The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
bitter obloquy, as, in these latter days, only the early Anti-Slavery disciples have had to endure.  These men never said, in reference to the Anti-slavery cause, I ought or I will, because they never needed to say them.  The sun shines without them, and life expands without them; and here were souls as unconsciously beneficent as the one, as spontaneous in growth and shaping as the other.  Theirs was not a force that moved mechanically in right lines, with limited objects before it.  It did, indeed, sweep with arrowy swiftness of assail on every point that offered; but when I remember that it more often pleaded than stormed, that it penetrated into every secret recess that mercy casually opened, and gently stirred into fuller life those roots of human feeling that can be numbed by apathy but not killed even by hate, I know that it was persuasive, diffusive, inbreathing force, an influence vital in others because an effluence vitalized from themselves.

So they stood, self-consecrated, enveloped by the love of God, permeated by the love of man,—­twin Perfect Loves that cast out all dream of fear.  And so they walked, calm as if a thousand stabs of personal insult never brought them one of personal pain, passing through all as if nothing but the serenest skies were above them.  And, as I have said, right there is one explanation of the anomaly; there were the serenest skies above them—­heaven’s love perpetually shining.  Why should it not shine? all the powers of the men were dedicated to rescuing the image of God on this earth,—­not man as he suffered physically, but the moral instinct threatened with annihilation.  It was sacred to them, this soul so sacred to redeeming love, but too brutalized to find its way to it.  Nor merely the slave.  Their love embraced, with yet more pitying fervor, the master compelling his spiritual nature into death, and the northern apologist letting his die; and this overmastering love of saving spiritual integrity, was one power that made them and heart-ease hold unfailing friends through the obloquy of those days; the other must be found in the fact mentioned,—­that neither resolve nor impulse was their spur, but personal character moving from its depths.

From such a motive-power as this can come no parade of results.  The nature that works, proceeds from the necessary laws and forces of its being, and is as simple and unconscious as any other natural law or force.  Hence there are no startling epochs to record in my father’s history, no supreme efforts; in filling the measure of daily opportunity lay his chief work.  I cannot measure it by our ten fingers’ counting.  I can only show a life unfolding, and, by the essential laws of its growth, embracing the noblest cause of its time.  But if action means vivifying public sentiment decaying under insidious poison; if it includes the doing of this amid a storm of odium that would quickly have shattered any soul irresolute for an instant; if it

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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