Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX C.: The Rev. DAVID THOMAS, D.D., ON FREDERICK DOUGLASS and His Work. - The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: From 1817-1882
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APPENDIX C.: The Rev. DAVID THOMAS, D.D., ON FREDERICK DOUGLASS and His Work. - Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: From 1817-1882 
The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: From 1817-1882, written by himself; with an Introduction by the Right Hon. John Bright, ed. John Lobb (London: Christian Age Office, 1882).
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The Rev. DAVID THOMAS, D.D., ON FREDERICK DOUGLASS and His Work.
A BOOK not only reveals but often contains its author. It is a kind of incarnation of himself, a body in which he lives and works, long after the brain that thought it and the pen that wrote it have mouldered into dust. In it may be seen, not merely his passing opinions and floating feelings, but his thinking intellect and throbbing heart. A book may be less but never greater than its author. A small man, however learned, can never produce a great book. A truly great book is the spontaneous outflow of a great soul, it has not the polish of art, but the bloom of nature. A book is not to be judged by the number of its pages, the consecutiveness of its reasoning, or the rhythms of its periods, but by the amount of creative life that impregnates its sentences, and breathes in its pages.
This Volume is small in bulk, but overflowing with vitality. The Author (with whom I became acquainted soon after my advent to London, and who addressed a crowded audience in the Church at Stockwell of which I was minister) gave me an impression which continues fresh to this hour, not only of his unique history, but of his extraordinary ability and genius. In memory I see him now as he appeared on the platform some thirty-six years ago. He was then a runaway slave. In stature tall, and somewhat attenuated, with a head indicative of large brain force, his dark countenance radiating with humour and genius, his large eyes, now flashing with the fire of indignation against tyranny, and now beaming with tender sympathy for his oppressed race.
As an orator I have never heard his superior from that day to this. His voice was clear and strong, capable of every modulation, and of conveying all classes of sentiment, from the most terrific to the most gentle. His attitudes were natural, and therefore electrically commanding. He dramatised those awful memories of wrong that were at that time burning in his soul. Ten such men in our House of Commons would make quasi-patriots and hireling statesmen quail, give the genuine lovers of right courage, and effect a moral revolution. Ten such men in our London pulpits would send charlatanic pulpiteers to their “own place;” all the little Isms would take their wing at the thunders of their voice, whilst candid enquirers would get firmly rooted in sound ethical convictions.
Having read every line of this book, and being assured that it is re-published in this country with the Author’s consent, I have heartily acceded to the request of the enterprising Publisher to write this brief note. To me, the book itself supplies the interest of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and recalls tragic adventures equal to the boldest creations of romance. It will, I trow, run as widely and live as long as “Robinson Crusoe” and kindred works, but exert at the same time a more potent and beneficent influence.
The book is an autobiography, in which a great man tells out the heartrending wrongs which he has endured, and the agonising and tremendous struggles which he put forth for freedom and justice. The Author’s life was so mixed up with the most tragical period in American history, that this autobiography reveals, in aspects new and grand, the labours of the anti-slavery reformers, such as the illustrious Lloyd Garrison, and his noble colleagues; the characters of Presidents Lincoln and Garfield; and the origin, the progress, and the issues of the great Civil War between the North and the South.
It also reveals the possibilities of a human soul to change external circumstances. Here is a man, born and bred in slavery, subject for twenty-one long years to the most terrible oppression and ruthless cruelty, bleeding under the lash of the slaveholder, incarcerated in dungeous, subject to daily insults even from the conventional sainthood of the Churches, as well as from white men everywhere, and what does he do? He breaks through all, like Samson through the “withs” that bound him, until he becomes one of the first men in the State, an associate of leading Senators, a most distinguished citizen, the “Marshal of Columbia,” wearing the title of “Honourable.” Man need never, ought not ever, to be the creature of circumstances. He degrades his manhood when he yields to externalities. Heaven has endowed him with the power to use the most unpropitious external conditions, as the skilful mariner uses hostile waves and winds, to carry him on to his destination. In truth, to a great soul, as in the case of Frederick Douglass, the most unfavourable circumstances may be turned into triumphant chariots, to bear our manhood on to its ideal power and grandeur.
Mr. Lobb, in publishing this volume, does a work of true patriotism and philanthropy. I trust that it will find its way not only to every railway stall and every circulating library, but into every British home. All who, through this work, come in contact with Frederick Douglass, will be impressed with the dignity of human nature, and feel refreshed and encouraged. They will find a man here an existence, alas! somewhat rare.
Amongst millions of bipeds there are not many real men. Jeremiah was commissioned by the Almighty to “run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and to search the broad places” in order to find a “man.” The city had at that time, not been desolated by war, nor had its inhabitants, so far as is known, been thinned by any catastrophe; its streets resounded with the tread of a crowded population, its broad market-places were thronged with those who bought and sold in “order to get gain,” but amidst this dense concourse of human animals—feeding, thinking, bartering, all acting with more or less energy, and some flaunting as local magnates,—to find a man was a difficult work. A man amongst a teeming population of human animals was a rare object. The grand mission of Christianity, as I understand it, is to convert the fleshly into the spiritual, the selfish into the generous, and thus all human animals into men. This book contains a man—not a man’s portrait, but a man’s self—breathing and thinking, weeping and rejoicing, praying and lecturing, hurling fulminations at the wrong, and smiling benedictions on the right. Truly Frederick Douglass is a grand man.
Erewyn,Upper Tulse Hill,
Bemrose and Sons, Printers, 23, Old Bailey, London; and Derby.