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in binding up, with gentle hand, the wounds and bruises of time. She has covered the rents and chasms of decay with that drapery which the touch of every spring renews. She has peopled the solitude and the silence with forms and voices. She has clothed the nakedness of desolation, and crowned the majesty of ruin. She has softened the stern aspect of the scene with the hues of undying youth, and brightened the shadows of dead centuries with the living light of vines and flowers.
“ As a matter of course, everybody goes to see the Colosseum by moonlight. The great charm of the ruin under this condition is, that the imagination is substituted for sight; and the mind for the eye. The essential character of moonlight is hard, rather than soft. The line between light and shadow is sharply defined, and there is no gradation of color. Blocks and walls of silver are bordered by, and spring out of chasms of blackness. But moonlight shrouds the Colosseum in mystery. It opens deep vaults of gloom where the eye meets only an ebon wall, but upon which the fancy paints innumerable pictures, in solemn, splendid, and tragic colors. Shadowy forms of emperor and lictor, and vestal virgin and gladiator and martyr, come out of the darkness, and pass before us in long and silent procession. The breezes which blow through the broken arches are changed into voices, and recall the shouts and cries of a vast audience. By day, the Colosseum is an impressive fact; by night, it is a stately vision. By day, it is a lifeless form; by night, a vital thought.
“ The Colosseum should, by all means, be seen by a bright starlight, or under the growing sickle of a young moon. The fainter ray and deeper gloom bring out more strongly its visionary and ideal character. When the full moon has blotted out the stars, it fills the vast gulf of the building with a flood of spectral light, which falls with a chilling touch upon the spirit; for then the ruin is like a corpse in its shroud of snow,' and the moon is a pale watcher by its side. But when the walls, veiled in deep shadow, seem a part of the darkness in which they are lost, when the stars are seen through their chasms and breaks, and sparkle along the broken line of the battlements, — the scene becomes another, though the same; more indistinct, yet not so mournful; contracting the sphere of sight, but enlarging that of thought; less burdening, but more suggestive.”
" But, under all aspects, - in the blaze of noon, at sunset, by the light of the moon or stars, - the Colosseum stands alone and unapproached. It is the monarch of ruins. It is a great tragedy in stone, and it softens and subdues the mind like a drama of Æschylus or Shakespeare. It is a colossal type of those struggles of humanity against an irresistible destiny, in which the tragic poet finds the elements of his art. The calamities which crushed the house of Atreus, are symbolized in its broken arches and shattered walls. Built of indestructible materials, and seemingly for eternity, - of a size, material, and form, to defy the strong hours' which conquer all, it has bowed its head to their touch, and passed into the inevitable cycle of decay. And this too shall pass away, — which the Eastern monarch engraved upon his signet-ring, – is carved upon these Cyclopean blocks. The stones of the Colosseum were once water; and they are now turning into dust. Such is
ever the circle of nature. The solid is changing into the fluid, and the fluid into the solid; and that which is unseen is alone indestructible. He does not see the Colosseum aright, who carries away from it no other impressions than those of form, size, and hue. It speaks an intelligible language to the wiser mind. It rebukes the peevish, and consoles the patient. It teaches us that there are misfortunes which are clothed with dignity, and sorrows that are crowned with grandeur. As the same blue sky smiles upon the ruin which smiled upon the perfect structure, so the same beneficent Providence bends over our shattered hopes and our answered prayers." Vol. i. pp. 305 – 310.
2. Free Blacks and Slaves. Would Immediate Abolition be a Bless
ing? A Letter to the Editor of the Anti-Slavery Advocate. By a Cambridge Man. London and Liverpool. 1853.
Among the many recent publications in England upon the subject of slavery is a modest pamphlet bearing the title given above, which deserves special notice. It is marked by the good sense and moderation with which it treats this most difficult of the questions that perplex our times. It is quite free from the cant, extravagance, and invidiousness which have too often exhibited themselves in the discussion both here and abroad. A man deserves credit who can think and speak calmly in the midst of so much passion, — and still more, if he do so wisely.
The Anti-Slavery Advocate is the organ of that party in England, who are eager to bring about the immediate abolition of slavery in this country. The author of this letter to its editor, having travelled in the United States, and inquired into the condition of the free blacks and of the slaves, has come to the conclusion that immediate abolition, even if it were possible, would be undesirable, and states the grounds of his opinion in a clear, concise, and forcible manner. The facts from which he draws his conclusion are, for the most part, well known in this country; but the close of the letter contains a suggestion which is as new as it is simple and important.
"Admitting,” he says, “ the impossibility of abolishing Slavery in the extreme Southern States till the European races are acclimatized, or the Asiatic ones introduced, it is yet hard to understand why, alone of all American institutions, Slavery has never been modified or improved upon :— why, in a country whose characteristic is a generous growth and progress, there is one fearful and peculiar existence, which never changes with the changing times, nor, year by year, becomes less vile and loathsome. There is much that might be done with little trouble, with no risk, with the certainty of weakening the arguments of the abolitionists by striking from them their most effective weapon – tales of horror and cruelty.
* The suggestion is anticipated, however, in the article in our present number on “ The Possible Amelioration of Slavery," which was written without any knowledge of the existence of the pamphlet here mentioned. It is proper to state, also, that this article, and the present brief notice of the pamphlet by a Cambridge Man, were furnished by two contributors without any concert with each other.
“ Slave-owners, however excellent themselves, must wilfully shut their eyes, or they must be well aware that, though exaggerated by the opposite party, cruelties are not all unknown; and though by no means common, Haleys and Legrees are not quite extinct. Now, what prevents the slave-owners of America, men, many of them, with as good hearts as the South Carolinian,' whose letter, reprinted in Frazer, you have doubtless seen, - what prevents the inhabitants of the South, who do not see their way clear to abolition, forming in their separate States a “Slavery Modification Society,' or some such thing, whose members should take upon themselves reforms which would not affect the stability of their property,' but which would show before God and man that they were really anxious to vindicate themselves from the reproach of conniving at grossest oppression and injustice. Let them examine into the condition of slaves in their own State, and appeal to their State Legislature to assist their endeavors to improve and raise it.
“ Among the reforms which would at once suggest themselves to such a band of high-hearted Southerners would be,–
“1. The observance of the marriage tie for the black man as for the white. “ 2. The abolition of the internal slave-trade between different States.
"3. The appointment of commissioners to examine into the state of the different plantations.
64. The better regulation of auctions.”
Other reforms might, as the “ Cambridge Man” adds, be easily suggested. But the special objects and the plan of operation of such associations as those proposed may best be left to be determined upon and worked out by those who are best acquainted with what ought to be done.
A project like this seems to afford room for the exercise on a broad field of those qualities which are so often found among slaveholders, – the result of their full appreciation of the responsibilities of their position as masters, and of their sincere desire to perform their duties faithfully to their slaves. A Southern plantation may be the scene of the most thoughtful kindness and complete self-devotion of the master to his slave. Virtues which are rarely to be found elsewhere are there called into action. To make these virtues the rule by which the treatment of slaves should be regulated, to raise public opinion up to the highest standard of principle, not to allow it to be regulated by interest or passion, to check by an authoritative expression of sentiment all violence, wantonness and cruelty, to make this sentiment powerful in action, it seems as if there were little needed beyond the combination of right-minded slave-owners, wherever they are to be found, in support of each other and of their common principles. The duties of a Christian master are not limited to his plantation.
Associations such as those proposed in this pamphlet would be attended with indirect benefits hardly less marked than their direct effects. They would save the South from the sweeping condemnation in which she is involved by the deeds of a wretched minority of her population; they would afford ber, what she has long wanted, an internal defence against the pressure of opinion from without; and their increasing strength would insure the weakness of all foreign interference.
NOTE TO ARTICLE I., ON THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI.
It is a curious fact, which should have been noticed in our brief sketch of the attempts to create institutions of knighthood in America, that the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, (commonly known as the Knights Hospitallers, or the Knights of Malta,) once endeavored to establish themselves in this western world. In 1651, this renowned Order purchased of the first French West India Company the four islands of St. Christopher, St. Martin, St. Bartholomew, and St. Croix, being nearly the whole of the Lesser Antilles, for the sum of 120,000 livres tournois, or about $24,000, and held them until 1665. They sent out some of their knights thither, and the islands were governed by a brother of the Order, with the title of Bailly, appointed by the Grand Master at Valetta. There seems to have been a sort of feudal dependency on the King of France, to whom a crown of gold, of the value of $1200, was to be rendered on his accession. From all we can learn, however, there was not much of the spirit of chivalry in the motives that actuated the Order in making this novel acquisition. The spirit of commercial adventure and emolument, which was so universal at that period in Europe in regard to the Eastern and Western Indies, appears to have infected their minds, and they probably went into the matter as a sort of speculation. Finding that the large profits hoped for did not come in, they sold out, in 1665, to the new West India Company, for 500,000 livres tournois, or about $100,000; and that is the last we hear of the Order of St. John in America.
NOTE TO ARTICLE VI. ON CANALS IN INDIA. SINCE the article upon “ Canals of Irrigation in India” was written, we have met with a book recently published, of which the title is as follows: “ The White Slaves of England. Compiled from Official Documents, with twelve spirited illustrations. By John C. Cobden. Auburn: Derby & Miller. 1853." One chapter, occupying about fifty pages of this thick duodecimo volume, is devoted to what the author calls “ Slavery in India.” From this chapter we have thought it well to make a few extracts, that they may be put in immediate apposition with the statements contained in our article. Our readers will find them curious.
Mr. Cobden begins with the assertion that —
“ The extensive, populous, and wealthy peninsula of Hindostan has suffered greatly from the crushing effect of the British slave system.”
After a few sentences he goes on :
“There the fat of the land has been garnered up for the luxury of the conquerors, while famine has destroyed the people by thousands. There, indeed, has the British aristocracy displayed its most malignant propensities --rioting in robbery and bloodshed - setting all religion at defiance, while upholding the Christian standard -- and earning to the full the continued execration of mankind.” p. 441.
Our readers are quite competent to judge of the manner in which this terrible display has been made, and to bestow the due share of execration upon the members of that “ British aristocracy” who have been engaged in it.
A few pages further on, the author states that
“ The destruction of local organizations, and the centralization of authority, which is always attended with the increase of slavery, have been the aims of English efforts. The principle that the government is the sole proprietor of the land, and therefore entitled to a large share of the produce, has been established, and slavery, to escape famine and misery, has become necessary to the Hindoos." p. 449.
A striking illustration of the mode in which, according to Mr. John C. Cobden, the English have thus endeavored to destroy the local organizations, is to be found in the Revenue Settlement of the NorthWestern Provinces, to which we have referred in our article, by which the limits of about 80,000 villages have been determined, the village administrations preserved, and the rights of each separate community, as of each individual proprietor, carefully established. The statement VOL. LXXVII. - NO. 161.