The Groaning of the Prisoner
April 20, 1853 — Music Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
[The speech was read by her husband, Professor Calvin Ellis Stowe]
I accept these congratulations, and honours, ad this offering, which it has pleased Scotland to bestow upon me, not for anything which I have said or done, not as in any sense acknowledging that they are or can be deserved, but with heartfelt humble gratitude to God, as tokens of mercy to a cause most sacred, and most oppressed. In the name of a people despised and rejected of men, in the name of men of sorrows acquainted with grief, from whom the face of all the great and powerful of the earth have been hid, in the name of oppressed and suffering humanity, I thank you. The offering given is the dearer to me, and the more hopeful, that it is literally the penny offering, given upon thousands on thousands, a penny at a time. When, in travelling through your country, aged men and women have met me with such fervent blessings, little children gathered around me with such loving eyes — when honest hands, hard with toil, have been stretched forth with such hearty welcome — when I have seen how readily it does come from the depths of the hearts of the common people, and know, as I truly do, what prayers are going up with it from the humblest homes of Scotland, I am encouraged. I believe it is God who inspires this feeing, and I believe God never inspired it in vain. I feel an assurance that the Lord hath looked down from heaven to hear the groaning of the prisoner, and according to the greatness of his power, to loose those that are appointed to die. In the human view nothing can be more hopeless than this case, all the wealth, and all the power, and all the worldly influence is against it. But here, in Scotland, need we tell the children of the covenant, that the Lord on high is mightier than all human power. Here, close by the spot where your fathers signed that covenant, in an hour when Scotland’s cause was equally poor and depressed; here, by that spot where holy martyrs, sealed it with their blood, it will neither seem extravagance nor enthusiasm, to say to the children of such parents, that for the support of this cause we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are not seen, to that God who, in the face of all worldly power, gave liberty to Scotland, in answer to your fathers’ prayers. Our trust is in Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Ghost, and in the promise that he shall reign till he hath put all things under his feet. There are the faithless ones who, standing at the grave of a buried humanity, tell us that it is in vain to hope for our brothers, because he hath lain in the grave three days already. We turn from them to him who has said, “Thy brother shall rise again.” There was a time when our great high priest, our brother, yet our Lord, lay in the grave three days, and the governors and powers of the earth made it as sure as they could, sealing a stone, and setting a watch. But a third day came, and an earthquake and an angel. So shall it be to the case of the oppressed. Though now small and despised, we are watchers at the sepulchre; like Mary and the trusting women, we can sit through the hours of darkness. We are watching the sky for the golden streaks of dawning, and we believe that the third day will surely come. For Christ our Lord being raised from the dead, dieth no more; and he has pledged his word tat he shall not fail nor be discouraged till he hath set judgment on the earth. He shall deliver the poor when he crieth, the needy, and him that hath no helper. The night is far spent — the day is at hand. The universal sighing of humanity in all countries, the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together — the earnest expectation of the creature waiting for the manifestation for the Son of God — show that the day is not distant when he will break every yoke and let the oppressed go free. And whatever we are able to do for this sacred cause, let us cast it where the innumerable multitude of heaven cast their crowns, at the feet of the Lamb, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Source: Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (West Yorkshire), April 30, 1853, p.3.