grew up a religious and manly person, in severe poverty; a fair
specimen of the best stock of New England; having that force
of thought and that sense of right which are the warp and woof
of greatness. Our farmers were Orthodox Calvinists, mighty in
the Scriptures; had learned that life was a preparation, a "probation,"
to use their word, for a higher world, and was to be spent in
loving and serving mankind.
was formed a romantic character absolutely without any vulgar
trait; living to ideal ends, without any mixture of self indulgence
or compromise, such as lowers the value of benevolent and thoughtful
men we know; abstemious, refusing luxuries, not sourly and reproachfully
but simply as unfit for his habit; quiet and gentle as a child
in the house. And, as happens usually to men of romantic character,
his fortunes were romantic. Walter Scott would have delighted
to draw his picture and trace his adventurous career. A shepherd
and herdsman, he learned the manners of animals, and knew the
secret signals by which animals communicate. He made his hard
bed on the mountains with them; he learned to drive his flock
through thickets all but impassable; he had all the skill of
a shepherd by choice of breed and by wise husbandry to obtain
the best wool, and that for a course of years. And the anecdotes
preserved show a far seeing skill and conduct which, in spite
of adverse accidents, should secure, one year with another,
an honest reward, first to the farmer, and afterwards to the
dealer. If he kept sheep, it was with a royal mind; and if he
traded in wool, he was a merchant prince, not in the amount
of wealth, but in the protection of the interests confided to
am not a little surprised at the easy effrontery with which
political gentlemen, in and out of Congress, take it upon them
to say that there are not a thousand men in the North who sympathize
with John Brown. It would be far safer and nearer the truth
to say that all people, in proportion to their sensibility and
self respect, sympathize with him. For it is impossible to see
courage, and disinterestedness, and the love that casts out
fear , without sympathy.
women are drawn to him by their predominance of sentiment. All
gentlemen, of course, are on his side. I do not mean by "gentlemen,"
people of scented hair and perfumed handkerchiefs, but men of
gentle blood and generosity, "fulfilled with all nobleness,"
who, like the Cid, give the outcast leper a share of their bed;
like the dying Sidney, pass the cup of cold water to the wounded
soldier who needs it more. For what is the oath of gentle blood
and knighthood? What but to protect the weak and lowly against
the strong oppressor?
Nothing is more absurd than to complain of this sympathy, or
to complain of a party of men united in opposition to Slavery.
As well complain of gravity, or the ebb of the tide. Who makes
the Abolitionist? The Slaveholder. The sentiment of mercy is
the natural recoil which the laws of the universe provide to
protect mankind from destruction by savage passions. And our
blind statesmen go up and down, with committees of vigilance
and safety, hunting for the origin of this new heresy. They
will need a very vigilant committee indeed to find its birthplace,
and a very strong force to root it out. For the arch Abolitionist,
older than Brown, and older than the Shenandoah Mountains, is
Love, whose other name is justice, which was before Alfred,
before Lycurgus, before Slavery, and will be after it.