London, August 8th, 1846
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Last night we had a grand popular meeting — where do you think? In the Theatre, Covent Garden. The stage was well prepared as a regular platform, the pit was filled to its utmost capacity, the front boxes — three tiers of them — were well occupied, and the two galleries were literally crammed.
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There were many speakers. Among the first in order, was our venerable friend, now in his seventy-first year, the Rev. Dr. Beecher. He was hailed as pater atque princeps in the army of temperance — and be well sustained his character. There he stood in green old age, fat and flourishing, bringing forth fruit as a tree of righteousness, planted by the rivers of waters; and if wine instead of water had been his beverage, he Would probably now have been in his grave. Other speakers followed from different parts of the world. They all advocated the same cause, showed a glorious unity of thought and feeling; and the effect was constantly raised — the moral scene was superb and glorious — when Frederick Douglass, the coloured abolition agitator and ultraist, came to the platform, and so spake a la mode, as to ruin the influence, almost, of all that preceded! He logged in anti-slavery, or abolition, no doubt prompted to it by some of the politic ones, who can use him to do what they would not themselves adventure to do in person. He is supposed to have been well paid for the abomination.
What a perversion, an abuse, an iniquity against the law of reciprocal righteousness, to call thousands together, and get them, some certain ones, to seem conspicuous and devoted for one sole and grand object, and then, all at once, with obliquity, open an avalanche on them for some imputed evil or monstrosity, for which, whatever he the wound or the injury inflicted, they were
both too fatigued and hurried with surprise, and too straitened for time to be properly prepared. I say it is a trick of meanness ! It is abominable!
On this occasion, Mr. Douglass allowed himself to denounce America and all its temperance societies together, as a grinding community of the enemies of his people; said evil, with no alloy of good, concerning the whole of us: was perfectly indiscriminate in his severities; talked of the American delegates, and to them, as if he had been our schoolmaster, and we his docile and devoted pupils; and launched his revengeful missiles at our country, without one palliative, and as if not a Christian or a true Anti-Slavery man lived in the whole of the United States. The fact is, the man has been petted, and flattered, and used, and paid by certain abolitionists not unknown to us, of the ne plus ultra stamp, till he forgets himself; and though he may gratify his own impulses, and those of old Adam in others, yet sure I am that all this is just the way to ruin his own influence, to defeat his own object, and to do mischief, not good, to the very cause he professes to love. With the single exception of one cold-hearted parricide, whose character I abhor, and whom I will not name, and who has, I fear, no feeling of true patriotism or piety within him, all the delegates from our country were together wounded and indignant. No wonder at it! I write freely. It was not done in a corner. It was inspired, I believe, from beneath, and not from above. It was adapted to re-kindle on both sides of the Atlantic the flames of national exasperation and war. And this is the game which Mr. Frederick Douglass and his silly patrons are playing in England, and in Scotland, and wherever they can find “some mischief still, for idle hands to do.” I came here his sympathizing friend — I am such no more, as I more know him.
My own opinion is increasingly that this abominable spirit must be exercised out of England and America, before any substantial good can be effected for the cause of the slave. It is adapted only to make bad worse, and to inflame the passions of indignant millions to an incurable resentment. None but an ignoramus or a madman could think that this way was that of the inspired apostles of the Son of God. It may gratify the feelings of a self-deceived and malignant few, but it will do no good in any direction — least of all to the, poor slave ! It is short-sighted, impulsive, partisan, reckless, and tending only to sanguinary ends. None of this, with men of sense and principle.
We all wanted to reply, but it was too late; the whole theatre seemed taken with the spirit of the Ephesian uproar; they were furious and boisterous in the extreme, and Mr. Kirk could hardly obtain a moment though many were desirous in his behalf, to say in few words, as he did, very calm and properly, that the cause of temperance was not at all responsible for slavery, and had no connection with it. There were some “sly” agencies behind the scenes — we know!
To the remnant of the meetings for business, some of us repaired this morning, and demanded an opportunity to reply, which, after great clamor, was accorded to us. The Rev. Mr. Marsh and myself, and the Rev. Dr. Schmucker, spoke in succession, and with some good effect, as was generally supposed. Many of them, and those the most intelligent, felt nobly, and spoke nobly on our side. And, apart from what these miserable malignants choose to say of us, on their own responsibility hereafter, and the witnesses are many, I am happy to say that the spirit of the whole nation is kind and benevolent in a very exemplary degree. They all rejoice in I re-established peace with us, and feel kind and pacific all. I have had much opportunity to observe and know, from Portsmouth to Edinburgh, and to do them justice they are our friends at heart.
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Yours, in hope and love,
SAMUEL H. cox.
SOURCE: American Anti-Slavery Society, Correspondence between the Rev. Samuel H. Cox, D. D., of Brooklyn, L. I. and Frederick Douglass, a Fugitive Slave, p. 5-7