At the close I introduced myself to the minister as Davies, from British Guiana, attached to the ministry of the missionaries of the London Society. He was very kind and cordial, and pressed my wife and myself to go home with him to tea. We accepted the invitation.
Among other questions, he asked how our negroes worked, now that they were free? I told him, “Very well indeed; and you may very safely venture to emancipate your slaves as soon as you please.” This led us at once _in medias res_. His views I found to be simply as follows: how pious! how plausible! how convenient! how extensively prevalent in reference to other evils than slavery!
“Slavery is a political institution. As a Christian minister, I have nothing to do with politics. My business is to preach the Gospel, and try to save men’s souls. In this course I am sanctioned by the example of the Apostle Paul. Slavery existed in his day; but he turned not
aside from the great object to attempt its overthrow. He simply told masters and slaves their duty, without at all interfering with the relation subsisting between them. Besides, the opposite of this course would render us and our churches unpopular, and thereby destroy our usefulness.”
He also seemed very sore at the idea of the Christianity of slave-holders being at all called in question. “People,” said he, or words to the same effect, “may spare themselves the trouble to pass resolutions of non-fellowship with us; we wish for no fellowship with those who are so uncharitable as to question our piety.” I began now to understand why the Abolitionists call the American churches “the bulwark of slavery.”
Subsequently, on the same day, I had conversation with a young man, whom I had that afternoon seen sitting down at the Lord’s Table in the Baptist Church. He told me that there were in New Orleans two Baptist Churches of coloured people, presided over by faithful and devoted pastors of their own colour. “And does your pastor,” I inquired, “recognise them, and have fellowship with them?” “Oh! yes, he has often preached to them. He feels very anxious, I can assure you, for the conversion of the slaves.” “And do those coloured preachers ever occupy your pulpit?” “Oh, dear me, no!” with evident alarm. “Why not? You say they are good men, and sound in doctrine.” “Oh! they would not be tolerated. Besides, they are accustomed to speak in broken English, and in very familiar language; otherwise the slaves could not understand them. The slaves, you know, cannot read, and are not allowed to learn.”
This he said in a tone of voice which indicated an entire acquiescence in that state of things, as if he thought the arrangement perfectly right. But what iniquity! To come between the Word of God and his rational creature! To interpose between the light of Heaven and the soul of man! To withhold the lamp of life from one-sixth of the entire population! Of all the damning features of American slavery, this is the most damning!
“I suppose,” continued I, “if any of the black people come to your churches, they have to sit by themselves?”
_Young Man._–“Of course: I have never seen it otherwise.”
_Myself._–“And I have never before seen it so. With us, in British Guiana, blacks and whites mingle together indiscriminately in the worship of our common Father.”
_Young Man._ (with amazement).–“There must be a a great change here before it comes to that. It must appear very strange.”
_Myself._–“Very much like heaven where they shall come together from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, &c. Why, we have black deacons, who, at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, carry the bread and wine, and give them even to white people.”
_Young Man._ (with more astonishment than ever, and in a tone of offended dignity).–“I don’t think I could stand that–I don’t! A great change must take place in my feelings before I could. I don’t like to mingle Ham and Japhet together for my part–I don’t!”
_Myself._–“Why, they were mingled together in the ark.”
_Young Man._–“Yes; but old Noah quarrelled with Ham soon after he came out, and cursed him.”
_Myself._–“Granted; but you and your pastor profess to be anxious for the slaves’ conversion to God, and thereby to roll away the curse.”
Here the dialogue ended.
Who will not pity the 200,000 slaves of this State, who are at the “tender mercies” of these sanguinary men? Nor let it be said, as it often is, that New Orleans and Louisiana are not a
fair specimen of things even in the South,–that they are more French than American, &c. This is not the case. Nothing in New Orleans struck me more forcibly than its thoroughly American character. American usages, American influence, American laws, and American religion are
Things were much better for the black and coloured people when it was not so. The French treated their slaves incomparably kinder than the Americans do. They often married coloured women, and invariably treated their own coloured offspring, whether legitimate or illegitimate, with tenderness and regard. They had them suitably educated and adequately provided for; so that, at the present moment, a large portion of the city of New Orleans is the freehold property of coloured persons.
Not so act the Americans. They indulge in the grossest licentiousness with coloured women, but would shudder at the idea of marrying one of them; and, instead of giving any property to their coloured offspring, they do not scruple to sell them as slaves! Had I gone to the Roman Catholic cathedral in that city, which is attended chiefly by the French and their descendants, I should have found no negro pew, but persons of all colours intermingled together in religious observances. The Southerners seem to have no heart–no feeling, except that of love to the almighty dollar.
The population of New Orleans is about 90,000. On this mass of people are brought to bear the labours of at least thirteen ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, seven Presbyterians, four Episcopalians, and three Baptists,–all professedly evangelical;–besides a
considerable number of Roman Catholics, and other non-evangelical teachers. But Satan has there a large array of synagogues.
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