I must tell you of an occurrence that I was witness
of yesterday in Mr. Henry Ward Beecher's church. After a beautiful
sermon on Col. iii. 14, he called the attention of his congregation to a
subject which had been brought before him early in winter. A young man
from Washington called on him and asked him to bring the case of a
coloured child before his people on the first Sunday of January. That
plan was frustrated; but on Friday evening the gentleman re-appeared
with the child. He had succeeded in obtaining permission from her owner
to bring her north. Four men were left in bond for her ; and even then
the slaveholder would not consent to her going until he received Mr.
Beecher's word, that either the child should be returned within a given
time, or the sum at which she was valued.
The child was then placed beside Mr. Beecher, who,
taking off her cloak, said, " I wish I could as easily remove the
garment of slavery as I do this cloak;" and then passing his arms round
her neck, he pleaded simply but earnestly her case. She is nine years
old, and with but one part out of sixteen of African blood, and it is
believed she will be so beautiful as to be worth in four years hence
(had she remained a slave), £800. The value set on her now is £180. Her
grandmother, a free woman, had saved £40, which she gladly offered to
contribute towards her release.
I never could do half justice to the manner in which
Mr. Beecher pleaded her casenobly and ably. He said he could not even
mention what he wished to save her from, and that the little girl had
twice seen her mother put up at the block. . . . There was no need for
enreaties; he merely said, "You will please pass the plates;" and
announced that the collection would be taken up again in the evening. By
this time the congregation were all deeply moved, and the scene that
followed baffles description. The excitement was unparalleled, and I
thought it never would terminate. However, as everything must, it did,
and then a gentleman whispered something to Mr. Beecher, who said, "I
have just received a message from a Christian lady to say that she will
be responsible for any deficiency there may be in the collection. The
child is free!" It is far beyond my power to convey the faintest idea of
the joy this announcement caused. The demonstrations were unequivocal.
The people were literally beside themselves.....The morning collection
amounted to upwards of £200, so it was not continued
in the evening. Mr. Beecher mentioned that on one of the plates was
found a lady's ring with an opal set in it, and that he had taken the
liberty of withdrawing it, and had it placed on the child's finger, that
when she was old enough she might wear it as a badge of her freedom.Extract
of a letter from New York.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.