There lived in the town of Greensboro for more than forty tears an old patriarch whose biography deserves to be written and his memory preserved, but I am now about to record only a few incidents in his life which came under my own observance. I have not much taste for that kind of biography which details the birth, parentage and other accidental circumstances of a man's history, but his acts and example are things useful to the living and ought to be recorded.
Seth Hinshaw was originally a Friend Quaker of the Orthodox persuasion, but for more than a quarter of a century prior to the close of his long and useful life he had not been fellowshipped by that society, though he retained the dress, mannerism and language of the primitive Quaker. An original abolitionist of the most pronounced type, his time and his money were devoted to the cause of the poor fugitive who fled from the odious system of bondage which was sanctioned by the laws of the Southern States of the American Union and sought liberty by a journey toward the North Star. His house was always open for the entertainment and repose of the poor slave, and was in fact one of the station agents on the great "Underground Railway."
He was a merchant who dealt exclusively in goods which were the product of free labor, and under no circumstances would he handle goods produced by unrequited toil. He was a spiritualist of the most advanced belief, and pronounced by orthodox Christians an infidel if not a lunatic, though his justice and fair dealings were never impeached by anybody. He was a man of considerable means, but kept an open house for his friends, especially of the anti-slavery and spiritualistic persuasion, and for these objects was a man whose liberality knew no bounds. If he had not the faith of a Christian, no one could say that he was wanting in any of the qualities necessary for a good neighbor, and he has left a testimony which those of more orthodox faith might imitate. I will name two incidents which illustrates his character.
A neighbor fell sick but recovered after a long suffering, during which it became necessary to have attendance day and night, but Seth was growing old and could not give him attention during the night-time. When he recovered Seth approached him and apologized for his inability to give him more attention during his illness, and tendered him twenty dollars, saying that he "felt as a neighbor he owed him that for failure to perform a duty resting upon him." If that kind of brotherly love prevailed generally there would be no necessity for the so-called benevolent institutions we now have among us.
One Barzilla Rozell bought goods of Seth to a considerable sum, but was poor and did not pay for them. He afterward became possessed of property, but would still not pay the debt, and Seth left it with a justice of the peace for collection. Rozell had been a constable, and learned that the account was barred by the statue of limitations and he came to New Castle in search of a lawyer. Having secured the services of Joshua Mellett, the plea was put in and the case called for trial. The venerable plaintiff, adjusting his spectacles, called for the plea and having carefully read it, and addressed the attorney as follows: "Joshua, thy plea is correct; it has been more than six years since Barzilla got the goods, but he was poor and I did not want to rush him." Then turning to the defendant he said "Barzilla, if thou didst get the goods then you are welcome to them, but I cannot be under the charge of keeping false books." The lawyer who puts in a dishonest answer to a just claim ought not to be held responsible, for he does as he is instructed to do, but he will be slow to confide in the integrity o such a cheat.
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