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WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING
In conformity to these views it is thought that when one community declares a man to be a slave, other communities must respect this decree; that the duties of a foreign nation to an individual are to be determined by a brand set on him on his own shores; that his relations to the whole race may be affected by the local act of a community, no matter how small or how unjust.
This is a terrible doctrine. It strikes a blow at all the rights of human nature. It enables the political body to which we belong, no matter how wicked or weak, to make each of us an outcast from his race. It makes a man nothing in himself. As a man, he has no significance. He is sacred only as far as some State has taken him under his care. Stripped of his nationality, he is at the mercy of all who may incline to lay hold on him. He may be seized, imprisoned, sent to work in galleys or mines, unless some foreign State spreads its shield over him as one of its citizens.
The doctrine is as false as it is terrible. Man is not the mere creature of the State. Man is older than nations, and he is to survive nations. There is a law of humanity more primitive and divine than the law of the land. He has higher claims than those of a citizen. He has rights which date before all charters of communities ; not conventional, not repealable, but as eternal as the powers and laws of his being.
This annihilation of the individual by merging him in the State lies at the foundation of despotism. The nation is too often the grave of the man. This is the more monstrous because the very end of the State, of the organization of the nation, is to secure the individual in all his rights, and especially to secure the rights of the weak. Here is the fundamental idea of political association. In an unorganized society, with no legislation, no tribunal, no empire, rights have no security. Force predominates over rights. This is the grand evil of what is called the state of nature. To repress this, to give right the ascendency of force, this is the grand idea and end of government, of country, of political institutions. I repeat it, for the truth deserves iteration, that all nations are bound to respect the rights of every human being. This is God's law, as old as the world. No local law can touch it.
MILITARY GENIUS–FROM THE ESSAY ON NAPOLEON The chief work of a general is to apply physical force; to remove physical obstructions ; to avail himself of physical aids and advantages ; to act on matter; to overcome rivers, ramparts, mountains, and human muscles ; and these are not the highest objects of mind, nor do they demand intelligence of the highest order ; and accordingly nothing is more common than
WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING
to find men, eminent in this department, who are wanting in the noblest energies of the soul; in habits of profound and liberal thinking, in imagination and taste, in the capacity of enjoying works of genius, and in large and original views of human nature and society. The office of a great general does not differ widely from that of a great mechanician, whose business it is to frame new combinations of physical forces, to adapt them to new circumstances, and to remove new obstructions. Accordingly great generals, away from the camp, are often no greater men than the mechanician taken from his workshop. In conversation they are often dull. Deep and refined reasonings they cannot comprehend. We know that there are splendid exceptions. Such was Cæsar, at once the greatest soldier and the most sagacious statesman of his age, whilst in eloquence and literature, he left behind him almost all, who had devoted themselves exclusively to these pursuits. But such cases are rare. The conqueror of Napoleon, the hero of Waterloo, possesses undoubtedly great military talents; but we do not understand, that his most partial 'admirers claim for him a place in the highest class of minds. We will not go down for illustration to such men as Nelson, a man great on the deck, but debased by gross vices, and who never pretended to enlargement of intellect. To institute a comparison in point of talent and genius between such men and Milton, Bacon and Shakespeare, is almost an insult to these illustrious names. Who can think of these truly great intelligences; of the range of their minds through heaven and earth; of their deep intuition into the soul; of their new and glowing combinations of thought; of the energy with which they grasped, and subjected to their main purpose, the infinite materials of illustration which nature and life afford, —who can think of the form of transcendent beauty and grandeur which they created, or which were rather emanations of their own minds; of the calm wisdom and fervid imagination which they conjoined ; of the voice of power, in which “though dead, they still speak," and awaken intellect, sensibility, and genius in both hemispheres, who can think of such men, and not feel the immense inferiority of the most gifted warrior, whose elements of thought are physical forces and physical obstructions, and whose employment is the combination of the lowest class of objects on which a powerful mind can be employed.
THEODORE PARKER (1810-1860)
THE FERVENT ORATOR OF EMANCIPATION
IDE by side with Phillips and Garrison in opposition to African
slavery should be placed Theodore Parker, to whom the
Southern system appeared a tissue of abominations, and who gave all the great powers of his ardent and emotional mind to the advocacy of emancipation of the slaves. A heretic to the prevailing sentiment in this respect, he was equally heretical in his religious views, and aroused much acrimonious criticism by his rationalistic teachings. A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, the place of origin of the Revolutionary War, his whole life was a warfare against prevailing views and institutions. Entering the Unitarian ministry, he began to preach in 1836. But his studies of German rationalism caused important changes in his theological belief, changes which he made no effort to conceal, and he was soon vigorously opposed by many of his Unitarian brethren. His unusual ability as an orator and thinker, however, brought him an abundant audience, and in 1846 he was regularly installed at the Melodeon, in Boston, where he continued to disseminate what many criticised as plain heresy for the remainder of his life. While performing his duties as a minister, he was a deep student and for years a highly popular lecturer. But the subject to which he gave the most attention was the iniquity of human slavery, against which for years he fought with all his great powers of mind, and died on the verge of the success of his opinions.
THE GREATNESS AND THE WEAKNESS OF DANIEL WEBSTER
[The public life and private character of Webster has never been so set forth, alike in its greatness and its weakness, as in the memorable attack made by Parker on the mighty orator after he had passed away. Webster's course of action in regard to slavery the ardent abolitionist could not forgive, and while giving him full credit for
his wonderful powers of mind and body, he dissected and laid bare the defects of his character and attainments in a remarkably effective manner. It would be difficult to point to a more complete analysis of a human character in a brief space than in the selection here given from Parker's address.]
Do men mourn for him, the great man eloquent? I put on sackcloth long ago. I mourned for him when he wrote the Creole letter which surprised Ashburton, Briton that he was. I mourned when he spoke the speech of the seventh of March. I mourned when the Fugitive Slave Bill passed Congress, and the same cannon that have fired “minute guns” for him fired also one hundred rounds of joy for the forging of a new fetter for the fugitive's foot. I mourned for him when the kidnappers first came to Boston-hated then—now respectable men,
the companions of princes, enlarging their testimony in the Court. I mourned when my own parishioners fled from the “stripes" of New England to the stars of Old England. I mourned when Ellen Craft fled to my house for shelter and for succor; and for the first time in all my life, I armed this hand. I mourned when the courthouse was hung in chains; when Thomas Sims, from his dungeon, sent out his petition for prayers and the churches did not dare to pray. I mourned when I married William and Ellen Craft, and gave them a Bible for their soul, and a sword to keep that soul living and in a living frame. I mourned when the poor outcast in yonder dungeon sent for me to visit him, and when I took him by the hand that Daniel Webster was chaining in that house. I mourned for Webster when we prayed our prayer and sung our song on Long Wharf in the morning's gray. I mourned then; I shall not cease to mourn. The flags will be removed from the streets, the cannon will sound their other notes of joy; but for me I shall go mourning all my days. I shall refuse to be comforted, and at last I shall lay down my gray hairs with weeping and with sorrow in the grave. Oh, Webster! Webster! would God that I had died for thee !
He was a great man, a man of the largest mold, a great body and a great brain ; he seemed made to last a hundred years. Since Socrates, there has seldom been a head so massive, so huge seldom such a face since the stormy features of Michael Angelo :
“The hand that rounded Peter's dome,
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome”he who sculptured Day and Night into such beautiful forms,- he looked them in his face before he chiseled them into stone. Dupuytren and Cuvier are said to be the only men in our day that have had a brain so vast. Since Charlemagne I think there has not been such a grand figure in all Christendom. A large man, decorous in dress, dignified in deportment
he walked as if he felt himself a king. Men from the country, who knew him not, stared at him as he passed through our streets. The coalheavers and porters of London looked on him as one of the great forces of the globe; they recognized a native king. In the Senate of the United States he looked an emperor in that council. Even the majestic Calhoun seemed common compared with him. Clay looked vulgar, and Van Buren but a fox. What a mouth he had ! It was a lion's mouth. Yet there was a sweet grandeur in his smile, and a woman's sweetness when he would. What a brow it was ! What eyes ! like charcoal fire in the bottom of a deep, dark well. His face was rugged with volcanic fires, great passions and great thoughts :
“ The front of Jove himself;
And eyes like Mars, to threaten and command.” Divide the faculties, not bodily, into intellectual, moral, affectional, and religious; and try him on that scale. His late life shows that he had little religion-somewhat of its lower forms-conventional devoutness, formality of prayer, “the ordinances of religion”; but he had not a great man's all-conquering look to God. It is easy to be “devout." The Pharisee was more so than the Publican. It is hard to be moral. “ Devoutness" took the Priest and the Levite to the temple; morality the Samaritan to the man fallen among thieves. Men tell us he was religious, and in proof declare that he read the Bible; thought Job a great epic poem ; quoted Habakkuk from memory, and knew hymns by heart; and latterly agreed with a New Hampshire divine in all the doctrines of a Christian life.
Of the affections he was well provided by nature—though they were little cultivated—very attractable to a few. Those who knew him, loved him tenderly; and if he hated like a giant, he also loved like a king. Of unimpassioned and unrelated love, there are two chief forms: friendship and philanthropy. Friendship he surely had; all along the shore men loved him. Men in Boston loved him; even Washington held loving hearts that worshipped him.
Of philanthropy, I cannot claim much for him; I find it not. Of conscience, it seemed to me he had little ; in his later life exceeding little; his moral sense seemed long besotted ; almost, though not wholly, gone. Hence, though he was often generous, he was not just. Free to give as to grasp, he was charitable by instinct, not disinterested on principle.
His strength lay not in the religious, nor in the affectional, nor in the moral part of man.
His intellect was immense. His power of comprehension was vast. He methodized swiftly. But if you look at the forms of intellectual action, you may distribute them into three great modes of