Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands - Volume 2 - By Harriet Beecher Stowe


As soon as I heard this fact, it flashed upon my mind immediately,
that the beautiful cotton lands of Texas - Page 8
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As Soon As I Heard This Fact, It Flashed Upon My Mind Immediately, That The Beautiful Cotton Lands Of Texas

Are as yet unoccupied to a great extent; that no law compels cotton to be raised there by slave labor,

And that it is beginning to be raised there to some extent by the labor of free German emigrants. [Footnote: One small town in Texas made eight hundred bales last year by free labor.] Will not something eventually grow out of this? I trust so. Even the smallest chink of light is welcome in a prison, if it speak of a possible door which courage and zeal may open. I cannot as yet admit the justness of the general proposition, that it is an actual sin to eat, drink, or wear any thing which has been the result of slave labor, because it seems to me to be based upon a principle altogether too wide in extent. To be consistent in it, we must extend it to the results of all labor which is not conducted on just and equitable principles; and in order to do this consistently we must needs, as St. Paul says, go out of the world. But if two systems, one founded on wrong and robbery, and the other on right and justice, are competing with each other, should we not patronize the right?

I am the more inclined to think that some course of this kind is indicated to the Christian world, from the reproaches and taunts which proslavery papers are casting upon us, for patronizing their cotton. At all events, the Quakers escape the awkwardness of this dilemma.

In the evening quite a large circle of friends came to meet us. We were particularly interested in the conversation of Mr. and Mrs. Wesby, missionaries from Antigua. Antigua is the only one of the islands in which emancipation was immediate, without any previous apprenticeship system; and it is the one in which the results of emancipation have been altogether the most happy. They gave us a very interesting account of their schools, and showed us some beautiful specimens of plain needlework, which had been wrought by young girls in them. They confirmed all the accounts which I have heard from other sources of the peaceableness, docility, and good character of the negroes; of their kindly disposition and willingness to receive instruction.

After tea Mr. S. and I walked out a little while, first to a large cemetery, where repose the ashes of Dr. Watts. This burying ground occupies the site of the dwelling and grounds formerly covered by the residence of Sir T. Abney, with whom Dr. Watts spent many of the last years of his life. It has always seemed to me that Dr. Watts's rank as a poet has never been properly appreciated. If ever there was a poet born, he was that man; he attained without study a smoothness of versification, which, with Pope, was the result of the intensest analysis and most artistic care. Nor do the most majestic and resounding lines of Dryden equal some of his in majesty of volume. The most harmonious lines of Dryden, that I know of, are these: -

"When Jubal struck the chorded shell, His listening brethren stood around, And wondering, on their faces fell, To worship that celestial sound. Less than a God they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell, That spoke so sweetly and so well."

The first four lines of this always seem to me magnificently harmonious. But almost any verse at random in Dr. Watts's paraphrase of the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm exceeds them, both in melody and majesty. For instance, take these lines: -

"Wide as his vast dominion lies, Let the Creator's name be known; Loud as his thunder shout his praise, And sound it lofty as his throne.

Speak of the wonders of that love Which Gabriel plays on every chord: From all below and all above, Loud hallelujahs to the Lord."

Simply as a specimen of harmonious versification, I would place this paraphrase by Dr. Watts above every thing in the English language, not even excepting Pope's Messiah. But in hymns, where the ideas are supplied by his own soul, we have examples in which fire, fervor, imagery, roll from the soul of the poet in a stream of versification, evidently spontaneous. Such are all those hymns in which he describes the glories of the heavenly state, and the advent of the great events foretold in prophecy; for instance, this verse from the opening of one of his judgment hymns: -

"Lo, I behold the scattered shades; The dawn of heaven appears; The sweet immortal morning sheds Its blushes round the spheres."

Dr. Johnson, in his Lives of the Poets, turns him off with small praise, it is true, saying that his devotional poetry is like that of others, unsatisfactory; graciously adding that it is sufficient for him to have done better than others what no one has done well; and, lastly, that he is one of those poets with whom youth and ignorance may safely be pleased. But if Dr. Johnson thought Irene was poetry, it is not singular that he should think the lyrics of Watts were not.

Stoke Newington is also celebrated as the residence of De foe. We passed by, in our walk, the ancient mansion in which he lived. New River, which passes through the grounds of our host, is an artificial stream, which is said to have been first suggested by his endlessly fertile and industrious mind, as productive in practical projects as in books.

It always seemed to me that there are three writers which every one who wants to know how to use the English language effectively should study; and these are Shakspeare, Bunyan, and Defoe. One great secret of their hold on the popular mind is their being so radically and thoroughly English. They have the solid grain of the English oak, not veneered by learning and the classics; not inlaid with arabesques from other nations, but developing wholly out of the English nationality.

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