Thursday, January 10, 2019

Nathaniel Peabody Rogers: The Discussion, July 14, 1838

The discussion goes on. It pervades, it possesses, it “agitates” the land. It must be stopped, or slavery dies, and the colored man has his liberty and his rights, and Colonization is superseded. Can it not be stopped? Cannot the doctors, the editors, the “property and standing,” the legislatures, congress, the mob, Mr. Gurley, somebody or other, some power or other, the governors, his honor the Chief Justice Lynch; cannot any body, or every body united, put down this discussion? Alas for the “peculiar institution!” it cannot be done. The club of Hercules could not strike it down; it is as impalpable to the brute blow as the stately ghost of “buried Denmark” was to the “partisan” of Marcellus. It cannot be stopped or checked. It is unrestrainable as the viewless winds, or the steeds of Apollo. You hear it every where. The atmosphere is rife with it. “Abolition,” “immediate,” “compensation,” “amalgamation,” “inferior,” “equal;” “inalienable,” “rights,” “the Bible,” of one blood, West Indies,” “mobs,” “arson,” “petition,” “gag-law,” “John Quincy Adams,” “Garrison.” These are the words, and as familiar as household phrase. The air resounds to the universal agitation. Truth and conviction every where result, — the Genius of Emancipation moves triumphantly among the half-awakened people. And Slavery, aghast at the general outcry and the fatal discoveries constantly making of its diabolical enormities, gathers up its all for retreat or desperate death, as the case shall demand. The discussion can't be smothered — can't be checked — can't be abated — can't be endured by pro-slavery. The fiat has gone forth. It is registered in heaven. The colored man's humanity is ascertained and proved, and henceforth he is destined to liberty and honor. God is gathering his instrumentalities to purify this Ration. War, Slavery and Drunkenness are to be purged away from it. The drunkard, that wont reform, will be removed from the earth's surface, and his corporeal shame hidden in her friendly recesses, — his spiritual “shame,” alas, to be “everlasting” — with that unutterable “contempt” which must attend final impenitence, as saith God. Those persisting in the brute practice of what is styled military, which is nothing more or less than human tigerism — rational brutality — hatred dressed up in regimentals — malignity cockaded, — and “all uncharitableness” plumed and knapsacked, — homicide under pay, and murder per order, all who persist in this beastly and bloody mania, and refuse to join the standard of universal non-resistance peace-^will perish by the sword, or by some untimely touch of the Almighty, — for Christ hath said, “All they who take the sword shall perish with the sword; and the period of accomplishment of his work on this little globe is at hand. Let the warrior of the land take warning. “A prudent man foreseeth,” &c. And slaveholders, pilferers of humanity! those light-fingered ones, who “take without liberty” the very glory and essence of a man, — who put out that light which dazzles the eye of the sun, and would burn on, but for this extinction, when the moon hath undergone her final waning, — those traffickers in immortality, who sell a Man “for a pair of shoes;” those hope-extinguishers, heart-crushers, home-quenchers, family-dissolvers, tie-sunderers; — oh, for a vocabulary — new, copious and original, of awful significancy and expression — that should avail us to shadow forth faintly to the apprehensions of mankind, the unutterable character of this new “ill,” that hath befallen inheriting “flesh;” an “ill” that “flesh” by nature was not heir to;” — oh, those man, woman and child-thieves, — those unnatural, ultra and extra cannibals, who devour their own flesh; whose carniverous monstrosity is not limited to the blood and flesh of the stranger, — whose voracity invades the forbidden degrees, and eats its near relations within the matrimonial prohibitions, — son-eaters and daughter-consumers — who grow children to sell, and put into their coffers, to buy bread withal, the price of their own-begotten offspring; thus eating “themselves a third time,” as Pope says, “in their race” — “the cubless tigress in her jungle raging” is humanity and sympathy, compared to them: she “rages” when the hunter hath borne off her bruised young, and given her savage bosom the pang of maternal bereavement. She would waste her mighty nature to a shadow, and her strong frame to a skeleton, ere she would appease her hunger by profaning the flesh of her own cubs! Slaveholders! American slaveholders, republican slaveholders, liberty slaveholders, Christianity slaveholders, church-member slaveholders, minister slaveholders, doctor of divinity slaveholders, church slaveholders, missionary slaveholders, “Board of Commissioner” slaveholders, monthly concert slaveholders, Bible Society slaveholders, and Bible Withholders! What will the coming millennium say to you, or do with you? What disposition will it make of you and your system, should it burst upon you when it is in the full tide of experiment! the land smoking with it! Will not the glorious morn and opening dawn of Christ's kingdom prove flaming fire to devour you from the face of the earth? The millennial day pouring in its living light upon scenes, whose enormity shrouds the natural sun, what will become of the actors in these scenes? O for the warning voice that once affrighted Nineveh, and clad her nation in sackcloth, from the king on the throne to the beggar on the dunghill; that laid a people in ashes! But it may not be. Another fate, we fear, attends this last of republics. Warning is esteemed as mockery, and admonition as frenzy.

Shall we hold our peace amid scenes like these? Shall we argue and persuade, be courteous, convince, induce, and all that? No — we shall attempt no such thing, for the simple reason that such things are entirely uncalled for, useless, foolish, inadequate.

Argue with slavery, or argue about it; argue about a sinking ship, or a drowning man, or a burning dwelling! Convince a sleeping family, when the staircase and roof are falling in, and the atmosphere is loaded to suffocation with smoke! “Address the understanding,” and “soothe the prejudices,” when you see a man walking down the roof in his sleep, on a three-story house! Bandy compliments and arguments with the somnambulist, on “Table Rock,” when all the waters of lake Superior are thundering in the great Horse Shoe, and deafening the very war of the elements! Would you not shout to him with a clap of thunder through a speaking trumpet — if you could command it — if possible to reach his senses in his appalling extremity? Did Jonah argufy with the city of Nineveh, — “Yet forty days,” cried the vagabond prophet, “and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” That was his salutation. And did the “property and standing” turn up their noses at him, and set the mob on to him? Did the clergy discountenance him, and call him extravagant, misguided, a divider of churches, a disturber of parishes? What would have become of that city, if they had done this? Did they “approve his principles,” but dislike his “measures and his “spirit?

Slavery must be cried down, denounced down, ridiculed down, and pro-slavery with it, or rather before it. Slavery will go when pro-slavery starts. The sheep will follow, when the bell-wether leads. Down then with the bloody system! out of the land with it, and out of the world with it — into the Red sea with it! Men shan't be enslaved in this country any longer. Women and children shan't be flogged here any longer. If you undertake to hinder us, the worst is your own. The press is ours. Demolish it, if you please, — muzzle it, you shall never. Shoot down the Lovejoys you can; and if your skirts are not red enough with his blood, dye them deeper with other murders. You can do it with entire impunity. You can get the dead indicted and tried along with you, and the jury will find you all not guilty together; and “public sentiment” will back you up, and say you had ample provocation. To be sure, you will not escape the vengeance of Heaven; but who cares for that, in a free and christian country? You will come to an untimely end; — but that, you know, is nothing to a judicious, well-regulated,” “christian spirit!” But this is all fanaticism. Wait and see.

SOURCE: Collection from the Miscellaneous Writings of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, Second Edition, p. 5-9 which states it was published in the Herald of Freedom of July 14, 1838.

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