Finally, a long study which he had made on the heredity of phthisis revived in him the wavering faith of the healer, arousing in him the noble and wild hope of regenerating humanity.
Letter XXVI.--Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell.--Humanity and Skill.--Quiet Demeanor of the Patients.--Anecdotes of the Inmates.--The Corn-law Question.--Coleman's Improvement on the Piano.
Of all who hail thy presence as the morning-- Of all to whom thine absence is the night-- The blotting utterly from out high heaven The sacred sun--of all who, weeping, bless thee Hourly for hope--for life--ah, above all, For the resurrection of deep buried faith In truth, in virtue, in humanity-- Of all who, on despair's unhallowed bed Lying down to die, have suddenly arisen At thy soft-murmured words, "Let there be light!"
A very serious man may be an object of veneration; but he is a constant rebuke to the weaknesses of our common humanity,--a wet blanket upon frivolous festivities.
Churches are heavy and sombre; they are places for dreary meditation on the end of the world, on the failure of civilization, on the degradation of humanity,--and yet the only places where man may be brought in contact with the Deity who presides over a fallen world, exalting human hopes to heaven, where miseries end, and worship begins.
Mr. Roundjacket wound up with a gigantic figure, in which the muse of Chancery was represented as mounted upon a golden car, and dispensing from her outstretched hands all sorts of fruits, and flowers, and blessings on humanity;--and having thus brought his noble poem to a noble termination, the poet, modestly smiling, and ready for applause, rolled up his manuscript, and raised his eyes to the countenance of his silent and admiring listener--that listener who had been so rapt in the glowing images and sonorous couplets, that he had not uttered so much as a word.
Delivered over to the power of evil spirits and the judgment of unpitying humanity!--And me, the while, thou went lulling with tasteless dissipations, concealing from me her growing anguish, and leaving her to perish without help!
Germany has not yet changed her Chancellor, though he is being bitterly attacked for his "silly ideas of humanity"--and her rulers have certainly shown no change of heart.
The tyrant feels himself a man, and subject to the weakness of humanity!--Behold!
Hence he calls it 'die Menschheit'--the principle of humanity;--but yet no less than Calvin or the Tinker declares it a principle most mysterious, the undoubted object of religious awe, a perpetual witness of that God, whose image (Greek: eikon) it is; a principle utterly incomprehensible by the discursive intellect;--and moreover teaches us, that the surest plan for stifling and paralyzing this divine birth in the soul (a phrase of Plato's as well as of the Tinker's) is by attempting to evoke it by, or to substitute for it, the hopes and fears, the motives and calculations, of prudence; which is an excellent and in truth indispensable servant, but considered as master and primate of the moral diocese precludes the possibility of virtue (in Bunyan's phrase, holiness of spirit) by introducing legality; which is no cant phrase of Methodism, but of authenticated standing in the ethics of the profoundest philosophers--even those who rejected Christianity, as a miraculous event, and revelation itself as far as anything supernatural is implied in it.
Christ and Christ alone can meet the wants and woes of humanity,--Chinese or American or British.
The devastation that has (even within the present century) taken place among the brave and independent aborigines of this continent, is really shocking to humanityFootnote: The Cherokees are by no means the formidable body of warriors they were 40 years ago.
"Yes; one thing at least I have learnt, in all my experiments on poor humanity;--never to see a man do a wrong thing, without feeling that I could do the same in his place.
V. It can easily be understood that such a man as Douglass, thrown thus into stimulating daily intercourse with some of the brightest minds of his generation, all animated by a high and noble enthusiasm for liberty and humanity,--such men as Garrison and Phillips and Gay and Monroe and many others,--should have developed with remarkable rapidity those reserves of character and intellect which slavery had kept in repression.
Better break up one's moral integrity, and fail in one's primal personal obligation to himself,--better become an enemy of mankind, and commit an offense against humanity,--than defend one's self against an outlaw by the barbarity of a stunning blow or a bullet!
Each is representative of the age that produced him, and together they form a suggestive commentary upon the two forces that rule our humanity,--the force of impulse and the force of a fixed purpose.
But I confess, when I see a man like the King of Sweden, with all the temptations of luxury and ease, encountering all sorts of perils and fatigues,--yea, offering up his life in battle in order to emancipate suffering humanity,--then every generous impulse and every dictate of enlightened reason urge me to add my praises with those of past generations in honor of such exalted heroism.
Then, as now, death was the great problem of humanity--"to die and go we know not where".
Nay, we might add, that he needed no less than the most delicate Cremona,--some instrument, as it were, articulated into humanity,--to have inhaled and respired those attenuated strains, which, those who heard them think it hardly extravagant to say, seemed almost to embody silence.
We ask you as men to insist that your servants acting as the local legislators of the District of Columbia, shall respect the common rights and decencies of humanity.--We ask you as freemen, not to permit your constitutional privileges to be trifled with, by those who have sworn to maintain them.--We ask you as Christian men, to remember that by sanctioning the sinful acts of your agents, you yourselves assume their guilt.
But the person who speaks of "lurid flames," or "untiring efforts," or "specimens of humanity"--who "views with alarm," or has a "native heath," or is "to the manner born"--does more than advertise the scantness of his verbal resources.
It is doubtless this lack of perception,--akin, one would think, to color-blindness,--which is at the bottom of this great and common inhumanity among kind and intelligent fathers and mothers: an inhumanity so common that it may almost be said to be universal; so common that, while we are obliged to look on and see our dearest friends guilty of it, we find it next to impossible to make them understand what we mean when we make outcry over some of its glaring instances.
An establishment for the Poor should not only provide for the relief and support of those who are most forward and clamorous in calling out for assistance;--humanity and justice require that peculiar attention should be paid to those who are bashful and silent.--To those, who, in addition to all the distresses arising from poverty and want, feel, that is still more insupportable to their unfortunate and hopeless situation.