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Deem our nation brutes no longer,
Till some reason ye shall find
Worthier of regard, and stronger
Than the colour of our kind.
Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings
Tarnish all your boasted powers,
Prove that you have human feelings,
Ere you proudly question ours!
Deteriora sequor.' [OVID, Metamorph. vii. 20.]
I OWN I am shocked at the purchase of slaves,
And fear those who buy them and sell them, are knaves;
What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and groans,
Is almost enough to draw pity from stones.
I pity them greatly, but I must be mum,
For how could we do without sugar and rum?
Especially sugar, so needful we see?
What, give up our desserts, our coffee, and tea!
Besides, if we do, the French, Dutch, and Danes
Will heartily thank us, no doubt, for our pains:
If we do not buy the poor creatures, they will,
And tortures and groans will be multiplied still.
If foreigners likewise would give up the trade,
Much more in behalf of your wish might be said:
But while they get riches by purchasing blacks,
Pray tell me why we may not also go snacks?
Your scruples and arguments bring to my mind
A story so pat, you may think it is coined,
On purpose to answer you, out of my mint;
But I can assure you I saw it in print.
A youngster at school, more sedate than the rest,
Had once his integrity put to the test;
His comrades had plotted an orchard to rob,
And asked him to go and assist in the job.
He was shocked, sir, like you, and answered-'Oh no! 25
What! rob our good neighbour! I pray you don't go;
Besides the man's poor, his orchard's his bread,
Then think of his children, for they must be fed.'
'You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
But apples we want, and apples we'll have;
If you will go with us, you shall have a share,
If not, you shall have neither apple nor pear.'
They spoke, and Tom pondered-'I see they will go :
Poor man! what a pity to injure him so!
Poor man! I would save him his fruit if I could,
But staying behind will do him no good.
'If the matter depended alone' upon me,
His apples might hang till they dropped from the tree;
But since they will take them, I think I'll go too,
He will lose none by me, though I get a few.'
His scruples thus silenced, Tom felt more at ease,
And went with his comrades the apples to seize;
He blamed and protested, but joined in the plan:
He shared in the plunder, but pitied the man.
'TWAS in the glad season of spring,
Asleep at the dawn of the day,
I dreamed what I cannot but sing,
So pleasant it seemed as I lay.
I dreamed that, on ocean afloat,
Far hence to the westward I sailed,
While the billows high-lifted the boat,
And the fresh-blowing breeze never failed.
In the steerage a woman I saw,
Such at least was the form that she wore,
Whose beauty impressed me with awe,
Ne'er taught me by woman before.
She sat, and a shield at her side
Shed light, like a sun on the waves,
And smiling divinely, she cried-
'I go to make Freemen of Slaves.'
Then raising her voice to a strain
The sweetest that ear ever heard,
She sung of the slave's broken chain,
Wherever her glory appeared.
Some clouds which had over us hung,
Fled, chased by her melody clear,
And methought while she Liberty sung,
'Twas Liberty only to hear.
Thus swiftly dividing the flood,
To a slave-cultured island we came,
Where a Demon, her enemy, stood—
Oppression his terrible name.
In his hand, as the sign of his sway,
A scourge hung with lashes be bore,
And stood looking out for his prey
From Africa's sorrowful shore.
But scon as approaching the land,
That goddess-like woman he viewed;
The scourge he let fall from his hand,
With blood of his subjects imbrued.
I saw him both sicken and die,
And the moment the monster expired,
Heard shouts that ascended the sky,
From thousands with rapture inspired.
Awaking, how could I but muse
At what such a dream should betide?
But soon my ear caught the glad news,
Which served my weak thought for a guide ;—
That Britannia, renowned o'er the waves,
For the hatred she ever has shown
To the black-sceptred rulers of slaves,
Resolves to have none of her own.
ON MRS. MONTAGU'S FEATHER
THE Birds put off their every hue,
To dress a room for Montagu;
The Peacock sends his heavenly dyes,
His rainbows and his starry eyes;
The Pheasant plumes which round infold
His mantling neck with downy gold;
The Cock his arched tail's azure show;
And, river-blanched, the Swan his snow;
All tribes beside of Indian name,
That glossy shine, or vivid flame,
Where rises and where sets the day,
Whate'er they boast of rich and gay,
Contribute to the gorgeous plan,
Proud to advance it all they can.
This plumage, neither dashing shower,
Nor blasts that shake the dripping bower,
Shall drench again or discompose,
But screened from every storm that blows,
It boasts a splendour ever new,
Safe with protecting Montagu.
To the same Patroness resort,
Secure of favour at her court,
Strong Genius, from whose forge of thought
Forms rise, to quick perfection wrought,
Which, though new-born, with vigour move,
Like Pallas springing armed from Jove-
Imagination scattering round
Wild roses over furrowed ground,
Which Labour of his frown beguile,
And teach Philosophy a smile-
Wit flashing on Religion's side,
Whose fires, to sacred Truth applied,
The gem, though luminous before,
Obtrude on human notice more,
Like sunbeams on the golden height
Of some tall temple playing bright—
Well tutored Learning, from his books
Dismissed with grave, not haughty, looks,
Their order on his shelves exact,
Nor more harmonious or compact,
Than that to which he keeps confined
The various treasures of his mind-
All these to Montagu's repair,
Ambitious of a shelter there.
There Genius, Learning, Fancy, Wit,
Their ruffled plumage calm refit,
(For stormy troubles loudest roar
Around their flight who highest soar)
And in her eye, and by her aid,
Shine safe without a fear to fade.
She thus maintains divided sway
With yon bright regent of the day;
The Plume and Poet both we know
Their lustre to his influence owe;
And she the works of Phœbus aiding,
Both Poet saves and Plume from fading,