The Visiter published an article on “The Two Riddles,” in which was drawn a picture of a scantily clad woman, with bruised and bleeding feet, clasping an infant to her bosom, panting before her pursuers up Third street. The master called on all good citizens for help. The cry reached the ears of the tall editor of the Journal seated at his desk. He dropped his pen, hastily donned his new brass collar and started in hot pursuit of this wicked woman, who was feloniously appropriating the property of her master.
The other Riddle—the Presbyterian pastor—planted himself by the lamp post on the corner of Third and Market streets, and with spectacles on nose and raised hands, loudly implored divine blessing on the labors of his tall namesake. The Visiter concluded by advising masters who had slaves to catch, to apply to these gentlemen, who would attend to business from purely pious and patriotic motives.
I did not see Mr. Riddle for two weeks after the publication of the sketch, and then we met on the street. He had never before been angry or vexed with me, but now he was both, and said:
“How could you do me such an injustice?”
“Why is it an injustice?”
“Oh you know it is! You know I would cut off my right hand, before I would aid in capturing a fugitive.”
“Then why do you counsel others to do it?”
“Oh you know better! and Rev. Riddle, he and his friends are distressed about it. You do not know what you have done! I have already had three letters from the South, asking me to aid in returning fugitives, and he, too, has had similar applications. Oh it is too humiliating, too bad. You must set it right!”
I agreed to do so, and the Visiter explained that it had been mistaken in saying that both or either of the two Riddles would aid in returning fugitives. They both scorned the business, and Robt. M., would cut off his right hand, rather than engage in it. He only meant that other people should do what would degrade him. He was not a good citizen, and did not intend to be. As for his Reverence, he would shirk his Christian duties; would not pray by that lamppost, or any other lamp-post, for the success of slave-catchers. He had turned his back upon Paul, and had fallen from grace since preaching his famous sermon. The gentlemen had been accredited with a patriotism and piety of which they were incapable, and a retraction was necessary; but if any other more patriotic politician or divine, further advanced in sanctification would send their names to the Visiter, it would notify the South.
In answering Bible arguments, as to the righteousness of the Fugitive Slave Bill, the main dependence of the Visiter was Deuteronomy xxiii: 15 and 16:
“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master, the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.
“He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place where he shall choose, in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best, thou shalt not oppress him.”