Memoir of her Life and Character,
By Benjamin Lundy.
Shall we behold, unheeding,
Life’s holiest feelings crush’d?
When woman’s heart is bleeding,
Shall woman’s voice be hush’d?
Published by T. E. Chapman.New York: Baker, Crane & Day.18451845.
In offering to the public a collection of the Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, it is considered unnecessary to say much in explanation of the motives which have influenced those concerned in the compilation.—Among the female writers of modern times, who have distinguished themselves in philanthropy and moral excellence, few, indeed, if any, have presented stronger claims to favourable notice, than the amiable author of the valuable essays and miscellaneous pieces comprised in this volume. Personally, she was unknown to the literary world—and even her name was not familiar to the reading community; yet the beautiful and excellent productions of her pen, emanating from a refined and highly cultivated mind, will be found worthy an attentive perusal; and their merit will, no doubt, be properly appreciated by the virtuous and discriminating. The philosophic and sentimental piety manifested in them; the liberal principles of charity and benevolence which they inculcate; and the lessons of justice, humanity, and active philanthropy, that are taught by them, cannot fail to recommend the book to the libraries of the learned, the circles of literary taste, and to readers, in general, who take an interest in the march of human improvement, and the welfare and happiness of mankind.
These considerations, it may be presumed, will afford a sufficient inducement for the humane and the philanthropic to acquaint themselves with the contents of the volume.—And that they may be found profitable in awakening and increasing the disposition to spread the light of Christian philanthropy, and in promoting more zealous efforts to meliorate the condition of oppressed and suffering humanity, is the ardent desire and truly cherished hope of
Philadelphia 1836-06Sixth Month, 1836.
By B. Lundy.
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler was born at Centre, near the town of Wilmington, in the State of Delaware, on the 1807-12-2424th day of the Twelfth Month (December) 1807. She was the daughter of Thomas Chandler, a very respectable farmer, who possessed a handsome competency, and lived in easy circumstances, though he was not reputed wealthy as to the riches of this world. He received a liberal education, and also studied medicine; but while he resided in the country, he devoted his attention principally to agriculture. The name of her mother was Margaret Evans, who was born at the city of Burlington, in the State of New-Jersey. Both the Chandler and Evans families were of English origin, their ancestors having migrated to this country at an early period of its settlement by the Europeans.
Thomas Chandler and his wife resided at Centre a number of years after their marriage, where they were highly respected by their acquaintance generally. They were both exemplary members of the religious society of Friends, and lived in strict conformity with its established rules of order and discipline. They were blessed with three fine healthy children, of whom the subject of this memoir was the youngest, and only daughter. But although their prospects were highly flattering, while the peaceful enjoyment of connubial happiness lightened the burthens of worldly care, the bright anticipations of this worthy family were destined to be of short duration.—The mother died while the daughter was still in her infancy.—Elizabeth was then too young to be sensible of the irreparable loss which she thus sustained. How applicable to her infantile bereaved condition were the following elegant lines of Barton!—7 008 1(4)v 8 Blessings rest on thee, happy one! All that parental love Could ask, or wish, since life begun, Be given thee from above. And when, through childhood’s path of flowers, Thy infant steps have trod, Thy soul shall be, in after hours, Prepared to learn of God.
Soon after the death of his wife, Thomas Chandler removed to Philadelphia, where he was for some length of time successfully engaged in the practice of medicine. He placed his infant daughter under the care of her grandmother, Elizabeth Evans, who then resided in the same place. Here she remained a number of years. Every possible care was taken respecting her morals and education, by her friends, with whom she was a particular favourite. Her natural disposition was mild, yet lively, and her temper calm and even. Her faculties were bright and vigorous, and her perceptions quick and penetrating. As soon as she was old enough, she was put to school, where she made rapid progress in acquiring the rudiments, and afterwards a knolwedge, of the higher branches of a common or general school education.
At the age of about nine years, she was so unfortunate as to lose her father, in addition to the previous loss of her mother. She was now left an orphan, with her two elder brothers, to buffet the cheerless frowns of a troublesome world, without the aid of parental advice or protection. She was still of too tender and age fully to estimate the great bereavement which this double misfortune occasioned. But these sorrowful vicissitudes, no doubt, made their wonted impressions on her susceptible mind, and in all probablility, contributed largely to give it that seriously reflective turn, which appeared in her after-life as one of the most distinguishing traits in her character.
The schools which she attended, were established by the society of Friends, and conducted by teachers, selected especially with reference to their exemplary character, and their competency for the station. This was evidently a great advantage to the youthful pupil, in both a moral and religious point of view. Considering the situation in which Elizabeth was now placed, it was, to her, a matter of momentous concern. In 009 1(5)r 9 addition to the care of her pious, yet fond and doating grandmother, she experienced the kind attention and wholesome admonitions of her three aunts, Ruth, Jane, and Amelia Evans, the sisters of her deceased mother. But all their efforts to guard her against the temptations and allurements of a deceitful world, might possibly have failed, without the aid of these excellent institutions, surrounded as she was by the giddy, thoughtless votaries of fashion and vitiating amusement, in the gay metropolis of Pennsylvania. We do not learn that she made greater proficiency in the more scientific studies, than many others of her contemporaries. The bent of her mind, even at this tender age, was religiously contemplative; and she was more inclined to view with admiration and gratitude, the works of the adorable Author of Nature, as they were unfolded to her mental or corporeal vision, than to pry into the mysteries of creation, and strive to attain to a higher degree of knowledge than was, perhaps, vouchsafed by the Creator. She manifested a particular fondness for literary pursuits, and very early gave evidence of a rare talent for poetical composition. When she was but little over nine years of age, she wrote several stanzas, (the first noticed by her friends,) upon the occurence of a violent tempest. They were so well composed, for one so young, that they excited the admiration of all who read them. Very shortly afterwards, she wrote another piece, on the same subject, which she entitled, Reflections on a Thunder-gust. The following extract will give some idea of both her natural capacity, and pious train of thought:—When lightnings flash, and thunders roll, To God I will direct my soul. When sorrows assail my troubled mind, In God I can a refuge find. Preserved by him from every snare, I’ll join him in Heaven, with angels there.
She left school at about the age of twelve or thirteen years; but still entertaining an ardent desire for literary improvement, she read much, and frequently employed her pen on various subjects. As the powers of her intellectual faculties were thus developing, her writings further attracted the attention of her friends and acquaintances, who often solicited, and occasionally obtained permission, to publish articles which she selected from 010 1(5)v 10 among them. Yet, such was her retiring modesty, and native diffidence, that she did not, for a considerable length of time, permit her name to be used publicly, as an author. Some of the most popular periodicals of the day were thus enriched by the productions of her pen, while she was almost entirely unknown to the world. She began to write, particularly for the press, at about the age of sixteen years; and some of her articles were extensively copied and circulated in various parts of America, and considerably in Europe. Though she was by no means deficient in prose, either for elegance of diction, or force of expression, she excelled in poetry. Her style was easy and graceful, while the flights of her fancy were lofty and soaring, and her imagery natural and pleasing. The touches of her pencil were generally and truly original, appropriate, and beautiful.
In the year 18271827, she experienced another bereavement, in the death of her pious and affectionate grandmother. This must have been a severe shock, to a mind so refined and susceptible of impression as hers. The decease of both her parents had occurred at early periods of her life, while she was incapable of appreciating the magnitude of the deprivation: yet, as she advanced to maturer age, the recollection of those circumstances exhibited to her mental vision the loneliness of an orphan’s state and condition, and the portraiture had awakened reflections which served to make lasting impressions on her memory.—But now, her mind was alive to the sorrowful denouement of these mortal visitations, and the awful consequences of Death’s doings. Well might she exclaim, in the language of one, whose mind had previously been familiar with the oft-repeated havoc of the inexorable Destroyer in his family connexion:— Insatiate archer! could not one suffice?Thy shaft flew thrice; and thrice my peace was slain. Young.
For some length of time after the death of her grandmother, she resided with her aunt Ruth Evans, and her brother Thomas Chandler, in Philadelphia. Though studiously inclined, and habitually reserved, she had selected a few, among the most worthy of her contemporary female acquaintances, as her intimate and confidential friends.—With these, particularly Hannah Townsend, and Anna Coe, of Philadelphia, she spent 011 1(6)r a portion of her time in social intercourse, and also corresponded with them freely. She very seldom frequented the places of public resort, except the religious assemblies of the society of Friends —of which she was a birthright member—and meetings for philanthropic purposes. She became a member of a Female anti-slavery Society, in Philadelphia; but did not take a very active part in its public proceedings. The scenes of gayety, of splendid exhibition, or of volatile and transient amusement, had few attractions for her. The leisure moments which a relaxation from her studies and other avocations afforded, were more profitably, and, to her, much more agreeably occupied, in conversation or epistolary communion with the friends of her choice. She was warmly and most affectionately attached to her brothers, (especially the youngest, with whom she resided,) and also to her aunt Ruth Evans, to whom, more than any one else, she was indebted for the care extended towards her, during the periods of infancy and youth. Thus situated, she pursued her literary studies—not as a source of pecuniary gain, nor yet of worldly fame—but for the amusement and rational gratification of her own mind. Her secluded habits and persevering resolution (in most cases) in withholding her name from the public, prevented her from acquiring that notoriety, as an author, which her superior talents and excellent principles were calculated to obtain for her.
But we are, henceforth, to view her character and exercises in a different and more interesting light than formerly. The course of her reading and study had never been confined to any one particular subject.—And although she was peculiarly fond of noting the incidents connected with the history of her native country; of delineating the manners and customs of its aboriginal inhabitants, and tracing the progress of events relating to the existence, dispersion, or extinction of their various tribes; we now see her turning her attention to the degraded and suffering condition of the African race, in America. To enable the reader to form a correct idea of the time and manner in which her mind was first impressed with the high importance of attending to this momentous subject, we copy the statement which she has given of it herself. In a letter to her friend, Hannah Townsend, at a subsequent period, she remarks as follows:
In looking over one of thy notes, I observe that thou mentions012 1(6)v 12 tions having copied The Slave Ship from my album. See this beautiful article in the collection of poetry. It was written when she was about eighteen years of age. I am glad thee did so, as that piece, on some accounts, is interesting to me; and was indirectly the cause, perhaps, of our present acquaintance. It was written about five years since, and was published shortly afterwards in the Casket, having received the award of one of the premiums offered by the editors of that work—and mightily indignant, too, I was at the time, that it was adjudged only to the third rank! and, by the bye, though I have forgotten the insult, I still consider it equal to those which were exalted above it—but that matters little. It was copied into the Genius of Universal Emancipation; when the signature was recognized by a friend of mine, who acquainted the editor (B. Lundy) with the name of the author, and conveyed me a request from him, to write occasionally for the paper. An introduction and acquaintance afterwards followed; and I continued to write, sometimes, for the poetical department, until I was formally installed into the editorship of the Ladies’ Repository—and our own friendship has been the result. But I forgot to commence by telling thee, that it was the first piece I ever wrote upon the subject of slavery—and was, if my memory serves me correctly, the effect of reading a sermon delivered by a minister of the society of Friends.
We have now, indeed, to commence a new era in her biography, and introduce her to the world—not merely as a contributor to the popular, yet light and transient, literature of the day—but as an able author, and editor; in fact, one of the most accomplished and powerful female writers of her time. It is not enough to say, that her productions were chaste, eloquent, and classical.—Her language was appropriate, her reasoning clear, her deductions logical, and her conclusions impressive and convincing. Her appeals were tender, persuasive, and heart-reaching; while the strength and cogency of her arguments rendered them incontrovertible. She has given her own account of the manner in which her attention was drawn to the great and important question of the abolition of slavery. We now proceed to a review of her labours in that righteous cause, during the brief period in which she so zealously advocated it. She was the first American female author that ever 013 2(1)r 13 made this subject the principal theme of her active exertions: and it may safely be affirmed, without the least disparagement to others, that no one of her sex, in America, has hitherto contributed as much to the enlightenment of the public mind, relative to this momentous question, as she has done. In short, she ranked as second to none, among the female philanthropists of modern times, who have devoted their attention to it, if we except the justly celebrated Elizabeth Heyrich, of England:— and had her valuable life been prolonged, there can be no doubt that her well-merited fame would soon, at least, have rivalled that of the distinguished and eminently philanthropic author, just named.
Her correspondence with the editor of the Genius of Universal Emancipation commenced in the early part of the year 18261826. Though she had previously written the prize poem, on the subject of slavery, as aforesaid, her mind had not then been fully awakened to the nature of the system; neither had it been much occupied in contemplating the proper means to be used for its extinction. The articles which she furnished for the pages of the work, embraced a variety of subjects in the field of general and miscellaneous literature. Among the first of her contributions, expressly designed for it, the pieces entitled, The Treaty of Penn, and the Appeal of the Choctaw, exhibited the effusions of a tender and feeling heart, alive to the multiplied wrongs and outrages heaped upon the forest race, as well as an intimate acquaintance with the Indian character. The articles headed, The Wife’s Lament, Midnight, and The Depths of the Sea, were also among her earlier communications for the same work, and afford specimens of varied talents and the rich stores of a highly cultivated mind. The following lines are extracted from one of them, All other articles here alluded to, will be found in the succeeding pages. entitled, A Paraphrase of part of the Nineteenth Chapter of 2d Kings. The delineation is graphic, and the strains sublime.—The screaming eagle fled across the sky, And left the scene of havoc far behind; The crush of wide spread ruin rose on high— But He, Jehovah, was not in the wind. 2 014 2(1)v 14 The cavern echoes rang a hollow sound, Or thunder’d back the crash of falling rock; The valleys rose—the waves forgot their bound— But God was not within the earthquake’s shock. Then came a fire—the sheeted flames ascend, And spread across the sky a lurid glare; The glowing forests in one ruin blend, And sink to nothing—but God was not there. The came a still small voice—the whisper’d word Not even silence from her slumber broke, Yet was distinctly by the prophet heard— And in that voice, the Lord, Jehovah, spoke.
As she now had an opportunity to acquire more particular information concerning the nature and tendency of slavery, by a perusal of the facts, &c. inserted in the periodical work above mentioned, the horrible evils of that system were gradually unfolded to her view, and her attention was forcibly attracted to the subject. The articles entitled, The Negro Father’s Lament over the body of his Infant Son, The Recaptured Slave, and Pharaoh, were some of the first which she furnished upon this subject. Many others might be enumerated, evincive of the deep sympathy that she entertained for the degraded and suffering slave, and the strong desires that she felt for his improvement and emancipation. In a communication inserted on the 1827-07-04Fourth of July, 1827, relating to the question of slavery, she presents a most striking contrast between the principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence, and the acts of the government of the United States, in relation to the perpetuation of slavery. Few writers upon this subject, if any indeed, have exhibited clearer of more comprehensive views, or even expressed their sentiments in more appropriate and forcible terms, than she has done. With what lively emotion, and patriotic ardour, does she pour forth the genuine effusions of exalted philanthropy, in the following beautiful lines!—My Country! I behold thee now, as when Thy wastes were trodden but by savage men; When through thy blooming bowers of green and shade, The Indian only, free, and fearless, stray’d— 015 2(2)r 15 And o’er thy sleeping waters silence hung, Save when the screaming wild-fowl upwards sprung, Or when the light canoe was launch’d, that bore The soil’s untutor’d lords from shore to shore; When thy bright bowers in rich luxuriance smiled, A blooming waste—a paradisal wild;— But now, when over thee I bend my glance, And think how like a dream of young romance Hath been thy history, warm feelings start, And proud emotions steal around my heart. Oh! I do fondly love thee! I would twine Thy weal and woe with every thought of mine, Rejoice to see thee crown’d with glory’s wreath, Or cling to thee in wretchedness and death. Did not the brightness of thy starry skies First shed their splendour on my infant eyes? Did not thy forest’s bloom, thy zephyr’s blow, First wake within my heart its rapturous glow? And all of beautiful and fair in thee, First lift my thoughts from earth to Deity! Thus have I felt—but list!—methought a groan— Some suffering victim’s agonizing moan, Burst on my ear—or was it fancy’s voice? Is there one heart too wretched to rejoice On this bright day? the theme of many a tongue! By many a bard in living numbers sung! Hath not imagination borne me back To scenes of war, the charge, the wild attack? No! ’t was indeed the tyrant’s lash that rung That groan of anguish from his victim’s tongue! Oh! I could lay me in the very dust, And weep in sadness o’er the cankering rust That sheds its blighting influence o’er thy fame, And sinks thee down to infamy and shame. My guilty Country! these loud triumphs hush, Think on this foul dishonouring blot, and blush! Poor injured Afric! Freedom frowns on thee, In this bright land, where all beside are free. My Country! rouse thee from thy guilty sleep, And with hot tears thy sullied honour weep, 016 2(2)v 16 Nor weep alone—remove the dark disgrace, That calls the burning blushes o’er thy face; Yet for the Afric’s tears of blood atone, And make him worthy to be call’d thy son.
She continued to write pretty regularly for the Genius of Universal Emancipation, as a correspondent, until the Autumn of the year 18291829. At the solicitation of the editor, she then consented to superintend a female department in that work. She did not permit her name to be generally known as an editor; —yet it was not owing to a want of moral courage, nor a doubt concerning the propriety of occupying the station, that she was induced to withold it from the public, in this case. Her resolution was purely the result of an anxious desire to avoid an ostentatious appearance, and to check, even in her own breast, the slighest dictate of vanity in looking to public notoriety. On commencing the editorial management of her department, as aforesaid, she issued a brief address to the public, in which she says,—
The subject of African slavery is one, which, from its very nature, should be deeply interesting to every American female,—for to which of the numberless sympathies of woman’s bosom may not the slave appeal? Man may bring to the conflict moral or political feelings, or he may come forward to oppose the demon, clad in the divine armour of wide-spread philanthropy. But by all the holy charities of life is woman called upon to lend her sympathy and her aid to the victims of a widely extended evil. We know that there are few, we would hope none, who openly advocate the system of slavery—but will Christian sisters, and wives, and mothers, stand coldly inert, while those of their own sex are daily exposed, not only to the threats and revilings—but to the very lash of a stern, unfeeling task-master? They cannot—they will not!—they have tears, they have prayers, and in their eloquence they will plead the cause of the oppressed.
Very shortly afterwards she published an article which she entitled, An Appeal to the Ladies of the United States. This may indeed be viewed as a most happy effort, in awakening female philanthropy. It is thrilling, persuasive, and convincing. We here insert this excellent production entire. What lady, possessing a just sense of the dignity of her sex, or the genuine017 2(3)r 17 ine feelings of maternal affection, can peruse it without experiencing a kindling emotion of sorrow, or the glow of virtuous indignation, at the multiplied wrongs and cruelties to which the slave is subjected. But she does not rest in merely arousing their sympathies. She points out clearly the mode in which their influence may be exercised, in producing a reformation in the community, and extinguishing the system in which those abuses and mal-practices have their origin and support.
An Appeal to the Ladies of the United States. It has been frequently asserted, that, to the heart of woman, the voice of humanity has never yet appealed in vain—that her ear is never deaf to the cry of suffering, nor her active sympathies ever unheeded when called upon, in behalf of the oppressed. If this be true, then surely we have no reason to fear, that she will listen with cold, careless inattention to our appeal for those who are among the outcasts of creation—our African slave population. It will be unnecessary to enter very deeply into a discussion respecting the merits or demerits of the case before us— for we presume that there are few, especially among our own sex, who will not readily acknowledge the injustice of the slave system. It is admitted by the planters themselves,—it must be felt by every thinking mind;—nor is it an outrage merely against the laws of humanity, but it is destructive and ruinous, both in its moral and political effects, alike to the master and to the victim of his oppression. We might bid you look abroad over a large section of our country, and you would behold fields lying waste and uncultivated—here and there a lordly domain rising in proud eminence, surrounded by clusters of miserable tenements, whose still more miserable inhabitants are toiling indolently and unwillingly to feed the luxury of their possessor—and we might bid you listen, for a moment, and you would hear the clank of chains, and the low deep groan of unutterable distress, mingling with the exulting hurras that tell of our country’s liberty. We might tell you of more than this—we might tell you of females, ay, females—maidens and mothers, kneeling down before a cruel taskmaster, while the horsewhip was suspended over them, to plead for mercy— 2* 018 2(3)v 18 for mercy which was denied them: but we do not wish to arouse you to a sudden burst of indignation, or we might tell you of far darker and more fearful tales than these.—We wish to impress you with a firm, steady, conviction of the manifest injustice and pernicious effects attendant on slavery, and with a deep sense of your own responsibility in either directly or indirectly lending it your encouragement. But it may be, that some among you do not behold this subject in the light in which we wish to point it out to you. Many of you have been educated to believe this system natural and right—or if not right, at least a necessary evil. You observe the dark countenances of the slaves lighted up with smiles; you hear the sounds of merriment proceeding from their cabins; and you therefore conclude that they cannot be otherwise than happy;—as if the bitterst things of earth never wore a veil of brightness, or the mask of gaiety never served to conceal a bursting heart!—What! can the slave be happy?—happy —while the lash unfolds its torturing coil above his head? —happy—while he is denied the blessings of liberty—while he is condemned to toil, day after day, week after week, and year after year, with a scanty sustenance for his only reward —while even the few fragments of bliss which he may have gathered are dependant for their existence on the precarious will of a tyrant? Happy! no, never! He may mingle rejoicingly in scenes of merriment, and the loud laugh of unreflecting mirth may seem to burst exultingly from his lips; but it would be a profanation of the name of happiness to say, that her abode was ever in the bosom of the slave. We appeal to yourselves to know what it is that forms the deepest bliss of your life—and will you not, one and all of you, answer, that it is the exercise of the social affections?—Then how can the slave be happy! How may he garner up his affections like holy things, when one word from his fellow-man may lay the sanctuary of his heart all waste, and bare, and desolate!— Mother, look down at that infant slumbering by your side;— have not its smiles become, as it were, a portion of your existence? Could you not sit hour by hour, and day by day, living upon the innocent expressions of its confiding affection —watching the gay dimples sporting over its laughing face, and the shadows of its silky curls lying so beautifully upon its polished forehead? Look at that rounded arm, thrown so 019 2(4)r 19 gracefully over its peaceful little bosom!—and see, he smiles in his slumbers!—that happy dream has broken his rest—and now his blue eye is visible beneath the white cloud that was resting upon it: he sees the mother, and his exulting laugh rings musically out, and he springs joyously to the arms that are stretched out to receive him. Does not fancy look forward to the time, when thou shalt behold him in the pride of manhood, when he shall be the soother of thy griefs, and the promoter of thy happiness, and when his grateful affection shall be as a canopy under which thou mayst shelter thy declining years? Yet, were it told to thee that just when he has arisen into bold, glad boyhood, when those beautiful bright eyes have begun to kindle with awakening intellect and early knowledge, when the deep feelings of his heart are beginning to gather themselves together,—and reason and gratitude to mingle with his instinctive love—wert thou told, that then he should be torn from thee, and borne away forever into hopeless, irremediable slavery—wouldst thou not rather that death should at once set his cold signet upon him, there, where he sleeps in his innocent beauty in the cradle by thy side? And yet this is the lot of hundreds—nay of thousands of human mothers—and that, too, in this our land, which we so proudly proclaim to be the only free country on the face of the globe. But you may perhaps argue—We admit all the evils of which you so loudly complain; we acknowledge that the system of slavery is alike disgraceful and unjust; but it is to men, not to us, that you should appeal—to our statesmen, and to those who are the immediate supporters of the wrongs, the planters themselves. We can only lament over the blot on our country’s fair scutcheon, but our tears will never efface it—our power is inadequate to the subtracting of one single item from the sum of African misery. Believe us, you deceive yourselves. No power to meliorate the horrors of slavery! American women! your power is sufficient for its extinction! and oh! by every sympathy most holy to the breast of woman, are ye called upon for the exertion of that potency! Are ye not sisters, and daughters, and wives, and mothers? and have ye no influence over those who are bound to you by the closest ties of relationship? Is it not your task to give the first bent to the minds of those, who at some future day are to be their country’s counsellors, and her saviours, or, by a blind persistence in a career of injustice—her ruin! 020 2(4)v 20 There are many, who endeavor to silence the upbraidings of conscience, by persuading themselves that, be the consequences of slavery what they may, they at least are innocent of them; they have no slaves under their immediate charge; and so they sit quietly down, and satisfy their delicate feelings —too sensitively refined to bear a description of the horrors of slavery—by railing at those more directly concerned, and on whom, therefore, they choose to fling the whole weight of responsibility for the crime. Now we assert, that they all are implicated, who are consumers of the produce obtained through the medium of slave labour; and that therefore all, though not perhaps in an equal degree, must be sharers in the guilt. Do you demand, What are we to do? how can we avoid thus indirectly becoming supporters of slavery? and in what manner would you have us to exert our influence? We would have you exert your influence, by instilling into the minds of your offspring a deep-felt sense of their duty as men and christians, to perform that glorious office of breaking the fetters of the oppressed, which the prejudices of their fathers left unaccomplished. You may altogether avoid lending your support to the slave system, by refusing to be benefited by its advantages; and you can aid its extinction, by giving on every occasion the preference to the products of free labour. But you are still unpersuaded!—You think, even if our statement be true, that slavery will never be abolished by such means; and especially, that your own individual sacrifices could have no effect; and to submit to such privations would therefore be useless. Is a conscience pure in the sight of Heaven, to be considered, then, as nothing? Surely not; nor will your individual exertions be of as little avail as you consider them. There are numbers, who have already ranged themselves under the banner of Emancipation, who will gladly hail any accession to their strength. We do not require of you any painful sacrifices; we do not wish to deprive you of your cherished luxuries—we entreat you only, whenever it may be in your power, to give the preference to products of free labour, and to persuade your friends to do likewise. Let societies be formed among you to promote this; let the use of such articles be rendered fashionable, and they will soon become easily procurable. It is true, some inconveniences will at first be unavoidable; the texture of your garments will perhaps be coarser than that of 021 2(5)r 21 your accustomed wear, but they will cling less heavily around your forms, for the sighs of the broken-hearted will not linger among their folds. And who will dare to cast one scornful sneer upon that garb, which beauty and fashion have looked upon with approving smiles? As soon as a sufficient inducement is held out, free labour will be liberally employed; the experiment of its comparative advantages with that of the slave may then be fairly tried; and the slaveholders thus deprived of what is, at least to themselves, one of their most forcible arguments—that of the absolute necessity of maintaining slaves. The demand for free products will become greater than for those of the other class: they may then be afforded cheaper, and Emancipation must necessarily follow, for Interest herself will then plead for the manumission of the slave. Will you, then, remain sunk in guilty apathy, when such is the glorious guerdon held out as a reward for your exertions? Will you let the groans of the guiltless sufferer still rise up before the throne of heaven in accusation against you? or will you not stand boldly and nobly forth, in the face of the world, and declare that American women will never be tamely made the instruments of oppression?
Soon after she commenced her editorial labours, she found herself engaged in a controversy with a lady of great celebrity, as an author, residing in New England. This lady had objected to the propriety of females becoming public advocates of Emancipation. Elizabeth reviewed one of her letters in a manner which displayed her superior tact and skill in argument, as follows:—
Opinions. We have been so long accustomed to consider the duty of the female sex, with regard to slavery, as entirely plain, that we had almost imagined it must be equally so to any unprejudiced thinker upon the subject. Not that we expected to find no difference of feeling, or contrariety of sentiment; apathy and prejudices we were prepared for; but we certainly had not thought that the interference of woman in behalf of suffering humanity, could be seriously objected to, as improper, and at variance with right principles. Yet this we are sorry to find is the light in which it is regarded by one of our own sex —a lady, whose talents and character we respect very highly, 022 2(5)v 22 and whose approbation of the course we are pursuing, we should be proud to have obtained. But as this is withheld, and it is probable she may not be singular in her opinions, we have taken the liberty of quoting some of her sentiments, and appending to them a statement of our own ideas on the same subject. Should you inquire why I do not devote myself more sedulously to promote the cause of emancipation?—I would tell you, that I think it is a work which requires the energies of men. And so it does; but it requires also the influence of woman. She was given to man to be a helpmeet for him; and it is therefore her duty, whenever she can do so, to lend him her aid in every great work of philanthropy. In this her cooperation may be of essential service, without leading her one step beyond her own proper sphere. Free Labour, one of the most efficient means of abolishing slavery, may be encouraged by her, even better than by men—for it is her task to provide for the wants of her household, and of course optional to give the preference to goods of this class. It is a subject so connected with those of government, of law and politics, that I should fear the direct or even apparent interference of my own sex, would be a departure from that propriety of character which nature, as well as society, imposes on woman. It is true that it is a question of government and politics, but it also rests upon the broader basis of humanity and justice; and it is on this ground only, that we advocate the interference of women. We have not the least desire to see our own sex transformed into a race of politicans; but we do not think that in this case such consequences are in the least to be apprehended. To plead for the miserable, to endeavour to alleviate the bitterness of their destiny, and to soften the stern bosoms of their oppressors into gentleness and mercy, can never be unfeminine or unbefitting the delicacy of woman! She does not advocate Emancipation because slavery is at variance with the political interests of the state, but because it is an outrage against humanity and morality and religion; because it is criminal, and her own supineness makes her a sharer in the crime; and because a great number of her own sex are among its victims. It is therefore, that she should steadily and conscientiously rank among the number of its opponents, and refuse to be benefited by its advantages. She does not by this 023 2(6)r 23 become a partizan of any system of policy—she seeks only to shield from outrage all that is most holy in her religion! She does not seek to direct, or share with men, the government of the state; but she entreats them to lift the iron foot of despotism from the neck of her sisterhood; and this we consider not only quite within the sphere of her privileges, but also of her positive duties. Yet even if there was good ground for apprehension of the danger alluded to, would it not be better that women should lose somewhat of their dependent and retiring character, than that they should become selfish and hard- hearted? Should our wise lawgivers see fit to reduce us to the same condition as our southern female slaves, would the dread of violating the softness and propriety of the female character deter us from remonstrating against the tyranny, and demanding an immediate restitution of our rights and privileges? We should scarcely consider such conduct unlady-like as to be actually placed in a situation where the very name of refinement would be a mockery, and compelled to drudge through the lowest masculine labours; and it is impossible that it can be improper for us to solicit for another, what under the same circumstances it would be right to seek for ourselves. In fact, if we confine our views to the female slaves, it is a restitution of our own rights for which we ask:—their cause is our cause—they are one with us in sex and nature—a portion of ourselves; and only deprived by injustice of the immunities which we enjoy. Therefore as they cannot protect themselves it becomes an imperative duty to claim for them the respect due to the female character, and we should feel her indignity as painfully as though nature had placed no distinguishing mark of colour between us. The Saviour permitted and blessed the ministering of charity by women; but though they were last at his cross, and earliest at his grave, he did not enjoin on them the necessity of becoming teachers and reformers. He did not appoint them to be apostles; the burden of government in the church was not laid on them; neither is it for them to direct the affairs of state. If the Saviour not only permitted but blessed the exercise of charity, when he was personally among men, we must surely believe that he would do so still; for his laws were expressly given to extend throughout all time. What then is charity? Is it not to comfort the afflicted—to share the cup of our blessings024 2(6)v 24 ings with those who are perishing for want—to lend our arm for a support to the maimed; and to lead those who are groping in darkness into the pathway of God? It is for this that we would have our sex, every one of them, zealous advocates of Emancipation; and it cannot be that this will violate the character of feminine propriety! It is true we were not expressly required to become teachers and reformers, but we were commanded to do justly, and love mercy, and to do unto others as we would that they, in like manner, should do unto us. If, then, men refuse to abide by the laws of God, our responsibility to do so is not in any degree lessened, because custom or even nature has made us subordinate to them. Again: I certainly never felt this exclusion as derogatory—but the reverse —that women were privileged by having their duties circumscribed to the domestic sphere: it is, as it were, removing them from many temptations of the world, and allowing them more opportunities to commune with their own hearts and with heaven. Such being my sentiments, you will understand why I should from principle as well as sentiment regard it inexpedient, if not dangerous, to awaken the ambition of my own sex with the idea that they can and may become leaders in the cause of Emancipation. It is because we highly prize, and, we hope, feel properly grateful for the domestic privileges of our sex, that we would have them extended to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We are thankful for our blessings, but we would not have them confined exclusively to ourselves. We would have the name of Woman, a security for the rights of the sex. These rights are withheld from the female slave; and as we value and would demand them for ourselves, must we not ask them for her? She may be a mother—but how can she nurture up her offspring in the fear and admonition of the Lord, when her own soul is in darkness? What may she know of the high and most holy affections of life; of filial and parental piety, of sisterly affection; or of the sacred refinements of friendship? Where is the quietness and retirement in which she may commune with her own heart and with heaven? Is it when the fear of the whip is urging her through the performance of her task? or when she is endeavouring to forget in the rude jollity of the evening the weariness of the past day? Propriety! —surely the fear of passing one step beyond the arena of domestic life should never be balanced against such degradation and 025 3(1)r 25 suffering as is endured by the slave! Such being our opinion it is a matter of principle, as well as sentiment, to endeavour to awaken our own sex to the reflection, that there are nearly one million females, living under the same government, and yet debarred from her most cherished privileges. We would impress them with the knowledge that they can and may become helpers in the task of rescuing so many of their fellow mortals from a debasing slavery; and we would inspire them with what we consider the laudable ambition to become binders of sheaves, and carriers of water to those of their brethren who must bear the heat and burden of the day, in the field of Emancipation.
The ability which she displayed in conducting her department of the periodical aforesaid, may be learned and best appreciated, by a reference to the work itself. But it is proper to observe that she did not confine her labours to selecting and writing for it as an editor. Most of the original articles, which appeared in the Ladies’ Repository, as the communications of various correspondents, were the productions of her own pen. With talents of a high order, a genius versatile, a mind expansive, she was disposed to treat upon a subject so transcendantly important, in all the variety of forms calculated to catch the eye, arouse the feelings, and enlist the sympathetic attention of all classes of readers. She was, herself, fond of promenading the flowery paths of literature; and knowing the eagerness of many to peruse the tales of fancy—so highly prized in the literary circles—she occasionally wrote a piece of that character for their amusement and edification. But she always took especial care to choose the subject, and present the narration, so as to leave a moral impression on the mind of the reader, favourable to the cause of humanity. In the allegorical style she was peculiarly happy and successful. The following article will serve as a sample of her excellent performances in that style of composition:—
The Tears of Woman. An Allegory. The Angel of Justice stood before the throne of the Most High. Father, said she, behold the creatures whom thou hast made. Lo! the children of earth have lifted up their hearts to 3 026 3(1)v 26 oppression; their hands are full of wrong and violence, and they have laden their brother with heavy fetters, that he might be to them a bondman forever. I called unto them; I warned them of the evil of their way, but they refused to hearken to my voice; give me, therefore, my sword, oh Father! that I may smite them from before thy face. Oh, not yet, my sister! exclaimed the pleading tones of a sweet voice:—and the young Angel of Philanthropy bowed himself before her, and looked up from the midst of his fair curls with a face filled with beseeching earnestness. Not yet, beloved sister, said he, do thou unsheathe thy sword for vengeance. I will descend to the earth by thy side, and plead with the erring one for his unhappy brother. I will win for thee an offering of penitence from the hearts of the guilty, and with thy blade break asunder the heavy fetters of the slave. The eyes of the beautiful boy were suffused with tears while he addressed her, and Mercy bent over him as he turned towards the heavenly throne, joining her appealing glance to his petition. It was well nigh to eventime. The sunlight fell in yellow gleamings through the branches on the gliding waves of the stream beside which the Angel of Justice stood leaning on her empty scabbard.—She was watching with a calm eye the eager and untiring efforts of Philanthropy as he strove to free the shackled limbs of a sad group who wept before him. He called on man to aid him in his exertions. He pointed to the threatening attitude of Justice as she lifted up her stately brow and stretched out her hand with a stern glance towards the sun, whose setting was to be her signal. But prejudice and selfishness were strong in the human heart; and they to whom the earnest appeal was sent gazed on idly for a few moments and departed. Already the hand of Justice was extended to resume her blade, and her eye bent in lowering anger on the impenitent oppressor. Yet still the unwearied boy, with the passionate earnestness of approaching despair, steadily persisted in his exertions, though at times his eye grew dim, and his heart sick, as his repeated entreaties were again and again answered by the same cold repulse. Then he called on woman. He pointed to her sister—suffering—degraded—miserable—and stretching out her manacled hands to her for succour. The call was heard. Slowly, and with uncertain steps, and eyes 027 3(2)r 27 half averted from the sad spectacle before her, woman approached him. Her heart was touched with the wrongs of the injured ones, but she felt that her arm was weak and her strength powerless; and, bowing down her head, she wept in pity and sorrow over the objects of her compassion. But her aid was not in vain. The tears shed rusted the chains on which they fell!—and the exulting shout of the young angel, as he again snatched up the sword of Justice, rung like a victorious battle-cry upon the ear of the oppressor.
It would be impossible to form an adequate idea of the influence which her writings had upon the community at large; but there can be no doubt that it was both extensive and salutary. In numerous instances, her poetical composition have been used as hymns in religious and social meetings of the friends of Universal Emancipation. Many of her articles on this subject were also copied and widely circulated in some of the most popular periodical works of her time. In one case, particularly, her efforts (we presume) had the effect of enfranchising a number of slaves in the southern country. An aged widow lady was presented with a file of the Genius of Universal Emanicipation, by a neighbour who had subscribed for it. The perusal of it so affected her mind, that she immediately provided for the unconditional emancipation of her slaves (six in number,) by her will.
Elizabeth continued to reside in Philadelphia until the summer of the year 18301830. She then removed, with her aunt and brother, to the Territory of Michigan. They settled in Lenawee County, near the village of Tecumseh, about sixty miles south-west of Detroit: where her brother purchased land, and opened a farm. The place which they chose for their residence was pleasantly situated on the margin of the river Raisin. She gave it the name of Hazlebank; and in future time it may properly be denominated classic ground. The name of the stream flowing beside it, and that of the warrior chief, which the neighbouring village bears, will long be remembered in the history of the country. Here she sought the traditional relics of the forest race—traced anew the lineaments of aboriginal character—made further acquisitions in relation to their legendary lore. From this, her quiet and secluded retreat, emanated some of the choicest productions of her pen, that have been 028 3(2)v 28 submitted to the eye of the public. She had contracted a fondness for rural life, and delighted in nature’s varied scenery.— And, though her present location was in a semi-wilderness region, the contiguous settlements were progressing, and she spent her time happily with her relatives, and the newly-formed acquaintances with whom she associated. Notwithstanding she was now widely separated from the most of those who had taken the deepest interest in her efforts to promote the cause of philanthropy, she did not neglect the objects to which her mind had been so sincerely devoted. She still attended to her editorial duties, as usual—preparing her articles for the press, and forwarding them to the office of the publication by mail. Soon after her change of residence, a friend expressed his apprehensions that she might, under the circumstances, possibly forget the hapless condition of the suffering slave. As a reply to this suggestion, she wrote the beautiful piece, commencing with the line,— O tell me not, I shall forget, and as long as she lived, she acted in accordance with the sentiments therein expressed.
In order to acquaint the reader, more particularly, with her course of reading, the general train of her reflections, and the various operations of her mind, we have obtained the privilege of reviewing a portion of her correspondence with one of her most intimate female friends. Subsequently to her removal from Philadelphia, they adopted the plan of keeping regular epistolary journals, which they conveyed to each other, as suitable opportunities were presented. The friend with whom Elizabeth thus kept up a diurnal correspondence, and to whose politeness the writer of this is indebted for the privilege of reviewing it, as aforesaid, was Hannah T. Longstreth, (formerly Hannah Townsend,) of whom we have before made mention. In a note, accompanying the papers which she furnished for review, she observes as follows:—
My intimate acquaintance with Elizabeth, previous to her removal, and our regular correspondence afterwards, afforded me the opportunity of understanding the bent of her mind, on various subjects, and I believe, according to my measure, to appreciate its worth:—and, as we came to an agreement to journalize, we were accustomed to writing without much formality,029 3(3)r 29 ty, under different dates. By these means, our pursuits, observations, course of reading, &c. were known to each other. Thus, I believed my treaure, contained in this packet of letters, might be valuable to whomsoever might undertake her biography. Her original observations on many important topics, as well as a variety of elegant selections to illustrate her views, I could not be satisfied to bury in oblivion, while any avenue presented, properly to convey them to the reading community.
The social friendship subsisting between these young lades, was truly reciprocal; and they were, indeed, on terms of the closest intimacy. When about to leave Philadelphia, Elizabeth presented her friend with the very appropriate and charming piece, entitled Remember Me, which she had previously prepared. A short time after her arrival in Michigan, she also forwarded a brief sketch of her journey, which was exceedingly interesting. Many of the incidents, which she details with minuteness, are amusing and instructive. The varied scenery, the manners and appearance of the people, &c. in the different places through which she passed, are delineated in the most happy and graphic style. Passing over a considerable part of her narration, we transcribe her observations on arriving in view of the shore of Michigan, and thence proceeding to the place of her intended residence, &c.:—
I sat at the side of the vessel, gazing on the scenery that was passing before me, with my thoughts divided between the land I had left, and that which was in view, now reverting to the past, and now dwelling on the untried future; and often, very often, resting with the gathered band at Cherry Street, amongst whom I supposed thee then to be. The Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Philadelphia. As we approached Detroit, our Governor’s mansion on the bank of the river, was pointed out to us. It is merely a log building whitewashed; but the grounds about it have quite the appearance of a gentleman’s residence. Detroit is rather a dirty-looking place; here we remained, however, only one night, and set off early the next morning for Tecumseh. After proceeding a short distance, the stage suddenly stopped, and the passengers began, very orderly, to make preparations for leaving it. For what cause this was done, I was at a loss to determine, as, besides 030 3(3)v 30 that it was much too early for breakfast, there was no appearance of a house anywhere in the vicinity. However, we quietly imitated the example of our fellow travellers, and descended to terra firma, when it appeared that the measure was one of prudence, required by our approach to a long series of worn, loose, and uneven logs, denominated a bridge! and stretching across a stream dignified by the appellation of the river Rouge! A real back-woods bridge, this! thought I—and, as I walked over it, I perfectly acquiesced in the wisdom of dismounting, as well from a due regard to preserving the flesh uninjured, and the bones in their proper sockets, as from the danger of our weight proving too great for the frail structure, for such at least it seemed, however strong it might in reality be; at any rate, I have not heard since that it has given way, neither have any of the others, which we crossed in the same manner. This was no very favourable augury for the roads of Michigan; but they were, in general, much better than I had expected—sometimes rough, but not dangerous; and as our carriage was sufficiently strong to bear the jolting over logs and such kind of rail-ways, we arrived at Tecumseh in the evening, battered, to be sure, in a most ungentle manner, but at least with undamaged bones, by whatever amount of sore flesh, reeling of heads, and excessive weariness, they might have been accompanied. It was so long since I had enjoyed a night of comfortable sleep, that I was almost worn out, and could scarcely sit up long enough to drink my tea: yet when I lay down, the motion of the boat (of which I still retained the feeling as when actually on board,) interfered sadly with my rest and my dreams, and caused me to pass the night with almost as much discomfort, as if actually tempest-tost. On the next First-day, we attended Meeting. The road wound through quiet and beautiful openings, dotted occasionally with log dwellings, and small spots of improved land; but for the most part, still remaining in their own native loveliness, crowned with scattered trees, now gathered into picturesque clumps, leaving a clear space open to the sun-light, then spread out into an almost regular grove, and sometimes giving place entirely to a small stretch of bright green prairie, contrasting finely with the rich, sunlight tint of the sod on the openings, which seemed coloured, as well as covered, by a profusion of wild-flowers and yellow braken. Yet beautiful as they are, 031 3(4)r 31 one of the greatest charms of these openings is their perfect tranquillity. Oh, how I wish thee could breathe with me, if it were only for one short half hour, the exquisite, the religious quietness of these solitary places!—I never elsewhere felt such a stillness. There are varieties even of silence, and I dare say thou hast felt it so. Contrast the hush of a starry midnight, with that of a moon-lit evening, or of one of our religious meetings, or of an open field,—and they have each their own peculiar character.—But the stillness I speak of is like none of these—and must be felt in order to be understood. It was indeed almost the only thing I did feel, in attempting to describe the scenery around me, for some time after leaving Philadelphia. There were many scenes that I saw were beautiful— most beautiful—grand, picturesque, or magnificent—and I gave them my admiration and my praise; but that was all, or nearly all the sensation they could awaken. There were some spots on our route that did, indeed, almost arouse a portion of my former enthusiasm; but it is of what I have witnessed since our arrival in Michigan, that I have spoken most particularly.
When she found herself, in a manner, comfortably situated in her new home at Hazlebank, with her dearly beloved relatives, she recommenced her Journal of Correspondence, as before-mentioned,—sundry extracts from which we now give, without reference to the order of time when they were written. In the outset, however, she says:—I cannot, with my numerous occupations, promise to be daily regular in the use of my pen; but when I can snatch a few moments of leisure, I will sketch an occasional outline of my pursuits, occupations, and the current of my thoughts. I have been to-day thinking much of the past year. It has been, to me, not an uneventful one; and with the memory of a more than usual amount of painful hours, has left me still some pleasing remembrances:—among the latter, I consider the formation of our friendship; and though the separation has broken in somewhat rudely upon its newly formed links, I think we shall find them elastic enough to stretch over the intervening distance.
She proceeds:—I have been looking over The Pleasures of Memory, by Samuel Rogers.—Hast thou read it? Some passages in it 032 3(4)v 32 have recalled very forcibly one or two of our conversations especially that one to which thee alludes in thy letter. The Poet is supposed to be wandering, at the twilight hour, among the scenes of his youth, from which he had long been separated. The voice of the church-clock summons him to the graveyard,— To traceThe few fond lines that time may soon efface:Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here, alone,I search the records of each mouldering stone.Guides of my life! instructors of my youth!Who first unveil’d the hallow’d form of truth;Whose every word enlighten’d and endear’d;In age beloved, in poverty revered;In frienship’s silent register ye live,Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give. The last line, it is true, is decidedly in thy favour; but the sum of the argument is, I think, in mine. Had it not been for the record, on each mouldering stone, what would the place have been to his affections, in comparison with what it then was? True, he might have visited there; have gazed upon it, as the last dwelling-place of many whom he loved; but he would moralize rather than feel, or if he did feel strongly, there would be a painful sense of bereavement and loneliness pressing upon his heart—a sudden thought of the utter undistinguishingness of the grave, very different from the burst of affectionate emotion with which he would bend over the last couch of each remembered sleeper—their words of love, their lessons of wisdom —never more impressively felt than now—all the hours spent in their presence, in happiness or grief, and the glances that even now rise up before the memory with a vividness and almost trembling reality. Even while he clung, it might be with almost an erring passionateness of affection, to that sod which spread its green covering over the form of the beloved one, he would feel the deadness, the apathy of resignation—if I may so express it—passing away from his heart, and giving place to kindling hopes and virtuous resolutions. He might indeed weep, but the tears which he shed would be such as heal and purify the heart;—drops of happiness and love, rather than of grief. A showy and expensive monument would, I think, have 033 3(5)r 33 the same effect, or nearly so, as not any. There is something about it cold and repelling to the feelings. The marble seems effectually to shut the beloved object from your embraces—it adds chillingness and gloom even to the darkness of the grave. Why should you seek to lay your cheek against it—to water it with your tears, or to circle it with your embraces? The form of the lost one in not there—that has no part with the buried dust—it is the barrier which still more widely separates you from the form you loved. The associations, too, which are connected with it, are full of dreariness and disgust. The proud momument, with all its grace and beauty, cannot conceal from the mind’s eye the loathsomeness beneath it—no indeed—no vain mockery of ornament for the grave! You shudder at the revolting contrast of its secret chambers. The exhibition of decaying mortality is brought too forcibily before the mind—the thought of death is filled with fresh images of terror, and resignation is again converted into grief. The still green mound, over which the sunlight plays, and the breeze revels in gladness, distinguished from its fellows only by the name of the sleeper who lies below, carved upon the white head-stone—this is associated with no such images of gloominess—the bright flower that waves there is like a portion of the cherished dust— the heart is soothed by the sweet influences of nature, and looks forward with a fresher hope to another meeting—they leave the present dreariness of death, to revert to all the happy past, and to recall all the counsels of the silent sleeper. If it be a stranger only who is wandering among these memorials of death, every tablet is an open leaf offering fit subjects for meditation. If the grave beside which we stand, be that of one of the earth’s master-spirits—one upon whose words we still hang with enthusiastic admiration, and whose memory we cherish with affectionate devotion, where is the heart that will not catch from the inhumed ashes some kindling of virtuous emulation, or turn its glance anxiously inward to the inspection of its own character? Thou wilt say, perhaps, Could we not elsewhere meditate the same upon his virtues and the lessons that he has given to the world? Undoubtedly we could. But the mind is not always in a fitting mood for instruction—there the secret springs of thought and feeling are touched, and all their secret chambers lie open. Our thoughts, says Rogers, are linked by many a hidden chain— Awake but one, and lo! what myriads rise! 034 3(5)v 34
But I have already said enough, perhaps too much, upon the subject—and after all, I can give only my own feelings respecting it. Yet I know how much we are the creatures of circumstances—how much our opinions and our actions are controlled by strong mental associations. An Italian author is said on the grave of Virgil to have resolved to dedicate his life to the muses. When Clarkson dies, will not the young philanthropist who stands by his grave, feel his pulse beat with a higher and firmer resolution to follow in his steps?
Speaking of the dying sayings of Rousseau, as mentioned by Whittier, in his review of the last illness of that celebrated philosopher, she very briefly remarks:—
It seems indeed difficult with many to imagine how the death-bed of an infidel could be one of serenity. But the mind of Rousseau was probably so worn out by continual and intense excitement, that it could not be easily aroused into vivid feeling of any kind. A high fever is usually succeeded by utter debility and languor; and the apparent calmness which he exhibited, may perhaps only have been the effect of apathy and mental exhaustion.
In quoting some of the most beautiful and sentimental effusions of Mrs. Hemans, relative to the imminent perils to which those engaged in the pearl-fishery are subjected, she makes these few but appropriate comments:—
How few calculate the cost of their ornaments at more than the coin which they have paid for them! A serious estimate of the effect which they have upon the happiness of others, would be, I think, the best means of checking an undue fondness for them. Who would wish to wear pearls with the thought continually before their minds, that their pale quivering ray had perhaps been purchased at the expense of the life of a fellow creature?—Would it not seem as though the gleam had been caught from the expiring glace of the victim, and perpetuated there to turn on them with a keen upbraiding?
It is said that, to be a poet, a person must be naturally fond of music. To a casual remark of her friend, in relation to this subject, Elizabeth replies thus:—I had been thinking of what were thy sentiments on this subject, only a few hours before reading the above sentence. 035 3(6)r 35 They coincide very nearly with my own;—though had I an ear, as it is called, for music, I believe I should be more fond of it. I would allow it the same license that I think can properly be given to poetry, but nothing futher. When it comes with a purifying influence over the heart, calming the turbulence of its passions, cooling the flow of its vain desires and emotions, erasing with a soft touch some line of folly or care, and bearing the thoughts on its wing to a better and purer atmosphere, —then, by whatever name the strains may be called, the enjoyment or the practice of music is, I think, not culpable. The further it swerves from this, the more it is liable to, if it does not always degenerate into, an abuse of the gift.
She alludes in a most feeling manner to the untimely death of Lucretia M. Davidson, a young lady of rare poetical genius, and of high promise, as follows:—
――Young, amiable, and so highly gifted with intellectual brightness,—it is almost painful to write the name of death beside that of so rare a blossom. She died of a poetical malady, consumption, and while the poetry of life was yet thrilling deliciously round her heart. I think of her with sadness, yet I cannot lament; and I have sometimes thought that hers was a singularly happy fate. Had she lived, she might, it is true, have devoted her talents to the cause of religion and virtue. She might have added a worthy tribute to the stores of our country’s literature, and gathered to her pages bright gems of thought, and treasures of intellectual wealth—or she might have forgotten the high gift entrusted to her charge, or wasted it unworthily —or she might, a few years later, have gone down to the grave, with her heart’s core scorched to the ashes by the fever of disappointed hopes and the inward burning of her own spirit. The unmasking of the world to a highly sensitive and imaginative mind, is not without danger. But Lucretia escaped this. She died at sixteen, or earlier, and she had all the brightness, all the enjoyments of genius, without its bitterness—she has won a meed of early praise, and sleeps—not unforgotten.’
Briefly adverting to her reading, she states:—I have been reading No Cross, No Crown, for the first time quite lately, and have been very much pleased with it. I think William Penn characterized it rightly, when he recommended it to his children as possessing true wisdom. It is 036 3(6)v 36 full of excellent advice, and a practical work, which I like much better than a doctrinal one. I have seldom read a work of the kind with more satisfaction, or one by which the conduct could be better regulated. I have also been looking through the Memoir of Mrs. Judson, the first female missionary to the Burman empire. Some parts, descriptive of the character and manners of the Burmans, are very interesting, as is also a narrative of their situation during an invasion of the English. Probably thou dost not feel as much interested in these matters as some others; but I am sure thee will respond to the wish that arose with me as I was reading of this female’s zeal and sacrifices in that cause, —that even one-half as much energy were displayed in loosening the fetters of our poor slaves, and in giving them the benefits of education. At present I am reading Russell’s History of Modern Europe, a very interesting work, commencing with the fall of the Roman Empire. I do not doubt that C. Beecher’s work on education, would be interesting, for Mental Philosophy, of which I consider that a branch, and a very important one, is a science in which I take great delight, though I have had but little opportunity of indulging my fondness for it. I have lately read a little work of Reid’s, on the Mind, but which enters into little more than the alphabet of the science. I intend to get Locke’s Essays as soon as I can, and should dearly like, were it in my power, to go through a regular course of reading on the subject. It may be compared to lifting the veil of another fresh and beautiful world, or to standing in the midst of a new creation, to be permitted to gaze in among the hidden feelings, the fine and delicate perceptions, and the unveiled mysteries of the human mind. It is like being endowed with a new intellect, or gifted suddenly with another sense. Such are probably the feelings, on the first illuminings of every science which is pursued with earnestness, but with this branch of knowledge, it appears to me particularly so.
The following remarks will show the humble estimate which she made of the powers of her own mind, and the ideas she entertained with respect to worldly fame. So far did she carry the restriction of the ambitious aspirations of her heart, that it 037 4(1)r 37 is to be doubted whether she was really conscious either of the excellency of her own example, the scope and strength of her intellectual capacity, or the title she had fairly acquired to the meed of virtuous renown.—She replies to the suggestion, that she might possibly feel too much humbled at the view of the weakness and imperfections of her own nature.—I reply in the words of a noted author, with whose sentiments thou art probably familiar:—I will not hypocritically accuse myself of offences which I have no temptation to commit, and from the commission of which motives inferior to religion would preserve me. But I am continually humbled in detecting mixed motives in almost all I do. Such struggling of pride in my endeavours after humility—such irresolution in my firmest purposes—so much imperfection in my best actions —such fresh shoots of selfishness where I hoped the plant itself was eradicated—such frequent deadness of duty—such infirmity of will—such proneness to earth in my highest aspirations after heaven.—And I may add to these, so much darkness, so much ignorance, so great a disproportion between my wishes and my actions, so many of the rank weeds of prejudice often very unexpectedly discovered in my own mind, and the fear of still greater evils lurking undiscovered there, that I sometimes forget, almost, that there must be some light to render the darkness visible. Whether it is that formed by nature to find a happiness in the presence of all natural and mental beauty, and admiring mental and moral excellence as of the highest order, to an almost enthusiastic excess, I feel more painfully the weakness and errors of my own mind, I know not:—but this I do know,—that when I look upon the imperfections within—when I think of my oft-repeated resolutions frittered away into nothing—of the moments and hours wasted upon trifles, or in sloth or profitless musings—of the risings of irritation or impatience in a temper which I hoped was better disciplined—and all the long et ceteras of human weakness —there is reproach and mortifications in the retrospect. I would wish myself and all others to reach the highest point of excellence that God has created human nature capable of attaining; and that it is this which I feel myself fallen so far short of. Error and darkness wherever I discover them, whether in my own mind or those of others, are always painful to me, and 4 038 4(1)v 38 always excite the desire to have them eradicated. I earnestly wish to be useful to my fellow creatures, but I am conscious that I can be so only in proportion as my own mind is enlightened and elevated.—Oh! how often I have felt the truth of those beautiful lines of Miss Landon’s―― We makeA ladder of our thoughts, where angels step,But sleep ourselves at the foot. Point out to me whatever appears incorrect in these sentiments. I do not agree with Dr. Young, that things unseen do not deceive us. On the contrary, it is undetected errors that I am most afraid of. And now for another part of thy letter.—What do I think of Fame?—I will again answer thee with a quotation, which for the sentiment it contains is often in my thoughts:— Happy—happier far than thou With the laurel on thy brow, She who makes the humblest hearth Lovely but to one on earth. Yet I do not profess to be totally careless of literary distinction, though I am more so than I have heretofore been, and that certainly forms, if I know myself, no part of my motives in advocating the cause of Emancipation. On the contrary, my interest in that cause is the master feeling which I believe has done more than any thing else in chasing away the other. As the one advances, the other declines. By literary distinction, as mentioned above, I mean only the general approval of what is in itself good, and calculated for usefulness. Indiscriminate praise is altogether worthless; deserved praise may be pleasant, when it is on account of benefit that has been imparted to others, but it is not to be sought after, nor earnestly desired, and should never be made an object of pursuit.
On the subject of slavery she was very frank and communicative in her correspondence. But as her sentiments relating to this topic have been extensively published, a few short extracts must at present suffice. We have before mentioned that she was a member of a Female Anti-Slavery Society for some 039 4(2)r 39 length of time, during her residence in Philadelphia. Although she did not, in consequence of her retired habits, take a very active part in its public proceedings, she felt a deep and lively interest in its success, as will more fully appear from what follows. At various times she expressed her desires for the prosperity of the institution, as well as for the advancement of the cause generally, in the most feeling terms. Soon after her arrival in Michigan, she writes thus:—Oh, how often I wish I might be with you in your gatherings! not because I think I could be of much service, for there are many and far more useful members than myself to attend to the business, but it is natural to wish to participate in what we feel interested about. Still, I will not be discouraged, if you will hold on to your principles, and persevere in your efforts. Though you may not seem to do much for a while, I think you will have a revival after a time and plenty of business on your hands. I feel exceedingly interested for this society, and cannot ever think, without pain, of its sinking into inertness. But do not think that I fear for it, my dear friend, though I say to thee, persevere in spite of discouragement, in spite of the coldness and apathy of others, or even of the faltering of thy own heart. For there is enough, it must be confessed, to make the heart of any one falter sometimes, when looking at all the various difficulties that are to be overcome before our object can be attained; but our cause is a righteous one, and worth every effort. There are times when I feel as if I could go unflinching to the stake or the rack, if I might by that means advance it. I never expected to do great things in this cause—I have never indulged in speculations as to the effect of what I attempted to do, yet I sometimes feel as if I had been a mere idle dreamer, as if I had wasted my time in nothingness—so disproportioned does the magnitude of the cause appear to all that I have done; so like a drop in the ocean are my puny efforts. I am not discouraged by these feelings, because I hope that I have been, and still may be, in some degree, useful; but I much oftener feel disposed to censure myself for want of sufficient exertion and interest, than to indulge in self-complacency. 040 4(2)v 40 We have had several meetings, and have succeeded in establishing an association here, which we call The Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society. Our members are as yet few, but an interest in the subject appears to increase through the neighbourhood; and if we can keep afloat, I hope it may in time be a means of usefulness. B. L. was so good as to share with me the anti-slavery articles he received from England, and I almost always display them when an opportunity offers, and I believe they have, in every instance, been viewed with interest; and when other free-labour articles are alluded to, which generally follows in course, the wish has usually been expressed that more of them were procurable. The Free-Produce concern is also, I am informed, spreading very extensively in some of the western parts of New-York. Our cause, my dear H., the abolition of American Slavery, is I believe advancing full as fast as may be expected, though it has never, I think, excited more opposition—but this, though certainly not pleasant, in my opinion will rather advance than retard the cause, and if its friends are but faithful, it must triumph. And surely a more important cause has never called upon the energies of the nation. I think a large portion of the rising talents of our country, is taking a decided stand in its favour, and it will call forth talents that otherwise might have slept. Terrible in crime and magnitude as the slavery of our country is, I do not yet despair—apathy must—will awaken, and opposition die—the course of justice must triumph, or our country must be ruined.
We shall now terminate our review of her interesting and valuable labours, and proceed to notice the closing scene of her brief, yet exemplary and brilliant career of life. The task is indeed painful, for among the thousands whose momentary appearance and speedy exit from the stage of human existence is recognized by the eye of virtuous discrimination, a case seldom occurs which more imperatively calls for the expression of sorrow and regret than the present. This most amiable and devoted female philanthropist, was summoned from works to everlasting rewards in the very prime of life, and in the midst of her usefulness. Her intellectual faculties were but just fairly developed; the ample powers of her mind were merely 041 4(3)r 41 beginning to expand; and the influence of her excellent principles and noble efforts in the cause of philanthropy was only in the commencement of its extended operations. How often thus are buds of finest promise nipt by the untimely frost— the fairest and most delicious flowers withered in their opening bloom—the brightest rays of genius and moral excellence extinguished in their morning prime! Indeed, how changeful and evanescent are all terrestrial scenes! How extremely uncertain is our hold on time!Each moment has its sickle, emulous Of Time’s enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays His little weapon in the narrow sphere Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss. Young.
In the spring of 18341834, she was attacked by a remittent fever, which continued to prey upon her constitution for a period of several months, before she was entirely confined to her chamber. The disorder increased so gradually, that strong hopes of her recovery were entertained, both by herself and her friends, until very near the close of her life. But these hopes at length were blasted. The inexorable Destroyer had commenced his certain work—human aid was vain—human science and skill were powerless—and her delicate form wasted away by slow degrees. During the whole period of her protracted affliction she manifested an uninterrupted tranquillity of mind, a firm reliance on the truths of Divine revelation, and a perfect resignation to the will of her Heavenly Master. The following remarks on the subject of her last illness and final departure, are extracted from a letter written soon afterwards by her aunt, for the information of her sister in Philadelphia:—Thou canst, my dear sister, sympathize and deeply feel with me, in my sore affliction; but thou canst not know the full extent of my loss. She was my heart’s delight—she was my earthly treasure. She was all goodness—all excellence— too sweet and too lovely to consign to the cold and silent grave. Oh! how I have wished that thou couldst have been with her through her protracted illness, and seen what a perfect pattern 4* 042 4(3)v 42 of patience she was. Never shall I forget her sweet engaging countenance, nor her affectionate language. I nursed her faithfully more than three months, before she was entirely confined to her bed, but saw with heart-felt sorrow that she was evidently declining. A few weeks before her departure, she asked me if I supposed she would recover. I told her I thought she would be spared, if no new complaint should set in. She replied that she hoped she should; and if favoured to recover, she would endeavor to be more thoughtful, and more devoted to her Maker, than heretofore. I remarked that I did not think she could have a great deal to do. She answered I know that I have a merciful Saviour, and all-wise Father, but I feel as if there was something more for me to do. Yet if I should be removed, it will be for the best, and I hope I may feel reconciled. I believe she cherished the hope that she would recover until within a week of her decease; but about that time a new symptom appeared, which still increased her debility, and afterwards she failed very fast. One of the physicians having paid her a visit, she asked him what he thought of her case. He observed there would be a change before many days, which she seemed rather surprised to hear. I left the room for a moment, but returned immediately after the doctor had gone out. She then addressed me in the most affectionate manner, saying, My dear aunt, do not be too much troubled at what the physician has said; it will no doubt be for the best. I seldom left her bed, except for a few moments at a time. She frequently addressed me affectionately, saying, Aunt, let me go. Two or three days before her death, we expected it momentarily. On First-day morning, the 2d inst., she quietly departed, and was received into the mansions of perfect peace and rest. Solitary, indeed, do I feel, for in her was centred my earthly happiness. She approached nearer perfection than human nature generally attains to—she was all I could desire—and is much lamented here by all who knew her.
She died on 1834-11-02the second day of the Eleventh Month (November) 1834, in the twenty-seventh year of her age. Her remains were interred near the family residence at Hazlebank, the chosen place which she herself dedicated to philanthropy and the Muses. While her ashes repose in the silent grave, 043 4(4)r 43 beneath her own transplanted forest-vine, The charming and sentimental piece entitled, The Forest Vine,’ was one of the latest productions of her pen. It was written during the period of her affliction, and breathes the loftiest strains of poetic genius and pious aspiration. and the fragrant wildflowers deck its verdant sod, often will imagination visit the consecrated spot, and drop a tear to the memory of departed worth. The loss of one possessing such rare talents, superior mental endowments, and sincere devotedness to the cause of humanity, though it can never be duly estimated, will long be felt and deplored in the circle of her acquaintance. And while we deeply lament the untimely bereavement, let us ever cherish the fond remembrance of her exalted virtues, under the full assurance that her immortal spirit is at rest, in the perfect fruition of unalloyed peace and eternal felicity.
We conclude by presenting the reader with the final effusion of her pious and sentimental muse. What humility and purity of heart—what living earnestness of devotion—do we here perceive! It is especially recommended to the notice of those who profess and practise the pure Christian principles of philanthropy which distinguished her own actions. It was the last article that she wrote for the Genius of Universal Emancipation.Praise and Prayer. Praise! for slumbers of the night, For the wakening morning’s light, For the board with plenty spread, Gladness o’er the spirit shed, Healthful pulse and cloudless eye, Opening on the smiling sky. Praise! for loving hearts that still With life’s bounding pulses thrill; Praise, that still our own may know— Earthly joy and earthly woe. Praise for every varied good, Bounteous round our pathway strew’d! Prayer! for grateful hearts to raise Incense meet of prayer and praise! 044 4(4)v 44 Prayer, for spirits calm and meek, Wisdom life’s best joys to seek; Strength ’midst devious paths to tread— That through which the Saviour led. Prayer! for those who, day by day, Weep their bitter lives away; Prayer, for those who bind the chain Rudely on their throbbing vein,— That repentance deep may win Pardon for the fearful sin!
Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler.45 046 4(5)v 047 4(6)r
Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler.
The Brandywine. A beautiful stream, flowing near the author’s place of nativity.
My foot has climb’d the rocky summit’s height,
And in mute rapture, from its lofty brow,
Mine eye is gazing round me with delight,
On all of beautiful, above, below:
The fleecy smoke-wreath upward curling slow,
The silvery waves half hid with bowering green,
That far beneath in gentle mumurs flow,
Or onward dash in foam and sparkling sheen,—
While rocks and forest-boughs hide half the distant scene.
In sooth, from this bright wilderness ’t is sweet
To look through loop-holes form’d by forest boughs,
And view the landscape far beneath the feet,
Where cultivation all its aid bestows,
And o’er the scene an added beauty throws;
The busy harvest group, the distant mill,
The quiet cattle stretch’d in calm repose,
The cot, half seen behind the sloping hill,—
All mingled in one scene with most enchanting skill.
The very air that breathes around my cheek,
The summer fragrance of my native hills,
Seems with the voice of other times to speak,
And, while it each unquiet feeling stills,47 048 4(6)v 48
My pensive soul with hallow’d memories fills:
My fathers’ hall is there; their feet have press’d
The flower-gemm’d margin of these gushing rills,
When lightly on the water’s dimpled breast,
Their own light bark beside the frail canoe would rest.
The rock was once your dwelling-place, my sires!
Or cavern scoop’d within the green hill’s side;
The prowling wolf fled far your beacon fires,
And the kind Indian half your wants supplied;
While round your necks the wampum belt he tied,
He bade you on his lands in peace abide,
Nor dread the wakening of the midnight brand,
Or aught of broken faith to loose the peace-belt’s band.
Oh! if there is in beautiful and fair,
A potency to charm, a power to bless;
If bright blue skies and music-breathing air,
And nature in her every varied dress
Of peaceful beauty and wild loveliness,
Can shed across the heart one sunshine ray,
Then others, too, sweet stream, with only less
Than mine own joy, shall gaze, and bear away
Some cherish’d thought of thee for many a coming day.
But yet not utterly obscure thy banks,
Nor all unknown to history’s page thy name;
For there wild war hath pour’d his battle ranks,
And stamp’d in characters of blood and flame,
Thine annals in the chronicles of fame.
The wave that ripples on, so calm and still,
Hath trembled at the war-cry’s loud acclaim,
The cannon’s voice hath roll’d from hill to hill,
And ’midst thy echoing vales the trump hath sounded shrill.
My country’s standard waved on yonder height,
Her red cross banner England there display’d,
And there the German, who, for foreign fight,
Had left his own domestic hearth, and made049 5(1)r 49
War, with its horrors and its blood, a trade,
Amidst the battle stood; and all the day,
The bursting bomb, the furious cannonade,
The bugle’s martial notes, the musket’s play,
In mingled uproar wild, resounded far away.
Thick clouds of smoke obscured the clear bright sky,
And hung above them like a funeral pall,
Shrouding both friend and for, so soon to lie
Like brethren slumbering in one father’s hall.
The work of death went on, and when the fall
Of night came onward silently, and shed
A dreary hush, where late was uproar all,
How many a brother’s heart in anguish bled
O’er cherished ones, who there lay resting with the dead.
Unshrouded and uncoffin’d they were laid
Within the soldier’s grave, e’en where they fell;
At noon they proudly trod the field—the spade
At night dug out their resting-place—and well
And calmly did they slumber, though no bell
Peal’d over them its solemn music slow;
Tho night-winds sung their only dirge, their knell
Was but the owlet’s boding cry of woe,
The flap of night-hawk’s wing, and murmuring waters’ flow.
But it is over now,—the plough hath been rased
All trace of where war’s wasting hand hath been:
No vestige of the battle may be traced,
Save where the share, in passing o’er the scene,
Turns up some rusted ball; the maize is green
On what was once the death-bed of the brave;
The waters have resumed their wonted sheen,
The wild bird sings in cadence with the wave,
And naught remains to show the sleeping soldier’s grave.
A pebble stone that on the war-field lay,
And a wild-rose that blossom’d brightly there,
Were all the relics that I bore away,
To tell that I had trod the scene of war,5 050 5(1)v 50
When I had turn’d my footsteps homeward far—
These may seem childish things to some; to me
They shall be treasured ones; and, like the star
That guides the sailor o’er the pathless sea,
They shall lead back my thoughts, loved Brandywine, to thee.
The Afric’s Dream.
Why did ye wake me from my sleep? it was a dream of bliss,
And ye have torn me from that land to pine again in this;
Methought, beneath yon whispering tree, that I was laid to rest,
The turf, with all its withering flowers, upon my cold heart press’d.
My chains, these hateful chains, were gone—oh, would that I might die,
So from my swelling pulse I could forever cast them by!
And on, away o’er land and sea, my joyful spirit passed,
Till ’neath my own banana tree, I lighted down at last.
My cabin door, with all its flowers, was still profusely gay,
As when I lightly sported there, in childhood’s careless day!
But trees that were as sapling twigs, with broad and shadowing bough,
Around the well-known threshold spread a freshening coolness now.
The birds whose notes I used to hear, were shouting on the earth,
As if to greet me back again with their wild strains of mirth;
My own bright stream was at my feet, and how I laugh’d to lave
My burning lip and cheek and brow in that delicious wave!
My boy, my first-born babe, had died amid his early hours,
And there we laid him to his sleep among the clustering flowers;
Yet lo! without my cottage door he sported in his glee,
With her whose grave is far from his, beneath yon linden tree.
I sprang to snatch them to my soul; when breathing out my name,
To grasp my hand, and press my lip, a crowd of loved ones came!
Wife, parents, children, kinsmen, friends! the dear and lost ones all,
With blessed words of welcome came, to greet me from my thrall.
Forms long unseen were by my side; and thrilling on my ear,
Came cadences from gentle tones, unheard for many a year;
And on my cheek fond lips were press’d, with true affection’s kiss—
And so ye waked me from my sleep—but ’t was a dream of bliss!
Meek, humble, sinless as a very child,
Such wert thou,—and, though unbeheld, I seem
Oft-times to gaze upon thy features mild,
Thy grave, yet gentle lip, and the soft beam
Of that kind eye, that knew not how to shed
A glance of aught save love, on any human head.
Servant of Jesus! Christian! not alone
In name and creed, with practice differing wide,
Thou didst not in thy conduct fear to own
His self-denying precepts for thy guide.
Stern only to thyself, all others felt
Thy strong rebuke was love, not meant to crush, but melt.
Thou, who didst pour o’er all the human kind
The gushing fervour of thy sympathy!
E’en the unreasoning brute, fail’d not to find
A pleader for his happiness in thee.
Thy heart was moved for every breathing thing,
By careless man exposed to needless suffering.
But most the wrongs and sufferings of the slave,
Stirr’d the deep fountain of thy pitying heart;
And still thy hand was stretch’d to aid and save,
Until it seem’d that thou hadst taken a part052 5(2)v 52
In their existence, and couldst hold no more
A separate life from them, as thou hadst done before.
How the sweet pathos of thy eloquence,
Beautiful in its simplicity, went forth
Entreating for them! that this vile offence,
So unbeseeming of our country’s worth,
Might be removed before the threatening cloud,
Thou saw’st o’erhanging it, should burst in storm and blood.
So may thy name be reverenced,—thou wert one
Of those whose virtues link us to our kind,
By our best sympathies; thy day is done,
But its twilight lingers still behind,
In thy pure memory; and we bless thee yet,
For the example fair thou before us set.
The Confessions of the Year.
The gray old year—the dying year,
His sands were well nigh run;
When there came by one in priestly weed,
To ask of the deeds he’d done.
Now tell me, ere thou treadst the path
Thy brethren all have trode,
The scenes that life has shown to thee
Upon thine onward road.
I’ve seen the sunbeam rise and set,
As it rose and set before
And the hearts of men bent earthwardly,
As they have been evermore;
The Christian raised his hallow’d fanes,
And bent the knee to God;
But his hand was strong, and guilt and wrong
Defaced the earth he trod.
The Indian, by his forest streams,
Still chased the good red deer,
Or turn’d away to kneel and pray
With the Christian’s faith and fear;053 5(3)r 53
The hunting-knife he flung aside,
He dropp’d the warrior blade,
And delved for bread the soil o’er which
His fathers idly stray’d.
The white man saw that gold was there,
And sought, with savage hand,
To drive his guiltless brother forth,
A wanderer o’er the land.
I saw—and gave the tale of shame
To swell on history’s page,—
A blot upon Columbia’s name
For many a future age.
With aching brow and wearied limb,
The slave his toil pursued;
And oft I saw the cruel scourge
Deep in his blood imbrued;
He till’d oppression’s soil, where men
For liberty had bled,
And the eagle wing of Freedom waved
In mockery, o’er his head.
The earth was fill’d with the triumph shout
Of men who had burst their chains;
But his, the heaviest of them all,
Still lay on his burning veins;
In his master’s hall there was luxury,
And wealth, and mental light;
But the very book of the Christian law
Was hidden from him in night.
‘In his master’s halls there was wine and mirth,
And songs for the newly free;
But his own low cabin was desolate
Of all but misery.
He felt it all—and to bitterness
His heart within him turn’d,
While the panting wish for liberty
Like a fire in his bosom burn’d.
The haunting thought of his wrongs grew changed
To a darker and fiercer hue,
Till the horrible shape it sometimes wore
At last familiar grew;
There was darkness all within his heart,
And madness in his soul,
And the demon spark, in his bosom nursed,
Blazed up beyond control.
Then came a scene—oh! such a scene!
I would I might forget
The ringing sound of the midnight scream,
And the hearth-stone redly wet!
The mother slain while she shriek’d in vain
For her infant’s threaten’d life,
And the flying form of the frighted child,
Struck down by the bloody knife.
There’s many a heart that yet will start
From its troubled sleep, at night,
As the horrid form of the vengeful slave
Comes in dreams before the sight.
The slave was crush’d, and his fetters’ link
Drawn tighter than before;
And the bloody earth again was drench’d
With the streams of flowing gore.
Ah! know they not, that the tighest band
Must burst with the wildest power?—
That the more the slave is oppress’d and wrong’d,
Will be fiercer his rising hour?
They may thrust him back with the arm of might,
They may drench the earth with his blood,—
But the best and purest of their own,
Will blend with the sanguine flood.
I could tell thee more,—but my strength is gone,
And my breath is wasting fast;
Long ere the darkness to-night has fled,
Will my life from the earth have pass’d;055 5(4)r 55
But this, the sum of all I have learn’d,
Ere I go I will tell to thee;—
If tyrants would hope for tranquil hearts,
They must let the oppress’d go free.
New Year’s Eve.
Night! with its thousand stars, and the deep hush
That makes its darkness solemn! The winds rush
In troubled music, o’er the wooded hill,
And the wide plain where creeps the fetter’d rill,
In wintry silence; but a softer sound
Of melody from man’s lit halls swells round
No slumber yet to-night! the hours fleet on,
With converse, song, and laughter’s joyous tone;
The young and gay are met in social mirth,
Or the home circle gathers round the hearth,
Or swelling upwards from the house of prayer,
The voice of praise concludes the passing year.
’T is almost midnight now;—hark! hush!—the bell
At once a note of triumph and a knell!
A sudden silence—the quick breath quell’d,
The speaker’s voice in mute suspension held;
What thousand thoughts are in that moment press’d—
Past, present, future, crowding on the breast,
As stroke by stroke tolls on!—and then a start—
A sudden lightning of the eye and heart,
A burst of joyous greeting—such as here
We wish you, friends beloved—a happy year!
So speeds time on! scarce seems a moment sped,
Since first we hail’d the year that now has fled.
So speeds time on—but hath it left no trace,
That future hours shall never more efface?
Go, turn to Poland! may her sons forget
Their desolated fields with carnage wet?
Their bright brief hopes,—their struggle, fierce and proud.
With the stern despot ’neath whose yoke they bow’d,
The lightning thrill that flash’d through every breast,
When wakening freedom waved her eagle crest,56 5(4)v 56
Their hopes upspringing almost from despair,
And burning with a short illusive glare,
Soon to be quench’d in blood? Oh, God of Peace!
Must such wild scenes of carnage never cease?
Is blood pour’d out like water, still to be
The price of man’s high yearning to be free?
Woe for the tyrant’s selfishness and pride,
That hath to man his holiest rights denied!
Is life too poor in ills?—hath death so scant
His fearful quiver stored, that man should pant
To give the earth red graves? Ah! when shall right
Her nobler triumphs seek by moral light,
And learn that e’en the sweets of liberty
Are bought, with slaughter, at a price too high?
And when shall our own banner cease to wave
Its starry folds in mockery o’er the slave?
Oh! blot upon our land, and heavy shame
That e’er Columbia should bear such name!—
That men, like beasts, should be enslaved and sold
For a base pittance of mere sordid gold;
That women’s limbs beneath the scourge should bleed,
The swollen pomp of luxury to feed;
And in the freest nation known on earth,
The licensed thief invade the household hearth;
The purest, best affections of the heart,
And the strong ties of kindred rend apart,
And seizing, fiend-like, on his helpless prey,
Tear them forever from their homes away.
Oh, when shall tyrants learn than human veins
Bear pulses that were never made for chains:
And loose their links before the oppress’d one’s band
Becomes a deadly weapon in his hand!
Our brethren found it such;—in southern halls,
The cold damp foot of desolation falls;
Young gladsome eyes that late were sparkling bright,
With the free spirit’s joyous gush of light,
Mothers made happy by the bursts of glee
From the gay creatures grouped about their knee,
The brow of hoary eld—all, all are there,
With the pale look of anguish and despair:057 5(5)r 57
Or, smitten rudely to the reeking earth,
Have deluged with their blood their own loved hearth.
Alas, alas, for them! alas, for those
Who still in white-lipp’d terror wait their foes!
And woe for all the oppressors’ haughty guilt,
And the fresh blood his vengeful hand hath spilt!
Oh, Heaven! in mercy yield them yet a space
To speak with tears of penitence thy grace!
Touch their steel’d hearts with thy dissolving love,
And their vile stains of prejudice remove,
That they may learn, upon the negro’s face,
A brother’s lineaments at last to trace;
And strike away the soul-degrading chains
Which long have hung upon his swollen veins;
That mad relentless hatred may no more
Flood the red earth with streams of mingled gore,
And other new years o’er our country rise,
With brighter aspect and more cloudless skies.
The Slave’s Appeal.
Christian mother! when thy prayer
Trembles on the twilight air,
And thou askest God to keep,
In their waking and their sleep,
Those whose love is more to thee
Than the wealth of land or sea,
Think of those who wildly mourn
For the loved ones from them torn!
Christian daughter, sister, wife!
Ye who wear a guarded life—
Ye, whose bliss hangs not, like mine
On a tyrant’s word or sign,
Will ye hear, with careless eye,
Of the wild despairing cry,
Rising up from human hearts,
As their latest bliss departs?
Blest ones! whom no hands on earth
Dares to wrench from home and hearth,
Ye whose hearts are shelter’d well,
By affection’s holy spell,
Oh, forget not those for whom
Life is naught but changeless gloom,
O’er whose days of cheerless sorrow,
Hope may paint no brighter morrow.
Heaven Help Ye!
Heaven help ye, lorn ones! bending
’Neath your weary life of pain,
Tears of ceaseless anguish blending
With the bitter cup ye drain;
Yet think not your prayers ascending,
Shall forever rise in vain.
Hearts there are of human feeling,
That have felt your cry of woe;
Bear awhile! and soon revealing
Brighter prospects with its glow,
Light across your night-clouds stealing
Hours of freedom yet may show.
Oh, Father! when the soften’d heart
Is lifted up in prayer to thee,
When earthly thoughts awhile depart,
And leave the mounting spirit free—
Then teach us that our love, like thine,
O’er all the realms of earth should flow,
A shoreless stream, a flood divine,
To bathe and heal the heart of woe.
Then Afric’s son shall hear no more
The tyrant’s in the Christian’s name;
Nor tears of wasting anguish pour
Unpitied, o’er his life of shame;059 5(6)r 59
But taught to love thee, by the love
That bids his long-worn fetters break,
He, too, shall lift his soul above,
And serve thee for thy mercy’s sake.
The Kneeling Slave.
Pity the negro, lady! her’s is not,
Like thine, a blessed and most happy lot!
Thou, shelter’d ’neath a parent’s tireless care,
The fondly loved, the theme of many a prayer,
Blessing, and blest, amidst thy circling friends,
Whose love repays the joys thy presence lends,
Tread’st gaily onward, o’er thy path of flowers,
With ceaseless summer lingering round thy bowers.
But her—the outcast of a frowning fate,
Long weary years of servile bondage wait.
Her lot uncheer’d by hope’s reviving gale,
The lowest in life’s graduated scale—
The few poor hours of bliss that cheer her still,
Uncertain pensioners on a master’s will—
’Midst ceaseless toils renew’d from day to day,
She wears in bitter tears her life away.
She is thy sister, woman! shall her cry,
Uncared for, and unheeded, pass thee by?
Wilt thou not weep to see her rank so low,
And seek to raise her from her place of woe?
Or has thy heart grown selfish in its bliss,
That thou shouldst view unmoved a fate like this!
Come to the green-wood with me, gentle friend!
I know a hidden dell, where the chafed stream
Goes bounding playfully with child-like mirth,
Over its stony path, and flinging up
Its waves, with seeming petulance, in foam.
The bank slopes down unevenly, but wears,
Like Fairy, a gay mantelet of green,060 5(6)v 60
All border’d daintily with bright-hued flowers;
The gray old trees bend over it, and up
Among their twisted boughs, an ancient vine
Hath strongly wreathed its stem. Below, it bends
In wayward convolutions o’er the stream,
Offering a couch where thou may’st safely sit,
While I recline beside thee on the turf;
Will not the vine-leaves shade us pleasantly,
While we discourse together? wilt thou sing?
Or shall we tell sad stories? One I read
But yesterday, that lingers with me still,
Haunting my memory with its thoughts of woe;
’T was of a dark-brown slave—one whose bright days
Of early infancy had pass’d beneath
The glowing sun of Africa. She was torn,
Ere her tenth summer, from the sight of all
That made her childhood happy, and the spring
Of all the buoyant hopes that make young hearts
So blissful in their dreams, was crush’d at once.
She was a sad-eyed girl—she never met
In revel scenes, with those who flung aside
Their sorrows for mad joyance; but a gleam
Of something like to bliss stole o’er her heart,
When one, who shared her infant sports, would speak
Of those remembered hours. She wedded him;
And years of spirit-wearing toil went by,
Even amidst her bonds, with almost happiness.
He could not brook his chains: a quenchless fire
Was in his spirit, and he burst all ties,
That bound his heart—he left her, and was free;
She bore her sorrows patiently, and scarce
Let fall a tear-drop; but the gentle ones
That call’d her mother, were more closely bound
In her bereaved affections; and their love
Was all that warm’d the pulses of her heart.
Then came another and a darker blight:
They were torn from her, one by one, and sold,
Those nestlings of her heart; and she grew wild
With her exceeding anguish, and her cry
Went forth an accusation up to heaven.
She wandered o’er each spot where they had been,061 6(1)r 61
Calling their names, and mourning with a grief
That had no comforter; until at length
The springs of life were wasted; and she laid
At twilight hour, her head upon the turf
In dying feebleness. There came one by,
Who would have spoke her kindly then, and soothed
The parting spirit; but the time was past;
She raised her head a moment, and once more
Repeated the sad burden of her grief:
Me have no children, massa, no one child!
And her last cry was hush’d!
As the little fellow walked by the side of my horse, I asked him if there was any church that the slaves attended on Sunday. He said no, there was none near enough, and he had never seen one. I asked him if he knew where people went to when they died, and was much affected with the simple, earnest look, with which he pointed to the sky, as he replied, To Fader, dere.―― Adam Hodgson.
That dearest name! ay, even thou, poor slave, may’st lift thine eye,
Nor dread a chilling glance of scorn will meet thee from the sky:
Go bend the knee, and raise the soul, and lift thy hopes above,
The God of heaven is even to thee, a Father in his love.
The earth-worm, man, may crush thee down to slavery and shame,
And in his puny pride usurp a master’s haughty name;
But He, Lord God Omnipotent, disdaineth not to bear
A parent’s cherish’d name to thee, to yield a parent’s care.
And thou, with childlike confidence, may’st spring to his embrace
Nor shrink in shame before the glance of that paternal face;
Thou art not yet an ingrate vile—thou hast not, in thy pride,
Return’d him falsehood for his love,—his holiest laws defied.
Thou never like a thief hast spoil’d the nurslings of his fold;
Thou ne’er hast given thy brother’s form to be enslaved and sold;
No wrathful thunders seem, to thee, to clothe his vengeful arm,
Nor fearful lightnings in his eye, awake thy wild alarm.
Our Father! oh how deeply dear that holy name should be—
How should we love the meanest one, who thus may call on Thee!
And yet—thou Just and Righteous God! if thou wert not our sire,
Long since we had been swept away by thy consuming ire.
Be hush’d, triumphant sounds! ye bring not now
A gush of pride along the glowing brow;
Ye wake no more a dream of future fame,
And added glory to my country’s name;
Ye only mind me of her crimson’d hands,
Her sullied faith, her broken treaty-bands.
Oh, better far contrition, sad and mute,
Or tearful prayers her guilty lip would suit,—
Joy not for her—the hearts her sin hath crush’d,
With groans return your shouts—proud sounds, be hush ’d.
Lo! yonder where the starry flag streams free,
And swift the light bark cleaves the foaming sea,—
There bursting hearts, in hopeless anguish torn
From all they love, to distant lands are borne,
In wild desparing groans they breathe their woe,
And call on those they ne’er shall view below,
As thoughts that framed their deepest bliss, but now
Send added torture to the burning brow;
While fated still her wonted chain to wear,
And all the weight of lonely bondage bear,
In shrieks, the frantic mother, from the shore,
Beholds them sever to return no more.
And are there none to whose relentless breast
The Afric’s plea is not in vain address’d?
Who shame them not to own his kindred claim,
And gift the negro with a brother’s name?063 6(2)r 63
Ay, there are some—some hearts that yet can feel,
And dare defend his rights and guard his weal,
Some few, who shrink not from the oppressor’s power,
Not leave him helpless in his gloomy hour.
A fire is lit on Freedom’s holiest shrine,
That yet o’er Afric’s midnight sky shall shine;
For this shall woman’s prayers to heaven ascend,
Her breath shall fan it, and her care attend;
Thus swift from heart to heart the flame shall run,
And triumph crown the work, but now begun.
The Grave of the Unfortunate.
Light fall the early dews of even, and out upon the air
The cereus flowers fling lavishly the fragrance that they bear;
One star, of all the eyes of heaven, is yet alone awake,
And sends abroad its prying glance to gaze on bower and lake.
Come bid the silent lute breathe out a low and mournful strain,
A sad and tearful melody, a wailing for the slain;
And as the notes glide far away, I’ll tell thee how one died,
Who sleeps in quiet loneliness, forgotten, by thy side.
The weary slave had left his toil;—it was an eve like this,
But to his heart its loveliness would bring no throb of bliss;
He only thought of former days, when she who shared his chains
Had roved in freedom by his side, amid their native plains.
A cry of anguish caught his ear—in shrieks she breathed his name,
And forward to his cot he sprung with heart and pulse of flame;
Amid her weeping babes she knelt, and o’er her crouching head
The white man’s lash in mockery swung, all newly stain’d with red.
One blow has fell’d him to the earth—one blow alone was lent,
And from the cot in rage and shame the tyrant master went;
But for that blow a felon’s death the Afric chieftain died,
And here, forgot by all but her, he slumbers by thy side.
Think of Our Country’s Glory.
Think of our country’s glory,
All dimm’d with Afric’s tears—
Her broad flag stain’d and gory
With the hoarded guilt of years!
Think of the frantic mother,
Lamenting for her child,
Till falling lashes smother
Her cries of anguish wild!
Think of the prayers ascending,
Yet shriek’d, alas! in vain,
When heart from heart is rending
Ne’er to be joined again.
Shall we behold, unheeding,
Life’s holiest feelings crush’d?—
When woman’s heart is bleeding,
Shall woman’s voice be hush’d?
Oh, no! by every blessing
That Heaven to thee may lend—
Remember their oppression,
Forget not, sister, friend.
The Kingfisher.A newspaper paragraph gives an account of the instance of maternal affection in a bird, which has been made the subject of the following lines,
The kingfisher sat on her hidden nest,
Shielding her young with a downy breast;
She had built her home where the wave went by,
Soothing her ear with its melody;
And the wild white blossoms bent to dip
In the rushing waves, their thirsty lip.
Pleasant it was while the skies were fair,
And perfume flung on the sunny air,
While the wind in a low sweet whisper died,
Ere it could ruffle the flowing tide;
And the arching skies o’er the waters threw
The deep clear tint of their own pure blue.
But what that is bright on earth may last?
Soon were the days of her sunshine past;
On came the storm-winds muttering loud,
Sweeping before them the thunder-cloud;
And faster, as flash’d the lightning’s flame,
Dashing to earth the sky-torrents came.
Yet with her cold wet wing unstirr’d,
On her shaken nest say the mother bird;
Still ’midst danger and death she clung,
With faithful love, to her lifeless young,
Till high around her hath risen the tide,
And with her pinion stretch’d over them, she died.
Oh! if affection like this hath part
In the warm depths of a wood-bird’s heart—
That even to die, is a better fate
Than to leave her dear ones desolate;—
What is the love of a mother’s breast,
With the seal of a deathless nature press’d?
Yet there are men who will rudely tear
The dearest chords that are cherish’d there;
Wrench from its mother’s frantic hold,
Her weeping babes, to be pawn’d for gold;
And scourge her amidst that living death,
If she dares but give her woe to breath!
Know ye the land where such deeds are done,
In the broad light of the blessed sun?
Where the spoiler bursts, with savage hand,
The holy links of the household band;
And the ties of natural love are cast,
With a daring hand, to the idle blast?
To Those I Love.
Oh, turn ye not displeased away, though I should sometimes seem
Too much to press upon your ear, an oft-repeated theme;
The story of the negro’s wrongs is heavy at my heart,
And can I choose but wish from you a sympathizing part?
I turn to you to share my joy,—to soothe me in my grief—
In wayward sadness from your smiles, I seek a sweet relief:
And shall I keep this burning wish to see the slave set free,
Lock’d darkly in my secret heart, unshared and silently?
I cannot know that all the chords, which give their magic tone
Like Memnon’s harp, in music out, ’neath sunshine smiles alone,
Are torn by savage hands away from woman’s bleeding breast,
And with their sweetness on my soul, my feelings keep repress’d!
If I had been a friendless thing—if I had never known,
How swell the fountains of the heart beneath affection’s tone,
I might have, careless, seen the leaf torn rudely from its stem,
But clinging as I do to you, can I but feel for them?
I could not brook to list the sad sweet music of a bird,
Though it were sweeter melody than ever ear hath heard,
If cruel hands had quench’d its light, that in the plaintive song,
It might the breathing memory of other days prolong.
And can I give my lip to taste the life-bought luxuries, wrung
From those on whom a darker night of anguish has been flung—
Or silently and selfishly enjoy my better lot,
While those whom God hath bade me love, are wretched and forgot?
Oh no!—so blame me not, sweet friends, though I should sometimes seem
Too much to press upon your ear an oft-repeated theme;
The story of the negro’s wrongs hath won me from my rest,――
And I must strive to wake for him an interest in your breast!
Shine not on me, oh, moon! with the weak light
Of thy still beauty, mocking the turmoil
Of this tumultuous and jarring world,
With thy serenity, as if it were
Thy satellite, and thou didst deem it scorn
To let her passions move thee. I am sad—
And how may I have fellowship with thee,
Thou thing of perfect brightness? If the clouds
That sometimes pass athwart thy lovely brow
And shadow it as with a pensive thought,
Were round about thee now, with thy mild veil,
I would not turn from gazing;—but away,—
Thou art too brilliant for a tearful eye!
And mine is dim in sympathy and shame,
For the heart-broken, and the guilty ones,
Of my star-banner’d land.
The blessed breeze!
How most deliciously its coolness comes
With its soft stealing touch, to charm away
The slow, dull fever of my heavy brow;
And as I close beneath it, my wet lids,
To dry away their tears.—Yet is ’t not strange
How lightly it e’en bears its load of sighs!
Why, ’t is from the soft south—the guilty south!
Where those who should lift up a free clear brow
To the pure light of Heaven, go bending down
The clouded forehead, ’neath the heavy shame
Of painful fetters, to the very grave.
How, then, light thing of music, how canst thou
Come thus, all gladness, from the burial-place
Of the heart’s best affections? Didst thou not
A moment check the fluttering of thy wings
To listen to the voice of woman’s grief,
Lamenting for her lost ones? Hence with thee!—
Thou seem’st to me as thou wert made of sighs,
And the beseeching breath of woman’s prayers,
Poured out to hearts that knew not how to feel!
Woe for man’s selfishness! I will go in
And cover up my brow in the dull light,
As with a mourner’s garment.
Think of the Slave.
Think of the slave, in your hours of glee,
Ye who are treading life’s flowery way;
Nought but its rankling thorns has he,
Nought but the gloom of its wintry day.
Think of the slave, in your hours of woe!—
What are your sorrows, to that he bears?
Quenching the light of his bosom’s glow,
With a life-long stain of gushing tears.
Think of the slave, in your hours of prayer,
When worldly thoughts in your hearts are dim
Offer your thanks for the bliss ye share,
But pray for a brighter lot for him.
The Bereaved Father.
Ye have gone from me, gentle ones!
With all your shouts of mirth;
A silence is within my walls,
A darkness round my hearth.
The brightness from my life has gone,
The gladness from my heart!
Alas! alas! that such as you
From home and love should part!
Woe to the hearts that heard, unmoved,
The mother’s anguish’d shriek!
And mock’d, with taunting scorn, the tears
That bathed a father’s cheek.
Woe to the hands that tore you hence,
My innocent and good!
Not e’en the tigress of the wild,
Thus tears her fellow’s brood.
I list to hear your soft sweet tones,
Upon the morning air;
I gaze amidst the twilight’s gloom,
As if to find you there.
But you no more come bounding forth
To meet me in your glee;
And when the evening shadows fall,
Ye are not at my knee.
Your forms are aye before my eyes,
Your voices on my ear,
And all things wear a thought of you,
But you no more are here.
You were the glory of my life,
My blessing and my pride!
I half forgot the name of slave,
When you were by my side!
Woe for the lot that waiteth you,
My victim babes! through life;
Who now shall teach you to bear up
Amidst its bitter strife!
Woe for your lot, ye doom’d ones! woe!
A seal is on your fate!
And shame, and toil, and wretchedness,
On all your steps await!
Oh Tell Me Not, I Shall Forget.
Oh! tell me not I shall forget,
Amid the scenes of nature’s reign,
The cheeks with bitter tear-drops wet,
The hearts whose every throb is pain.
The wood-bird’s merry notes may ring,
Exulting ’neath the clear blue sky:
But louder still the breezes bring
The echo of a sister’s cry.
The forest brook may sparkle fair,
And win my heart to love its sheen;
But still it shows me, mirror’d there,
The image of a distant scene.
The verdant sod around my feet,
The treasure of its flowers may spread,
And close embowering branches meet,
In fresh’ning coolness, o’er my head.
Yet not for these, oh! not for these,
Can I forget the Afric’s woe,—
The sighs that float on every breeze,
The streaming tears that ceaseless flow.
No! though the loveliness of earth
Hath touch’d my spirit like a spell,
And sooth’d me back to joy and mirth,
When darkness else had round it fell.
Though not the simplest bud, that droops
Beneath its weight of morning dew,
When light the orient zephyr stoops
To trifle with its petals blue;
Though not a breeze that stirs the grove,
Or wing that cleaves the summer air,
But hath a link upon my love,
Or strikes some chord of feeling there;
Yet think not they can lull my heart,
To carelessness of human woe;
Or bid the bitter tears that start
For Afric’s wrongs, no longer flow.
What is a Slave, Mother?
What is a slave, mother?—I heard you say
That word with a sorrowful voice, one day;
And it came again to my thoughts last night,
As I laid awake in the broad moonlight;071 6(6)r 71
Methinks I have heard a story told,
Of some poor men, who are bought and sold,
And driven abroad with stripes to toil,
The live-long day on a stranger’s soil;
Is this true mother?
May children as young as I be sold,
And torn away from their mother’s hold—
From home—from all they have loved and known,
To dwell in the great wide world alone,
Far, far away in some distant place,
Where they never may see their parents’ face?
Ah! how I should weep to be torn from you!
Tell me, dear mother, can this be true?
Alas, yes, my child.
Does the master love the slave child well,
That he takes away in his house to dwell?
Does he teach him all that he ought to know,
And wipe his tears when they sometimes flow—
And watch beside him in sickness and pain,
Till health comes back to his cheek again—
And kneel each night by his side to pray,
That God will keep him through life’s rough way?
Alas, no, my child.
Ah, then must the tales I have heard be true,
Of the cruel things that the masters do;
That the poor slaves often must creep to bed,
On their scatter’d straw, but scantily fed;
Be sometimes loaded with heavy chains;
And flogg’d till their blood the keen lash stains;
While none will care for their bitter cry,
Or soothe their hearts when their grief is high.
It is so, my child.
And is it not, mother, a sinful thing,
The bosoms of others with pain to wring—
To bid them go labour and delve the soil,
And seize the reward of their weary toil—
For men to tear men from their homes away,
And sell them for gold, like a lawful prey!
Oh surely the land where such deeds are done,
Must be a most savage and wicked one!
It is this, my child.
The Child’s Evening Hymn.
Father! while the daylight dies,
Hear our grateful voices rise:
For the blessings that we share,
For thy kindness and thy care,
For the joy that fills our breast;
For the love that makes us blest,
We thank thee, Father.
For an earthly father’s arm,
Shielding us from wrong and harm;
For a mother’s watchful cares,
Mingled with her many prayers;
For the happy kindred band,
’Midst whose peaceful links we stand,
We bless thee, Father.
Yet while ’neath the evening skies,
Thus we bid our thanks arise,
Father! still we think of those,
Who are bow’d with many woes,
Whom no earthly parent’s arm
Can protect from wrong and harm;
The poor slaves, Father.
Ah! while we are richly blest,
They are wretched and distrest!
Outcasts in their native land,
Crush’d beneath oppression’s hand,
Scarcely knowing even thee,
Mighty Lord of earth and sea!
Oh, save them, Father!
Touch the flinty hearts, that long
Have, remorseless, done them wrong;
Ope the eyes that long have been
Blind to every guilty scene;
That the slave—a slave no more—
Grateful thanks to thee may pour,
And bless thee, Father.
The Enfranchised Slaves to Their Benefactress.
Oh, blessings on thee, lady! we could lie
Down at thy feet, in our deep gratitude,
And give ourselves to die,
So thou could’st be made happier by our blood;
Yet life has never seem’d so dear as now,
That we may lift a free, unbranded brow.
In the deep silence of the starry night,
Our lips shall call down blessing on thy head;
And the first gush of light,
That in its splendour o’er the world is spread,
Shall view us bow’d in prayer, that life may be
A calm and sunny day of joy for thee.
Free! free!—how glorious ’t is to lift an eye,
Unblenching beneath infamy and shame,
To the blue and boundless sky,
And feel each moment from our hearts, the tame
Dull pulses of our vileness pass away,
Like sluggish mists before the rising day.
And then our infants! we shall never see
Their young limbs cheapen’d at the public mart,
Or shrink in agony,
To view them writhe beneath the cruel smart
Of the rude lash;—they ne’er like us shall know
The slave’s dark lot of wretchedness and woe.
For this we bless thee, lady! and may Heaven
Pour down its frequent blessings on thy brow;
And to thy life be given,
Oft through its sunset hours, such bliss as now
Is swelling round thy heart—scarce less than theirs
Who pour for thee their deep and grateful prayers.
’Tis beautiful, when first the dewy light
Breaks on the earth! while yet the scented air
Is breathing the cool freshness of the night,
And the bright clouds a tint of crimson wear,
Mix’d with their fleecy whiteness; when each fair
And delicate lined flower that lifts its head
Is bathed in dainty odours, and all rare
And beautiful things of nature are outspread,
With the rich flush of light that only morn can shed.
When every leafy chalice holds a draught
Of nightly dew, for the hot sun to drink,
When stream gush sportively, as though they laugh’d
For very joyousness, and seem to shrink,
In playful terror from the rocky brink
Of some slight precipice—then with quick leap,
Bound lightly o’er the barrier, and sink
In their own whirling eddy, and then sweep
With rippling music on, or in their channels sleep.
While lights and shades play on them, with each breath
That moves the calm still waters; when the fly
Skims o’er the surface, and all things beneath
Gleam brightly through the flood, and fish glance by
With a quick flash of beauty—when the sky
Wears a deep azure brightness—and the song
Of matin gladness lifts its voice on high,
And mingled harmony and perfume throng
On every whispering breeze that lightly floats along.—
’T is sweet to wander forth at such an hour,
And drink the spirit of its loveliness;
While on the brow no shadowing care-clouds lower,
And on strong wing the free thoughts upward press;—
Yet there are those whom nature cannot bless,
With all her varied beauty;—such as they,
Whose cup is drugg’d with pain and sore distress,
By their own brother’s hand, and the quench’d ray
Of whose lost hopes spreads gloom across the brightest day.
Lo! where, like cattle driven by the lash,
Forth to their wearying task in groups they go;
The mother, lifting up her hand, to dash
The tear-drops from her cheek, that still will flow,
As on her ear her infant’s wail comes low,
Yet painfully distinct; and she must leave,—
For the stern overseer wills it so—
Her tender little one unsoothed, to grieve,
Happy to clasp it safe when she returns at eve.
The feeble crone who on her knees hath borne
Her children’s grandchildren, is toiling there;
Young forms, and weak old men, whose limbs are worn
Nigh to the grave—strong men, whose bow’d necks bear
Perchance the weight of heavy irons, that wear
Into their very souls;—small heed has he
Who tasks them, of their ills, and none will spare
From the rude scourge—nor old nor infancy—
Who have the allotted toil perform’d imperfectly.
Oh shame upon man’s selfishness! that so
The love of gold should canker in his breast,
Transforming his affection’s kindly glow
To bitterness, himself into a pest
Upon the earth, the scourge of the oppress’d,
And tyrant of the helpless.—Strange that they,
Who with man’s high capacities are blest,
Should, for earth’s valueless and tinsel clay,
Thus cast the priceless jewels of their souls away.
Washington City Prison.
Thou dark and drear and melancholy pile!
Who seemest, like a guilty penitent,
To brood o’er horrors in thy bosom pent,
Until the sunbeams that around thee smile,
And the glad breath of heaven, have become
A hatred and mockery to thy gloom—
Stern fabric! I’ll commune with thee awhile!076 7(2)v 76
And from thy hollow echoes, and the gale
That moans round thy dark cells, win back the tale
Of thy past history;—give thy stones a tongue,
And bid them answer me, and let the sighs
That round thy walls so heavily arise,
Be vocal, and declare from whence they sprung;
And by what passion of intense despair—
What aching throb of life consuming care,
From the torn heart of anguish they were wrung.
Receptacle of guilt! hath guilt, alone,
Stain’d with its falling tears thy foot-worn floor,
When the harsh echo of the closing door
Hath died upon the ear, and flinging prone
His form upon the earth, thy chilling gloom
Seem’d to the wretch the sentence of his doom—
Say, bear’st thou witness to no heart-wrung groan,
Bursting from sinless bosoms, whom the hand
Of tyrant power hath sever’d from the band
Of the earth’s holiest and dearest things,
And thrust amidst thy darkness? Speak! declare
If only the rude felon’s curse and prayer,
Mix’d with wild wail and wilder laughter rings
Within those dreary walls!—or if there be
No spirit fainting there with agony,
That not from their own crimes, but foul oppression springs.
Ha! am I answer’d?—in that startling cry,
Bursting from some wild breast, with anguish riven,
And rising up to register in heaven
Its blighting tale of outrage—the reply
Was heard distinctly terrible.—It sprung
From a sad household group, who wildly clung
Together, in their frantic agony,
Till they were torn by savage hands apart,
Fond arms from twining arms, and heart from heart,
Never to meet again! what had they done,
Thou tool of avarice and tyranny!—
That they should thus be given o’er to thee,077 7(3)r 77
And thy guilt-haunted cells?—were sire and son,
Mother and babe, all partners in one crime,
As dreadful as the fate that through all time,
Clings to them with a grasp they may not shun?
No!—let the tale be spoken, though it burn
The cheek with shame to breathe it—let it go
Forth on the winds, that the wide globe may know
Our vileness, and the rudest savage turn
And point, with taunting finger, to the spot
Whereon thou standest; that all men may blot
Our name with its deserved taint, and spurn
Our vaunting laws of justice with the heel
Of low contumely; that every peal
Of triumph, may be answer’d with a shout
Of biting mockery; and our starry flag,
Our glorious banner! may, dishonour’d, drag
Its proud folds in the dust, or only flout
The gales of heaven, to be a broader mark
For scorn to spit at—oh, thou depôt dark,
Where souls and human limbs are meted out,
In fiendish traffic:—no! those weeping ones
Have done no evil—but their brother’s hand,
Hath rudely burst the sacred household band,
And given, with heart more flinty than thy stones,
His victims to thy keeping, and thy chains,
Till he hath sold them!—they within whose veins
Blood like his own is coursing, and whose moans
Are torn from hearts as deathless as his own!
And there thou stand’st—where Freedom’s altar stone
Is darken’d by thy shadows,—and the cry,
That thrills so fearfully upon the air,
With its wild tale of anguish and despair,
Blends with the pæans that are swelling high,
To do her homage!—I have sometimes felt
As I could hate my country for her guilt,—
Until in bitter tears the mood went by.
The Sunset Hour.
No! I have not forgotten yet the gentle sunset hour,
That comes with such a soothing touch, to shut the bright leaved flower;
Nor have I yet forgotten those, who shared its light with me,
Amidst a scene I fondly love, though distant far it be.
A gleaming of its parting light is lingering even now,
With dim and faded brilliancy, around my lifted brow;
While memory flings aside the veil that hangs o’er parted things,
And drives the shadow from the past, before her glancing wings.
I seem to see thee, gentle friend, before me even yet!
So meekly in thy wonted place, beside the casement set,
With calm still brow and placid eye across the landscape bent,
Where all of nature’s varied charms are beautifully blent.
The gliding streams, the low white mill, the hill upswelling high,
With its few crowning forest-trees so painted on the sky;
The vine-hung crag, the shadowy wood, the fields of tufted maize,
And emerald meadow-slopes, that gleam beneath the sunset rays.
In sooth, it is a lovely scene; alas! that some as fair,
Man’s lawless selfishness should make the home of dark despair.
That ’midst glad nature’s purity, the bending slave should tread,
And proud oppression o’er the earth a waste of anguish spread!
Hath God’s rich mercy form’d the earth so beautifully bright,
For man to wrap his brother’s soul in gloominess and night?
That all its charms must be unseen, its loveliness unfelt,
By eyes and hearts all dimm’d and broke by cruelty and guilt.
No! never hath he meant that those, within whose forms are shrined
The rich and deep capacities of an undying mind,
Should ’neath a brother’s foot be crush’d, be loaded with his chains,
And drain, to feed his riot waste, the life-blood from their veins.
The Devoted.It was a beautiful turn given by a great lady, who being asked where her husband was, when he lay concealed for having been deeply concerned in a conspiracy, resolutely answered, that she had hidden him. This confession caused her to be carried before the governor, who told her that nought but confessing where she had hidden him, could save her from the torture. And will that do? said she. Yes, replied the governor, I will pass my word for your safety, on that condition. Then, replied she, I have hidden him in my heart, where you may find him.
Stern faces were around them bent, and eyes of vengeful ire,
And fearful were the words they spake of torture, stake, and fire:
Yet calmly in the midst she stood, with eye undimm’d and clear,
And though her lip and cheek were white, she wore no sign of fear.
Where is thy traitor spouse? they said;—a half-form’d smile of scorn,
That curl’d upon her haughty lip, was back for answer borne;—
Where is thy traitor spouse? again, in fiercer notes, they said,
And sternly pointed to the rack, all rusted o’er with red!
Her heart and pulse beat firm and free—but in a crimson flood,
O’er pallid lip and cheek and brow, rush’d up the burning blood;
She spake, but proudly rose her tones, as when in hall or bower,
The haughtiest chief that round her stood had meekly own’d their power;
My noble lord is placed within a safe and sure retreat—
Now tell us where, thou lady bright, as thou wouldst mercy meet,
Nor deem thy life can purchase his—he cannot ’scape our wrath,
For many a warrior’s watchful eye is placed o’er every path.
But thou may’st win his broad estates to grace thine infant heir,
And life and honour to thyself, so thou his haunts declare.080 7(4)v 80
She laid her hand upon her heart; her eye flash’d proud and clear,
And firmer grew her haughty tread—My Lord is hidden here!
And if you seek to view his form, ye first must tear away,
From round his secret dwelling place these walls of living clay!
They quail’d beneath her haughty glance, they silent turn’d aside,
And left her all unharm’d amidst her loveliness and pride!
Deaf and Dumb.
Her face was sweetly serious; yet a smile
Was cradled in the dimple of her cheek,
As if it waited but the frequent call,
To spring to the red lip. I spoke to her,
And listen’d for the music-breathing tones
Of childhood’s laughing voice—she answer’d not,
Nor raised the fringes of her deep blue eyes;—
And then they told me that the gushing fount
Of all her young affections was seal’d up.—
That young bright lip was voiceless; and the heart
Sprang not in blessedness to the deep tones
Of thrilling tenderness—the soul was shut—
And all the spirit’s wild imaginings
Thrown back in darkness—like the flowers that spring
Beneath the bosom of the winter’s snow.
The moon had risen.—Light was o’er the world
With all the freshness of the early day.
The feathery clouds that floated in the east,
Wore a faint tinge of crimson, and the voice
Of forest music; and a scented breath,
Of dewy flowers, came onward through the air.
The men of Bethlehem were gather’d round
The altar of their God; and the deep tones
Of Samuel’s voice arose in solemn prayer;081 7(5)r 81
The smoke curl’d upwards from the sacrifice,
In cloudy volumes first, then thin and slow,
Until the last faint wreath had disappear’d.
The prophet rose, and standing in the midst,
Stretch’d out his hands and bless’d them—and then spake—Thou, Jesse, son of Obed, of the tribe of lion Judah—hearken to my voice: Thus saith the Lord: From Saul’s anointed brow, And from his hand, and those of all his sons, The kingly sceptre and the crown shall pass, As though he was not chosen of the Lord. So cause thy sons to pass before mine eyes, That I may consecrate whom God hath chosen To gift with Judah’s kingly diadem.
Then came Eliab forth, the first, and stood
Before the Prophet. His proud head was bow’d,
And his cross’d hands were folded on his breast,
In mute unwonted reverence; yet even thus,
His haughty brow above the mightiest tower’d,
As he were born to be a conqueror.
There was a speaking beauty in his face,
And the bright glorious eye that flash’d beneath
His clustering curls of sable seem’d to tell
Of a high spirit that could plan bold deeds,
Which that strong arm would joy to execute.
The Prophet gazed, and said within his heart,
Surely, the Lord’s anointed is before him!
But in the still small voice Jehovah spake
Unto the Prophet’s ear.—Regard not thou
The beauty of his countenance, nor yet
His stature, nor the majesty thereof;
For him have I rejected. The Most High
Sees not as mortal; but the secret heart
Is open all before him, and its sins,
And its infirmities, he knoweth all.
Then came Eliab’s brethren, one by one,
And Samuel look’d upon them, but he knew
The chosen from the people was not there.
Then David came, e’en from his fleecy charge,
Himself as innocent, and knelt him down
Before the Prophet. He, that young fair boy,
His mother’s treasured one, who had but left082 7(5)v 82
Her fond maternal side, to lay him down
On the flower-studded bank, and watch the wave
Glide on in laughing ripples at his feet,
While his white lambs were sporting on the grass.
Why should the Prophet look on him, as though
He might be chosen to be Israel’s king?
He was most beautiful! His timid eye,
With boyish wonder mix’d with holy awe,
Through its bright veil of golden curls look’d up
With a long gaze to Samuel’s quiet face;
And feelings wrought intensely, had spread out
A warmer flush upon his downy cheek.
The prophet look’d upon the kneeling boy,
So young—so fair—those parted lips e’en now
Scarcely refraining from their wonted smiles—
The dimple sporting on his rosy cheek,
The snowy brow half shaded by his hair,
And those dark eyes, so bright, so beautiful,—
And a strange thrilling gush came o’er his heart
Even to starting tears. Could this be he,
For whom the Lord would break the power of Saul?
He felt that it was so—and lifting up
His horn of sacred oil, anointed him,
To be the servant of the Holy One.
The Soldier’s Prayer.Garden, in his Anecdotes of the Revolution, when describing the sufferings of the army, mentions the circumstance of a soldier having earnestly entreated permission to visit his family, which was refused, on the ground that the same favour must be granted to others, who could not be spared without weakening the army, whose strength was already reduced by sickness. He acquiesced in the justice of the denial, but added, that to him refusal would be death. He was a brave and valuable soldier, and apparently in health at the time;—but his words were verified.
I care not for the hurried march through August’s burning noon,
Nor for the long cold ward at night, beneath the dewy moon;083 7(6)r 83
I’ve calmly felt the winter’s storms, o’er my unshelter’d head,
And trod the snow with naked foot, till every track was red!
My soldier’s fare is poor and scant—’t is what my comrades share,
Yon heaven my only canopy—but that I well can bear;
A dull and feverish weight of pain is pressing on my brow,
And I am faint with recent wounds—for that I care not now.
But oh, I long once more to view my childhood’s dwelling-place,
To clasp my mother to my heart—to see my father’s face!
To list each well-remember’d tone, to gaze on every eye
That met my ear, or thrill’d my heart, in moments long gone by.
In vain with long and frequent draught of every wave I sip—
A quenchless and consuming thirst is ever on my lip!
The very air that fans my cheek no blessed coolness brings,—
A burning heat or chilling damp is ever on its wings.
Oh! let my seek my home once more—for but a little while—
But once above my couch to see my mother’s gentle smile;
It haunts me in my waking hours—’t is ever in my dreams,
With all the pleasant paths of home, rocks, woods, and shaded streams.
There is a fount—I know it well—it springs beneath a rock,
Oh, how its coolness and its light, my feverish fancies mock!
I pine to lay me by its side, and bathe my lips and brow,
’T would give new fervour to the heart that beats so languid now.
I may not—I must linger here—perchance it may be just!
But well I know this yearning soon will scorch my heart to dustillegible1 letter
One breathing of my native air had call’d me back to life—
But I must die—must waste away beneath this inward strife.
The Appeal of the Choctaw.
We cannot leave our fathers’ land!
We cannot leave our fathers’ graves!
The long-loved hills that round us stand—
Our valleys, with their pleasant waves.084 7(6)v 84
Oh, bid us not to trace afar,
The pathway of the evening star;
We cannot find, where’er we roam,
A spot which bears, like this, the name of home!
What though the western forest rise,
More tall, more darkly close, than these;
And calm the stately wild deer lies,
In slumber ’neath the stately trees;—
Though hill and vale are passing fair,
And all seems bright and lovely there,
We cannot love the beauteous spot,
To us the great Manitto gave it not!
What care we for those prairies wide?
Our fathers never hunted there;—
Those cavern echoes ne’er, in pride,
Flung back their wild halloo of war.
Those wooded glens, and shaded streams,
Came never to our childhood’s dreams;
Nor have we, in our young hearts’ glee,
Loved, like familiar friends, each rock and tree.
But here, amid the tempest’s rush,
Our spirit fathers’ voices thrill!
They come at midnight’s moonlit hush,
Or when the eve-star lights the hill.
The thoughts of other times are spread
O’er every gray crag’s misty head;—
And how then can we lightly leave
The scenes to which our hearts so fondly cleave?
Then have we not in worship bow’d,
Before your God, the humbled head?
And tamed our spirits, fierce and proud,
To till our hunting grounds for bread?
And now, that in our bosom’s cell,
A white man’s calmer soul would dwell,
You seek to grasp our planted soil,
And drive us hence, in distant lands to toil!
Oh, white men! ye have fair smooth brows,
And lips whose words we well might trust,
But treachery mingles in your vows,
Your chain of friendship is but dust!
Ye come with falsehood in your hearts,
Ye frame your laws with wily arts,
And bid us ’neath their shades to dwell,
That we may wither by their blighting spell!
The ark was resting on the mountain’s side,
And those who dwelt beneath its sheltering veil,
Look’d forth upon the earth—that sight denied
Their anxious gaze so long!—their cheeks grew pale
As Noah moved the covering from their frail,
Yet safe abode of refuge; for they thought
Of those dark hours, when, ever on the gale,
The voice of ruin and despair was brought,
Telling how wide a scathe destruction’s hand had wrought.
And now they look’d abroad upon the scene
With a sick, painful interest, and a dread
Of seeing—what till now had only been
A picture of their thoughts—before them spread
In all its dark reality. The dead,
The guilty dead, seem’d rising to their sight,
As when in sinful happiness, their tread
Pass’d gayly o’er the earth, ere that long night
Of utter darkness pass’d above them with its blight.
Then how could those lone dwellers of the earth—
The only rescued—how could they but weep?
What though the lost ones, in their guilty mirth,
Had mock’d their pious prayers, and wrought them deep
And sore affliction? In one whelming sweep,
The wrath of God had crush’d them! and could now
The righteous triumph o’er their dreamless sleep?
But Noah—only he—upraised his brow,
As if his spirit could be moved by nought below.
And yet the green earth bore but little trace
Of its late ravage;—scatter’d here and there,
The wreck of some proud palace, or a place
Of their vain worship—with their pillars fair,
Grown o’er with sea-weed, and their treasures rare,
Gone to the ocean caverns;—but the light
Of the rich sunset melted through an air,
All fill’d with odours from a world as bright
As though it only waked in freshness from the night.
So thus they trod the silent world once more,—
Its only habitants!—all gather’d there,
And praising Him who bade the waters pour
Their whelming floods around them, and yet spare
The cherish’d few whom he had made his care,
And shielded with his love. And thus they grew,
Peaceful and calm, and hymns rose on the air
In grateful joyfulness; for then they knew
That all that scathe had pass’d forever from their view.
The Battle Field.
The last fading sunbeam has sunk in the ocean,
And darkness has shrouded the forest and hill;
The scenes that late rang with the battle’s commotion,
Now sleep ’neath the moonbeams serenely and still;
Yet light misty vapours above them still hover,
And dimly the pale beaming crescent discover,
Though all the stern clangour of conflict is over,
And hush’d the wild trump-note that echoed so shrill.
Around me the steed and the rider are lying,
To wake at the bugle’s loud summons no more—
And here is the banner that o’er them was flying,
Torn, trampled, and sullied, with earth and with gore.
With morn—where the conflict the wildest was roaring,
Where sabres were clashing, and death-shot were pouring,
That banner was proudest and loftiest soaring—
Now, standard and bearer alike are no more!
All hush’d! not a breathing of life from the numbers
That scatter’d around me so heavily sleep,—
Hath the cup of red wine lent its fumes to their slumbers,
And stain’d their bright garments with crimson so deep?
Ah no! these are not like gay revellers sleeping,
The night-winds, unfelt, o’er their bosoms are creeping,
Ignobly their plumes o’er the damp ground are creeping,
And dews, all uncared for, their bright falchions steep.
Bright are they? at morning they were—ay, at morning,
Yon forms were proud warriors, with hearts beating high
The smiles of stern valour their lips were adorning,
And triumph flash’d out from the glance of their eye!
But now—sadly alter’d, the evening hath found them,
They care not for conquest, disgrace cannot wound them,
Distinct but in name, from the earth spread around them,
Beside their red broad-swords, unconscious, they lie.
How still is the scene! save when dismally whooping,
The night-bird afar hails the gathering gloom;
Or a heavy sound tells that their comrades are scooping
A couch, where the sleepers may rest in the tomb.
Alas! ere yon planet again shall be lighted,
What hearts shall be broken, what hopes will be blighted,
How many, ’midst sorrow’s dark storm-clouds benighted,
Shall envy, e’en while they lament, for their doom.
Oh war! when thou ’rt clothed in the garments of glory,
When Freedom had lighted thy torch at her shrine
And proudly thy deeds are emblazon’d in story,
We think not, we feel not, what horrors are thine.
But oh! when the victors and vanquish’d have parted,
When lonely we stand on the war-ground deserted,
And think on the dead, and on those broken-hearted,
Thy blood-sprinkled laurel-wreath ceases to shine.
The moon hath risen o’er the silent height
Of the blue vaulted heaven—and each star
Is faintly glimmering in its silver light,
That dimly shows the mountain-tops afar,088 8(2)v 88
And lights the fleecy clouds that, floating there,
By turns obscure its brightness—while around,
The spell of silence hangs o’er earth and air;
And not a rude intruding voice, or sound,
Falls on the ear, or mars the solitude profound.
Prompter of wild imagination’s flight!
How soft the witchery that enrobes thy beam,
That sheds its magic o’er the gloom of night,
And wraps the soul within its brightest dream,
Till heaven and earth are mingled—and we seem,
With airy beings of the land of thought,
To hold high converse—till we almost deem
They are indeed with life and being fraught,
And not in fancy’s wild unreal visions wrought.
Now rise the treasured thoughts of other days,
And all the scenes that by-past years have known;
And memory sheds her reminiscent rays
Around the hopes and pleasures that have flown,
And gives again to being every tone,
That once like music on our pulses thrill’d;
When childhood’s gaiety was all our own,
And even tears, like dew in flowers distill’d,
Gave brightness to the dreams that hope delights to build.
Star-spangled vault of glory! who could gaze
With coldness or with carelessness at thee?
Or view the earth illumined by thy rays,
Nor feel the spirit for a moment free
From all terrestrial feelings?—Can it be
That in yon spheres translated spirits dwell?
It may be fancy’s whisper—but to me
It sounds scarce strangely—though we may not tell
Of what waits beyond our shortly pealing knell.
Thus saith Jehovah! let this people go!
The king was on his throne array’d all gorgeously,
In regal purple rich with fretted gold,089 8(3)r 89
And starr’d with sparkling gems, while snowy lawn
Was mingling with its folds luxuriously.
The crown of Egypt was upon his brow,
And her proud sceptre was beside his hand.
The nobles of his land were gather’d round,
Thronging the proud pavilion where he sate;
And the wise men, the Magi of the East,
The Priests, Soothsayers, Astrologers,
And the most cunning sorcerers, were there.
And also, there, apart from all the rest,
Yet even at the foot of Pharaoh’s throne,
Two men array’d in humble garments stood.
One spoke not, but with meekly folded arms,
Awaited silently the king’s decree.
His form was finely moulded, and his face
Had much expressive beauty, though his eye
Spoke with a sadden’d feeling—and his brow,
Amid the clustering curls that shaded it,
Told that the freshness of his youth had pass’d.
The other form was taller, and his limbs
Were nerved to manlier strength—his bold dark eye
Sent its proud glances round him fearlessly;
While with his mantle gather’d o’er his breast,
And his right arm extended as he spake,
He pour’d his eloquence to Pharaoh’s ear.
Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, God Omnipotent!
Let thou this people go—their wives, their children,
Their herds of cattle, and their snowy flocks,—
And whatsoe’er belongeth unto them,
Shall with themselves, unransom’d, all be free.
Say not within thy heart, as thou hast said,
That his unchanging will shall pass away,
And yet be unaccomplish’d; nor yet hope
With words deceitful to evade his purpose.
Why should’st thou war with Heaven? can thy weak arm
Cope with His wrathful strength, who wields the thunder,
And looketh on the wide extended earth,
Even as a little thing?—Thy heart is raised,
Yea, lifted up in pride and vanity,8* 090 8(3)v 90
For thine exalted power and high estate—
But know’st thou not that He who raiseth up,
Can bring thee low e’en to the very dust,
And change thy glory into emptiness?
Then waken not the terrors of His wrath,
Nor scorn his mandate—let this people go!
But Pharaoh harden’d still his heart, till God,
With a high hand, brought out his chosen people,
And whelm’d the might of Egypt in the wave.
Oh ye! who still in cruel bondage, worse
Then e’en the Egyptian, hold the ill-starr’d slave,
Do ye not dread that God’s long slumbering wrath
At length will pour its terrors upon you?
Are slavery and oppression aught more just
Than in the days of Moses?—and if not,
With how much deeper hue does the dark stain
Attach itself to you, who proudly bear
The name of Christians—and declare yourselves
The servants of the perfect law of Him,
Who died upon the cross! is slavery just?
Ye dare not say it is—ye dare not say
The Negro is not God’s own heritage,
The work of His own hand—one flesh, one blood
With you who crush him to the very earth!
What, is it just that a white skin should give
To man the power to tyrannize o’er man?
That hundreds of the human race should toil,
To feed the wealth and luxury of one—
A scanty sustenance their only meed?
Yet in this age of intellectual light,
And high profession of religious faith,
Even now there are (may Heaven forgive them) those,
So wholly lost to what they owe themselves,
Their country, and their God, that they would lift
Their voice in favour of the wrong, and e’en pollute
The very Senate-House with arguments
For the vile cause of slavery—Oh shame—
Shame on them tenfold!—did not their hot breath
Spread a foul gangrene o’er the very walls,091 8(4)r 91
Like the dark plague-spot on the Jewish tents,
In days of old? what, freemen! will ye bear
To be insulted thus, upon the spot
That of all others, like a polish’d mirror,
Should be o’erclouded by the slightest breath
That spoke of stern oppression? rouse ye, rouse,
And tear the veil of blindness from your eyes!
Deceive yourselves no longer with false dreams
Of wealth and interest—look upon the North—
Is she not rich and prosperous as yourselves?
And yet no slave is there—no hapless wretch,
To blight the soil with curses and hot tears.
But do you say that you lament the evil,
But that ye made it not, nor is your power
Efficient for the cleansing of the stain,
Though you should gladly lend your aid therein,
If but the path were open?—then awake!
No longer sit with idly folded hands,
And conscience lull’d securely into rest,
Until destruction with a voice of thunder,
Break on your guilty torpor—Oh, beware!
And harden not your hearts like ancient Pharaoh,
Lest a worse fate than even his befal you.
And you, friends of the cause of liberty,
Shrink not, though you be straiten’d in your course,
Even as was Israel at the Red Sea wave.
Nerve every faculty—call every means,
And every energy of heart and mind
Forth into action—summon up your strength,
Ply argument, persuasion, eloquence,—
Bear patiently with deeply rooted feelings,
Of prejudice, self-interest, and all else,
That may have twined round your opponents’ hearts;
Yet combat still, remove and overpower them,
Until no longer o’er the smiling land,
Is heard the voice of tyranny, and all
Who breathe the same pure air alike are free:092 8(4)v 92
So may God bless you! and the franchised slave,
Remember only in his grateful prayers,
That he has ever drain’d oppression’s cup,
And that he owes his liberty to you.
The Depths of the Sea.
Depths of the fathomless sea,
What do you hold in your caves?
Motionless hearts that bounded free,
And many a costly argosie,
That gallantly rode on your waves?
Yes! motionless hearts are there,
And many a glassy eye—
And many a gem of price ye bear,
Ingots of gold and spices rare,
That in the salt wave lie.
Oh, if the dead could speak,
What a tale might ye unfold!
Of the roaring surge and the blanching cheek,
Of the crashing mast, and the one wild shriek,
As the waters over them roll’d!
The weary sailor sleeps
In your beautiful coral bowers;
The polar star its night ward keeps,
But he heeds it not—and his loved one weeps,
As she counts the wearisome hours.
The cheek of beauty is there,
But its blush had faded away—
The sea-weed wraps what was once so fair,
And the water-snake twines with her flowing hair,
As though it but mock’d her decay.
The speaking eye is dim,
That flash’d with its glance of light—
The youth drank of life’s cup, while joy bathed its brim,
But the long draught of bitterness was not for him,
And the pride-curl’d lip is white!
The young and the old are there,
The coward heart and the brave—
Those to whom life in her morning shone fair,
And those who were wasted with cankering care,
The freemen, the tyrant, the slave.
The infant is there, with the light
Of his innocent smile round his brow;
He laugh’d when the foam on that pitiless night,
Curl’d o’er the rude wave with its sparkles of light—
But his blue eye is slumbering now.
And there is the beautiful bride,
Still entwined in her lover’s last grasp;
The warrior rests with his foe by his side,
And the mother yet seems, in her matronly pride
To enfold that fair boy in her clasp.
Ye depths of the billowy sea!
How many a tale of fear,
Of the plunging corse, and the mutiny,
And the blood-red banner of piracy,
Could ye tell to the shuddering ear!
And of how, at the dead of night,
The captive burst his chain,
And with one glance at the moon’s fair light
Forever he sunk from the tyrant’s sight—
And the wave roll’d on again.
Oh, ye are a changeless mystery—
The heavens are wreathed in flame,
And the bark is toss’d on the raging sea,
Or the sunbeam smiles with its breezes free—
But ye are forever the same.
The Recaptured Slave.
Woe to thee, tyrant! woe!
Does that white brow of thine which shows so fair
And the rich tint thy cheek is wont to wear,094 8(5)v 94
Make thee ruler of my destiny?
Or does thy blood more freely flow,
Than that which pours so madly now,
Along my burning veins—that thou should’st be
The favourite of fortune—proud and free—
And I should be thy slave—thy vassal?—no!
’T is true, I was thy slave—the power was thine—
And thou hadst made me such—through lingering years,
One weary task of ceaseless toil was mine,
Of servitude and tears—
But didst thou think no kindly glow,
Could warm my heart to joy or woe?
Mistaken fool! I heard thee name a name,
That rush’d like fire along my burning breast,
And from that instant there awoke a flame,
That ne’er has been, and ne’er shall be suppress’d—
I heard the glorious name of liberty!
And from that hour I panted to be free!
I had breathed on—not lived—in recklessness,
And idle dull submission to my fate;
But then the very sunbeams seem’d to press
Upon my senses, with a bitter weight—
As though they spake upbraidingly,
That all around me should be free,
And I should be so vile—that I should bow,
And tremble at the gathering of thy brow!
I once had loved the gushing mirth
Of the young spring—when bee, flower, bird,
And every thing upon the earth,
Seem’d fraught with joy—but now, one word,
One only word, came o’er my brain,
Again, again, again,
As if ’t were scorch’d in characters of flame
And that one word was Freedom! all things seem’d
To shape their voices only to that name—
The wild bird’s joyous song—the fish that gleam’d
Through the bright flood—the murmur of the wave—
Nay, even the breath of heaven—methought seem’d whispering, Slave!
I fled, and ere another set of sun,
My galling chains were broken—I was free!
A new, a bright existence was begun—
And my soul knew and felt its potency.
The voice of eve seem’d sweeter to my ears,
And all things brighter to my eye—till tears
From my full heart gush’d up tumultuously—
Wife, children, friends, were all forgotten—all—
I only felt that I was free from thrall.
’T is over now—and I once more am thine—
But thinkest thou that, having known the bliss—
That though one moment only has been mine,
I will live on in servitude like this,
And wear the chains of bondage? tyrant, no!
My blood be on thy head! woe rest upon thee, woe!
Art thou my master! then come ask the wave,
To give thee back thy slave!
The hostile armies still were hush’d in sleep,
And over Gilead’s plain hung silence deep;
The fading watch-fires dimly gleam’d from far,
Like the faint radiance of some sinking star,
And rising high in heaven, the moon’s pale beam,
Its trembling lustre cast o’er bank and stream:
The men of Israel slept—but in his tent,
Their chief in prayer the lingering moments spent.
He felt how less than vain was human power,
To lend him succour in the coming hour,
And kneeling, threw aside his helm and sword,
And pour’d his soul in suppliance to the Lord.
Oh thou! who ridest on the whirlwind’s wings, Jehovah! Judge of earth, and King of kings!
Be pleased from thine abiding place on high,
To cast on Israel’s low estate thine eye;
Behold, oh Lord! how fallen is the pride
Of her who once the nations round defied,
When thy bright pillar was her shield and guide.096 8(6)v 96
Lord! she hath sinn’d—forgetful of thy name,
Hath raised to other gods the altar’s flame;
Unmindful of thy mercies she has knelt,
And join’d in prayer with those that round her dwelt;
But God, forgive her—for she bends the knee,
And turns in tearful penitence to thee;
Her cherish’d idols from their shrines she spurns,
And once again thy holy altar burns.
Forgive her, Lord! again thy grace restore,
And in her wounds thy healing balsam pour!
How long, oh Lord! shall Israel bow the head,
And mourn her power estranged, her glory fled?
How long shall Zion’s daughter’s weep in vain,
The best, the noblest, of thy servants slain?
Behold’st thou not, from thine abode of day,
How hath the spoiler mark’d her for a prey?
Arise, arise! in thy returning wrath,
And sweep proud Ammon from her guilty path!
Arise, arise! thy lamp of light restore,
And on thy foes thy cup of vengeance pour!
If thou who hear’st from heaven thy servant’s prayer,
Against thy foes thy vengeful arm wilt bare,
If thou wilt nerve my arm, and edge my sword,
That death and slaughter through their ranks be pour’d,
When homeward with exulting shouts I turn,
Unnumber’d fires shall on thine altars burn;
And what of all my household first shall be,
To greet thy servant, shall be slain for thee!
Thus Jephthah pray’d—Jehovah heard his prayer,
And gave his arm to triumph in the war;
The power of Ammon was subdued and slain,
And Israel rescued from her captive chain.
The chieftain turn’d him home in conquering pride,
His helpless captives trembling by his side,
His car triumphal with proud laurels hung,
And songs of victory around him sung.
Yet though his bosom swell’d with conscious pride,
His sinking heart in secret sadness died;
The flush of triumph faded from his brow,
With memory of his unaccomplish’d vow;097 9(1)r 97
Nor were his bodings false—as near he drew,
To where his native city met his view,
A band of maidens gaily deck’d with flowers,
The brightest blooming in their roseate bowers,
With timbrel, dance, and song, to meet him came,
In numbers wild, proclaiming Jephthah’s fame:
And while his bold achievements still they sung,
Their brightest roses in his path they flung.
The leader of that band of joyous girls
Was fairest of the group—her clustering curls
With roses wreath’d—the cheek of blush and snow,
The ruby lip, the eye’s expressive glow,
All met in her—and beam’d more brightly fair,
For the proud feeling that had call’d her there.
She forward sprung, to meet the chief’s advance,
And first on her was pour’d his anxious glance.
That martial cavalcade, that pompous show,
What were they to his anxious spirit now?
E’en ’midst the loud acclaims that rent the air,
He tore the wreath of laurel from his hair,
And, dashing from his side his conquering blade,
He sprang to earth, to meet and clasp the maid.
My child, my daughter! wild exclaim’d the chief,
How hast thou changed my triumph into grief!
How hast thou now become as one of those,
Who are my worst tormentors and my foes!
For I have vow’d, in prayer unto the Lord,
If he would nerve my arm and edge my sword,
That of my household, what first met my eyes,
Should be to him a holy sacrifice.
The maiden heard, and one convulsive start
Drove back the gushing life-blood from her heart,
While with blanch’d cheek and vacant eyes she stood,
As though the hand of death had chill’d her blood;
’T was but a moment—then her changing eye,
With deep fire glowing, spoke her purpose high.
Since thou hast vow’d, my father, to the Lord,
Do thou with me according to thy word;
I cannot murmur that my life should be
An offering, thus, for Israel and for thee!9 098 9(1)v 98
The maiden died—and long, in after years,
Did Zion’s daughters mourn her fate with tears.
Friend of the Afric! friend of the oppress’d!
Thou who wert cradled in a far-off clime,
Where bigotry and tyranny unbless’d,
With gory hand defaced the page of time;
Wert thou forth driven by their stern control,
An infant fugitive across the deep,
To teach, in after years, thy pitying soul
O’er all the Afric’s causeless wrongs to weep,
Where slavery’s bitter tears the flag of freedom steep?
And thou didst nobly plead for them; thy heart,
Thrilling to all the holy sympathies,
Of natural brotherhood, wept, to see the mart
Of commerce, with its human merchandize,
So crowded and polluted, and thy voice,
With the clear trumpet tones of God’s own word,
Rang through the guilty crowd, until no choice
Was left them but to tremble as they heard,
Or bind with treble seal the feelings thou hadst stirr’d.
The ears of princes heard thee; and the wise,
Touch’d by the mastery of thy earnestness,
Bade their train’d spirits for a while to rise
From their profound research, and learn to bless
Thy generous efforts, and with kindred zeal,
Led on by thee, in duty’s path to move;
And kindled by thy sacred ardour, feel,
Like thee, that overflowing gush of love,
That lifts man’s selfish heart all narrow thoughts above.
The fetters of the slave are still unbroken;
But there will come, perchance, ere long, a day,
When by their lips who wrong’d him, shall be spoken
The fiat of his freedom;—and the ray099 9(2)r 99
Of intellectual light shall radiance pour
On minds o’er which the gloom of darkness hung
In treble folds impervious before,
By tyrants’ hands around them rudely flung,
To bind the chains that to both limb and spirit clung.
Then shall their children learn to speak thy name,
With the full heart of gratitude, and know
What thou hast done for them; and while they frame
That history for their infants’ ears, may grow
Perchance, in their own hearts, the likeness strong
Of thy bright virtues; so thou still shalt be,
Even in thy sepulchre, their friend;—and long
Shall those who love mankind, remember thee,
Thou noble friend of those who pined in slavery.
I’ll to the dance! what boots it thus,
To brood o’er the ills I cannot quell?
Amid the revel shout of mirth,
My bitter laugh shall mingle well.
I’ve toil’d beside my mates to-day,
To-night we’ll join in seeming glee;
But when we part, with morning’s light,
For aye, that parting glance will be.
I will not go!—this fire within,
Would choke me with its smother’d flames!
How could I tell the dear ones there,
Of that detested tyrant’s claims?
I could endure the fetter’s weight,
That I have borne with them so long,—
But not to wear a stranger’s chain,
And crouch beneath a stranger’s thong.
Yet this must be my morrow’s fate!
To part with all that gave my doom,
Dark as it was and desolate,
A ray of light admidst its gloom.
To bear the scourge, to wear the chain,
To toil with wearied heart and limb,
Till death should end my lengthen’d pain,
Or worn old age my senses dim:—
This have I borne, and look’d to bear,
All bitter as such lot must be;
But drearier still my life must wear,
Beneath a stranger’s tyranny.
Alas! ’t would be a happier lot,
If, ere to-morrow’s doom shall come,
My woes and wrongs were all forgot,
Amid the darkness of the tomb.
Do you feel sorrowful? I sometimes do,
When busy thought tells me the sufferings
Of some in our south land. Their brows are not
So fair as thine, by much, but yet they are
Our sisters, for the mighty God hath given
To them the boon of an immortal soul.
Yet they are made through life’s long years to toil,
Scourge-driven like the brute; and with the fine
And delicate pulses of a human heart,
Stirring to anguish in their bosoms, sold!
Ay, like the meanest household chattel, sold!
Vended from hand to hand, while with each wrench
Their torn hearts bleed at every throbbing pore.
Alas! how can I but feel sorrowful,
To think upon their woes?
The calm earth resteth in her quiet sleep!
There are no sounds of human life abroad,
And the soft voice of that one bird, whose plaint
Melteth upon the ear so soothingly,
Seems but the low breeze moulded into sound.101 9(3)r 101
The shadows of the trees distinctly lie
Upon the earth unstirring, and no breath
Comes whispering among the tender leaves,
To wake them into playfulness.
Bendeth in loveliness above the earth,
With a few clouds drawn o’er it, beautiful
In the soft light, and exquisitely pure,
As if they knew no other home than heaven.
Oh, thus it is, God of the universe!
That thou wouldst sanctify with thy rich grace,
Our erring human hearts, that we might be,
When from the earth our day of life hath pass’d,
Dwellers in that bright world where all are pure—
A world where sorrow cometh not, nor sin,
Nor the down-stooping ’neath the oppressor’s hand.
Alas! that earthly things should be so fair,
And day by day harmoniously move on
In their allotted course, at thy command,
Dutiful and unwavering from their track,
And man, man only, who alone may know
How beautiful thy ordinances are,
Mock at thy holy will, and mar his soul
With the dark stains of sin. Alas! that man,
With thy pure law unveil’d before his eyes,
Should bind the fetter on his brother’s form,
And smite him with the scourge, and bid him pour
His strength our on the earth, for no reward;
And worse than this, wrench from his bleeding heart
The dearest objects of his earthly love;
And all that the oppressor’s hoards may flow
With Mammon’s worthless treasures; meagre dust,
Beside the priceless treasure of a soul!
Shall it ever be thus? Most Merciful!
Will man’s hard heart be never touch’d with all
The o’erflowings of thy love, and yield itself
To gentle sympathies, till he shall learn
The noble joy of pouring happiness
Upon the heart of sorrow, and how sweet
The pleasure is of shedding bliss abroad.
The tempest mounts the sky! with hurrying sweep,
Driving across the heavens, cloud on cloud,
Which ever and anon the lightnings steep
In a red glare of flame, as they were proud
To make more visible the gloomy shroud,
That wraps the thunders:—Now its might is nigh!
And faster peal and flame alternate crowd,
And the loosed winds sweep onward fearfully,
Outpouring on the earth the fountains of the sky.
’T is terrible—yet most sublimely grand!
Magnificently awful! how the heart
Shrinks from all earthly splendour, as we stand,
And view the pomp of the proud storm—I start,
As the fork’d flames their glance of brightness dart,
Yet scarce in terror, for the tempest’s might,
Yields of its own sublimity a part,
To the wrapt thoughts, and urges up their flight,
With free and eagle wing, above their wonted height.
Yet soon to stoop again—the green earth lies
Spread out before me, and the heart will yield
To the sweet sympathy of human ties,
And downward bend from the excursive field
Of reverie, where it had been upheld
With a strong writhe of thought, to blend again
With human sorrows—woes that might be heal’d,
If man would be no more the scourge of man,
And loose his brother’s limbs from slavery’s crushing chain
Yet even now, amid the heavy clouds
That long have wrapt the Afric’s sky in gloom,
Ten-fold more deep than that which darkly shrouds
The face of nature, there at length hath come
The breaking in of light, which shall illume
With a strong glow, ere long, its whole expanse,
And, shining on destroy’d oppression’s tomb,
O’er all the earth its holy light advance,
Brilliant and clear and wide as the first sunbeam’s glance.
A True Ballad.
A glorious land is this of ours,
A land of liberty!
Through all the wide earth’s bounds you’ll find
None else so truly free!
Go north or south, or east or west,
Wherever you may roam,
There’s not a land like this of ours,
The stranger’s refuge home!
And yet methinks it were but well,
The tale might not be told,
That where our banner proudliest floats,
Are human sinews sold.
And when we boast that o’er our soil
No tyrants footstep treads,
’T were well if we could hide the blood,
The red scourge daily sheds.
Yet still is ours a glorious land!
Our shouts rise wild and high—
I would such tales as I have heard,
Might give them not the lie.
It was a mournful mother, sat
Within the prison walls;
And bitterly adown her cheek
The scalding tear-drop falls.
She sat within the prison walls,
Amidst her infants three;
The bars were strong, the bolts well drawn,
She might not hope to flee.
And still the tears fell down her cheek,
And when a footstep came,
A shudder of convulsive fear
Went o’er her quivering frame.
It was not for the dungeon’s chill,
Nor for the gloom it wore,
Nor that the pangs of conscious guilt
Her frighted bosom tore.—
For though in prison cell she lay,
In freedom’s happy clime,
Her hand was innocent of wrong,
They charged her not with crime,
T was that she wore a dusky brow,
She lay within that hold,
Until her human limbs and heart
Were chaffer’d off for gold.
Sold with her babes—all, one by one,
Forever torn apart—
And not one faint hope left to cling
Around her broken heart.
Yet still is ours a glorious land!
Raise pæans loud and high,
To that which fills all patriot breasts,
Our country’s liberty.
Her husband was a freeman good,
He lived in Maryland;
Where now in bootless grief he wept
His broken marriage band.
He loved her when they both were young
And though she was a slave,
He wedded her, and with his hand,
Changeless affection gave.
And when their prattling infants smiled,
Upon his cottage floor,
For them and her, with cheerful heart,
His daily toil he bore.
But woe for him, and woe for her!
Her children all were slaves;
Less grief their parents’ hearts had borne,
To weep above their graves.
For still as one by one they grew
To childhood’s franksome years,
They one by one were torn away
To bondage and to tears.—
Torn far away to distant scenes,
Like green leaves from their stem;
And never to their home, bereaved,
Came tidings more of them.
Now all were wrench’d apart—there was
No deeper grief to bear;
And they might calmly sit them down
In agonized despair.
For though our land is proudly free,
All other lands above,
There’s none may dare to knit again,
Those sacred cords of love.
Thy Thunder Pealeth O’er Us.
Thy thunder pealeth o’er us,
God of the earth and sky!
And o’er the gloomy heavens
The clouds roll dark and high.
But ’tis not by thine anger,
Those flashing bolts are hurl’d.
To desolate and humble
A proud and guilty world.
Though awful in its grandeur
The storm o’ermounts the sky,
It bears from thee a blessing,
Beneath its scowling eye.
Behind its steps more radiantly
The deep blue heavens will shine,
And the glad earth, rejoicing,
Pour forth her corn and wine.
But oh, there lieth brooding,
A cloud more dark and dread,
Above our guilty nation,
In fearful portent spread!
Though broad our frightful borders
All smilingly expand,
The curse of blood is on us,
And on our pleasant land.
For we have sinn’d before thee,
And caused dark floods to roll,
Of tyranny and anguish,
Across our brother’s soul.
But let not yet thine anger
Consume our blood-stain’d sod;
Extend a little longer
Thy mercy, oh our God!
And touch our flinty bosoms
With thy dissolving grace,
That we may hate our vileness,
And weep before thy face.
How very beautiful
The creatures of this earth can sometimes be!
Aline was one of such; the summer rose
Hath not a petal fairer than her cheek,
Nor hath the light of the out-breaking sun
More radiant gladness than her beaming smile.
Her heart was full of gushing happiness.107 9(6)r 107
The common air—the unfolding of a flower—
The voice of streams—the music of a bird
Was joy to her; and her glad spirit breathed
Its light o’er all around: Yet her soft eye
Was readier than a child’s to fill with tears
For human sorrow; and her heart pour’d out
Its large affections over all that lived.
There was no selfishness in its young pulse;
Its thoughts were full of God, and all He made
To breathe upon the earth shared in her love,
And the upswelling of her sympathies.
In after years I look’d upon Aline.
Her face was lovely yet, but wore not all
The bloom of its young freshness; and the light,
That made its glance a gladness, was not there.
A childish group was round, filling the room
With their sweet laughter; and a bright-eyed girl,
Who look’d Aline restored to youth again,
Held to his mother’s cheek the baby lips
Of a young brother, crowing in his joy,
As she laugh’d back to him.
Aline went forth
Amidst her servants; and her voice arose
Shrilly and harsh, and they shrunk back in dread
From her stern eye. The keen and cruel scourge
Was busy at her bidding; and the limbs
Of woman bled before her, and the shriek
Of childhood rose unheeded.
Then came one,
Whose traffic was in human forms; whose wealth
Was gather’d from the blood of breaking hearts,
And the stern rending of the holiest ties
That bless man’s nature. For a price of gold,
Her husband sold to him the only son
Of a fond mother’s love, and from the arms
Of conjugal affection, a sad wife,
With all her weeping babes—and she stood by—
That once compassionate girl—without a tear;
Seeing their misery, yet speaking not
One word to save them. She who once,108 9(6)v 108
But at the thought of such iniquity,
And so much wretchedness, had shuddering wept,
Beheld it now without a passing pang;
And careless went to her own babes again—
So much had the best feelings of her heart
Been sear’d by dwelling ’midst a land of slaves.
No, no, pretty sugar-plums! stay where you are!
Though my grandmother sent you to me from so far;
You look very nice, you would taste very sweet,
And I love you right well, yet not one will I eat.
For the poor slaves have labour’d, far down in the south,
To make you so sweet and so nice for my mouth;
But I want no slaves toiling for me in the sun,
Driven on with the whip, till the long day is done.
Perhaps some poor slave child, that hoed up the ground,
Round the cane in whose rich juice your sweetness was found,
Was flogg’d, till his mother cried sadly to see,
And I’m sure I want nobody beaten for me.
So grandma, I thank you for being so kind,
But your present, to-day, is not much to my mind;
Though I love you so dearly, I choose not to eat
Even what you have sent me by slavery made sweet.
Thus said little Fanny, and skipp’d off to play,
Leaving all her nice sugar-plums just where they lay,
As merry as if they had gone in her mouth,
And she had not cared for the slaves of the south.
Oh Press Me Not to Taste Again.
Oh press me not to taste again
Of those luxurious banquet sweets!
Or hide from view the dark red stain,
That still my shuddering vision meets.
Away! ’tis loathsome! bear me hence!
I cannot feed on human sighs,
Or feast with sweets my palate’s sense,
While blood is ’neath the fair disguise.
No, never let me taste again
Of aught beside the coarsest fare,
Far rather, than my conscience stain,
With the polluted luxuries there.
Looking at the Soldiers.
Mother, the trumpets are sounding to-day,
And the soldiers go by in their gallant array!
Their horses prance gaily, their banners float free,
Come, come to the window, dear mother, with me.
Do you see how their bayonets gleam in the sun,
And their soldier-plumes nod, as they slowly march on?
And look to the regular tread of their feet!
Keeping time to the sound of the kettle-drum’s beat.
This, mother, you know, is a glorious day,
And Americans all should be joyous and gay;
For the Fourth of July saw our country set free;
But you look not delighted, dear mother, like me!
No, love; for that shining and brilliant display,
To me only tells of war’s fearful array;
And I know that those bayonets, flashing so bright,
Were made in man’s blood to be spoil’d of their light.
And the music that swells up so sweet to the ear,
In a long gush of melody, joyous and clear,
Just as freely would pour out its wild thrilling flood,
To stir up men’s hearts to the shedding of blood!
Our country, my boy, as you tell me, is free,
But even that thought brings a sadness to me;
For less guilt would be hers, were her own fetter’d hand
Unable to loosen her slaves from their band.
We joy that our country’s light bonds have been broke,
But her sons wear, but thousands, a life-crushing yoke;
And yon bayonets, dear, would be sheathed in their breast,
Should they fling off the shackles that round them are prest.
Even ’midst these triumphant rejoicings, to-day,
The slave-mother weeps for her babes, torn away,
’Midst the echoing burst of these shouts, to be sold,
Human forms as they are, for a pittance of gold!
Can you wonder then, love, that your mother is sad,
Though yon show is so gay, and the crowd is so glad?
Or will not my boy turn with me from the sight,
To think of those slaves sunk in sorrow and night?
To a Stranger.
I know thee not, young maiden, yet I know that there must be
Around that heart of thine, sweet ties of clinging sympathy;
Dwell’st thou not ’midst thy childhood’s hours, a loved and loving one,
Around whose path affection’s light hath ever sunshine thrown?
A sister’s arm is round thee twined, perchance, oh deeply blest!
A parent’s fond and holy kiss upon thy brow is prest;
A brother’s love—is that, too, thine?—a gem of priceless worth,
To guard thee, like a talisman, amid the storms of earth.
Then blame me not, that I should seek, although I know not thee,
To waken in thy heart its chords of holiest sympathy;
It is for woman’s bleeding heart, for woman’s humbled form,
O’er which the reeking lash is swung, with life’s red current warm.
It is for those who wildly mourn o’er many a broken tie,
As sweet as those which swell thy heart with happiness so high;
For those whose hearts are rent and crush’d by foul oppression’s hand,
The wrong’d, the wretched, the enslaved, in freedom’s chosen land.
Oh, lady! when a sister’s cry is ringing on the air,
When woman’s pleading eye is raised in agonized despair,
When woman’s limbs are scourged and sold ’midst rude and brutal mirth,
And all affection’s holiest ties are trampled to the earth,
May female hearts be still unstirr’d, and ’midst their wretched lot,
The victims of unmeasured wrongs be carelessly forgot?
Or shall the prayer be pour’d for them, the tear be freely given,
Until the chains, that bind them now, from every limb be riven?
Eat! they are cates for a lady’s lip,
Rich as the sweets that the wild bees sip;
Mingled viands that nature hath pour’d,
From the plenteous stores of her flowing board,
Bearing no trace of man’s cruelty—save
The red life-drops of his human slave.
List thee, lady! and turn aside,
With a loathing heart, from the feast of pride;
For, mix’d with the pleasant sweets it bears,
Is the hidden curse of scalding tears,
Wrung out from woman’s bloodshot eye,
By the depth of her deadly agony.
Look! they are robes from a foreign loom,
Delicate, light, as the rose leaf’s bloom;
Stainless and pure in their snowy tint,
As the drift unmarked by a footstep’s print.
Surely such garment should fitting be,
For woman’s softness and purity.
Yet fling them off from thy shrinking limb,
For sighs have render’d their brightness dim;
And many a mother’s shriek and groan,
And many a daughter’s burning moan,
And many a sob of wild despair,
From a woman’s heart, is lingering there.
Little Sado’s Story.Robert Sutcliff, in his book of travels in America, relates the incident which has suggested the following lines. Little Sado was an African boy, who was rescued from a slave-ship by a United States’ frigate, and provided by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society with a home, in a respectable family, near Philadelphia. Although tended with the greatest tenderness, says Sutcliff, yet he was often seen weeping at the recollection of his near connexions. He said that himself and sister were on a visit, at a relation’s, and that after the family had retired to rest, they were suddenly alarmed at the dead of night, by a company of man-stealers breaking into their habitation. They were all carried off towards the sea, where they arrived at the end of three days, and were confined until the vessel sailed. Not long after this negro boy had been brought into S. P.’s family, he was taken ill of a bad fever; and for a time there appeared but little hopes of his recovery, although the best medical help was obtained, and every kindness and attention shown him. There being now scarcely any prospect of his recovery, his mistress was desirous of administering some religious consolation, and observed to him, as he had always been a very good boy, she had no doubt that if he died at this time, his spirit would be admitted into a state of eternal rest and peace. On hearing this he quickly replied, I know that if I die, I shall be happy; for as soon as my body is dead, my spirit shall fly away to my father and mother and sisters and brothers in Africa. The boy recovered. His good conduct had gained the favour and respect of the whole family, and I have no doubt that the care bestowed upon his education, will in due time afford him a brighter prospect of a future state than that of returning to Africa.
Why weep’st thou, gentle boy? Is not thy lot
Amidst a home of tenderness and friends
Who have been ever kind to thee? Thy heart
Should be too young for the world’s bitterness,
And the deep grief, that even amidst thy smiles,
Seems scarce to be forgotten. Thou art good,
A very innocent and gentle boy,
And I would have thee happy. Is there aught
Thou lackest with us, Sado? Did I not,
In thy sore sickness, with a mother’s care,113 10(3)r 113
Watch by thy couch and nurse thee? Day by day
Have I not taught thee patiently? and more
Than earthly learning, show’d thee of the way
To win eternal happiness. A better hope
Than that which only look’d to Afric’s shore,
To find thy future Heaven!
Yes, thou hast done all this,
And much more, lady! Thou hast been to me
A true and tireless friend, and may there be
Laid up for thee a full reward of bliss,
In that bright Heaven of which I’ve heard thee tell,
Where God and all his holy angels dwell.
Yet how can I but weep
Whene’er I think upon the mother’s eye,
That smiled to meet my glance in days gone by,
And watch’d in tenderness above my sleep,
Now grown all dim with hopeless grief for me,
Who never more may home or parent see.
’T was on a bright sunny morn,
When with glad heart I sprang across the hills,
With my young sister, and beside the rills,
Whose shining waves and clustering flowers were borne,
While at the cabin door my mother stood,
And watch’d our footsteps to the distant wood.
She never saw us more—
For in the dead of night, while deep we slept
Within our uncle’s home, the man-thieves crept
With stealthy pace, like tigers, to our door.
And, bursting in, they dragg’d us far away,
A helpless, frighten’d, unresisting prey.
Ah, lady, now thine eyes
Are wet with tears:—then wonder not I weep,
Within whose waking thoughts, or dreams of sleep,
The memories of such scenes as this arise,
And worse than these, the constant thought of pain,
That I shall never see my home again.
Three days they drove us on,
A weary, wretched, and despairing band,
Until with swollen limbs we reach’d the strand,
Where ’neath the setting sun the sea-waves shone;
Then gasping in the slave-ship’s hold we lay,
And wish’d each groan might bear our lives away.
Ah, thou canst never know
Of all our sufferings in that loathsome den,
And from the cruel and hard-hearted men,
Who mock’d at all our anguish and our woe;
Until at length thy country’s ship came by,
And saved us from our depth of misery.
Yet still, though not a slave,
I am a stranger in a stranger’s land,
Far sever’d from my own dear kindred band,
By many a wide-stretch’d plain and rolling wave;
And, although even with thee my lot is cast,
I cannot lose the memory of the past.
Then wonder not I weep;
For never can my lost home be forgot;
Nor all the loved ones who have made that spot
The heaven to which e’en yet, amid my sleep,
My hopes are sometimes turn’d—though thou hast taught
My waking hours a holier, better thought.
An Appeal for the Oppressed.
Daughters of the Pilgrim sires,
Dwellers by their mouldering graves,
Watchers of their altar fires,
Look upon your country’s slaves!
Look! ’t is woman’s streaming eye,
These are woman’s fetter’d hands,
That to you so mournfully
Lift sad glance, and iron bands.
Mute, yet strong appeal of woe!
Wakes it not your starting tears?
Though your hearts may never know,
Half the bitter doom of hers.
Scars are on her fetter’d limbs,
Where the savage scourge hath been;
But the grief, her eye that dims,
Flows for deeper wounds within.
For the children of her love,
For the brothers of her race,
Sisters, like vine branches wove,
In one early dwelling place.
For the parent forms, that hung
Fondly o’er her infant sleep,
And for him, to whom she clung
With affection true and deep—
By her sad forsaken hearth,
’T is for these she wildly grieves!
Now all scatter’d o’er the earth,
Like the wind-strewn autumn leaves!
E’en her babes, so dear, so young,
And so treasured in her heart,
That the chords which round them clung
Seem’d its life, its dearest part—
These, ev’n these, were torn away!
These, that when all else were gone,
Cheer’d her heart with one bright ray,
That still bade its pulse beat on.
Then, to still her frantic woe,
The inhuman scourge was tried,
Till the tears that ceased to flow,
Were with redder drops supplied!
And can you behold unmoved,
All the crushing weight of grief,
That her aching heart has proved,
Seeking not to yield relief?
Are not woman’s pulses warm,
Beating in this anguish’d breast?
Is it not a sister’s form,
On whose limbs these fetters rest?
Oh then, save her from a doom,
Worse that all that ye may bear;
Let her pass not to the tomb
’Midst her bondage and despair.
The Sylvan Grave.
Lay me not, when I die, in the place of the dead,
With the dwellings of men round my resting place spread,
But amidst the still forest, unseen and alone,
Where the waters go by with a murmuring tone;
Where the wild bird above me may wave its dark wing,
And the flowers I have loved from my ashes may spring;
Where affection’s own blossom may lift its blue eye,
With an eloquent glance from the place where I lie.
Let the rose and the woodbine be there, to enwreath
A bright chaplet of bloom for the pale brow of death;
And the clover’s red blossom be seen, that the hum
Of the honey-bee’s wing, may for requiem come:
And when those I have loved, ’midst the changes of earth,
The clouds of its sorrow, its sunshine of mirth,
Shall visit the spot where my cold relics lie,
And gaze on its flowers with a tear-moisten’d eye—
Let them think that my spirit still sometimes is there,
My breath the light zephyr that twines in their hair,
And these flowers, in their fragrance, a memory be,
To tell them thus sweet was their friendship to me.
Earth! thou art lovely, when the sinking sun
Hath bathed the clouds in his departing flush,
And, with the moon-lit evening, hath begun
The voiceless, and yet spirit-calming hush,
That thrills around the heart, till tear-drops rush,
Unbidden and uncall’d for, to the eye;
When, save the music of the fountain’s gush,
Or the far wailing of the night-bird’s cry,
Unbroken silence hangs o’er earth, and wave, and sky.
But now the majesty of midnight storm
Is gathering, in its grandeur, o’er the sky;
The deep black clouds in mustering squadrons form
And the low, fitful blast, that passes by,
Hath a strange fearful thrilling—like the sigh
Of a sick slumberer; even that hath died,
And in their quiet sleep the waters lie,
As though the winds ne’er curl’d them in its pride,
Or shook the still bent leaves that hang above the tide
How steadily that ebon mass moves on!
Stretching across the sky in one dark line,
Like a huge wall of blackness; there do none
Of the thin silvery vapours hang supine,
Or those bright clouds that sometimes seem to twine
A coronal to grace the brow of night;
Stars in Orion’s studded baldric shine,
In all their wonted brightness; and the light
Of an unclouded moon half dims the dazzled sight
The tempest hurries onward—how the flash
Of the red lightning leaps from cloud to cloud!
The gathering thunder bursts in one wild crash,
And sinks a moment—then, returning loud,
Seems bounding o’er the sky, as if ’t were proud
Of its own potency. We need not now,
A sharer in the thoughts that round us crowd;
The soul is its own world, and the deep glow
Of the rapt spirit seeks no fellowship below.
The wildness of the storm hath pass’d; the rain
Drips from the wet leaves only, and the sky,
With its deep azure beauty, gleams again
Through the rent clouds; the sunken wind swells by,
With a low sobbing; and the clouds, heap’d high,
With the rich moonbeams’ streaming flood of light
Pour’d full upon them, swell before the eye
Like distant snow-clad mountains. Night! O night!
Thou art most glorious! most beautifully bright!
Away and away to memory’s land!
To seize the past with a daring hand,
And bear it back from oblivion’s bowers,
To brighten again this dull world of ours.
There’s many a walk beneath summer skies,
Starry and blue as some earthly eyes;
There’s many an eve by the winter’s hearth,
Sparkling all over with friendship and mirth.
There’s many a ramble through wood and glen,
Away from the sight and the haunts of men;
There’s climbing of rocks, and gathering flowers,
And watching the stream through summer showers
There’s many an hour that quickly went,
In the boughs of the old hill grape-vine spent;
There’s many a ride, and many a walk,
And many a theme of friendly talk.
How freshly comes to the spirit back,
The merry light of its early track!—
But let it pass, for around my brow
Far deeper thoughts are gathering now.
I have learn’d too much of woe and wrong,
Of hearts all crush’d by oppression strong,
To deem the earth, as in other days,
A fairy theme for a poet’s lays.
How may I linger within the bowers,
Bedight with memory’s fairy flowers,
While woman’s cry, as she drains the cup
Of her bitter lot, to the sky goes up?
How may I joy in my better fate,
While her heart is bleeding and desolate?—
Or give my thoughts to their blissful dreams,
While no bright ray on her darkness gleams?
Juan de Paresa,
The Painter’s Slave.
’T was sunset upon Spain. The sky of June
Bent o’er her airy hills, and on their tops,
The mountain cork-trees caught the fading light
Of a resplendent day. The painter threw
His pencil down, and with a glance of pride
Upon his beautiful and finish’d work,
Went from his rooms. And Juan stood alone—
Gazing upon the canvas, with his arms
Folded across his bosom, and his eye
Fill’d with deep admiration, till a shade
Of earnest thought stole o’er it. With a sigh,
He turn’d away, and leaning listlessly
Against the open casement, look’d abroad.
The cool fresh breezes of the evening came,
To bathe his temples with the scented breath
Of orange blossoms; and the caroll’d song
Of the light-hearted muleteer, who climb’d
The mountain pass—the tinkling of the bells,
That cheer’d his dumb companions on their way—
The passing vesper chime—the song of birds—
And the soft hum of insects—soothingly
Stole in with blended sweetness to his ear.
And then the scene! ’t was of Spain’s loveliest;
Mountain and forest, emerald pasture slopes,
Dark olive groves, and bowers of lemon-trees;
Vineyards, and tangled glens, the swift cascade,
Leaping from rock to rock, the calm bright stream,120 10(6)v 120
The castle, and the peasant hut, were there,
All group’d in one bright landscape. Juan gazed,
Until the spirit of its beauty pass’d,
Like some fine subtle influence to his heart,
Filling it with rich thoughts. He had not known
The teachings of Philosophy, nor fed
The cravings of his spirit, from the page
Of intellectual glory; but his eye
Had been unseal’d by Nature, and his mind
Was full of nice perceptions; and a love,
Deep and intense, for what was beautiful,
Thrill’d like vitality around his heart,
With an ennobling influence.
He had stood
Beside the easel, day by day, to feed
The pallet of the Painter with the hues
That lived upon the canvas, and had watch’d
The fine and skilful touch, that made a thing
Of magic of the pencil, till he caught
The o’ermastering glow of spirit, and he long’d
So to pour out his soul, and give the forms
Of beauty, that were thronging it, to life.
Such thoughts were on him now. His fine form lean’d
Earnestly forward, and within his eye
There flash’d a tremulous glory, and his hand
Was press’d upon his heart, as if to quell
In hopeless longings—for he was a slave!
The bended brow, o’er which the gathering blood
Rush’d burningly, as bitter tears sprang out
From under his closed eyelids, wore the stain
Of Afric’s lineage:—and, alas for him!
His master was the haughtiest lord of all
Castile’s proud nobles, and Paresa knew
That even his life would scarce suffice to pay
The forfeit of the daring, that should seek,
With the profaning fingers of a slave,
To grasp the meed of genius.
Yet his eye,
When he uncover’d it, was calm and bright,
And his curl’d lip set faintly in the strength
Of his fix’d purpose.
Day by day, he gave
His spirit to the glorious dreams that throng’d
Around it, and pursued his secret toil,
Feeding his mind with its own fervid thoughts,
Till he had won its brightest images
Within his grasp.
At length his task was done.
The last nice touch was given, and he laid
His pencil by, and scann’d it, o’er and o’er,
With a keen gaze, and turn’d away, and still
Again resumed his scrutiny severe,
Till satisfied at last, with trembling hand
He bore it to its station.
’T was the hour
At which the king was often wont to seek
The chambers of the artist, and the slave
Knew that the monarch had a painter’s heart,
And critic’s eye for beauty, and to him,
He had resolved to trust his fate.
The monarch and the painter; and the breath
Rush’d quick and tremulous from Juan’s lips,
As they pass’d slowly round, with brief remark
Of praise or censure, till at length the king
Stood forth alone, and check’d his loitering step.
Turn me this canvas. And Paresa did
His bidding silently, and stood aside
To wait his destiny of life or death.
Long gazed the king in silence—but his limbs
Lost their loose careless tension, and his eye
Lit gradually up, and the fine curve
Of his expanded nostril and curl’d lip
Breathed with a kindling spirit.—Beautiful!
At last he murmur’d—Oh, how beautiful!
And Juan, with a glance of conscious pride
He could not conquer, even while he lay
A suppliant at Philip’s feet, confess’d
The guilt of having won a monarch’s praise.
’T was a star-lit eve—and Juan stood once more
Alone, but not in sadness; on his brow,
His free, enfranchised brow, there linger’d yet
The glow of triumph, soften’d in his eye,
By the sweet tear of gratitude. His heart
Was full to overflowing, and when words
At last broke forth, almost insensibly
He moulded them to song:
Look on me stars! pour down your light
Deep, deep, into my very soul;
There is no darkness there to-night,
No bondage with its dread control.
What blessedness it is to gaze
On all that God had made so fair,
And feel no blight within to raise,
O’er all a cloud of dull despair.
Free! free! yet I will leave thee not,
Thou who hast burst my galling chain!
To love thee, serve thee, be my lot,
Till death shall chill my throbbing vein.
The past, with all its grief and shame,
Shall be annull’d by memory now;
But not the hour when Freedom’s name
Was written on my burning brow.
The Slave-Mother’s Farewell.
May God have mercy on thee, son, for man’s stern heart hath none!
My gentle boy, my beautiful, my loved and only one!
I would the bitter tears that steep thy young and grief-doom’d head,
Were springing from a broken heart, that mourn’d thee with the dead.
And yet how often have I watch’d above thine infant sleep,
With love whose gushing tenderness strove vainly not to weep,123 11(2)r 123
When starting through my timid heart, the thought that thou couldst die,
Shot, even amidst a mother’s bliss, a pang of agony.
My boy! my boy! Oh cling not thus around me in thy grief,
Thy mother’s arm, thy mother’s love, can yield thee no relief;
The tiger’s bloody jaw hath not a gripe more fierce and fell
Than that which tears thee from my arms—thou who wert loved so well!
How may I live bereft of thee? Thy smile was all that flung
A ray of gladness ’midst the gloom, forever round me hung:
How may a mother’s heart endure to think upon thy fate,
Thou doom’d to misery and chains!—so young and desolate!
Farewell! farewell!—They tear thee hence!—and yet my heart beats on;
How can it bear the weight of life, when thou art from me gone?
Mine own! mine own! Yet cruel hands have barter’d thee for gold,
And torn thee, with a ruthless grasp, forever from my hold!
Our Father, God! behold us raise
Our hopes, our thoughts, our hearts, to thee;
Yet not to lift the hymn of praise,
But humbly bow the suppliant knee.
For we have sinn’d before thy face,
Have seen unmoved our brothers’ woe,
Though on his cheeks hot tear-drops trace
Deep furrows in their burning flow.
We knew that on his limbs were bound
The fetters man should never wear;
We knew that darkness hemm’d him round,
And grief, and anguish, and despair.
We knew—but in our selfish hearts,
There waked no throb of answering pain;
Yet, now, at last, the tear-drop starts,
We weep the oppress’d one’s galling chain.
We weep, repenting of the pride
That chill’d our narrow souls so long;
Oh, Father! may that suppliant tide
Efface our deep and cruel wrong.
Mother, when christmas comes once more,
I do not wish that you
Should buy sweet things for me again,
As you were used to do:
The taste of cakes and sugar-plums
Is pleasant to me yet,
And temptingly the gay shops look,
With their fresh stores outset.
But I have learn’d, dear mother,
That the poor and wretched slave
Must toil to win their sweetness,
From the cradle to the grave.
And when he faints with weariness
Beneath the torrid sun,
The keen lash urges on his toil,
Until the day is done.
But when the holy angels’ hymn,
On Judea’s plains afar,
Peal’d sweetly on the shepherds’ ear,
’Neath Bethlehem’s wondrous star,
They sung of glory to our God,—
Peace and good will to men,—
For Christ, the Saviour of the world,
Was born amidst them then.
And is it for His glory, men
Are made to toil,
With weary limbs and breaking hearts,
Upon another’s soil.
That they are taught not of his law,
To know his holy will,
And that He hates the deed of sin,
And loves the righteous still?
And is it peace and love to men,
To bind them with the chain,
And sell them like the beasts that feed
Upon the grassy plain?
To tear their flesh with scourgings rude,
And from the aching heart,
The ties to which it fondliest clings,
For evermore to part?
And ’t is because of all this sin, my mother,
That I shun
To taste the tempting sweets for which
Such wickedness is done.
If men to men will be unjust, if slavery must be,
Mother, the chain must not be worn; the scourge be plied for me.
My Cottage Home.
My cottage home! my cottage home!
How beautiful it lies,
Amid its quiet loveliness,
Beneath our bright blue skies.
A stranger’s eye might mark it not,
Nor deem that it was fair;—
To me it is a lovely spot,
For those I love are there.
In summer there are wild flowers round,
And the tall forest weaves
A drapery of light and shade,
With its green and pleasant leaves;
And thousand birds are pouring out,
To the gay and singing breeze,
From the wild joys of leaping hearts,
A thousand melodies.
The shadowing of an oak’s green boughs
Is flung the low roof o’er;
And clambering vines their blossoms hang
About the open door.
And round the harvest’s ripening wealth
Waves in its yellow light;
And the feathery tassels of the maize
Bend gracefully and slight.
But were it thousand times more fair—
If o’er the fertile soil
Oppression shook her manacles,
And scourged the slave to toil—
To me the rudest desert wild
Were better for my home,
So never on its arid breeze
The voice of wrong might come.
But round my home, my cottage home,
The tyrant never treads,
And o’er the field’s luxurious wealth
No slave his sad tear sheds.
And were it not that I have learn’d
In other scenes to know
Of deeds of cruelty and wrong,
And of the oppress’d ones woe—
And were it not that still a tale
Is wafted on the air,
Telling of fearful injuries,
And anguish and despair;127 11(4)r 127
I might, perchance, almost forget
The guilt and wrongs of earth,
And deem that brightness gleam’d, alone,
Around the household hearth.
But woe for man’s dark cruelty!
His selfishness and pride!
For him the earth is drench’d with tears,
With human life-blood dyed.
In his own freedom glorying,
He lifts his voice on high,
While on his brother’s shrinking form
His crushing fetters lie.
The Conscript’s Farewell.
I had hoped that I should be
In thine age a staff for thee;
But when years have mark’d thy brow,
When thy step is weak and slow,
When thy hair is thin and white,
And thine eye hath lost its light,
I shall never seek thy side,
And thy faltering footsteps guide.
Where my country’s banners fly
Proudly ’neath a distant sky,
To the battle forth I speed,
There to fight and there to bleed;
Not because the foeman’s lance
Glitters in the vales of France;
Not because a stranger’s mirth
Rises round my father’s hearth;
Not at glory’s trumpet call,
Nor in freedom’s cause to fall;
But because ambitious power
Tears me from my peaceful bower.
Yet amidst the battle strife,
In the closing hours of life,128 11(4)v 128
Think not that my heart shall quail,
Spirit droop, or courage fail.
Where the boldest deed is done,
Where the laurel-wreath is won,
Where the standard eagles fly,
There thy son shall proudly die;
Though, perhaps, no voice may tell
How the nameless conscript fell!
Thy blessing, father.
It is hard to part from thee,
And my tears are flowing free.
While around thee gloom and night
Quench’d religion’s blessed light,
Still thou bad’st my lisping voice
In the evening hymn rejoice;
And my childhood’s prayer was said,
Ere thou bless’d my pillow’d head.
Oh, before I leave thee now,
Place thy hand upon my brow,
And with every treasured word,
That my infant ears have heard,
Bless me, mother.
Many an hour of boyish glee,
I have pass’d in joy with thee;
If with careless act or tongue
I have ever done thee wrong,
Think upon thy brother’s lot,
And be all his faults forgot;
Thou may’st dry our mother’s tears,
Soothe our sisters’ anxious fears,
Be their shield, their guide, their stay
Throughout many a coming day;
Freely with thy father share
All his secret weight of care;
Be what it were mine to be,
Had I still remain’d with thee,
And love me, brother.
Yonder is our favourite vine,
You must now its tendrils twine,
And when ’neath its leafy bower,
You are met at evening hour,
Think how oft in by-past days,
There we waked the song of praise
Till your beaming eyes are wet
With the tears of fond regret;
The together fondly bend,
And your gentle voices blend.
Pray for me, sisters.
The Woods Wanderer.
Day after day, I wander’d on alone—
The stricken heart is fearless; and the woods,
Amidst whose far-stretch’d depths a solemn moan
Of winds was ever sounding, and whose floods,
Pour’d ’midst unbroken solitudes, had ceased
To waken mine to terror. I had learn’d,
E’en when no moon-beam the pale night clouds fleeced,
To thread their trackless mazes, while I turn’d
For guidance to the stars that high above me burn’d.
They who have never seen the broad blue sky,
Save through the smoke-dimm’d air of crowded streets
Can never know how truly gloriously
It bendeth o’er the wilderness, and meets
The tall brows of the mountains. It must be
The veriest clod that wears a human form,
Who round him those majestic forms could see,
And o’er his head the eagle and the storm,
Nor feel a nobler pulse within his bosom warm.
I had laid down to slumber—but there came
A sound that night upon the fitful wind,
That kept me waking. No electric flame
Flash’d o’er the heavens—yet my thoughts could find
No sound more like to it, than the low growl130 11(5)v 130
Of worn-out thunder; wrapt in thought I lay,
With nature’s glory telling to my soul
Of God’s own presence, till the coming day
O’er the fair orient stole, to light me on my way.
I stood, at sunrise, where Lake Erie’s wave
Caught on its foamy crest the rosy light;
All round was solitude and silence, save
The voice of nature’s joy. Against the bright
And pearly sky, a thin blue smoke-curl rose
From the far shore, and floated on the air,
And the slant sunbeam might to view disclose
One distant piroque that its waters bare;
All else was lone and wild, as it was lovely, there.
Still sent that deep sound forth its solemn tone,
Louder and louder, as I onward fared,
Northward where Niagara led me on,
O’er tangled brake, and green, and flower-strewn sward
At length I reached the spot—and such a sight!
Even now the wild blood rushes through my brain,
And my heart reels with faintness, as the light
Of memory restores that scene again,
And paints it to my view as I beheld it then.
Broad, dark, and deep, the river hurried on,
Pouring the volume of its mighty flood
Right to the yawning steep!—no pause—down—down
The gather’d sea was hurl’d! half stunn’d I stood
Upon the shaken earth, and almost wept
With awe and fear and admiration, wild
And passionate;—like clouds on high were swept
In spray the shatter’d waves; while bending mild,
Over the turbulent gulf, a gorgeous rainbow smiled.
The sun went down on that vast solitude,—
And underneath the solemn stars, alone
With God, and his stupendous works, I stood;
Where, since their first creation, haply none
Save the rude Indian, e’er had trod or gazed131 11(6)r 131
On that magnificence! to earth I bent
My humbled brow, yet with a soul upraised,
And conscious of a nobler being, bent
By the felt presence of the great Omnipotent.
The Forest Vine.
It grew in the old wilderness—The vine
Is linked with thoughts of sunny Italy,
Or the fair hills of France, or the sweet vales
Where flows the Guadalquivir. But this grew
Where, as the sunlight look’d through lacing boughs,
The shadows of the stern, tall, primal wood
Fell round us, and across the silent flood,
That wash’d the deep ravine. The pauseless lapse
Of ages had beheld no change in all
The aspect of that scene; or but such change,
As Time himself had made; the slow decay
Of the old patriarch oaks, and as they fell
And moulder’d on the earth, the silent growth
Of the young sturdy stem, that rear’d itself
To stretch its branches in their former place.
The wild flower stretch’d its tender petals out,
Lending strange brightness to the forest gloom;
The fleet deer toss’d his antlers to the breeze,
Graceful and shy; and when the sun went down,
The tangled thicket rustled to the tread
Of the gaunt wolf—just as in former years.
But the red hunter was no longer there;
And the bright flowers were no more twined to deck
The brow of Indian maid.
We stood beside
A fallen oak; its aged limbs were spread
Prone to the earth, uptorn by the rude wind,
And perishing on the soil that once had fed
Their giant strength: clinging round its roots
And its decaying trunk, a grape-vine wreathed
Its fresh green foliage, draping the still grave
With its luxuriance—meet garniture132 11(6)v 132
For such a sepulchre! a sepulchre most meet
To wrap the bones of the old forest race!
For we had checked our idle wanderings
To gaze upon the relics of the dead—
The dead of other ages! they who trod
When that fallen tree was fresh in its green prime,—
The earth that it now cumber’d; they who once
In savage freedom bounded through the wild,
And quaff’d the limpid spring, or shot along
The swift canoe upon yon rushing wave,
Or yell’d the fierce and horrid war whoop round,
Or gather’d to the council fire, or sprang
With proud firm step to mingle in the dance,
And vaunt of their own triumphs;—there they lie,
Brittle and time-blanch’d fragments! bones—dry bones!
Prison’d for lingering years beneath the sod,
And now that the strong wind hath torn away
The bars of their dark cell, restored again
To the clear sunshine. It seems strange to think
That those wan relics once were clothed with life—
Breathing and living flesh—and sprang away
O’er the green hills at morning, and at eve,
Return’d again to the low cabin home,
And found its shadows happiness.
Gather some to thee—the keen eye can mark
No difference from that spread widely round—
The common earth we tread upon; yet this
Once help’d to form the garment of a mind
Once wrapp’d a human heart, and thrill’d with all
The emotions of man’s nature; love and hate,
Sweet hope and stern revenge—ay, even faith
In an undying world.
So let them rest!
That faith, erring and dark as it might be,
Was yet not wholly vain. We may not know
Of what the dark grave hideth; but the soul,
Immortal as eternity itself,
Is in the hands of One most merciful.
Soliloquy of a Duelist.
They all at length have left me—long I wish’d
While round me with officious care they stood,
To dress this paltry wound, to be alone;
And now I find that solitude is dreadful—
Dreadful to one, upon whose burning soul,
The weight of murder rests! Oh, would to heaven
This day were blotted from the scroll of time:
Or, as indeed it seems, that some wild dream
Had wrapp’d me in its horrid tangled maze.
It is a dream,—it must be,—o’er my brain
Such strange bewildering scenes in memory crowd,
As are not, cannot be reality;
And yet this agony is too intense,
’T would rive the chains of sleep. This stiffen’d arm,
These bandages, and the sharp pain which shoots
Across my burning temples—these are real—
Oh, no—’t is not the phantasy of sleep—
He does lie bleeding, yonder, pale and dead;
I, too, am slightly wounded.—Would to heaven
The erring ball, that pierced this guilty arm,
Had found a goal within my guiltier breast,
Ere I had lived to be a murderer—
A hateful murderer, still living on
Beneath the weight, the torment of a curse,
Heavy as that of Cain, the stain of blood
Forever on my conscience, crying out
To heaven for vengeance. Yet my wounded honour
Claim’d, sure, some reparation for the blot
His language on it cast. Could I have lived
Beneath the brand of cowardice, and borne
The sneer and the expression of contempt,
That would have follow’d me from every lip?
He gave the challenge, and could I refuse?
I could not—yet I might—I could—I could—
The offence was mine, and mine is all the guilt.
Why o’re my heated passions could I not
One instant hold the reins of self-control?12 134 12(1)v 134
One single moment of deliberate thought
And cloudless reason, would have spared me all
This guilt, this agony. The approving smiles
Of peaceful conscience, and mine own respect,
Had balanced well the idle laugh of fools—
And now, what am I now? I dare not think!
The stain of life-blood is upon my soul—
The life-blood of my friend—he was my friend,
And I have kill’d him! Oh, that this dark hour
Of deep remorseful anguish might recall
The moments that have pass’d. My wife!—my wife!
I cannot meet thee thus. I hate myself—
All whom I have loved, and e’en thou wilt hate me.
Oh! would that I were dead—I will not live
To meet thy tearful eye in sorrow bent
O’er one who once could wake its proudest smile.
I cannot pray—I dare not call on Heaven,
To pardon my offence—before the throne,
Even at the mercy-seat, his bleeding form
Would mock my agony, and drive me thence.
How can I look on those whose hearts my hand
Has made so desolate? His mother’s eye
Has often smiled in kindness on my boyhood,
And such has been my gratitude, to wring
The last bright drops of comfort from her heart,
And cloud the evening of her life with woe.
His sisters, in their tears, demand of me
Their loved, their murder’d one—and there he lies,
Cut off in all the bloom of health and youth.
There lies the fatal instrument, and there
Its fellow lies to tempt me—loaded still;
I dare not think—the future and the past
Are fraught alike with images of horror.
Blood calls for blood, and mine own hand shall pay
The debt of justice. Crime shall wash out crime—
I dare not look into eternity—
Oh, God! Oh, God! forgive me for this deed!
The Wife’s Lament.
Loud howls the wintry blast, the rain descends,
And patters heavy on the ice-glazed roof;
But yet he comes not. ’T is a dreary night—
Long since, the midnight bell hath toll’d the hour.
And long, long since, my womanish fears had framed
Some reason dread, for absence thus prolong’d,
But that so oft ’t is thus. Oh! had I once
But even thought that thus thy love might change,
I should have shudder’d at the bare surmise,
And chid myself in anger for the thought.
But now, I feel it true, and yet I live,
I live to feel thy heart, thyself estranged,
From all that once it loved—to sit alone,
And number out the weary midnight hours
That waste with thee in revelry and mirth,
And weep in sadness at thy long delay.
Oh Henry! once—but I will not look back,
Nor think of present, past, or future scenes,
Or thought would madden me. But hark! again
The watch proclaims the second morning hour,
And still he lingers. Sure, some dire mischance
Delays his coming—but it is not so—
How often I have wept in terror wild,
And almost wish’d ’t were rather guilt, than harm,
That kept him from my arms—and he has come,
And I have half forgotten all my woe,
In joy at his approach, till his cold frown
Has chill’d my heart to stone! And yet this night,
While all the elements seem bent on war,
He surely could not, would not, leave me thus,
And join the laugh of riot. Oh, Henry, Henry,
Changed, cruel, as thou art, I love thee still!
My peace, my life, are woven in thy fate,
And freely would I give that life for thine.
And thou—thou couldst not change, so wholly change
From all I knew thee once—thou lov’st me yet;
It is some secret anguish breaks thy peace,
And thence thine alter’d looks—But, hark! he comes,
Thank heaven, he is safe! Be dry, my tears!136 12(2)v 136
My face must wear a smile at his approach;
I will not greet him save with looks of joy,
Although my aching heart in anguish bleeds,
And mourns his early alienated love!
The Slave-ship was winding her course o’er the ocean,
The winds and the waters had sunk into rest;
All hush’d was the whirl of the tempest’s commotion,
That late had awaken’d the sailor’s devotion,
When terror had kindled remorse in his breast.
And onward she rode, though by curses attended,
Though heavy with guilt was the freight that she bore,
Though with shrieks of despair was the midnight air rended,
And ceaseless the groans of the wretches ascended,
That from friends and from country forever she tore.
On the deck, with his head on his fetter’d hand rested,
He who once was a chief and a warrior stood;
One moment he gain’d, by his foes unmolested,
To think o’er his woes, and the fate he detested,
Till madness was firing his brain and his blood.
Oh, never! he murmur’d in anguish, no, never!
These limbs shall be bent to the menial’s toil!
They have reft us, my bride—but they shall not forever
Your chief from his home and his country’s dissever—
No! never will I be the conqueror’s spoil
Say! long didst thou wait for my coming, my mother?
Did ye bend o’er the desert, my sister, your eye?
And weep at the lengthen’d delay of your brother,
As each slow passing moment was chased by another,
And still he appear’d not a tear-drop to dry.
But ye shall—yes, again ye shall fondly embrace me!
We will meet my young bride in the land of the blest:
Death, death once again in my country shall place me,
One bound shall forever from fetters release me!
He burst them, and sunk in the ocean’s dark breast.
The Treaty of Penn.
Art thou chief of the white men that crowd on the strand?
No broad gleaming sword flashes bright in thy hand—
No plume, proudly waving, sits light on thy brow—
Nor with hate and contempt does thine eye darkly glow.
I have seen the white chieftains, but proudly they stood;
Though they call’d us their brethren, they thirst for our blood:
With the peace-belt of wampum they stretch’d forth one hand,
With the other they wielded the death-doing brand.
On their lip was the calumet—war on their brow;
But thine scowls not with hatred—a chieftain art thou?—
My brethren are those whom thou see’st on the strand,
My friends, whom I govern with fatherly hand;
We worship the spirit who rules from above,
Our watchword is peace, and our motto is love.
We fight not, we war not, for life or for land,
And the weapons of death never darken our hand.
The land that in purchase ye cheerfully give,
Will we, for our friends and our brethren, receive;
But we will not deprive you, by force or by fraud,
Of the land that yourselves and your fathers have trod.
Then deep be the tomahawk buried from sight;
The peace-tree shall bloom where it slumbers in night.
We will bury from sight and from mem’ry the dead;
We will plant o’er the spot where their blood has been shed;
O’er their grave shall the green maize its tassels expand:—
But whether the white man by force wrest our land,
Or whether they win it in war or in peace,
Our hunting grounds narrow, our tribes still decrease.
O’er the land that I purchase ye freely may rove;
We will dwell in the spirit of brotherly love—
By mutual kindness we both shall be blest,
Your wrongs, as the white man’s, be promptly redrest.12* 138 12(3)v 138
We will teach you with justice, our knowledge impart,
And teach you each useful and civilized art.
We extend you, in truth and in friendship, our hand,
We will turn to the plough-share the death-dealing brand.
One hand hath created the white man and red;
One spirit we worship, though different our creed;
And the God who looks down on our acts from above,
Still conceals in dark frowns the fair face of his love
From the land that is darkend’d with bloodshed and rage,
Where brethren with brethren in battle engage.
We have listen’d, my father, your peaceable talk;
In the path you have chosen we cheerfully walk.
The white men have wrong’d us, have crimson’d our plains,
Where our forefathers sleep, with the blood of our veins.
Of those plains they have reft us, the fairest and best,
And have forced us to seek other homes in the west;
Through the wilds of the forest to follow the chase,
Till brambles have choked up the pathway of peace.
Yet as still we receded our heroes were slain,
Our wives and our children lie dead on the plain.
Then we dug from the earth the fell hatchet of war,
While our whoop of destruction was heard from afar.
We rush’d on our foemen, we fought and we bled,
But our arms with the blood of the white men were red;
Yet, father, the red man delights not in war,
And thy words shall the spring-time of friendship restore.
Now again we will bury the hatchet, again
We will burnish the links of our amity’s chain.
We will root out the weeds from the path of our peace,
And all hatred and battle betwixt us shall cease.
How solemn is the silence of this hour!
The world is hush’d! all nature lies in sleep—
Save where rude jollity upholds her power,
Or wearied wretches waken but to weep.
Strange contrast! that there revelry should keep139 12(4)r 139
Her wassail wild amid the gloom of night,
And here, her thorny couch pale sorrow steep
With bitter tears, and strain her aching sight,
To catch the first pale streak that ushers in the light.
E’en now perchance some widow’d mother hangs,
In hopeless anguish, o’er her dying child,
And marks with bursting heart its parting pangs,
Or covers its pale lips with kisses wild;
While memory tells how oft it has beguiled
Of half its loneliness her dreary heart—
And when in its bright joyousness it smiled,
Albeit within her eye the tear might start,
She knew not, could not know, that they so soon must part.
Its closing eye is faintly turn’d on her,
Its breath comes thickly, and the dews of death
Are on its forehead—one convulsive stir—
One half-form’d smile to speed the parting breath—
Then all is past—and gazing on that scathe
Of all her hopes—in tearless agony,
The mother stands, until awakening faith
Points out another world—a hope on high—
And fast her feelings gush in torrents to her eye!
But this is fancy—for no sound is near,
Of joy or sadness—all around is still!
Not e’en the night-bird’s voice salutes mine ear,
Nor the faint murmur of the distant rill—
The very winds are hush’d—and on the hill
The trees are motionless—the whisp’ring sigh,
That lingers where the blast was piping shrill,
Moves not the branches as it passes by,
Nor lifts the bending leaves that on the waters lie.
The deep blue heaven with clust’ring stars is bright,
And in the midst the moon, sublimely fair,
Sheds o’er the fleecy clouds her silvery light,
That in bright wreaths are floating lightly there,
Like snow-flakes scattered o’er the silent air.140 12(4)v 140
And coldly still that moon’s pale lustre lies,
Alike on haunts of misery and despair;
And where the sounds of wassail joy arise,
Disturbing with rude mirth the quiet of the skies.
The earth is slumbering! but I will not sleep,
For I do love to gaze on yon bright sky,
And all those countless orbs, that seem to keep
Their nightly ward so silently on high—
My heart may swell, but ’t is not with the sigh
Of painful feeling—nor does aught of woe
Awake the tear-drop in my moisten’d eye;
But unexpress’d emotion, and the glow
Of all the crowding thoughts, that round my bosom flow.
The Negro Father’s Lamentation over the Body of his Infant Son.
Thou’rt dead, my boy!—my son!—my only child!—
And yet I may not shed one tear for thee,
Nor hanging o’er thy bier in anguish wild,
Upbraid the hand that bore thee far from me:
I cannot wish that thou hadst lived to share
Thy father’s fate—his woes—and his despair!
I loved thee—oh! I need not say how well!
Thou wert my all of hopes or bliss on earth!
Yet I will not repine that thou dost dwell
In happiness, with her who gave thee birth,
While I, like yon dark rock of naked stone,
Must bear the storms that round me beat, alone.
’T is well! Thou wilt not share those storms with me,
That is my all of comfort in this hour—
I weep not, though I would have died for thee!
Ay, more than died—that sacrifice were poor—
I would have spurn’d the hand that set me free,
And clasp’d my chain, and lived a slave, for thee.
My boy! my darling boy! farewell, farewell!
Thou ne’er shalt feel the pangs that rend me now,
For still my heart with agony will swell,
To think, that never more upon my brow,
Thy little lips with fondness shall be prest,
As when I oft have clasp’d thee to my breast.
Yes! fare thee well! thy fond caress no more
Shall soothe the tortured throbbing of my heart
As it full oft has done, when tyrant power
Has trampled me to earth, and round me prest
The chain of slavery, till my swelling heart
Had madden’d into frenzy with the smart.
Yet even then, though thou couldst calm my soul
With thy soft lisping voice and childish glee,
While clasping thee, sad thoughts would o’er me roll,
Of what must be thy future destiny,
Till my hot tears have wet thy little face,
And thou hast wonder’d at my wild embrace.
But thou art dead!—it ne’er will be thy fate
To tremble at a cruel tyrant’s frowns—
To bend in servile toil, to feed his state,
To feel the lash, and hear him mock thy groans.
Then fare thee well!—thy father will not weep,
Or wish to wake thee from thy peaceful sleep.
Lines on the Death of Two Children,
Written When But Fifteen Years of Age.
They sleep! but not theirs is the slumber that breaketh,
When night with its gloom and its darkness hath flown;
The morn in the light of its beauty awaketh,
But in silence and darkness they still slumber on:
They sleep, but no visions of sleep are around them,
That silence, that darkness, can never confound them;
For death, icy death, in his fetters hath bound them,
And round the young spirit his cold spell hath thrown.
Together in youth’s brightest bloom they have wither’d,
Ere grief their young spirits had clouded with gloom,
And like flowers, in the lights of their loveliness gather’d,
Whose fragrance is sweetest when faded their bloom;
So still shall their memory fondly be nourish’d,
In the hearts of their friends shall their virtues be cherish’d
And though in the prime of their life they have perish’d,
Their remembrance shall be as a grateful perfume.
It is sad to see youth in its loveliness dying,
Ere the freshness of spirit hath wasted away,
While the earth seems around like a paradise lying,
And the hopes of the bosom too bright for decay—
Before life’s cup of care hath imparted its fever—
Ere hope, smiling hope hath been proved a deceiver—
This world seems too lovely to part with forever,
To mingle again with inanimate clay.
And thus have they died while their hopes were the fairest,
While life only seem’d like a beautiful dream,
Adorn’d with whatever is richest or rarest,
Whatever most bright to the senses may seem—
They died, and the cold turf is resting above them—
They heed not the grief of the bosoms that love them,
The tears of affection no longer can move them,
Or wake them again to the day’s joyous beam.
Consumption! ’t is thou that their life-springs hast wasted!
’T is thou that hast wither’d the bud in its bloom!
’T is thou the young tree in its greenness hast blasted,
And o’er them hast thrown the dark veil of the tomb!
Thou foe to the lovely, the gay, and the blooming!
How soon the bright spirit, the features illuming,
Will fade from the cheek and the eye at thy coming,
Save when the bright hectic disperses their gloom.
O Death! it is strange how thy cold touch will alter
The forms that so lately were healthy and gay—
On the lips once so bright, life a moment will falter,
The next, they are pallid and motionless clay.
The lips and the eyes with bright happiness glowing,
The bosom proud beating of sorrow unknowing,143 12(6)r 143
The gush of emotion around the heart glowing,
How soon will they perish and wither away!
And yet, it were better to die in life’s morning,
Before we have seen its illusions depart,
Than to live when the flowers that our life were adorning,
Have wither’d, and hope hath deserted the heart—
’T were better, when mandate of death has been spoken,
That slowly and singly life’s chords should be broken,
Than in health’s brightest bloom without warning or token
At once to be stricken by death’s fatal dart.
Had they lived, other ties to the earth would have bound them,
Witholding the spirit from rising on high,
And dearer and warmer affections twined round them,
Embittering doubly the life-parting sigh—
When parents for stay on the young are reclining
When husband or wife round the bosom are twining,
Or orphans are left in the cold world repining,
Oh! then it indeed must be anguish to die.
It is painful to stand by the couch of the dying,
And watch the pale form speeding fast to decay,
In anguish to list to the half-broken sighing,
That tells from the heart life is stealing away,
Yet then—while its flight the loved spirit is winging,
While in agony round the pale form we are clinging,
Even then—brighter hopes in the bosom are springing,
As we feel that our parting is but for to-day.
To a Friend of my Youth.
We met in childhood—careless met,
Nor wept to think that we must sever;
We parted with no fond regret—
No tear lest we should part forever.
Our souls had not commingled then;
The wreath of Friendship had not bound us;
We knew not we should meet again,—
And yet our parting did not wound us.
Again we met—long years have flown,
The sun of youth has risen o’er us,
And friends we loved have smiled and gone,
And changing scenes have pass’d before us.—
We meet!—but not again to part,
Without one transient pang of mourning;
Oh no! the burning tear would start,
At thought of joys no more returning.
For we have stray’d at silent eye,
Beneath the crescent brightly beaming,
And social converse loved to weave,
Around the warm hearth cheerful gleaming.
We yet may part—in distant land
Afar to roam we know not whither—
But still be Friendship’s flowery band
The wreath that twines our souls together.
The sun hath set in glory—and a fold
Of burnish’d purple lies upon the sky,
Like the rich thought of some just parted joy,
Yet thrilling vividly around the heart.
The year’s first sunset;—’t is most beautiful!
Would it be an augury of good
To the fair land it shines on. But, alas!
What may we hope of blessing for the head
Of unrepenting guilt;—or, for the hand
—Red with the stain of murder, full of wrong
And foul oppression—shamelessly stretch’d out
To scatter to the winds the solemn oaths
Of broken treaty bands. The red man looks
Across his fathers’ lands, and thinks how once
They fed the white-brow’d stranger, when he came
With his weak hand to their low forest hut,
And they could well have crush’d him. Now he seeks
From the poor wasted remnant of their sons,145 13(1)r 145
To rend their last few acres,—sacred spots
Where the dead lie unsepulchred!—and drive
The newly blest ones from their scarce found joys
Of home and social love, to be again
Sad houseless wanderers!
Years go circling by
With all their rolling suns and changing scenes,
In regular progression, and the slave
Still bends his aching forehead to the toil
That brings him no reward. Another year!—
And still the Christian loads his brother’s neck
With the vile weight of fetters—tasks his arm
And goads his sinews to their daily toil,
With the keen lash, or, in the market-place,
Bids him to be number’d with the brute and sold!
Another year! and shall that too go by,
And find his wrongs uncared for? Shall he still
Groan ’neath his lot till life at last goes out,
And win no sympathy? Oh ye who love
Your Maker’s image, even in the slave,
Shake from your hearts all thoughts of selfishness,
And with tears, prayers, and every energy,
Stretch’d to its firmest purpose, in his cause,
Cease not to plead, to struggle, to persuade,
’Till ye have won him back his long lost rights,
Or your own hearts are slumbering in death.
My own Annette! my own Annette!
How often turn my thoughts to thee,
And those sweet hours when erst we met,
And shared our thoughts in converse free!
Around me the soft moonshine pours
A quiet flood of silver light;
And thus o’er memory’s hoarded stores,
The star of thought is gleaming bright.
Yet, though long years have glided past,
Since last thy hand was clasp’d in mine,
The chain that friendship o’er us cast,
Hath felt no link of love untwine.
And we may meet in other hours,
And love where we have loved, again;
And talk of all the early flowers
We gather’d on life’s by-past plain.
But there are stronger ties than ours,
Remorseless rent by cruel hands;
Torn hearts, o’er which no future hours
Shall fling again the sever’d bands.
Oh! let us weep with those who weep,
Beneath oppression’s crushing hand;
And in our thoughts their anguish keep
Who till in tears our guilty land.
When the sinking sunbeams lie
On the forest branches high;
When the twilight hour steals on,
With its hush and soothing tone,
And the care that day hath wrought
Passes from the soften’d thought,
When, like smiles from those we love,
Falls the moonlight from above;
When with evening’s earliest star,
Wakes the thought of those afar,
And around thy bosom’s cell,
Memory flings her holiest spell,
When the poet’s high-wrought words—
When the song of woodland birds—147 13(2)r 147
When the gush of shaded streams
Mingles with thy spirit’s dreams,
And whate’er o’er thought may cast
Pensive hues of moments past,
Written in an Album.
Sun-lit and shadow’d waters, leaping by
’Midst flowers and greenness, singing as they pass,
Or sleeping in some deep and shaded pool,
Lake-like, and dimpled by the playful touch
Of stooping branches, rocks vine-garlanded,
And the green pleasant woods, and over all
The wide blue glorious sky—oh it is sweet
To breathe amid such scenes!
Look on the page
Of Schuylkill’s pictured beauty! that is such—
And thou may’st gaze, till it shall waken thoughts
Treasured in memory—for thou hast watch’d
The flashing of its waters, and hast stood,
Perchance, beside them, when the moonlight made
The scene a paradise, and friends were nigh,
Smiling with their glad eyes upon thy joy;
And music floated off upon the air,
As if the zephyrs breathed in melody.
Now other scenes are round thee—it is fair—
This wide extended landscape—but unlike
To that the Schuylkill mirrors. The old trees
That lift their tall green heads against the sky,
Are relics of past ages, and there seems,
Beneath their dim gray shade, to linger yet
A faint and mournful echo of the tones
Of the old forest tribes.
But when the hush,
And the dim beauty of the twilight steals
O’er the calm earth, and on thy spirit lies
A shadow and a pensiveness as sweet,148 13(2)v 148
Then memory will lift the mystic screen
That veils departed years, and give them back
The consecrated past; and thou shalt stand
’Midst scenes where thou hast stood in other days;
And the gay laugh, and the remember’d tone,
Will seem, with startling vividness, to thrill
Across thy ear—but mine will not be there;
Thy memory hath no garner’d thought of me—
Yet think of me, for there may gleam a light
Amidst thy twilight dreams, from scenes to which
I turn for my most sweet remembrances;
Oh, how one charmed word will start to life
A thousand breathing memories of the past!
Schuylkill! sweet Schuylkill! and still dearer loved,
And hallow’d with yet deeper, sweeter thoughts,
My own dear native vale, and the bright flood The Brandywine.
That makes it beautiful! name them again,
For thou hast trodden there, and let me dwell
With thee upon the past! Yet they will come
To thee, with but a stranger’s parting glance
Of brief and pleasant memory—to me—
With tales of childhood’s years, of hours of glee,
Friendships, and tears, and rainbow-pinion’d hopes,
And all the sacred thoughts that halo home!
I have been gazing on the resting place
Of the cold sleepers of the earth—who trod
This busy planet for a little space,
Then laid them down, and took the verdant sod
To curtain the low cot wherein they slept,
Forgotten save by some few hearts that o’er them wept.
’T is strange—so lately they were living forms,
Breathing and moving; now the vernal sun
Looks down upon their silent graves, nor warms
One pulse to action—life with them is done;
And the turf blooms as quietly, as though
No forms of human mould were slumbering below.
And this shall be my lot!—a little while,
And I shall, too, lie down and be at rest,
In silence and in darkness; earth will smile
In spring’s rich garniture, and o’er my breast
The wild-flower shed its sweets—but there will be
No gladness in bright hues or fragrant breath for me.
Oh, Death! they call thee terrible—but life
Hath pain, and blighted hopes and bitter tears,
The pang of keen remorse, the daily strife
’Twixt jarring passions, the false smile that sears
The heart to kindly feelings, and the dread,
That e’en what bliss is ours, within our grasp will fade.
Nor is it very dreadful to lie down
In momentary darkness, and awake
In a bright world of happiness, unknown,
And unimagined! But ’t is sad to take
The last farewell of earthly things, and know
That we have left fond hearts to lingering years of woe.
And herein lies the bitterness—but when
The parting pang is over, need we fear
To tread thy narrow pathway—and cling then
To life’s poor relics?—It is true, that here
We have bright moments, scenes and hours of joy;
Yet seldom is our bliss unmix’d with some alloy.
It should be so—there is enough of bliss,
To make the hours of life glide swiftly on,
Yet sadness dims the brightest cup—and this
Recalls the heart from trusting what must soon
Forever vanish from our grasp, when we
Are call’d from things of time to dread eternity.
To my Cousin.
Come out with me into the moonlight, coz!
Fling by that page of romance—the hot breath
Of the dim taper, ill befits an eve
So beautiful as this—I know there is13* 150 13(3)v 150
A deep bewildering interest in that tale;
For the low drooping head, the parted lip,
The feverish glow that brightens cheek and eye,
And the light finger press’d upon the page,
As if that volume were the magic link
That bound thee to illusion—all proclaim
The spell that hath enchain’d thee. Yet come out,
And I will show thee full as bright a page,
And one where thou may’st read as wild a tale
Of love and chivalry, as that from which
My voice hath won thee.—Is it not, sweet coz,
A most delicious night? and how could I
Gaze upward on that moon, and thou not here—
Our arms entwining thus—and the light touch
Of those soft fingers resting upon mine,
That I may feel their gentle pressure tell
Thy voiceless feelings—when I turn to say
How very beautiful!—It is a night
For Poetry—and the low breeze comes by
As ’t were a holy whisper, sent to quell
The spirit’s fever.—We will fling aside
Like a dull robe the thought of present things,
And wrap ourselves in dreams.
And yet ’t is not
A scene like that we gazed on when yon moon
Last moved, so empress-like, across the sky—
Nay, thou rememberest—I know it well
By the curl’d lip turn’d towards me with a smile
Of recollected pleasure: yet again
Looks towards yon concave: other eyes than ours
Are gazing on that orb, and kindly lips
Perchance are naming us.
Did we not say
Yon planet should be written, like a book,
With cherish’d memories?—and when the hour
Of her arising came, that we would think
On those from whom we parted?—Look, Annette!
Couldst thou not fancy that a friendly eye
Was smiling on thee from the distant sphere?
Nay, laugh not, cousin,—’t was a silly thought!—
But who would fetter fancy’s wildest wing151 13(4)r 151
Upon a night like this? The very light
That falls around us hath a dreamy spell,
And gives the scene a dim unreal shade,
Like a forgotten thought come back again.
It is most beautiful! yet on the heart
The sense of pleasure presses, with a weight
That half hath started tears—’t is strange that even
Our happiness should be so link’d with pain!
And beauty—perfect beauty—only wake
The knowledge that our spirits are too weak,
To feel it in its full deep blessedness!
Didst never wish to be an angel, coz?
That thou might understand the pencilling
Writ on the sunset sky—and send abroad
A soul unfetter’d on a night like this!
Well, let us wander on—did I not say
I knew a history of the olden time,
That I would tell to thee?—we should have been
Beneath our grape-vine bower—thou know’st it, love,
And I thine own true knight to sing thee,
While thou didst touch the lute—
But ’t is not so—
And while I tell the tale of which I spake,
If I can win from thee one gentle sigh,
I will not ask for music!—
’T was a night
Moon-lit, and calm, and beautiful,—like this;
Music was swelling out, upon the breeze,
From a gay festive hall—and starry lamps
Flung out their perfumed splendour upon brows
Of alabaster whiteness, and dark hair
Enwreathed with dazzling gems: light forms went by
Graceful and fairy-like, amid the dance,
Beside a nation’s chivalry—and songs
Melted away in liquid melody
From rosy lips, and the gay laugh broke forth;
Or, when the ancient minstrel breathed some tale
Of love and sadness, gentle tears fell forth
From eyes that shone more lovely through their mist152 13(4)v 152
But there was one, had stolen from that scene
Of smiles and joyousness, to where the moon
Look’d downward, silently, through jasmine leaves,
And the low night-breeze kiss’d the drooping bells
Of the sweet clematis.
And there she stood—
Her head bent slightly back, and the long fringe
Of her dark melancholy eye raised up
And laid against her brow, as if her soul
Were lifted in that long deep glance to Heaven!
Her cheek was pale—so pale, that its faint tinge
Of lingering carmine scarce sufficed to tell
That the slight form, round which the white robes fell
So gracefully, was not in very deed
A sculptor’s form of beauty—her dark hair
Was carelessly thrown backward, and her hand
Twisted among its tresses, look’d as ’t were
A wandering moon-beam—’t was so delicate!
A deeper sadness gather’d on the brow,
The queenly brow, of that young worshipper,
Until it droop’d upon her breast, and tears
Came crowding to her eyelids. Could it be
That grief had paled a cheek so beautiful?
That gush of tears went by—and she raised up
Her forehead to the breeze, and touch’d the lute,
That lay beside her, to a mournful strain,
The while she sung to it:—
This faded cheek, this faded cheek,
Pale lip and alter’d brow,
Are all the outward signs that speak
The love I bear thee now.
I name thee not amid the halls,
Where mirthful glances shine;
But not one tear in secret falls,
That is not truly thine.
They told me, that the vows we spake
Were soon forgot by thee;
But though my heart, perchance, may break,
’T will ne’er be false to thee.153 13(5)r 153
Nor would’st thou, dearest, all so soon
That one deep vow forget,
The first, the last, the only one,
That told our hearts had met.
They told me thou wast false, that pride
Might dry my burning tears,
When I should learn that thou hadst died
Amid thine early years.
They did not know how deeply dear
Was every thought of thee,
More fondly, truly, cherish’d here,
Than living love could be.
The strain was hush’d—A rustle midst the leaves
Hath caught the maiden’s ear, and a low voice
Whisper’d the name of Eva! Could it be
That the dark grave had given up its dead?
Or was that breath a summons from the land
Of parted spirits? But a moment more,
And her own knight was kneeling at her feet—
Her head fell on his bosom—hours past on,
And when the gray dawn made a pause amid
The mirth of their gay revelling, they came
To seek that absent one,—and both were there,
Silent and motionless as they had sunk,
When the first shock was over—one in death,
And one in cold despair!
Forget Me Not.
To A. G. C.
Forget me not! though fate from thine,
My path of life may sever,
Still think of days of auld lang syne,
And moments fled forever.
When many a year has pass’d away,
And other ties have bound us,
Oh! then let memory sometimes stray,
To those that now surround us.
Should pomp and pride be round thee then—
When day’s bright beam is o’er thee,
And other forms shall meet thy ken—
Mine may not stand before thee.
But when the orb of day hath set,
Beneath the burning ocean,
And holy thoughts around thee met,
Have still’d the heart’s commotion—
Oh! then may memory’s hallow’d rays
Around my image hover,
And in the thoughts of other days,
These hours be then glanced over.
Forget me not! though fate from thine,
My path of life may sever,
But sometimes think of auld lang syne,
And moments fled forever.
The Genius of Painting.
Addressed to D―― M――
The Genius of Painting one summer eve stray’d,
In a moment of leisure, to Flora’s bright bower,
Where, scatter’d around, by the hand of the maid,
In the richest profusion, bloom’d many a flower.
Oh, see, Flora cried, as the Genius drew nigh,
What an Eden of beauty is blossoming here!
But yet—and a tear-drop stood bright in her eye,—
How soon will its loveliness all disappear!
Oh, Genius! bid them still live in your art,
And my gratitude well shall your kindness repay;
To some favour’d mortal your spirit impart,
And teach him to rescue my flowers from decay.
Behold I have rear’d in my favourite bower,
A shrine, and an alter, dear Painting, for you;
And there will I offer each loveliest flower,
As often as the morning their sweets shall renew.
Many thanks, dearest Flora! the Genius cried,
Though many an altar and temple is mine,
That with richer and costlier gifts are supplied,
Yet none of them all shall be dearer than thine.
I will gift with my spirit whoever you will,
Yet choose not, dear Flora, the renegade man;
For the ingrate from you will be wandering still,
O’er fields more extended and varied to scan.
At this instant, a maiden drew near to the bower,
And Flora’s own fondness beam’d soft from her eye,
As with rapture she hung o’er each beautiful flower,
Or heaved o’er the dying a tremulous sigh.
Flora turn’d on the Genius a smile of delight—
There, Painting, she cried, is my favourite maid:
Infuse in her bosom your genius bright,
And soon shall your altar be richly array’d.
On that maid, then, said he, shall my spirit descend,
A bright, and unfading, and beautiful gem;
The young favourite of Flora my shrine shall attend,
And the priestess of painting shall still be D. M.
Night o’er the earth her dusky robe had spread,
With gloom unwonted, moon and stars conceal’d
By dense and murky clouds, denied their light.
I musing lay reclined, involved in thought,
And pondering o’er the various changing scenes
This land had witness’d, until slumbers soft
Succeeded to my reverie, yet stole156 13(6)v 156
So lightly over me, that I was still
Unconscious that I slept; and still my thoughts
Pursued the path, and wander’d o’er the scenes
Where they had waking roved. What! I exclaim’d,
Would be the feelings, or the words of Penn,
Did he now view the fair wide commonwealth,
Whose infancy was foster’d by his care?
I scarce had spoken, when an airy form
Before me stood. Her dark and piercing eye
Was lighted by a smile, that o’er her face,
In female beauty rich, benignant play’d.
Her tresses unadorn’d, save with a wreath
Of dewy wild-flowers, o’er her shoulders flung,
In glossy ringlets waved, or shaded light,
Her polish’d brow. Yet seem’d she not of gross
Corporeal mould; but rather like the air,
Condensed and visible. I knew the form—
’T was one whose aid I often had invoked,
What time I tuned or swept mine airy lyre,
Imagination! with a kindly smile,
She lightly touch’d, and bade me follow her.
My soul, unfetter’d, instant soar’d aloft,
Far, far above the confines of the earth,
Then paused; and while we hover’d, light in air,
My fair conductress bade me look around.
I look’d! beneath us Pennsylvania lay,
Her ripen’d harvests waving in the breeze,
And wet with dew of morning; for not yet
The sun had risen from his wavy bed,
But redden’d by his beams, the fleecy clouds,
Bright glowing, spoke his near approach. Toward one
That rested nearest earth, with purple tinged,
My guide conducted me. As near we drew,
With wonder I beheld, within its breast,
A form reposed as in an airy car,
Which bore (though half conceal’d and indistinct)
The human likeness. O’er his face beam’d love,
Compassion mild, benevolence divine
And universal. Sin no place had there,
Nor earthly passions—but bright peace serene,
Pure piety, and happiness unmix’d.157 14(1)r 157
Behold! exclaim’d my guide, with awe behold
The sainted spirit of the righteous Penn!
Quick throbb’d my bosom at the name revered,
With mix’d emotions. Mute with awe I gazed
Upon the sacred form. Silent awhile,
He view’d the beauteous scene, till the fair town
Whose name denotes the love he bore to man,
Right ’neath us lay. As with a father’s love
He fondly gazed, then utterance gave to thought.
Fair happy State! by Heaven’s mercy risen
From a waste wilderness, a savage wild,
Uncultured, now transform’d to harvest plains,
With villages and cities studded thick.—
How changed art thou from what thou wert when first
I saw thee! now thou bear’st no middle rank
Among thy sisters—to thy farthest verge
The flowing tide of population rolls.
Then, Philadelphia! where thou spreadest now
Thy goodly domes, the Indian drove the chase.
Ye white men, ye have reft by slow degrees
Your brethren of their land. O give them then,
What for the loss alone can compensate,
Your virtuous knowledge, justice, and your love.
Ye have escaped the ignominous stain,
Shameful and foul, that brands with deep disgrace
Your brethren of the south, the heavy curse
Of slavery. Then free the Indian from the bonds of vice
He ceased. And now the streets below were throng’d
With early passengers: among them came,
By the rude dress and tawny skin reveal’d,
Some stranger Indians. In wonder wrapp’d,
They view’d the various scenes, till they were shown
(Where stands the wretched maniacs’ abode)
The form of Miquen. Indian name of Penn. Instant at its base
With mingled reverence and love they knelt,
And while a tear unwonted dew’d their eyes,
Pray’d the great spirit, to protect, and bless
The friends of Miquen. In the eye of Penn
An anwering tear-drop glow’d, an answering prayer14 158 14(1)v 158
He breathed for them. Yes, grateful men, he said,
Time has not from your memory yet erased
The elm-tree treaty. Silence reign’d once more—
And like the morning mist the scene dissolved,
And disappear’d. I waked!—’t was darkness all;—
The rain beat heavily, rough blew the blast,
And all was silence, solitude, and night!
A New-Year’s Greeting,
To a Circle of Friends.
A kindly greeting to you all—
To all an opening year of gladness;
May never sorrow round you fall
More dark than evening’s twilight sadness
The wintry blast may whistle shrill,
And clouds may dim the face of heaven;
But Friendship’s wreath shall blossom still,
On this our gladsome New-Year’s even.
While lips and hearts are smiling thus,
And hands are fondly clasp’d together,
Oh what are cloudy skies to us,
Or fortune’s bright or sunny weather?
We may not meet, to hail again
Another year with hearts of lightness,
Some beating pulse may rest ere then,
Some eye have lost its wonted brightness
We may have met, perchance—alas!
To mingle hearts and then be parted;
Or some dark blight may o’er us pass,
And leave us lone and broken-hearted.
But let the future smile, or frown,
The wing of hope is waving o’er us;
One gem of bliss is still our own,
And one bright rose of joy before us.
Then may the rose be cherish’d well—
The sparkling gem be sullied never—
And parted Friendship’s only knell,
Be when our hearts are still’d forever.
To a Particular Friend.
We took sweet counsel together, we went to the house of the Lord in company.――Psalms.
We’ve sat beside the forest stream,
And watch’d the bright wave rippling by,
Now flashing back the summer beam,
Then dark’ning like a half-shut eye,
As whispering to the joyous breeze,
Down closer bent the shadowing trees.
Thy hand was clasp’d in mine, my friend,
And heart to heart was answering then;
Although, perchance, our tones might send
No echo down the rocky glen—
Or if we spoke, ’t was language fraught
With all the others’ voiceless thought.
Oh! it was sweet to linger there,
Beneath a sky so purely blue,
And breathe the gather’d sweets, the air
Had stolen from flowers it wander’d through—
How could there come a thought of ill
Amidst a scene so calm and still!
But yet, a holier chord than this,
Around our breasts its power hath twined;
And though, perchance, those hours of bliss
May fade, like moonlight, from the mind,
Can love aside be careless cast,
O’er which the breath of prayer hath past?
Oh, no! and though not oft we meet,
Within the house of worship now,—160 14(2)v 160
The hours may come, less calm and sweet
Than those beneath the greenwood bough;
Those hearts may ne’er be wholly riven,
Which side by side have bow’d to Heaven.
Where Are They?
I came to the halls of my fathers, and asked, Where are they? and the echoes answered where.
Where are they? where! they all are gone,
Whose smiles were wont to answer mine,
When in the hours that long have flown,
These halls were fond affection’s shrine?
Gray moss is on the smooth flag-stone,
That once was worn with bounding feet,
When eyes, now dim, all brightly shone,
And minstrel’s song resounded sweet.
The harp still decks the mouldering walls,
With all its tuneful chords unstrung,
And silent are the echoing halls,
Where oft the merry laugh has rung.
Where now are all the lips and eyes,
Whose smiles once cheer’d my native bower?
And where are those whose parting sighs,
I’ve treasured many a weary hour?
There many a cheek was wet with tears,
And choking voices sigh’d adieu,
But now no friendly form appears,
Of all the wanderer’s childhood knew.
I called, Where are they? but in vain—
There was no friend to greet me there—
The harp’s last chord then burst in twain,
And echo only answer’d Where?
Gladness in Mexico! A pealing shout,
From franchised men, goes proudly o’er her hills;
And the rich hymn is swelling up to Heaven,
Bearing the full heart’s gratitude. No more
The wild bird springing upward from its nest,
Or the free waters in their gushing glee,
Seem taunting man that they are masterless,
While his proud thoughts and swelling pulse are crush’d
Beneath vile bonds. No more at eventide,
The serf stalks gloomily to seek a home,
He scarce can call his own; or goes at dawn
Unwillingly to toil:—the heavy spell,
That ’numb’d his veins with leaden sluggishness,
Hath lost its power; and now, his glad limbs bound
Across the glorious earth, as though they were
Nought but an essence. Hear ye not the voice
Of his wild carol pour’d upon the air,
As like the woodland bird with folded wing
He drops into his nest—or goes at morn,
With light and eager spirit to the toil
From which no hand withholds the just reward!
Oh, it is sweet to wear a heart, whose throbs
Are stifled by no fetters—and an eye
That quails not to the mightiest! But the soul
Of him whose hand hath wrench’d the bonds of thrall
From the sad bosoms that beneath them pined,
Hath yet a higher joy!—and there is one, Guerrero.
Whose name the grateful Mexican shall teach
His son to lisp, ere yet his infant lip
Hath learned to murmur, father.
But our land!—
The curse is on it still!—the slave-fiend stalks14* 162 14(3)v 162
Amidst our pleasant valleys and green hills;
A tyrant to the tyrants he has made;
Muttering fierce threats, and crowding on their hearts
Visions and shapes of terror, like the wild
And elfish faces that look forth at eve,
On wilder’d travellers, ’midst the cheating shades,
And gibe and chatter at the fears they raise.
So men go crouching to the demon power,
Scarce daring e’en to syllable his name,
Lest they should waken up his smother’d rage;
And offering human victims at his shrine,
Instead of nobly standing forth, like men,
To drive him yelling from the glorious earth,
That he pollutes and blackens with his tread.
Whom call ye slaves? Are not the cravens such,
Who dare not act with justice?—Men who prate
In sweet smooth sentences, of christian love,
And with much sympathy, lament the fate
Of those from whose swoll’n limbs they will not strike
One single link, in all their weight of chains?
Strange! that the high capacities of mind,
Should be so blinded by the gleam of gold—
Till even the soul itself is valued less,
Than so much trash as may be grasped thus.
Gaze on this landscape! once in fleet career,
The desert chieftain trod exulting here!
Cleft with light bark the still and shaded floods,
Pierced the recesses of the old gray woods;
Pour’d ’midst their hidden dells his wild halloo,
And the light shaft with aim unerring threw.
Proud was his spirit, fierce, untamed and free,
Scorning to crouch to pain, from death to flee,
With feelings suited to his savage state,
Faithful alike to friendship or to hate,
Seeking no meed beyond a warrior’s fame,
And fearing nought except a coward’s shame.
These wilds were his;—amidst his chosen dell,
Where clustering wild-flowers fringed the gushing well,
His hut was rear’d; and there at closing day,
He heard his children’s laughter-shout of play,
While, weary with the chase, his limbs were laid
In listless rest beneath the oak-tree’s shade.
Then o’er the ocean-sea the white man came,
Held to his lips the cup of liquid flame,
With smooth, false words, and bold encroaching hand,
Wrench’d from the Cherokee his father’s land,
Still on his fast receding footsteps prest,
And urged him onward to the distant west,
Till all the precincts of his narrowed ground,
Was closely hemm’d with cultured life around,
And burning cottages and mangled slain,
Had mark’d war’s footsteps o’er the ravaged plain.
Wearied, at length, the pale-brow’d stranger swore,
To seek the Indian’s hunting grounds no more;
Treaties and oaths the solemn compact seal’d,
And plenty crown’d once more the blood-stain’d field;
Then o’er the red-man’s alter’d nature smiled
A kindlier spirit, and a soul more mild;
Bright knowledge pour’d its sunlight o’er his mind,
His feelings soften’d, and his heart refined.
No longer then, when pass’d the storm-flash by,
He saw the lightning of Manitto’s eye,
Or listen’d trembling, while his anger spoke,
As high o’er head the pealing thunder broke.
He learn’d to light in heaven his spirit’s flame,
And blend a Saviour’s with Jehovah’s name.
Then tell us, ye, who have the power to save,
Shall all his hopes be crush’d in one wide grave?
Shall lawless force, with rude, remorseless hand,
Drive out the Indian from his father’s land,
Burst all the ties that bind the heart to home,
And thrust him forth ’mid distant wilds to roam?
Oh no! to mercy’s pleading voice give ear,
The wak’ning wrath of outraged justice fear,164 14(4)v 164
Stain not with broken faith our country’s name,
Nor weigh her tresses to the dust with shame!
Remember yet the solemn pledge you gave,
And lift the potent art to shield and save!
Gayashuta to the Sons of Onas.The following lines are a versification of a speech or letter delivered by the Cornplanter to the Sons of Onas (William Penn) from Gayashuta, a chief of the Seneca Nation.
My brothers! Sons of Onas! hear my voice!
And Gayashuta’s spirit shall rejoice;
For age has settled on his drooping head;
His hopes have wither’d, and his joys have fled.
When youth and strength were seated on his brow,
He felt not hunger, pain, and want, as now;
For then the wild deer bounded o’er the plain,
And never was his arrow sped in vain.
Our land embraced the mountain and the flood,
The chase—our pleasure—furnish’d us with food.
The red man’s tribes the mighty Spirit bless’d,
And every stranger was his welcome guest.
With pleasure, when they sought our lonely haunts,
We gave them shelter, and relieved their wants.
My brothers! when your fathers sought our shores,
The wide extended fertile plains were ours.
They loved the land their mighty ships had found,
And Onas call’d his red-skinn’d brethren round—
They ask’d us, and we gave them of our land,
Whereon to plant, and where their wigwams stand:
And Gayashuta’s voice was foremost heard,
To urge and aid the suit his friend preferr’d.
My brothers! Gayashuta had not thought,
When first the Groves of Pines The place where Philadelphia now stands was called by the Indians the Grove of the long pine trees. your fathers sought,
Of age or weakness—strength was in his frame,
And cowards shrunk beneath his eye of flame.165 14(5)r 165
Your fathers saw him then,—he now is old,
And you will ne’er his alter’d form behold,
His wither’d, bending form, that scarce appears
The ghost of what it was in former years.
He wonders, when his shadow meets his eye,
It is so shrunk, so changed from days gone by!
No longer can he track the flying game,
Or point the arrow with unerring aim;
He has no children to supply his wants,
The whites have scared the wild deer from his haunts.
In hunting all the day the youth must toil,
And scarce the chase will yield sufficient spoil
To satisfy themselves—there is none left
For those who are of friends and strength bereft.
For Gayashuta is not here alone—
A remnant yet remains of days long gone.
They were your fathers’ friends, they now are weak,
And poor and feeble—shall they vainly speak!
My brothers! Sons of Onas! in his youth,
Your fathers gave this belt, the badge of truth,
To Gayashuta, this he sends to you,
The ancient bond of friendship to renew.
Look on this belt! and should it warm your heart,
Then comfort to your fathers’ friends impart.
My brothers! we are men, and only say
That we are hungry, naked, old, and gray.
We have no other friends on whom to call,
Than you, the Sons of Onas, friends to all.
It was a glorious sunset hour:—a scent
Of rich perfume, from many a twisted wreath
Of summer blossoms, clustering in their wild
And free profusion, ’neath a southern sky,
Came on the evening breeze, and streams went by
With a glad tone, and the hush’d birds came forth
From the thick woods, and lifted up the voice
Of their hearts’ mirthful music. Painted wings166 14(5)v 166
Were fluttering on the breeze, and the bees’ hum
Made a glad melody.—
At a hill’s foot,
Beside a gushing stream, and ’neath a clump
Of close embowering trees, there stood a cot,
At whose low door a mother sung to rest
With a sad lullaby, her infant boy.
These southern climes are bright, are bright
With their gorgeous summer flowers!
But I would my head might rest to-night
In my own loved native bowers:
They say this land is proudly blest
All other lands above,
But afar from here is the spot, that best
In the wide, wide world I love.
It may want the perfumed airs of this,
It may want the glorious clime—
But there is the thought of all the bliss
Of my happy childhood’s time.
Better to roam ’neath burning skies,
Upon wastes of desert sand,
Than to load the air with slavery’s sighs
And to wear on your heart its brand.
Rest, love, and sleep—for thine infant years
Are a dream that knows no sorrow;
Too soon wilt thou waken to bitter tears,
When manhood shall come like the morrow
Rest, love, rest!—for thou know’st not yet,
What a fearful doom is o’er thee!
That the name of slave on thy brow is set,
And a life of woe before thee.
The Outcast.There is a race of people inhabiting the Vale of Lieze, on the French side of the Pyrenees, who are supposed to be descended from the Saracens, and are entirely excluded from communion with the rest of mankind.— They are even obliged to enter the churches by a separate door, and no one will make use of the holy water which their touch has polluted.
The vineyards of France ’neath their fruitage were bending,
And spread their rich clusters of blue to the sun,
And high o’er the steep of the mountain ascending,
The soft voice of song, with wild merriment blending,
Told where the gay harvester’s toil was begun.
The sun its last glance o’er the landscape was flinging,
And sounds from afar came distinctly and clear;
The birds from each covert their vespers were singing,
And far in the vale the deep convent-bell ringing,
Sent up its sad tones to the wanderer’s ear.
He flung himself down with an aspect of sadness,
And listlessly gazed on the landscape below;
His spirit by scorn had been goaded to madness,
And now that bright scene, and those murmurs of gladness,
Seem’d rising before him to mock at his woe.
Oh why, he exclaim’d, as the bitter tear started,
Oh why was I form’d with a bosom to feel!
Since thus I was doom’d from mankind to be parted,
An outcast on earth, lone, and desolate-hearted,
Too vile with the vilest in worship to kneel.
And thou—loved and lost one—oh why didst thou nourish
The weed that was trampled by all, save by thee;
The gleamings of light in my young spirit cherish,
And waken high feelings and hopes but to perish,
And leave my dark fate doubly dreadful to me?
In the hours of my slumber proud visions come o’er me,
And life for a moment seems brightly to smile,
The pathway of glory and fame is before me,
The noble caress, and the lovely adore me,
And every sad thought from my bosom beguile.
But, ah! from those dreams soon and sadly I waken,
To find all around me thrice gloomy and drear;
To know that thou, too, from my arms hast been taken,
Thou blest and revered one, whose friendship unshaken,
The darkest, and saddest, of moments would cheer.
Oh death! thou stern foe to the lovely and blooming,
Thou terror to those who are blessing and blest!
How freely this bosom would welcome thy coming,
How gladly, thy garment of darkness assuming,
Sink down into slumber and peace on thy breast!
’T is sweet to think of days gone by,
When life and all its charms were new,
And seem’d as bright to childhood’s eye,
As morning’s liquid gems of dew.
To think of joys that long have fled,
Of youthful hopes indulged in vain,
Of feelings waken’d from the dead,
And sorrows that have ceased to pain.
To let the thoughts excursive rove,
In many a wild prophetic dream,
To pour the prayer for those we love
And feel that we are dear to them—
To think of friends we fondly loved,
Who calmly now in darkness sleep,
By all our joys and griefs unmoved—
To think with soften’d breast and weep!
Oh! well such moments can repay,
For lingering hours of darker thought,
When hope has bent ’neath sorrow’s sway,
And feeling is with anguish fraught.
The Chinese Son.The following lines were suggested by reading a narrative of a Chinese youth, whose mother felt great alarm during the prevalence of a thunderstorm, and whose filial affection always prompted him to be present with his mother on such occasions, and even after her death to visit and remain at her grave, during their continuance.
I come to thee, my mother! the black sky
Is swollen with its thunder, and the air
Seems palpable with darkness, save when high,
The lurid lightning streams a ruddy glare
Across the heavens, rousing from their lair
The deep-voiced thunders! how the mounting storm
Strides o’er the firmament! yet I can dare
Its fiercest terrors, mother, that my arm
May wind its shield of love around thy sleeping form.
What uproar! raging winds, and smiting hail,
The lightning’s blaze, and deaf’ning thunder’s crash,
Let loose at once for havoc! I should quail
Before the terrors of the forked flash,
Did not the thought of thee triumphant dash
All selfish fears aside, and bid me fly
To kneel beside thy grave; the rain-drops plash
Heavily round thee from the rifted sky;
Yet I am here, fear not—beside thy couch I lie.
Thou canst not hear me—the storm brings not now,
One terror to thy bosom—yet ’t is sweet
To call to mind the smile, wherewith thy brow
Was wont in by-gone days my step to greet,
When o’er the earth the summer tempest beat,
And the loosed thunder shook the heavens—but when
Was there a look of mine that did not meet
A smile of love from thee? the world of men
A friend, like thou hast been, will never yield again.
Oh! mother, mother, how could love like thine
Pass from the earth away! on other eyes,
The glances of maternal love will shine,
And still on other hearts the blessing lies,
That made mine blissful; yet far less they prize
That boon of happiness—and in their glee,
Around their spirits gather many ties
Of joy and tenderness—but all to me
That made the earth seem bright, is sepulchred with thee.
They sometimes strive to lead me to the halls,
Where wine and mirth the fleeting moments wing,
But on my clouded spirit sadness falls,
More darkly then, than when the cave-glooms fling
Their shadows round me, and the night-winds sing
Through the torn rocks their melancholy dirge,
Or when as now the echoing thunder rings
O’er the wide heavens, and the mad gales urge
Unto an answering cry, the overmastering surge.
The storms of nature pass, and soon no trace
Is left to mark their ravage—but long years
Pass lingeringly onward, nor efface
The deep-cut channel of our burning tears,
Or aching scars, that wasting sorrow sears
Upon the breast: lo! even now, a gleam
Of moonlight through the broken clouds appears,
To bless the earth again. I fain would dream,
It was a smile of thine, to bless me with its beam.
To a Crocus.
An’ so ye’ve oped your leaves at last—
I’ve often pitied ye, when fast
The drivin’ snaw has o’er ye past,
Puir bonnie thing,
Ye dared too soon the moody blast,
This damp cauld spring.
Ye’ve lifted up your gou’den head,
Too soon from off its wintry bed,
When late the faithless sunshine shed,
A saft warm gleam,
Then left ye, ere your leaves could spread,
Beneath its beam.
Sic’ is the hapless doom of those
Round whom her chain stern slavery throws,
Wha, born to naught but wrongs and woes,
An’ mony a tear,
Find storms and gloom around them close,
In life’s young year.
But o’er ye now the brightening sky
Is bending wi’ a milder eye,
A safter breeze your buds will dry,
An’ fan your bloom;
O’er them oppression’s clouds still lie
In murky gloom.
Yet e’en for them, a feeble light
Seems breaking o’er the horizon’s night,
Distant, and faint, yet palely bright,
Wi’ hope’s blest beam,
Telling that soon across their sight
’T will broadly gleam.
They say this world is fraught with guile
They say that lips may wear a smile,
And yet the heart be cold the while,
As Zembla’s sparkling icicle.
They say that those beloved for years,
Will fly when adverse fate appears,
And meet us ’midst our lonely tears,
With eye averted scornfully.
Believe it not—oh no! oh no!
True hearts there are, that love not so,
But closer twine in grief and woe,
And love ev’n more in misery!
There may be some, perchance, whose eye
Will only smile when hope is high,
And from the couch of sorrow fly,
To meet in sounds of revelry.
Yet think not all are false and fair!
Though hearts of truth, alas! be rare,
Some, some, at least, will surely bear
The test of dark adversity.
A Sketch.[Extracted from a manuscript poem.]
Young Harwald’s burning coal-black eye,
And clustering locks of raven dye—
That o’er his lofty forehead hung,
In thick neglected masses flung,—
Contrasted strangely with the cheek
So wan, so sunken, and so pale,—
Save when the hectic’s transient streak
Pass’d over it—and told a tale
Of silent suffering and decay,
That wore the springs of life away.173 15(3)r 173
Scarce five and twenty years, he said,
The light of heaven has round me shed;
But these few years of woe and crime,
Have done the lingering work of time.
I was a spoil’d and wayward boy,
In infancy my father’s toy;
Each wild caprice, each childish whim,
Was humour’d and indulged by him;
Until my passions, unrestrain’d,
A fearful empire o’er me gain’d;
And in this form, so changed, decay’d,
Behold the wreck that they have made.
Thou knowest now what I have been,
And what I am:—but no, unseen,
Unknown, forever, must remain
The dreary loneliness,—the pain
Of blighted hopes, remorse’s sting,
And all the vulture forms that cling
Around this heart, where they were nursed,
Till they have render’d it accursed!
Nay, nay! speak not to me of peace,
Of pardoning love, and heavenly grace;
My callous heart is scorch’d and sear,
It has naught now to hope or fear.
It may be, in my days of youth,
Before my heart was warp’d from truth,
Thy words had not been vain—but now
The mark of Cain is on my brow!
Ay! spurn me from thee, if thou wilt—
’T is just—this hand is red with guilt;
And ’t is not meet that it should clasp,
With one so pure, in friendly grasp.
I could not weep—no, not one tear,
Though it might change my final sentence:
I feel it—it is written here—
And my scorch’d heart is waste and drear
With vain remorse, but no repentance.15* 174 15(3)v 174
It is too late!—the time of grace,
So vainly offer’d, now is spent;
There is no longer left a place,
Where I might turn me, and repent.
There is a God! I doubt it not—
Though I have scorn’d his holy name—
’T is written where no hand can blot
Those characters of living flame.
No!—I have scoff’d at things above,
Have spurn’d a Saviour’s proffer’d love,
Have made a mockery of faith,
And hopes, beyond the power of death—
But never, in my wildest hour,
My heart has disbelieved His power!
No!—I have strove to think, in vain,
That it was superstition’s chain.
I knew he lived!—yet dared his wrath,
Defied his vengeance and his death:
But never, save in one dark hour,
Hath this parch’d lip denied his name—
For when I would have mock’d his power,
My mother’s form before me came,
With that same look she used to wear,
When she had knelt for me in prayer.
I know not, if I yet believe,
What you as sacred truths receive;
But I have felt, when near my bed,
Thy lips the word of truth have read,—
And memory has recall’d the sigh,
That bore her last faint prayer on high,—
That there must be some soothing charm,
Some power, in what could thus disarm
The scenes of death and suffering
Of half the anguish of their sting.
At length, he felt that there was yet
Some respite from the gnawing pain,
That, like a burning brand, had set
Its impress on his heart and brain.175 15(4)r 175
He was not happy—but despair
Had soften’d into sadness now—
And lingering nights of tears and prayer,
And days of penitential woe,—
For time misspent, and hours of folly,
For passions high, and deeds of ill,—
Had brought a soften’d melancholy,
And hope that there was mercy still.
He felt that yet his heart had ties
To bind him to the bright green earth,
And that although for him must rise
No more the joyous voice of mirth,
There still might be an hour of peace,
When life and woe at once should cease.
To the Ladies’ Free Produce Society.These lines were addressed to the Ladies’ Free Produce Society, of Philadelphia, a short time previous to one of its stated meetings, after the author had removed from the city.
Your gathering day! and I am not,
As erst, amid you set;
But even from this distant spot,
My thoughts are with you yet,
As freshly as in hours forgot,
When I was with you met.
His blessing on your high career!
Go, press unwearied on,
From month to month, from year to year,
Till when your task is done,
The franchised negro’s grateful tear
Proclaims your victory won.
Oh faint you not, ye gathered band!
Although your way be long,
And they who ranged against you stand,
Are numberless and strong;
While you but bear a feeble hand,
Unused to cope with wrong.
Upon your injured brother look,
And nerve ye with the sight!
Could you the good, the gentle, brook
To wear your days in light,
Regardless that by sorrow struck,
He pines in rayless night?
Oh surely ’t is a blessed fate,
A lot like that ye bear—
To bid the crush’d and desolate,
Not yield them to despair,
For even amidst their low estate,
Some hearts their sufferings share.
And never your high task forget,
Till they are chainless—free!
Alas! that ye should be so met,
And I not with you be;
Yet sometimes when you thus are set,
One heart may turn to me.
To Prudence Crandall.
Heaven bless thee, noble lady, in thy purpose good and high!
Give knowledge to the thirsting mind, light to the asking eye;
Unseal the intellectual page, for those from whom dark pride,
With tyrant and unholy hands, would fain its treasures hide.
Still bear thou up unyielding ’gainst persecution’s shock,
Gentle as woman’s self, yet firm, and moveless as a rock;
A thousand spirits yield to thee their gushing sympathies,
The blessing of a thousand hearts around thy pathway lies.
There are who lightly speak with scornful smiles,
Of woman’s faith, of woman’s artful wiles;
Who call her false in heart, and weak in mind,
The slave of fashion, and to reason blind.
She may be such among the gilded bowers,
Where changing follies serve to waste the hours—
But bear her from the giddy world afar,
And place her lonely, like the evening star,
And with as bright, as pure, as calm a beam,
Her milder virtues will serenely gleam:
Go, place her by the couch of pale disease,
And bid her give the feverish pulses ease—
Say, will she not the task unmurmuring bear,
To soothe the anguish’d brow with tender care—
To trim the midnight lamp, and from her eye,
Though dim with watching, bid soft slumber fly—
With lightly whisper’d voice, and noiseless tread,
Glide, like an angel, round the sick man’s bed—
With tireless patience watch the speaking eye,
And all unask’d his slightest wants supply?
It is not hers to guide the storm of war,
To rule the state, or thunder at the bar—
It is not hers to captivate the heart
With potent eloquence, resistless art—
To sit with men in legislative hall,
To govern realms, or mark their rise and fall;
These things are not for her. ’T is woman’s care
Alone, to rear the shoots that flourish there—
To list the lisping voice, with joy refined,
To watch the first unfolding of the mind,
The springing dawn of intellectual day,
The brighter beam of reason’s perfect ray;
To wipe the starting tear from childhood’s eye,
To soothe his little woes, and balms apply,
To drink of science’ fount, that she may store
His opening mind with all her gather’d lore;
To guard his morals with unceasing care,
And bend, for him, the suppliant knee in prayer.178 15(5)v 178
Then give him, in his full and perfect worth,
To serve the land that smiled upon his birth.
Such woman is—and shall proud man forbear,
The converse of the mind with her to share?
No! she with him shall knowledge’ pages scan,
And be the partner, not the toy, of man!
When smit with angry fortune’s adverse gale,
E’en his stern spirit seems at length to quail—
When all his hopes are wreck’d, his health has flown,
And strangers claim the land he calls his own:
When friends who flatter’d ’neath the summer sky,
With brow estranged, his alter’d fortunes fly,
Then, woman, it is thine, with changeless heart,
In all his wretchedness to bear a part:
To quit the scenes thy smiles could once illume,
And sink with him to poverty and gloom;
To soothe his sorrows, calm his aching head,
And hang in speechless fondness o’er his bed,
His woes, his wants, his sufferings to share,
Thine alter’d lot without one plaint to bear;
To lock thy silent sorrows in thy breast,
And smile, as thou wert wont, in days more blest;
His steps to follow to earth’s farthest verge,
O’er icy mount, or ocean’s foaming surge;
With hopes of better days his heart to cheer,
And with thy smile, to shed the first fond tear.
Such changeless faith is woman’s—constant still,
Through each reversing scene of good and ill.
When man is crush’d by storms that o’er him roll,
Then rises woman’s timid, shrinking soul:
Pain, peril, want, she fearlessly will bear,
To dash from man the cup of dark despair;
And only asks for all her tireless zeal,
To share his fate—whate’er he feels, to feel—
To breathe in his fond arms her latest breath,
And murmur out the loved one’s name in death.
The Indian Mother to her Son.
Thy foot is on thy father’s grave,
Thine eye is on thy father’s foes,
Here sleeps what once was free and brave!
There, last his war-whoop yell arose!
And where thy sire’s last deed was done,
There first thine arm shall wake, my son.
Thou see’st this flower—thy father’s heart
Hath nourish’d up its early bloom;
And thou, to me, hast been a part
Of life, and hope, through years of gloom.—
The flowret’s stem is rent—and thou
Must tear thee from thy mother now.
Ay, hie thee forth— the red man’s yell,
To-night, shall break our foemen’s sleep;
And shrieks, and flames, and blood, shall tell,
How Indian hearts their vengeance keep!
How Indian sons in memory nurse
Their dying sires’ revengeful curse.
Yon evening wreath of fleecy smoke
Curls gently up against the sky,—
But once through darker volumes broke
The midnight flame, the mother’s cry!
And there again the day-beam’s smile,
Shall view a black deserted pile.
The morning of thy life was there
Where white man’s foot now blights the soil;
And there return’d from chase or war,
Thy sire was wont to share his spoil—
Revenge his death! I charge thee, boy—
And win the warrior’s noble joy.
The Indian Camp.
I stood amidst its solitude! where erst
The mighty of the desert dwelt, ere yet
The thunder-cloud of desolation burst
In darkness o’er them; ere their sun had set,
And pale-faced strangers from the ocean’s strand,
Had look’d with evil eye across their fathers’ land.
When, like the wild-deer of their own dark woods,
They trod with bounding steps its gloomy maze
Fearless and free; or stemm’d the rushing flood
In light canoe; and pausing but to raise
Their whoop of terror, rush’d to distant war,
With breast and brow still mark’d with many a former scar
Methinks I see them now, as evening came,
Returning homeward from the lengthen’d chase,
The haughty fierceness of their brows grown tame,
And round their necks fond childhood’s soft embrace;
While lips of age their simple welcome spoke,
And silent smiles of love in gentle eyes awoke.
But there was left no relic of them there,
Save that tradition told of one lone spot,
Where they had long been sepulchred; it bore
No stone, no monument, that they might not
Be all forgotten; but the forest bough,
In aged strength bent down above each mouldering brow
The gushing stream beside whose limpid waves
They oft had flung them when the chase was o’er,
Or paused amid its hurrying course to lave
Their thirsty lips, and heated brows, of yore,
Still rushes nigh them with its shining waves,
But pours them only round their silent graves.