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From The Citizen, January 14, 1854.
James Haughton is a merchant of Dublin, a worthy and sincere man, but an amiable monomaniac. He has published a Letter, addressed “To Thomas Francis Meagher,” to whom he “wants to say a few solemn words across the Atlantic.” The purport of these solemn words is all contained in the three extracts here following:
“Is liberty less the right of the black man than of the white man? If it be so, prove it. – Be consistent, then, and while you are in a land of slave-drivers sanction not their denial of civil and social rights to the coloured people by your silence, or you will become a participator in these wrongs.
But I have better hopes of you, my friend. I trust you will distinguish yourself as an American citizen – as the friend of freedom – freedom for all. You cannot stop short on the threshold of the temple – you must enter boldly into the interior, and there. In the face of men and angels, proclaim yourself a true disciple. I have been looking for you to do this; I have been looking for John B. Dillon to do this; I have been looking for Richard O’Gorman to do this. I hope John Mitchel will, when he sets his foot on America, prove himself a true man.”
This is enough. Mr. Haughton has written at least one thousand letters, all to this precise effect; and especially six or seven years ago, while the doomed white slaves of his own country were in the very crisis of their agony, we well remember that this worthy gentleman was seized with a paroxysm of violent sympathy with the fat negroes of America. He was in the midst of the most hideous and ignominious slavery that ever deformed the world. “Slave-drivers” were living in Eccles street, around his very gates; slaves were crowding the poor-house gaols, within sight of him, or dying like dogs, surplus-slaves that they were, in the charnel-garrets of the Liberty. Slaves, we say, with no more rights, social or political, than Alabama negroes – the difference being that an Alabama negro is of value to his master, and that prudent men will actually pay certain dollars for one, and feed and clothe him afterwards; but the poor white soul was not only of no value to his born owner; but was found to be “surplus,” and money was paid to chase him, kill him, make away with him off the face of the earth. Mr. Haughton knew it well; but those poor creatures laboured under two fatal disqualifications for the sympathy of so benevolent a man – they were white, and they were at his own door. His heart was in Africa; his tenderness was all dark in its complexion, telescopic in its view. Millions of his own countrymen were perishing, body and soul, in blind and bitter slavery and barbarism – thousands of shiploads of the food that providence sent to them, were floating off every morning to be consumed by their enemies; and the cruellest of all slave-drivers stood over them, with scourge and bayonet to see the deed done.
Mr. Haughton was a deep political economist, besides being a corn-merchant; and we do remember that when the Irish people were crying out in passionate terror and rage to close the ports, to stop the export of provisions, to bind up the open arteries that poured out their life so fast, this enlightened emancipator of the human race declined to join in any such demand, would not interfere with “free-trade,” and was even so determined to carry out the great gospel of political economy (buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest), that he stored up corn, hoarded it like gold, always hoping the market would come to the very dearest, until it rotted in his store, and was thrown at last into the river Liffey. We cannot blame him – a man must live – besides, his feelings were too much absorbed at that time by the sufferings of Africans, not to speak of the Rajah of Sattara, whose unmerited wrongs touched his very soul. His indignation was all pre-engaged, and poured itself out upon “man-stealers and cradle-plunderers” many thousands of miles from home. At last he became a weariness; shall we say a bore? – and people began to abhor the very name of negro.
And here, now, after six years, we find Mr. Haughton as fresh as ever, saying the very same things that were then so tedious to us. Others may exert themselves to gain justice and freedom for Irish serfs; he, for his part, will stand by the negroes, and scathe the cradle-plunderers. But, what right has this gentleman to expect Thomas Francis Meagher, or the others whom he has named, to take up his wearisome song – which they always refused to sing at home! Now let us try to satisfy our pertinacious friend if possible, by a little plain English – We are not abolitionists; – no more abolitionists than Moses, or Socrates, or Jesus Christ. We deny that it is a crime, or a wrong, or even a peccadillo, to hold slaves, to buy slaves, to sell slaves, to keep slaves to their work, by flogging or other needful coercion. “By your silence,” says Mr. Haughton, “you will become a participator in their wrongs.” But, we will not be silent, when occasion calls for speech; and, as for being a participator in the wrongs, we, for our part, wish we had a good plantation well-stocked with healthy negroes in Alabama. There now – is Mr. Haughton content! What right has he to call upon Mr. Mitchel the moment he sets his foot in America, to begin a crusade for a cause, which, as Mr. Haughton knows, was always distasteful to him in Ireland? Are we a Jonah, that we should do this thing – that we should take up (whether we will or not) Mr Haughton’s outcry against Nineveh, that great city! Have we escaped out of the whale’s belly for this?
Mr. Haughton is a good sort of man, though a monomaniac. Why will he persist in making himself an object of terror to his acquaintances? Why will he compel his friends to wish that some monster in human form had plundered his cradle when he was a baby?