Daniel Neall

Daniel Neall
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Dr. Neall, a worthy disciple of that venerated philanthropist, Warner Mifflin, whom the Girondist statesman, Jean Pierre Brissot, pronounced "an angel of mercy, the best man he ever knew," was one of the noble band of Pennsylvania abolitionists, whose bravery was equalled only by their gentleness and tenderness. He presided at the great anti-slavery meeting in Pennsylvania Hall, May 17, 1838, when the Hall was surrounded by a furious mob. I was standing near him while the glass of the windows broken by missiles showered over him, and a deputation from the rioters forced its way to the platform, and demanded that the meeting should be closed at once. Dr. Neall drew up his tall form to its utmost height. "I am here," he said, "the president of this meeting, and I will be torn in pieces before I leave my place at your dictation. Go back to those who sent you. I shall do my duty." Some years after, while visiting his relatives in his native State of Delaware, he was dragged from the house of his friends by a mob of slave-holders and brutally maltreated. He bore it like a martyr of the old times; and when released, told his persecutors that he forgave them, for it was not they but Slavery which had done the wrong. If they should ever be in Philadelphia and needed hospitality or aid, let them call on him.


FRIEND of the Slave, and yet the friend of all;
Lover of peace, yet ever foremost when
The need of battling Freedom called for men
To plant the banner on the outer wall;
Gentle and kindly, ever at distress
Melted to more than woman's tenderness,
Yet firm and steadfast, at his duty's post
Fronting the violence of a maddened host,
Like some gray rock from which the waves are tossed!
Knowing his deeds of love, men questioned not
The faith of one whose walk and word were right;
Who tranquilly in Life's great task-field wrought,
And, side by side with evil, scarcely caught
A stain upon his pilgrim garb of white
Prompt to redress another's wrong, his own
Leaving to Time and Truth and Penitence alone.


Such was our friend. Formed on the good old plan,
A true and brave and downright honest man
He blew no trumpet in the market-place,
Nor in the church with hypocritic face
Supplied with cant the lack of Christian grace;
Loathing pretence, he did with cheerful will
What others talked of while their hands were still;
And, while "Lord, Lord!" the pious tyrants cried,
Who, in the poor, their Master crucified,
His daily prayer, far better understood
In acts than words, was simply doing good.
So calm, so constant was his rectitude,
That by his loss alone we know its worth,
And feel how true a man has walked with us on earth.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.