LETTER FROM VICTOR HUGO.
an irreparable fault. It would penetrate the Union with a
gaping fissure which would lead in the end to its entire dis¬
ruption. It is possible that the execution of Brown might
establish slavery on a firm basis in Virginia, but it is certain
that it would shake to its centre the entire fabric of Ameri¬
can democracy. You preserve your infamy, but you sacrifice
your glory. Viewed in a moral light, it seems to me that a
portion of the enlightenment of humanity would be eclipsed,
that even the ideas of justice and injustice would be obscured
on the day which should witness the assassination of Emanci¬
pation by Liberty.
As for myself, though I am but a mere atom, yet being, as
I am, in common with all other men, inspired with the con¬
science of humanity, I fall on my knees, weeping before the
great starry banner of the New World; and with clasped
hands, and with profound and filial respect, I implore the
illustrious American Republic, sister of the French Republic,
to see to the safety of the universal moral law, to save John
Brown, to demolish the threatening scaffold of the 16th of
December, and not to suffer that beneath its eyes, and I add,
with a shudder, almost by its fault, a crime should be perpe¬
trated surpassing the first fratricide in iniquity.
For — yes, let America know it, and ponder on it well —
there is something more terrible than Cain slaying Abel: It
is Washington slaying Spartacus !
Hauteville House, Dec. 2d, 1859.
VICTOR HUGO ON AMERICAN SLAVERY.
TO MRS. MARIA WESTON CHAPMAN.
Madame: I have scarcely anything to add to your letter.
I would cheerfully sign every line of it. Pursue your holy
work. You have with you all great souls and all good hearts.
You are pleased to believe, and to assure me, that my voice,
in this august cause of Liberty, will be listened to by the great