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whether slavery tends to licentiousness. On this point, Dr. Channing has expressed himself eloquently and with great power. His language, which, in a single word, is perhaps a sbade stronger than was necessary, need not be quoted here. Mr. Leigh says in reply, “I shall content myself with declaring my conscientious beliel, ihat there is no society existing on the globe, in which the virtue of conjugal fidelity, in man as well as woman, and the happiness of doinestic life, are more general than in the slave-holding States." We cannot doubt that Mr. Leigh believes as he says. Yet we cannot forget, that in those States the purity of a million of females is at the mercy of masters and of masters' sons, living under a servid cline, in idleness and fullness of bread.
We cannot forget, that among more than two millions of people in those States there is no such thing as legal marriage ; that among those two millions, the connections which they form under the name of marriage, are always liable to be dissolved, not only at the will of the parties, but against their will, whenever the interest of a master or of a master's creditors may require a separation; and that, therefore, among two millions of people there, the connection of husband and wife,-no, of inale and female, --can lave nothing of the sacredness that belongs to the relation of husband and wife in a civilized and christian community. We cannot forget, that in those States females of every variety of complexion, from the glossy ebony to that slightest tinge of yellow through which the quick blood speaks as eloquently, perhaps, as on the cheek of the most delicate mistress, are liable to be set up on a table in the most public places, exposed like any other merchandize to the examination of every idle passer by, and sold to the highest bidder; and that the moment the purchaser bas laid bis band upon his bargain, she is as completely at bis disposal as if she had been sold in the slave-market of Tripoli, io adorn the harem of a Turk. Some may find it easy to believe, that every young master at the south is a very Scipio; but we must forget what the laws are in those States, and what human nature is everywhere, before we can go as far as the senator from Virginia goes, in his vindication of the chastity of the southern slaves. The question, however, whether there is an actual connection between slavery and licentiousness, is a question more interesting and more important at the south than at ihe north. Let every southern man look around him and see what the facts are. Let every southern mother of a son ask herself, whether she believes that all mothers in the free States have just such anxieties as she bas.
Dr. Channing touches on another part of this subject. He adverts to the fact, that many masters have children born into slavery. Most of these children, he presumes, are kindly created during the life-time of the fathers; but, as the fathers die, not a few, especially since the obstacles in the way of emancipation have been increased, are left to the chances of slavery. "Still more, it is to be feared, that there are cases in which the master puts his own children under the whip of the overseer, or else sells them to undergo the miseries of bondage among strangers.”. “ Among the pollutions of heathenism, I know nothing worse than this. The heathen who feasts on bis country's foe, may bold up bis head by the side of the christian who sells his child for gain,-sells him to be a slave. God forbid that I should charge this crime on a people. But however rarely it may occur, it is a fruit of slavery, an exercise of power belonging to slavery, and no laws restrain or punish it.” To this the eloquent senator replies,-how?-by admitting all that Dr. Channing has said. “I shall not deny that such facts as hie mentions inay bave occurred. But," he proceeds, “is it reasonable, is it charitable, 10 alledge such iniquities as a reproach against our national character ?" Certainly, Mr. senator, so long as your laws tolerate and uphold such villainy, so long your proud escutcheon bears the stain in the face of all the world. When your legislatures shall doom to the gallows or to the penitentiary the man who sells his children, then will that stain be wiped away. Mr. Leigh proceeds to say, that within a year he has seen several accounts of parents exposing their newborn infants in the streets of the city of New-York; and he asks, “ Is there a man in his sound senses, that would deduce from such facts matter of reproach against the people of that city ?" We answer, perhaps not. But why is it so? Why are not the people there responsible ? Simply because such exposures there are held as crimes, not merely in the eye of conscience, but in the eye of law. The senator having thrown up this little cloud of dust, makes good his retreat from the point, by saying, “ I believe that the judicial records of this country will show that the number of crimes, especially those of deepest atrocity, committed in the non-slave-holding States, is much greater than those committed in the slave-holding States." Pray, Mr. Leigh, do the slaves in your part of the country ever steal? do they commit adultery? are they ever found guilty of assault and battery upon each other? and is there any "judicial record" showing how often slaves are convicted of such crimes ? Nay, if a slave should perpetrate a rape upon the body of a slave, would there be any “ judicial record” of the crime? Is two gentlemen have a brawl at a tarern, or a rencontre in the streets, and fight it out fairly and handsomely, with fists, with dirks, or with pistols, is there always some "judicial record” of the transaction? In general, does not the very existence of slavery, by making the master, in numberless instances, judge, jury, and excutioner, and by keeping up among the lords of the soil a very peculiar sort of public sentiment, tend to diminish
the number of “ judicial records,” rather than the number of crimes actually committed ?
“ Can the slave-holder use the word amalgamation without a blush ?" To this question Mr. Leigh replies, “ It is absolutely wonderful how little amalgamation has taken place in the course of two centuries." Wonderful it is to us, considering all the circumstances of the case ; and yet we think, that is any man shall venture upon reading Dr. Channing's pungent question in the senate, when Col. Johnson shall bave attained to the presidency of that body, there will be some expectation of a blush in certain quarters. But what is the great shame charged upon Col. Johnson by his political opponents at the south? Is it simply that he has a family of colored children? Or is it rather, that instead of treating his daughters as if they were cattle, he treats them with something of a father's affection, and even attempts to force them upon society, by taking them with him to places of public resort, and by marrying them to white men? We might naine the governor of one of the proudest States in the Union, who permitted his daughter to be sold and transported from her native city to the painful and hopeless servitude of a plantation in Louisiana, when he inight easily have saved her, and it was proposed to him to save her. Yet so little ignominy attaches to him on that account, that we presume not one in ten thousand of those who admire his greatness, can guess the name of the statesman and patriot who permitted his daughter to be sold into exile and slavery, when one word of his lips would have saved her. The African prince who should do the self-same thing on the banks of the Congo, would forfeit his character :
But Brutus is an honorable man,
Art. VIII.-WORDSWORTH AND HIS POETRY.
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. In four volumes. Boston : 1824.
Yarrow Revisited, and other Poems. By William WORDSWORTH. New-York: 1835.
The appearance of a new volume of poems by Wordsworth, reminds us of an obligation to our readers, which has been of long standing. It is to present to them, so far as we are able, a just view and a fair estimate of bis claims to their regard as a poet and as a man. For the striking features of his literary history, as he has slowly risen from a neglect and opposition which was almost universal, to general reputation and regard; be deserves the notice of every one wbo is curious to trace the changes of public opinion, and to follow a great man through his difficulties, as they have successively yielded to his triumphant progress. The first volume of his published poems was given to the world not far from the commencement of the present century. On its first appearance, it was subjected to attacks from unfair and abusive critics; apa these attacks were repeated with a zeal and perseverance which no work of inferior merit could have provoked. In this abuse, the Edinburgh Review was foremost, which in the words of Allan Cunningham, “was then as a young lion in full majesty of tusk and claw; those who only know it now, when it exbibits the skia stuffed, can have no idea of its early influence with the world."
The northern critics saw in Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Lamb, a formidable array of men of acknowledged ability and zeal, who had associated themselves for the soul purpose of introducing a new school in poetical composition. As some of them resided in the vicinity of the lakes of Westmoreland and Cumberland, they were styled by these critics “ The Lake Poets." or nore briefly, "The Lakers." Through the influence of this review and others of inferior note, the current of public opinion set itself strongly against every production which came from the pen of any one who bore this unfortunate name. Wordsworth and his associates became the scorn of the fashionable and the gay. The received literature of the day pointed its most piquant sentences with his name; and in the saloons of the proud ibe man of rank and of fashion, the scornful man of letters, “the pert captain and the primmer priest,” could find no source of merriment more fruitful than Wordsworth with his “ Peter Bell” and “ Betty Foy.”
On this side of the Atlantic, the genius criticorum raised their feeble echo to the voice of their masters across the water, and controlled to the extent of their powers, all that was then with us of literary opinion. But amidst the storm, Wordsworth was himself unmoved. He anticipated its outbreaking from the first, and to a certain extent it was by him needlessly provoked. He was not merely conscious, that his own principles of poetical composition were not according to the taste of the public, but he was frank and fearless enough openly to declare this conviction, and to point out clearly wherein the public taste was vitiated. even farther than this. As if to set this taste against himself in its most distinct array, in those poems which he designed should exemplify most fully his peculiar principles of poetry, he commit. ted offenses against this taste, which, however false and vitiated it might have been, were gratuitous and uncalled for. With the truth of these principles we are not now concerned. It is enough for us to say, that they were set forth with the bold spirit of a reformer ; with the consciousness on bis part, that he was giving ut. terance to opinions on which he was qualified to speak. But the attitude of the poet, and the scornful and unrelenting attacks of his critics are now matters of history. The hold which he has gained on public feeling, is now permanent and strony. In the British isles, and with us, many are the youny who revere bis name, as that of their guide and ieacher, one who has awakened in their minds poetic feeling, and with it, the noblest aspirations both for this life and the life wbich is to come. Most of our current writers now speak well of him. Those who, in their own character, exbibit but little of his spirit, read and quote from his works, and would have it thought, that they are among bis admirers; while those who look on him as a moral and religinus teacher, reverence and love both his name and his works. The poet 100, has lived 10 see this change. His own collaye has, we doubt not, been to birn the abode of peace through all the adverse circumstances of bis literary career. But now, when he has gained an acknowledged superiority, and for bis own merits as a poet, is the delight of many hearts, he cannot but triumph with an bonest and a becoming joy. All and even more success than he could have proposed to his most sanguine hopes, has been achieved by him, in his life-time. “Yarrow Revisited” is welcomed as universally as the “ Lyrical Ballads” were rejected and scorned. Those who studied and loved the former works of the poet, have waited with eayer longing for its appearance, and have been impatient to feast upon its contents. Such a triumph as this, is to us most interesting. The mere fact, that he has gained the victory which he has, would of itself be sufficient to beget the conviction, that it is a triumph of the truth. It would seem to declare to us, ibat the poet stood above his age, and was safe in his announcement, that to gain its approbation, he must first create the taste which should appreciate his merits ; that his confidence in his final success was grounded on a true and a deep insight into that human heart, which he was sure would finally rise up and give judgment in his favor. Whether this presumption is well-founded, will appear, we trust, to the satisfaction of our readers.
To poetry, Wordsworth has devoted his life. We mean by this, not merely tliat he has followed no one of the professions, not merely that he has not been a statesman nor a merchant,- but that he has devoted himself to what he has thought his appropriate duties as a poet, with the same intense and the same absorbing zeal, that the great mass of men bestow on the calling which has been assigned them by the band of Providence.
He has not merely withdrawn himself from the bustle of common life, that he might fulfill the literal import of the phrase, "Vacare Musis;" he has not presented bimself as the passive subject of inspiration, but whatever be bas done as a poet, has been done with an untiring enthusiasın and a persevering industry. To poetry he has given his whole heart,-his constant and exclusive attention, his unweaVol. VIII.