"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Wordwise--
"The Sentiment of Mercy": Emerson on Brown
"It would be nearer the truth to say that all people, in proportion to their sensibility and self-respect, sympathize with John Brown.  For it is impossible to see courage and disinterestedness and the love that casts out fear, without sympathy.  All gentlemen, of course, are on his side.  I do not mean by 'gentlemen' people of scented hair and perfumed handkerchief, but men of gentle blood and generosity, 'fulfilled with all nobleness'. . . . The sentiment of mercy is the natural recoil which the laws of the universe provide to protect mankind from destruction by savage passions.  The arch-abolitionist, older than Brown, and older than the Shenandoah Mountains, is Love, whose other name is Justice. . . ."
Excerpted from Emerson's speech at Salem, Mass., on January 6, 1860.  Also quoted by F. B. Sanborn, "Comment by a Radical Abolitionist," The Century (July 1883), p. 415.

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