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rpHE following pages are an expansion of a lec- 
-*- ture delivered at the Manchester Athenseura, 
and the author has to plead as his justification 
for printing them, the wishes of some of his au- 
dience on that occasion. 

They treat of the subject stated on the title- 
page ; not of the justice or wisdom of the pre- 
sent war, nor of the conduct of any American 

The argument is as much historical as theolo- 
gical : and the question whether the Book, which 
Christendom regards as the rule of conduct, is 
favourable to Slavery or to Free Labour, to the 
degradation or to the independence and dignity 
of the labouring class, is interesting to the states- 
man and economist as well as to the divine. 

It will be remembered that we have no longer 
to deal with the question between immediate and 
gradual emancipation, as to which the greatest 
enemies of Slavery may fairly differ ; nor with the 
excuses which may be made for those who have 
inherited a bad system not of their own creating, 


and which no reasonable man would desire to 
withhold. A complete change has of late taken 
place in the sentiments and language of the 
Southern States on the subject of Slavery. That 
which was regarded and spoken of by Washing- 
ton and the statesmen of his time as a transient 
evil, is now declared to be a permanent good, ' 
and not only a permanent good, but the best of 
all social institutions. Mr. Stephens, the Yice- 
President of the Slave States, avows that ^^the 
foundations of the new Government are laid upon 
the great truth, that Slavery — subordination to 
the superior race — is the Negro's natural and 
moral condition ; that it is the first Government 
in the history of the world based upon this great 
physical, philosophical, and moral truth; and 
that the stone which was rejected by the first 
builders is in the new edifice become the chief 
stone of the corner." Those who hold and pro- 
claim such sentiments as these may naturally 
proceed to still more extensive and startling 
doctrines afi'ecting the position of the labourer, 
without regard to the colour of his skin, in all 
the countries of the world. 

With regard to the part of the argument turn- 
ing upon the Laws of Moses, Michaelis has long 
since made us familiar with the fact that these 


Laws were not a new Code, but a revision of the 
old customary law of the nation. But since his 
time much light has been thrown upon this sub- 
ject by eminent writers on the philosophy of his- 
tory and on the history of the Jews. 

Many of the points here mentioned have been 
mentioned before in various works : but the au- 
thor is not aware that the question has been 
placed as a whole exactly in the light in which 
he wished and has here endeavoured to place it. 

In this discussion the authority of the Penta- 
teuch is taken for granted on both sides. In 
using, therefore, the common language on the 
subject, the author is not presuming to pass any 
opinion upon the questions respecting the date 
and authorship of the Books which divide great 
Hebraists and theologians, and which, he is per- 
fectly aware, can be decided only by free in- 
quiry, carried on by men learned in the subject, 
with absolute faith in the God of Truth. 


TTTHEN a New World was peopled, strange things 

• were sure to be seen. And strange things are 
seen in America. By the side of the Great Salt Lake 
is a community basing itself upon Polj^gamy. In the 
Southern States is a community basing itself upon 
Slavery. Each of these communities confidently ap- 
peals to the Bible as its sanction ; and each of them, 
in virtue of that warrant, declares its peculiar institu- 
tion to be universal and divine. The plea of the slave- 
owner is accepted. Perhaps if the Mormonite were 
equally an object of political interest to a large party, 
his plea might be accepted also^. 

It is important in more ways than one to determine 
whether the slave-owner's plea is true. The character of 
the Bible is threatened ; and so is the character of the 
English law and nation. The Times says that slavery 
is only wrong as luxury is wrong, and that the Bible 

* No less a person than Luther was in fact led, by his irrational treat- 
ment of the Bible, into both errors. He preached the doctrine that 
a slave had no right to escape even from a heathen master, (see his 
Seer-Predigt ivider die TiirJcen,) and he brought an eternal scandal 
on Protestantism by sanctioning the double marriage of the Elector 
of Hesse. 



enjoins tlie slave at the present day to return to Ms 
master. If so, tlie law of England, whicli takes away 
the slave from Lis master directly his feet touch Eng- 
lish soil, is a robber's law. If so, the great Act of 
Emancipation, of which we speak so proudly, was a 
robber's act ; for though a partial compensation for 
their loss was granted to the West Indian slave-owners, 
they were forced to give up their slaves notoriously 
against their will. , 


It is true that the Old Testament distinctly re- 
cognises Slavery as a Hebrew institution. It is also 
true that the New Testament speaks of Slavery in 
several passages and does not condemn it. 

But before we draw the conclusion that Slavery is 
a divine institution established by God for aU time, we 
must consider what was the object of God's dealings 
with Man recorded in the Bible. 

If it was to put human society at once in a state 
of perfection, without further effort, political, social 
or intellectual, on the part of Man, the inference is 
irresistible that every institution enjoined in the Bible 
is part of a perfect scheme, and that every institution 
mentioned in the Bible without condemnation will be 
lawful to the end of time. 

But if the object was to implant in man's heart 
a principle, viz. the love of God and Man, which 


should move him to work (God also working in him) 
for the improvement of his own state and that of his 
fellows, and for the transforming of his and their life 
into the image of their Maker ; in this case, it will by 
no means follow that any social institution recognised 
in Scripture for the time being, or mentioned by it 
without condemnation, is for ever good or lawful in 
the sight of God, 

And that this, not the other, was the real object is 
matter of hourly experience ; for man labours till now 
to improve his state and that of his fellows ; and his 
conscience, which is the voice of God, tells him that he 
does well. 

To say that the Bible has nothing to do with politics 
or science, is a bad way of escaping from a difficulty of 
our own creating. The Bible has much to do with 
politics and science, and with everything that enters, 
as all parts of our social and intellectual state do enter, 
into the moral life of man. But it does not suddenly 
reveal political and scientific truth without calling for 
any effort on the part of man himself to attain them ; 
because such a revelation, instead of promoting, would 
have defeated the end for which, as the voice of our 
free moral nature assures us, the world was made. It 
implants in man the principle which leads him to good 
action of every kind. The love of God and Man, 
moving to disinterested efforts for the good of the com- 
munity, is the source of all political improvement, at 
least of all that is real and lasting. And the same 
affection moves the high and self-devoted labours 
which have led to the discovery of scientific and 


philosophic truth. And thus in its onward progress 
human nature is by the very condition of that progress 
changed Into the likeness of its Maker. Why God 
should choose gradual improvement rather than Im- 
mediate perfection, this is not the place to Inquire. 
That He does so, appears from the history not only 
of the moral, but of the physical world. 

The Bible recognises Progress. The 'New Testament 
says of the Old Testament that Moses gave the Jews 
certain things for the hardness of their hearts ; not, of 
course, for their wickedness, to which God would not 
bend His law, but for their rude and uncivilized state. 
And not merely for their rudeness and want of civiliza- 
tion, but for the primitive narrowness of the circle of 
their affections : for it is only in the course of history, 
and with the increasing range of man's social vision, 
that his affection extends from the primaeval family to 
the tribe, from the tribe to the nation, and from the 
nation to mankind. And as to the New Testament 
itself, it breathes in every page boundless hope for the 
future, together with the charity which is the source of 
social effort, and with the faith which carries each man 
beyond the sensual objects of his own short life. And it 
closes with that splendid vision of the consummation of 
all Christian effort in the perfect reign of God on 
earth, from which folly attempts to cast, like an astro- 
loger, the horoscope of nations ; but which is in truth 
the last voice of Christianity, as it passes from the 
hands of the Apostles and commits itself to the dark 
and dangerous tide of human affairs, breaking forth in 
the assurance of final victory. 


The true spiritual life of the world commenced in 
the Chosen People. He who denies this would seem 
to deny not a theory of Inspiration, but a great and 
manifest fact of history. But the spiritual life com- 
menced under an earthly mould of national life similar 
in all respects, political, social and literary, to those of 
other races. The Jewish nation, in short, was a na- 
tion, not a miracle. Had it been a miracle, it might 
have shewn forth the power of God, like the stars in 
heaven, but it would have been nothing to the rest of 
mankind, nor could its spiritual life have helped to 
awaken theirs ^. 

This commencement of the spiritual life was marked 
by the appearance (1) of a Cosmogony which, unlike 
those of heathen nations, gave a true account of the 
origin of the world and of Man, and a true account 
of the relations between Man and his Creator; (2) of 
a series of histories written on a moral and religious 
principle, and still unrivalled among historical writings 
for the steadiness with which this, the true key to 
history, is kept in view ; (3) of a body of religious 
literature, in the shape of hymns, reflections, preach- 
ings, apologues, which though not Christian, and there- 
fore not to be indiscriminately used by Christians, was 
wholly unapproached among the heathen ; (4) of a Code 
of Laws the beneficence of which is equally unapproached 
by any code, and least of all by any Oriental code, not 
produced under the influence of Christianity. 

This code of laws takes the rude institutions of a 
primitive nation, including Slavery, as they stand, 

** See the Author's work on Rational Religion, p. 50. 


not changing society by miracle, which, as has been 
said before, seems to have been no part of the purposes 
of God. But while it takes these institutions as they 
stand, it does not perpetuate them, but reforms them, 
mitigates them, and lays on them restrictions tending 
to their gradual abolition. Much less does it introduce 
any barbarous institution or custom for the first time. 

To shew that this principle is not invented for the 
case of Slavery, we will try to verify it in some other 
cases first. It will be the more worth while to do this, 
because if the principle be sound, it may help to relieve 
the distress caused by doubts as to the morality of the 
Old Testament on other points as well as on the ques- 
tion now in issue. It may do this at a less expense 
than that of supposing the existence of two different 
Moralities, one for God, the other for Man, and thus 
making Man worship, what to his mind must be, an 
immoral God. 

In times before the reign of Law, justice was done on 
the murderer by the nearest kinsman of the murdered 
as Avenger of Blood. Such justice was a degree better 
than no justice ; and a custom which assigned the sacred 
duty of revenge to a particular person, instead of leaving 
it to any chance hand, was the first step towards the 
appointment of a regular magistrate. This institution 
seems to have been universal among primitive tribes. 
A relic of it lingered in the law of this country till 
the reign of George III., when Wager of Battle having 
been demanded in a case of murder by the nearest of 
kin against the murderer, as a common law right, the 
demand was with difficulty evaded. 


The law of Moses accordingly recognises the Aveno«er 
of Blood, (Numb, xxxv., &c.) 

But the custom was liable to great abuses, which 
were apt to make it a step backwards instead of for- 
wards in morality and civilization. (1.) The same re- 
venge was taken for blood however shed, whether wil- 
fully or accidentally, which confounded men's notion 
of crime, and in fact multiplied murders. (2.) When 
covetousness overcame revenge, and the slain kins- 
man was not very dear, a sum of money (called by 
our German ancestors the tvehrgeld) was taken for his 
blood instead of the blood of the slayer ; and this prac- 
tice grew into a regular system, which destroyed the 
distinction between crime and civil injury, took away 
the sanctity of human life, the foundation-stone of 
civilization, and moreover sharpened barbarous divi- 
sions of class, since the price of a man's blood was as- 
sessed in the tariff according to his rank. (3.) Revenge 
became hereditary, and blood feuds arose between family 
and family or clan and clan, which filled the world with 
slaughter. Such blood feuds were common in the High- 
lands while the old clans existed, and they are still 
common among the wild tribes of Syria and in other 
parts of the East. 

Now (1) the law of Moses expressly distinguishes 
wilful murder from accidental homicide, and confines 
the office of the Avenger of Blood to wilful murder. 
"And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, 
so that he die, he is a murderer : the murderer shall 
surely be put to death. ... Or if he smite him with a hand 
weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he 


is a murderer : the murderer shall surely be put to death. 
The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer : 
when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he 
thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, 
that he die ; or in enmity smite him with his hand, 
that he die : he that smote him shall surely be put to 
death ; for he is a murderer : the revenger of blood 
shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him. But 
if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast 
upon him anything without laying of wait, or with any 
stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and 
cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, 
neither sought his harm : then the congregation shall 
judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood ac- 
cording to these judgments : and the congregation shall 
deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of 
blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the 
city of his refuge, whither he was fled : and he shall 
abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which 
was anointed with the holy oil ^" (2.) The taking of 
money as a satisfaction for blood is strictly forbidden. 
" Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer 
which is guilty of death : but he shall be surely put 
to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him 
that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should 
come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the 
priest^.'' (3.) Hereditarj^ blood feuds are forbidden 
with equal strictness ^. *' The fathers shall not be put 
to death for the children, neither shall the children be 

«= Numb. XXX. 16—25. ^ Ibid., v. 31, 32. 

^ Deut. xxiv. 16. 


put to death for the fathers : every man shall be put 
to death for his own sin/* 

By providing judges in all the tribes to do equal 
justice between man and man^, and by calling the 
congregation to judge between the slayer and the 
avenger of blood ^, Moses secures the speedy departure 
of the need of private revenge and the speedy advent 
of a reign of public law. 

The right of Asylum is another primitive institution 
which is recognised by the Law of Moses ; and which 
was not without use in its day, as the history of the 
Middle Ages, no less than that of the more ancient 
barbarism, can bear witness. It gave vengeance time 
for reflection, and in default of a magistrate armed 
with sufficient powers, helped to prevent society from 
becoming a slaughter-house. But this institution also 
was liable to the grossest abuses. It sheltered the wil- 
ful murderer as well as him who had killed a man acci- 
dentally or in self-defence, and in the case of wilful 
murder led to a final defeat of justice. Being con- 
nected with holy places and the priests who kept them, 
it bred gross superstition. For the same reason, and 
because the asylum was a source of power and profit to 
the priests, asylums were multiplied till they gave im- 
punity to crime. In the reign of Tiberius the Roman 
Government found it necessary to interfere with the 
growing license of setting up asylums in the Greek 
cities of the Empire. " The temples were filled with 
the vilest of the slaves ; the same receptacles sheltered 

^ Deut. i. 16. ^ Numb. xxxv. 24. 


debtors from their creditors and persons suspected of 
capital offences from justice. And authority was un- 
able to restrain the fanatical violence of the people, who 
protected the crimes of men as a part of the worship of 
the Gods." 

Here, too, the Mosaic law abstains from abolishing 
the custom, which could not have been done without 
antedating the progress of society and taking man out 
of his own hands; but it guards against the abuse. 
The cities of refuge were not to be for the wilful 
murderer, but " that the slayer may flee thither which 
killeth any person at imaivares ^J" " These six cities 
shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and 
for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them : 
that every one that killeth any person unaivares may 
flee thither ^^^ The number of the places of refuge is 
strictly limited to six ; and they are to be cities, not 
holy places to which any superstition could attach. 
Further to guard against such superstition, it is ex- 
pressly declared that the holiest of all holy places shall 
not shelter the criminal. "But if a man come pre- 
sumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with 
guile ; thou shalt take him from Mine altcWy that he 
may die ^." 

In other nations of antiquitj^, and in Europe during 
the Middle Ages, the fugitive had to take up his abode 
for life in the asylum or sanctuary ; at least he could 
never leave it with safety : and thus these places be- 
came nests of crime, as the neighbourhoods of some of 
them, Westminster for instance, are at the present day. 

^ Numb. XXXV. 11. ' lb. 15. '' Exod. xxi. 14. 


The Hebrew Law guards against this by providing that 
the fugitive shall be required to remain in the city of 
refuge only till the death of the high priest, after which 
he may leave it with impunity. " If the slayer shall 
at any time come without the border of the city of his 
refuge, whither he was fled ; and the revenger of blood 
find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, 
and the revenger of blood kill the slayer ; he shall not 
be guilty of blood : because he should have remained in 
the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest : 
but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall 
return into the land of his possession ^" 

Again, in Patriarchal times, the family being the State, 
and the only government being that of the father of the 
family, the father, as supreme ruler, had the power of 
life and death over his child. Among the Romans, 
tenacious of all old institutions and full of the lust of 
dominion abroad and at home, this power, undeT the 
name of patria ^wtestas, was retained long after the state 
of society by which alone it was justified had passed 
away. It remained a hideous and disgraceful relic of bar- 
barism amidst the meridian light of Roman jurispru- 
dence; and Erixon, a Roman knight, put his son to 
death in the time of Seneca. The power extended 
over the wife as well as over the child. It was exer- 
cised by the Roman father arbitrarily and privately ; so 
that till public feeling at last put it down, there was no 
check on it whatever. 

Now the law of Moses, coming at a time when a 
national government had not been completely formed, 
1 Numb. XXXV. 26—28. 


and tlie family had not yet been completely brought 
under the State, abstains from directly abolishing the 
father's power ; but it places it under restrictions which 
amount as nearly as possible to abolition. "If a man 
have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey 
the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and 
that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken 
unto them : then shall his father and his mother lay 
hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his 
city and unto the gate of his place j and they shall say 
unto the elders of his city. This our son is stubborn 
and rebellious, he will not obey our voice ; he is a 
o^lutton and a drunkard. And all the men of his city 
shall stone him with stones, that he die : so shalt thou 
put evil away from among you ; and all Israel shall 
hear and fear.'^ Here, we see, (1) the concurrence of 
the mother as well as of the father in the death of the 
child, (2) a definite charge, and (3) a public proceeding 
before a solemn tribunal are required. It may safely 
be said that a power so limited would not be abused. 

So, too. Polygamy prevailed in primitive times : and 
in those times there might be a ground for it. When 
there was no government or law to protect the weak, a 
woman was absolutely dependent on the protection of 
a husband or a son, and if she had remained unmarried 
she would have been the helpless prey of violence and 
lust. Not only so, but, when the family was all in all, 
she woidd have been a miserable outcast on the face 
of the earth. And, as usual, sentiment accommodated 
itself to the state of society : so that afiection was not 
wounded, nor the dignity of woman degraded, by a 


double marriage. Leah and Kachel are, and would 
necessarily be, as unconscious of impurity and therefore 
in soul as pure, as two daughters of one father. It did 
not follow that men were never to rise from the lower 
state of ^society into the higher ; or that a relapse 
into polygamy, now that woman needs no protection 
but that of the law, and has become conscious of her 
due position, would be anything but brutality and 

The Hebrew lawgiver could not have forbidden poly- 
gamy without changing the state of society by a mi- 
racle, or breeding confusion, and doing a wrong in 
some cases to woman. But he does not perpetuate or 
encourage it : he recognises it only to mitigate its 
evils. "If a man have two wives, one beloved, and 
another hated, and they have born him children, both 
the beloved and the hated ; and if the firstborn son be 
hers that was hated : then it shall be, when he maketh 
his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not 
make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of 
the hated, which is indeed the firstborn ; but he shall 
acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by 
giving him a double portion of all that he hath : for he 
is the beginning of his strength ; the right of the first- 
born is his °^." 

Shall we say, then, with these things before us, 
that the Bible sanctions Private Revenge, the right 
of Asylum for criminals, the exercise of a power of 
life and death by parents over their children, or the 
practice of Polygamy ; that it establishes these as 
•n Deut. xxi. 15—17. 


divine institutions intended for all time ; and enjoins 
the revival of them, where they have been allowed to 
fall out of use, in civilized and Christian lands ? 

The Mosaic laws of war for the present day would 
be very inhuman : for that day, and compared with 
the practices blazoned on the triumphal monuments of 
Assyrian and Egyptian warriors, they were humane. 
" When thou com est nigh unto a city to fight against 
it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it 
make thee answer of peace and open unto thee, then 
it shall be, that all the people that is found therein 
shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serA^e 
thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will 
make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it ; and 
when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine 
hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the 
edge of the sword : but the women, and the little ones, 
and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the 
spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou 
shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord 
thy God hath given thee^." That which is of Moses 
and of God in this passage is the command to proclaim 
peace to a city, and give its garrison the option of 
saving their lives by becoming tributaries before pro- 
ceeding to the usual extremities of Oriental war. The 
duty of giving quarter to the garrison of a city taken 
by storm was not known to the group of primitive 
nations of which the Jews were one ; it was not known 
to the polished Athenian who massacred the inhabi- 
tants of Melos without mercy ; it was not known to the 

n Deut. XX. 10. 


combatants in the Thirty Years' War ; it was hardly 
known to Cromwell ; but it is known now. 

The Greek, when he invaded a country, not only 
wasted the harvests of the year, but cut down the 
fruit-trees, which were the permanent wealth of the 
land. It was a common threat to an enemy, that " his 
cicadas should chirp upon the ground." The precept 
of Moses is, *' When thou shalt besiege a city a long 
time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt 
not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against 
them ; for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not 
cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to 
employ them in the siege : only the trees which thou 
knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt 
destroy and cut them down ; and thou shalt build bul- 
warks against the city that maketh war with thee, 
until it be subdued." 

The heroes of Homer dras^ at once to their bed the 
unhappy woman whose city has been stormed, and 
whose kinsmen have been slaughtered before her eyes ; 
and the female captives of Achilles dare not let their 
tears flow except under cover of a feigned mourning 
for Patroclus. Nor did the captive retain any personal 
rights : she was just as the rest of the booty, and be- 
came the absolute slave of the victor's lust. But the 
Hebrew law (Deut. xxi. 10,) says, "When thou goest 
forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy 
God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou 
hast taken them captive, and seest among the captives 
a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that 
thou wouldest have her to thy wife ; then thou shalt 


bring her home to thine house ; and she shall shave 
her head, and pare her nails ; and she shall put the 
raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain 
in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother 
a full month : and after that thou shalt go in unto her, 
and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And 
it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou 
shalt let her go whither she will ; but thou shalt not 
sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make mer- 
chandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.'' 
Will this passage of Scripture be quoted as permitting 
the captors of cities in modern times to force the cap- 
tured women to become their concubines ? 

And so as to war generally. War was the universal 
state of nations in early times ; and the strong though 
coarse foundations of human character were laid in the 
qualities of the warrior. The Jews were always sur- 
rounded and always threatened by war. Therefore to 
light valiantly for his country and his Temple was part 
not only of the civil duty but of the moral training of 
a Jew, and to be with the people in the hour of battle 
and exhort them to behave bravely was part of the 
office of the priest, and consistent with the character of 
his calling. " When thou goest out to battle against 
thine enemies, and seest horses and chariots and a 
people more than thou, be not afraid of them : for the 
Lord thy God is with thee which brought thee up out 
of the land of Egj^pt. And it shall be, when ye are 
come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall ap- 
proach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto 
them, Hear, Israel, ye approach this day unto battle 


against your enemies : let not your hearts faint, fear 
not and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because 
of them ; for the Lord your God is He that goeth with 
you, to fight for you against your enemies to save you/' 

On the other hand, there is no exaltation of war 
above other callings, or of the military character above 
all other characters, such as we find in Greece, at Rome, 
and in the other heathen nations. There is none of 
that false estimate of moral qualities which produced 
the institutions of Sparta, and which partly leads Plato, 
in his ideal RepubKc, to propose that woman shall be 
trained to take part equally with man in the work of 
war. There are no provisions for triumphs or other 
military rewards ; no incentives to military ambition ; 
no rules for military education. No heaven is opened, 
as in the Koran, to those who fight bravely for the 
true God. " Peace in all your borders" is the blessing, 
though war is not a crime. And military pride, in- 
stead of being nursed, is rebuked by the words of the 
passage last quoted, which bids the Israelite put his 
trust, in the hour of battle, not in his own might, but 
in the presence of the Lord his God. 

Not only so, but wars of conquest are made almost 
impossible by the law forbidding forced service, the 
means by which the great armies of the East are raised. 
This law follows immediately upon the passage last 
quoted. "And the officers shall speak unto the people, 
saying. What man is there that hath built a new house, 
and hath not dedicated it ? let him go and return to 
his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man 
dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted 



a vineyard, and liatli not yet eaten of it ? let him also 
go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, 
and another man eat of it. And what man is there 
that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her ? 
let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the 
battle, and another man take her. And the officers 
shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, 
What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted ? 
let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's 
heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when 
the officers have made an end of speaking unto the 
people, that they shall make captains of the armies to 
lead the people °." Pythius, a wealthy Phrygian, hav- 
ing gained the favour of Xerxes by the offer of a vast 
contribution towards the expense of the expedition 
against Greece, ventured to prefer a prayer to the 
great King. His five sons were all about to serve in 
the invading army ; his prayer was that the eldest of 
them might be left behind as a stay to his own de- 
clining years, and that the service of the remaining 
four might be held sufficient. The King immediately 
ordered the eldest son of Pythius to be put to death, 
his body to be cut in two, and one half to be fixed on 
the right hand, the other on the left, on the road on 
which the army was to pass p. 

We see also that " the captains of the armies to lead 
the people" are not to be made till the people are 
actually in the field ; so that there would be no military 
caste or profession always burning to go to war. 

The God of the Hebrews, then, is not character- 
o Deut. XX. 5—9. p Herod., ii. 210; Grote, vol. v. p. 35. 


istically " a God of Battles." Compared with, the Gods 
of the other nations He is a God of Peace. Yet He 
has been taken for a God of Battles, as well as for 
a God of Slavery, and His name has been invoked in 
unjust and fanatical wars. 

To turn to politics. Monarchy of the Eastern sort 
is a barbarous form of government. Moses does not 
wish the Jews to adopt it : he wishes them to remain 
content with their free local government, the great 
men who would be raised up to them in time of need, 
their religious unity as a nation, and the monarchy of 
God. But all the nations around had kings, in whose 
hands the national strength was gathered for the 
purposes of war : and the people of Moses had known 
no poKtical aspirations not to be abandoned without 
treason to their nobler nature ; they had inherited no 
birthright of ordered freedom, the fruit of political 
effort through the past generations, not to be betrayed 
without treason to the future. There was nothing 
immoral in the institution, though it was better to 
remain without it. Therefore the lawgiver recognises 
it as one which might be,^and was likely to be, adopted, 
and sets himself to guard against the evils which 
waited on monarchy in other Eastern nations. " When 
thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy 
God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell 
therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, 
like as all the nations that are about me ; thou shalt 
in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord 
thy God shall choose : one from among thy brethren 
shalt thou set king over thee : thou mayest not set 


a stranger over thee, whicli is not thy brother. But 
he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the 
people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should 
multiply horses : forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto 
you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. 
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his 
heart turn not away : neither shall he greatly multiply 
to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he 
sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall 
write him a copy of this law in a book out of that 
which is before the priests the Levites : and it shall 
be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of 
his life : that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, 
to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to 
do them : that his heart be not lifted up above his 
brethren, and that he turn not aside from the com- 
mandment, to the right hand, or to the left : to the 
end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, 
and his children, in the midst of Israel *i." The king 
of Israel is to reign by the will of God and the choice 
of the people, not like a king of the Medes and Persians 
by the right of his birth and the sacredness of his line : 
he is to be, not a human God like the monarchs on 
Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, but a man among 
his brethren, and his heart is not to be lifted up above 
them : unlike the neighbouring despots, he is to be be- 
neath the law, which he is to study and keep, and upon 
his keeping which the continuance of his reign is to 
depend. Let this picture of a king be compared with 
the Oriental despotism of ^Nebuchadnezzar and Cam- 

1 Deut. xvii. 14—20. 


byses, or even with that more artificial tyranny of the 
Roman Emperors which has formed a model for the 
present government of France. Moreover, the king of 
Israel is not to debase himself by the lusts of the 
harem ; nor to tax his people in order to lay up a great 
treasure ; and he is strictly forbidden to multipty horses 
and chariots, which were the great instruments of 
aggressive war, the game of kings and the scourge of 

Now suppose the President of the Southern States 
were to make himself a king, with the powers of an 
Eastern monarch, could he with justice plead the 
Scripture as establishing monarchy and calling on the 
people to submit to it as a divine and universal in- 
stitution ? 

We might apply the principle to things nearer the 
sanctuary. It was the custom of all primitive nations 
to set apart certain families or a certain tribe for re- 
ligious functions ; without which, before letters, or 
before the general use of them, there could scarcely 
be any certainty or stability of religion. The priest 
caste of Egypt, the Brachmans, the Chaldees, the 
hereditary guilds which kept up the worship of certain 
Gods in ancient Greece and Italy, were ^instances of the 
kind. But this separation had a tendency to produce 
caste with all its hateful and pestilential incidents. 
Probably there is nothing more depraved or odious 
in the whole range of human aberrations than the 
relations between the Brachmans and the Sudras as 
set forth in the Hindoo laws. 

The Hebrew lawgiver sets apart the tribe of Levi to 


keep up the religion and ritual of tlie nation : but in 
the very act of setting it apart lie takes care that it 
shall not be a caste. "And the Lord spake unto 
Moses, sapng, Take the Levites from among the chil- 
dren of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou 
do unto them, to cleanse them : Sprinkle water of puri- 
fying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, 
and let them wash their clothes, and so make them- 
selves clean. Then let them take a young bullock 
with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with 
oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for 
a sin offering. And thou shalt bring the Levites 
before the tabernacle of the congregation : and thou 
shalt gather the ichole assemhly of the children of Israel 
together : and thou shalt bring the Levites before the 
Lord : and the children of Israel shall put their hands 
vpon the Levites : and Aaron shall offer the Levites 
before the Lord /or a7i offering of the children of Israel, 
that they may execute the service of the Lord'*." 
Thus the sacred tribe is ordained to its office by the lay- 
ing on of the hands of the whole people. Nor is there 
any restriction of religious knowledge and teaching to 
the Levite, as there is to the Brachmans and other 
priestly castes. The performance of the ritual alone 
is confined to the hereditary priesthood : the spiritual 
life of the nation is left free, and it finds its organs in 
the prophet and the psalmist, not in the priest. 

Yet an argument has been sought in the ordinances 
of the Old Law concerning the Levites for the establish- 
ment in the Church of Christ of a priestly Order, self- 

' Xumb. viii. 5 — 11. 


ordained, and invested not only with the exclusive 
right of performing public worship, but with the sole 
custody of religious truth. 

So with regard to the nature of the Jewish worship. 
All the nations worshipped God by sacrifice and through 
outward forms till the mind of man had been raised 
high enough to worship in spirit and in truth. The 
Hebrew lawgiver did not originate sacrificial rites ; but 
he elevated and purified them, and guarded them against 
the most horrible aberrations as to the nature of God 
and the mode of winning His favour and averting His 
wrath ; as all who know the history of heathen sacrifices, 
Eastern or Western, must perceive. The scape -goat 
has been and is a subject of much mockery to philoso- 
phers. Moses did not introduce that symbolic way of 
relieving the souls of a people from the burden of sin 
and assuring them of the mercy of God : but he took 
care that the scape- goat should be a goat, and not, as at 
polished Athens and civilized Rome, a 7nan. 

The religious system of the Jews was primitive, and 
therefore gross compared with Christian worship. It 
was spiritual compared with the religious system of the 
most refined and cultivated heathen nations. Never- 
theless, to those who did not consider it in this com- 
parative point of view, or with reference to the time of 
its institution, it has supplied arguments for intro- 
ducing unspiritual forms, and something resembling 
sacrifice, into Christian worship. 

It has been said by enemies of the Bible, with some 
exaggeration, but also unfortunately with some truth, 
that modern fanatics " feed their pride on the language 


of the Chosen people." This is another case of the 
same kind. In ancient times, before Humanity was 
one, each nation was the " Chosen people" of a God 
of its own: but the Hebrew nation was the Chosen 
people of the true God. And as the Chosen people 
of the true God, the Jews were taught, compared 
with other nations, not national pride but national 
humility. They were taught, not that they had 
sprung of a divine seed and won their land by their 
own might and valour, but that "a Syrian ready to 
perish was their father;" that they had been bonds- 
men in the land of Egypt ; and that they had been 
brought out of their bondage, not by their own arm 
but by the arm of their God, to Whom they owed their 
land and all they had. " And now, Israel, what doth 
the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord 
thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and 
to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with 
all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, 
and His statutes, which I command thee this day for 
thy good? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of 
heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all 
that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy 
fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after 
them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and 
be no more stiff-necked. For the Lord your God is 
God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, 
and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh 
reward : He doth execute the judgment of the father- 
less and widow, and Icveth the stranger, in giving him 


food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger : for 
ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt 
fear the Lord thy God ; Him shalt thou serve, and to 
Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His Name. He is 
thy praise, and He is thy God, that hath done for thee 
these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have 
seen. Thy fathers went down into Egypt with three 
score and ten persons ; and now the Lord thy God hath 
made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude ^'' 
This, though the language of a " Chosen People," is, 
compared with the self-praise of the Greeks and Ro- 
mans, far from being the language of national pride. 
Yet there are some expressions in the passage which 
could not be used without fanaticism, by any nation or 
community, now that we know the relation in which 
all men alike stand to God, and to each other. 

Finally, to ascend to the highest sphere of all, the 
Hebrews had, like other ancient nations, a national 
Deity, whose name was Jehovah. The national Deity 
of the Hebrews, unlike those of other nations, was 
God indeed. All His attributes were those of the true 
God, though but partially revealed : and His worship 
has consequently passed into the worship of the Uni- 
versal Father without break or incongruity, as the light 
of dawn brightens and broadens into the light of day. 
But it is as God the universal Father of all that He 
is worshipped by Christians, not as Jehovah the Deity 
of the Hebrew nation. 

» Deut. X. 12—22. 



Having tlius seen the relation of the Old Testament 
to primitive institutions, customs, and ideas generally, 
we come to the particular case of Slavery. 

Slavery is found existing in all barbarous nations, 
from the Chinese to the ancient Germans. Civilized 
nations have gradually emerged from it. Russia, the 
last born of civilization, has just emancipated her serfs. 
Within the pale of Christendom, the institution now 
remains only in the Slave-owning communities of 
America, and in the dependencies of Spain. And in 
these countries it is found in connection with a certain 
kind of agriculture, which is supposed to require negro 
labourers working in large gangs. In the Dutch de- 
pendency of Java it exists in a qualified form, and the 
party of humanity in Holland is now demanding its 

The authors of the Declaration of Independence, on 
which the American Constitution, for the Slave as 
well as for the Free States, is founded, say, " We hold 
these truths to be self-evident ; that all men are created 
equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with 
certain inalienable rights ; that among these are life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; and that to 
secure these rights, governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of 
the governed." Supposing the negro to be a man, the 
Slave-owners who have set their hands to these senti- 



ments have pronounced the doom of their own insti- 
tution and saved its adversaries further trouble. But 
it must in fairness to them be owned that they have 
set their hands to too much. It can scarcely be held 
that liberty, political or personal, is the inalienable 
right of every human being. Children possess neither 
political nor personal liberty, till they arrive at what 
the law, a law which they had no share in making, 
pronounces to be years of discretion. Women have no 
political liberties, and married women have personal 
liberties only of a very qualified kind. Under despotic 
governments, the immorality of which can scarcely be 
held to be in all cases self-evident, no one has j)olitical 
liberty. Even under constitutional governments where 
the suffrage is limited, as it is to some extent in most 
of those which are commonly called free countries, the 
unenfranchised classes are as destitute of political 
liberty as the subjects of a despotism. The politiQal 
power which commands their obedience is vested, it is 
true, in a greater number of hands, and is on that 
account more controlled by the influence of opinion, 
and less liable to gross abuse; but it commands their 
obedience as absolutely and as irrespectively of their 
own consent, as though it were that of a despotic 
Prince. The equality between man and man on which 
this indefeasible claim to political and personal liberty 
is founded, is in truth rather a metaphysical notion 
than a fact. JSTot only children and the weaker sex, 
but the great mass of men, are so constituted by nature, 
or so circumstanced, as to be inevitably dependent 
upon others ; and to say that they have an equal right 


to independence with, those on whom they are neces- 
sarily dependent, would be an abuse, or at least a very 
barren use, of words. That to which every moral being 
has an indefeasible right, besides life, is the "pursuit 
of happiness." In other words, he has a right to have 
his moral interests considered and respected, and not 
to be treated as a being having no moral interests 
of his own, — a mere *' living tool," as the slave is called 
by Aristotle, or a " chattel personal," as he is called by 
the American law. Every moral being has a right, in 
other words, to be treated by the community as a per- 
son, and not as a thing. And in every state of society 
which is sound, however primitive it may be, and how- 
ever remote from our advanced ideas of political and 
personal liberty, these conditions of respecting the 
moral interests of each member, and of treating each 
member as a person, not as a thing, are fulfilled. One 
njan may be dependent upon another to any extent, in 
certain circumstances he may be absolutely dependent, 
without prejudice to the morality of the relations be- 
tween them. But morality is at once violated when 
the interest of one man is sacrificed to that of another, 
and a state of things then commences noxious to the 
moral being of both parties, and more noxious to the 
moral being of him who commits, than to that of him 
who endures the wrong. Judge Euffin of North Caro- 
lina, in giving judgment on the extent of the master's 
dominion over the slave in that country, said, '^ The 
question before the Court has indeed been assimilated 
at the bar to the other domestic relations ; and arsru- 
ments drawn from the well-established principles which 


confer and restrain tlie authority of tlie parent over 
the child, the tutor over the pupil, the master over the 
apprentice, have been pressed on us. The Court does 
not recognise their application. There is no likeness 
between the cases. They are in opposition to each 
other, and there is an impassable gulf between them. 
The difference is that which exists between freedom 
and slavery, and a greater cannot be imagined. In 
the one, the end in view is the happiness of the youth, 
born to equal rights with that governor, on whom the 
duty devolves of training the young to usefulness in 
a station which he is afterwards to assume among 
freemen. To such an end, and with such a subject, 
moral and intellectual instruction seem the natural 
means ; and for the most part they are found to suffice. 
Moderate force is superadded, only to make the others 
effectual. If that fail, it is better to leave the party to 
his own headstrong passions, and the ultimate correc- 
tion of the law, than to allow it to be immoderately in- 
flicted by a private person. With slavery it is far 
otherwise. The end is the profit of the master, his 
security, and the public safety ; the subject, one doomed 
in his own person and his posterity to live without 
knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything 
his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits. 
"What moral considerations shall be addressed to such 
a being, to convince him what it is impossible but that 
the most stupid must feel and know can never be true, 
— that he is thus to labour upon a principle of natural 
duty, or for the sake of his own personal happiness. 
Such services can only be expected from one who has 


no will of his own, who surrenders his will in implicit 
obedience to that of another." 

The relation thus judicially described is an immoral 
relation, because it sacrifices not merely the personal 
or political liberties, but the moral interests of one 
party to the other. It is a relation, therefore, which 
could never exist in any state of society, however rude, 
which was founded on morality; nor be sanctioned 
under any dispensation really emanating from the 
Author of our moral nature. But a relation of the 
most complete dependence may be perfectly moral. 
Nothing is more moral than the relation between a 
mother and her infant child. 

Let us observe also that the relation described by 
the words of Judge Ruffin is perfectly definite and 
distinct. It is that of a slave, not that of a servant 
bound for a term of years or for life, or even of a 
hereditary bondman who retains any personal rights 
and is not wholly devoted to the profit and pleasure 
of his master. There can be no pretence for refining 
it away into a ' certain condition of the labourer, acci- 
dentally denoted by a name derived from the hatred 
felt by other nations for the Sclavonic race.' We may 
be permitted to add, that this definite relation is 
marked by definite characteristics, in regard to the 
treatment of women, of fathers and of husbands, which 
are well known to the whole civilized world. 

On approaching the question from the side of the 
Old Testament, we are met by an assertion which, 
if it be true, sweeps the field of controversy at once. 
It is said that we are bound to keep the negro race 


in bondage for ever in order to fulfil the inspired 
prophecy of Noah, " Cursed be Canaan ; a servant of 
servants shall he be unto his brethren. . . . Blessed be 
the Lord God of Shem ; and Canaan shall be his ser- 
vant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell 
in the tents of Shem ; and Canaan shall be his ser- 
vant." So scrupulous is the reverence of the Slave- 
owners for Scripture, so great is their zeal for God's 
honour, that upon a merely conjectural interpretation 
of a passage in the most obscure and difficult part of 
the Bible, they feel bound to condemn to hopeless 
slavery on their plantations a whole race of mankind 
who, in common with the other races, have been re- 
deemed by Christ. 

To all arguments of this kind there is, in the first 
place, a very simple answer, which has already been 
given, in effect, to those who thought it their duty as 
Christians to fulfil inspired prophecy by denying civil 
rights to the Jews. Man is not charged with the ful- 
filment of inspired prophecy, which, whatever he may 
do, will certainly fulfil itself; but he is charged with 
the performance of his duty to his neighbour. It is 
not incumbent upon him to preserve Divine Foreknow- 
ledge from disappointment, but it is incumbent upon 
him to preserve his own soul from injustice, cruelty, 
and lust. If the prophecy had meant that the negroes 
should alwaj^'s be slaves, it would have been defeated 
already, for a great part of the negroes in Africa 
have never become slaves, and those in the English 
and French colonies, besides a good many in America 
itself, have ceased to be so. 


In the second place, those who found slavery on 
a doom pronounced against the negro race must say 
no more about the recognition of their institution by 
the law of Moses or by the New Testament, for the 
slavery recognised by the law of Moses and the New 
Testament was not that of negroes, but of other races. 

But the truth is, that the words of Noah, to whomso- 
ever they may apply, are no prophecy, but only a curse, 
couched in the language of Oriental malediction ; and 
all curses have been taken away by Christ. This curse 
was taken away even before Christ, when Abraham 
was told that " in his seed all the nations of the earth 
should be blessed." 

To come, then, to that which is more to the pur- 
pose. The latest researches of historical philosophy 
seem to lead us back to the simplest and most natural 
theory of the origin of society, and to shew us that 
the political s^^stems which now fill the world, with all 
their grandeur and complexity, once lay enfolded in 
the Patriarch's tent. So that in the Patriarchal chief 
of an Arabian tribe we still see the father of Empires 
and Republics ^. 

While society was in the Patriarchal state, each 
family or tribe being independent of the rest, there 
was of course no general government. The only go- 
vernment was the family despotism, which, as we have 
already had occasion to observe, was prolonged among 
the Romans, through hatred of change and love of 
power, into a much later stage of civilization. The 
only law for every member of the famity was the 

* See Maine's Aucient Law, ch. v. 


father's will, which, is now merged, for all children 
who have come to manhood, in the law of the State. 
His lips pronounced the blessing and the curse, which 
can now be pronounced without absurdity only by the 
moral judgment of society at large. Such a despotism 
was in fact necessary to the existence of each of these 
primitive communities. Had it been bound together by 
any looser bond, it would have perished in the perpetual 
contest with its competitors for the hunting-ground, 
the pasture, and the springs of water, or have been 
swallowed up by the wilderness, amidst the terrors 
and dangers of which these little germs of social exist- 
ence must have hung between life and death. 

It is on this state of society, but at a late period of 
it, that the history of the Hebrews opens. The ori- 
ginal family has broadened into a tribe or clan by 
taking into it members not of its own blood ; the 
wreck, perhaps, of other families which had perished 
in the primaeval struggle for existence. These new 
members are servants to the head of the tribe, on 
whose protection their lives must depend. JN^ations 
with regular governments, and distinctions of class, 
have been formed in the countries on the edge of 
which Abraham and his tribe wander. In these na- 
tions slavery exists. Its first source probably was war ; 
a further supply being obtained, when the value of the 
slave to the indolent warrior was felt, by piracy and 
kidnapping. The traffic in men, which is the strongest 
evidence of the existence of Slavery in the true sense 
of the term, has commenced. Abraham himself, from 
his commerce with slave-owning nations, has servants 



" bought with, his money/' as well as servants " born 
in his house." 

But the bondage of Abraham's servants, whether 
born in his house or bought with his money, can 
scarcely be called slavery. It is domestic, not merely 
in the modern, but in the patriarchal sense of the term. 
In the lonely encampment the head of the tribe must 
live entirely wath his servants. He has no other com- 
panions or friends. He is not a member of a class of 
freemen, nor are they members of a class of slaves : 
no feeling of contempt therefore can arise in his mind, 
nor of degradation in theirs. He and his children 
work as they do. Jacob seethes the pottage while 
Esau seeks food by hunting, and the patriarch feels it 
no disgrace to serve Laban as a common herdsman. 

The son is a bondman as well as the servant. Under 
the family despotism of the Romans he could obtain 
his liberty only by thrice going through the form of 
being sold by his father as a slave ; and then he ceased 
to be, in the fullest sense, a member of the family. 
The eldest son alone was distinguished above the rest 
of those " in the father's hand," by having the birth- 
right and being the destined head of the tribe in his 
turn. And if there was no son, a bondman took the 
inheritance. " And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt 
Thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward 
of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ? And Abram 
said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed : and, lo, 
one born in my house is mine heir"." 

When the family rite of circumcision, the pledge of 

" Gen. XV. 2, 3. 



religious unity, is performed, all the bondmen, whether 
born in the house or bought with money, are circum- 
cised. " And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all 
that were born in his house, and all that were bought 
with his money, every male among the men of Abra- 
ham's house ; and circumcised the flesh of their fore- 
skin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him ^J' 
" He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought 
with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and My 
covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting 

Here is the picture of Patriarchal Bondage : *' And 
Abraham was old, and well stricken in age : and 
the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And 
Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, 
that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy 
hand under mj thigh : and I will make thee swear by 
the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, 
that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the 
daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell : but 
thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, 
and take a wife unto my son Isaac And the ser- 
vant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and 
departed ; for all the goods of his master were in his 
hand : and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto 
the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel 
dow^n without the city by a well of water at the time 
of the evening, even the time that women go out to 
draw water. And he said, Lord God of my master 
Abraham, I pray Thee, send me good speed this day, 

^ Gen. xvii. 23. 


and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, 
I stand here by the well of water ; and the daughters 
of the men of the city come out to draw water : and 
let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall 
say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray the9, that I may 
drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy. 
camels drink also : let the same be she that Thou hast 
appointed for Thy servant Isaac ; and thereby shall 
I know that Thou hast shewed kindness unto my 
master ^.'^ 

In the picture, on which the evening sun of a long- 
vanished world here falls, we see, it may safely be said, 
a relation widely different from that which is painted 
in the decision of Judge Ruffin. It is a relation of 
perfect affection and confidence, of complete identity of 
interest, between the master and the servant. If the 
analogies of tutor and pupil, master and apprentice, 
which Judge Ruffin rejects in the case of American 
Slavery, are not applicable in this case, it is only be- 
cause the strongest of them is too weak : and assuredly 
the term " chattel personal" applied to the steward as 
he stands by the well praying God to be good to his 
master, would grate strangely on our ears. 

This passage illustrates not only the position of the 
bondman in the family, but the relative position of the 
son. We see that in the matter of marriage, he was 
entirely "in his father^s hand." So in the Roman 
family, the father could marry any one of his children 
or of their children, and divorce them, at his pleasure. 

r Gen. xxiv. 1—4, 10—14. 


That tlie father, in the patriarchal state, as well as at 
E-ome, had the power of life an^ death over the son, as 
much as he could have it over the bondman, we see 
from the story in which Abraham consents to sacrifice 
Isaac, without any scruple on the ground of moral 
right, though doubtless with the deepest feelings of 
paternal sorrow. Ignorance of this fact has led to 
mistaken judgments, sometimes expressed in ver}^ 
strong language, as to the morality of the story, which, 
in its issue, is an abrogation of human sacrifices, such 
as were offered by the neighbouring nations, who made 
their children pass through the fire to Moloch. 

It will also be seen from the same passage that the 
oath of a bondman was as good as that of a freeman. 
'^ Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh : and I 
will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, 
and the God of the earth," &c. In Greece during the 
classical times, or at Rome, a bondman's oath would 
have been worth little. It would scarcely have been 
supposed that the Gods stooped to guard the faith or 
punish the perjury of a Slave. 

The servant prays to God and blesses Him as " the 
God of his master Abraham" because the persons of all 
the tribe were gathered up as it were into the sacred 
person of the chief, and came into relation with God 
and with other tribes through him. So at Rome, the 
father of the family represented all its members before 
the Gods and the State. 

Laban, the free head of a family, receives Abraham's 
servant quite as an equal. ^'And he said, Come in, 
thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou 


without ? for I have prepared the house, and room for 
the camels." And onijthe other hand, Jacob, though 
he has the birthright, and is to be head of his tribe, 
binds himself to serve Laban for twice seven years, not 
exactly as a bondman, but doing the same kind of 
work as the bondmen did, and surrendering his per- 
sonal liberty to his master in a way which would not 
now be permitted (except in the peculiar case of mili- 
tary service) by the laws of any country in which 
civilized morality prevails. 

The identity of interest between the Patriarchal 
chief and his servant, and the reliance consequently 
placed by the chief in the servant's loyalty, which we 
have noted in the story of Abraham's steward, appear 
elsewhere also. " When Abraham heard that his bro- 
ther (Lot) was taken captive, he armed his trained 
servants, born in his own house, three hundred and 
eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan." The herdmen 
of Abraham and Lot (Gen. xiii.) and the herdmen of 
Isaac and Gerar (Gen. xxvi.) strive of their own 
accord for the pastures and the wells of springing 
water, evidently regarding the interest of their master 
as their own. 

So much respecting the nature of bondage in the 
patriarchal state. It seems to bear little resemblance 
to the condition of the gangs of negro chattels who 
are driven out under the lash of an overseer to plant 
cotton in America, and who are slaves to the tyrannical 
cruelty and lust of the white members of their owner's 
famil}^, as well as to the avarice of their owner. When 
we find a negro standing in the same relation to his 

American slavery ? 39 

master, and to Ms master's son, in wliicli Eliezer stood 
to Abraham and Isaac, and when we find in negro 
slavery the other characteristics of bondage as it ex- 
isted in the tents of Abraham and his descendants, 
we may begin to think that the term "Patriarchal" 
is true as applied to the Slavery of Virginia and 

sectio:n^ hi. 

"When we come to the time of Moses and his laws, 
we find society at a more advanced stage. The families 
have become united in the tribe; and the tribes are 
fast blending into the nation. All the features of na- 
tional life will now appear. Classes will be formed, 
and the difference between the freeman and the bond- 
man will be distinctly felt. The State, though in 
a rude shape, will take the place of the head of the 
family as the ruler and protector of all : so that the 
protection afforded by his master will no longer make 
up to the bondman for the loss of personal liberty. 
The time is fast approaching when bondage will be- 
come an evil and a wrong. 

Still, that time has not yet quite arrived. Societ}^ 
is not yet so settled, nor law so paramount, but that 
protection may be sometimes better for the poor man 
than independence. The history of the Book of Judges 
is filled with violence: and the passages of the Law 
which speak of the hired labourer and assert his rights 


shew that his condition, before public opinion had 
begun to guard the poor, was hard, and liable to 
oppression. Achilles in Homer, when he wishes to 
express the dreariness of the realms below, says that 
he would rather be the hired labourer of a poor man 
than reign over all the Dead. 

Accordingly we find that servitude among the He- 
brews is sometimes voluntary. "And it shall be, if 
he (the bondman) say unto thee, I will not go away 
from thee ; because he loveth thee and thine house, 
because he is well with thee ; then thou shalt take an 
awl and thrust it through his ear into the door, and 
he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy 
maidservant thou shalt do likewise^.'' So in the early 
part of the Middle Ages, amidst the wild unsettlement 
of the times, many persons gave up their independence 
for the protection of a lord. 

Slavery was domestic among the Hebrews, as it is 
generally in the East. The slave would live constantly 
with his master, have daily opportunities of win- 
ning his regard, and derive from his societ}'- all the 
benefits which an inferior can derive from the society 
of a superior. On the great American plantations, on 
the contrary, the slaves live in '' quarters" of their 
own, separate from the whites : they work in the field 
by themselves all day, no white being present but the 
overseer. The master of the plantation seldom appears 
upon the scene of labour, and barely knows his hu- 
man chattels by sight. In fact, the overseer is often 
the only white with whom the slaves come into con- 

^ Deut. XV. 16, 17. 


tact the whole year round, and even he only just knows 
enough of them to call them by name^. So that there 
cannot possibly be any kind relations between master 
and slave, nor any mental training and elevation of 
the slave by intercourse with his master, such as the 
defenders of slavery would have us suppose to exist, 
and such as really existed under the Patriarchs and 
among the Hebrews in the time of Moses. If we want 
a parallel to the relations of master and slave on the 
American plantations, we must seek it not among the 
people of Jehovah, but in the gangs of Athenian slaves 
who worked the mines of Laurium, or in the " field- 
hands" who tilled the great estates of Roman nobles, 
and who dwelt like the negroes in slave quarters and 
worked in droves under the lash. The Roman writers 
on agriculture indeed might afford manuals for the 
American planters. Cato, who was a perfect model of 
the slave-owning agriculturist, advises his reader to 
" sell off his old oxen, his discarded cows and sheep, 
wool, hides, old wagons, old tools, old and sickly slaves.'* 
The sentiments of the master and bondman, and 
their education, in the age and country for which 
Moses made laws, would be much the same. No high- 
bred contempt therefore would be felt by the master 
for the slave : there would be none of the pride which 
breathes through the language held by the American 
slave-owners as to the expediency of dooming the 
lower class 'to slavery that the upper class may have 
leisure for higher cultivation. Nor had the slightest 
taint of degradation yet attached to labour, which was 
* Olmsted, Journey in the Back Country, p. 72. 


still the equal lot of all. Tlie seven daughters of 
Jethro, the priest of Midian, '' came and drew water, 
and filled the troughs to water their father's flock ^/' 
Moses keeps the sheep of his father-in-law. The 
wealthy Boaz mingles with his reapers in a way in 
which no great planter would mingle with his slave- 
gang, and he lies down himself on the threshing- 
floor to guard the corn at night. In this respect the 
feelings of men had not changed since that earlier age 
when Jacob was Laban's shepherd. 

In politics, too, we are far from those aristocratic 
liberties of republics which make slavery bitter indeed. 
In the time of Moses, the thought of political liberty 
has perhaps scarcely awakened in any breast. In the 
time of the Monarchy all are alike servants of the 

Long after this the relation between master and 
servant might serve a sacred poet as the type of a rela- 
tion which, though that of the most complete depend- 
ence, is the most beneficent as well as the holiest of all. 
"Behold, even as the eyes of servants look unto the 
hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden 
unto the hand of her mistress : even so our eyes wait 
upon the Lord our God until He have mercy upon us*'." 

In fact, the state of things among the Hebrews in 
the time of Moses very much resembles that which the 
poems of Homer disclose to us as existing in heroic 
Greece ; where society is still in course of transition 
from the family to the nation ; where slavery is domes- 
tic and on the whole mild, the lot of the slave under 

^ Exod. ii. 16. « Ps. cxxiii. 2. 


an average master being probably not worse than tbat 
of the hired labourer'^; where Paris, a king's son, keeps 
his flock on Ida, and Nausicaa, a king's daughter, goes 
out with her handmaidens to wash linen at the spring ; 
where the faithful swineherd Eumaeus stands almost 
upon a level with freemen, is treated by Ulysses as a 
friend, and is deeply attached to his master and his 
master's house ; but where, nevertheless, " A man loses 
half his manhood on the day when he becomes a slave.'' 

Such is the slavery with which the Hebrew Law- 
giver deals : and he deals with it, as it was before said 
that he deals with rude institutions generally, not to 
establish or perpetuate it, but to mitigate it, restrict it, 
and prepare the way for its aboKtion, That he did not 
introduce it we know ; since we see it existing before 
him in the Patriarchal age. 

To keep a Hebrew in perpetual bondage, except by 
his own consent, is absolutely forbidden. " If thou buy 
an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve ; and in 
the seventh he shall go out free for nothing ^." '* If 
thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be 
sold unto thee, and serve thee six years ; then in the 
seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee ^." 
"It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest 
him away free from thee ; for he hath been worth a 
double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years : 
and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou 
doest." The occurrence of the year of jubilee might 
cut the term of servitude still shorter^. And even 

•> Grote, vol. ii. p. 133. « Exod. xxi. 2. 

* Deut. XV. 12. s Levit. xxv. 41. 


while that term lasted the servant was not to be treated 
as a slave, a "living tool" or a "chattel personal." 
" If thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, 
and be sold unto thee ; thou shalt not compel him to 
serve as a bondservant : but as an hired servant, and 
as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve 
thee unto the year of jubilee : and then shall he depart 
from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall 
return unto his own family, and unto the possession of 
his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, 
which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt : they 
shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule 
over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God^." 

The bondman might choose, as we have seen, at the 
expiration of his term to remain with his master in- 
stead of accepting his liberty ; but to that end, and in 
order that a freeman might be finally divested of his 
freedom, not a mere tacit continuance of the relation, 
but a formal consent, and not only a formal consent, 
but a regular and public ceremony, was required. 
The bondman is to " say plainly" that he " loves his 
master," and that he " will not go out free." And he 
is then to be brought before the judges, and his ear is 
to be bored with an awl, as a sign that he elects to re- 
main in servitude for life. 

That the bondman when set free after six years 
might not fall into bondage again, he was to be liberally 
provided on leaving his master with the means of sub- 
sistence. " And when thou sendest him out free from 
thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty : thou shalt 

^ Levit. XXV. 39—43. 


furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy 
floor, and out of thy winepress : of that wherewith the 
Lord thy God hath blessed thee, thou shalt give unto 
him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a 
bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God 
redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing 

Moreover, the Hebrew who had been driven by poverty 
to sell himself to a stranger or a sojourner, might be 
redeemed at any time either by himself, or by his 
kinsman, on payment of the fair value of his service 
for the term yet remaining J. 

A housebreaker, not punished in the fact, and unable 
to make full restitution, is to be sold for his theft ; and 
it appears, into slavery for life ^. But this being a case 
of penal bondage, does not bear upon the present ques- 
tion. It is the counterpart not of modern slavery, but 
of modern transportation. 

Thus, so long as the law of Moses was kept, the 
bondage of a Hebrew would not be more severe, either 
in duration or in other respects, than a modern ap- 
prenticeship, nor so severe as the forced service of 
a soldier in a modern army : and he would receive 
what would be equivalent to wages in the shape of 
a gift at parting when his term expired. Such servi- 
tude was in fact not slavery at all, in the proper sense 
of the term. 

The law of Moses was not always kept in this any 
more than in other respects ; but it was not a dead 
letter. *'This is the word that came unto Jeremiah 

Deut. XV. 13 — 15. J Levit. xxv. 47. ^ Exod. xxii. 3. 


from the Lord, after that the king Zedekiah had made 
a covenant with all the people which were at Jeru- 
salem, to proclaim liberty unto them ; that every man 
should let his manservant, and every man his maid- 
servant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free ; 
that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of 
a Jew his brother. IN^ow when all the princes, and 
all the people, which had entered into the covenant, 
heard that every one should let his manservant, and 
every one his maidservant, go free, that none should 
serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, 
and let them go. But afterward they turned, and 
caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they 
had let go free, to return, and brought them into sub- 
jection for servants and for handmaids. Therefore 
the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, 
saying. Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel ; I 
made a covenant with your fathers in the day that 
I brought them forth out of the land of Eg}^3t, out 
of the house of bondmen, saying, At the end of seven 
years let je go every man his brother an Hebrew, 
which hath been sold unto thee ; and when he hath 
served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from 
thee : but your fathers hearkened not unto Me ; nei- 
ther inclined their ear. And ye were now turned, and 
had done right in My sight, in proclaiming liberty 
every man to his neighbour ; and ye had made a cove- 
nant before Me in the house which is called by My 
name : but ye turned and polluted My name, and 
caused every man his servant, and every man his 
handmaid, whom he had set at liberty at their plea- 


sure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to 
be unto you for servants and for handmaids. There- 
fore thus saith the Lord ; Ye have not hearkened unto 
Me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, 
and every man to his neighbour : behold, I proclaim 
a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the 
pestilence, and to the famine ; and I will make you 
to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth ^" 

Neither the Greek nor the Roman had any scruple 
in reducing one of his own countrymen to that per- 
manent bondage which alone can be properly called 
slavery. In the early times both of Athens and Rome, 
we find numbers of the poor reduced to slavery by the 
rich. And in the wars between Grecian states, whole 
communities when vanquished are swept into hopeless 
and irredeemable bondage by the people of their own 
race. Greece must have swarmed with Greek slaves 
after the Peloponnesian war. 

Foreign slaves the Hebrew was permitted to hold. 
'' Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou 
shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round 
about you ; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bond- 
maids. Moreover of the children of the strangers 
that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and 
of their families that are with you, which they begat 
in your land : and they shall be your possession. And 
ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children 
after you, to inherit them for a possession ; they shall 
be your bondmen for ever : but over your brethren 
the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over an- 

^ Jer. xxidv. 8 — 17. 


other with rigour"^." These words are the continua- 
tion of those before quoted from Leviticus respecting 
the liberation of Hebrew bondmen, and must be con- 
strued in connection with them. The object of the 
whole passage is to forbid the holding of Hebrew, 
not to command or encourage the holding of foreign, 
slaves. We shall presently see whether the Mosaic 
institutions tended practically to the multiplication of 
slaves of any kind. 

Fortunate, probably, in a world of bondage, was 
the bondman who served in a Hebrew household and 
under the Hebrew law ; nor would he have been mo- 
rally the gainer by being sent back from the- king- 
dom of Jehovah into that of Moloch, Baal, Kimmon, 
or Astarte. The Lawgiver knew the abominations 
of the heathen, and we shall see that he was not 
without regard for the reKgious interests of the fo- 
reign slave. 

It must be remembered also that in war, as carried 
on in ancient times, the lot of the vanquished was 
slavery, or death. To have prohibited slavery then, 
as regards foreign captives, would have been in effect 
to enact that every prisoner, of whatever age or sex, 
taken in war, should be put to death. 

The reason, however, why a Hebrew was allowed 
to hold a foreigner while he was not allowed to hold 
another Hebrew as a slave, is clear from the words of 
the law ; and it is equally clear that it is one which 
has long since passed away. The Hebrew was his 
brother, the foreigner icas not his brother. But under 
" Levit. XXV. 44—46. 


the Christian dispensation all men are brethren in 

It would be the reverse of the truth to say, with 
the Roman satirist, that the Hebrews, compared with 
the other nations of antiquit}^, were exclusive and in- 
hospitable towards foreigners and people of other reli- 
gions : that they " would not direct on his road the 
man who did not worship as they did, nor guide to the 
spring any but the circumcised/' Their law, on the 
contrary^ breathes a spirit of kindness and hospitality 
towards the stranger quite unexampled in that hard 
and inhospitable world. The Greek, though his mind 
was large and his intercourse varied, called all nations 
but his own by a name of opprobrium and contempt ; 
and his treatment of them was quite in accordance 
with that name, till one of them conquered him, when 
his former pride towards all sank into sycophancy to- 
wards the conqueror. The humane Athenians, in the 
time of Pericles, Phidias, and Sophocles, revised the list 
of citizens, and having discovered that five thousand 
persons not of pure Athenian blood had crept into the 
register, not only expelled them, but sold them all as 
slaves. The Roman had one word for foreigner and 
enemy, nor was his language belied by his conduct to- 
wards his neighbours. The Hebrew is repeatedly and 
most emphatically enjoined by his law to be kind to 
the stranger and never to oppress him ; and this on 
the ground, so humbling to national pride, that he had 
been himself an oppressed and despised dweller in 
a strange land. " Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, 
nor oppress him : for ye were strangers in the land of 



Egypt "." " Also thou slialt not oppress a stranger : 
for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were 
strangers in the land of Egypt ^/' And in a still 
more solemn passage : " For the Lord your God is God 
of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, 
and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh 
reward : He doth execute the judgment of the father- 
less and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him 
food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger : 
for ye were strangers in the land of Egj^ptP/' "Ye 
shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, 
as for one of your own country : for I am the Lord 
your God^.'' But nevertheless the Hebrew did not 
understand, nor, without a miracle which would have 
made the shadow go down two thousand years on the 
sundial of history, could he have understood the bro- 
therhood of man ; much less that higher brotherhood 
by which all men are united in Christ. 

When the scene of history opens, the nations are 
simply competitors for existence, bound together by 
no laws or sympathies, but preying on each other like 
the wild beasts of the forest, and having each its own 
national God, w^ho is an enemy to the Gods of the other 
nations. Devotion to his nation was the most com- 
prehensive, and therefore the highest, bond of affection 
which man then knew; and his moral eye could see 
nothing but patriotic virtue in the deeds of Scaevola 
and Ehud, or in the triumphal song of Deborah over 
the fall (it mattered not by what means) of the grand 

" Exod. xxii. 21, " Ibid, xxiii. 9. 

y Deut. X. 17—19. 1 Levit. xxiv. 22. 


enemy and oppressor of Israel. And tills patriotism, 
narrow as it seems to our enlarged perceptions, was 
a step in tlie training of humanity midway between 
devotion to tlie tribe and devotion to the kind. The 
rivulet found its river ; perhaps, at some far distant 
day, the river may find its sea ; and as the tribe was 
merged in the nation, the nation may be merged in the 
community of man. Already the sharp outline of na- 
tional distinction begins to be blurred by religious, in- 
tellectual, and commercial union. The time may come 
when our views may seem as narrow and our conduct 
as selfish to posterity, as the views of antiquity seem 
narrow and its conduct selfish to us. However that 
may be, whether the movement which has been going 
on since the beginning of history has now found its term 
or notj gradual progress, in which human effort should 
play its part, not miraculous anticipation of the future, 
was, as we have before said, the rule of Providence in 
dealing with the Hebrews as well as with other races. 
And a Hebrew broke no law of affection known to 
him, he did no violence to his moral nature, no in- 
jury to any one who to him was a brother, by holding 
a man of another nation as a slave. 

An American even if he had lived in the time of 
Moses, and under the Mosaic law, would not have 
been allowed by the spirit of that law to sell or hold 
as a slave a man or woman as white and essentially of 
the same race as himself, much less his own child. 
But the Americans do not live in the time of Moses, 
nor under the Mosaic law. They live in times when 
the brotherhood of man is known, and the duty of treat- 


• ing all men as brethren is understood ; they live under, 
and will be judged by, the law of Christ. 

There is indeed one passage (Exod. xxi. 7) which 
is cited by American defenders of slavery as divinely 
authorizing a Christian to sell his own child as a 
slave : " And if a man sell his daughter to be a maid- 
servant, she shall not go out as the menservants do." 
But read on, and it will appear that the passage has 
nothing to do with this matter. " If she please not 
her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then 
shall he let her be redeemed : to sell her imto a 
strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath 
dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed 
her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the 
manner of daughters. If he take him another wife ; 
her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall 
he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto 
her, then shall she go out free without money/' Clearly 
this refers to the sale and purchase of a woman, not as 
a slave, but as a wife; though a wife of an inferior 
kind, such as the concubine of the Levite in the Book 
of Judges who has fled from her lord, and whom he 
pursues to her father's house. Such a mode of provid- 
ing for a daughter and obtaining a wife was familiar 
enough to the coarseness of primitive antiquit}^ not 
only in the Jewish but in other nations. The Anglo- 
Saxons in the earliest times regularly sold their daugh- 
ters as wives, and their laws speak of buj^ing women 
in the plainest terms. The recognition of the practice 
in the Mosaic law is important to the present question, 
as shewing us that it is with the earliest and rudest 


state of society that we are dealing. But it in no way 
authorizes a Christian to sell his daughter as a slave. 

Among the Eomans the master had absolute power 
of life and death over the slave. Still more had he the 
power of punishing him to any extent, and doing him 
any bodily injury he pleased. It was not till the time 
of Seneca, when influences closely connected with 
Christianity, if not Christianity itself, had begun to 
work on Roman Jurisprudence, that the power of the 
master was in any way limited, or that the person of 
the slave received any protection from the law. Yedius 
PoUio, a wealthy Eoman, and a friend of Augustus, 
used, when his slaves displeased him, to throw them 
alive into his fishpond to feed his lampreys. One day 
a slave w^ho had broken a crystal goblet, flung himself 
at the feet of the Emperor, who was supping with 
Pollio, praying, not that his life might be spared, but 
that he might not be given as food to the fishes. 
Augustus rebuked, but did not punish or even discard, 
his friends " If," says Horace, " a man is thought 
mad who crucifies his slave for having filched some- 
thing from a dish which he has taken ofl" the table, 
how much more mad must he be who cuts his friend 
for a trifling ofience^" The Roman lady in Juvenal 
orders a cross to be set up for a slave, and when 
her husband asks the reason of the punishment, and 
desires her to pause before she takes away a man^s 
life, she ridicules the notion that a slave is a man, 
and says that her will is reason enough. 

' Dion Cassius, liv. 23 ; Senec. De Ira, iii. 40 ; De Clem, xviii. 
« Hor. Sat., i. iii. 80. 


The Hebrew Lawgiver does not set aside the general 
constitution of the family, and the general prerogatives 
of its head. He could not have done so without tear- 
ing up the very foundations of society in that age. 
But he places the life and limb of the slave for the 
first time under the protection of the law. "And if 
a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and 
he die under his hand ; he shall be surely punished. 
Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall 
not be punished : for he is his money ^.'' " And if 
a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his 
maid, that it perish ; he shall let him go free for his 
eye's sake. And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, 
or his maidservant's tooth ; he shall let him go free for 
his tooth's sake"." 

This, no doubt, is one of the things given to the 
Jews because of the hardness of their hearts ; because 
they had not as yet attained, nor could they as yet 
have attained, the high social morality of modern and 
Christian times. The protection afforded by this law to 
the person of the slave is small in itself; but it is 
a great step in humanity compared with his totally un- 
protected condition among the Romans, far more ad- 
vanced in general civilization as they were, and even 
with the protection afforded him among the Anglo- 
Saxons, not only in their heathen state, but after their 
conversion to Christianity. *'In the earliest period," 
says a writer on Anglo-Saxon institutions, " the master 
had the power of life and death over the slave, and 
with it all the inferior rights which flow from it. 
' Exod. xxi. 20. ™ Ibid. xxi. 26, 27. 


In the exercise of this terrible power, both the early 
continental Germans and their Anglo-Saxon descend- 
ants abstained from acts of deliberate cruelty. It was 
not usual with the Germans to punish their slaves with 
whips or chains, or to oppress them with uncertain 
exactions. No law, however, protected their lives ; and 
though they were never put to death deliberately, they 
were often slain in fits of passion. The earliest laws of 
the Anglo-Saxons were in accordance with Germanic 
customs. They permitted the master to put his slave to 
death when, where, and how he pleased ; and the first 
modification of this barbarous right, which emanated 
from the clergy, was so slight, that it could have but 
little influence on national manners'^." Even the in- 
tentional beating to death of a slave was punished only 
by penitential fasting, the rigour of which Anglo-Saxon 
casuistry found means efiectually to evade. And for 
the knocking out an eye or tooth the Church advised 
the master to give the slave his freedom, but the law 
did not compel it. 

The expression " he shall be surely punished'' in the 
Hebrew law just cited, is indefinite ; and MIchaelis 
thinks that it cannot be taken as meaning capital 
punishment, though no fine or other secondary punish- 
ment is specified. But it must be observed that the 
law speaks not of wilful murder, but of excessive chas- 
tisement inflicted by the ''rod" of the master and un- 
intentionally resulting in death. There seems to be 
nothing to take the wilful murder of a bondman, 
whether by his master or by any other person, out of 

^ Thrupp's Anglo-Saxon Home, p. 126. 


the general sentence "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood 
by man shall his blood be shed/' This sentence is 
repeatedly and emphatically ratified by the Mosaic 
Law, " He that smiteth a man so that he die, he shall 
surely be put to death." " He that killeth any man 
shall surely be put to death/' It is expressly enacted 
that the punishment of death shall be inflicted on the 
murderer of an alien as well as on the murderer of 
a Hebrew y. It is not likely that more protection 
would be given to the life of the alien than to that 
of the Hebrew bondman, who is treated throughout 
as a member of the commonwealth, though his labour 
for a certain time belongs to another. And the law 
draws no distinction in these respects between the 
Hebrew bondman and the foreign slave. 

By parity of reasoning both classes of bondmen 
would seem to be protected, as against any one but 
their master, by the general law respecting personal 
injuries. "And if a man cause a blemish in his neigh- 
bour ; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him ; 
breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth : as he 
hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done 
to him again ^.'' 

To the Hebrew slave the fact that he was his mas- 
ter's money would alwaj's be a real, though not always 
a sufficient protection. The interest of the master 
would never lead him to use his slaves up, as it appears 
slaves are sometimes used up by capitalists on the 
great Cuban plantations. To this kind of slow mur- 
der, against which it would be scarcely possible for any 

y Levit. xxiv. 22. ^ Ibid. xxiv. 19, 20. 


slave law to guard/ Hebrew agriculture could offer no 

Plato in his Laws prescribes that if a slave kills 
a freeman he shall be given up to the kinsmen of the 
slain man, who are not permitted on any account to 
spare his life, but are to be allowed to put him to death 
in any way they please. If a man kills the slave of 
another, the philosopher would have him pay double 
the slave's price to the master ; but if he kills his own 
slave he is only required to go through the ceremony 
of purification, in order that the land may not be de- 
filed with blood ^. But the law of Moses says, "Ye 
shall not pollute the land wherein ye are : for blood it 
defileth the land ; and the land cannot be cleansed of 
the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him 
that shed it." If we look at the Mosaic dispensa- 
tion in itself we may regard it as peculiarly ceremo- 
nial, but if we compare it with any other dispensation 
except the Christian we shall probably find that in- 
stead of being peculiarly ceremonial, it is peculiarly 

And moreover, it is to be remembered that if the ser- 
vant or slave was the "money" of his master, so, as 
we have seen, in some cases, was the wife ; and that 
if the head of the family had a power which civilized 
morality would not endure over his servants, he had 
also, as we have likewise seen, a power which civilized 
morality would not endure over his child. In the 
Roman family all these prerogatives of the household 
despot hung together. American writers on the " Phi- 

" Laws, bk. ix. p. 868. 


losophy of Slavery,'* drawing their philosophy from 
the domestic system of the Eomans, borrow the prin- 
ciples of barbarism and heathenism as regards the 
position of the servant, but they forget to extend those 
principles to the position of the wife and son. 

The last of the Ten Commandments which we con- 
tinue to use instead of the Two, shews us what was the 
general state of the society for which the code was 
framed, and fixes the real position of the slave in the 
household. ''Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's 
hoHse^ thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's ivifey nor 
his manservant, nor his maidservant , nor his ox, nor his 
ass, nor anything that is thy neighhour^s" We see that 
the wife is as completely a subject of property and 
a part of a man's estate as a manservant or a maid- 
servant. And when this is seen, all thought of degra- 
dation as attaching to the condition of the slave is at 
an end. His lot under a bad lord might be hard, and 
so under a bad lord might be the lot of the wife. 
*' The institution of slavery," says one of its eulogists, 
"operates by contrast and comparison." It is most 
true : and there would be no contrast or comparison 
when a man's bondservant stood on the same footing 
as the heir of his house or the wife of his bosom. 

In the Southern States of America the murder of 
a slave, which was formerly punishable by a fine only, 
is now by law a capital offence. With regard to per- 
sonal injuries, the laws of the diff'erent States vary. 
But it seems that both with regard to murder and with 
regard to personal injuries the laws are practically 
void. Slaves are murdered, but nobody is hanged. 


Slaves are brutally beaten and tortured, yet no punish- 
ment is inflicted^. 

Indeed, in most cases, it would be impossible to 
convict tbe criminal, since the evidence of a slave is 
not received against a freeman, and slaves must com- 
monly be tbe only witnesses of murders or outrages 
committed by planters or overseers. Severe laws may 
be safely passed where the only available evidence is 
to be rejected. In Greece and at Rome the slave 
lay under the same incapacity of appearing as a wit- 
ness, saving that his evidence might be taken under 
torture, and was then regarded by the learned in the 
law as forming a useful supplement to the evidence 
given upon oath by the freeman. " You know, gentle- 
men,'* says a Greek advocate to an Athenian court, 
*^ that the strongest evidence is produced when there 
are a number of witnesses both slave and free ; and 
when the freeman can be compelled to speak by the 
administration of an oath, for which a freeman cares 
most, and slaves by pressure of a different kind, which, 
even though they may die under it, forces them to 
speak the truth ^." And an Attic comedian recites, 
with ghastly pleasantry, the different modes in which 
the torture was applied to the slave witness by the 
most civilized of mankind'^. But the law of Moses, 
when it fixes the number of witnesses requisite to con- 
vict a murderer, draws no distinction between the 
evidence of a freeman and that of a slave®. 

** Goodell's American Slave Code, chap, xiii., xiv. 

*= Antiphon, Uepi rod Xopevrov, p. 144. 

^ Aristoph., Ran., 618. « Numb. xxxv. 30 ; Deut. xvii. 6. 


If an ox gores a manservant or a maidservant, tlie 
owner of the ox is to pay thirty shekels of silver to the 
owner of the servant : but besides this, the ox is to be 
stoned. The value of the latter enactment is that it 
asserts the sanctity of the servant's life : the ox is to 
be put out of the way as an accursed thing because it 
has shed the blood of man. Too much stress can 
scarcely be laid on this when we consider that the 
Hebrew lawgiver is dealing with a barbarous nation, 
and introducing into their rude hearts the first prin- 
ciples of civilization. 

"I do not think,'' says Mr. Olmsted, "that I have 
ever seen the sudden death of a negro noticed in a 
Southern newspaper, or heard it referred to in con- 
versation, that the loss of property, rather than the 
extinction of life, was not the evident occasion of in- 
terest '.'' 

We have no trace in the criminal law of Moses or in 
Hebrew history of the infliction upon the slave of any 
cruel or servile kind of punishment from which free- 
men were exempt, such as the punishment of cru- 
cifixion among the Romans, or such as the punishment 
of burning alive, which has been sometimes inflicted 
on slaves, and but for the indignant protests of civi- 
lized humanity, might perhaps be still more often in- 
flicted on them, in the Southern States. The Hebrew 

* A Journey in the Back Country, p. 63. Mr. Olmsted quotes some 
paragraphs^ one of which (from TJie Rogersv'dle Times,) is, "Mr. Tilgh- 
man Cobb's barn at Bedford, Va., was set fire to by lightning on 
Friday, the 11th, and consumed. Two negroes and three horses perished 
in the flames.'^ 


freeman is punished with stripes for secondary offences 
as well as the slave. 

At Rome, the slave being a mere " chattel personal," 
could have none of the rights of a husband or a father : 
he could not contract a legal marriage, nor did the 
woman who bore him children, or the children she 
bore, stand in any relation whatever to him in the eye 
of the law. The same was the case, we may venture to 
say, in all other heathen nations where slavery prevailed. 
It is the case also, as is too well known, in the Slave 
States of America, where in law a slave's marriage is a 
nullity, and where, in practice, husbands are sold away 
from their wives, children from their parents : where 
the human cattle are bred like sheep or swine for the 
market : where, in shorty the whole system is a stand- 
ing defiance of nature and humanity, such as it is 
strange to see defended or excused, under whatever 
stress of political passion, by English men, and still 
more strange to see defended or excused by English 
women. But the law of Moses treats the bondman in 
this respect also as a person, not a thing, though his 
labour is the property of his master, and vindicates for 
him the rights of a husband and a father. " If he (the 
servant who is let go free in the seventh year) came in 
by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were 
married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his 
master have given him a wife, and she have borne him 
sons or daughters ; the wife and her children shall be 
her master's, and he shall go out by himself^." The 

s Exodus xxi. 3, 4. 


servant's love for his wife and children is mentioned as 
one of the reasons why he may choose to remain in his 
servitude when the six years have expired. Thus the 
husband would never be forcibly separated from his wife 
and children, though in case he had received a wife 
from his master (which he would do with his eyes open 
to the legal consequences) he might have to remain in 
bondage in order to retain her. The amount of per- 
sonal right given to the slave by this and the other 
provisions in his favour is probably as large as would 
consist with the radical constitution of society in those 
times : but, as has been said before, the amount of 
right given was not so important as the principle of 
giving the slave personal rights at all, which in effect 
makes him no longer a slave. 

The existence of legalized pol^^gamy would tend to 
save female slaves from becoming the victims of lawless 
lust, as they were in the Slave States of heathen anti- 
quity, and as they are in the Slave States of America. 
The general favour shewn by the Mosaic law to purity 
w^ould tend in the same direction. And so, still more, 
would the equal distribution of property which it en- 
courages, and which could not fail to bring with it 
a general simplicity of life, and a freedom from the 
luxury of which slaves were the wretched ministers in 
the later age of Rome. 

It has also been truly said that such laws as that 
against muzzling the ox that treads out the corn, and 
against seething a kid in its mother's milk, which were 
intended to soften the heart of the people, and dispose 
them to a kind treatment even of the animals in their 


power, would tend witli still greater force to make 
them humane in their dealings with the slave. 

It appears also from Levit. xxv. 49 that the slave 
might legally acquire propert}^, since it is there said 
that " if he be able he may redeem himself." 

If the book of Job may be taken as in any measure 
an index of Hebrew sentiment, the laws of the Hebrew 
Commonwealth were not without effect in training its 
members to look on the bondman not as a thing, but 
as a person possessing rights, and having claims to 
justice. " If I did despise the cause of my manservant 
or of my maidservant when they contended with me ; 
what then shall I do when God riseth up ? and when 
He visiteth, what shall I answer Him ? Did not He 
that made me in the womb make him ? And did not 
One fashion us in the womb'' ?" 

An eminent writer speaking of Roman slavery ob- 
serves, that "in earlier times religious considerations 
had exercised an alleviating influence, and had released 
the slave and the plough-ox from labour on the days 
enjoined for festivals and for rest." "Nothing," he 
goes on to say, "is more characteristic of the spirit of 
Cato and those who shared his sentiments than the way 
in which they inculcated the observance of the holyday 
in the letter, and evaded it in reality, by advising that 
while the plough should certainly be allowed to rest on 
these days, the slaves should even then be incessantly 
occupied with other labours not expressly prohibited ^" 

Perfect rest from labour on every seventh day was se- 

^ Job xxxi. 13—15. * Mommsen's Rome, vol. ii. p. 368, 

Eiig. Traus. 


cured to the Hebrew bondman, not by any ordinary 
law, but by one of tbe Ten which, delivered amidst 
the thunders of Sinai, formed the religious and moral 
groundwork of the nation. 

This law alleviated the lot of the feudal serf as well 
as that of the Hebrew bondservant. We know that 
by the Hebrews it was observed even with an ex- 
aggerated strictness. The observance of Sunday is 
legally enjoined in the Southern States, and it ap- 
pears that the injunction is generally obeyed. But in 
Louisiana, as at Rome, property seems to have found 
a way in some measure to resume its rights. " There 
is a law of the State,^' said a gentleman of Louisiana 
to Mr. Olmsted, " that negroes shall not be worked on 
Sundays ; but I have seen negroes at work almost 
every Sunday, when I have been in the country, since 
I have lived in Louisiana. I spent a Sunday once with 
a gentleman who did not work his hands at all on 
Sunday, even in the grinding season ; and had got 
some of his neighbours to help him build a school- 
house, which was used as a church on Sunday. He 
said there was not a plantation on either side of him, 
as far as he could see, where the slaves were not gene- 
rally worked on Sunday ; but that after the church 
was started several of them quitted the practice and 
made their negroes go to the meeting. This made 
others discontented; and after a year or two the 
planters voted new trustees to the school, and these 
forbade the house to be used for any other than school 
purposes. This was done, he had no doubt, for the 
purpose of breaking up the meetings, and to lessen 


tlie discontent of the slaves which were worked on 
Sunday '^.^ Mr. Olmsted adds in a note that he also 
saw slaves at work every Sunday that he was in 
Louisiana. "The law permits slaves to be worked, 
I believe, on Sunday; but requires that some com- 
pensation shall be made to them when they are, such 
as a subsequent holyday." And who is to fix or en- 
force the compensation ? It is scarcely possible that 
the same protection should be given to the slave's 
day of rest in a modern community, as in a community 
ruled by the strict and inexorable Hebrew Law. 

The most important point of all remains to be men- 
tioned. In Greece and at Home the slave took no part 
in the public worship of the State. At some of the 
holier rites, his presence would have been a pollu- 
tion ^ If he was employed in the temples it was for 
menial service. We may be sure that never except as 
a menial did he stand near the Consul sacrificing to 
Latian Jupiter on the Alban Mount. He can never 
have been present at the dramatic festivals of Dionysus, 
which, under the form of a religious ceremony, were 
the highest school of mental culture for the Athenian 
people : nor can he have mounted the Acropolis in the 
sacred procession on the day holy to Athene ^, He was 

^ Journeys and Explorations, vol. ii. p. 47. 

^ See on this subject M. Wallon's Sistoire de I'JEsclavage dans 
V Antiquite, a work which gives the fullest account of Slavery in 
ancient Greece and Rome, and to which the author of this Essay has 
to acknowledge his obligations. 

"* Even aliens were condemned to menial services (Hydriaphoria, Skia- 
dephoria, Scaphephoria,) at the Panathenaja. There is in Demosth. 
in Mid. (c. 15) a response of the Dodonean oracle to the Athenians 
commanding that on a certain day all the people, slaves as well as free- 



not without a Deity indeed, for Mercury was supposed 
to protect his thefts. He was permitted and encouraged 
to offer gifts to his master's household Gods, and to 
pray to them for blessings on his master's store, in 
which he had the same sort of interest as the ox. The 
festival of Saturn, the God of the primitive and con- 
quered races from whom many of his class had sprung, 
brought him a season of chartered equality and license 
-—an equality which only mocked his hopeless degrada- 
tion ; a license which was the seal of his bondage, since 
it proved that his master's power was secure. That 
despotism, whether social or political, must be strong, 
which can afford to allow its slaves a Saturnalia. 

It will be seen, then, that the Hebrew law does no 
small or common thing for the Slave when it makes 
him a member of the Congregation, and expressly en- 
joins that he shall take part with the freeman in the 
most solemn acts of national worship. " And thou 
shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God 
with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, 
which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, accord- 
ing as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee : and thou 
shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy 
son, and thy daughter, a7id thy manservant, and thy 
maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, 
and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, 
that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy 
God hath chosen to place His name there. And thou 
shalt remember that thou tvast a bondman in Egj^pt: 

men, should wear chaplets and rest {(m^auricpopuu koI iALvveiy) on a cer- 
tain day : but this is little more than loosing the ox from the plough. 


and thou shalt observe and do these statutes. Thou 
shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after 
that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine : 
and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, 
and thy daughter, and thy manservant^ and thy maid- 
servant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the father- 
less, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven 
days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord 
thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose : 
because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine 
increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore 
thou shalt surely rejoice. Three times in a year shall 
all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the 
place which He shall choose ; in the feast of un- 
leavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the 
feast of tabernacles : and they shall not appear before 
the Lord empty : every man shall give as he is able, 
according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which 
He hath given thee^" 

The bondman came up to stand with the freeman 
before the Lord. The gift of the bondman was mingled 
with that of the freeman, and was equally accepted. 
Perfect religious equality was thus proclaimed, and 
that in a Commonwealth of which religion was the 
foundation, and of which Jehovah was King. No cruel 
division of classes, no aristocratic pride on one side, 
or degradation on the other, could well hold its ground 
against such a law. 

The place of the festival is to be "that which the 
Lord shall choose ;" and to that place the bond- 

"^ Deut. xvi. 10—17. 


man is to come, whatever inconvenience his absence 
from home may cause to his master : the interests of 
the master being in this case, as in the case of the Sab- 
bath, set aside with a high hand in favour of the slave's 
interest as a moral being, and of the claims of religion. 

And the bondman of a priest ministering in holy 
things was not to be a mere " slave of the temple." 
Whatever measure of sanctity attached to the rest of 
the priest's household was to attach also to him. " There 
shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner 
of the priest or an hired servant shall not eat of the 
holy thing. But if the priest buy any soul with his 
money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his 
house : they shall eat of his meat"." 

Still more momentous perhaps than the ordinance 
which makes the slave a partaker with the rest of the 
nation in its public worship, is the ordinance which 
makes him a partaker with the rest of the family in 
the Passover : — " This is the ordinance of the Passover : 
There shall no stranger eat thereof : but every man's 
servant that is bought for money, when thou hast 
circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof p." The 
Lawgiver goes on to enact that " a foreigner and an 
hired servant shall not eat thereof ;" as though to make 
it clear that the reason why the bondman is to partake 
is that he is in the fullest sense a member of the family. 
No one could eat of the passover who had not been 
circumcised ; but, as we have seen before, the head of 
a family was required by the command originally given 
to Abraham to circumcise all his household, " whether 

° Levit. xxii. 10. p Exod. xii. 43. 


born in his house or bought with his moneys." And 
" in the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and 
Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born 
in the house, and bought with, money of the stranger, 
were circumcised with him/* The servants whom 
Abraham had bought with his money must have been 
strangers to his blood and that of his tribe. We know 
that in heathen communities, during the early period 
of their history, membership of the community de- 
pended on kinship by blood, real or traditional. A cer- 
tain number of Families or Houses, the members of 
which claimed a common ancestor, made up the Tribe, 
and a certain number of Tribes made up the Common- 
wealth. When the circle was first enlarged, it was by 
adoption. Not to be a member of a family and tribe 
was to be a political outcast '^. The families or houses 
were bound together by religious rites, participation 
in which was the sign and test of membership. Primi- 
tive Rome was the most striking type of this order of 
things. But primitive Athens also afibrded an in 
stance of it. In the same way the Hebrew Common- 
wealth, in the time of Moses, consists of families or 
houses, grouped into tribes, the family and the tribe 
alike being the offspring of a common ancestor. In 
the Numbering of the people they are taken by their 
tribes, and then numbered " by their generations, after 
their families, by the house of their fathers.'' The 
family or house is the elementary group and the basis 
of the whole. " It may be affirmed/' says Professor 

1 Gen. xvii. 13. 

' acpp'fjTup, adefxLaroSf avicTTLos. os kinir7]S tiu qxjk 'dcpvcre (ppdropas. 


Maine', " of early commonweal tlis, that their citizens 
considered all the groups in which they claimed mem- 
bership to be founded on common lineage.'' " The 
history of political ideas," says the same writer, *' be- 
gins in fact with the assumption that kinship in blood 
is the sole possible ground of community in political 
functions ; nor is there any of those subversions of 
feeling which we emphatically term revolutions, so 
startling and so complete as the change which is ac- 
complished when some other principle — such as that, 
for instance, of local contiguity — establishes itself for the 
first time as the basis of common political action." 
The revolution of which Professor Maine here speaks 
was effected both at Rome and at Athens by struggles 
between the men of the privileged lineage and those 
who were strangers to it, which shook the Common- 
wealth to its centre : and the f amity rites, from their 
hereditary character, were a stronghold of exclusion, 
and made religion a source of division and injustice 
in the State. 

Among the Hebrews, the rite of circumcision ad- 
ministered to all alike, and the participation of the 
whole household in the family rite of the Passover, 
combined with the law requiring the presence of all 
males at the solemn seasons before the Lord, effectually 
incorporated even the foreign slave into the commu- 
nity, without doing violence to the ideas on which, at 
that period, society was necessarily based. 

The fitness of the Passover especially for this great 

* Ancient Law, p. 129. 


social purpose is very striking. It stands in marked 
contrast not only to the mock association of the slave 
with the master in the Saturnalia, but to sacrifices 
offered by the head of a family as its priest on behalf 
of the household. It is a holy meal at which the 
master must eat with the slave : its religious meaning 
is such as to secure that participation in it shall be 
a serious bond : it links together all who partake in it, 
by the memory of the most solemn event in the national 
history, to the destinies of the nation : it recalls the 
time when all the members of that nation were alike 
bondmen of the stranger in a foreign land. Never, 
surely, did Providence so thwart its own design, if the 
design of Providence was to widen and perpetuate the 
distinction between the freeman and the slave. 

In America the slave is made a Christian in a sense of 
which we may have more to say hereafter. But practically 
he can scarcely be said to belong to the same Church 
any more than to the same State with his master. He 
sometimes sits in a separate part of the same place of 
worship, and receives the Communion separately from 
the same hands. But generally speaking, his religious 
exercises are carried on apart in his own quarters. 
Mr. Olmsted says, that " though family prayers were 
held in several of the fifty planters' houses in Missis- 
sippi and Alabama, in which he passed a night, he 
never in a single instance saw a field-hand attend, or 
join in the devotion of the family ^" A friend of the 
present writer staying in the house of a planter who 

' A Journ y in the Back Country, p. 108. 


was a religious man, was surprised to find that the 
servants did not come to prayers ^. 

Slavery, in Greece and at Eome, may in the earliest 
times have been a social necessity and a sound relation, 
as it was in the Patriarchal East. But in more civilized 
times it became a manifest wrong : and then theories 
were invented to appease the moral misgivings of the 
slave-owners by shewing that the wrong which conduced 
so much to their advantage, when viewed by the eye 
of reason, was the perfection of right ^. The philosophic 
Greek feigned that there were certain races of men 
doomed by their natural inferiority to be the slaves of 
the superior race ; and among the races so doomed he 
included some which were of the same stock as him- 
self, and certainly would have included those which 
have become the founders of modern civilization^. The 

* If I am told that the negroes are treated, in the matter of public 
worship or in other matters, as a Pariah class in the North as well as 
in the South, I must answer that the thing here discussed is not the 
consistency of the North, but the validity of a plea for slavery put for- 
ward by the South. I may add that the degradation inflicted by slavery 
in the South must naturally cling to the negro, except in the eyes of 
very high-minded men, in the North. Further, I would ask, are those 
who maltreat the negro in the North the enemies or the friends of 
slavery? And if they are the enemies of slavery, is their conduct the 
consequence of their principles or a departure from them ? 

^ See Maine's Ancient Law, p. 162. 

^ A gentleman who was among my audience at Manchester, and has 
done me the honour to send me some criticisms on the lecture, complains 
that I did not notice the inferiority of the negro race, which seems to 
him to be " a matter of fact" greatly affecting the question. The in- 
feriority of the negro cannot be more manifest to him, than his infe- 
riority and the consequent propriety of making him a slave would have 
been to Aristotle, the father of natural science. What race would not 
be " inferior" while it was kept in a state of degradation ? 


Roman, a soldier and a lawyer, pretended that servi- 
tude was the ransom paid by the vanquished for a life 
legally forfeited to the victor in war. The American 
Slave-owner, since he has cast off shame, and embraced 
as good that which he once excused as a transient evil, 
has borrowed the theory of the Greek ; and he has so far 
improved upon it as to assert that a negro is not a man^ : 
an assertion which, if he really believed it, would take 
away a shade of darkness from his cruelty only to add 
a deeper shade of darkness to his lust. All these 
theories tend to ratify the degradation of the slave, and 
those which describe his lot as an ordinance of nature 
tend to make it unchangeable and hopeless. But in 
the Old Testament we have no theory or suggestion of 
the kind. On the contrary, the Hebrew master is often 
reminded that he was himself brought "out of the 
house of bondage," and adjured, by that remembrance, 
to love mercy and do justice. 

Did the Hebrew Lawgiver encourage, or did he dis- 
courage, the multiplication of Slaves ? We have seen 
already that he provided for the constant reduction of 
their number by requiring that every Hebrew bond- 
s' " The wide-spread delusion that Southern institutions are an evil, 
and their extension dangerous — the notion so prevalent at the North 
that there is a real antagonism, or that the system of the South is hos- 
tile to Northern interests; the w^eakened Union sentiment, and the 
utter debauchment, the absolute traitorism of a portion of the Northern 
people, not only to the Union but to Democratic institutions and to the 
cause of civilization on this Continent ; all these with the minor and 
most innumerable mischiefs that this mighty world-wide imposture has 
engendered or drags in its midst, rest upon the dogma, the single 
assumption, the sole elementary foundation falsehood, that a negro is 
a black man." 


man should be set free in the seventh year, and that, 
if he had brought a wife and children with him into 
bondage, he should take them out with him. This, 
however, is not all. We may reckon four principal 
sources from which the nations of antiquity derived 
their slaves : (1) Conquest, which was the greatest source 
of all ; (2) Piracy and kidnapping, which was a great 
source of slaves in early times among the Greeks, and 
in later times at Rome ; (3) Penal servitude for crime, 
which was a less but still a considerable source ; 
(4) Debt, which, under harsh laws, made the debtor, 
in default of payment, the slave of the creditor. The 
early period of Roman history is filled, as is well known, 
with the troubles caused by the cruelty of creditors, 
who, having lent money to the poor at usurious in- 
terest, seized for the debt the property, the families, 
and the persons of their insolvent debtors. This was in 
fact the source of a desperate conflict between classes, 
ending in a great political revolution. The same thing 
took place in Attica, where multitudes of the peasant 
proprietors, overwhelmed with debts contracted by 
borrowing money of the rich at a high rate of in- 
terest, had not only lost their holdings, which they 
had mortgaged for the money, but were themselves 
being sold into slavery; till at last afiairs came to a 
desperate crisis, and the government was put, with 
extraordinary powers, into the hands of Solon, who 
could only cure the evil by a moderate use of the 
sponge. The lower orders in ancient Gaul had been 
in like manner reduced by debt to become bondmen to 
the nobility when the E-omans entered the country, and 


there can be little doubt that this degradation of the 
mass of the people must have aided the arms of the 
invader. The Hebrew nation was liable to the same 
evil. " Now there cried a certain woman of the wives 
of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy 
servant my husband is dead . . . and the creditor is 
come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen \" 

Now (1) as to war, we have seen that the Hebrew 
Lawgiver, without forbidding war, practically dis- 
couraged it ; and that he almost prohibited conquest 
by prohibiting the means of it, forced service in 
war, and a standing army of chariots and horsemen^: 
(2) as to kidnapping, he enacts that not only the 
stealer of a man, but the receiver of a man who has 
been stolen, shall be punished wdth death ^ : (3) as to 
penal servitude, we have seen the single instance in 

^ 2 Kings iv. 1. 

^ That is, of course, when they had once conquered the land of 
Canaan. And, as the Canaanites were to be destroyed, this conquest 
would not be a source of slaves, like those of the Dorians and other tribes 
who reduced the old inhabitants of the conquered country to bondage. 
This is not the place to discuss the tremendous moral questions con- 
nected with the penal destruction of the Canaanites. But it may be 
remarked that had they been spared and reduced to slavery, the result, 
judging from analogy, would have been the deep corruption of the 
Chosen People. With abundance of slave labour, the Jews would not 
have taken to industry, nor have acquired the virtues which industry 
alone can produce and guard. Their fate would have been like that of 
the Turks and other conquering hordes of the East, which, the rush of 
conquest once over, not being forced to labour, have sunk into mere 
sloth and abject sensuality. And if the morals of the Canaanites are 
truly painted in the Pentateuch, the possession of such slaves would 
have been depraving in the higliest degree. 

^ " And lie that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in 
his hand, he shall surely be put to death." — Exod. xxi. 16. 


which he prescribes it, his general penalties for secondary 
offences being fines and corporal punishment : and (4) 
he absolutely forbids the lending of money upon usury 
to a brother in want, the source of the debts which 
crushed the Attic and Roman peasantry, and caused 
them and their families to become slaves. '^If thou 
lend money to any of My people that is poor by thee, 
thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou 
lay upon him usury ^.'^ " And if thy brother be waxen 
poor, and fallen in decay with thee ; then thou shalt re- 
lieve him : yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner ; 
that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of 
him, or increase : but fear thy God ; that thy brother 
may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy 
money upon usury, nor lend him i\ij victuals for in- 
crease. I am the Lord your God, which brought you 
forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of 
Canaan, and to be your God'^.'' Laws against usury 
are absurd in the present state of society. But in the 
state of society with which the Hebrew Lawgiver had 
to deal, they might, as we learn from the examj)le of 
Greece and Rome, be the salvation of the people. 

The first step towards the enslaving of the peasant^s 
person at Rome and Athens was the mortgaging and 
forfeiture of his little plot of land. Against this like- 
wise the Hebrew lawgiver guards. '^ The land shall 
not be sold for ever : for the land is Mine ; for ye are 
strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land 
of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for 'the 
land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away 
*^ Exod. xxii. 25. ^ Levit. xxv. 35—38. 


some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to 
redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother 
sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and 
himself be able to redeem it ; then let him count the 
years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto 
the man to whom he sold it ; that he may return unto 
his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to 
him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand 
of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile : 
and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return 
unto his possession ^" 

This law, like that against retaining a brother in 
bondage, though not regularly observed, did not be- 
come a dead letter. We have its practical effect in 
iNehemiah, ch. v. : " And there was a great cry of the 
people and of their wives against their brethren the 
Jews. For there were that said. We, our sons, and our 
daughters, are many : therefore we take up corn for 
them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were 
that said. We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and 
houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. 
There were also that said, We have borrowed money for 
the King's tribute, and that upon our lands and vine- 
yards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, 
our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into 
bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, 
and some of our daughters are brought into bondage 
already : neither is it in our power to redeem them ; 
for other men have our lands and vineyards. And I 
was very angry when I heard their cry and these 
« Levit. XXV. 23—28. 


words. Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked 
the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them. Ye exact 
usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great 
assembly against them. And I said unto them, We 
after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, 
which were sold unto the heathen ; and will ye even 
sell your brethren ? or shall they be sold unto us ? 
Then held they their peace, and found nothing to 
answer. Also I said, It is not good that ye do : ought 
ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the 
reproach of the heathen our enemies ? I likewise, and 
my brethren, and my servants, might expect of them 
money and corn : I pray you, let us leave off this usury. 
Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their 
lands, their vineyai^ds, their oliveyards, and their 
houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and 
of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of 
them. Then said they, We will restore them, and 
will require nothing of them ; so will we do as thou 

The Hebrew Lawgiver founds a people of peasant 
proprietors, among whom the land is equally divided. 
Such seemed the surest way of producing a moral, re- 
ligious, and patriotic nation. And the paramount ob- 
ject of the property law is to preserve these peasant 
proprietors, and prevent their homesteads from being 
engrossed, as the homesteads of the peasant proprietors 
in Italy were engrossed, by the rich capitalists, '' who 
join house to house and lay field to field, till there be 
no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst 
of the earth." ''The Land is Mine^' warns off the 


cupidity of the capitalist, and places each, little in- 
heritance under the guardianship of God. But a sys- 
tem of small properties is not only adverse, but fatal, 
to slave culture, which can be profitably carried on 
only by large gangs of slaves working upon great 
estates, like the Roman latifundia or the plantations of 
the South. 

The interests of the free labourer are guarded with 
as much care as that of the small proprietor. " Thou 
shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him : the 
wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all 
night until the morning^.'* "Thou shalt not oppress 
an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he 
be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy 
land within thy gates : at his day thou shalt give him 
his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it ; for 
he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it : lest he cry 
against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee ^." 
The spirit of these precepts lived in the nation. Jere- 
miah denounces " "Woe unto him that buildeth his 
house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong ; 
that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and 
giveth him not for his work^.^^ And so in Malachi 
(iii. 5), "I will come near to you to judgment ; and I 
will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against 
the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against 
those that ojjpress the hireling in his ivages, the widow, 
and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from 
his right, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts." 
To " use your neighbour's service without wages," and 

f Levit. xix. 13. s: Deut. xxlv. 14, 15. ^ Jer. xxii. 13. 


thereby degrade the free labourer into a serf, was the 
practice of feudal kings and tyrants as well as of the 
Oriental despots round Judaea. The Statutes of La- 
bourers passed by the feudal Parliaments of England 
to compel the Labourer to serve at old rates in spite 
of a rise 'in prices and in the value of labour, were 
an instance of a kind of oppression which has widely 
prevailed when the lower classes have been in the 
power of the higher. And these parts of the Mosaic 
law are not to be read as vague moral precepts or 
general sentiments, but as specific provisions pointed 
against the besetting evils of society in that age. 

The following law also shews the most tender and 
touching care for the interests, and even for the dignity, 
of the poor man : " When thou dost lend thy brother 
anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his 
* pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to 
whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad 
unto thee. And if the man be poor, thou shalt not 
sleep with his pledge: in any case thou shalt deliver 
him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that 
he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee : and 
it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord 
thy Godi." 

" If there be among you a poor man of one of thy 
brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which 
the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden 
thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor bro- 
ther : but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, 
and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in 
• Deut. xxiv. 10—13. 


that which he waiiteth. Beware that there be not 
a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh 
year, the year of release, is at hand ; and thine eye 
be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him 
nought ; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it 
be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and 
thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto 
him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God 
shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou 
puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never 
cease out of the land : therefore I command thee, say- 
ing, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy bro- 
ther, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land^." 
This and the like precepts of charity and liberality all 
tend not only to save the poor from the destitution 
which led to bondage, but to throw round their per- 
sons a religious sanctity which would guard them from 
the indignity of being made serfs or slaves. The same 
is the tendency of the injunctions in favour of the 
grleaner : " When thou cuttest down thine harvest in 
thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou 
shalt not go again to fetch it : it shall be for the 
stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow : that 
the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of 
thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, 
thou shalt not go over the boughs again : it shall be 
for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 
When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou 
shalt not glean it afterward : it shall be for the stranger, 
for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt 

" Deut. XV. 7—11. 


Sq does the bible sanction 

remember that thou wast a bondman in' the land of 
Egypt : therefore I command thee to do this thing \'' 

The ordinance requiring the appointment of regular 
judges throughout the nation, and enjoining them to 
"judge righteously between every man and his bro- 
ther/' "not to respect persons in judgment," "not to 
be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is 
God's," would also, besides its more obvious benefit, 
tend to preserve the independence of the poor ; since 
it assured them the protection of the law in place of 
the protection of great men, which in unsettled and 
dangerous times they are tempted to purchase, and in 
the early feudal period did habitually purchase, at the 
price of their personal liberty. 

" Let our Legislature," says The Southern Democrat, 
" pass a law that whoever will take these parents, 
(parents unable to educate their children out of their 
own pockets,) and take care of them and their offspring, 
in sickness and in health, clothe them, feed them, and 
house them, shall be legally entitled to their services." 
" We have got," says the same journal, " to hating 
everything with the prefix free, from free negroes up 
and down through the whole catalogue, free farms, 
free labour, free society, free will, free thinking, and 
free schools. But the worst of all these abominations 
is the modern system of free schools." "We have 
asked the North," says The Richmond Inquirer, " has 
not the experiment of universal liberty failed, are not 
the evils of free society insufierable ? Still no answer. 
Their universal silence is a conclusive proof, added to 

1 Deut. xxiv. 19—22. 


many others we have furnished, that free society in the 
long run is an impracticable form of society. It is 
everywhere starving, demoralizing, and insurrectionary. 
Policy and humanity alike forbid the extension of the 
evils of free society to new people and coming genera- 
tions." Free society, according to a kindred authority, 
is nothing but ^' a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, 
filthy operatives, small-fisted farmers, and moonstruck 

It appears that the author of the Hebrew Law was 
not of this opinion. It appears from his enactments 
that he did not think free labour, to use the phrase of 
another Southern writer, " the great cancer" and " the 
offensive fungus" of civilized society"^, though he was 
as well aware as any advocate of Slavery that the lot 
of the free labourer was precarious, and that the poor 
would be always in the land. 

™ " The institution of slavery operates by contrast and comparison ; 
it elevates the tone of the superior, adds to its {sic) refinement, allows 
more time to cultivate the mind, exalts the standard in morals, manners, 
and intellectual endowments ; operates as a safety valve for the evil-dis- 
posed, leaving the upper race purer, while it really preserves from 
degradation, in the scale of civilization, the inferior, which we see is 
their uniform destiny when left to themselves. The slaves constitute 
essentially the lowest class, and society is immeasurably benefited by 
having this class, which constitutes the ofiensive fungus, the great cancer 
of civilized life — a vast burden and expense to every community — under 
surveillance and control ; and not only so, but under direction as an 
efficient agent to promote the general welfare and increase the wealth 
of the community. The history of the world furnishes no institution 
under similar management, where so much good actually results to 
the governors and the governed as this in the Southern States of 
North America." — From an Address on Climatology, before the Academy 
of Science, by Dr. Barton of New Orleans, quoted by Mr. Olmsted, 
Journeys and Explorations, vol. ii. p. 277. 


In one thing, however, the American Slave-owner 
and the Hebrew Lawgiver are agreed. Both think, and 
with good reason, that Slavery and Free Labour can- 
not well exist together. The Hebrew Lawgiver there- 
fore takes measures to diminish Slavery in his country. 
The American Slave-owner proposes to put an end to 
the freedom of labour all over the world. 

There is one thing more to be mentioned. Decisive 
experience has shewn that Slavery cannot hold its 
ground without a fugitive slave law. Now the law of 
Moses says, "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master 
the servant which is escaped from his master unto 
thee : He shall dwell with thee, even among jou, in 
that place which he shall choose in one of thj^ gates, 
where it liketh him best : thou shalt not oppress him^.^' 
Southern theologians try to get rid of the apparent 
immorality of this passage by maintaining that it 
relates only to slaves who have fled from a foreign 
country. It is difficult to see any ground for this 
gloss, more especially as even in heathen Greece the 
right of asylum in certain temples was allowed, alone of 
religious privileges, to the slave. But suppose it were 
so, the law would in effect enjoin the Hebrews to risk 
a quarrel and perhaps a war with a foreign country 
rather than give up fugitive slaves. A singular mode 
of impressing the sanctity and beneficence of Slavery 
on their minds. 

Lastly, let us ask what was the practical effect of the 
Mosaic legislation in the matter of Slavery ? "Was the 
nation of Moses a Slave Power ? ^ 

" Deut. xxiii. 15, 16. 


The social marks of a Slave State lie on the surface. 
At Athens we have the slaves running away by thou- 
sands to an invader when he takes post in the country. 
We have the slaves in the mines of Laurium rising, 
seizing the fortress of Sunium, and holding out there 
against their masters. At Sparta we have the servile 
population taking advantage of an earthquake to break 
out in desperate insurrection ; and on another occasion 
the government takes off by secret assassination two 
thousand Helots, whose valour, displayed in its own 
military service, it sees reason to fear*^. At Rome we 
have a series of the most sanguinary servile wars ; and 
after the final victory of the masters the road from 
E;Ome to Capua is garnished with sixteen thousand 
crosses, on which writhe the bodies of the vanquished 
slaves. The serfdom of the Middle Ages was signalized 
by the Jacquerie, the Peasants' War, and the revolt of 
the English villains under Wat Tyler. There were fre- 
quent disturbances among the slaves in our West In- 
dian colonies. There was a dreadful insurrection in 
St. Domingo. There have been insurrections in the 
Southern States ; and the panics caused by them among 
the whites have led to cruel reigns of terror p. 

« Thucyd. iv. 80. 

P One of these reigns of terror is thus described by a slave : — " It 
was a grand opportunity for the low whites, who had no negroes of 
their own to scourge. They exulted in such a chance to exercise a little 
brief authority, and shew their subserviency to the slave-holders; not 
reflecting that the power which trampled on the coloured people also 
kept themselves in poverty, ignorance, and moral degradation. Those 
who never witnessed such scenes can hardly believe what I know was 
inflicted at this time on innocent men, women, and children, against 
whom there was not the slightest ground for suspicion. Coloured people 


Not only so, but over Slave States there has always 
brooded an atmosphere charged with the fear which 
springs from the consciousness of a great wrong. The 
laws and customs of Sparta, for fear of the Helots, 
were those of a city in a perpetual state of siege. 
Whatever may have been the exact nature of the 
Crypteia, it certainly was an instrument of terrorism 
put in action each year against the servile class. 
Plato himself, when, not without a deep moral pang, 
he has acquiesced in the necessity of Slavery, sanctions 
the inhuman policy of mixing together as much as 
possible slaves of different races and languages, that 
they may not be able to communicate and conspire 
with each other. This policy, and that of encouraging 

and slaves who lived in remote parts of the town suffered in an especial 
manner. In some cases the searchers scattered powder and shot among 
their clothes, and then sent other parties to find them, and bring them 
forward as proof that they were plotting insurrection. Everywhere 
men, women, and children were whipped till the blood stood in puddles 
at their feet. Some received five hundred lashes; others were tied 
hands and feet, and tortured with a bucking paddle, which blisters the 
skin terribly. The dwellings of the coloured people, unless they hap- 
pened to be protected by some influential white person, who was nigh 
at hand, were robbed of clothing and every thing else the marauders 
thought worth carrying away. All day long these unfeeling wretches 
went round, like a troop of demons, terrifying and tormenting the help- 
less. At night, they formed themselves into patrol bands, and went 
wherever they chose among the coloured people, acting out their brutal 
will. Many women hid themselves in woods and swamps, to keep out 
of their way. If any of the husbands or fathers told of these outrages, 
they were tied up to the public whipping-post, and cruelly scourged for 
telling lies about white men. The const ei'nation was universal. No 
two people that had the slightest tinge of colour in their faces dared to 
be seen talking together." — The Deeper Wrong ; or, Incidents in the 
Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself. Edited hy L. Maria 
Child, pp. 98, 99. 


dissensions among them, were in fact parts of tlie eco- 
nomic system of antiquity. The Roman was, as usual, 
plain in his sentiments and practical in his measures. 
" So many slaves," he said, " so many enemies ;" and 
it was a maxim of the Roman writers on agriculture 
that " a good watch- dog ought not to be on too friendly 
terms with his fellow- slaves." The Senate feared to 
let the slaves wear the same dress, lest they should 
become conscious of their own numbers. If a master 
was found dead, every slave in the household was at 
once and without trial put to death : and the number 
of victims on one occasion to this horrible safeguard of 
tyranny was no less than four hundred. Of the rela- 
tions in which the feudal lords as a class stood to their 
serfs, the Statute-book of the later Plantagenets and the 
earlier Tudors is the record. In the Southern States 
the law forbids the education of slaves, a precaution 
which goes beyond the cruel fear of the Roman slave- 
owner ; for at Rome not only was the education of 
slaves freely permitted, but many of them received the 
highest education, and were employed in callings of 
the most intellectual kind. The jealousy of the police 
in the Slave States, as described by Mr. Olmsted 1, 
also marks the constant presence of a great social 
danger. " In Richmond, and Charleston, and New 
Orleans," says that writer, "the citizens are as care- 
less and as gay as in Boston or London, and their 
servants a thousand times as childlike and cordial to 
all appearance^ in their relations with them, as our 
servants are with us. But go to the bottom of this 

1 A Journey to the Back Country, p. 443. 


security and dependence, and you come to police ma- 
chinery, such as you never find in towns under free 
government ; citadels, sentries, passports, grape-shotted 
cannon, and daily public whippings of the subjects for 
accidental infractions of police ceremonies. I hap- 
pened myself to see more direct expression of tyranny 
in a single day and night at Charleston than at Naples 
in a week ; and I found that more than half the inha- 
bitants of this town were subject to arrest, imprison- 
ment, and barbarous punishment, if found in the streets 
without a passport after the evening gun-fire. Similar 
precautions and similar customs may be discovered in 
every larger town in the South." Mr. Olmsted says 
that it is not in reality much better in the rural dis- 
tricts : that the apparent freedom of the slaves in those 
districts is the apparent freedom of convicts in a dock- 
yard, an armed force, invested with more arbitrary and 
cruel power than any police in Europe, being always 
ready to act if not always in service. He adds that 
the security of the whites, however, depends less on the 
patrols than on the instinctive, habitual, and constant 
surveillance exercised by all the whites over all the 
blacks. He has seen a gentleman without commission 
or authority oblige negroes to shew their passports, 
merely because he did not recognise them as belonging 
to any of his neighbours. He has seen a white girl, 
twelve years old, stop a black man on the public road, 
demand to know whither he was going, and by whose 
authority, order him back to his plantation, and when 
he demurred, threaten to have him whipped. Fear 
has even driven the American Slave-owners into prac- 


tices which rival in cruelty the E-oman practice of 
crucifying slaves. A slave who had killed his master 
"was roasted alive at a slow fire on the spot of the 
murder, in the presence of many thousand slaves, 
driven to the ground from all the adjoining counties ; 
and when at length his life went out, the fire was in- 
tensified until his body was in ashes, which were scat- 
tered to the winds and trampled under foot^." Mr. 
Olmsted gives the words of newspapers, even news- 
papers which from their moderation lie under the 
reproacli of abolitionism, justifying such, burnings of 
negroes as acts at once deliberate and indispensable. 
One editor, a Methodist preacher, says, " that the pun- 
ishment was unequal to the crime, and that, had he 
been there, he would have suggested that the negro 
should be torn limb from limb with red-hot pincers, 
and that the limbs should afterwards have been burnt in 
a heap." The burning of slaves alive, as well as cruci- 
fixion, was a part of the sj^stem of terror practised by 
the Romans ^ The American master, it is said, sleeps 
with open doors. So did the Roman master : his guards 
were the vengeance of his class, the stake and the 

In the First Book of Kings (i. 39), two of the ser- 
vants of Shimei run away to Achish, King of Gath. 
This, it is believed, is the sum total of the slave dis- 
turbances recorded in tbe annals of tbe Hebrew nation. 
The churlish Nabal, to excuse himself for refusing hos- 
pitality to David and his followers, pretends to believe 

^ Olmsted, Journey to the Back Woods, p. 443. 
s Plaut., Capt,, III. iv. 65. 


that tliey ma}^ be runaway servants, for "there be 
many servants now a days that break away every man 
from bis master.'* But when we inquire who were 
with David in tbe cave of Adullam, we find tbat tbey 
were men "in distress/' "in debt," and "discon- 
tented," not runaway slaves*. 

The economical marks of a Slave State are almost 
as clear as its political marks. " The great plantations," 
{kit if II ml ia,) says a Roman writer, " have ruined Italy, 
and they are ruining the provinces too." " Slave la- 
bour," says Pliny, " makes bad husbandry, like every- 
thing that is done by despair^." Within sixty years 
after the death of Constantino, Campania, once the 
garden of Italy, was surveyed by the government, and 
an exemption from taxes was granted in favour of 
three hundred and thirty thousand acres of desert 
land. " As the footsteps of the barbarians," says Gib- 
bon, " had not jet been seen in Italy, the cause of this 
amazing desolation which is recorded in the laws, can 
be ascribed only to the administration of the Roman 
Emperors." A blight more deadly to the fruitfulness 
of the land than that of imperial administration had been 
there. In America, as is well known, Slavery subsists 
by moving forwards to fresh soil, and it leaves a desert, 
like that of ruined Campania, where it has been. But 
the land of the Hebrews appears to have been culti- 
vated with a care which carried fertility to the hill- 

* 1 Sam. xxii. 2. The manservants and maidservants of tbe people, 
on their return from the Captivity, were in number 7,337. (Nehem. 
vii. 67.) 

" "Coli rura ab ergastulis pessimum est, et quicquid agitur a de- 


tops, and which, bespeaks not only free labour, but the 
love of a peasant proprietor for his own land. 

Solomon imposed, for his great works generally, 
a tribute of bond-service on the nations of alien blood 
which were under his sway^. But to build the Temple, 
he raised a great levy out of all Israel^ : and it must 
have been a levy of freemen, since we are expressly 
told that " of the children of Israel Solomon made no 
bondmen." It is not probable, then, that he had a 
great amount of slave labour at his command. Nor, 
though his palaces were great and costly, did he or 
his successors indulge in Pyramids, Labyrinths, Towers 
of Belus, or any of those wasteful freaks of despotic 
architecture which a great command of slave labour 
naturally inspires. The description of the Temple, 
grand and sumptuous, but without anything colossal 
or monstrous, bespeaks the work of freedom, which 
spares labour and seeks effect, not by magnitude, but 
by art ^. When the Temple is repaired, under Josiah, 
the work is done by free labourers receiving wages. 
" Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum 
the silver which is brought i'nto the house of the Lord, 
which the keepers of the door have gathered of the 
people : and let them deliver it into the hand of the 
doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house 
of the Lord : and let them give it to the doers of the 

^ 1 Kings ix. 21. ^ Ibid. v. 13. 

y The taste of the Greeks would probably have preserved them from 
colossal extravagance in art under any circumstances ; but it is not 
probable that, at the time when the type of Greek architecture was 
fixed, the nation possessed many slaves. 


work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the 
breaches of the house ^." 

There is not, it is believed, in the Hebrew annals 
any trace of the existence of a slave-market, nor any- 
thing else indicating a trade in slaves. Sion, therefore, 
probably presented no counterpart to the auctions and 
advertisements of the South. 

In Slave States labour is always looked upon by 
freemen ^as a degradation. No Spartan would have 
thought of engaging in any work but war. Even at 
Athens, which was much less of a Slave State than 
Sparta, the name mechanic was, as in nations infected 
with feudal sentiments, a term of reproach^. The poor 
freeman at Eome despised labour, and lived by selling 
his suffrage at elections, by sponging on a rich patron, 
and by the dole which he received out of the tribute 
paid by the provinces to the conquering people. No 
member, however indigent, of a feudal aristocracy 
would have stooped to touch a plough. The poor 
whites of the South in like manner refuse to do the 
same work as the negro, and subsist as dependants of 
the great planters, or by occupations which, however 
wretched and precarious, are not those of the slave. 
There is not a trace of any such sentiment in the re- 
cords of the Hebrew nation, any more than in those of 
its patriarchal sires. On the contrary, every mention 
of labour indicates that it was had in honour. '' Blessed 
is every one that feareth the Lord ; that walketli in 
His ways. For- thou shalt eat the labour of thine 
hands : happy shalt thou be, and well shall it be with 

' 2 Kings xxii. 4, 5. ^ ov yap ^auavaov ttju rix^W iKTrjad/xr^u, &c. 



thee." " Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished : 
but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." " And 
also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy 
the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." Not 
only the honoured founders of the nation, as we have 
said, but its heroes, kings, and prophets were sons of 
labour, and had taken part in the work of that class 
which American Slave-owners call the fungus and 
cancer of society. Gideon, when the angel of the 
Lord appeared to him, was threshing wheat by the 
winepress ^ Saul was in search of his father's asses 
when he was anointed king of Israel. David was taken 
from following the flocks. Elisha was called from the 
plough. Amos was a herdsman. 

The spirit of a slave-owning aristocracy is insolent, 
as we know by the example of Lacedaemon and of the 
Southern States. But that of slave-owners under a des- 
potism is doubly slavish, as we know by the example of 
Imperial Rome. The spirit of the Hebrew people in 
its dealings with its kings is high and free. Solomon 
in all his power does not dare to treat them as bond- 
men, and they at once break the yoke of his tyrant 
son. Their undying patriotism, their unfailing hope 
for their country, the tenacity of national life which 
brings them back from Babylon and restores their 
Commonwealth and Temple, would never, it may safely 
be said, have been found in a Slave State. Nothing 
of the kind was shewn even by the indomitable Roman 
when once his character had been corrupted by the 
possession of wealth and a multitude of slaves. 

^ Judges vi. 11. 



The hearts of the Hebrews were "hard." In mat- 
ters of social humanity and justice they fell away from 
the beneficent precepts of their lawgiver in their deal- 
ings with their neighbour, as in matters of religion 
they fell away from their allegiance to the true God. 
Judaism was not Christianity, nor was Judsea Chris- 
tendom ; yet it may perhaps be safely said, that no 
two communities in the history of the world have 
been more difierent from each other than the com- 
munity^ of great capitalists and landowners with their 
droves of slaves which covers the Southern States 
of America, and the community of peasants " dwell- 
ins: each under his own vine and his own fio^- 
tree,^' and each "going forth to his labour until the 
evening," which in the happy days of the Hebrew 
people lay around the Holy City and worshipped toge- 
ther in the Courts of Sion. It was among this pea- 
santry, true sons of labour yet free of soul, pure, 
simple-minded, religious, and though dcA^oid of the 
wisdom of the world, not uninstructed in religion, that 
when the time for the fulfilment of their long-cherished 
hope was come, the Saviour of the world appeared. 
It was from their cottages and fishing-boats that He 
called the open and ardent natures, neither corrupted 
by riches nor debased by Slavery, which were destined 
to confront a world in the strength of conviction, and 
to become the founders of Christendom. 



The New Testament is not concerned witli any poli- 
tical or social institutions : for political and social in- 
stitutions belong to particular nations and particular 
phases of society. But now the fulness of time is 
come. Greek and Koman conquest and Greek intel- 
lect have conspired together to break down the ex- 
clusive barriers of narrow nationality. Upon the more 
exalted minds the great truth of the universal brother- 
hood of man has begun to dawn, and Cicero has ad- 
vanced far enough to see that the universe "is one 
great commonwealth of gods and men." The gods of 
the nations have been overthrown, and have left the 
hearts of men open and craving for a new faith. The 
Jewish religion itself has burst its bounds and become 
active in conversion. Therefore the expectation of 
Israel and of the world is fulfilled. The universal re- 
ligion arrives. The Chosen People having done its 
appointed work in preparing the way for the Mes- 
siah, merges in the people of believers throughout the 
world. The family which ate of the Passover opens 
out into the Household of Faith. The Son of David 
is the Son of Man. 

We shall hear no more, then, of social and political 
reforms, such as Moses introduced by his code into the 
laws and customs of the Hebrew nation. Whatever is 
done will be done for the whole of mankind and for all 
time. The present will be sacrificed without hesitation 
to the future. If it be necessary for the eternal pur- 


pose of the Gospel, the Apostle will submit to all the 
injustice of heathen governments, and receive martyr- 
dom at the hand of a Nero. If it be necessary for the 
same purpose, the slave of a heathen master will pa- 
tiently remain a slave. 

Nothing indeed marks the divine character of the 
Gospel more than its perfect freedom from any appeal 
to the spirit of political revolution. The Founder of 
Christianity and His Apostles were surrounded by 
everything which could tempt human reformers to 
enter on revolutionary courses. Their nation was 
grievously oppressed and shamefully degraded. The 
rulers and princes of Judaea were sensual and cruel 
tyrants ; and their tyranny was supported by a central 
tyranny, equally cruel and sensual, which had its seat 
at Rome. Injustice in the form of Pilate sate on the 
judgment-seat. A foreign soldiery filled the land, 
"doing violence,^' "accusing men falsely,^' "not con- 
tent with their wages ;" and, what was w^orse than all, 
stalking in the arrogance of conquest over the burning 
hearts of the Chosen People. So oppressive was the 
fiscal system that the name of a collector of the taxes 
was a byeword of loathing and of shame. The distress 
of the people was such that multitudes were ready to 
follow a teacher into the wilderness, not for the sake of 
his w^ords, but for the sake of a little bread. And from 
this oppression there was no appeal to remorse in the 
breast of the oppressor, or to the tribunal of a civilized 
world. There was no hope but in patriotic arms. Nor 
was the nation incapable of wielding them. The spi- 
rit of Gideon and of Judas Maccabeus glowed in it 


still. It clierislied the constant hope of a great Deli- 
verer. It was ready to rise. It rose, before long, with 
an energy which, though the issue was the destruction 
of Jerusalem, shook for a moment the adamantine 
throne of Rome. And even before the last great 
struggle more than one insurgent chief was able to 
lead his thousands into the wilderness. Everything, 
to a human apprehension, counselled an appeal to the 
strong hand : and strong hands and brave hearts were 
ready to answer to the call. 

Nevertheless our Lord and His Apostles said not 
a word against the powers or institutions of that evil 
world. Their attitude towards them all was that of 
deep spiritual hostility and of entire political submis- 
sion. The dominion of a foreign conqueror, the presence 
of his soldiery, the extortions of his tax-gatherers, the 
injustice of his judges, the iniquitous privileges of the 
conquering Roman, the iniquitous degradation of the 
conquered Jew, — all these, as well as slavery, are accepted 
with unquestioning resignation. The things which are 
Caesar's are rendered unto Caesar, though Caesar is a 
Tiberius or a Nero. To endure patiently the dominion 
of those monsters, it has been truly said, was the honour 
of Christianity and the dishonour of mankind. 

Had this implicit submission to political power not 
been preached by our Lord and His Apostles, and 
enforced by their example, the new religion must, 
humanly speaking, have perished in its birth. The 
religious movement would infallibly have become a po- 
litical movement, as Protestantism did when preached 
by Wycliffe and Huss to an oppressed people. And 



then the Roman would have come upon it and crushed 
it with his power. To support it against the Roman 
legions with legions of angels was not a part of the 
counsels of God. 

St. Peter says, " Servants, be subject to your masters 
with all fear ; not only to the good and gentle, but also 
to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for 
conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrong- 
fully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for 
yoiir faults, ye shall take it patiently ? but if, when ye 
do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is 
acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye 
called : because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us 
an example, that ye should follow His steps : who did 
no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth : who, 
when He was reviled, reviled not again ; when He 
suffered, He threatened not ; but committed Himself 
to Him that judgeth righteously : who His own self 
bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, 
being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness : by 
whose stripes ye were healed ^'' Is this an exhortation 
to modern society to establish, or suffer to be esta- 
blished, in the midst of Christianity, freedom, and equal 
law, an institution under which men are subject to the 
frowardness of masters, and under which they may be 
buffeted and made to suffer without regard to justice ? 
If it be, it is equally an exhortation to modern society 
to embrace the whole circle of institutions which per- 
secuted the Apostles and which crucified Christ. 

" Submit yourselves," St. Peter has said just before, 
<= 1 Pet. ii. 18—24. 



" to ever^ ordinance of man for the Lord's sake : whe- 
ther it be to the king, as supreme ; or unto governors, 
as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment 
of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may 
put to silence the ignorance of foolish men : as free, 
and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, 
but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love 
the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.'' 

St. Paul, like St. Peter, in several places commands 
slaves to obey their masters. But St. Paul, like St. 
Peter, also commands the masters themselves to obey 
a despotic Emperor and his arbitrary satraps. " Let 
every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there 
is no power but of God; the powers that be are 
ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the 
power, resisteth the ordinance of God ; and they that 
resist shall receive to themselves damnation.'^ Chan- 
ning says, "This passage was written in the time of 
Nero. It teaches passive obedience to despotism more 
strongly than any text teaches the lawfulness of slavery. 
Accordingly, it has been quoted for ages by the sup- 
porters of arbitrary power, and made the stronghold of 
tyranny. Did our fathers acquiesce in the most ob- 
vious interpretation of this text ? Because the first 
Christians were taught to obey despotic rule, did our 
fathers feel as if Christianity had stripped men of their 
rights ? Did they agree that tyranny was to be ex- 
cused because forcible opposition to it was in most cases 
wrong ? Did they argue that absolute power ceases to 
be unjust, because, as a general rule, it is the duty of 


subjects to obey ? Did tbey infer that bad institutions 
ought to be perpetual, because the subversion of them 
by force will almost always inflict greater evil than it 
removes ? No : they were wiser interpreters of God's 
"Word. They believed that despotism was a wrong not- 
withstanding the general obligation upon its subjects 
to obey ; and that whenever a whole people should so 
feel the wrong as to demand its removal, the time for 
removing it had fully come." 

St. Paul knew what the " higher powers" were. He 
had sufiered a life of persecution, stripes, imprison- 
ments, and stonings at the hands of unbelievers. He 
was looking forward to a martyr's death at the same 
hands. Did he intend Christians to do these things to 
each other, or Christian Society to sufier these things 
to be done ? Is there anything in the words of this or 
of any Apostle which would forbid Cromwell to protect 
the Protestants of Savoy by his intervention against 
their bloody persecutors, or which would have for- 
bidden him, if necessary, to protect them with his 

*^ There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither 
bond nor free, there is neither male nor female : for 
ye are all one in Christ Jesus ^." " Let every man abide 
in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou 
called being a servant ? care not for it : but if thou 
mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is 
called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's free- 
man : likewise also he that is called, being free, is 
Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price ; be not 

«> Gal. iii. 28. 


ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, 
wherein he is called, therein abide with God^'' These 
passages and the others in the New Testament relating 
to the established institutions of the time, inculcate on 
the disciples resignation to their earthly lot on spi- 
ritual grounds, and for the sake of a heavenly hope in 
which all earthl}^ differences are swallowed up and 
lost. They do not inculcate social or political apathy ; 
they do not pass, nor have they ever been held by men 
of common sense to pass, upon the Christian world a 
sentence of social or political despair. The faculties 

* 1 Cor. vii. 20 — 24. Some commentators on this passage take " use it 
rather" (ixaWou xPW°-i) as "use slavery rather" — "prefer to remain 
a slave." They say that the general sense of the passage requires this. 
Why so ? The passage preaches tranquil acquiescence in a man's pre- 
sent state. But to exhort a man to acquiesce tranquilly in his present 
state is not to exhort him to refuse a better if it presents itself. The 
expression " care not for it" (jii] aoi /ieAeVw) surely does not imply that 
slavery is in the opinion of the writer to be considered the better state. 
In €i Kol Svuaaai, the Kal may very well be taken, it is conceived, as 
merely lending emphasis to 5vi/acrai, and in fact as almost pleonastic. 
[Cf. Soph. Aj. 1106, Seij/oV 7' etTras, el Kal ^fjs Qav<av.'\ 'If freedom is 
offered thee, without thy seeking, accept it.' So just before (ver. 13 — 
15), a believing wife is enjoined not to leave an unbelieving husband if 
he be pleased to dwell with her; but it is added, "if the unbelieving 
depart, let him depart." The woman is not to break the bond : but she 
is not to cling to it if separation is offered her. When we look to the 
general tone and tenor of St. PauFs teaching on these matters, so far 
removed from enthusiasm and asceticism; when we consider that he 
knew the Old Testament, in which freedom is clearly treated as prefer- 
able to bondage; and when we remember that he had himself no scruple 
in asserting his privilege as a Roman citizen ; it is difficult to believe 
that he can have enjoined a Christian Slave, when enfranchisement from 
a heathen master was offered him, to refuse the boon. It is not how- 
ever of much consequence to the present argument which way the pas- 
sage is taken ; since St. Paul's precept, whatever it may be, is clearly 
given on spiritual, not on social or political, grounds. 


for social improvement, and the desire to redress in- 
equality and injustice, which God had given us, the 
Son of God did not take awaj. On the contrary, He 
and His Apostles increased those faculties and that 
desire a thousand-fold by the principles of mutual 
affection and duty which they instilled into the heart 
of man, and by the new force of self-devotion which 
they added to his moral powers. 

The relation of the Gospel to Slavery is well stated in 
a passage quoted by Channing from Wayland's "Ele- 
ments of Moral Science :" — " The very course which the 
Gospel takes on this subject, seems to have been the 
only one that could have been taken in order to effect 
the universal abolition of Slavery. The Gospel was 
designed, not for one race or for one time, but for all 
races and for all times. It looked, not at the abolition 
of this form of evil for that age alone, but for its uni- 
versal abolition. Hence the important object of its 
Author was to gain it a lodgment in everj^ part of the 
known world ; so that, bv its universal diffusion amono^ 
all classes of society, it might quietly and peacefully 
modify and subdue the evil passions of men, and thus, 
without violence, work a revolution in the whole mass 
of mankind. In this manner alone could its object, 
a universal moral revolution, have been accomplished. 
For if it had forbidden the evil instead of subverting 
the princijyle, if it had proclaimed the unlawfulness of 
Slavery, and taught slaves to 7rsist the oj^pression of 
their masters, it would instantly have arrayed the two 
parties in deadly hostility throughout the civilized 
world ; its announcement would have been the signal 


of servile war; and the very name of the Christian 
religion would have been forgotten amidst the agita- 
tions of universal bloodshed. The fact, under these 
circumstances, that the Gospel does not forbid Slavery, 
affords no reason to suppose that it does not mean to 
prohibit it ; much less does it afford ground for belief 
that Jesus Christ intended to authorize it." 

Channing himself says, "Slavery, in the age of the 
Apostle, had so penetrated society, was so intimately 
interwoven with it, and the materials of servile war 
were so abundant, that a religion, preaching freedom 
to the slave, would have shaken the social fabric to its 
foundation, and would have armed against itself the 
whole power of the State. Paul did not then assail 
the institution. He satisfied himself with spreading 
principles, which, however slowly, could not but work 
its destruction." 

" Christianity," says Neander, " effected a change in 
the convictions of men from which a dissolution of the 
whole relation of slavery, though it could not be imme- 
diately accomplished, yet, by virtue of the consequences 
resulting from that change, was sure eventually to take 
place. This effect Christianity produced, first of all, 
by the facts to which it was a witness, and next by the 
ideas which, b}^ means of these facts, it set in circu- 
lation. By Christ, the Saviour for all mankind, the 
differences among men resulting from sin were recon- 
ciled, by Him the original unity of the human race was 
restored. These facts must now operate in transform- 
ing the life of mankind. Masters as well as servants 
were obliged to acknowledge themselves the servants of 


sin, and must alike receive, as the free gift of God's 
grace, their deliverance from this common bondage — 
the true, the highest freedom. Servants and masters, if 
they had become believers, were brought together under 
the same bond of an heavenly union, destined for im- 
mortality; they became brethren in Christ in whom 
there is neither bond nor free, members of one body, 
baptized into one Spirit, heirs of the same heavenly 
inheritance. Servants were often the teachers of their 
masters in the Gospel, after having, first of all, in their 
lives and actions exhibited before them the loftiness of 
a divine life, which must be shewn forth even under 
the most painful of relations, and shine forth the more 
brightly by the contrast^." 

Not only did St. Paul and the other Apostles spread 
principles and ideas which were sure to work the de- 
struction of Slavery and of the other political and social 
wrongs of which that corrupt and unjust world was 
full ; but they embodied these principles and ideas in 
an institution, founded by their Lord, of which it may 
be said that though so little revolutionary in appear- 
ance that the most jealous tyranny might have received 
it into its bosom without suspicion, it exceeded in revo- 
lutionary efiicacy any political force which has ever 
been seen in action among men. At the Supper of the 
Lord the conqueror was required, on his allegiance to 
Christianity, to partake in the holy meal with the 
conquered, the master with the slave ; and this in me- 
mory of a Founder who had died the death of a slave 
upon the Cross, and who at the institution of the rite 

' Church History, vol. i. p. 372. Eng. trans. 


had performed tlie servile office of washing His dis- 
ciples' feet. 

In its social aspect as well as in other respects the 
Lord's Supper is the antitj^pe and counterpart of the 
Passover, but in this as in its other aspects it is of far 
deeper and holier significance, and the symbol not of 
a family or national union, but of the union of man- 
kind. It is difficult to imagine how any harsh dis- 
tinctions between man and man could long maintain 
themselves against its equalizing and reconciling power. 
Nor has it failed to accomplish its object in this re- 
spect where it has been administered according to the 
intention of its founder. Where it has been adminis- 
tered in a way quite different from His intention, its 
efficacy could not be expected to be so great. During 
the feudal ages the relations between the lord and 
the serf were almost as unchristian as those between 
the modern slave-owner and his slave. But during 
the feudal ages the Supper of the Lord, as well as 
the worship of which it was the centre and the cul- 
mination, had lost its primitive character. It had 
ceased to be a communion in the full sense of the word, 
and had become a sort of magic rite administered to 
each member of the Church by the priest, the talisman 
and chief support of sacerdotal power. 

In few countries were the people more oppressed and 
degraded by feudal tyranny down to the time of the 
Reformation than in Scotland. After the Reformation 
the lower classes were socially raised; and all classes 
have since become united in a remarkable degree, con- 
sidering that the political institutions of the country 


remain aristocratic. It is reasonable to refer this in. 
a great measure to the social character of the religious 
S3'stem. National education has no doubt done much ; 
but national education has its source in the spirit of 
the national religion. Long after the Reformation the 
material condition of the poor in Scotland, owing to 
the poverty of the country, remained very wretched ; 
and towards the end of the seventeenth century, when 
the Scottish peasantry had already played no mean 
part in the religious history of the world, Fletcher 
of Saltoun, a republican of the Classical school, pro- 
posed to redeem the Covenanters from their miserable, 
unprotected, and anxious state, and to restore them 
again to careless happiness under fatherly guidance, 
by making them praedial slaves. 

If the Slave partook of the Lord's Supper, much 
more would he partake in all the other acts of Chris- 
tian worship. Of course also he would fully share all 
the religious knowledge of his brethren, and everything 
that could enable them worthily to worship the God of 
Truth. He might, as Neander says, be the religious 
teacher of his master. And as his religious life was 
blended with that of his fellow- Christians, so his body 
would rest wdth theirs in death. 

In America, as we have already had occasion to say, 
there appears, generally speaking, to be no religious 
communion between the Master and the Slave. The 
two classes do not belong in any practical sense to the 
same Church. They can scarcely be said even to unite 
in public worship ; they do not join in family praj^er, 
nor do they really partake together of the Supper of 


the Lord. The presence of a white man is indeed 
required by law at all the religious meetings of the 
negroes ; but it is not for the purpose of taking part 
in their prayers ^. 

More than this, it is only by putting names for 
thino^s that the American Master and Slave can be said 
to be of the same religion. In some States the Master, 
for the better security of what is now called a divine 
institution, forbids the slave by law to be taught to 
read : so that the Bible is legally closed to him^. And 
even in the States where this legal prohibition does not 
exist, the state of public opinion and the almost total 
want of schools seem effectually to prevent the edu- 
cation of the great mass of the slaves ^ And alto- 
gether, from their mode of life, and the debasing treat- 
ment to which they are subjected, their minds are too 
degraded to worship God in spirit and truth like those 
to whom a Christian education has been given. The 
result is that the worship of the negro in America is 
little more spiritual or rational than his worship in 
Africa. He still dances, and shouts to a fetish, though 
that fetish bears the name of the Christian's God. 

Mr. Olmsted says, " In most of the large rice plan- 
tations which I have seen in this vicinity (South Caro- 

s See Olmsted, Journeys and Explorations, vol. i. p. 45. 

h In North Carolina, to teach a slave to read or write, or sell or give 
him any book (Bible not excepted) or pamphlet, is punished with thirty- 
nine lashes, or imprisonment, if the offender be a free negro; but if 
a white, then with a fine of 200 dollars. The reason for this law, as- 
signed in its preamble, is, "that teaching slaves to read and write tends 
to dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and re- 
bellion." — Ooodell's American Slave Code, p. 299. 

i Ibid., p. 301. 


lina) there is a small chapel, which the negroes call 
their prayer-house. The owner of one of these told 
me that having furnished the prayer-house with seats 
having a back rail, his negroes petitioned him to 
remove it, because it did not leave them room enough to 
pray. It was explained to me that it is their custom, 
in social worship, to work themselves up to a great 
pitch of excitement, in which they yell and cry aloud, 
and finally, shriek and leap u^d, clapping their hands 
and dancing, as it is done in heathen festivals^/* No 
doubt *' heathen festival^' is the right name. 

The same writer has given a description of the reli- 
gious exercises of negroes, which he witnessed himself 
in a chapel, not on a plantation, but in the city of New 
Orleans ^ It is such that it could scarcely be tran- 
scribed without shocking the reader, and the religious 
state which it reveals has nothing, but the names 
which are hideously profaned, in common with the 
religion of Christians. 

It seems that the American Slave-owners are so 
conscious of the connexion between truth and freedom 
that they sometimes repel with dread even the oral 
instruction of slaves in the truth. In South Carolina 
a Methodist clergyman had been chosen by his Church 
as a discreet and cautious man to preach to slaves. He 
was stopped by a remonstrance signed by more than 
three hundred and fifty of the leading j)lanters and 
citizeDs. He pleaded that it was his intention to con- 
fine himself to verbal instruction. "Verbal instruc- 
tion," replied the remonstrants, " will increase the de- 

^ Journeys and Explorations, vol. i. p. 259. ' Ibid., p. 388. 



sire of the black population to learn. . . . Open tlie 
Missionary sluice and the current will swell in its 
gradual onward advance. We thus expect a progres- 
sive system of improvement will be introduced, or will 
follow from the nature and force of circumstances 
which, if not checked, (though it may be shrouded in 
sophistry and disguise,) will ultimately revolutionize 
our civil institutions." The missionary withdrew, and 
the local newspaper -in announcing his withdrawal 
stated that the great body of the people were mani- 
festly opposed to the religious instruction of their 
slaves, even if it were only given orally™. 

And when, in despite of the difficulties thrown in 
the way, some religious knowledge has been obtained 
by the negroes, the enjoyment of it seems to be not 
very secure. Twenty-four coloured men, most of them 
apparently free, were found assembling privately in 
the evening at Washington, and were lodged in the 
watch-house. When they were examined before a ma- 
gistrate, no evidence was offered, nor does it appear to 
have been even suggested, that they were meeting for 
any criminal purpose. On searching their persons, 
there were found a Bible, a volume of Seneca^s 
" Morals," " Life in Earnest," the printed constitution 
of a Society the object of which was stated to be to 
relieve the sick and bury the dead, and a subscription 
paper to purchase the freedom of a slave whom her 
master was willing to sell at a certain price. One of 
the prisoners, a slave, was ordered to be flogged ; four 

™ Olmsted, Journeys and Explorations, vol, ii. p. 214. 


others, called in tlie papers free men, were sent to tlie 
workhouse : and the rest, on paying costs and fines 
amounting to one hunded and eleven dollars, were set 
at liberty^. 

It is not wonderful that a gross and delirious super- 
stition should fail to produce the efiect of pure Chris- 
tianity on the morals of the negroes. Mr. Olmsted 
gives us strong evidence of their licentiousness ; and 
notably of the licentiousness of those among them who 
are members of Churches and make professions of 
religion^. But indeed the legal sanctity of marriage 
is so essential a safeguard of morality in Christian 
countries, that we should expect sinister consequences 
to flow from its withdrawal. In the South the mar- 
riage of a slave is, before the law and in the eyes of his 
master, as the cohabitation of beasts. The State thus 
preaches disregard of morality to the negro, and the 
master enforces the preaching of the State by practices 
from which it was part of the mission of Christianity 
to purge the world p. 

Let the Masters and the Slaves in America become 

° Olmsted, Journeys and Explorations, vol. i. p. 36. If we are told, 
by way of apology for the intellectual and religious condition of the 
negro slave, that the intellectual and religious condition of the English 
peasant and his religious relations to the upper classes are unsatis- 
factory, the answer is that they are acknowledged to be unsatisfactory, 
and that since the revival of a religious spirit in the nation a good 
deal has been done to amend them, as a multitude of schools and 
a number of new churches with Iree sittings evince. 

° Journey in the Back Country, p. 113. 

P Olmsted, Journeys and Explorations, vol. ii. p. 229. "When the 
Abolitionists are charged with producing the Slave-owner's cruelty by 
their alarmiug denunciations, they may reasonably ask whether they 
are also to be charged with producing his lust. 


really fellow-Christians : let them become in a true 
sense one Church : let them share the same Christian 
education : let them read the same Bible : let them 
partake of the Communion together : and it will then 
be seen whether the relation between fellow- Christians 
is really compatible with the relation between Master 
and Slave. 

That there are very great difficulties in the way of 
a religious as well as of a social fusion between the 
negroes and the whites, no reasonable man would 
deny. But this shews that the position into which 
the piratical cupidity of the whites has brought the 
two races is an awkward one ; not that it was sanc- 
tioned by St. Paul. As things are at present, the plea 
that Slavery is a great blessing as a missionary agency, 
and as a mode of bringing the African heathen within 
the fold of the Church, can scarcely be maintained. 
Montesquieu has some remarks on the notion that " re- 
ligion gives those who profess it the right of making 
slaves of those who do not, in order the better to 
labour for its propagation." " It was this notion," 
he says, " which encouraged the destroyers of America 
in their crimes. It was on this idea that they founded 
the right of making all those nations slaves ; for these 
brigands, who were determined to be both brigands 
and Christians, were very devout." 

It is to be borne in mind that the Apostle, who bids 
slaves obey their masters and be content with their lot 
for the sake of their Lord's religion and in the assurance 
of a higher freedom, also teaches masters to observe 
justice and equity towards their slaves. "Masters, 


give unto your servants that which, is just and equal : 
knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven." Is 
*' that which is just and equal" given to a slave when 
he is forbidden to learn to read, when he is denied 
legal marriage, when he is separated by force from his 
wife and children, when his evidence is refused in 
a court of law, when he is made by custom, though 
not by law, the victim of a penal code under which 
a master who kills a slave goes unpunished, while 
a slave who kills a master may be burned alive at 
a slow fire ? 

No doubt many American masters are better than 
the system. Many Roman masters were better than the 
system. But is it possible to believe that the sj^stem 
is one which, when carried on by Christians against 
Christians, can be said to have had its prototj^pe in 
the relations between a Christian master, in Apostolic 
times, and his slave, or to be sanctioned by the teach- 
ing of the Apostles ? 

In a religious community so bound together in life 
and death as that of the early Christians, the relation 
between Master and Slave, though it was not formally 
dissolved, must have been completely transfigured, and 
virtually exchanged for a relation between brethren in 
Christ. The clearest proof of this is found in that very 
Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon which those who defend 
Slavery on Scriptural grounds regard as their sheet 
anchor in the argument. St. Paul sends back the fu- 
gitive slave Onesimus to his master Philemon. There- 
fore, we are told, slavery and fugitive slave laws have 
received the sanction of St. Paul. This it seems is so 


plain, that the refusal of the other party to acknowledge 
it is a signal instance of the manner in which they 
blind themselves to the clearest teachings of Scripture, 
or pervert its precepts in the interest of a spurious 
humanity. It is very true that St. Paul sends back 
a fugitive slave to his Master. But does he send him 
back as a slave ? The best answer to the argument 
drawn from the Epistle to Philemon is the simple repe- 
tition of the words of that Epistle : ^' I beseech thee 
for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my 
bonds : which in time past was to thee unprofitable, 
but now profitable to thee and to me : whom I have 
sent again : thou therefore receive him, that is, mine 
own bowels: whom I would have retained with me, 
that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me 
in the bonds of the Gospel : but without thy mind 
would I do nothing ; that thy benefit should not be as 
it were of necessity, but willingly. For perhaps he 
therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest 
receive him for ever ; not now as a servant, but above 
a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how 
much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the 
Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive 
him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth 
thee aught, put that on mine account. I Paul have 
written it with mine own hand, I will repay it : albeit 
I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even 
thine own self besides ^.^' 

Onesimus, then, is not sent back as a slave, but as 
one above a servant, a brother beloved. 

1 Phil. V. 10—19. 



When fugitive slaves in America are sent back to 
their masters with such letters as that of St. Paul to 
Philemon, and treated as St. Paul expects Onesimus to 
be treated on their return, American slavery will have 
some claim to be regarded as a Scriptural institution. 
But in that case it will also be near its end. For such 
a feeling as the writer of the Epistle supposes to exist in 
the hearts of Christians as to their relations with each 
other, though it would not prevent a Christian slave 
from remaining in the service of his master, would cer- 
tainly prevent a Christian master from continuing to 
hold his fellow Christian as a slave. 

St. Paul must have known what Slavery under the 
Roman Empire was. He must have known that it was 
a vast reign not only of abominable cruelty, but of still 
more abominable lust. He must have known that it 
was fed to a great extent by the man-stealing which 
he classes with murder and parricide. He must have 
known the deadly effects which it produced on the 
character of the Slave-owner, to whose unbridled pas- 
sions human beings of both sexes were subjected 
without limit or redress''. He must have known that 
this was the real '* cancer" which was eating into the 
vitals of morality and drawing society to its ruin. It 
would have been strange therefore if he had selected 

' Let it be observed that in those days there were no Abolitionists 
to disturb, by their fanatical attacks, the kindly relations between the 
Slave and his Master, or to mar the harmonious working of the insti- 
tution. The world saw, by a fair and decisive experiment, what it was 
to give man a despotic and uncontrolled power over man. That tyranny 
is mildest when it is unchecked and undenounced is a theory flattering 
to human nature, but not verified by the experience of history. 


this among all tlie political and social institutions of 
the time as the object of a partisanship which neither 
he nor any of his fellow Apostles have in any other 
case betrayed. 

The philosophic theory as to ineradicable differences 
of race, on which Slavery is now founded by its de- 
fenders, is directly contradicted by the New Testament, 
for St. Paul says that " God has made of one blood 
all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the 
earths'' In conformity with this declaration, St. Paul 
and his fellow Apostles proceeded to found a Church 
which was to embrace all nations. It is difficult to 
imagine a race of beings fit to apprehend the sublimest 
doctrines of Christianity, to Kve by the Christian rule, 
and to hold office in the Christian Church, yet not fit 
to be masters of their own persons, to enjoy the rights 
of husbands and of fathers, to receive the elements of 
education, or give evidence in a court of justice. 

The only refuge for those who defend Slavery on 
grounds of race, if they do not wish to contradict 
St. Paul, seems to be to go the full length of saying 
that the negroes are not " a nation ot men.'' And to this 
suggestion the Slave-owner, as we have hinted before, 
has given and daily gives a conclusive answer by the 
practices which fill the country with a mixed race. 

Nor would it be easy to produce from the New Tes- 
tament anything which could give colour to the view 
that a class of free labourers is the fungus and cancer 
of civilized life, and that the community is immeasur- 
ably benefited when the labourer is made a slave. For 

^ Acts xvii. 26. 


it was from this diseased and pestilential element of 
society, as the"! advocates of slavery LloM it to be, that 
the Apostles themselves were chosen. The founder of 
Christianity Himself wore the form of a carpenter's 
son. St. Paul wrought as a tent-maker. He " laboured 
working with his own hands." And he laid upon his 
followers in broad terms, and without making any ex- 
ception, the injunction " that if any would not work 
neither should he eat.'' Judging from his language, 
we should say that if there was any particular form of 
society which the Apostle desii'ed to found, it was not 
one in which the true citizen should be exempt from 
labour, but one in which labour should be the lot of all, 
and all should contribute to the common store. 

Feudalism tried to prove that the Apostles were gen- 
tlemen by birth, entitled to bear coats of arms. They 
would have to undergo some historical transformation 
of a similar kind to make them fit founders of the 
religion professed by the Slave-owning aristocracy of 
the South. 

" Would you do a benefit to the horse or the ox by 
giving him a cultivated understanding or fine feelings ? 
So far as the 7nere labourer has the pride, the know- 
ledge, or the aspirations of a free man, he is unfitted 
for his situation, and must doubly feel its infelicity. 
If there are sordid, servile, and laborious offices to be 
performed, is it not better that there should [be sordid, 
servile, and laborious beings to perform them ?" Such 
is the opinion of Chancellor Harper, put forth in his 
address to the South CaroKna Institute. Was it the 
opinion of a Master who washed His disciples' feet ? 


It is difficult to understand how people who hold 
these sentiments can even use, without a sense of un- 
fitness, the common language of Christianity. Such 
phrases as "Whosoever will be chief among you, let 
him be your servant," must seem to them to denote 
something sordid and degrading. 

"It is by the existence of slavery," says another 
Southern writer, " exempting so large a portion of our 
citizens from labour, that we have leisure for intellec- 
tual pursuits." But there is something in the spirit of 
the Gospel which, whether rightly or wrongly under- 
stood, has led Christianity, instead of cherishing an 
exclusive intellectual order, to educate the poor ; and to 
draw forth, by all the means in its power, the intellec- 
tual gifts of that class for the highest service of the 
community. Great systems of education, the direct off- 
spring of Christianity, and a multitude of Christian 
foundations for the purpose of education, bear witness 
to the fact. Nor do the comparative fruits of the two 
systems, so far as they have been tried, condemn the 
common practice of the Christian world. On the con- 
trary, the principle that all orders are " members one 
of another" seems, when applied to education, to act 
more favourably on the intellect even of the higher 
class than the opposite principle. " From the banks 
of the Mississippi to the banks of the James," says a 
traveller in the South, "I did not (that I remem- 
ber) see, except perhaps in one or two towns, a ther- 
mometer, nor a book of Shakspeare, nor a pianoforte 
or sheet of music ; nor the light of a carcel or other 
good centre table or reading-lamp, nor an engraving 


or copy of any kind of a work of art of the slightest 
merit." "I am not speaking," he adds_, "of what are 
commonly called ' poor whites ;^ a large majority of all 
these houses were the residences of shareholders, a con- 
siderable proportion cotton-planters*." Some of the 
compositions w^hich are the fruits of the " intellectual 
leisure" purchased by the hopeless degradation of the 
labouring class are before us. They are among the 
most barbarous ever produced by civilized man. They 
seem moreover to turn mainly on one subject. The 
presence of a great social wrong absorbs such intellect 
as the community has in the work of its justification. 
It does not leave the real leisure and the serenity of 
mind which philosojohy, science, and poetry demand. 

New England has taken the course sanctioned by 
Christendom and condemned by the Slaver. Like 
Scotland, or even more than Scotland, she has made a 
system of popular education the basis of her Common- 
wealth, and established throughout her territory the free 
schools which, above all other free institutions, the South, 
as we have seen, repudiates and abhors. The result of 
this is that intelligence is generally difi'used among the 
people, and that the great writers of England have 
a second and an ample Empire in the North. The 
highest fruits of intellect are everywhere long in ripen- 
ing ; and this must especially be the case in a nation 
of which a large part consists of immigrants, intent on 
obtaining the means of subsistence, and the energies of 
which are to a great extent absorbed in providing the 
material basis of civilization and reclaiming a vast ex- 

* Journeys and Explorations, vol. ii. p. 285. 


panse of virgin land. Under such circumstances, the 
love of utility must be expected to predominate over 
that of beauty, practical invention over pure science, 
practical discussion over the pursuit of theoretic truth. 
Yet the North has already produced writers in different 
departments who take a high place in literature, and 
who may fairly be regarded as the earnest of still better 
things to come. Men of intellect are very apt, from 
their natural fastidiousness, to dislike Equality ; yet if 
they look over history they will find that Equality has 
been their best friend. 

There is nothing, the prevalence of which in a 
community is more fatal to high intellect, than gross 
luxury. And there can be no doubt that in a modern 
Slave State gross luxury prevails in the highest degree. 
The ancient Slave States at the time of their intellec- 
tual greatness were comparatively free from luxury, 
at least of the grosser kind. 

In fact, the character to which the Slave- owners 
aspire seems to be not so much that of the Christian, 
with its charity and humility, or even that of the in- 
tellectual Grreek, as that of the ancient Roman. " The 
relations between the North and the South," says 
a Southern organ, '' are very analogous to those which 
subsisted between Greece and the Roman Empire, after 
the subjugation of Achaia by the Consul Mummius. 
The dignity and energy of the Koman character, con- 
spicuous in war and politics, were not easily toned and 
adjusted to the arts of industry and literature. The 
degenerate and pliant Greeks, on the contrary, excelled 
in the handicraft and polite professions. We learn 


from the vigorous invective of Juvenal, that they were 
the most useful and capable of servants, whether as 
pimps or professors of rhetoric. Obsequious, dexterous, 
and ready, the versatile Greeks monopolized the busi- 
ness of teaching, publishing, and manufacturing in the 
Roman Empire, allomng their masters ample leisure 
for the service of the State, in the Senate or in the 
field." In confirmation of this historical theory it 
may be remarked that the Romans of the Southern 
States, like those of the Capitol, sprang from an asylum. 
One who was much concerned in the foundation of 
Virginia said of that Colony, that "the number of 
felons and vagabonds transported did bring such evil 
characters on the place, that some did choose to be 
hanged ere they would go there, and icere" 

It is true that the planters also claim a reputation 
for chivalry ; and chivalry, no doubt, has its root deep 
in Christianity. But we must beg leave to add that 
a chivalry which exercises uncontrolled t^^ranny over 
defenceless victims, which flogs women naked, which 
buys and sells them as the wretched victims of brutal 
lust, which breeds human beings like cattle, which 
tears husbands from their wives and children from their 
mothers, which stands by and exults or moralizes while 
men are burned alive at slow fires, is a chivalry such 
as the Christian world has not yet seen. The type of 
character which it tends to produce may be higher 
than that of St. Louis, Edward L, and Bayard, but it 
certainly is not the same. 

We have said that the founders of Christianity, when 
they preached political resignation as necessary for the 


timej did not pass on mankind a sentence of political 
despair. They submitted to the powers of an evil 
world, but they nevertheless did, and meant to do, that 
by which those powers would be destroyed. They bade 
the slave remain a slave, but it was in order that he 
might not imperil the sacred deposit of Christian prin- 
ciple which bore with it the redemption of the slave 
for ever. The kingdom of Christ was not of this 
world, but nevertheless its liegemen looked forward 
to the day when '^ the kingdoms of this world should 
become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, and 
that He should reign for ever and ever.'' 

Therefore the Church, whenever she has been her- 
self, and whenever she has acted in the spirit of her 
Founder, has laboured, not by inciting revolution, but 
by inculcating social duty and kindling social affection, 
to do away with all unjust and harsh distinctions be- 
tween man and man, to diffuse the principles of frater- 
nity and equality in their true sense through the world, 
and to make each community a community indeed. 
Therefore she has instinctively and steadily insisted on 
the education of the poor. Therefore she has steadily 
assailed slavery and caste, and feudal serfdom, and all 
such barriers as prevented the different classes of men 
in Christian nations from becoming members one of 
another. The brotherhood of man, in short, is the idea 
which Christianity in its social phase has been always 
striving to realize, and the progress of which consti- 
tutes the social history of Christendom. With what 
difficulties this idea has struggled ; how it has been 
marred by revolutionary violence, as well as impeded 


by reactionary selfishness ; to what chimerical hopes, 
to what wild schemes, to what calamitous disappoint- 
ments, to what desperate conflicts, it has given birth ; 
how often, being misunderstood and misapplied, it has 
brought not peace on earth but a sword, — it is needless 
here to rehearse. Such miscarriages, such delay, could 
not be averted unless the nature of man was to be 
changed, or the effort by which his character is formed, 
and which appears to be the law of his being, was to 
be superseded by the fiat of Omnipotence. Countless 
ages have no doubt yet to run before the idea is realized 
and the hope fulfilled. Still, as we look back over the 
range of past history, we can see beyond doubt that it 
is towards this goal that Christianity as a social prin- 
ciple has been always tending and still tends. 

No sooner did the new religion gain power in the 
world, than the slave law, and the slave system of the 
Empire, began to be undermined by its influence. In 
unconscious alliance with Stoicism, to which among all 
the ancient systems of Philosophy it had the most affinity, 
Christianity broke in upon the despotism of the Master, 
as well as upon the despotism of the Father and the 
Husband. The right of life and death over the Slave 
was transferred from his owner to the magistrate. The 
right of correction was placed under humane limita- 
tions, which the magistrate was directed to maintain. 
All the restrictions on the enfranchisement of Slaves 
were swept away. The first Christian Emperor recog- 
nised enfranchisement as a religious act, and established 
the practice of performing it in the Church before the 
Bishop, and in the presence of the congregation. The 


liberties of tlie freedman were at the same time cleared 
of all odious and injurious restrictions. This remained 
the policy of the Christian Empire. The Code of Jus- 
tinian, the great monument of Imperial jurisprudence, 
is highly favourable to enfranchisement, and that on 
religious grounds. 

The facility of enfranchisement, and the prospect of 
enlarging that facility, would conspire with political 
prudence to prevent Christianity from coming into 
direct collision with Roman slavery. Hope was not 
denied to the Eoman slave. But hope is denied, or almost 
denied, to the American slave. In most of the Southern 
States the law withholds the power of enfranchisement 
from the master, against whose benevolence and genero- 
sity it seems the State is more concerned to guard, than 
against his cruelty and lust. A slave can be emanci- 
pated only by the authority of the Legislature or by 
a Court of Law, and upon special cause shewn; and 
further, the condition of a Negro when emancipated is 
such, as to make freedom at once a very qualified and 
a very precarious boon. The free Negro is still to 
a great extent excluded from the rights of a citizen 
and a man. His evidence is not received against 
a white man^; the law does not secure to him the 
safeguard of a trial by a jury of his peers ; he has no 
vote or voice in framing the laws by which he is 
governed, and degrading restrictions are imposed even 

'^ "It is an inflexible and universal rule of slave-law, founded in 
one or two States upon usage, in others sanctioned by express legisla- 
tion, that the testimony of a coloured person, whether bond or free, 
cannot be received against a white person." — Wheeler s Law of Slaver 1}^ 
quoted hy Qoodell, p. 279. 


upon Ms religious worship. He is liable to be brought 
back into slavery in many wa3^s, — among others, by 
being married to a slave ; and if his freedom is chal- 
lenged, he must bring white witnesses to prove him- 
self free^. By the Roman Law the presumption was 
in favour of freedom, and under the Empire, freedmen 
not only enjoj^ed full liberty, but from their industry 
and pliancy often engrossed too much power in the 

But the Roman world was doomed ; and it was doomed 
partly because the character of the upper classes had 
been deeply and incurably corrupted by the possession 
of a multitude of slaves. The feudal age succeeded; 
the barbarian conqueror took the place of the Roman 
master, and a new phase of slavery appeared. Imme- 
diately Christianity recommenced its work of allevia- 
tion and enfranchisement. The codes of laws framed 
for the new lords of Europe under the influence of the 
Clergy, shew the same desire as those of the Chris- 
tian Emperors, to break in upon the despotism of the 
Master, and assure personal rights to the Slave. The 
laws of the Lombards, for instance, protected the Serf 
against an unjust or too rigorous master ; they set free 
the husband of a female slave who had been seduced by 
her owner ; they assured the protection of the Churches 
to slaves who had taken refuge there, and regulated 
the penalties to be inflicted for their faults, instead of 
leaving them subject to an arbitrary will J'. In Eng- 
land the Clergy secured for the Slave rest on the Sun- 

^ Goodell's American Slave Code, pt. iii. ch. i. 
y Sismondi, Rep. Ital., vol. i. p. 74. 


day, and liberty either to rest or work for himself on 
a number of holy days. They exhorted their flocks to 
leave the savings and earnings of the prsedial slave un- 
touched. They constantly freed the slaves who came 
into their own possession. They exhorted the laity to 
do the same, and what living covetousness refused, they 
often wrung from deathbed penitence. This they did 
constantly and efiectually during the early part of the 
Middle Ages, while the Church was still to a great ex- 
tent in a missionary state, and had not yet been turned 
into an establishment allied with political power. After- 
wards no doubt a change came over the spirit of the 
Clergy in this, as well as in other respects. The 
Church became an Estate and a part of the feudal 
system. Her Bishops became Spiritual Lords. And 
these Spiritual Lords in the time of Richard II. voted 
with the Temporal Lords, for the repudiation of the 
King's promise of enfranchisement to the villains^ and 
the last serfs who remained in existence were found 
on the estates of the Church. 

Twice vanquished, in the shape of Ancient Slavery 
and in the shape of Feudal Serfdom, the enemy rose 
again in the shape of Negro Slavery, the offspring not 
of Boman or Barbarian Conquest, but of commercial 
avarice and cruelty. And again Christianity returned 
to the struggle against the barrier thus a third time 
reared by tyranny and cupidity in the path of her 
great social hope and mission, the brotherhood of Man. 
By the mouth of Clarkson and Wilberforce she de- 
manded and obtained of a Christian nation the emanci- 
pation of the Slaves in the West Indies. And if in the 


case of American Slavery, the upper classes of this 
country, fro*m political considerations, have shewn a 
change of feeling, and the Clergy of the Established 
Church have gone vrith the upper classes, the Free 
Churches, more unbiassed organs of Christianity, have 
almost universally kept the faith. 

If, then, we look to the records of Christianity in the 
Bible, we find no sanction for American Slavery there. 
If we look to the history of Christendom, we find the 
propagators and champions of the faith assailing Sla- 
very under difierent forms and in difierent ages, without 
concert, yet with a unanimity which would surely be 
strange if Christianity and Slavery were not the natu- 
ral enemies of each other. 

On the other side of the Atlantic two communities 
are now grappling in deadly conflict. The principle 
of one of them is Free Labour, while that of the 
other is Slavery ; and few can doubt that this is the 
root of their antagonism, whatever may be the imme- 
diate cause of the present war. 

It can hardly be denied that the community of New 
England, of which Free Labour is the principle, was 
founded under the auspices of Christianity, though it 
may have been Christianity of an austere and narrow 
kind, such as persecution produces in peasant hearts. 
The avowed object of the settlement was " the glory of 
God and the advancement of the Christian faith ;" and 
one of the fathers of the Colony said, '' It concerneth 
"New England to remember that they were originally 
a plantation religious, not a plantation of trade. If 
any man among us make religion as twelve, and the 



world as thirteen, such an one hath not the spirit of 
a true New Englandman." The settlers at first, like 
the Early Church, had all things in common, till the 
natural desire of separate property arose, and in this, as 
in other respects, the little religious community became 
a nation. The primary germ of the Puritan settlement 
has, of course, been overlaid by a vast alien immigra- 
tion ; the original character of the people has to a great 
extent disappeared under the vast growth of the com- 
mercial element ; and other things have taken place 
which would make it difficult for one of the Pilgrim 
Fathers, if he could return to life, to recognise the off- 
spring of his " religious plantation" in the America of 
the present day. Still the great Christian idea so far 
survives that it remains the fundamental principle of 
the community to treat all men as equally entitled to 
the full benefit of the social union, and to make the 
State a brotherhood of which all are equally recognised 
as members. And the destinies of a community of 
which this can be said, whatever may be its defects, 
its errors, or its misfortunes, cannot cease to be an 
object of interest to Christendom. 

Virginia and the Confederate States, on the other 
hand, of which Slavery is declared to be the funda- 
mental principle, were assuredly not founded under the 
auspices of Christianity. They were founded by mere 
commercial adventurers of the very lowest kind. They 
were fostered by that darker Power which waits on the 
beneficent genius of commerce, and of which slave- 
trading Bristol was then the chosen seat. This power 
has been worshipped in all ages with human misery and 


blood. It has led men in all ages to reduce their fellow 
men to slavery for their own profit. It leads men now 
to put their own children under the lash of the overseer. 
]^or does the Slave Power fail, in its extremity, to re- 
ceive the sympathy of the element from which it is 
sprung. The heart of capitalist tyranny everywhere is 
with that supreme tyranny of capital which makes its 
victims slaves. Feudalism, too, knows its own, and feels 
its affinity to a system under which, as in the times of 
serfdom, the labourer is under the absolute dominion of 
the lord. 

Christian England tampered with Slavery for wealth. 
She has paid the penalty of her offence in the depraving 
influence of the West Indian slave-owners on the cha- 
racter and manners of this nation, in the heavy sum 
which, when the hour of remorse arrived, was given to 
purchase Emancipation, and in the burden and expense 
of holding a number of useless dependencies in the 
West Indies ; a burden and expense which will pro- 
bably be greatly increased if a great Slave Power is 
established on the neighbouring shore. The Chris- 
tian States of North America have tampered with 
Slavery for Empire and for the pride of a great Con- 
federacy ; and they have paid the penalty, first in the 
poison which the domination of the Slave-owner has 
spread through their political and social system, and 
secondly, in this dreadful and disastrous war. 

'^nnU'ij hv ^tssrs. ^arker, Cornwarlvet, Oxiot^. 

23b tfie same ^uti)or. 

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Irish History and Irish Character. 

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The Empire. 

A Series of Letters published in " The Daily News," 
1862, 1863. 

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Three Lectures on Modern History, 

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" Westminster Review." 

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The Foundation of the American Colonies. 

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June 12, i860. 


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