Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I will now proceed with my discursive narrative. Previous to Presi. dent Lincoln's Proclamation in favour of certain forms of Emancipation, which was to take effect on first of January, 1863, there was a very gen. eral feeling throughout England that the war between North and South was not likely to issue in the abolition of slavery, if the North proved victorious. The British people are not, as a rule, well informed upon matters taking place abroad, and are therefore at times liable to make serious mistakes. When the Southern partizans proclaimed that their object was to get rid of the Protective System in the Tariff'; and the Northern orators and writers kept dinning that the sole object of the North was to keep intact the Union, the people of this country were dazed. They could not understand the nice distinctions of lawyers as to what was Constitutional and what was not. When it was argued that the whole tendency of the war made for freedom, and at the same time, that the authorities could not constitutionally enact emancipation by a vote of Congress, a shrug of the shoulder sufficiently showed incredulity. When, however, President Lincoln issued the Proclamation above referred to, it had an instantaneous effect, and the friends of the United States were able to speak and write with a confidence they never before had experienced. It is true that in the north of England, and particularly in Lancashire, there was a strong feeling that the action of our government should in no way be twisted into a support of the Slave States ; and from the time of the sailing of the Alabama, in August, 1862, this feeling rapidly assumed a definite shape. When, therefore, the President's Proclamation reached England the friends of Emancipation saw that the time for united action had come. This was recognized in Manchester sooner than in Liverpool, and this was natural, for Manchester was filled with workingmen who had proved by their conduct all through the struggle that they held that man was not to live by bread alone. In the midst of want they stood firmly by their convictions. In Liverpool, on the other hand, the cotton trade was predominant. Men ‘on change' were unmistakably 'Southern' in their proclivities, that is, the majority of them. The mere rabble took the same side. All that these could under. stand was that whereas they formerly earned a comfortable living in handling imported cotton, they were now idlers living on the rates, or depending upon very precarious employment. To them 'cotton' was still ‘king.' The Emancipationists in Manchester had the masses to aid them, and they therefore took action first, by establishing an Emancipation Society. In Liverpool the rich and the lowest were acting together, whilst the great body of shopkeepers and the handicraftsmen were favorable to the North. Of course these classifications must be taken as only approximately accurate.

“Such was the state of feeling in Liverpool when an advertizement appeared in the newspapers calling a meeting to assemble in the ‘Claren. don Rooms,' early in the afternoon of the 17th January, 1863. I was present and was surprised to find so many influential merchants in attendance. Not knowing many of them, I guessed that the South was largely represented, and that not unlikely sympathy with the North would be a minus quantity. The chair was taken by Mr. John Cropper, a man deservedly respected in Liverpool and far beyond, for his deeds of benevolence. I think it was Mr. Robertson Gladstone (elder brother of Mr. William E. Gladstone) that moved the following resolution :

“That in the opinion of this meeting the war now raging in the United States of America originated in the institution of slavery and in the antagonism which that system inevitably presents to the institutions of freedom ; that in the great national crisis now created by the announcement of the Emancipation policy, the Federal Government is entitled to the generous sympathy of every Englishman, and to the moral support which such sympathy always affords; that to ensure these from the in. habitants of Liverpool it is now deemed advisable, by means of lectures and public discussions, to fully instruct the public mind on the true conditions of the American question, preliminary to a general aggregate meeting for the adoption of an address to President Lincoln.'

“A debate of an interesting character sprung up. Mr. James Spence, the S of The Times and author of The American Union, was present, and in eloquent terms denounced the hypocrisy of the North and praised the chivalry of the South. Slavery was pronounced 'scriptural' and 'patriarchal,' and poor Onesimus was trotted out once more to prove that injustice is the very highest form of justice. He sat down with an air of tri. umph which I can never forget. Applause was loud and continuous. Before it was over a man that I then only knew by name, but knew intimately ever after, was on his feet waiting for attention. Mr. Spence was a dainty-looking little man, with a pleasant voice and graceful presence. The man about to reply (John Patterson by name) was a burly Ulsterman with loud voice and energetic action. As soon as Mr. Patterson got a hearing he took a little Bible out of his pocket and first addressed himself to the task of answering the Scriptural arguments of Mr. Spence. He made the house ring with denunciations of man-stealers and of oppressors of the poor. The year of jubilee was not forgotten-in fact, the little pocket-Bible had the effect of a gigantic bomb-shell. Neither before nor since have I heard so able an ex tempore rejoinder. There was no occasion for further discussion. The resolution was put and carried almost unanimously. An Emancipation Society was founded and a committee formed to carry out the objects of the resolution. On the motion of our old friend, Mr. C. E. Rawlins, I was asked to be Honorary Secretary, and thus came my official connection with the Society which lasted till the end of the war.

“As you wish to know the names of those most active amongst us, I give the names of the Committee as follows, reserving a few words to be said about two or three of them afterwards :

*[A different person from the James Spence of the firm of Spence, Richardson & Co., of Liverpool, whom we have mentioned elsewhere in the foregoing article, a strong friend of the United States.-W. J. P.]

Rev. J. S. Jones,

Hugh S. Brown,
“ Charles M. Birrell,

“ John Robberds,
Mr. John Cropper,

" I. B. Cooke,
" Denis Duly,
" Robertson Gladstone,

James R. Jeffery,
" John Patterson,
" Charles E. Rawlins,

Charles Robertson,
" Richard Sheil,

Mr. John Turner,

T. R. Aruott,
" Peter Stuart,

David Stuart,
George Golding,
Robert Varty,

Andrew Leighton,
“ E. K. Muspratt,

Maurice Williams,

William McGowan,
" Charles Wilson,
" Robert Trimble.

" Besides the abore named there were many others that both worked hard and subscribed liberally to our objects, such as the late William Crosfield and his two sons, Thomas Ellison, S. Bully, etc.

“ The committee lost no time in beginning its work. In every district of the town meetings were held preparatory to a great central demonstration ut the Amphitheatre. We were followed everywhere by paid organizers of disorder ; but notwithstanding this opposition we carried our resolu. tions at every meeting, including that at Birkenhead.

“On Thursday evening, 191h of February, we held a great meeting at the Amphitheatre, where we had much organized opposition ; but all our resolutions were carried. We had many other occasions for demonstrations and plenty of private work. It is a remarkable fact that our oppo. nents never had a public meeting from the opening of the war till the end.

“Perhaps I ought to say something of the meeting to hear Mr. Beecher ; but the truth is I had no faith in its success, and although we carried our resolutions by overwhelming majorities, yet I think it did us no good. He did not understand his audience, and was too bumptious.'

“You ask about garments made for the fugitive negroes by my wife and other ladies. I have no particulars of the work done. I have a memo. randum written on one of my pamphlets showing the final result of the efforts for the Freedmen and I have the original subscription list somewhere. I saw it quite recently amongst some papers, but for the moment cannot find it. The figures are :

Cash subscriptions.....
Computed value of clothing

£2170 25. Od.

362 19 9

Total

£2533 18. 9d.

“After the war closed I thought we might get up a fund of £10,000, but on the advice of Mr. Dudley I dropped the idea. Some time afterwards a gentleman called upon me one morning with a note from his father enclosing £50 to be given to certain American travelers if I thought well of it. The son said that if I thought it desirable, his firm would give £1000 to begin a subscription worthy of the town. I sent once more to Mr. Dudley, giving him in confidence the name. After mature thought, he again gave an opinion similar to that he had given before. Neither of these gentlemen had joined our agitation.

With regard to Mr. Dudley's eleven years' work in Liverpool, I would like to say that I had the good fortune to enjoy his friendship from the middle of the war until he resigned his office of Consul, and can say that he was an indefa gable worker, though all the time labouring under great physical disabilities. He kept a strict watch upon the enemies of the United States, and at the same time was urbane to all who had any busi. ness at the consulate. When the full history of that revolutionary period comes to be written his name will be found amongst the most honourable.

"A life perhaps too busy has prevented me from keeping documents concerning passing events, but what I have here written is from memory aided by some odds and ends and preserved letters. I have purposely ab. stained writing about war ships, blockade runners, confederate bonds and so on, as, if I began, it would require volumes to finish the story. In hunting through old papers in the last few days I find I have still a pretty complete set of my letters exposing the celebrated cotton loan. I am glad to think that the eventual sufferers were not unwarned both from the commercial and the moral side.

“My pamphlets are out of print, so I cannot send you a set, but I find I have a few copies of the three latest and I send you two of each of them.

You ask for a few incidents which might prove interesting. I have given you one about our old friend, John Patterson, but now recall his name to say that he kept full reports of every meeting held, and all published correspondence that he noticed. I dare say his family has them.

“Charles E. Rawlins wrote the best book brought out amongst us. It is called American Disunion. It was published in April, 1862. It has only one fault. He shows himself quite too charitably disposed to his opponents; but that was his constant characteristic. You may have the book in your library.

“ Thomas Ellison, a cotton broker, wrote a book called Slavery and Secession. It was published just before that by Mr. Rawlins.

"The Rev. J. S. Jones was remarkable for his broad sympathies. He was very ‘high church’in his views, but he visited, preached in, and lived in the vilest part of Liverpool, and at a nominal salary. I believe he bas now similar surroundings in London. He stood second to none amongst our friends.

• The Rev. Charles M. Birrell was a leading Baptist minister, and joined us on account of the moral aspect of the question at issue. He

[ocr errors]

spoke at our Amphitheatre meeting. He was a very retiring man, but he was roused to vehemence when the mob tried to howl him down. I can never forget the close of his speech. He said that in the old anti-slavery agitations he had stood in the same place and had to face a similar hostile multitude ; and then rising to his full height, his face aglow, and lifting his right hand towards heaven, he said, “We conquered then and we will conquer now.' He touched a chord that vibrated throughout the vast assembly.

“A word or two about Charles Wilson, and I have done. He was a veritable ‘Fighting Quaker,' if ever there was one.

“He was Chairman of our Executive Committee, and to him was largely owing the aggressive attitude assumed at the beginning and continued till peace was proclaimed. With all this never man could be more reckoned upon to keep his temper. His services to the cause were beyond praise.

“Perhaps it looks a little insidious to pick out a few, out of many friends, for special mention ; but these were serviceable above measure.

“Of the twenty-five members of the committee as already given in list, I believe twenty-two have gone to their rest—their work done. I believe I am right in stating that Messrs. Jones, Muspratt and I, are the last survivors ; and of Mr. Jopes, I am not quite sure as it is a dozen years since I have heard of him.

*

“I remain, my dear Miss Matlack,

“ Yours sincerely,

“ ROBERT TRIMBLE.

“Miss MATLACK, The Grange,

Camden, N. J.”

« AnteriorContinuar »