Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

224

REV. DR. RITCHIE AND REV. J. A. JAMES

We cannot linger longer on Scottish ground ; though if we did, we should certainly be attracted by the erect form and elastic step of Rev. JOHN RITCHIE, D.D., of Edinburgh, whose Quaker-cut coat, ample white cravat, jaunty hat, and dangling cluster of watch-seals, would make you assign him now to membership in the Society of Friends, and then to membership in some sporting club, but never to his proper place, at the head of the Secession Church of Scotland. IIe is an old soldier in the ranks of Freedom ; has fought many a hard battle with Negro Slavery and the State Church : is an ardent free trader, universal suffragist, and, in a word, a thorough radical reformer, who can instruct the reason or arouse the feelings of an auditory with capital effect.

We will hasten to English ground, and spend a few moments with a clergyman who, in mental characteristics and oratorical peculiarities, is a cross of the thunder of Dr. Thomson, and the sunshine of Dr. Wardlaw-Rev. JOHN ANGELI. JAMES, of Birmingham. Of Mr. James' course in the early stages of the anti-slavery movement, I cannot speak with certainty. But, during the controversy growing out of the apprenticeship, and in the later efforts for the overthrow of slavery and the slave trade throughout the world, the contributions of his pen and voice to the cause received additional influence from his position as one of the most conspicuous leaders of the Congregational body of Great Britain. He has also been among the foremost of the dissenting clergy in advocating the principle of Voluntaryism, in its application to ecclesiastical affairs and the education of the people. Perhaps, at the present time, he stands at the head of the denomination which he adorns by his talents and virtues. Mr. James has a high reputation as a writer and preacher on both sides of the Atlantic. It was not my fortune to hear him in the pulpit, but I can bear testimony to his power over audiences on the platform. He has the external qualities, the physical embellishments, of an orator : a well-proportioned person-a voice of great compass, and as flexible and rich as aa flute-a singularly expressive countenance, polished manners, and a graceful gesticulation. These are the frame and border of that grand and beautiful picture which his strong mind and glowing imagination paint before admiring assemblies. He captivates and converts more by winning grace than conquering power ; more by the charms of his rhetoric than the severity of his logic. Let it not be inferred from this that his speeches are devoid of argument. Far from it. They abound in that ingredient, without which all public addresses become the mere sounding brass and tinkling cymbal of an unbridled imagination, or the sound and fury of hollow declamation, signifying nothing but the emptiness of the mere word-spouter. I only mean to say, that his reasoning is not sent into the world bald, but is embellished with artistic skill, and that his speeches bear the hearer onward to conviction in a mixed current of strong argument, elevated sentiment, witty allusions, and happy bits. His appeals to the nobler feelings of the supporters of the cause he is advocating, are fully equaled by his adroitness in sweeping away the objections its opponents have strewed in his path, leaving prostrate antagonists to admire the skill and courtesy with which the victor waved rather than hurled them to the ground. In the select social circle he is as attractive as when eliciting public plaudits on the rostrum ; and though an ecclesiastical leader, and ready to defend his religious tenets on suitable occasions, his liberal sentiments and courteous bearing toward all sects, have won him troops of friends in every denomination and class of Christians, from Bishops in lawn to Quakers in drab.

Even an incomplete list of clergymen who bore conspicuous parts in the contests detailed in the last chapter, would be unpardonably defective if it omitted to name Rev. JAMES HowARD Hinton, an able Baptist preacher, and the author of a history of this country—and Rev. William BROCK, an elo

10*

-

226

REV. MESSRS. BEVAN AND BURNET.

quent divine of the same denomination—and Rev. WILLIAM Bevan, of the Congregational church, whose pamphlet on the Apprenticeship did much toward terminating that systemand Rev. JOHN BURNET, of the same church, one of the keenest debaters the English pulpit affords.

CHAPTER XX.

British India-Clive and Hastings-East India Company-Its Oppres

sions and Extortions--Land Tax-Monopolies—Forced Labor and Purveyance-Taxes on Idolatry-Amount of Revenue Extorted— Slavery in India, Famine and Pestilence--The Courts-Rajah of Sattara-Abolition of Indian Slavery-British India Society-General Briggs-William Howitt-George Thompson as an OratorLord Brougham's Opinion-Mr. Thompson's Anti-Slavery CareerHis Visit to India–His Defense of the Rajah-Advocates CornLaw Repeal-Is Elected to Parliament.

Near the close of the seventeenth century, English ships occasionally skirted the coast of Hindostan, anxious to exchange a roll of flannel or a pack of cutlery for a case of muslins or a bag of spices. A surgeon from one of these vessels was called to attend upon the daughter of the reigning Prince, and succeeded in curing her of a dangerous disease. Being asked what reward he would have for his services, he refused to receive any gift for himself, but solicited commercial privileges for his countrymen. They were granted ; and English trading factories were established at Madras and Calcutta. These purely trading posts became the germs of a power which, shooting out its gigantic branches, ultimately spread over the largest and most fertile portion of the peninsula of Hindostan. Robert Clive, a clerk in the Madras factory, laid the foundation of British empire in India. Warren Hastings, a clerk in the factory at Calcutta, erected upon this foundation a towering superstructure, whose blighting shadow now covers a million square miles of territory, inspiring awe in the breasts of a hundred millions of people. The dominion of Britain over this immense area and population is justifiable neither by the mode in which it was obtained, nor the manner in which it has been exercised. Obtained by force, fraud, and cunning, it has been exercised in a spirit of avarice which might tingle the cheek of a Shylock with shame, and of oppression which gives verity to the fabulous tales of Oriental despotisms in the olden time.

The whole of Anglo-India is ruled primarily by the Government of Great Britain, but a large portion of it is governed practically by the English East India Company. These sovereigns in Leadenhall street execute their mandates through a small body of Directors, who acknowledge a slight allegiance to a Board of Control in Downing street. They derive their authority from the Charter of the British Crown, and rule India by permission of the British people. The fundamental principle of their government is, to make India subservient to their pecuniary interests, regardless of its own. Proceeding on the plan of realizing as large a profit as possible on the capita] invested, they have taxed the land to the utmost limits of its capacity to pay, making every successive province as it fell into their hands a pretext and a field for higher exactions, and boasting that they have raised the amount of revenue beyond what native rulers were able to extort. They have monopolized every branch of trade that could be made productive, employing in the prosecution the smallest number of laborers, at the lowest rate of wages.

The instructions of the Company to their Indian agents have been to make as large remittances as possible. This done, little concern has been felt as to the means employed by the thousand or twelve hundred Englishmen sent thither to enrich their employers and amass private fortunes by plundering the country. The periodical invasion of these hordes of needy adventurers has been like the march of the locusts of Egypt-before them was fertility and beauty ; behind them was barrenness and desolation.

For the Company to listen to

« ZurückWeiter »