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The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1280, p. 343.

October 1, 1864

CURRENT LITERATURE.

...Testimonies Concerning Slavery. By M. D, Conway. (1 vol. Chapman and Hall.) Testimony for or against slavery can have little interest for the majority of Englishmen now. Some years ago they declared it to be infamous, and paid twenty millions to be quit of the disgrace. And John Bull is said not to part easily with his money; to patiently bear the stings of conscience rather than open his purse-strings. We may, therefore, consider it pretty certain that John Bull abhors slavery and is convinced of its heinousness; and if he reads the high-spiced stories of Mrs. Henry Beecher Stowe, it is to gratify his morbid tastes and not to satisfy his calm judgment. There may be still an insignificant minority who believe that slavery is the fore-ordained condition of the negro; that God--contrary to express declaration in the Scriptures--is a respecter of persons, preferring a sinful white man to a pious black man; and that woolly hair, ebony skin, protuberance of heel, and a peaceful, cheerful, grateful disposition reduce a human being from a man to a chattel. To them, also, testimony for or against slavery can be of little interest; they resemble the headstrong unbelievers of whom it was said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead;" if they hear not Clarkson, Brougham, and Mrs. Stowe, neither will they be persuaded by Mr. Conway. And yet Mr. Conway speaks with more than usual authority; he is a Virginian, a ci-devant Secessionist, and the son of a slaveholder; his father was one of the kind masters, and yet his slaves were delighted to escape. The most interesting portions of Mr. Conway's book are those in which he gives an account of how he assisted his father's slaves to escape through Baltimore about a year and a half ago, in which he combats the opinion that "the negro is more despised and maltreated in the North than in the South," in which he treats of amalgamation, and in which he considers what prospect of success the North has in the present sanguinary strife. His recapitulation of the horrors attendant upon slavery were, in our judgment, unnecessary; and how far he was justified in assisting his father's slaves to escape we do not care to argue; we put down whatever value is attached to his book to the fact that it is the production of a heretofore Secessionist from Virginia, who boldly announces his views concerning the origin and probable result of the conflict now raging on the American continent....

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