Слике страница
PDF
ePub

liberty to think and speak as conscience bids—and he has fallen a victim to the passions of an infuriated mob. A son of a New England clergyman, himself also a minister of the gospel, and among descendants of New England sires, he has been put to death to gratify the spirit of revenge-generated by Popery, Infidelity and Slavery. Could any one, a stranger to the causes of this outrage, have chanced to stand by, as his corpse was borne forth, bloody and cold, and could he have asked, why in the vigor of health, and ere manhood's maturest powers were developed, he was thus laid low—had he committed some enormous crime, which made him unfit to live, and demanded so summary an execution—what must have been the surprise to receive for an answer,—No, he had outraged no one's rights; he was in the lawful exercise of his own; he died in defense of the liberty of speech, and of the press-he fell a victim to the demands of slavery.

ry. What! it might have been said, is not this the boasted land of freedom ; did not the fathers of the Revolution, proclaim their determination to submit to no such infringement on their rights; did they not repair to arms, and through their long and painful struggle, was not this privilege, this birth-right of man, one which urged them on, and would they have felt their object gained, had this still been wanting ? Has it come to this, that in a country which boasts of its more than usual equal diffusion of knowledge and regard for the laws, such foul crimes are to be perpetrated, and no account taken of them by those whose duty it is to watch against every violation of law ? Away with your pretensions, since you allow the spirit of a mob thus to control and destroy your liberties and rights! Such, we may suppose, would be the indignant feeling of the mere stranger; and were he to be told, that editors, and of religious papers too,-were so time-serving as to truckle to this growing disregard of law, and half-vindicate its exercise, how unmeasured would be his amazement, and how would he feel, that words were almost wanting to express his honest indignation at their pusillanimity and sophistry! Could he yet further take up this volume, and read the records of Lovejoy's short life,-his manly defenses of himself when accused, -his pious aspirations, and the plain and cogent reasoning with which he enforced his opinions,—what would he say? What would he not feel, as he learned, that for such a cause a minister of Christ was persecuted and murdered? Well might he blush and hang his head, to think himself a man! We trust, that multitudes will read for themselves these memoirs of a good man, that they may learn more and more to detest the misrule and lawlessness

to which he was a victim. There may be some who will be deterred from the perusal, by the fact, that it has received the commendation of the anti-slavery papers; but we pity the man, wherever he may be found, who will refuse to become acquainted with any truth, because it may have been breathed from lips which belong not to his own particular sect or party.

It is evident from the book before us, that the first opposition to the St. Louis Observer was from papists and infidels, who were disturbed by Mr. Lovejoy's exposure of their unhallowed practices. With these were soon joined others, advocates of slavery, conscience-smitten on account of his honest and merited rebukes of their guilt and cruelty, and especially, the atrocious scene at the burning alive of the slave McIntosh, and the subsequent charge of Judge Lawless, (fit name indeed for the magistrate of such a community !) From this moment, Lovejoy's was a devoted head; his press was destroyed, his life threatened, and himself driven to take refuge in Alton, where, notwithstanding the invitation and pledge of its citizens, the same outrages were repeated, till his chastened spirit was forever beyond the reach of violence or sorrow. As a matter of history, we place the record of these facts on our pages, and we cannot entirely repress the feelings of indignation which they have excited in our bosoms. We join in the closing paragraphs of the interesting Introductory Essay by the Hon. John Quincy Adams:

'The subject of the ensuing memoir, the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, was a native of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—born in a state where the abjuration of the authority of Great Britain, and of the institution of Slavery, had been universally held to have been consummated by one and the same act, he had like all the citizens of that State, born since the Declaration of Independence, been bred and nurtured in the belief that Slavery was an institution, politically incompatible with a free Constitution, and religiously incompatible with the laws of God. Led by his destiny, in the pursuit of happiness, and in the fulfillment of his religious and moral duties, to the western region of his country, the fundamental condition of whose political existence was the exclusion of all Slavery and involuntary servitude, he there fell a victim to the fury of a band of ruffians, stung to madness, and driven to despair, for the fate of their darling Slavery, by the terrors of a printing press.

That an American citizen, in a state whose Constitution repudiates all Slavery, should die a martyr in defense of the freedom of the press, is a phenomenon in the history of this Union. It forms an æra, in the progress of mankind towards universal emancipation. Martyrdom was said by Dr. Johnson to be the only test of sincerity in religious belief. It is also the ordeal through which all great improvements in the condition of men, are doomed to pass. The incidents which preceded and accompanied, and followed the catastrophe of Mr. Lovejoy's death, point it out as an epocha in the annals of human liberty. They have given a shock as of an earthquake throughout this continent, which will be felt in the most distant regions of the earth. They have inspired an interest in the public mind, which extends already to the life and character of the sufferer, and which it is believed will abide while ages pass away. To record and preserve for posterity the most interesting occurrences of his life has been considered an obligation of duty, specially incumbent upon the surviving members of his family, and in the effusions of his own mind, and the characteristic features of his familiar correspondence, the reader will find the most effective portraiture of the first American Martyr to THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, AND THE FREEDOM OF THE SLAVE.' pp. 12, 13.

A very brief sketch of this volume is all we have intended. It contains a detailed account of Mr. Lovejoy's early life and education, the incidents of his first residence at the West, his conversion and preparation for the ministry, his public labors as a preacher and editor, his persecutions and death, interspersed with extracts from his letters and other productions. A portion also of the volume is given to the voice of the press in view of his death,--an appeal to Alton, signed “An American Citizen," and which was published in the Emancipator and other papers, and remarks by Messrs. Stewart and Parburt, at a meeting in Rochester in reference to the same event. Subjoined is an extract from the report of the trial of Mr. Lovejoy's friends, for defending themselves when attacked! Yes; the indictment itself charges certain persons as guilty of a riot, for defending a printing-press, when attacked by a mob, to its destruction !

Mr. Lovejoy was the son of a clergyman, and was born in Albion, Maine, Nov. 9, 1802, just thirty-five years previous to the day of his burial. The incidents of his recorded early life are comparatively few and unvaried. His ruling passion in childhood seems to have been the love of knowledge; and, with a very retentive memory, he treasured up much of what he read. He appears to have been peculiarly attached to poetry, and he was known to repeat one hundred and fifty of Watts's hymns at a single recitation. Combined with his love of knowledge, was also a great love of athletic sports; especially, he was much attached to swimming. Till he was eighteen, his education was pursued at home, under the care of his mother, with a few months each year in the district school.

In 1823, he entered a sophomore in Waterville College, where the expenses of his education were in part defrayed by the Rev. Dr. Tappan, of Maine. He was graduated in 1826, with the first hon

ors of his class, pronouncing on that occasion a poem entitled “ The Inspirations of the Muse.” He seems to have exercised his pen not unfrequently in attempts in poetry, some of which possess considerable merit, and several specimens of which are given in the volume before us. They all breathe a spirit of strong attachment to home and its domestic scenes, occasionally tinged with melancholy, as if he was almost anticipating his early fate. One of these, which appeared in the St. Louis Republican, we will quote at length, as it may help to form some idea of the affectionate character of the man:

MY MOTHER.
Men forget, but all shall not be forgotten.'
"" There is a fire that burns on earth,

A pure and holy flame;
It came to men from heavenly birth,

And still it is the same,
As when it burned the chords along,
That bore the first-born seraph's song-
Sweet as the hymn of gratitude
That swelled to heaven when all was good,'
No passion in the choirs above
Is purer than a mother's love!
My Mother ! how that name endears,
Through Memory's griefs and Sorrow's tears!
I see thee now as I have seen

With thy young boy beside theo-
Thou didst not know, nor couldst thou deem

The ills that would betide me;
For sorrow then had dimm'd the eye
Which beamed with only ecstacy!
Ah ! life was then a joyous thing,
And time bore pleasure on its wing.
How buoyant did the minutes move,
For I was hope and thou wert love.
Beneath thy smiles I closed the day
And met them at the morning ray;
My infant heart was full of glee,
And every chord struck harmony.
And often as there would betide
Some little griefs my heart to gall,
I bore them to my mother's side,
And one kind kiss dispelled them all.
And I have knelt with thee-when none

Were near but thou and I-
In trembling awe before the throne

Of Mercy in the sky;
And when thy melted heart was poured
Before the Being thou adored;
How holy was that prayer of thine,
Fit offering for a heavenly shrine-
Not for myself a wish-not one-

But smile upon, Lord, bless my son !
VOL. X

39

And I have risen and gone my way,

And seemed to have forgot;
Yet oft my wandering thoughts would stray

Back to the hallowed spot-
While feelings new and undefined
Would crowd upon my laboring mind.

O days of innocence and peace !
O ill exchanged for manhood's years !
When mirth that sprang from youthful bliss,
Is drowned beneath misfortune's tears.
My heart has since been sadly worn,
While wave on wave has o'er it borne;
And feelings once all fresh and green,
Are now as though they ne'er had been.
And Hope, that bright and buoyant thing,
E’en hope has lent despair its wing;
And sits despoiled within my breast,
A timid, torturing, trembling guest !
I dare not look upon the past,
I care not for the future cast.
Yet o'er this darkness of the soul

There comes one cheering beam,
Pure, warm, and bright, of rapture full

As angel visits seem
A Mother's love, a Mother's care,-
My aching heart, there's comfort there !

It is as if a lovely rose
Should bloom amid the icy waste ;

For while the heart's life-streams are frozo,
Its fragrance o'er it still is cast.
Weary and worn, my bed I've shared

With sickness and with pain,
Nor one of all that saw me cared

If e'er I rose again,
Heedless and quick they passed along,
With noisy mirth and ribald song,
And not a hand outstretched to give
A cordial that should bid me live.
And woman, too, that nurse of ease,
Made up of love and sympathies,
Ay, woman, she-she passed me by,
With cold, averted, careless eye ;
Nor deigned to ask, nor seem'd to care,
If death and I were struggling there !
Ah! then I've thought and felt it too-
My Mother is not such as you!
How would she sit beside my bed,
And pillow up my aching head,
And iben, in accents true as mild,
* Would I were suffering for thee, child !'
And try to soothe my griefs away,
And look e'en more than she could say ;
And press her cheek to mine, nor fear,
Though plague or fever wanton'd there;
And watch through weary nights and lone,
Nor deem fatigue could be her own.
And if, perchance, I slept, the last
I saw, her eyes were on me cast;

« ПретходнаНастави »