Imágenes de página

Where mighty heroes would be paltry things,
And thrown, unnamed, aside with slaves and kings?

Is there a spot hypocrisy hath ne'er

Profaned, nor made a mart of-one place where
Religion seeks for ministers the true,
The pure, the faithful, and the humble too?

Is there a spot where man's unclouded mind,
Conscious of social bonds that bind his kind,
Frames, firm in all his rights, the law that sways,
Is independent still, and still obeys?

Oh! in that spot let Freedom's vot'ries place
A column on an adamantine base;
'Gainst its firm shaft let Independence stand
Our Rushton's lyre, eternal, in his hand.

Oft from its chord a dirge and daring sound
Shall burst upon the wretched nations round,
Till startled slaves th' arousing thunder hear,
And all oppressors vile shall learn to fear."

Perhaps it may not be irrelevant to this subject to place before the readers of the preceding notice an account of a single act of the remarkable man who is the subject of it, very worthy of attention and admiration.

A very remarkable letter of Edward Rushton, of Liverpool, addressed to Washington, was published in 1797. The writer was then laboring under blindness. He was embarrassed, and nearly indigent in his circumstances— a liberal in politics, an admirer of Washington, and an enthusiastic advocate of the American Revolution.

Washington was then at the height of his glory-President of the United States, and Commander-in-chief of the American army.

Rushton, being a plain, honest, simple-minded sort of man, could not understand the anomaly of a liberator on a grand scale being a holder, a buyer, and a seller of slaves-a man interested in the robbery of the rights of other people. So Edward Rushton wrote to George Washington a letter in his plain, straightforward way of setting forth his views, and a nobler letter is not to be found in the English language. It is painful to learn that the illustrious American Republican had the littleness of mind to send back the bold but respectful letter of the poor blind Republican of England without deigning to write one word in reply to it. Yet Washington must have been aware of the character of his unsought-for correspondent-that he was a man who had suffered in some degree for his devotion to Republican principles-that he had

lost his sight in consequence of his humanity in attending to sick slaves during the prevalence of a pestilential malady on board a crowded slave-ship—that he was a consistent philanthropist, and a good hater of injustice of all kinds.

The following extracts from his letter are well deserving of reproduction at the expiration of half a century, and perhaps those who read them will be disposed to think less enthusiastically of the magnanimity of George Washington.

"It is not to the Commander-in-chief of the American forces, nor to the President of the United States, that I have aught to address: my business is with George Washington, of Mount Vernon, in Virginia; a man who, notwithstanding his hatred of oppression, and his ardent love of liberty, holds at this moment hundreds of his fellow-beings in a state of slavery. Yes, you who conquered under the banners of Freedom, you who are now the first magistrate of a free people, are, strange to relate, a slave-holder. That a Liverpool merchant should endeavor to enrich himself by such a business is not a matter of surprise; but that you, an enlightened man, strongly enamored of freedom-you who, if the British forces had succeeded in the Eastern States, would have retired with a few congenial spirits to the rude fastnesses of the Western wildernesses, there to have enjoyed that blessing without which a paradise would be worthless, and with which the most savage region is not without its charms-that you, I say, should continue to be a slave-holder, a proprietor of human flesh and blood, creates in many of your British friends both astonishment and regret. It has been said by some of your apologists that your feelings are inimical to slavery, and that you are induced to acquiesce in it at present merely from motives of policy. THE ONLY TRUE POLICY IS JUSTICE; AND HE WHO REGARDS THE CONSEQUENCES OF AN ACT RATHER THAN THE JUSTICE OF IT, GIVES NO VERY EXALTED PROOF OF THE GREATNESS OF HIS

CHARACTER....... Of all the slave-holders under heaven, those of the United States appear to me most reprehensible; for man is never so truly odious as when he inflicts on others that which he himself abominates. The hypocritical courtesan who preaches chastity, yet lives by the violation of it, is not more truly disgusting than one of your slave-holding gentry bellowing in favor of democracy."

Rushton died in 1814. He was a man of great virtue, a patriot on a large scale, a philanthropist in the true sense of the term, a practical Christian; his life was spent in advocating justice at home and abroad, and doing works of mercy and kindness to his fellow-men. I have dwelt so much on the consistency of the philanthropy of Rushton, because it is so rarely encountered of a perfectly unsectarian character. The lives of Clarkson, Buxton, Sturge, Rushton, and Romilly afford striking exceptions to this rule. There are, however, in the variable atmosphere of the mind, influences which seem to excite the pity of men for one class only of unfortunates, or at one period for a particular train of calamities or peculiar description of suffering; and at another time, and in the case of persons in misfortune of some particular community, which seem to stifle every emotion of sensibility. If we love justice and liberty

abroad, we can not be otherwise than faithful to their interests at home. If we hate the injustice that is offered to black men in Africa or the West Indies, it is also incumbent on us to reprobate all the oppressions that are done under the sun to white men in European countries. If the cruelty of slavetrading is the cause of enormous suffering which we deplore, and use all our efforts to put an end to, the wickedness of legislation which admits of dreadful wrong and suffering being inflicted in the shape of evictions, dispossessions, and destitution of thousands of our fellow-creatures at our own doorswhich leaves a million and a half of the people of a Christian land in a state of beggary for six months in the year, and in permanent pauperism one million of its inhabitants—is an evil that is the occasion of tremendous calamities, which we are surely called on to devote a large portion of our philanthropy to remove and alleviate. But if, instead of doing this, we share in the guilt of sustaining and supporting a system which suffers such evils to exist, what is to be said of our philanthropy? Why, either that we are mistaken enthusiasts-like Granville Sharp and William Wilberforce, who united the advocacy of the abolition of slavery in Africa with that of the maintenance in Ireland of the sanguinary atrocities of the penal code or sanctimonious hypocrites, who speculate in theoretical benevolence, and exercise practical inhumanity in all our political conduct with respect to millions of our fellow-subjects, guilty only of a creed not fashioned like their own. Oh! it is time to put away these unfounded pretensions to philanthropy. The basis for all true philanthropy must be large and deep, capable of sustaining tolerance in affairs of religion, in matters that affect political opinions, in all things that concern national distinctions, and differences of class and clime, capable of enabling charity to deal with all in a Christian spirit.


A correspondent of Lady Blessington, one of England's foremost men, and of the master-spirits of his time, in a letter to her ladyship, thus estimates the labors of Monsieur Eugene Sue, the author of "The Wandering Jew:"

"Sue's Wandering Jew' seems to me a failure, and I don't like the attack on the Jesuits, whom I have always honored for their immense services to science, letters, and humanity. Here, I dare say, you do not agree with me.

"But though I shall never, I suppose, turn Catholic, I feel, if I had been a Catholic, I should never have been any thing else. I love the grand enthusiasm of its earnest believers, and the child-like faith of its simple flocks. I love its ascent into faith above reason."

[ocr errors]

No. XXV.


In the following notices I have endeavored to set before my readers som of the leading features in the, character or career of persons intimately acquainted with Lady Blessington, of whom mention has not been made in connection with the correspondence. The object held in view in giving these slight sketches was to represent the persons referred to as they were known to Lady Blessington and her immediate friends, and to recall such traits of character, or traces of events in their career, as might bring them to the reader's recollection, and renew the acquaintance that many of those readers, who were visitors at Seamore Place or Gore House, may have had with them.

The society had some undoubted claims to pre-eminent excellence that could boast of such habitués as the elder D'Israeli nd his son, Landor, Dickens, the Bulwers, the Smiths, Luttrell, Spencer, Moore, Galt, Ritchie, Reynolds, General Phipps, Landseer, Lawrence, Maclise, Ainsworth, Thackeray, James, and so many others of the celebrities of various countries, and such occasional guests as Grey, Canning, Russell, Wellington, Wellesley, Durham, Burdett, Abinger, Lyndhurst, Auckland, Brougham, and their fellow-magnates of the aristocracy, intellectually gifted, or patrons of intellectual pursuits connected with art or literature.

Of many of these celebrities some outlines have been prefixed to their correspondence.


It has been my object, in those notices I have given of eminent persons intimately acquainted with Lady Blessington, and peculiarly regarded by her with favor and confidence, and an implicit reliance on their friendship, to give expression to her opinions of their merits as I find them scattered over her correspondence, or noted down in detached memoranda among her papers, or treasured up in the remembrance of her gifted niece, Miss M. Power.

Lady Blessington felt a pride as well as a pleasure in the friendship of persons of exalted intellect, and probably she felt more pride in the position in which she apparently stood in the estimation of Lord Lyndhurst, with two or three exceptions, than on account of the intimacy of her relations with any other intellectual celebrity, for she entertained an opinion of his lordship's mental powers so exalted that it would be difficult to exaggerate its elevation. On the other hand, it is obvious that his lordship's friendship was based on an appreciation of Lady Blessington's talents, generous nature, and noble disposition, that did justice to them. Indeed, when we find men of such exalted intellectual powers among the celebrities most highly favored who were to be found in the salons of Seamore Place and Gore House, we have evidence that

the attractions of the fair lady who presided over those reunions were of a high order.*

The son of John Singleton Copley, Esq., the painter and Royal Academician, might have made an indifferent artist had he been brought up to his father's profession. Happily for him, he was brought up for the bar, and became one of the first lawyers, perhaps the first lawyer, of his time. Of upquestionable talents and great powers of mind, an excellent scholar, of sober judgment, clear and sound, active, serious, and earnest in business, in society no one is more agreeable, animated in conversation, and evidently conversant with the literature of the day, as well as with the lore of ancient times. He has the art of inspiring confidence and winning regard by his simplicity of manner, playful humor, and warm interest in the concerns of those with whom he associates. This eminent man was born on the other side of the Atlantic, in Boston, in 1772, and is now, in his 83d year, in the full possession of all his great faculties. He was called to the bar in 1804, and after attaining signal success in his profession, and passing through its several gradations and preferments, he was appointed Master of the Rolls in 1826, and the following year the successor of Lord Eldon, when he was raised to the peerage. Having resigned the seals in 1830, he filled the office of Chief Baron of the Exchequer till 1834, when he resumed the seals for another year, again resigned, and in 1841, for a third time, was appointed Lord High Chancellor of England, which office he retained till 1846. He married, first, a daughter of C. Brunsden, Esq., widow of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas, who died in 1834; secondly, a daughter of Lewis Goldsmith, Esq., in 1837, and has issue by his first marriage four children, and by the second one daughter.


The name of Lord Erskine often occurs in the journals and letters of Lady Blessington. At the early period of her London career, Lord Erskine was an intimate friend of her ladyship, and one of the peculiarly favored and most highly honored of the visitors at her mansion in St. James's Square.

The attractions which such persons found in Lady Blessington were assuredly of a higher order than those of the reigning beauties of any of the salons which Grammont has so graphically described, and Sir Peter Lely depicted. Those of Sir Peter's beauties of "the sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul"-of Grammont's enchantresses-"the languishing Boynton," "the lovely Jennings," "the serious Lyttleton," "the fair Stewart," 66 pretty Miss Blague," "the beautiful Hamilton," "the agreeable Miss Price," though "short and thick," "the susceptible Miss Hobart," and no less so "the unlucky Miss Warmestre," the irresistible damsel

"With her young wild boar's eyes;"

the fascinating Lady Chesterfield, Lady Shrewsbury, Lady Carnegie, Mrs. Roberts, and Mrs. Middleton, so sprightly and spirituelle, so very piquante in conversation-these needed all the graces of the style of Anthony Hamilton to make us understand the power of their agremens even over such modish men as the Earl of Ranelagh, that mad fellow Crofts,” "the beau Sidney," "Little Jermyn," "the incomparable Villiers." and other adepts in galfantry, who had grown gray in the service of the sovereign beauties of the salons.

« AnteriorContinuar »