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Reformers

Reformers image
Parent Issue
Day
13
Month
April
Year
1848
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Reformers.
BY WENDELL PHILLIPS.

Let no man who looks for fame join us. -- I Let him wait rather, and be one of that crowd wliich will flock like doves to our windows, the moment the first gleam of success shall guide them. Our work is only to throw up, ourselves unseen, the pathway over which, unheeding, the triumphant majority are to pass, shouting the names of later and gaudier leadears as their watch-words.
How few ever heard of Zachary Macaulny - the counsellor to whom Wilberforce looked up - one who rose before the sun to give every hour to the slave, and died at last that glorious poor man, which the creditor of humanity always is. But thousands echo the easier earned fame of his son!
How few know anything of that little committee of Quakers, who labored unseen in Lombard street, that Wilberforce and Clarkson might be strotig in the eyes of the great British people - grappled uncheered with the British heart, and enlisted it finally in the cause of Africa; but went down, most of them to their graves forgotten, while the gallant ship which they had launched so painfully - baptised with a new name, and bannered with a new flag, anchored in the safe harbor of a nation's welcome.
"We may regret," says the Edinburgh Review, "that those who sowed should not be allowed to reap, but such is the ordinary course of evenls. By separating success from merit, by imposing on one set of men the sacrifice and the labor, and giving to another the credit of the result, Providence seems to tell us that higher motives than any man can offer, ought to actuate those who assume the responsibility of Government."
In the place of "Government," put "Reform," and the sentiment is still more applicable to a cause like ours. "And grant," says old Fuller, "that God honors thee not to build his temple in thy parish, yet thou mayest with David, provide metal and materials for Solomon, thy successor, to build it with."
Some reluct at the long time requisite to change the institutions of a nation, or regenerate its public sentiment. But here, too, a moment's thought shows us, how wise in this respect is the order of Providence. The progress of a great reform is a nation's school. It creates as it advances, the moral principle, the individual independence, the habit of private judgement, the enlightened public opinion, which are necessary for its own success, and thus, by new moulding the national character, and elevating its tone of morals, it confers far other and greater benefits than its originators at first proposed. And further, it naturally opens the eye to kindred abuses, or growing itself out of a wrong principle, which has other results besides this irnmediate one, it insensibly prepares the way for wider and more radical reform. Having once gathered under its banners an army of disinterested and enthusiastic hearts, its slow advance keeps them in the field long enough to form them veteran and willing laborers in every good cause. - Forty-seven years in the wilderness were necessary to make the Egyptian slave a fit soldier for Joshua to lead, and a fit subject for David and Solomon to govern.
An acute observer has well remarked, speaking of the slow step of the English movement for a repeal of the corn laws :
"The change will be delayed so long, that when it comes the people will have been instructed in the necessity for something more than a mere repeal of an act of Parliament, important as that appeal unquestionably is. They will see the necessity for an organic change - that the cause of the evil is in selfish legislation, and that again springs from the exclusive possession by one small class of the legislative power ; and thus Chartism, under the name of Complete Suffrage, will become the adopted measure of the rniddling classes."
Welcome then the thought that careless history will probably drop from her tablets the names of those who were first to stem the current of corrupt popular opinion. It tends to keep our ranks pure.
Welcome the long years of struggle which show us that we are enlisted not for a single campaign, but for life. The discipline will make us wiser, and imprint deeper in our hearts the conviction, that it is from us the ranks of future reformers are to be recruited ; and that to shut our eyes to the light of other reformation is to be traitor to the past. [Liberty Chimes.]

True devotion is not a melancholy sentiment that depresses the spirits, and excludes the ideas of pleasure, which youth is fond of; on the contrary, there is nothing so friendly to joy, productive of true pleasure, so peculiarly suited to the warmth and innocence of a youthful heart. [Chapone.]

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Subjects
Michigan Liberty Press
Old News