Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of all on or above the lands, usque ad cœlum, aut ad inferos. A man cannot breathe the air without a place to breathe it from, and all places are appropriated. All water is private property "to the middle of the stream," except the ocean, and that is not fit to drink.

Free laborers have not a thousandth part of the rights and liberties of negro slaves. Indeed, they have not a single right or a single liberty, unless it be the right or liberty to die. But the reader may think that he and other capitalists and employers are freer than negro slaves. Your capital would soon vanish if you dared indulge in the liberty and abandon of negroes. You hold your wealth and position by the tenure of constant watchfulness, care, and circumspection. You never labor; but you are never free.

Where a few own the soil, they have unlimited power over the balance of society, until domestic slavery comes in, to compel them to permit this balance of society to draw a sufficient and comfortable living from "terra mater." Free society asserts the rights of a few to the earth-slavery maintains that it belongs, in different degrees, to all.

But, reader, well may you follow the slave-trade. It is the only trade worth following, and slaves the only property worth owning. All other is worthless, a mere caput mortuum, except in so far as it vests the owner with the power to command the labors of others to enslave them. Give you a palace, ten thousand acres of land, sumptuous clothes, equipage and every other luxury; and with your artificial wants, you are poorer than Robinson Crusoe, or the lowest working man, if you have no slaves to capital, or domestic slaves. Your capital will not bring you an income of a cent, nor supply one of your wants, without labor. Labor is indispensable to give value to property, and if you owned everything else, and did not own labor, you would be poor. But fifty thousand dollars means, and is, fifty thousand dollars' worth of slaves. You can command, without touching on that capital, three thousand dollars' worth of labor per annum. You could do no more were you to buy slaves with it, and then you would be cumbered with the cares of governing and providing for them. You are a slaveholder now, to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, with all the advantages, and none of the cares and responsibilities of a master.

"Property in man" is what all are struggling to obtain. Why should they not be obliged to take care of man, their property, as they do of their horses and their hounds, their cattle and their sheep? Now, under the delusive name of liberty, you work him "from morn to dewy eve"-from infancy to old age-then turn him out to starve. You treat your horses and hounds better. Capital is a cruel master; the free slave trade, the commonest, yet the cruellest of trades.

Richard Hildreth.

BORN in Deerfield, Mass., 1807. DIED in Florence, Italy, 1865.

JEFFERSON.

[The History of the United States of America. 1849-52.-Revised Edition. 1880.]

NOTE

OTHING, indeed, could have been less in accordance with Jefferson's political theories than to have thrust upon the country one of the most momentous measures which it was possible to adopt, involving the very livelihood of tens of thousands, without warning, without discussion, without the least opportunity to have the public opinion upon it; employing for that purpose a servile Congress, driven to act hastily in the dark, with no other guide or motive beyond implicit trust in the wisdom of the executive-and such a measure the embargo, the most remarkable act of Jefferson's administration, unquestionably was. Yet it would be most rash and unjust to charge him or any man with political hypocrisy merely because, when in power, he did not act up to the doctrines which he had preached in opposition. It is not in the nature of enthusiasm to hesitate or to doubt; and that very enthusiasm, though it had liberty and equality for its object, with which Jefferson was so strongly imbued, pushed him on, however he might theorize about the equal right of all to be consulted, to the realization of his own ideas, with very little regard to opposing opinions. With all his attachment to theoretical equality, he was still one of those born to command, at least to control; brooking no authority but his own; and not easily admitting of opposition or contradiction, which he always ascribed to the worst of motives; while in the feeling that he sought not selfish ends, but the good of the community, he found, like so many other zealous men, sanction for his plans, justification of his means, and excuse for disregarding the complaints and even the rights of individuals.

Yet, whatever defects of personal character, whatever amount of human weaknesses we may ascribe to Jefferson; however low we may rate him as a practical statesman; however deficient we may think him even in manliness and truth; however we may charge him with having failed to act in accordance with his own professed principles; there remains behind, after all, this undeniable fact: he was-rarity, indeed, among men of affairs-rarity, indeed, among professed democratical leaders a sincere and enthusiastic believer in the rights of humanity. And, as in so many other like cases, this faith on his part will ever suffice to cover, as with the mantle of charity, a multitude of sins; nor will there ever be wanting a host of worshippers-living ideas being of

[ocr errors]

vastly more consequence to posterity than dead actions passed and gone to mythicize him into a political saint, canonized by throbbing wishes for themselves, and exalted, by a passionate imagination, far above the heads of cotemporary men, who, if they labored, suffered, and accomplished more for that generation, yet loved and trusted universal humanity less.

Between Jefferson as a political theorist, palliating Shay's rebellion by the general remark that a little insurrection now and then is necessary to keep every kind of government in order; between Jefferson as leader of the opposition, denouncing the tax on whiskey as "infernal,” and almost justifying the rebellion against it, and Jefferson as President, dissatisfied with the law of treason as laid down by Chase and Marshall, calling upon Congress for greater stringency, seeking to enforce the embargo by assumptions of power, which, if constitutional, which multitudes questioned, were vastly more arbitrary and meddlesome than anything in the Excise Act, there was, indeed, a striking contrast.

"I

Theodore Sedgwick Fay.

BORN in New York, N. Y., 1807.

A GERMAN FIRE-EATER.

[Norman Leslie. 1835.-Revised Edition. 1869.]

HAVE myself," said Kreutzner, "witnessed many duels. But we Europeans are not so blood-thirsty as you moral Americans. A duel seldom occurs except among military men and students; occasionally among noblemen or high governmental officials. And when it does. occur it is less inspired by a desire to kill. Even students take care to avoid fatal results. We students call it Paukerei, and look upon it as a sort of frolic. We don't use the bowie-knife, scarcely the pistol. Our little matters are generally settled with the sword. Any poltroon may pull a trigger, but it requires courage and nerve to manage the steel. When I was at the University of Heidelberg, there used to be a duel nearly every day. The slightest cause, or no cause at all, and—crack! there they stood-plunge and parry, cut and thrust-till a cheek was laid open or a nose chopped off."

"The ruffians!" exclaimed Norman.

"Pooh!" said Kreutzner, "only fine young boys letting off their The story I promised is a tradition of past times which had not

steam.

yet been forgotten when I was at the University. There was once, says the tradition, a nobleman, Baron von Mentz, of high rank in the Empire, belonging to a family, so the story goes, all the male members of which had rendered themselves conspicuous by their brutality. His father was a particularly distinguished man-distinguished by the absence of every virtue and the presence of every vice. He had a strong castle near the University and made himself so formidable to the whole country round; and had, moreover, from certain causes, so great an influence with the Emperor that, either from fear of the consequences to themselves or to their friends, most people found it prudent not to offend him. There was, on the continent of Europe, but one ruffian who surpassed him in every attribute of a scoundrel-that was his son.

"What the father was in public, the son was in private. What the old cock was in the Empire, the young cock was in the University. Disgusted by the proceedings of these two, many young men abandoned Heidelberg. None remained except a set who were willing to receive this boisterous and desperate fellow for their leader. He had thus long exercised his insolent despotism with impunity. His preeminence was maintained not only by boldness and personal strength, but by extraordinary skill in the art of fencing, and, like your friend Clairmont, a power to place a pistol ball, at any supposable distance, just where he pleased. This is a very awkward sort of fellow to meet in a quarrel. One-two-three-crack! and good-bye to you. Strange as it may appear, he was in great favor with the ladies. They found a beauty in the huge mustaches, half a foot long, twisted under his nose; they liked a certain air of homage which he always assumed in their presence. This fellow, who made every one bow down to him, they liked to see bow down to them. As he admired every handsome girl, it was rather embarrassing for any other student to have a sweetheart. One lady, above all the rest, was honored with his particular admiration-Gertrude, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring Baron von Rosenhain. That Mentz was her adorer he himself proclaimed on all occasions, and he did not conceal his opinion that his admiration was not likely to be wasted. As for a rival, no one thought of such a thing.

"At last a young stranger entered the University, in every respect a contrast to Mentz. Slender, delicate, boyish, graceful, intelligent, very handsome his quiet, shy habits caused many to think one might take a liberty without danger. He would rescue a fly from a cup of water, when he saw the little fellow in trouble. He would not let any one kill a bird, if he could help it. He seemed far more inclined to study than either to drink or fight. While devoting himself to philosophy and science, he had acquired the art of painting; and he had not long been at Heidelberg before it was ascertained that he had painted a most

charming portrait of the lovely Gertrude; and had happily succeeded in giving to her large eyes an expression of tenderness which it was thought very strange they should exhibit during the tiresome process of sitting for her portrait to an insignificant student.

"Suddenly a change was observed in Arnold. He became sullen, moody, melancholy. He plunged into debauchery. He then surprised every one by giving a splendid fête, inviting all his acquaintance except Mentz. The omission was significant. Mentz himself did not believe it, and sent a friend to say he presumed it was accidental. The answer was short and sweet-'Not accidental-intentional.' On receiving this information, Mentz discovered, but could scarcely believe his own ears, that the girlish youth intended to beard him. The dove about to attack the vulture! Ho! ho! ho!

"By the bones of my father!' cried the ruffian, 'I will be present at his fête. And yet more! I will make him drink my health. And still more, if he hesitate, I will make him drink it on his knees.'

"Arnold was informed of this threat.

"Well,' he said, 'let him come. He shall find a welcome befitting such a guest.'

"The company assembled. The table was filled with a single exception. One seat remained vacant. Upon it was a paper, inscribed: 'For the uninvited guest!'

"The fête was nearly concluded, when Mentz entered the hall. He occupied the vacant seat with a frown. Curiosity and interest rose to their height. Arnold calm and tranquil-Mentz with a thunder-cloud on his brow which grew darker and darker every moment. Arnold took no notice of the threatening intruder, but did the honors of the board with perfect ease and good humor. Suddenly a student, Carl von Klipphausen-one of Mentz's minions-rose and said: "I propose the health of Baron von Mentz.' "The goblets were all quaffed except one. touched.

That of Arnold stood un

"One cup has not been emptied,' cried Mentz. 'I will make the owner swallow it, if I have to pour it down his throat with my own hand.'

[ocr errors]

"Several friendly voices, in the neighborhood of the young Arnold, were heard recommending him to empty the cup; reminding him of the wonderful skill of Mentz both with sword and pistol. Refrain thy foot from this brawl,' was the general advice. 'Drink the cup and be done with it. Drink! That is the best!'

"While these suggestions were uttered in hasty whispers, the youth remained silent.

"Gentlemen,' he said at length, 'I have not yet been long enough at

« AnteriorContinuar »