Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

Lord of the earth! we will not raise The temple to thy bounded praise. For thee no victim need expire; For thee no altar blaze with hallowed fire. The burning City flames for thee, Thine Altar is the field of victory! Thy sacred Majesty to bless Man a self-offer'd victim freely lies; To thee he sacrifices II oppiness And Peace, and Love's endearing ties; To thee a Slave he lives, for thee a Slave he dies,

Hush'd was the lute, the Ilebrew ceased to sing; The shout rush'd forth, For ever live the King! Loud was the uproar, as when Rome's decree Pronounced Achaia once again was free; Assembled Greece enrapt with fond belief Heard the false hoon, and bless'd the treacherous Chief. Each breast with freedom's holy ardour glows, From every voice the cry of rapture rose; Their thundering clamours rend the astonished sky, And birds o'erpassing hear, and drop, and die. Thus o'er the Persian dome their plaudits ring, And the high hall re-echoed-Live the King ! The Mutes bow’d reverent down before their Lord, The assembled Satrans envied and adored; Joy sparkled in the Monarch's conscious eyes, And his pleased pride already doom'd the prize.

Silent they saw Zorobabel advance :
Quick on Apame shot his timid glance:
With downward eye he paused a moment mute,
Then with light finger touch'd the softer lute.
Apame knew the Hebrew's grateful cause,
And bent her head, and sweetly smiled applause.

Why is the warrior's cheek so red”
Why downward droops his musing head?
Why that slow step, that faint advance,
That keen yet quick retreating glance;
That crested head in war tower'd high,
No backward glance disgraced that eye,
No flushing fear that check o'erspread,
When stern he strode o'er heaps of dead:
Strange tumult now his bosom moves,
The Warrior fears because he loves.

Why does the Youth delight to rove Amid the dark and lonely grove? Why in the throng where all are gay, With absent eyes from gaiety distraught, Sits he alone in silent thought? Silent he sits, for far away His passion'd soul delights to stray; Recluse he roves as if he fain would shun All human-kind, because he loves but One!

Yes, King of Persia, thou art blest!
But not because the sparkling bowl
To rapture elevates thy waken'd soul;

But not because of Power possest;
Nor that the Nations dread thy mod,

And Princes reverence thee their earthly God'

Even on a Monarch's solitude

Will Care, dark visitant, intrude;

The bowl brief pleasure can bestow, The purple cannot shield from woe! But, King of Persia, thou art blest, For Heaven who raised thee thus the world above, Hath made the happy in Apame's love!

Oh! I have seen him fondly trace
The heavenly features of her face,
Rove o'er her form with eager eye,
And sigh and gaze, and gaze and sigh.
Lo! from his brow with mimic frown
Apame takes the sacred crown;
Those sparkling eyes, that radiant face,
Give to the diadem new grace:
And subject to a Woman's laws,
Darius sees, and smiles applause!

He ceased, and silent still remain'd the throng,
While rapt attention own'd the power of song.
Then, loud as when the wintry whirlwinds blow,
From every voice the thundering plaudits flow;
Darius smiled, Apame's sparklin; eyes
Glanced on the King, and Woman won the prize.

Now silent sate the expectant crowd: Alone
The victor Hebrew gazed not on the throue;
With deeper hue his cheek distemper'd glows,
With statelier stature loftier now he rose;
Heavenward he gazed, regardless of the throng,
And pour'd with awful voice sublimer song.

Ancient of days! Eternal Truth! one hymn, One holier strain the Bard shall raise to thee, Thee Powerful! Thee Benevolent! Thee Just! Friend! Father! All in All!—The Wine's rich blood, The Monarch's might, and woman's conquering charms, These shall we praise alone?—O ye who sit Beneath your vine, and quaff at evening hour The healthful bowl, remember Him whose dews, Whose rains, whose sun, matured the growing fruit, Creator and Preserver!—Reverence Him. 0 thou who from thy throne dispensest life And death, for He hath delegated power, And thou shalt one day at the throne of God Render thy strict account!—O ye who gaze Enrapt on Beauty's fascinating form, Gaze on with love, and loving beauty, learn To shun abhorrent all the mental eye Beholds deform'd and foul; for so shall Love Climb to the source of goodness. God of truth" All-Just All-Mighty! I should ill deserve Thy noblest gift, the gift divine of song, If, so content with ear-deep melodies, To please all-profitless, I did not pour Severer strains; of Truth—cternal Truth, Unchanging Justice, universal Love. Such strains awake the Soul to loftiest thoughts; Such strains the blessed Spirits of the Good Waft, grateful incense to the Halls of Heaven. The dying notes still murmur'd on the string, When from his throne arose the raptured king. About to speak he stood, and waved his hand, And all-cxpectant sate the obedient baud.

Then just and generous, thus the Monarch cries, * Be thine, Zorobabel, the well-earn'd prize.

The purple robe of state thy form shall fold,
The beverage sparkle in thy cup of gold;
The golden couch, the car, and honour’d chain,
Requite the merits of thy favour'd strain,
And raised supreme the ennobled race among
Be call'd My cousin for the victor song.
Nor these alone the victor song shall bless,
Ask what thou wilt, and what thou wilt possess.”

• Fallen is Jerusalem on the Ilebrew cries,
And patriot anguish fills his streaming eyes,
• Hurl’d to the earth by Rapine's vengeful rod,
Poiluted lies the temple of our God;
Far in a foreign land her sons remain,
Hear the keen taunt, and drag the captive chain;
In fruitless woe they wear the wearying years,
And steep the bread of bitterness in tears.
O monarch, greatest, mildest, best of men,
Restore us to those ruined walls again!
Allow us to rebuild that sacred dome,
To live in liberty, and die at Ilome.”

So spake Zorobabel.—Thus Woman's praise
Availed again Jerusalem to raise,
Call'd forth the sanction of the Despot's nod,
And freed the Nation best beloved of God.

1793.

POEMS CONCERNING THE SLAVE TRADE.

SONNET i.

Hold your mad hands! for ever on your plain Must the gorged vulture clot; his beak with blood: For ever must your Niger's tainted flood Roll to the ravenous shark his banquet slain? Hold your mad hands! what demon prompts to rear The arm of Slaughter? on your savage shore Can Hell-sprung Glory claim the feast of gore, With laurels water'd by the widow's tear Wreathing his helmet crown?—Lift high the spear ! And like the desolating whirlwind's sweep, Plunge ye yon bark of anguish in the deep;

* When first the Abolition of the Slave-TA, or was agitated in England, the friends of humanity endeavoured by two means to accomplish it—to destroy the Trade immediately by the interference of Government; or by the disuse of west-Indian productions: a store bet certain method. For a while Government held the language of Justice, and individuals with enthusiasm banished sufar from their tables. This enthusiasm soon cooled; the majority of those who had made this sacrifice (I prostitute the word, but such they thought it), persuaded themselves that parliament would do all, and that individual efforts were no longer necessary. Thus ended the one attempt; it is not difficult to say why the other has failed.—it is not difficult, when the minister has once found himself in the minority, and on the side of Justice.— would to God that the interests of those who dispose of us as they please, had been as closely connected with the preservation of Peace and Liberty, as with the continuance of this traffic in human flesh"

For the pale fiend cold-hearted Commerce there Hath spread his toils accursed wide and far, And calls, to share the prey, his kiudred Demon War.

SONNET il.

Why dost thou beat thy breast and rend thine hair,
And to the deaf sea pour thy frantic cries?
Before the gale the laden vessel flies;
The Heavens all-favouring smile, the breeze is fair;
Hark to the clamours of the exulting crew!
Hark how their thunders mock the patient skies!
Why dost thou shriek, and strain thy red-swolm eyes,
As the white sail is lessening from thy view?
Go pine in want and anguish and despair,
There is no mercy found in human-kind!
Go, Widow, to thy grave and rest thee there!
But may the God of justice bid the wind
Whelm that curst bark beneath the mountain wave,
And bless with Liberty and Death the Slave!

SONNET ill.

Oh, he is worn with toil! the big drops run Down his dark cheek; hold—hold thy merciless hand, Pale tyrant' for beneath thy hard command O'erwearied nature sinks. The scorching Sun, As pitiless as proud Prosperity, Darts on him his full beams: gasping he lies Arraigning with his looks the patient skies, While that inhuman trader lifts on high The mangling scourge, O ye who at your ease Sip the blood-sweeten’d beverage! thoughts like these Haply ye scorn: I thank thee, Gracious God, That I do feel upon my cheek the glow Of indignation, when beneath the rod A sable brother writhes in silent woe.

SONNET IV.

T is night; the mercenary tyrants sleep As undisturb’d as Justice! but no more The wretched Slave, as on his native shore, Rests on his reedy couch: he wakes to weep! Though through the toil and anguish of the day No tear escaped him, not one suffering groan Beneath the twisted thong, he weeps alone In bitterness; thinking that far away Though the gay Negroes join the midnight song, Though merriment resounds on Niger's shore, She whom he loves far from the cheerful throng Stands sad, and gazes from her lowly door With dim-grown eye, silent and woe-begone, And weeps for him who will return no more.

SONNET V.

There are yet two other methods remaining, by which this traffic will probably be abolished—by the introduction of East-Indian or maple sugar, or by the just and general rebellion of the Negroes.

To these past and present prospects the following Poems occasionally allude: to the English custom of exciting wars upon the slave-coast that they may purchase prisoners, and to the punishment sometimes inflicted upon a Negro for Murder, of which Hector St John was an eye-witness.

Did then the Negro rear at last the Sword Of Vengeance” drench'd he deep its thirsty blade In the hard heart of his tyrannic lord? Oh' who shall blame him through the midnight shade Still o'er his tortured memory rush'd the thought Of every past delight; his native grove, Friendship's best joys, and Liberty and Love,

All lost for ever! Then Remembrance wrought His soul to madness: round his restless bed Freedom's pale spectre stalk'd, with a stern smile Pointing the wounds of Slavery, the while She shook her chains and hung her sullen head: No more on Heaven he calls with fruitless breath, But sweetens with revenge the draught of death.

SONNET VI.

High in the air exposed the Slave is hung, To all the birds of Heaven, their living food! He groans not, though awaked by that fierce Sun New tortures live to drink their parent blood! He groans not, though the gorging Vulture tear The quivering fibre! Hither gaze, o ye who tore this Man from Peace and Liberty! Gaze hither, ye who weigh with scrupulous care The right and prudent; for beyond the grave There is another world!—And call to mind, Ere your decrees proclaim to all mankind Murder is legalized, that there the Slave, Before the Eternal, a thunder-tongued shall plead Against the deep damnation of your deed.»

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

By the scourges blacken'd o'er
And stiff and hard with human gore,
By every groan of deep distress,
By every curse of wretchedness,
By all the train of Crimes that flow
From the hopelessness of Woe,
By every drop of blood bespilt,
By Afric's wrongs and Europe's guilt,
Awake! arise! avenge'

And thou hast heard' and o'er their blood-fed plains Swept thine avenging hurricanes; And bade thy storms with whirlwind roar Dash their proud navies on the shore; And where their armies claim'd the sight Wither'd the warrior's might; And o'er the unholy host with baneful breath. There, Genius, thou hast breathed the gales of Death." 1795.

THE SAILOR, Who had served IN the SLAve titade.

In September, 1798, a Dissenting Minister of Bristol discovered n Sailor in the neighbourhood of that city, groaning and praying in a cow-house. The circumstance which occasioned his agony of mind is detailed in the annexed Ballad, without the slightest addition or alteration. By presenting it as a Poem the story is made more public, and such stories ought to be made as public as possible. It was a Christian minister, Who, in the month of slowers, Walk'd forth at eve amid the fields

Near Bristol's ancient towers.

When from a lonely out-house breathed,
Ile heard a voice of woe,

And groans which less might seem from pain,
Than wretchedness to flow :

Heart-rending groans they were, with words
Of hitterest despair,

Yet with the holy name of Christ
Pronounced in broken prayer.

The Christian minister went in,
A sailor there he sees,

Whose hands were lifted up to Heaven,
And he was on his knees.

Nor did the Sailor so intent
His entering footsteps heed,

But now “Our Fathern said, and now
His half-forgotten creed;

And often on his Saviour call’d
With many a bitter groan,

But in such anguish as may spring
From deepest guilt alone.

The miserable man was ask'd
Why he was kneeling there,

And what had been the crime that caused
The anguish of his prayer.

"Alluding to the fatalities attending the British armament to and in the West Indies.

[blocks in formation]

VERSES spokeN IN the the ATRE At 0xForud, UPoN THE INSTAll-Ation of Lost D GRENvii.i.e.

Gaenville, few years have had their course, since last
Exulting Oxford view’d a spectacle
Like this day's pomp; and yet to those who throng'd
These walls, which echoed then with Portland's praise,
What change hath intervened The bloom of spring
Is sled from many a cheek, where roseate joy
And beauty bloom'd : the inexorable trave
Hath claim'd its portion; and the band of youths,
Who then, collected here as in the port
From whence to launch on life's adventurous sea,
Stood on the beach, ere this have found their lots
of good or evil. Thus the lapse of years,
Evolving all things in its quiet course,
Hath wrought for them; and though those years have
seen
Fearful vicissitudes, of wilder change
Than history yet had learnt, or old romance
In wildest mood imagined, yet these, too,
Portentous as they seem, not less have risen,
Each of its natural cause the sure effect,
All righteously ordain'd. Lo! kingdoms wreck'd,
Thrones overturn'd, built up, then swept away
Like fabrics in the summer clouds, dispersed
By the same breath that heap'd them; rightful kings,
who, from a line of long-drawn ancestry
Held the transmitted sceptre, to the axe
Rowing the anointed head; or drago'd away
To eat the bread of bondage; or escaped
Beneath the shadow of Britannia's shield,
There only safe. Such fate have vicious courts,
Statesmen corrupt, and fear-struck policy,
Upon themselves drawn down; till Europe, bound
In iron chains, lies bleeding in the dust,
Beneath the feet of upstart tyranny
Only the heroic Spaniard, he alone
Yet unsubdued in these degenerate days,
With desperate virtue, such as in old time
Hallow'd Saguntum and Numantia's maine,
Stands up against the oppressor undismay d:
So may the Almighty bless the noble race,
And crown with happy end their holiest cause !

Deem not these dread events the monstrous birth of chance! And thou, O England, who dost ride Serene amid the waters of the flood, Preserving, even like the Ark of old, Amid the general wreck, thy purer faith, Domestic loves, and ancient liberty, Look to thyself, O England! for be sure, Even to the measure of thine own desert, The cup of retribution to thy lips shall soon or late be dealt —a thought that well Might fill the stoutest heart of all thy sons With awful apprehension! Therefore, they who fear the Eternal's justice, bless thy name, Grenville, because the wrongs of Africa Cry out no more to draw a curse from heaven On England;—for if still the trooping sharks Track by the scent of death the accursed ship Freighted with human anguish, in her wake Pursue the chase, crowd round her keel, and dart

Toward the sound contending, when they hear
The frequent carcass from her guilty deck
Dash in the opening deep, no longer now
The guilt shall rest on England; but if yet
There be among her children, hard of heart
And seard of conscience, men who set at nought
Her laws and God's own word, upon themselves
Their sin be visited —the Red-cross flag,
Redeem'd from stain so foul, no longer now
Covereth the abomination.

This thy praise,
O Grenville, and while ages roll away
This shall be thy remembrance! Yea, when all
For which the tyrant of these abject times
Hath given his honourable name on earth,
His nights of innocent sleep, his hopes of heaven:
When all his triumphs and his deeds of blood,
The fretful changes of his feverish pride,
His midnight murders and perfidious plots,
Are but a tale of years so long gone by,
That they who read distrust the hideous truth,
Willing to let a charitable doubt
Abate their horror: Grenville, even then
Thy memory will be fresh among mankind :
Afric with all her tongues will speak of thee,
With Wilberforce and Clarkson, he whom Heaven,
To be the apostle of this holy work
Raised up and strengthend, and upheld through all
His arduous toil. To end the glorious task,
That blessed, that redeeming deed was thine:
Be it thy pride in life, thy thought in death,
Thy praise beyond the tomb. The statesman's fame
Will fade, the conqueror's laurel crown grow scre;
Fame's loudest trump upon the ear of Time
Leaves but a dying echo. They alone
Are held in everlasting memory,
Whose deeds partake of heaven. Long ages hence
Nations unborn, in cities that shall rise
Along the palmy coast, will bless thy name;
And Senegal and secret Niger's shore,
And Calabar, no longer startled then
With sounds of murder, will, like Isis now,
Ring with the songs that tell of Grenville's praise.

1 Sio.

BOTANY-BAY ECLOGUES.

Where a sight shall shuddering Sorrow find.
Sad as the ruins of the human mind.
Bowits.

ELINOR. Time, Morning. Scene, the Shore.

Once more to daily toil, once more to wear
The livery of shame, once more to search
With miscrable task this savage shore:
O thou who mountest so triumphantly
In yonder Heaven, beginning thy career
Of thory, O thou blessed Sun! thy beams
Fall on me with the same benignant light
Ilere, at the furthest limits of the world,
And blasted as I am with infamy,
As when in better years poor Elinoa
Gazed on thy glad uprise with eye undimm'd

« ZurückWeiter »