To the American edition.
Within a few years past, several of our visitors from the other side of the Atlantic, have published their views of our country and her institutions. Basil Hall, Hamilton and others, in their attempts to describe the working of the democratic principle in the United States, have been unfavorably influenced by their opposite political predilections. On the other hand, Miss Martineau, who has strong republican sympathies, has not, at all times, been sufficiently careful and discriminating in the facts and details of her spirited and agreeable narrative.
The volume of Mr. Sturge, herewith presented, is unlike any of its predecessors. Its author makes no literary pretensions. His style, like his garb, is of the plainest kind; shorn of every thing like ornament, it has yet a truthful, earnest simplicity, as rare as it is beautiful. The reader will look in vain for those glowing descriptions of American scenery, and graphic delineations of the peculiarities of the American character with which other travellers have endeavored to enliven and diversify their journals. Coming among us on an errand of peace and good will—with a heart oppressed and burdened by the woes of suffering humanity—he had no leisure for curious observations of men and manners, nor even for the gratification of a simple and unperverted taste for the beautiful in outward nature. His errand led him to the slave-jail of the negro-trafficker—the abodes of the despised and persecuted colored man—the close walls of prisons. His narrative, like his own character, is calm, clear, simple; its single and manifest aim, to do good.
Although this volume is mainly devoted to the subject of emancipation, and to his intercourse with the religious Society of which he is a member, yet the friends of peace, of legal reform, and of republican institutions, will derive gratification from its perusal. The liberal spirit of Christian philanthropy breathes through it. The author’s deep and settled detestation of our slavery, and of the hypocrisy which sustains and justifies it, does not render him blind to the beauty of the republican principle of popular control, nor repress in any degree his pleasure in recording its beneficent practical fruits in the free States.
The labors of Mr. Sturge in the cause of emancipation have given him the appellation of the “Howard of our days.” The author of the popular “History of Slavery,” page 600, thus notices his arduous personal investigations of the state of things in the West India Islands, under the apprenticeship system. “The idea originated with Joseph Sturge, of Birmingham, a member of that religious body, the friends, who have ever stood pre-eminent in noiseless but indefatigable exertions in the cause of the negro; and who seem to possess a more thorough practical understanding than is generally possessed