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FORCED from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn;
To increase a stranger's treasures,
O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though theirs they have enroll'd me,
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task?
Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same.
Why did all-creating Nature,
Make the plant for which we toil? Sighs must fan it, tears must water, Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters, iron-hearted, Lolling at your jovial boards; Think how many backs have smarted For the sweets your cane affords.
Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
Is there One who reigns on high?
Has he bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne, the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood extorting screws,
Are the means which duty urges,
Agents of his will to use?
Hark! he answers-Wild tornadoes, Strewing yonder sea with wrecks; Wasting towns, plantations, meadows, Are the voice with which he speaks : He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo,
Fix'd their tyrants' habitations
Where his whirlwinds answer-No.
By our blood in Afric wasted,
Ere our necks received the chain; By the miseries we have tasted, Crossing in your barks the main :
By our sufferings, since ye brought us
To the man-degrading mart:
All sustain'd by patience, taught us
Only by a broken heart!
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!
I WOULD not enter on my list of friends, (Though graced with polish'd manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility,) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
An inadvertent step may crush the snail,
That crawls at evening in the public path;
But he that has humanity, forewarn'd,
Will tread aside and let the reptile live.
The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight,
And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes
A visitor unwelcome into scenes
Sacred to neatness and repose, the alcove,
The chamber, or refectory, may die:
A necessary act incurs no blame.
Not so, when held within their proper bounds,
And guiltless of offence, they range the air,
Or take their pastime in the spacious field:
There they are privileged. And he that hunts
Or harms them there, is guilty of a wrong;
Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm,
Who when she form'd, design'd them an abode.
'The sum is this; if man's convenience, health,
Or safety, interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all-the meanest things that are,
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who, in his sovereign wisdom, made them all.
Ye, therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons
To love it too. The spring-time of our years
Is soon dishonour'd and defiled, in most,
By budding ills, that ask a prudent hand
To check them. But, alas! none sooner shoots,
If unrestrain'd, into luxuriant growth,
Than cruelty, most devilish of them all.
Mercy to him that shows it, is the rule
And righteous limitation of its act,
By which Heaven moves in pardoning guilty man :
And he that shows none, being ripe in years,
And conscious of the outrage he commits,
Shall seek it, and not find it in his turn.
THE rose had been wash'd, just wash'd in a shower,
Which Mary to Anna convey'd,
The plentiful moisture encumber'd the flower,
And weigh'd down its beautiful head.
The cup was all fill'd, and the leaves were all wet,
And it seem'd to a fanciful view,
To weep for the buds, it had left with regret
On the flourishing bush where it grew.
For a nosegay, so dripping and drown'd,
And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas!
I snapp'd it, it fell to the ground.
And such, I exclaim'd, is the pitiless part
Some act by the delicate mind,
Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart,
Already to sorrow resign'd.