صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

sovereign queen, who is the mistress of the bravest of us, should exclude the fearless and beautiful daughters of free and glorious America from sitting with us, side by side, in this Convention. If we deny them their request, we shall, on the threshold of our proceedings, do violence to the spirit of liberty which brought us together, and draw down upon us the just indignation of the world.”

Dr. Bowering's speech electrified the whole house. He resumed his seat amid loud and general cheering. The sympathies of the Convention were evidently on the side of the ladies; and if the question had been taken then, I am well satisfied they would have gained their point. But able and eloquent speakers followed on the other side, and they carried the Convention along with them. • The Rev. John Angel James, of Birmingham, was particularly eloquent. He closed by saying, “I hope, sir, the question will now be taken, that we may devote no more time to the discussion of a point which is, after all, a matter of little consequence. I am glad, and so is all England, to see the daughters of America in this Hall. I promise them, that wherever they go in their father-land, from Land's End to Jonny Groat's; they will find warm hearts, ready to welcome them, and in the name of humanity to thank them for leaving their homes to visit Great Britain, and cheer the friends of the negro race forward. Let us give the American ladies a post of honour in this Hall. Let us mingle our sympathies together over a prostrate race. Let us pour out our

DEFEAT OF THE LADIES.

123

prayers at the cross of a common Saviour, for thë salvation of a world he died to save. We claim no superiority above them; we are always glad to be excelled by them in the noble work of making our fellow-men free. They have laboured long and well ; and they have their reward in an approving conscience, the gratitude of enchained millions, the love of the whole philanthropic world, and the fayour of Heaven. Let us now address ourselves to the great work before us--the rescue of prostrate humanity. And I hope and believe that this scene of confusion we have witnessed here to-day will in the end have the same happy effect as those discords which are sometimes introduced by composers into their best pieces, only to render the harmony the sweeter.” This was the substance of the speaker's remarks.

The effect was irresistible. It soothed the feelings of all parties, like oil poured on the troubled waters. By a large majority the ladies were defeated. But they bore their misfortune with so much meekness and grace (most of them), it was confessed by all they had conquered, although for once they lost their point. Still, they ought not to complain; for the best historians in the Convention declared it to be the only instance of the kind recorded in the annals of the sex.

I was introduced to the celebrated Mrs. Amelia Opie, who is now enjoying a green old age. She lives in Norwich, about 120 miles east of London,

but, like everybody else, is spending “ the season" in town. She long ago adopted the simple faith, and plain, rich costume of the Society of Friends, and suppressed several of her fictitious works, from conscientious scruples in regard to their influence. But she is possessed of unbounded cheerfulness, and is certainly a delightful woman. I do not know her age, but she must be over seventy, I think, although her cheek still wears the rich bloom of earlier years.

I conversed with her a few minutes. She asked me what I thought of the “ decision." I replied, that the ladies certainly could not be offended, although they probably did not feel complimented by the vote; but I thought they should not complain of this solitary instance of defeat.

“ Indeed,” said she,“ I have a great sympathy for them, and hope their feelings are not wounded. I think they are very noble women ; but perhaps it was not very discreet to insist so strongly upon admission.

“ It is very painful to think that your great and free republic should be desecrated by slavery. It is very lamentable. It is like some odious blemish on a beautiful painting; the eye would contemplate the beauties of the picture, but it cannot: the blemish fills the vision. Oh! I hope I shall live to see the day when there will not be a slave in all your beautiful land. It has been the home of freedom; there is no such land on earth; and this makes it so indescri bably painful to think that it is a land of slaves.”

CONVERSATION WITH MRS. OPIE.

125

“ You have never visited our country, I think, madam ?

“No, I have not; but there is no part of the world I so much desire to see. It is a great pleasure to meet so many Americans here on this grand occasion. I never looked forward to a public meeting with so much hope. I well remember many years ago, when the first efforts were made by the friends of liberty for the suppression of the slavetrade. It was a dark day then for the world; and, although philanthropists are quite apt to be too sanguine, yet who in this assembly ever expected to see such a day as this? It is a very sublime spectacle to see this representation of the philanthropy and piety of the world. What can be more grand than to contemplate the object which has called this Convention together? And that idea of O'Connell's was so fine that we would elevate the whole human race to the possession of liberty-it is an affecting thought.

“But you will come and see me, I trust ; I want to converse with you about America, your authors, your scenery, your great men. I shall be most happy to see you time

make it convenient to call. Do not think that age has quite frozen up my heart. Indeed, if it had, I think this Convention would make it green as spring-time again."

Affectionately yours,

at any

you can

London, June -, 1840. DEAR To-Day Lady Byron and Mrs. Jamieson came into the Convention. I had the pleasure of an introduction to them, and also of listening to what was far more interesting to me than much of the business of the meeting a deeply affecting account of the last illness and death of Lord Byron, from an American gentleman, who spent the winter of 1823, '24 in Greece.

Lady Byron resembles very much the picture which appeared a few years ago in Dearborn's edition of Byron's works, painted by Newton and engraved by Dick. I think she never could have been handsome, though there is an interesting and rather mournful expression upon her countenance. But her relation to Byron causes us to feel towards her as we feel towards few other personş. She is understood to be particularly intimate with Mrs. Jamieson. “Ada” a few years ago married Lord King, who has since become the Marquis of Loveless. Mrs. Jamieson is finer looking by far than Lady Byron ; indeed, she has one of the noblest countenances I ever saw.

“A sight of Lady Byron,” said the American gentleman alluded to, “ brings vividly to my mind the intercourse I had with Byron just before he

« السابقةمتابعة »