The First and the Last

ISUPPOSE that both the beginning T and the end of most things are clouded or unnoticed. With a good index or two, I could probably look up some excellent quotations to this effect. Somebody says, for instance, that epic poems are like a bass-relief frieze, at one end of which you see a man’s leg, without any body, and at the other end the head of a ram, who has no hind legs nor tail. By an index, I say, — or at worst by a line to “ Notes and Queries,”— nay, by stopping Fred as he drives down Lincoln Street in his buggy we could find out who said this if we cared. But fortunately we do not care ; for the remark is not only true of epics, but of most things in life, if they ever achieve importance. The meteor goes flaring across the sky, and you see it; but when you come to compare notes as to where it began to be visible, why, none of you happened to be looking ; and when you inquire where it ended, why, it blew up into such little bits that none of you saw. Most human transactions have this meteoric quality.

So it happens that the horrible “ Middle Passage,” as men called it, — the slave-trade from Africa to America, which had, in the three centuries of its endurance, caused such untold suffering to such myriads of men, women, and children, — came to what seemed its end so gently and simply, in the midst, indeed, of such a day-dawn of brighter light for the world than the world had ever known before, that it proved that the world’s great audience was not even looking on at the denouement of the play. The audience would have said that it knew what the end was to be. Indeed, the audience was a little tired of that play, and had been looking up its cloaks and canes, that it might go and see another spectacle. For myself, I know I was not looking on, — I was looking at quite a different performance, — and I first knew that the curtain was down from a little word of dear Old Abe’s in one of his last messages. In 1863 he had announced that the right-of-search treaty had been carried into execution, and expressed the belief that, for American citizens, “ that inhuman and vicious traffic had been brought to an end.” Before he died he was happy enough to be able to announce that no slave had for a year been brought from Africa to America. There was nothing, I think, which he had more at heart, and no success of which he was more proud. That set me to look up the history of its last decline ; and two or three years have brought along the documentary returns, — reports written by hard-working men, who are dying in the horrid climate of the Western African bays and harbors so that this trade may come to an end. When I found the last return of the year 1864, it seemed to me that the crime of crimes had come to its end in a fitting way. The usual blank was filled out just as it used to be in the horrid days when perhaps a hundred of slaving vessels slipped through. Commodore Wilmot, of the English navy, had this same long blank to fill; but, thank God, he had not so much to put into it. And see what is the record of obscurity in which the horror of horrors seemed to end.

ENCLOSURE II. IN NO. 151. Return of Vessels which are said to have escaped with Slaves from the West Coast of Africa between January I and December 31, 1864.

Date of sailing: from Port.

Name of Vessel.






Place where Slaves were shipped.

Date of Shipment.








600 Slaves.


1864. Jan. 28.

This vessel has never been heard of since. Being in a very leaky state at the time of shipment, she is supposed to have foundered at sea.

Is not that a weird bit of history ? This unknown vessel, on a devil’s errand, foundering in the ocean, carried with her, as it seemed, the end of the story. Eighteen months after, another vessel, a little brigantine, slipped the blockade, but she arrived in Cuba only to be arrested there. The last “successful ” slaver, so far, as yet reported, — the last slaver who ran every human blockade, — is the unknown man of an unknown nation, who with these unknown blacks slipped out from Moauda on the 28th of January, 1864, and foundered in an unknown sea. Fit inscription is Commodore Wilmot’s record for the end !

Now it happens, courtly reader, — if indeed you exist, — always an inquiry so curious to the writer, — it happens that this writer has a personal interest in seeing that iniquity thoroughly ended. If the usual hyperbole of expression may be allowed, the blood in these veins, — namely, in the veins and even the arteries which pass through the fingers which drive this pencil over the blue lines of this writing-book,— is blood which, according to the hyperbole, flowed in the veins of John Hawkins, English seaman, born about 1520, died at sea 1595, who invented and set in being the English slave-trade. A great sailor and a brave man, and I hope my boys may show some of the traits that made him so; but I have always wished he had not stumbled on that Guinea trade, and had not initiated this business. Let us hope he did it more kindly than his successors,— as, in fact, I believe he did.

You will find it said in the books, that Queen Elizabeth expressed her disgust at the seizure of the men whom "this John Hawkins took captive in Africa in his first voyage, and that he promised her that he would do so no more. But I can find no original authority which says she did so, and I do not believe it. If she did, it was as she said a good many other things, and she concealed her disgust pretty well afterwards, while he did the same thing again and again, —and when she made him knight for doing this and other things in the same line. For when, years after, she made him a knight, the crest her heralds permitted him to wear is this, as they state it in their funny slang: —

“ CREST, upon his Helm, a wreath argent and azure, — a Demi-Moor in his proper color, bound and captive, with annulets on his arms and ears or ; mantelled gules, doubled argent.”

That was the public cognizance of this brave gentleman and true knight, — a black man captive in chains. I am afraid that meant something. Well for me, his descendant, I can have no crest, because in heraldry clergymen bear none ; but I have told my antislavery relations, that, if my children cut this crest on their seal-rings, I will bid them add the motto, “ Am I not a man and a brother ? ” That is the way they must amalgamate the blood which they draw from Beecher and from Hawkins.

No, we must not try to figure off anything from what Hawkins was. He set in operation the English and American slave-trade. The origin of the trade itself was in the Portuguese and Spanish commerce. Clarkson studied up the subject with care, and from him I take the dates and figures.

As early as 1503 a few slaves had been sent from the Portuguese settlements in Africa into the Spanish colonies in America. In 1511 Ferdinand V., king of Spain, permitted them to be carried in great numbers. But he must have been ignorant of the piratical way in which the Portuguese had procured them. He could have known nothing of their treatment in bondage, nor could he have considered these transportations as a regular trade. After his death, a proposal was made by Bartholomew de Las Casas, bishop of Chiapa, to Cardinal Ximenes, who governed Spain till Charles V. came to the throne, for the establishment of a regular system of commerce in the persons of the native Africans. The object of Las Casas, as everybody knows, was to save the American Indians from the cruel treatment which he had witnessed when he lived among them. He had undertaken a voyage to the Court of Spain in their behalf. It is difficult to reconcile this proposal with his humane and charitable spirit. But I suppose he believed that a code of laws would soon be established in favor of both Africans and the natives, and he thought that, as he was going back to live in the country of their slavery, he could see that the laws were executed. The Cardinal, however, refused the proposal. Ximenes, therefore, is to be considered as one of the first great friends of the Africans, after the partial beginning of the trade. He judged it unlawful to consign innocent people to slavery, and also very inconsistent to deliver the inhabitants of one country from a state of misery by plunging into it those of another.

After the death of Ximenes the Emperor Charles V. encouraged the trade. In 1517 he granted a patent to one of his Flemish favorites, containing an exclusive right of importing four thousand Africans into AmericaBut he lived long enough to repent of this inconsiderate act; for in 1542 he made a code of laws for the better protection of the unfortunate Indians in his foreign dominions, and ordered all slaves on his American islands to be made free. This order was executed, and manumission took place in Hispaniola and on the continent; but on the return of Gasca to Spain, and the retiring of Charles to a monastery, slavery was revived.

So much does religion gain when emperors retire into monasteries. Observe, dear reader, that, when Charles V. steps into his convent, John Hawkins happens to be stepping out of his obscurity; the old woman goes in, as in the weather-glass, and the fresh young Englishman, then thirty-six years old, not afraid of storms, steps out. And many things follow.

Hawkins had made divers voyages to the Canaries, and there by his good and upright dealing had grown in love and favor with the people, and learned, among other things, that negroes were very good merchandise in Hispaniola, and that store of negroes might easily be had on the coast of Guinea. So, in brief, says Hakluyt’s old record. And he resolved to make trial thereof, and communicated with worshipful friends in London, whose names I could communicate to you, only you might find your own and your next friend’s among them, and there is not at best a great deal in a name. Three ships were provided, and “ Mr. Hawkins ” went as “general” of the three. They sailed October, 1562. They touched at Teneriffe, and “thence he passed to Sierra Leone, upon the coast of Guinea, which place by the people of the country is called Tagaim, where he stayed some good time, and got into his possession, partly by the sword and partly by other means, to the number of three hundred negroes at least, besides other merchandises which the country yieldeth. We must do better by Sierra Leone before we are done with it. With this prey he sailed over the ocean sea unto the island of Hispaniola, and arrived first at the port of Isabella ; and there he had reasonable utterance of his English commodities, as also of some part of his negroes, trusting the Spaniards no further than that by his own strength he was able still to master them. At Monte Christi he made vent of the whole number of bis negroes, for which he received in those three places, by way of exchange, such quantity of merchandise that he did not only lade his own three ships with hides, ginger, sugars, and some quantity of pearls, but he freighted also the other hulks with hides and other like commodities, which he sent into Spain. And thus leaving the island, he returned and disembogued, passing out by the islands of the Caycos, without further entering into the bay of Mexico in this his first voyage to the West India. And so with prosperous success and much gain to himself and the aforesaid adventurers, he came home, and arriveth in the month of September, 1563.”

Thus encouraged, Hawkins and his friends fitted out a larger fleet, and he sailed again October 18, 1564. Observe, for convenience of memory, that this barbarism lasted just three hundred years. He crossed the ocean with his first slaves in the early part of 1564. In January, 1864, that brig “ Unknown ” sailed with Mr. “Unknown” in command, and sank in an unknown sea. Names are not much, as I said; perhaps “Unknown” is that brig’s best name. Hawkins began — shall we confess it ?—in the Solomon,— fit tribute to the wisdom of the time. The second, alas! was a larger fleet, and his flag-ship a larger vessel, and her name — shall we confess it? — was the name of names. The successful African admiral sailed there on his prosperous venture, in the Jesus ! Fit tribute to the religion of the lime ! The Solomon and the Tiger and the Swallow were the others ; the Swallow, alas ! the smallest of them all.

We cannot stop to trace these voyages, nor is it a History of the Middle Passage that I am writing. I am only dealing with the first of it and the last of it, the beginning and the end. There is rather a comfort to the carnal mind, and perhaps to the uncarnal, to know that, when Hawkins came home from his third voyage, he wrote that, “If all the miseries and troublesome affairs of this sorrowful voyage should be perfectly and throughly written, there should need a painful man with his pen, and as great time as he that wrote the lives and deaths of the martyrs.” Alas ! alas ! how unconscious was the blunt seaman’s prophecy ! martyrs, indeed ! Did all the other martyrs from the beginning suffer a tithe or a tithe’s tithe of the anguish which in those voyages of his he set in motion? He talks in this way only of his own miseries and those of his crew. There is not in Ids journals, nor in the writing of any man of his time, so far as I know, one word of feeling for the slaves whom they carried over. But with that wretched three hundred who went over in the Solomon, and the larger part who followed in the larger fleets, there began such a horrible procession of misery as the world never saw beside, — of which you and I, dear reader, are seeing the last traces only in this day.

I dare not try to count the numbers. Nobody dares. Nor would it make any difference if I did. Beyond a very narrow range, dear reader, numbers do not affect your sensibilities nor any man’s. I tell you that one hundred thousand people were killed in the earthquake in Peru, and you are sorry ; if I tell you that ten thousand people were killed, and I can give you some little account how one of them suffered, you are much more sorry; if I tell you that one hundred were killed, and that I saw them killed, and heard their cries as they died, and have here the orphan of one whom I brought home with me, you begin for the first time to feel that it was indeed a terror of. terrors ; and if there were only five killed, if those five, were your own Dick and Fanny and Frank, and the rest, why there is a sorrow that you will carry with you to your grave. So I will not persecute you with the numbers. There were three hundred years of it; the first three ships that sailed carried, as we saw, three hundred slaves; and the last that sailed carried one hundred and fifty-two, of whom one hundred and forty-nine lived to reach Cuba and to be set free. Many and many a ship, in the three hundred years between, was loaded with a thousand and more of the podr wretches. Buxton’s estimate in 1830 was that the Christian slave-trade — Christian, good God! — that the Christian slave-trade then carried one hundred and fifty thousand slaves across every year, or started with them ; that the Mahometan slave-trade of Eastern Africa took fifty thousand more. This was Jong after the trade had been pronounced piracy by all the commercial nations, and even after England and America had vessels on the African coast to arrest it. What it had been before no statistics pretend to tell. In 1753 the then new town of Liverpool employed one hundred and one vessels in the trade. Those vessels that year took thirty thousand slaves to the British colonies ; and the estimate of that year was that London, Bristol, and Liverpool took one hundred thousand. The estimate on this side was the same, — that the American colonies of England received one hundred thousand slaves in a year. Besides these, there were the French, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese American colonies to be supplied. Bonezet’s computation is, that thirty per cent of all these died on the passage or in acclimation. Then the cruelties of the system of slavery, and the opening up of new lands, kept up a steady demand for them, so that I do not see that we can escape the inference that for much of the last century the number of negroes annually brought across by the African slave-trade was as great as is now the number of emigrants from Europe to North America, namely, between three hundred and four hundred thousand every year. In the preceding century the English alone carried from Africa to America three hundred thousand slaves; and the Spanish and Portuguese trade must have been very much larger.

Sad enough it is, that our old friend Robinson Crusoe tried his hand at it. And a pity that all the undertakers for it could not have had just his measure of success. After he had carried on profitably for a year or two his plantation in the Brazils, some of his neighbors came to him and told him they had been musing very much upon what he had discoursed with them of the last night, and they came to make a secret proposal to him; and, after enjoining him to secrecy, they told him that they had a mind to fit out a ship to go to Guinea; that they all had plantations as well as he, and were straitened for nothing so much as servants ; that it was a trade that could not be carried on, because they could not publicly sell the negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one voyage, to bring the negroes on shore privately, and divide them among their own plantations. And, in a word, the question was, whether he would go their supercargo in the ship, to manage the trading part upon the coast of Guinea ; and they offered him that he should have an equal share of the negroes, without providing any part of the stock. The plan was, you see, that they should smuggle in these negroes, and not pay the high prices which they would have to pay if they bought from the government contractor.

Is it not a singular thing, that a writer as conscientious as Defoe, describing a person whom he represents as being before his death a thoroughly penitent Christian man, like Robinson Crusoe, never once drops a hint that, in twenty-six years of his island imprisonment, he ever thought of anything wrong in this project of seizing and selling men ? Robinson Crusoe abases himself to the dust because he had wanted to grow rich too fast ; but it seems never to have occurred to him, or to the writer who created him, that there was anything wrong in the method by which he was to do it. Fortunately for him and for us, that terrible southeast gale struck him, stranded him on his island, and the three hundred Congoes he was going for were left to live and die in their homes.

Of the horrible horrors of the trade, which thus carried, in three hundred years, more than fifty million Africans from one hemisphere to another, from home to the most bitter slavery, it is a pity to have to speak. What it was before it became the subject of inquiry will only be known to you*and me when, with the sensitive sight and hearing of life unencumbered with these bodies, we see as we are seen and know as we are known. But after the “ regulation ” of the trade began, the space between the decks of a slave-trader was but two feet six inches high. Within that space as many men were packed as could lie side by side on their backs upon the floor. Before they were driven on board they were branded on the breast; then they were handcuffed in couples, and so made the voyages two and two, unless, indeed, one died or was killed. When they were on board, the handcuffs were fastened by a ring to long chains which ran along or athwart the vessel. Constantly it happened that men killed their neighbors, that they might have air and room. Constantly it happened that when* a couple were brought on deck, one dead, one living, that the dead body might be thrown over, the living man leaped with him into the sea, it was so much better to die than live. Once and again it happened that they were thrown over by masters who hoped to recover insurance without the pains of carrying them across. Witness upon witness testifies that force had "often to be used to compel them to receive their wretched food. Little wonder, indeed, that in such voyages untold numbers of them died before they reached the wretched shores to which they were destined.

Of such agonies, yet untold'to you and me, Mr. Babbage, in his Bridgewater treatise, has stated one of the records which he suggests as the compensation, or part of the compensation, of the man who orders it. “No motion,” he says, “is ever obliterated. The momentary waves, raised by the passing breeze, apparently born but to die on the spot which saw their birth, leave behind them an endless progeny, which, reviving with diminished energy in other seas, visiting a thousand shores, reflected from each, and perhaps again partially concentrated, will pursue their ceaseless course till ocean be itself annihilated.

“ The soul of the negro — whose fettered body, surviving the living charnelhouse of his infected prison, was thrown into the sea to lighten the ship, that his Christian master might escape the limited justice at length assigned by civilized man to crimes whose profit had long gilded their atrocity —will need, at the last great day of human account, no living witness of his earthly agony. When man and all his race shall have disappeared from the face of our planet, ask every particle of air still floating over the unpeopled earth, and it will record the cruel mandate of the tyrant. Interrogate every wave which breaks unimpeded on ten thousand desolate shores, and it will give evidence of the last gurgle of the waters which closed over the head of his dying victim.”

Of all this the end must come, in a world ruled by a good God, though the end come more slowly than you or I would have fancied. And from the beginning, as you saw in Ximenes’s exertions, there has been steady protest against it. Our protest here in Massachusetts was made promptly and fairly; but, as all men know, our shippingmerchants could not, for a hundred years, stand true against temptation. In 1646 the General Court of Massachusetts passed this manly vote : “November 4. The General Court — conceiving themselves bound by the first opportunity to bear witness against the heinous and crying sin of man-stealing, as also to prescribe such timely redress for what is past, and such a law for the future as may sufficiently deter all others belonging to us to have to do in such vile and most odious courses, justly abhorred of all good and just men — do order that the negro interpreter, with others unlawfully taken, be, by the first opportunity (at the charge of the country for the present), sent to his native country of Guinea, and a letter with him of the indignation of the Court thereabouts, and justice hereof, desiring our honored Governor would please to put this order in execution.”

So one poor fellow, at least, got safe home again, — or somewhere where it seemed to him like home.

But a century had to work on. Robinson Crusoe on the Island of Despair, — a hundred and one slave-traders in a year sailing out of Liverpool,— no man dares say how many from Spanish ports and French and Portuguese, —make the history of that century. The beginning of the end is about a hundred years ago. Anthony Benezet’s “ Caution to Great Britain relative to Enslaved Negroes ” was published in 1767.

All along, indeed, the Quakers of this country and those of England had been true in bearing their testimony. In 1776 Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, in what Mr. Bancroft calls his indictment against George III., this specification : —

“ He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, — violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare — the opprobrium of infidel powers — is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.”

In fact, Virginia and other Colonies had steadily attempted to repress the trade, but had been overruled by the king’s veto. Congress had already declared the slave-trade piracy. Mr. Cary estimates that before 1770 about two hundred thousand had been imported into the old thirteen Colonies; and he says that if the slaves of the British Islands had been as well treated as the slaves in the thirteen Colonies, their numbers would have reached seventeen millions before 1850 ; and, on the other hand, that if the slaves in the thirteen Colonies and the United States had experienced as hard treatment as their fellows on the English islands, their numbers in 1850 would not have been more than one hundred and fifty thousand. At the period of the peace public opinion was steadily set against the slave traffic, North and South, in America. It was the cotton culture, introduced afterwards, which gave it, for us, any new vitality. The Constitution of the United States, in 1787, prohibited the introduction of slaves into the United States after the year 1808. Meanwhile in England Clarkson, in 1785, won the prize offered at Cambridge for an Essay on the Slave-Trade. The fact that the prize was offered shows that attention had been then arrested by its horrors. From this moment he was enlisted, heart and soul, in the attack on the system; and he lived to see it branded by the legislation of almost all the world. The conservative force of the immense plantation interests was against them; but they won their great victory in 1807, when British ports, British vessels, and British subjects were forbidden to lend to the trade any sort of complicity.

But legislation, alas ! in a finite world, is one thing, and execution is another. In face of some assertions to the contrary, I believe that on this side the prohibition of the importation of slaves was steadily maintained, until the Wanderer and her companion, under Lamar’s patronage, ran two small cargoes into Florida just before the Rebellion. (Note, in passing, if you please, that the main-mast of the Wanderer is now the flag-staff from which floats the flag of liberty over that “Union” Park where Sunday after Sunday it is my place humbly to proclaim the Truth which has sent the Wanderer to her place, and the flag-staff’ to its place as well.) It soon became the interest of Virginia and the Northern Slave States to cut off the foreign market for Louisiana and the other States, which were using up slave life as a part of the raw material in making sugar and cotton. But the market in the islands and in South America only increased with the increasing demands for tropical commodities. An organized fleet of cruisers was eventually put on the African coast. But we know what blockade-running is, when there is a coast of three or four thousand miles to guard. Then diplomacy had to step in and block the wheels. There came up all that matter about the right of search. All the world recognized the slave-trade as piracy. O yes, horrible piracy! But how shall we find out if that wicked-looking little schooner which has just run up the river, with no apparent purpose under heaven but to get slaves, is a slave-trader or no? Find that out, says diplomacy, at your peril! If there are slaves on board, seize her, and welcome. But if there are none, interfere with the Stars and Stripes, or the Tricolor, or the Pillars of Hercules floating at her mast-head, at your peril ! “ Might we not have a right of visit?” said somebody, I think a Frenchman. Much good did the “visit ” do. A smiling captain received you on deck, and gave you a glass of wine. “Shall we go down stairs, Captain, and see what you have there ? ” “ I will see you hanged first! ” says your smiling friend. Actually, it was not till Abraham Lincoln got the helm that we settled this tomfoolery. At his instance a treaty was at once made, which the English government had offered handsomely before, giving to specified ships on each side — being in fact the slave blockading squadrons of each power — the right of search of vessels suspected in slaving. That treaty was one of the last nails in the coffin.

But I am in advance of my story. Thanks to red tape and national jealousy, and to general indifference and to human fatuity, and to the navies of the world being otherwise occupied, and to what is everybody’s business being nobody’s business, and to all other conceivable motives, the trade grew and prospered for years on years after the prohibitory legislation. None the less, however, was its doom sealed. Prohibitory legislation can do what you choose, "if you mean to make it, and will hold on grimly. By the time that slavery was abolished in the English dominions, the English government kept a strong squadron on the lookout; and whenever we had anything but a Democratic administration here, we kept a weak squadron on the lookout. Sierra Leone and Liberia got established, and so much of the coast was safe. Only small, swift vessels could be used for the traffic. The old days of stately merchantmen of seven hundred or one thousand tons taking over their dyingcargoes were at an end. But the crowding and the suffering were only the more terrible ; and as the risk became greater the estimate was made, that, if the trader saved one cargo out of three, he made money. As lately as 1830, as I have said above, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton estimated that one hundred and fifty thousand slaves were taken every year in the “Christian” trade. His estimate seems to be fairly made on fair grounds.

I suppose, however, that the publication of that book was the drop-scene before the fourth act. From that time the net grew tighter and tighter. I know no more thrilling reading than the annual blue-books of Parliament, in which the officers England put on duty in the disheartening and sickly service of that Western Coast tell of the new success they got each year in drawing up its cords. And at the last the great combatants, really, were the government of England, determined that this thing should end, and the administration of Janies Buchanan and the rest, passively determined that the thing should outlast their time. A swarm of pawns on the board, with one white queen watching her chance, and one black queen bidding her stand off at her peril. Have you never seen the change in such a game of chess, when, of a sudden, the black queen trips and falls ? The men who had played our game thought they knew a better play, and moved up Beauregard and Jeff Davis to take the place for them of “ the old concern.” Bad play for them, as it proved ! Abe Lincoln had many other things to do, but he did not neglect this thing. “ Right-ofsearch treaty first,” said he and Mr. Seward. And right-of-search treaty we had, — Jeff Davis and the rest, who had blocked it in the Senate for thirty years, and would have blocked it for thirty centuries, being now far away. “ Catch us some slave-traders next ” ; and one and another “ highly respectable gentleman ” found himself in the hands of United States marshals. Lots of money to get him off, influential friends, and so on ; but Abe Lincoln is at the helm, and some district attorneys and some marshals he had named at the fore. Then came act fifth and last.

As the game had gone, New York was the great centre where the slavetraders of the world bought their vessels. Havana was the great centre where they laid their plans. Boston, New Bedford, New London, Cadiz, Barcelona, the Western Islands, and I know not where else, were the minor places in the operation. The voyages were arranged at Havana, the ships were partly fitted in New York, thence they slipped to sea, picked up the rest of their equipment and the right papers elsewhere if New York would not answer, and brought up on the Western Coast. I have seen the record which Mr. Archibald, the English Consul and Commissioner in New York, kept of one hundred and seventy-one of these vessels in three years’ time. His secret agents boarded them in New York Harbor, and described them for him in detail, even down to the brand of cigars which the captain had in his cabin. Mr. Archibald sent the description to the Admiralty, and they to the Coast. “ Let me go below,” said an English officer, on board a slaver in one of the African rivers. “ You go at your peril,” said the captain, brave in the perfectly regular papers he had, in the Stars and Stripes over his head, in the new coat of paint he had taken at the Western Islands, and in the fact, perhaps, that, though he sailed a bark, he was now a brig. “You go below at your peril.” “ I will take the risk,” said the Englishman ; went below, and found all the slave-fittings, casks, cooking - stove, handcuffs, and the rest, and of course seized the vessel. The outwitted captain, white with rage, swore between his clenched teeth, “You would not have known me but for your bloody English Counsel in New York.” Almost every man of the projectors was known to the English government through this steady secret service. But they all ran riot till Mr. Lincoln came in, and then one fine day one Gordon was arrested for slave-trading, another day he was tried, and another he was hanged !

Yes, my friend, he was hanged. I know about what is called the sacredness of human life. For my part, I believe a man’s life is as sacred as his liberty, and no more so. And I believe when his country requires either his life or his liberty she may use it, if she takes the responsibility. In this case, I am very glad my country took this responsibility. Whatever Gordon’s life may have been worth to him or to his friends, I think this country put it to a very good use when she hanged him. A storm of protest was made against his death. Twenty-five thousand people petitioned Abraham Lincoln to spare that man’s life, and Abraham Lincoln refused. Gordon was hanged. And all through the little ports and big ports of the United States it was known that a slave-trader had been hanged. And, when that was known, the American slave-trade ended. All up and down little African rivers that you never heard the names of it was known that an American slave-trader had been hanged; and cowardly pirates trembled, and brave seamen cheered, when they heard it. Mothers of children thanked such gods as they knew how to thank ; and slaves shut up in barracoons, waiting for their voyage, got signal that something had happened which was to give them freedom. That something was that Gordon was hanged. So far that little candle threw its beams.

I am told, and I believe, that when that poor wretch was under sentence of death, his “ friends ” kept him in liquor to the moment of his death,—so anxious were they lest he should complicate some of them by a confession. And when he was dead they celebrated his death in the last great orgy of the slave-trade,—in one drunken feast they held together, — so rejoiced were they that they had escaped his testimony. Such is the honor among thieves !

The demand still continued. The Brazilian trade was at an end. But Cuba and Porto Rico used up men and women enough to support a very active trade, if the vessels could slip through. I do not dare to say how many men were caged on the African coast in the years 1864 and 1865, waiting for a chance when they might be shipped to the islands. It has required the Spanish revolution of October, and the new Junta there, to proclaim the end of Spanish slavery!

But every report of the next year, from every quarter, speaks of the healthy influence of the execution of Gordon and the imprisonment of the other traders convicted. From that moment to this the American flag has been free from that old stain. Since the blockade we have been able to send back our squadron to the Coast. We have a mixed commission of English and American judges to examine any slavers who may be brought in, but there is nothing for them to do. As I prepare these sheets for the press the New York Herald announces that the Dunbarton, blockade-runner, has escaped from New York, and gone to the Western Coast for a cargo of slaves. I inquire of an official friend, and find he knows the Dunbarton and all her history. She sailed from New York for Quebec, arrived there, and is now plying between Quebec and Pictou as the City of Quebec, in the hands of most reputable people. Once a year the mixed courts report that they have nothing to adjudicate. The squadrons watch and watch ; snap up a little rascal here and another there; but the last voyage, which none of them have arrested, is still the Unknown’s voyage to the Unknown, when an Unknown captain carried those Unknown negroes to the bottom of an Unknown sea.

Let us rejoice that that misery seems to be over. We made John Hawkins a knight, at the hands of our gracious Queen Elizabeth, for starting the traffic for Englishmen. Has Victoria, more gracious, no honor in store for Wilmot and Edmonstone and the rest of them who have ended it ? A demiMoor with gold chains was the knightly crest of the one. Let our new baronets have for crests a bird let loose, or a Moor unchained,—were it only in token of the resolution with which, for sixty years, England has determined these poor wretches should be free.