#Thoreau– ” The slave-ship is on her way, crowded with its dying victims …” (Plea for Captain John Brown )

10 Oct

Plea for Captain John Brown [Thoreau]

“The slave-ship is on her way, crowded with its dying victims; new cargoes are being added in mid-ocean; a small crew of slaveholders, countenanced by a large body of passengers, is smothering four millions under the hatches, and yet the politician asserts that the only proper way by which deliverance is to be obtained is by “the quiet diffusion of the sentiments of humanity,” without any “outbreak.” As if the sentiments of humanity were ever found unaccompanied by its deeds, and you could disperse them, all finished to order, the pure article, as easily as water with a watering-pot, and so lay the dust. What is that that I hear cast overboard? The bodies of the dead that have found deliverance. That is the way we are “diffusing” humanity, and its sentiments with it.”

                                      1853
                         A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN
                             by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David THOREAU
PLAIDOYER POUR JOHN BROWN

” Le navire négrier est en route chargé de ses victimes mourantes ; en plein océan on lui ajoute de nouvelles cargaisons ; l’équipage, une poignée de propriétaires d’esclaves, soutenu par les nombreux passagers, asphyxie quatre millions d’êtres enfermés à fond de cale, et pourtant le politicien veut nous faire croire que le seul moyen convenable de délivrer les victimes et de «diffuser peu à peu des sentiments d’humanité». Comme si les sentiments d’humanité se rencontraient jamais séparés des actes d’humanité et que l’on puisse les répandre en quantités convenables (le produit authentique !), aussi facilement que l’on arrose le sol pour abattre la poussière. Qu’est-ce donc que j’entends jeter par-dessus bord ? Ce sont les cadavres de ceux qui ont trouvé la délivrance. C’est ainsi que nous diffusons l’humanité et les sentiments d’humanité avec.”

Traduction de Christine Demorel et Laurence Vernet
Éditions JJ Pauvert
Libertés nouvelles 2,  1977

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