"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.