Rochester. --Rules and Remedy for bad Roads. --Fence Laws. --Trenton Falls --Erie Canal. --Governor Clinton --Fulton. --West Point Academy. --Kosciuszko's philanthropy. --Poor Laws. --Sermon on Wilberforce. --Colonization Society again --Chancellor Walworth --Antipathy. --Africo-American craniology. --Young Lady's "Notions" upon Marriage. --Civilization of Africa.
I STAID but one night at Rochester, the rapid rise and increase of which has so often been described. Its appearance is superior to that of its rival, Buffalo; and should the lowering of the toll on the Canal between those two places not divert that part of the produce of the Western States which now passes through the Welland canal in Canada, into New York State, from this new route, it will gain what is lost to the city of the lakes.
The road between Rochester and Canandaigua was very bad, particularly in the township of Farmington, which is settled chiefly, if not entirely, by Quakers, who are said to be wealthy and to retain their old customs and manners. If the road were a turnpike road, the company to whom it belonged might easily be compelled to repair it by a very simple expedient. A jury of the vicinage having pronounced a verdict against it, the gates are thrown open, and no tolls*
allowed to be taken till it is put into a fit state for travelling. The fences that border the roads afford convenient materials for filling up the ruts in case of an emergency. They are made in a singular way; and their zig-zag form strikes a stranger's eye by its novelty. They are common both in Canada and in the States, and are admirably adapted to a new country, where wood is cheap and labor dear; as they are easily constructed, and last, upon an average, fifteen or sixteen years. Like the stumps of the girdled trees, which are left standing among the corn, they shew that land is plentiful, and that its produce would not cover the expenses of a more costly cultivation. What is supposed to be lost between the angles, formed by the rails as they cross each other, is less than our hedges and ditches consume. How they are to be kept in repair, and who are to pay any damages that may arise from neglecting this duty, is decided by arbitrators, called fence-viewers, whose award is final, and whose expenses are defrayed according to a fixed per-centage, by the parties, concerned. It thus becomes the interest of the farmers to put up such fences as shall be eventually the cheapest and the strongest that the nature of the case will admit of. It is provided by the Revised Statutes of New York, that: "whenever the electors of any town shall have made any rule or regulation, prescribing what shall be deemed a sufficient fence in such town, any person, who shall thereafter neglect to keep a fence according to such rule or regulation, shall be precluded from recovering compensation in any manner for damages done by any beast, lawfully going at large on the highways, that may enter on any lands of such person, not fenced in conformity to such rule or regulation, or for entering through any defective fence."
* Turnpike tolls are not payable by persons going to or from public worship, funeral, grist-mill, or blacksmith's shop-for physician or midwife, or passing on public business, as jurors, electors, or militia-men. There is an exemption for those who reside within a mile of the gate, except carriers, &c.
Had the legislature considered that it was as easy to remove the fences on to bad roads, as for cattle to pass from the roads over bad fences, it would perhaps have enacted that, when the landowners are bound to keep the highways in repair, the logs of which their fences are made, may be used for the purpose of covering the ruts, and rendering the roads passable. The evil and the remedy would thus be found near each other; and agriculture would prove the best Macadamiser, as the pigs prove the best fence-menders.
When we arrived at Canandaigua, there was great confusion in consequence of four or five stages being at the door at the same time. As they were going in different directions, the passengers were hunting for the agent, and the agent for the passengers. After the bustle had ceased and I had seen my luggage properly stowed away, I observed to the agent, that it would save much trouble and prevent mistakes, if the names of the places were put upon the coaches, as is done in France and England. His reply was the same as I uniformly received on similar occasions: "very likely, but we have different customs here," as if I wanted to be informed of the very thing my suggestion implied. Next day I went to Syracuse, and reached Utica on the 23rd of September. About twenty-two miles from the latter place, at one of the prettiest spots between Albany and Rochester, is an Indian reservation, on which a considerable number of the Oneida tribe are settled, and possess farms of some extent. The land is well cultivated and the houses substantially built. Some of the owners have accumulated wealth. They have a well built church, where a minister whom they support preaches. The character they bear for honesty and good conduct is as high as that of the Indians who are settled near Lockport.
The roads at this place were worse than any I had yet seen; the bad weather having damaged them since I passed over them on my way to the Falls. The driver placed a large piece of tarpaulin, by way of apron, over our knees, and fastened it on each side by means of hooks to the carriage, to save himself from being jolted off the box by the ruts and holes in the road. He had been thrown from his seat twice not long before, and the last time had narrowly escaped with his life; as he was suddenly precipitated with great violence to the ground, and fell between the horses feet. They fortunately stopped at his call, or he would most likely have been killed. At Little Falls, on the other side of Utica, a man was thrown from the box the year before, and killed on the spot.
On my former visit to Utica, I deferred visiting Trenton Falls till my return; and, as the day after my second arrival proved fine, I hired a gig, "in that case made and provided," and the horse which drew it saved me the trouble of asking the way. The distance is fifteen or sixteen miles, through a very beautiful country. This place differs essentially from the Falls of Niagara, where the scenery possesses no remarkable beauty; nor, if it did, could it add much, if anything, to the magnificence of the principal object: whereas here the Falls are but auxiliaries to the scenery. There are several of them in succession, and at irregular intervals; each characterised by some peculiar feature, with which the surrounding landscape has impressed it. You have here the constituents of picturesque beauty in great perfection: rock, wood, and water in a pleasing variety of position and connection. The approach to the Falls is by a staircase to the ravine below, which the torrent has worn in the limestone rock, and by which, at the depth of about 100 feet, you can ascend from the last to the first Fall, --a considerable distance. As you walk along the ravine, or climb the narrow pathway which has been made along the side of the river, you tread under your feet the fossilized remains of an antediluvian creation. Both sides to their summits are clothed with pines and other trees in such profusion as to cover the declivity, and conceal those projections and inequalities, which, if exposed here and there to the view, would add much to the effect of the whole. This lovely spot fully realized my expectations; and I should have much regretted returning to New York without an acquaintance, except by description, with one of the most interesting scenes in the State.
Sept. 25. I left Utica for Albany, and slept at Palatine, thirty-seven miles from the former. The road passes through a fine country, though somewhat monotonous, as there is but little variety in the scenery, the most picturesque part ofwhich is at the Little Falls, about half way. On leaving this place, the valley of the Mohawk contracts to a narrow pass, leaving sufficient interval for the river, with the road on one side and the canal on the other. Some large masses of bare rock add much to the beauties of this spot; presenting a feature that is rarely seen along the whole route to the frontier.
It would be no easy matter to find, in any part of the world, more striking proofs of the encouragement given to human enterprize, by opening new channels of communication from the coast to the interior of a country, than are to be found between New York and Buffalo. The number of towns and villages to which the Erie canal has given existence or extension along the country through which it passes, is truly astonishing, --points of junction for agriculture and commerce, cementing their union, and stimulating the mutual influence by which they are enriched. The benefits derived to the State from this noble undertaking may be judged of from one simple fact. During the seven years that preceded the formation of the canal, there was, according to an assessment, a decrease in the value of real estate in the city of New York, to the amount of 5,779,705 dollars; while in the corresponding period that followed, the increased value of the same sort of property in that place was no less than 43,706,755 dollars.
It is chiefly, if not entirely, to De Witt Clinton, its Governor, that the "Empire State" owes the completion of a project that has placed it at the head of the Union, by developing its resources, exciting its energies, and augmenting its wealth and influence. He sacrificed his private fortune to the public welfare; and his personal property was actually sold by auction at the seat of government. The legislature made a grant of 10,000 dollars to the minor children of their patriotic executive; but nothing was done for the widow. It has often been said that republics are more ungrateful than monarchies; but it should be remembered that kings give away other people's money, and republicans their own. The nature and extent of royal gratitude may be seen in the Stuart and Bourbon restorations.
Fulton, to whose inventions the State owes the floating palaces that embellish and enrich its waters, met with a still harder fate. The patent, by which he obtained, as a reward for his successful experiment with a steam-boat, a monopoly for its use within the limits of the State, was set aside by the Supreme Court of the Union as unconstitutional. The legislature ought to have known that to confer such a privilege was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, and should have granted a compensation for the injury its own ignorance had inflicted. The Court of Errors of New York State had declared that the different statutes on which the grant to Livingston and Fulton was founded, were consistent with the federal constitution. Much capital had been embarked on the faith of this decision; and the loss to individuals, which its unsoundness produced, was proportionately great. One family lost nearly 200,000 dollars by this event; and the calamity was the more to be deplored as it fell where private worth and high public character made it more known and more felt. Opinions were divided upon the principle that dictated the judgment; but no measures were taken to remedy the evil which all acknowledged had arisen from its application. Congress bestowed a patent upon Fulton; but it was so expressed as not to secure him against its infringement by evasions, that a mere change in the machinery described rendered easily practicable.
The next night I slept at Albany, and arrived at New York about seven in the afternoon of the following day, (27th September,) having left the former place by the steamboat at seven in the morning. The distance is 151 miles. The splendid scenery with which the North river abounds, and sociable chat with some of my fellow-passengers, served to shorten the time that elapsed during the voyage.
West Point Academy, which we passed on our way, is very far from being popular. It is viewed by a large class of people as too aristocratical in its tendencies. The military education obtained there is certainly expensive for a frugal government; and it is a singular inconsistency in a nation to lay out more money in qualifying men to be soldiers than it pays to some of its highest civil functionaries for their actual services. Every graduate at this institution costs the country 3000 dollars; about forty annually graduate; and 120,000 dollars may be considered the aggregate of the annual expenditure, including the salaries and maintenance of the officers and cadets, the expenses of the quartermaster's department, and the extras for compensation, board of visitors, &c. Not more than three-fourths of those who enter obtain their degrees. The age for admission is too early, and the requisite acquirements too limited. While boys are allowed to enter at fourteen, with no other qualification than a thorough knowledge of reading, writing, and the common rules of arithmetic, it can be no matter of surprise that so small a proportion succeed in passing the successive examinations. It is a pleasant life for those who fail; and many who have no taste for military duties would willingly submit, for a few years, to military discipline for the advantages that accompany it.
The cadets have raised at West Point a monument to the memory of Kosciuszko. It would have been more honorable both to themselves and the object of the national gratitude they felt, if they had exerted themselves to carry into effect the last wish of his benevolent heart towards a race with whose wrongs his own had taught him to sympathize. Niles mentions, in his register, that the Polish hero left 20,000 dollars to purchase and educate black female children. By the laws of Virginia, where the bequest was to be carried into effect, the object was defeated. The same writer says, under date August 1826: "an institution, under the title of the Kosckiusko school, is about to be established near Newark (New Jersey). It has been organized at a recent meeting of the trustees of the African education society in that place. The intention is to appropriate the Kosckiusko fund, and to raise a similar sum for its endowment."
The will, by which this illustrious exile thus manifested his love of liberty, was, on his last visit to the United States, put into the hands of Thomas Jefferson, whom he had appointed his executor. The money was to be employed in the purchase of slaves and giving them such an education as, in his own words, "would make them better sons and better daughters." Jefferson transferred to Benjamin L. Lear the office of carrying into effect the wishes of the testator; but nothing has yet been done towards their fulfilment. In 1830, the bequest, which amounted to the sum of 25,000 dollars, was claimed by the legal heirs of the donor; and is now sub judice in the supreme court of the United States. Mr. B. L. Lear, a few years ago, recommended that the fund, if recovered, should be employed by the trustees, in buying and educating slave children, with the view of sending them to Liberia: --an object so far from being in accordance with the wishes of the founder, that there can be little doubt such a cruel scheme of expatriation would never have been made a condition of receiving his bounty by so benevolent and patriotic a man.
During the whole of this excursion
I met with no beggars, except two or three children in Canada, who seemed
to be Irish. In New York State, the same principle, according to the revised
statutes, has been admitted as that in which our poor-laws originated.
It is to be hoped the practice will not be assimilated in the two countries.
"The electors of each town, bound to support its own poor, shall have power,
at their annual town-meeting, to direct such sum to be raised in such town
for the support of the poor for the ensuing year, as they may deem necessary:
and every town may raise any money that may be necessary to defray any
charges that may exist against the overseers of the poor of such town."
-Rev. Stat. I. 341.
Any poor person, unable to maintain
himself, is to be maintained by the father, or children, or mother, (in
succession,) as the overseers of the poor of the town shall direct: on
refusal, an order for that purpose may be obtained from the Court of General
Sessions of the Peace of the county: --such relatives to pay in part, or
proportionally, if need be. Goods of persons absconding to be seized for
the support of the wife and children, who might become chargeable to the
public. Every person, who is blind, lame, old, sick, impotent or decrepit,
so as to be unable by his work to maintain himself, shall be maintained
by the county or town in which he may be.
--Rev. Stat. I. 20, 14.
The board of supervisors of any
county are authorised to erect county poor-houses and purchase land, not
exceeding 200 acres, and to tax the inhabitants for their support, not
exceeding 7000 dollars --and may abolish the distinction between town and
country poor. Vagrancy is punished with hard labor (not exceeding six months)
in the alms-house or poor-house of the respective town or city. Beggars
and persons who have no visible means of support, are considered vagrants.
No justice of peace, who shall have assisted in any judgment, or in making
any order appealed from, may sit in the Court of General Sessions upon
the hearing of any appeal made from such judgment or order. With regard
to settlements, "every person of full age, who shall be a resident and
inhabitant of any town for one year, and the members of his family, who
shall not have gained a separate settlement, shall be deemed settled in
such town. A minor may be emancipated from his or her father, and may gain
a settlement; 1. if a female, by being married and living for one year
with her husband; in which case the husband's settlement shall determine
that of the wife: 2. if a male, by being married, and residing for one
year separately from the family of his father: 3. by being bound as an
apprentice, and serving one year, by virtue of such indentures: 4. by being
hired and actually serving for one year for wages to be paid to such minor.
Married women follow the settlement of their husbands; and children of
their parents if not otherwise entitled. But neither residence nor birth
in a poor-house gives right of settlement to persons maintained there."
-Rev. Stat. of New York, Part 1. sect. 20.
There is one part of the pauper code, the harshness of which must be acknowledged by those who would deny its demoralizing tendency. "The proper officers may apply to a justice of the peace, if they suspect any woman of being likely to burthen the public with a natural child, in order that security may be taken against such a contingency. If she refuse to disclose the name of its father, she may, when recovered from the effects of her delivery, be committed to the common jail of the county, till she shall disclose it."
Not long after my return to my old quarters at New York, I attended, one Sunday, the "African" Episcopal Church, as it is absurdly called. The minister (Mr. Williams, of whom I have before spoken) is supported by his congregation, as his white brethren are by their respective flocks; that part of the stipend, however, which he receives out of the Trinity fund is less than what they are paid from the same source. Yet, when contributions are raised in the churches of this denomination for religious or charitable purposes, it sometimes happens that St. Philip gives more than the wealthier members of the white congregations.
American Episcopacy, like the tree from which it sprang, is separated into two distinct branches; and the division embraces discipline as well as doctrine, -the one insisting on the necessity of distributing the Prayer-book with the Bible; the other as strongly denying it. The same terms, too, of "High-church" and "Low-church ", are used to designate the corresponding sections. Trinity Church possesses great wealth; the extent of which is less known than its origin. It is derived from lands granted by the crown, and was retained after it had lost in the colonies what was then considered its "brightest jewel." Some of the most valuable portions of the city of New York are now included in the reservation. As the endowment was probably intended to pave the way for a permanent union between the State and a favored sect, it may admit of a doubt whether the independent legislature did wisely confirming the appropriation, and thus conferring a mortmain upon a body corporate, the spiritual treasures of which have no necessary connexion with its secular riches.
There is a French Protestant Episcopalian Church at New York --the remnant of what was a Calvinistic congregation, that was driven, at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, from Rochelle to Holland, and from thence to New York State. They had a church at the corner of Pine Street and Cedar Street --known at the time of its foundation, in 1704, as King Street and Little Queen Street. In 1800 their exchequer was rather low, and they went over to the Episcopal Church. They had a grant of about 2000 dollars a-year from the Trinity fund, and are now comfortably provided for under Episcopal jurisdiction; --having recently built a place of worship that rivals its neighbor, the opera house, in splendor and magnificence. The service is regularly performed by the minister in the French language; and many attend for the sole purpose of studying the idiom of a fashionable tongue.
Before I relate what passed at the "African" church, I will mention a curious fact, which I had from the sexton. The skulls of those who have been buried many years in the grave-yard, belonging to the congregation, were, he said, both thicker and more depressed in the front than those of recent interment. This he had found to be invariably the case. As it may fairly be assumed that the former were the remains of native Africans, (he confined his remarks to adults, and those chiefly old persons,) and to men who had enjoyed few of the advantages of civilization, it would seem, that, as the intellectual faculties expand by cultivation, a commensurate change takes place in the external structure of the head *.
The fact is certain, whatever inference may be drawn from it. My informant is a man of highly respectable character, and not likely, to assert a falsehood for the sake of a favorite theory, as he believes that there is some difference between the European and African skulls. He once played off an amusing trick against the late Dr. Paschalis --a physician in the city. The doctor was pointing out to several persons the peculiarities of form which he said distinguished the two races, when the sexton, who had just brought a cranium from the cemetery under his care, placed it before the learned physiologist. It was immediately pronounced to have belonged to a white; when the other, who had taken off some hair that happened to be sticking upon it when he took it up, produced the woolly locks, and turned the laugh against the phrenologist.
* When Dr. Spurzheim visited the Children's Hospital in Edinburgh, in 1828, he "took occasion to remark the very great contrast exhibited by the heads of those children whose parents are in general of the very lowest ranks of life, as compared with the heads of the children of the higher classes. Though here and there was an exception, the heads were in general very low:-narrow in the frontal and sincipital regions." --Phren. Journal.
To return to the Africo-American church and its minister. The service was read by a white clergyman, (the pastor of Trinity Church,) and the sermon delivered by my excellent friend, Mr. Williams. The subject of the discourse was the death of Wilberforce. After a brief narrative of the philanthropist's early career, the preacher touched upon the difficulties which surrounded him in the pursuit of that humane object, to which he had devoted his life: --the prejudices of early education --the indifference of friends --the allurements of fortune --the world's hostility and scorn. He surmounted all: and found in the triumph which ultimately crowned his exertions, the reward of his labors, and a reputation which has identified his name with all that is celebrated in eloquence and beloved in humanity. "To him," exclaimed the preacher, "our gratitude will be for ever due. To his indefatigable zeal in our cause we owe the redress of our wrongs; --to his example shall we be indebted for the recovery of our rights; when the prejudice, which now separates us from our fellow-countrymen, shall yield to juster notions of religious duty and social obligations. Let all, who are now suffering under unmerited opprobrium or the lash of the task-master, be patient; for the day of redemption draweth nigh. The chains of the slave have been broken by that nation which first abolished the cruel traffic that had torn him from his native land; and this example of a generous policy will not be lost upon our country." The congregation were exhorted by every consideration, which respect for their benefactors and friends --a deep sense of duty towards their Heavenly Father and themselves --and the laudable wish to throw off the stigma of undeserved humiliation, can inspire, to cultivate their minds and dispositions; and to think no effort too great, no sacrifice too dear, by which they might be enabled to vindicate their claim to equal acceptance and estimation with their white brethren; and to devote themselves to the highest level of attainments, which honest industry can reach, and virtuous motives suggest. The sermon concluded with an application to the consciences of all present of those great and momentous truths, which were so strongly exemplified, by their influence upon his opinions and conduct, in the venerable subject of his eulogy.
This is but the substance of what was said. I cannot do justice to the simplicity of language, and propriety of illustration, which characterised the composition. I was with an English friend; and we both remarked, that all who were present were particularly attentive to their devotions, and respectable in their appearance. There was a good organ, and the singing was excellent. The women were generally as well-dressed as any I had seen in other places of worship. There was less display of finery, however, among them; a plain straw bonnet with ribands being the most prevalent "head-gear." Upon our entrance we had been invited to take seats in a pew, from which the occupant retired and placed himself in another behind us. I begged he would return, and he resumed his seat. If this was done from a feeling of courtesy, it was honorable to the young man: if from deference to the prejudices of his white brethren, it was anything but honorable to them. How deeply, indeed, must he have felt the "proud man's contumely", when the simple circumstance of sitting in the house of God between two white men, should make him say, as he afterwards did to my companion: "My heart is full: --this is the happiest day of my life." I can truly say that I never saw the Church service better performed; more devotion and regularity in the responses; or a purer spirit of Christian charity and concord. And these are the people who are described, by the Colonization Society, as the vilest and basest of mankind. At one of the public meetings, with which these hypocritical conspirators against human freedom are striving to delude the country, the Chancellor of the State (Walworth) asserted that the free blacks were "a wretched and degraded race with nothing of freedom but the name" - *;
--thus committing the very offence, which had been imputed with so much bitterness, during the evening, to Garrison, --calumniating his own countrymen.
* A magistrate of Port-au-Prince, in a printed declaration against the free blacks of St. Domingo, used the following expression, in 1770 : "They will not behave well, unless their minds are broken down." "Il existe parmi nous" --these are his words --"une classe naturellement notre ennemie, et qui porte encore sur son front l'empreinte de l'esclavage; ce West que par des lois de rigueur qu'elle doit être conduite. Il est necessaire d'appesantir sur elle le mépris et l'opprobre qui lui est devolu en naissant. Ce West qu' en brisant les ressorts de leur ame qu'on pourra les conduire au bien."
The room was so crowded on this occasion, that I was driven away as much by the heat as the unchristian spirit of the speakers. In the same room, (the masonic hall,) there had been, in the summer, a similar assemblage, at which I was present; when a gentlemanly young man, with a slight tinge of African jet about him, came forward to answer the infamous charges that were, at that moment, resounding in the ears of a delighted auditory. He was not allowed to speak. "Off! off!" was the general cry. "Do us justice here," he exclaimed, "before you send us to Liberia." To condemn any one unheard has passed into a proverb for its injustice. Yet here is the decided and deliberate reply of an American judge, in the fifty-seventh year of his country's independence, to millions of his fellow-countrymen, who appeal to his "native justice and magnanimity," for that "equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them": --"you are a wretched and degraded race!"
In the course of his harangue, this keeper of the States' conscience professed his belief most strongly that there were not to be found, north of the Potomac, half a dozen virtuous women who would --willingly allow their children to --marry colored persons! *
* In the Courier and Inquirer-the "Times" of New York ---an attack was made in October, 1833, upon Mr. May of Brooklyn, (Connecticut,) a most amiable man, and one whose sole object seems to be "to do justly and walk humbly." The paragraph is headed, black and white," and refers to a remark made by Mr. May, that he saw nothing in reason or in religion that could make it an impropriety for persons who differed from each other in color to intermarry. "This man may marry a woolly head, or suffer his daughter to become the wife of a blackamoor, if his tastes run in that way; but we have only to say to him, that, entertaining such notions of propriety, he is an exceedingly impudent member of a decent community, to remain among white folks. His appropriate position is somewhere in South Africa, where we have no doubt such sentiments will make him popular. He has no business to associate with American citizens as one of them. . . . The, avowal of such feelings is disgustful in our society: and he, who does avow them, should be spurned from it. . . . The man capable of insulting the white citizens of the country in this way, has disentitled himself to the common courtesies of life; and, having identified himself with the Ethiopian, &c., should expect nothing better than Ethiopian treatment."
"Dii meliora piis, erroremque hostibus illum!"Thus the consequences of debasement are adduced as its justification. It would be strange, indeed, if any woman, between the Potomac and the Penobscot, would like to see her son-in-law or her daughter-in-law frowned upon by the Chancellor of New York! Mark the chancellor's logic. "My daughter will not marry you, because you are degraded: therefore you deserve to be degraded, and if my voice have any weight, shall be degraded, because my daughter will not marry you." Who would like to be tried for murder by this "second Daniel," if he could not get a wife, because he had been called a murderer? His honor must order him for execution, because his neighbors' daughters had all refused him. No one denies that our happiness depends upon the fair sex: but it is rather hard upon us that we are to incur a double risk; and lose our reputation if we lose the lady.
It is inexpressibly ridiculous to hear a few fastidious "palefaces" expressing themselves in such contemptuous terms of the great majority of the human family: but what say the objects of their scorn on this delicate question? One of them, (Walker, of Boston, who three or four years ago, spread the utmost consternation among the planters of the south, by a little pamphlet this self-taught man wrote, and who there is too much reason to believe expiated the offence with his life;) --Walker thus expresses himself: "I would wish candidly, before the Lord, to be understood, that I would not give a pinch of snuff to be married to any white person I ever saw in all the days of my life. And I do say it, that the black man, or man of color who will leave his own color (provided be can get one who is good for any thing) and marry a white woman, to be a double slave to her, just because she is white, ought to be treated by her, as be surely will be, viz., as a niger."
The judges of this State vacate office when sixty years of age --a regulation which its citizens had reason to lament when Chancellor Kent retired. Whatever may be thought of a man's mind when he has arrived at that period of his life, it is just possible that it may want both equity and common sense before he reaches it. The present chanceller's observations about marriage were equally illiberal, indelicate, and unphilosophical. Disguise it as you will, the love, which alone he would allow to be legitimate, is, however, "well refined through some certain strainers;" the very passion which Pope has spoken of in such plain terms. What is it, but the habitual association of a visible object with qualities which have engaged our affections, that produces attachment? The appearance of the one naturally recalls the other to the mind; and we transfer to the outward form, whatever it may be, --all those agreeable feelings which the virtues of its Possessor have excited in our bosoms. Our love and our hatred are equally affected by the same principle. His Honor, in denying its influence in the former, gives the strongest proof of its operation in the latter; and, while he cannot or will not see, the case of other men, the connecting link that honors our nature, all men can see, in his own, that which degrades it. The pride, which carries itself so high, is like Virgil's oak. Its lofty head shews where it is rooted.
The more I saw and heard of this odious and disgusting antipathy, the more convinced I felt that a civilized nation, thus tatooed and crippled in mind, is, in point of moral dignity, below those savage tribes that merely paint the body or compress the skull; and I felt ashamed when I looked a black man in the face, lest he should despise me for the silly and childish superstition with which those around him who resembled me were infected.--"Quantum se vertice ad auras
AEtherias, tantum radice ad Tartara, tendit."
On the evening of the day I had heard the sermon which was preached at St. Philip's, I was asked by a young lady what church I had attended, and the answer I gave brought on a general conversation about negro intellect and negro emancipation. In the course of the discussion, my fair neighbor, who was very animated upon the subject, quoted Scripture in support of her opinions, and asserted that the distinction, upon which the exclusion objected to was founded, was intended as a mark of inferiority by the Creator. I did not stop her to ask on which side the inferiority lay. She declared with equal delicacy and liberality, that it would be unnatural for the different colors to be mixed by matrimony. We are told upon pretty good authority, that "marriage is honorable in all men." She would add a little to the text, and provide for a contingency, which the sacred writer, who could not probably foresee the discovery of a new continent, never contemplated. I did not introduce the subject, because I consider it a nice ground to touch upon in the presence of young females; ground where a man may stumble inadvertently and give offence unintentionally, and because it has nothing whatever to do with the merits of the question. Let men and women, --black, red, white, copper-colored, or whatever tint they may have on their skins, marry to please themselves; but I enter my solemn protest against a regulation which makes prohibition from marriage, and non-admittance to the family circle the same thing; and which might have cut off from my sojourn in America some of the most agreeable hours I spent there.
With regard to the intermixture of the two races, whether social, or of a closer nature, it is certain that there will be, at the end of half a century, nearly ten millions of colored persons, bond or free, in the United States --if the prolific power (and what can arrest its progress ?) be as great in the future, as it has shewn itself during the past and the present time. No Liberia --no Wilberforce colony --no Haytian settlement can any more prevent or retard this consummation, than the influx of the Irish into the States has diminished the number of human beings in "old Erin". To none but the perpetrators of injustice, or the slaves of a silly superstition, can this addition to the population of those vast and fertile regions, occasion the slightest feeling of apprehension or regret. To the eye of humanity and common sense is presented the delightful prospect of pride subdued or softened into kindness; --mutual estrangement converted into mutual confidence; resentment and despondency succeeded by gratitude and reliance upon an equitable appreciation: --and "all men" living together "equal" who are declared to have been "created" so.
It is in the highest degree ludicrous to witness the anxious interest expressed by the present generation of whites for the condition and complexion of their distant descendants. They deprecate amalgamation as something abhorrent to nature: an unheard-of and an unutterable monster; --as if the realization of their fears would not be the surest evidence of their absurdity; or as if they did not know that the half-castes and quadroons, and the diluted subdivisions of the intermixture in the South, are almost, if not quite, as numerous as the pure blacks. If the two races intermarry, there can be no natural repugnance between them. If there be a natural repugnance, they cannot intermarry.
Another cause of uneasiness to these timid "children of a larger growth," arises from the dread they entertain that the species will be deteriorated by "crossing the breed"; though every one knows, who is capable of comparing forms and figures, that the finest specimens of beauty and symmetry are to be found among those whose veins are filled with mixed blood. Posterity will have little reason to be thankful to those now in existence for this excess of solicitude for their welfare, if the feeling, from which it springs, is transmitted to them, with all the hostility and suspicion and resentment it will, in its descent, have engendered in the bosoms of a numerous and increasing race. "We should recollect", said the Rev. David Rice, more than thirty years ago, in a speech he delivered at Danville in Kentucky, --"We should recollect, that it is too late to prevent this great imaginary evil: the matter is already gone beyond recovery; for it may be proved, with mathematical certainty, that if things go on in the present channel, the future inhabitants of America will inevitably be Mulattoes."*
It is thus that the same people will have exterminated the American tribes, and merged in the African; and the black man will have avenged the wrongs of the red man.
* "In Maryland and N. Carolina the black population increases more than twice as fast as the white; and, in Virginia, more than one-third faster."
--Raymond's Pol. Economy, II.367.
As for the settlement of Liberia, it is as little likely to promote the ostensible, as the real, object of its founders, or to be more successful in improving the one country than in draining the other. The attempt to colonize Africa with people of the same race as the aborigines, is, indeed, a hazardous experiment. There is no small risk of bringing into more frequent and more powerful action the principles of repulsion between the two bodies than those of attraction and adhesion. Centuries of civilization have given to the Europeans an undisputed superiority over the barbarous tribes among which they have been settled in the darker quarters of the globe; yet how difficult they have found it to maintain their position against the natives, is too well known. To the various causes, however, which produce or prolong hostilities, is, in this case, to be added that tendency to jealousy on one side, and contempt on the other, which a common origin and a contrariety of habits are sure to create.
Self-interest would probably for some time suspend or suppress these feelings; but, if once excited by any of those collisions of which the history of colonization presents so many deplorable examples, they would be exasperated by the defeat or victory of either party. From information supplied by the captain of a trading vessel, who had been for two or three years near that part of Africa, and had frequently visited Liberia, it appears that the colonists hold their barbarous neighbors in sovereign contempt. They carry on a lucrative trade of rum and gunpowder with them; and the terms and mode of barter serve to increase that feeling of scorn which opposes itself to a friendly intercourse.
What occurred in the case of those colored people who emigrated, some years back, from the United States to Hayti, strengthens, if it does not confirm, these doubts about the practicability of the colonization scheme. Many of them were much disappointed at the reception they met with*.
They had been led to expect, from a fancied idea of their own superiority, that they would meet with the greatest respect and deference in their intercourse with the Haytians. The reverse was the case. Though well treated by the Government, many became a prey to cunning and unprincipled men, from whose arts it could afford them but slight protection; and all had to encounter difficulties and annoyances, for which they were unprepared, because they had not good sense enough to anticipate them. These facts I have from the best authority; and may therefore be excused, if I cannot see the wisdom or expediency of entrusting the arduous task of conciliating an untamed and jealous people to men who have had little or no opportunity, in their own country, of acquiring sufficient experience to govern others, or sufficient self-restraint to govern themselves. A few well-educated blacks from the south, where the climate has, in some measure, inured them to such sultry heats and unhealthy exhalations as prevail on the coast of Africa, would, if sent to that continent as missionaries, with a competent knowledge of medicine and the useful arts, have much greater effect in advancing the civilization, while they increased our knowledge, of that mysterious and interesting portion of the globe, than a hundred Liberias, constructed of such materials, and exposed to such influences, as that nondescript offspring of the American Colonization Society.
* There is too much reason to suspect that some of these emigrants were induced, by artful misrepresentations, to return, and were kidnapped into the Slave states. That many quitted Hayti may be proved by official documents. Inginac, the Secretary General of that republic, published a notice upon the subject in 1825, declaring that no further aid would be rendered to such emigrants than an allowance of four months' provision, and a lot of ground for cultivation, on paying its value. The Haytian government had hitherto defrayed the entire expenses, not only of the passage, but, in some instances, of their removal from the interior of the United States to the Places of embarkment. "It cannot be denied," says the Secretary, "that captains, not satisfied with persuading emigrants, who had settled in the republic, to return to the United States, have even shared with them the profits of the speculation. How many persons have been known to demand the means of returning almost before they had debarked, and before the expiration of the four months for which rations had been granted by the State?" Several families, he declares, demanded permission to return three days after they had landed.
The best way of concealing these frauds, and securing future victims, was to dispose of those who went back, so as to give the captains an additional profit on a new speculation. Slaves, like dead men, tell no tales. Persons have told me that they have seen among them the very men who had embarked some time before for Liberia.