LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 559
South, — you, whose virtue, and magnanimity, and purity of character, are the greater for the severer trial it has encountered, — to you is her appeal. Have you not, in your own secret souls, in your own private conversings, felt that there are woes and evils, in this accursed system, far beyond what are here shadowed, or can be shadowed ? Can it be otherwise ? Is man ever a creature to be trusted with wholly irresponsible power ? And does not the slave system, by denying the slave all legal right of testimony, make every individual owner an irresponsible despot ? Can anybody fail to make the inference what the practical result will be ? If there is, as we admit, a public sentiment among you, men of honor, justice, and humanity, is there not also another kind of public sentiment among the ruffian, the brutal, and debased ? And cannot the ruffian, the brutal, the debased, by slave law, own just as many slaves as the best and purest ? Are the honorable, the just, the high-minded and compassionate, the majority anywhere in this world ?
The slave-trade is now, by American law, considered as piracy. But a slave-trade, as systematic as ever was carried on on the coast of Africa, is an inevitable attendant and result of American slavery. And its heart-break and its horrors, can they be told ?
The writer has given only a faint shadow, a dim picture, of the anguish and despair that are, at this very moment, riving thousands of hearts, shattering thousands of families, and driving a helpless and sensitive race to frenzy and despair. There are those living who know the mothers whom this accursed traffic has driven to the murder of their children; and themselves seeking in death a shelter from woes more dreaded than death. Nothing of tragedy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that equals the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting on our shores, beneath the shadow of American law, and the shadow of the cross of Christ.
And now, men and women of America, is this a thing