand of the assassin, or
be immured in a Georgia cell, or be permitted to live to a ripe old age—I know that the success of your cause is not dependent upon my existence. I am but as a drop in the
ocean, which if it be separated cannot be missed.
My own faith is strong-my vision clear-my consolation great. “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Let us confidently hope that the day is at hand when we shall be enabled to celebrate not merely the abolition of the slave trade by law but in fact, and the liberation of every descendant of Africa, wherever one exists in bondage under the whole heavens.
SPEECH IN LONDON
DELIVERED AT PUBLIC BREAKFAST HELD IN HIS HONOR,
JUNE 29, 1867
R. CHAIRMAN, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN,
For this marked expression of your personal re
spect and appreciation of my labors in the cause of human freedom, and of your esteem and friendship for the lanå of my nativity, I offer you, one and all, my grateful acknowledgments. But I am so profoundly impressed by the formidable array of rank, genius, intellect, scholarship, and moral and religious worth which I see before me, that I fear I shall not be able to address you except with a fluttering pulse and a stammering tongue. For me this is indeed an anomalous position! Assuredly this is treatment with which I have not been familiar! For more than thirty years I had to look the fierce and unrelenting hostility of my countrymen in the face with few to cheer me onward. In all the South I was an
outlaw and could not have gone there, though an American citizen guiltless of wrong, and though that flag [here the speaker pointed to the United States ensign] had been over my head, except at the peril of my life; nay, with the certainty of finding a bloody grave. In all the North I was looked upon with hatred and contempt. The whole nation, subjugated to the awful power of slavery, rose up in mobocratic tumult against any
effort to liberate the millions held in bondage on its soil. And yet I demanded nothing that was not perfectly just and reasonable,-in exact accordance with the Declaration of American Independence and the Golden Rule. I was not the enemy of any man living. I cherish no personal enmities; I know nothing of them in my heart. Even whilst the Southern slaveholders were seeking my destruction, I never for a moment entertained any other feeling toward them than an earnest desire, under God, to deliver them from a deadly curse and an awful sin. It was neither a sectional nor a personal matter at all. It had exclusive reference to the eternal law of justice between man and man, and the rights of human nature itself.
Sir, I always found in America that a shower of brickbats had a remarkably tonic effect, materially strengthening to the backbone. But, sir, the shower of compliments and applause which has greeted me on this occasion would assuredly cause my heart to fail me were it not that this generous reception is only incidentally personal to myself. You, ladies and gentlemen, are here mainly to celebrate the triumph of humanity over its most brutal foes; to rejoice that universal emancipation has at last been proclaimed throughout the United States, and to express, as you have already done through the mouths of the eloquent speakers who have preceded me, sentiments of peace and of good will toward the