« PrejšnjaNaprej »
controversy. In expressing to him the grief which was felt by American abolitionists, and particularly by our free colored population, in seeing the name of WILBERFORCE enrolled among the friends of the Colonization Society, he said that his commendation of the enterprise had been restricted to the colony at Liberia ; that, relying upon the information which Mr. Cresson had given him respecting the flourishing condition of that colony, he had been induced to believe that it was aiding essentially in the civilization of benighted Africa; that he never regarded the Society as providing a remedy for slavery; that he viewed with abhorrence the doctrine of the Society, denying the practicability of elevating the colored race in the United States to an equality with the whites; and that he had repeatedly contested that wicked position with Mr. Cresson, and told him that he considered it fundamentally false and unchristian. He expressed much anxiety to learn how far Mr. Cresson had made use of his name to give currency to the Society, and desired his son to write down the following queries as he dictated them:
1. How far has Mr. Elliott Cresson made use of Mr. Wilberforce's name? Has he merely stated that Mr. Wilberforce approved of the colony as calculated to benefit Africa; or has he said that Mr. Wilberforce approves of the principle of the Society-namely, that the blacks ought to be removed for the advantage of America, as well as for their own ?
2. Did Mr. Cresson (aware that it must be considered as the fundamental principle of the American Colonization Society, that there is a difficulty, amounting to a moral impossibility, in the blacks and whites living together in prosperity and harmony, as members of the same free community) make it clear to those to whom he professed to state Mr. Wilberforce's sentiments, that the two classes MIGHT AND OUGHT TO LIVE TOGETHER, as one mutually connected and happy society ?
3. Has Mr. Elliott Cresson made it publicly known in England, that the American Colonization Society has declared that it considers that colonization ought to be a sine qua non of emancipation ? '
These queries were given to me to make such use of them as I might
At his urgent solicitation, I visited him the next morning, and sat down with him and his family to breakfast, which was served up in patriarchal simplicity. After an interview of about five hours,—too delightful and too important ever to be forgotten by me,- I bade him farewell, expressing my fervent wishes for a long continuance of his valuable life, and my hope to meet him in that world of glory, where change, and decay, and separation, are unknown. I impressed upon his mind, tenderly and solemnly, the importance of his bearing public testimony against the American Colonization Society, if he was satisfied that its claims to the confidence and patronage of the British nation were preposterous and illusory ; especially as he was constantly quoted as the friend and advocate of the Society. 'I offer you,' I said, no documents or pamphlets in opposition to the Society, upon which to form an opinion of its true character. Here are its Fifteenth and Sixteenth Reports: the former contains an elaborate defence of the Society
by its managers, which, in my opinion, is alone sufficient to seal its destiny. Read it at your leisure, and, judging the Society out of its own mouth, let your verdict be given to the world.'
Immediately after the meeting at Exeter Hall, I rode to Ipswich to see Thomas Clarkson, accompanied by my esteemed friend, the Rev. NaTHANIEL Paul. Here it is proper to state in what manner the mind of this venerable philanthropist became so strongly impressed in favor of the Colonization Society and of Liberia. It happens that the individual, who, of all others in England, exerts the most influence over Clarkson's mind, is the main pillar of Mr. Cresson's support-namely, Richard Dykes ALEXANDER, a wealthy and respectable member of the Society of Friends. As Clarkson has entirely lost his sight, this gentleman reads and answers many of his letters, and is emphatically his mouth-piece. He has therefore acquired a powerful control over the judgment, and secured the entire confidence of Clarkson. Mr. Cresson succeeded most effectually in duping Alexander, and Alexander in misleading Clarkson. Care was taken, both by Mr. Alexander and Mrs. Clarkson, to read chiefly to the sightless philanthropist, those statements which served to represent the Colonization Society and Liberia in glowing colors, and to place their opposers in a disgraceful attitude. Under these circumstances, little authority or value ought to be attached to his opinions in favor of the Society and its colony.
On arriving at Ipswich, we found that we could easily gain access to Clarkson, only through the medium of Alexander-of him whose mind we knew was strongly prejudiced against us both, in consequence of the flagrant misrepresentations of Mr. Cresson. But we did not hesitate to call upon him, and state the object of our visit to Ipswich. He treated us politely; and as Clarkson resided at Playford Hall, a distance of two or three miles from the town, he offered to postpone another engagement which he had made, and accompany us in his carriage.
The retreat, chosen by the aged friend of the colored race in which to spend his few remaining years on earth, we found to be very beautiful. On alighting at his door, Mr. Paul and myself, at the request of Mr. Alexander, strolled about the serpentine paths of the park, while he went in to ascertain whether Clarkson's health would permit an interview at that time —as, a few days before, he had injured one of his legs severely against the shaft of his carriage. In about twenty minutes we were called into the house, and were met by Clarkson totteringly supported by Mr. Alexander. His mind was evidently full of distress: my own was deeply affected, almost beyond the utterance of words. In taking me by the hand, he observed—'I cannot see your face-I have now wholly lost my sight-but
and here his emotion overpowered his feelings—I believe I have lost it in a good cause.' My introductory remarks were few and simple. A burden of gratitude for his noble services in the cause of bleeding humanity, and of sympathy for his present affecting condition, pressed mightily upon my soul, which I earnestly desired to throw off by the power of
speech; but, lest it might seem like premeditated flattery and artful condolence, I was awed into silence.
He immediately began on the subject of colonization; and, with a vividness of memory which surprised me, minutely stated the substance of all his conversations with Mr. Cresson from their first interview, and the circumstances which had led him to give his sanction to the Colonization Society. He had never regarded that Society as capable, in itself, of effecting the abolition of slavery in the United States, but only as an auxiliary to its abolition. Did he suppose that compulsion, either directly or indirectly, was used to effect the removal of the free people of color and such as were liberated from bondage, he should deprecate the measure as unspeakably cruel and wicked. Finding that his approval of the Society was regarded with grief by many of his dearest friends, in whose opinions he could not unite as to its evil character,--and in order to obtain that repose of mind which his bodily infirmities imperiously demanded,-he had resolved to occupy neutral ground, and did not wish to be ranked on either side of the controversy. He saw no reason to change his decision.
Having listened to him with becoming deference, I spared no pains to correct the erroneous views which he had formed-beginning with the origin of the Society, and tracing it through all its ramifications; explaining its direful tendencies to corrupt the public mind, obscure the moral vision of the people, inflame their prejudices, deceive their hopes, and sear their consciences--and to perpetuate, by pruning, an overgrown system of oppression. I showed him that it was cruel mockery to say that the persecuted and oppressed exiles to Liberia had gone with their own consent, cheerfully and voluntarily ; that the doctrines of the Society were abhorrent and impious; that it was the enemy not merely of the colored race, but of all genuine abolitionists; that good men who had taken it upon trust, on ascertaining its real purposes, were abandoning it in crowds, and using mighty exertions to overthrow it; and that all its doctrines, measures, and designs, were evil, and only evil continually. I also endeavored to convince him that he did not occupy neutral ground, but that he was every where, both in England and in the United States, regarded as the unfaltering friend of the Society; and that, until he publicly requested to be considered as neither approving nor opposing the Society, he could not possibly be neutral in this great controversy.
The Rev. Mr. Paul also appealed to him in the most solemn and pathetic manner, and stated in what light the Society was universally regarded by his colored brethren, and in what manner it was operating to their injury. Ilis disclosures seemed powerfully to agonize the mind of the venerable man, and sincerely did we pity him.
After an interview of about four hours, we took our leave of him, lamenting that he should still feel it to be his duty to occupy what he considered neutral ground.*
* A more ininute account of Mr. Garrison's visit to Wilberforce and Clarkson will appear in the Liberator,
A short time after this visit, I unexpectedly received, to my exceeding joy, from a distinguished member of Parliament, duplicate copies of the Protest against the American Colonization Society, signed by WILBERFORCE and eleven of the most distinguished abolitionists in Great Britain, which has fallen like a thunderbolt upon the Society, and riven it in twain. In getting up this Protest, I had no agency whatever. It was altogether unexpected by me; but to obtain it was alone worth a trip across the Atlantic.
Having now effectually succeeded in routing Mr. Cresson and crushing his darling scheme; having obtained the acquaintance and secured the friendship of the leading friends of the colored race; having received, from various sources, large quantities of anti-slavery publications for gratuitous distribution in the United States; and having been advised to postpone any pecuniary appeals at that juncture, in consequence of the feverish state of the public mind in relation to the emancipation of the slaves in the British colonies, but assured of liberal assistance on the termination of the anti-slavery struggle in England ; I deemed my presence no longer needed, and accordingly took passage in the ship Hannibal, Capt. Hebard, at London, and arrived at New-York on the 2d of October, having been absent precisely five months from the time of my embarkation.
LIFE AND HONORARY MEMBERS OF THE NEW
ENGLAND ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY.
JOHN KENRICK,* Newton, Mass. WM. LLOYD GARRISON, Boston.
CHARLES STUART, England.
Mrs. S. H. WINSLOW, Portland, Me.
Mrs. C. WINSLOW, * Deceased.
HONORAR Y ME M B E R S.
ARTHUR TAPPAN, New-York. JOHN RIDGWAY, Staffordshire, Eng.