NOTE.—The frontispiece was engraved by J. A. J. Wilcox in 1888, from a photograph taken by Southworth and Hawes, Boston, about 1855.
Dr. Charles Follen, a German patriot, who had come to America for the freedom which was denied him in his native land, allied himself with the abolitionists, and at a convention of delegates from all the anti-slavery organizations in New England, held at Boston in May, 1834, was a chairman of a committee to prepare an address to the people of New England. Toward the close of the address occurred the passage which suggested these lines.
"The despotism which our fathers could not bear in their native country is expiring, and the sword of justice in her reformed hands has applied its exterminating edge to slavery. Shall the United States — the free United States, which could not bear the Page 25
bonds of a king — cradle the bondage which a king is abolishing? Shall a Republic be less free than a Monarchy? Shall we, in the vigor and buoyancy of our manhood, be less energetic in righteousness than a kingdom in its age?"
—Dr. Follen's Address.
"Genius of America — Spirit of our free institutions! — where art thou? How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! son of the morning, — how art thou fallen from Heaven! Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming! The kings of the earth cry out to thee, Aha! Aha! Art thou become like unto us?"
—Speech of Samuel J. May.
OUR fellow-countrymen in chains!
Slaves, in a land of light and law!
Slaves, crouching on the very plains
Where rolled the storm of Freedom's war!
A groan from Eutaw's haunted wood,
A wail where Camden's martyrs fell,
By every shrine of patriot blood,
From Moultrie's wall and Jasper's well!
By storied hill and hallowed grot,
By mossy wood and marshy glen,
Whence rang of old the rifle-shot,
And hurrying shout of Marion's men!
The groan of breaking hearts is there,
The falling lash, the fetter's clank!
Slaves, slaves are breathing in that air
Which old De Kalb and Sumter drank!
What, ho! our countrymen in chains!
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh!
Our soil yet reddening with the stains
Caught from her scourging, warm and fresh!
What! mothers from their children riven!
What! God's own image bought and sold!
Americans to market driven,
And bartered as the brute for gold!
Speak! shall their agony of prayer
Come thrilling to our hearts in vain?
To us whose fathers scorned to bear
The paltry menace of a chain;
To us, whose boast is loud and long
Of holy Liberty and Light;
Say, shall these writhing slaves of Wrong
Plead vainly for their plundered Right?
What! shall we send, with lavish breath,
Our sympathies across the wave,
Where Manhood, on the field of death,
Strikes for his freedom or a grave?
Shall prayers go up, and hymns be sung
For Greece, the Moslem fetter spurning,
And millions hail with pen and tongue
Our light on all her altars burning?
Shall Belgium feel, and gallant France,
By Vendome's pile and Schoenbrun's wall,
And Poland, gasping on her lance,
The impulse of our cheering call?
And shall the slave, beneath our eye,
Clank o'er our fields his hateful chain?
And toss his fettered arms on high,
And groan for Freedom's gift, in vain?
Oh, say, shall Prussia's banner be
A refuge for the stricken slave?
And shall the Russian serf go free
By Baikal's lake and Neva's wave?
And shall the wintry-bosomed Dane
Relax the iron hand of pride,
And bid his bondmen cast the chain
From fettered soul and limb aside?
Shall every flap of England's flag
Proclaim that all around are free,
From farthest Ind to each blue crag
That beetles o'er the Western Sea?
And shall we scoff at Europe's kings,
When Freedom's fire is dim with us,
And round our country's altar clings
The damning shade of Slavery's curse?
Go, let us ask of Constantine
To loose his grasp on Poland's throat;
And beg the lord of Mahmoud's line
To spare the struggling Suliote;
Will not the scorching answer come
From turbaned Turk, and scornful Russ:
"Go, loose your lettered slaves at home,
Then turn, and ask the like of us!"
Just God! and shall we calmly rest,
The Christian's scorn, the heathen's mirth,
Content to live the lingering jest
And by-word of a mocking Earth?
Shall our own glorious land retain
That curse which Europe scorns to bear?
Shall our own brethren drag the chain
Which not even Russia's menials wear?
Up, then, in Freedom's manly part,
From graybeard eld to fiery youth,
And on the nation's naked heart
Scatter the living coals of Truth!
Up! while ye slumber, deeper yet
The shadow of our fame is growing!
Up! while ye pause, our sun may set
In blood, around our altars flowing!
Oh! rouse ye, ere the storm comes forth,
The gathered wrath of God and man,
Like that which wasted Egypt's earth,
When hail and fire above it ran.
Hear ye no warnings in the air?
Feel ye no earthquake underneath?
Up, up! why will ye slumber where
The sleeper only wakes in death?
Rise now for Freedom! not in strife
Like that your sterner fathers saw,
The awful waste of human life,
The glory and the guilt of war:
But break the chain, the yoke remove,
And smite to earth Oppression's rod,
With those mild arms of Truth and Love,
Made mighty through the living God!
Down let the shrine of Moloch sink,
And leave no traces where it stood;
Nor longer let its idol drink
His daily cup of human blood;
But rear another altar there,
To Truth and Love and Mercy given,
And Freedom's gift, and freedom's prayer,
Shall call an answer down from Heaven!
THE PASTORAL LETTER.
The General Association of Congregational ministers in Massachusetts met at Brookfield, June 27, 1837, and and issued a Pastoral Letter to the churches under its care. The immediate occasion of it was the profound sensation produced by the recent public lecture in Massachusetts by Angelina and Sarah Grimké, two noble women from South Carolina who bore their testimony against slavery. The Letter demanded that "the perplexed and agitating subjects which are now common amongst us should not be forced upon any church as matters for debate, at the hazard of alienation and division," and called attention to the dangers now seeming "to threaten the female character with widespread and permanent injury."
So, this is all, — the utmost reach
Of priestly power the mind to fetter!
When laymen think, when women preach,
A war of words, a "Pastoral Letter!"
Now, shame upon ye, parish Popes!
Was it thus with those, your predecessors,
Who sealed with racks, and fire, and ropes
Their loving-kindness to transgressors?
A "Pastoral Letter," grave and dull;
Alas! in hoof and horns and features,
How different is your Brookfield bull
From him who bellows from St. Peter's!
Your pastoral rights and powers from harm,
Think ye, can words alone preserve them?
Your wiser fathers taught the arm
And sword of temporal power to serve them.
Oh, glorious days, when Church and State
Were wedded by your spiritual fathers!
And on submissive shoulders sat
Your Wilsons and your Cotton Mathers,
No vile "itinerant" then could mar
The beauty of your tranquil Zion,
But at his peril of the scar
Of hangman's whip and branding-iron.
Then, wholesome laws relieved the Church
Of heretic and mischief-maker,
And priest and bailiff joined in search,
By turns, of Papist, witch, and Quaker!
The stocks were at each church's door,
The gallows stood on Boston Common,
A Papist's ears the pillory bore, —
The gallows-rope, a Quaker woman!
Your fathers dealt not as ye deal
With "non-professing" frantic teachers;
They bored the tongue with red-hot steel,
And flayed the backs of "female preachers."
Old Hampton, had her fields a tongue,
And Salem's streets could tell their story,
Of fainting woman dragged along,
Gashed by the whip accursed and gory!
And will ye ask me, why this taunt
Of memories sacred from the scorner?
And why with reckless hand I plant
A nettle on the graves ye honor?
Not to reproach New England's dead
This record from the past I summon,
Of manhood to the scaffold led,
And suffering and heroic woman.
No, for yourselves alone, I turn
The pages of intolerance over,
That, in their spirit, dark and stern,
Ye haply may your own discover!
For, if ye claim the "pastoral right"
To silence Freedom's voice of warning,
And from your precincts shut the light
Of Freedom's day around ye dawning;
If when an earthquake voice of power
And signs in earth and heaven are showing
That forth, in its appointed hour,
The Spirit of the Lord is going!
And, with that Spirit, Freedom's light
On kindred, tongue, and people breaking,
Whose slumbering millions, at the sight,
In glory and in strength are waking!
When for the sighing of the poor,
And for the needy, God hath risen,
And chains are breaking, and a door
Is opening for the souls in prison!
If then ye would, with puny hands,
Arrest the very work of Heaven,
And bind anew the evil bands
Which God's right arm of power hath riven;
What marvel that, in many a mind,
Those darker deeds of bigot madness
Are closely with your own combined,
Yet "less in anger than in sadness "?
What marvel, if the people learn
To claim the right of free opinion?
What marvel, if at times they spurn
The ancient yoke of your dominion?
A glorious remnant linger yet,
Whose lips are wet at Freedom's fountains,
The coming of whose welcome feet
Is beautiful upon our mountains!
Men, who the gospel tidings bring
Of Liberty and Love forever,
Whose joy is an abiding spring,
Whose peace is as a gentle river!
But ye, who scorn the thrilling tale
Of Carolina's high-souled daughters,
Which echoes here the mournful wail
Of sorrow from Edisto's waters,
Close while ye may the public ear,
With malice vex, with slander wound them,
The pure and good shall throng to hear,
And tried and manly hearts surround them.
Oh, ever may the power which led
Their way to such a fiery trial,
And strengthened womanhood to tread
The wine-press of such self-denial,
Be round them in an evil land,
With wisdom and with strength from Heaven,
With Miriam's voice, and Judith's hand,
And Deborah's song, for triumph given!
And what are ye who strive with God
Against the ark of His salvation,
Moved by the breath of prayer abroad,
With blessings for a dying nation?
What, but the stubble and the hay
To perish, even as flax consuming,
With all that bars His glorious way,
Before the brightness of His coming?
And thou, sad Angel, who so long
Hast waited for the glorious token,
That Earth from all her bonds of wrong
To liberty and light has broken, —
Angel of Freedom! soon to thee
The sounding trumpet shall be given,
And over Earth's full jubilee
Shall deeper joy be felt in Heaven!
Read at the dedication of Pennsylvania Hall, Philadelphia, May 15, 1838. The building was erected by an association of gentlemen, irrespective of sect or party, "that the citizens of Philadelphia should possess a room wherein the principles of Liberty, and Equality of Civil Rights, could be freely discussed, and the evils of slavery fearlessly portrayed." On the evening of the 17th it was burned by a mob, destroying the office of the Pennsylvania Freeman, of which I was editor, and with it my books and papers.
NOT with the splendors of the days of old,
The spoil of nations, and barbaric gold;
No weapons wrested from the fields of blood,
Where dark and stern the unyielding Roman stood,
And the proud eagles of his cohorts saw
A world, war-wasted, crouching to his law;
Nor blazoned car, nor banners floating gay,
Like those which swept along the Appian Way,
When, to the welcome of imperial Rome,
The victor warrior came in triumph home,
And trumpet peal, and shoutings wild and high,
Stirred the blue quiet of the Italian sky;
But calm and grateful, prayerful and sincere,
As Christian freemen only, gathering here,
We dedicate our fair and lofty Hall,
Pillar and arch, entablature and wall,
As Virtue's shrine, as Liberty's abode,
Sacred to Freedom, and to Freedom's God!
Far statelier Halls, 'neath brighter skies than these,
Stood darkly mirrored in the Ægean seas,
Pillar and shrine, and life-like statues seen,
Graceful and pure, the marble shafts between;
Where glorious Athens from her rocky hill
Saw Art and Beauty subject to her will;
And the chaste temple, and the classic grove,
The hall of sages, and the bowers of love,
Arch, fane, and column, graced the shores, and gave
Their shadows to the blue Saronic wave;
And statelier rose, on Tiber's winding side,
The Pantheon's dome, the Coliseum's pride,
The Capitol, whose arches backward flung
The deep, clear cadence of the Roman tongue,
Whence stern decrees, like words of fate, went forth
To the awed nations of a conquered earth,
Where the proud Caesars in their glory came,
And Brutus lightened from his lips of flame!
Yet in tire porches of Athena's halls,
And in the shadow of her stately walls,
Lurked the sad bondman, and his tears of woe
Wet the cold marble with unheeded flow;
And fetters clanked beneath the silver dome
Of the proud Pantheon of imperious Rome.
Oh, not for him, the chained and stricken slave,
By Tiber's shore, or blue Ægina's wave,
In the thronged forum, or the sages' seat,
The bold lip pleaded, and the warm heart beat;
No soul of sorrow melted at his pain,
No tear of pity rusted on his chain!
But this fair Hall to Truth and Freedom given,
Pledged to the Right before all Earth and Heaven,
A free arena for the strife of mind,
To caste, or sect, or color unconfined,
Shall thrill with echoes such as ne'er of old
From Roman hall or Grecian temple rolled;
Thoughts shall find utterance such as never yet
The Propylea or the Forum met.
Beneath its roof no gladiator's strife
Shall win applauses with the waste of life;
No lordly lictor urge the barbarous game,
No wanton Lais glory in her shame.
But here the tear of sympathy shall flow,
As the ear listens to the tale of woe;
Here in stern judgment of the oppressor's wrong
Shall strong rebukings thrill on Freedom's tongue,
No partial justice hold th' unequal scale,
No pride of caste a brother's rights assail,
No tyrant's mandates echo from this wall,
Holy to Freedom and the Rights of All!
But a fair field, where mind may close with mind,
Free as the sunshine and the chainless wind;
Where the high trust is fixed on Truth alone,
And bonds and fetters from the soul are thrown;
Where wealth, and rank, and worldly pomp, and might,
Yield to the presence of the True and Right.
And fitting is it that this Hall should stand
Where Pennsylvania's Founder led his band,.
From thy blue waters, Delaware!— to press
The virgin verdure of the wilderness.
Here, where all Europe with amazement saw
The soul's high freedom trammelled by no law;
Here, where the fierce and warlike forest-men
Gathered, in peace, around the home of Penn,
Awed by the weapons Love alone had given
Drawn from the holy armory of Heaven;
Where Nature's voice against the bondman's wrong
First found an earnest and indignant tongue;
Where Lay's bold message to the proud was borne;
And Keith's rebuke, and Franklin's manly scorn!
Fitting it is that here, where Freedom first
From her fair feet shook off the Old World's dust,
Spread her white pinions to our Western blast,
And her free tresses to our sunshine cast,
One Hall should rise redeemed from Slavery's ban,
One Temple sacred to the Rights of Man!
Oh! if the spirits of the parted come,
Visiting angels, to their olden home;
If the dead fathers of the land look forth
From their fair dwellings, to the things of earth,
Is it a dream, that with their eyes of love,
They gaze now on us from the bowers above?
Lay's ardent soul, and Benezet the mild,
Steadfast in faith, yet gentle as a child,
Meek-hearted Woolman, and that brother-band,
The sorrowing exiles from their "Father land,"
Leaving their homes in Krieshiem's bowers of vine,
And the blue beauty of their glorious Rhine,
To seek amidst our solemn depths of wood
Freedom from man, and holy peace with God;
Who first of all their testimonial gave
Against the oppressor, for the outcast slave,
Is it a dream that such as these look down,
And with their blessing our rejoicings crown?
Let us rejoice, that while the pulpit's door
Is barred against the pleaders for the poor;
While the Church, wrangling upon points of faith,
Forgets her bondsmen suffering unto death;
While crafty Traffic and the lust of Gain
Unite to forge Oppression's triple chain,
One door is open, and one Temple free,
As a resting-place for hunted Liberty!
Where men may speak, unshackled and unawed,
High words of Truth, for Freedom and for God.
And when that truth its perfect work hath done,
And rich with blessings o'er our land hath gone;
When not a slave beneath his yoke shall pine,
From broad Potomac to the far Sabine:
When unto angel lips at last is given
The silver trump of Jubilee in Heaven;
And from Virginia's plains, Kentucky's shades,
And through the dim Floridian everglades,
Rises, to meet that angel-trumpet's sound,
The voice of millions from their chains unbound;
Then, though this Hall be crumbling in decay,
Its strong walls blending with the common clay,
Yet, round the ruins of its strength shall stand
The best and noblest of a ransomed land —
Pilgrims, like these who throng around the shrine
Of Mecca, or of holy Palestine!
A prouder glory shall that ruin own
Than that which lingers round the Parthenon.
Here shall the child of after years be taught
The works of Freedom which his fathers wrought;
Told of the trials of the present hour,
Our weary strife with prejudice and power;
How the high errand quickened woman's soul,
And touched her lip as with a living coal;
How Freedom's martyms kept their lofty faith
True and unwavering, unto bonds and death;
The pencil's art shall sketch the ruined Hall,
The Muses' garland crown its aged wall,
And History's pen for after times record
Its consecration unto Freedom's God!
THE NEW YEAR.
Addressed to the Patrons of the Pennsylvania Freeman.
THE wave is breaking on the shore,
The echo fading from the chime;
Again the shadow moveth o'er
The dial-plate of time!
O seer-seen Angel! waiting now
With weary feet on sea and shore,
Impatient for the last dread vow
That time shall be no more!
Once more across thy sleepless eye
The semblance of a smile has passed:
The year departing leaves more nigh
Time's fearfullest and last.
Oh, in that dying year hath been
The sum of all since time began;
The birth and death, the joy and pain,
Of Nature and of Man.
Spring, with her change of sun and shower,
And streams released from Winter's chain,
And bursting bud, and opening flower,
And greenly growing grain;
And Summer's shade, and sunshine warm,
And rainbows o'er her hill-tops bowed,
And voices in her rising storm;
God speaking from His cloud!
And Autumn's fruits and clustering sheaves,
And soft, warm days of golden light,
The glory of her forest leaves,
And harvest-moon at night;
And Winter with her leafless grove,
And prisoned stream, and drifting snow,
The brilliance of her heaven above
And of her earth below:
And man, in whom an angel's mind
With earth's low instincts finds abode,
The highest of the links which bind
Brute nature to her God;
His infant eye hath seen the light,
His childhood's merriest laughter rung,
And active sports to manlier might
The nerves of boyhood strung!
And quiet love, and passion's fires,
Have soothed or burned in manhood's breast,
And lofty aims and low desires
By turns disturbed his rest.
The wailing of the newly-born
Has mingled with the funeral knell;
And o'er the dying's ear has gone
The merry marriage-bell.
And Wealth has filled his halls with mirth,
While Want, in many a humble shed,
Toiled, shivering by her cheerless hearth,
The live-long night for bread.
And worse than all, the human slave,
The sport of lust, and pride, and scorn!
Plucked off the crown his Maker gave,
His regal manhood gone!
Oh, still,my country! o'er thy plains,
Blackened with slavery's blight and ban,
That human chattel drags his chains,
An uncreated man!
And still, where'er to sun and breeze,
My country, is thy flag unrolled,
With scorn, the gazing stranger sees
A stain on every fold.
Oh, tear the gorgeous emblem down!
It gathers scorn from every eye,
And despots smile and good men frown
Whene'er it passes by.
Shame! shame! its starry splendors glow
Above the slaver's loathsome jail;
Its folds are ruffling even now
His crimson flag of sale.
Still round our country's proudest hall
The trade in human flesh is driven,
And at each careless hammer-fall
A human heart is riven.
And this, too, sanctioned by the men
Vested with power to shield the right,
And throw each vile and robber den
Wide open to the light.
Yet, shame upon them! there they sit,
Men of the North, subdued and still;
Meek, pliant poltroons, only fit
To work a master's will.
Sold, bargained off for Southern votes,
A passive herd of Northern mules,
Just braying through their purchased throats
Whate'er their owner rules.
the basest of the base
The vilest of the vile, whose name,
Embalmed in infinite disgrace,
Is deathless in its shame!
A tool, to bolt the people's door
Against the people clamoring there,
An ass, to trample on their floor
A people's right of prayer!
Nailed to his self-made gibbet fast,
Self-pilloried to the public view,
A mark for every passing blast
Of scorn to whistle through;
There let him hang, and hear the boast
Of Southrons o'er their pliant tool, —
A new Stylites on his post,
"Sacred to ridicule!"
Look we at home! our noble hall,
To Freedom's holy purpose given,
Now rears its black and ruined wall,
Beneath the wintry heaven,
Telling the story of its doom,
The fiendish mob, the prostrate law,
The fiery jet through midnight's gloom,
Our gazing thousands saw.
Look to our State! the poor man's right
Torn from him: and the sons of those
Whose blood in Freedom's sternest fight
Sprinkled the Jersey snows,
Outlawed within the land of Penn,
That Slavery's guilty fears might cease,
And those whom God created men
Toil on as brutes in peace.
Yet o'er the blackness of the storm
A bow of promise bends on high,
And gleams of sunshine, soft and warm,
Break through our clouded sky.
East, West, and North, the shout is heard,
Of freemen rising for the right:
Each valley hath its rallying word,
Each hill its signal light.
O'er Massachusetts' rocks of gray,
The strengthening light of freedom shines,
Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay,
And Vermont's snow-hung pines!
From Hudson's frowning palisades
To Alleghany's laurelled crest,
O'er lakes and prairies, streams and glades,
It shines upon the West.
Speed on the light to those who dwell
In Slavery's land of woe and sin,
And through the blackness of that hell,
Let Heaven's own light break in.
So shall the Southern conscience quake
Before that light poured full and strong,
So shall the Southern heart awake
To all the bondman's wrong.
And from that rich and sunny land
The song of grateful millions rise,
Like that of Israel's ransomed band
Beneath Arabians skies:
And all who now are bound beneath
Our banner's shade, our eagle's wing,
From Slavery's night of moral death
To light and life shall spring.
Broken the bondman's chain, and gone
The master's guilt, and hate, and fear,
And unto both alike shall dawn
A New and Happy Year.
THE WORLD'S CONVENTION
OF THE FRIENDS OF EMANCIPATION, HELD IN LONDON IN 1840.
Joseph Sturge, the founder of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, proposed the calling of a world's anti-slavery convention, and the proposal was promptly seconded by the American Anti-Slavery Society. The call was addressed to "friends of the slave of every nation and of every clime."
YES, let them gather! Summon forth
The pledged philanthropy of Earth.
From every land, whose hills have heard
The bugle blast of Freedom waking;
Or shrieking of her symbol-bird
From out his cloudy eyrie breaking:
Where Justice hath one worshipper,
Or truth one altar built to her;
Where'er a human eye is weeping
O'er wrongs which Earth's sad children know;
Where'er a single heart is keeping
Its prayerful watch with human woe:
Thence let them come, and greet each other,
And know in each a friend and brother!
Yes, let them come! from each green vale
Where England's old baronial halls
Still bear upon their storied walls
The grim crusader's rusted mail,
Battered by Paynim spear and brand
On Malta's rock or Syria's sand.!
And mouldering pennon-staves once set
Within the soil of Palestine,
By Jordan and Gennesaret;
Or, borne with England's battle line,
O'er Acre's shattered turrets stooping,
Or, midst the camp their banners drooping,
With dews from hallowed Hermon wet,
A holier summons now is given
Than that gray herinit's voice of old,
Which unto all the winds of heaven
The banners of the Cross unrolled!
Not for the long-deserted shrine;
Not for the dull unconscious sod,
Which tells not by one lingering sign
That there the hope of Israel trod;
But for that truth, for which alone
In pilgrim eyes are sanctified
The garden moss, the mountain stone,
Whereon His holy sandals pressed, —
The fountain which His lip hath blessed, —
Whate'er hath touched His garment's hem
At Bethany or Bethlehem,
Or Jordan's river-side.
For Freedom in the name of Him
Who came to raise Earth's drooping poor,
To break the chain from every limb,
The bolt from every prison door!
For these, o'er all the earth hath passed
An ever-deepening trumpet blast,
As if an angel's breath had lent
Its vigor to the instrument.
And Wales, from Snowrich's mountain wall,
Shall startle at that thrilling call,
As if she heard her bards again;
And Erin's "harp on Tara's wall"
Give out its ancient strain,
Mirthful and sweet, yet sad withal, —
The melody which Erin loves,
When o'er that harp, 'mid bursts of gladness
And slogan cries and lyke-wake sadness,
The hand of her O'Connell moves!
Scotland, from lake and tarn and rill,
And mountain hold, and heathery hill,
Shall catch and echo back the note,
As if she heard upon the air
Once more her Cameronian's prayer.
And song of Freedom float.
And cheering echoes shall reply
From each remote dependency,
Where Britain's mighty sway is known,
In tropic sea or frozen zone;
Where'er her sunset flag is furling,
Or morning gun-fire's smoke is curling;
From Indian Bengal's groves of palm
And rosy fields and gales of balm,
Where Eastern pomp and power are rolled
Through regal Ava's gates of gold;
And from the lakes and ancient woods
And dim Canadian solitudes,
Whence, sternly from her rocky throne,
Queen of the North, Quebec looks down;
And from those bright and ransomed Isles
Where all unwonted Freedom smiles,
And the dark laborer still retains
The scar of slavery's broken chains!
From the hoar Alps, which sentinel
The gateways of the land of Tell,
Where morning's keen and earliest glance
On Jura's rocky wall is thrown,
And from the olive bowers of France
And vine groves garlanding the Rhone, —
"Friends of the Blacks," as true and tried
As those who stood by Oge's side,
And heard the Haytien's tale of wrong,
Shall gather at that summons strong;
Broglie, Passy, and he whose song
Breathed over Syria's holy sod,
And in the paths which Jesus trod,
And murmured midst the hills which hem
Crownless and sad Jerusalem,
Hath echoes whereso'er the tone
Of Israel's prophey-lyre is known.
Still let them come; from Quito's walls,
And from the Orinoco's tide,
From Lima's Inca-haunted halls,
From Santa Fe and Yucatan, —
Men who by swart Guerrero's side
Proclaimed the deathless rights of man,
Broke every bond and fetter off,
And hailed in every sable serf
A free and brother Mexican!
Chiefs who across the Andes' chain
Have followed Freedom's flowing pennon,
And seen on Junin's fearful plain,
Glare o'er the broken ranks of Spain
The fire-burst of Bolivar's cannon!
And Hayti, from her mountain land,
Shall send the sons of those who hurled
Defiance from her blazing strand,
The war-gage from her Petition's hand,
Alone against a hostile world.
Nor all unmindful, thou, the while,
Land of the dark and mystic Nile!
Thy Moslem mercy yet may shame
All tyrants of a Christian name,
When in the shade of Gizeh's pile,
Or, where, from Abyssinian hills
El Gerek's upper fountain fills,
Or where from Mountains of the Moon
El Abiad bears his watery boon,
Where'er thy lotus blossoms swim
Within their ancient hallowed waters;
Where'er is heard the Coptic hymn,
Or song of Nubia's sable daughters;
The curse of slavery and the crime,
Thy bequest from remotest time,
At thy dark Mehemet's decree
Forevermore shall pass from thee;
And chains forsake each captive's limb
Of all those tribes, whose hills around
Have echoed back the cymbal sound
And victor horn of Ibrahim.
And thou whose glory and whose crime
To earth's remotest bound and clime,
In mingled tones of awe and scorn,
The echoes of a world have borne,
My country! glorious at thy birth,
A day-star flashing brightly forth,
The herald-sign of Freedom's dawn!
Oh, who could dream that saw thee then,
And watched thy rising from afar,
That vapors from oppression's fen
Would cloud the upward tending star?
Or, that earth's tyrant powers, which heard,
Awe-struck, the shout which hailed thy dawning,
Would rise so soon, prince, peer, and king,
To mock thee with their welcoming,
Like Hades when her thrones were stirred
To greet the down-east Star of Morning!
"Aha! and art thou fallen thus?
Art thou become as one of us?"
Land of my fathers! there will stand,
Amidst that world-assembled band,
Those owning thy maternal claim
Unweakened by thy crime and shame;
The sad reprovers of thy wrong;
The children thou hast spurned so long.
Still with affection's fondest yearning
To their unnatural mother turning.
No traitors they! but tried and leal,
Whose own is but thy general weal,
Still blending with the patriot's zeal
The Christian's love for human kind,
To caste and climate unconfined.
A holy gathering! peaceful all:
No threat of war, no savage call
For vengeance on an erring brother!
But in their stead the godlike plan
To teach the brotherhood of man
To love and reverence one another,
As sharers of a common blood,
The children of a common God!
Yet, even at its lightest word,
Shall Slavery's darkest depths be stirred:
Spain, watching from her Moro's keep
Her slave-ships traversing the deep,
And Rio, in her strength and pride,
Lifting, along her mountain-side,
Her snowy battlements and towers,
Her lemon-groves and tropic bowers,
With bitter hate and sullen fear
Its freedom-giving voice shall hear;
And where my country's flag is flowing,
On breezes from Mount Vernon blowing,
Above the Nation's council halls,
Where Freedom's praise is loud and long,
While close beneath the outward walls
The driver plies his reeking thong;
The hammer of the man-thief falls,
O'er hypocritic cheek and brow
The crimson flush of shame shall glow
And all who for their native land
Are pledging life and heart and hand,
Worn watchers o'er her changing weal,
Who for her tarnished honor feel,
Through cottage door and council-hall
Shall thunder an awakening call.
The pen along its page shall burn
With all intolerable scorn;
An eloquent rebuke shall go
On all the winds that Southward blow;
From priestly lips, now sealed and dumb,
Warning and dread appeal shall come,
Like those which Israel heard from him,
The Prophet of the Cherubim;
Or those which sad Esaias hurled
Against a sin-accursed world!
Its wizard leaves the Press shall fling
Unceasing from its iron wing,
With characters inscribed thereon,
As fearful in the despot's hall
As to the pomp of Babylon
The fire-sign on the palace wall!
And, from her dark iniquities,
Methinks I see my country rise:
Not challenging the nations round
To note her tardy justice done;
Her captives from their chains unbound,
Her prisons opening to the sun:
But tearfully her arms extending
Over the poor and unoffending;
Her regal emblem now no longer
A bird of prey with talons reeking,
Above the dying captive shrieking,
But, spreading out her ample wing,
A broad, impartial covering,
The weaker sheltered by the stronger!
Oh, then to Faith's anointed eyes
The promised token shall be given;
And on a nation's sacrifice,
Atoning for the sin of years,
And wet with penitential tears,
The fire shall fall from Heaven!
MASSACHUSETTS TO VIRGINIA.
Written on reading an account of the proceedings of the citizens of Norfolk, Va., in reference to George Latimer, the alleged fugitive slave, who was seized in Boston without warrant at the request of James B. Grey, of Norfolk, claiming to be his master. The case caused great excitement North and South, and led to the presentation of a petition to Congress, signed by more than fifty thousand citizens of Massachusetts, calling for such laws and proposed amendments to the Constitution as should relieve the Commonwealth from all further participation in the crime of oppression. George Latimer himself was finally given free papers for the sum of four hundred dollars.
THE blast from Freedom's Northern hills, upon its Southern way,
Bears greeting to Virginia from Massachusetts Bay:
No word of haughty challenging, nor battle bugle's peal,
Nor steady tread of marching files, nor clang of horsemen's steel.
No trains of deep-mouthed cannon along our highways go;
Around our silent arsenals untrodden lies the snow;
And to the land-breeze of our ports, upon their errands far,
A thousand sails of commerce swell, but none are spread for war.
We hear thy threats, Virginia! thy stormy words and high,
Swell harshly on the Southern winds which melt along our sky;
Yet, not one brown, hard hand foregoes its honest labor here,
No hewer of our mountain oaks suspends his axe in fear.
Wild are the waves which lash the reefs along St. George's bank;
Cold on the shore of Labrador the fog lies white and dank;
Through storm, and wave, and blinding mist, stout are the hearts which man
The fishing-smacks of Marblehead, the sea-boats of Cape Ann.
The cold north light and wintry sun glare on their icy forms,
Bent grimly o'er their straining lines or wrestling with the storms;
Free as the winds they drive before, rough as the waves they roam,
They laugh to scorn the slaver's threat against their rocky home.
What means the Old Dominion? Hath she forgot the day
When o'er her conquered valleys swept the Briton's steel array?
How side by side, with sons of hers, the Massachusetts men
Encountered Tarleton's charge of fire, and stout Cornwallis, then?
Forgets she how the Bay State, in answer to the call
Of her old House of Burgesses, spoke out from Faneuil Hall?
When, echoing back her Henry's cry, came pulsing on each breath
Of Northern winds, the thrilling sounds of "Liberty or Death!"
What asks the Old Dominion? If now her sons have proved
False to their fathers' memory, false to the faith they loved;
If she can scoff at Freedom, and its great charter spurn,
Must we of Massachusetts from truth and duty turn?
We hunt your bondmen, flying from Slavery's hateful hell;
Our voices, at your bidding, take up the bloodhound's yell;
We gather, at your summons, above our fathers' graves,
From Freedom's holy altar-horns to tear your wretched slaves!
Thank God! not yet so vilely can Massachusetts bow;
The spirit of her early time is with her even now;
Dream not because her Pilgrim blood moves slow and calm and cool,
She thus can stoop her chainless neck, a sister's slave and tool!
All that a sister State should do, all that a free State may,
Heart, hand, and purse we proffer, as in our early day;
But that one dark loathsome burden ye must stagger with alone,
And reap the bitter harvest which ye yourselves have sown!
Hold, while ye may, your struggling slaves, and burden God's free air
With woman's shriek beneath the lash, and manhood's wild despair;
Cling closer to the "cleaving curse" that writes upon your plains
The blasting of Almighty wrath against a land of chains.
Still shame your gallant ancestry, the cavaliers of old,
By watching round the shambles where human flesh is sold;
Gloat o'er the new-born child, and count his market value, when
The maddened mother's cry of woe shall pierce the slaver's den!
Lower than plummet soundeth, sink the Virginia name;
Plant, if ye will, your fathers' graves with rankest weeds of shame;
Be, if ye will, the scandal of God's fair universe;
We wash our hands forever of your sin and shame and curse.
A voice from lips whereon the coal from Freedom's shrine hath been,
Thrilled, as but yesterday, the hearts of Berkshire's mountain men:
The echoes of that solemn voice are sadly lingering still
In all our sunny valleys, on every wind-swept hill.
And when the prowling man-thief came hunting for his prey
Beneath the very shadow of Bunker's shaft of gray,
How, through the free lips of the son, the father's warning spoke;
How, from its bonds of trade and sect, the Pilgrim city broke!
A hundred thousand right arms were lifted up on high,
A hundred thousand voices sent back their loud reply;
Through the thronged towns of Essex the startling summons rang,
And up from bench and loom and wheel her young mechanics sprang!
The voice of free, broad Middlesex, of thousands as of one,
The shaft of Bunker calling to that of Lexington;
From Norfolk's ancient villages, from Plymouth's rocky bound
To where Nantucket feels the arms of ocean close her round;
From rich and rural Worcester, where through the calm repose
Of cultured vales and fringing woods the gentle Nashua flows,
To where Wachuset's wintry blasts the mountain larches stir,
Swelled up to Heaven the thrilling cry of "God save Latimer!"
And sandy Barnstable rose up, wet with the salt sea spray;
And Bristol sent her answering shout down Narragansett Bay!
Along the broad Connecticut old Hampden felt the thrill,
And the cheer of Hampshire's woodmen swept down from Holyoke Hill.
The voice of Massachusetts! Of her free sons and daughters,
Deep calling unto deep aloud, the sound of many waters!
Against the burden of that voice what tyrant power shall stand?
No fetters in the Bay State! No slave upon her land!
Look to it well, Virginians! In calmness we have borne,
In answer to our faith and trust, your insult and your scorn;
You've spurned our kindest counsels; you've hunted for our lives;
And shaken round our hearths and homes your manacles and gyves!
We wage no war, we lift no arm, we fling no torch within
The fire-damps of the quaking mine beneath your soil of sin;
We leave ye with your bondmen, to wrestle, while ye can.
With the strong upward tendencies and godlike soul of man!
But for us and for our children, the vow which we have given
For freedom and humanity is registered in heaven;
No slave-hunt in our borders, — no pirate on our strand!
No fetters in the Bay State, —no slave upon our land!
TO A SOUTHERN STATESMAN.
John C. Calhoun, who had strongly urged the extension of slave territory by the annexation of Texas, even if it should involve a war with England, was unwilling to promote the acquisition of Oregon, which would enlarge the Northern domain of freedom, and pleaded as an excuse the peril of foreign complications which he had defied when the interests of slavery were involved.
IS this thy voice whose treble notes of fear
Wail in the wind? And dost thou shake to hear,
Actæon-like, the bay of thine own hounds,
Spurning the leash, and leaping o'er their bounds?
Sore-baffled statesman! when thy eager hand,
With game afoot, unslipped the hungry pack,
To hunt down Freedom in her chosen land,
Hadst thou no fear, that, erelong, doubling back,
These dogs of thine might snuff on Slavery's track?
Where's now the boast, which even thy guarded tongue,
Cold, calm, and proud, in the teeth o' the Senate flung,
O'er the fulfilment of thy baleful plan,
Like Satan's triumph at the fall of man?
How stood'st thou then, thy feet on Freedom planting,
And pointing to the lurid heaven afar,
Whence all could see, through the south windows slanting,
Crimson as blood, the beams of that Lone Star!
The Fates are just; they give us but our own;
Nemesis ripens what our hands have sown.
There is an Eastern story, not unknown,
Doubtless, to thee, of one whose magic skill
Called demons up his water-jars to fill;
Defty and silently, they did his will,
But, when the task was done, kept pouring still.
In vain with spell and charm the wizard wrought,
Faster and faster were the buckets brought,
Higher and higher rose the flood around,
Till the fiends clapped their hands above their master drowned!
So, Carolinian, it may prove with thee,
For God still overrules man's schemes, and takes
Craftiness in its self-set snare, and makes
The wrath of man to praise Him. It may be,
That the roused spirits of Democracy
May leave to freer States the same wide door
Through which thy slave-cursed Texas entered in,
From out the blood and fire, the wrong and sin,
Of the stormed city and the ghastly plain,
Beat by hot hail, and wet with bloody rain,
The myriad-handed pioneer may pour,
And the wild West with the roused North combine
And heave the engineer of evil with his mine.
Suggested by a visit to the city of Washington, in the 12th month of 1845.
WITH a cold and wintry noon-light.
On its roofs and steeples shed,
Shadows weaving with t e sunlight
From the gray sky overhead,
Broadly, vaguely, all around me, lies the half-built town outspread.
Through this broad street, restless ever,
Ebbs and flows a human tide,
Wave on wave a living river;
Wealth and fashion side by side;
Toiler, idler, slave and master, in the same quick current glide.
Underneath yon dome, whose coping
Springs above them, vast and tall,
Grave men in the dust are groping.
For the largess, base and small,
Which the hand of Power is scattering, crumbs which from its table fall.
Base of heart! They vilely barter
Honor's wealth for party's place;
Step by step on Freedom's charter
Leaving footprints of disgrace;
For to-day's poor pittance turning from the great hope of their race.
Yet, where festal lamps are throwing
Glory round the dancer's hair,
Gold-tressed, like an angel's, flowing
Backward on the sunset air;
And the low quick pulse of music beats its measure sweet and rare:
There to-night shall woman's glances,
Star-like, welcome give to them;
Fawning fools with shy advances
Seek to touch their garments' hem,
With the tongue of flattery glozing deeds which God and Truth condemn.
From this glittering lie my vision
Takes a broader, sadder range,
Full before me have arisen
Other pictures dark and strange;
From the parlor to the prison must the scene and witness change.
Hark! the heavy gate is swinging
On its hinges, harsh and slow;
One pale prison lamp is flinging
On a fearful group below
Such a light as leaves to terror whatsoe'er it does not show.
Pitying God! Is that a woman
On whose wrist the shackles clash?
Is that shriek she utters human,
Underneath the stinging lash?
Are they men whose eyes of madness from that sad procession flash?
Still the dance goes gayly onward!
What is it to Wealth and Pride
That without the stars are looking
On a scene which earth should hide?
That the slave-ship lies in waiting, rocking on Potomac's tide!
Vainly to that mean Ambition
Which, upon a rival's fall,
Winds above its old condition,
With a reptile's slimy crawl,
Shall the pleading voice of sorrow, shall the slave in anguish call.
Vainly to the child of Fashion,
Giving to ideal woe
Graceful luxury of compassion,
Shall the stricken mourner go;
Hateful seems the earnest sorrow, beautiful the hollow show!
Nay, my words are all too sweeping:
In this crowded human mart,
Feeling is not dead, but sleeping;
Man's strong will and woman's heart,
In the coming strife for Freedom, yet shall bear their generous part.
And from yonder sunny valleys,
Southward in the distance lost,
Freedom yet shall summon allies
Worthier than the North can boast,
With the Evil by their hearth-stones grappling at severer cost.
Now, the soul alone is willing.
Faint the heart and weak the knee;
And as yet no lip is thrilling
With the mighty words, "Be Free!"
Tarrieth long the land's Good Angel, but his advent is to be!
Meanwhile, turning from the revel
To the prison-cell my sight,
For intenser hate of evil,
For a keener sense of right,
Shaking off thy dust, I thank thee, City of the Slaves, to-night!
"To thy duty now and ever!
Dream no more of rest or stay:
Give to Freedom's great endeavor
All thou art and hast to-day:"
Thus, above the city's murmur, saith a Voice, or seems to say.
Ye with heart and vision gifted
To discern and love the right,
Whose worn faces have been lifted
To the slowly-growing light,
Where from Freedom's sunrise drifted slowly back the murk of night!
Ye who through long years of trial
Still have held your purpose fast,
While a lengthening shade the dial
From the westering sunshine cast,
And of hope each hour's denial seemed an echo of the last!
O my brothers! O my sisters!
Would to God that ye were near,
Gazing with me down the vistas
Of a sorrow strange and drear;
Would to God that ye were listeners to the Voice I seem to hear!
With the storm above us driving,
With the false earth mined below,
Who shall marvel if thus striving
We have counted friend as foe;
Unto one another giving in the darkness blow for blow.
Well it may be that our natures
Have grown sterner and more hard,
And the freshness of their features
Somewhat harsh and battle-scarred,
And their harmonies of feeling overtasked and rudely jarred.
Be it so. It should not swerve us
From a purpose true and brave;
Dearer Freedom's rugged service
Than the pastime of the slave;
Better is the storm above it than the quiet of the grave.
Let us then, uniting, bury
All our idle feuds in dust,
And to future conflicts carry
Mutual faith and common trust;
Always he who most forgiveth in his brother is most just.
From the eternal shadow rounding
All our sun and starlight here,
Voices of our lost ones sounding
Bid us be of heart and cheer,
Through the silence, down the spaces, falling on the inward ear.
Know we not our dead are looking
Downward with a sad surprise,
All our strife of words rebuking
With their mild and loving eyes?
Shall we grieve the holy angels? Shall we cloud their blessed skies?
Let us draw their mantles o'er us,
Which have fallen in our way;
Let us do the work before us,
Cheerly, bravely, while we may,
Ere the long night-silence cometh, and with us it is not day!
Supposed to be written by the chairman of the "Central Clique" at Concord N. H., to the Hon. M. N., Jr., at Washington, giving the result of the election.
The following verses were published in the Boston Chronotype in 1846. They refer to the contest in New Hampshire, which resulted in the defeat of the pro-slavery Democracy, and in the election of John P. Hale to the United States Senate. Although their authorship was not acknowledged, it was strongly suspected. They furnish a specimen of the way, on the whole rather good-natured, in which the liberty-lovers of half a century ago answered the social and political outlawry and mob violence to which they were subjected.
'TIS over, Moses! All is lost!
I hear the bells a-ringing;
Of Pharaoh and his Red Sea host
I hear the Free-Wills singing.*
We're routed, Moses, horse and foot,
If there be truth in figures,
With Federal Whigs in hot pursuit,
And Hale, and all the "niggers."
Alack! alas! this month or more
We've felt a sad foreboding;
Our very dreams the burden bore
Of central cliques exploding;
Before our eyes a furnace shone,
Where heads of dough were roasting,
And one we took to be your own
The traitor Hale was toasting!
Our Belknap brother*
heard with awe
The Congo minstrels playing;
At Pittsfield Reuben Leavitt*
The ghost of Storrs a-praying;
And Carroll's woods were sad to see,
With black-winged crows a-darting;
And Black Snout looked on Ossipee,
New-glossed with Day and Martin.
We thought the "Old Man of the Notch"
His face seemed changing wholly —
His lips seemed thick; his nose seemed flat;
His misty hair looked woolly;
And Coös teamsters, shrieking, fled
From the metamorphosed figure.
"Look there!" they said, "the Old Stone Head
Himself is turning nigger!"
out of Canaan hauled
Seemed turning on its track again,
And like a great swamp-turtle crawled
To Canaan village back again,
Shook off the mud and settled flat
Upon its underpinning;
A nigger on its ridge-pole sat,
From ear to ear a-grinning.
Gray H—d heard o' nights the sound
Of rail-cars onward faring;
Right over Democratic ground
The iron horse came tearing.
A flag waved o'er that spectral train,
As high as Pittsfield steeple;
Its emblem was a broken chain;
Its motto: "To the people!"
I dreamed that Charley took his bed,
With Hale for his physician;
His daily dose an old "unread
And unreferred" petition.*
There Hayes and Tuck as nurses sat,
As near as near could be, man;
They leeched him with the "Democrat;"
They blistered with the "Freeman."
Ah! grisly portents! What avail
Your terrors of forewarning?
We wake to find the nightmare Hale
Astride our breasts at morning!
From Portsmouth lights to Indian stream
Our foes their throats are trying;
The very factory-spindles seem
To mock us while they're flying.
The hills have bonfires; in our streets
Flags flout us in our faces;
The newsboys, peddling off their sheets,
Are hoarse with our disgraces.
In vain we turn, for gibing wit
And shoutings follow after,
As if old Kearsarge had split
His granite sides with laughter!
What boots it that we pelted out
And bravely strewed their hall about
With tattered lace and trimming?
Was it for such a sad reverse
Our mobs became peacemakers,
And kept their tar and wooden horse
For Englishmen and Quakers?
For this did shifty Atherton
Make gag rules for the Great House?
Wiped we for this our feet upon
Petitions in our State House?
Plied we for this our axe of doom,
No stubborn traitor sparing,
Who scoffed at our opinion loom,
And took to homespun wearing?
Ah, Moses! hard it is to scan
These crooked providences,
Deducing from the wisest plan
The saddest consequences!
Strange that, in trampling as was meet
The nigger-men's petition,
We sprung a mine beneath our feet
Which opened up perdition.
How goodly, Moses, was the game
In which we've long been actors,
Supplying freedom with the name
And slavery with the practice!
Our smooth words fed the people's mouth,
Their ears our party rattle;
We kept them headed to the South,
As drovers do their cattle.
But now our game of politics
The world at large is learning;
And men grown gray in all our tricks
State's evidence are turning.
Votes and preambles subtly spun
They cram with meanings louder,
And load the Democratic gun
With abolition powder.
The ides of June! Woe worth the day
When, turning all things over,
The traitor Hale shall make his hay
From Democratic clover!
Who then shall take him in the law,
Who punish crime so flagrant?
Whose hand shall serve, whose pen shall draw,
A writ against that "vagrant"?
Alas! no hope is left us here,
And one can only pine for
The envied place of overseer
Of slaves in Carolina!
Pray, Moses, give Calhoun the wink,
And see what pay he's giving!
We're practised long enough, we think,
To know the art of driving.
And for the faithful rank and file,
Who know their proper stations,
Perhaps it may be worth their while
To try the rice plantations.
Let Hale exult, let Wilson scoff,
To see us southward scamper;
The slaves, we know, are "better off
Than laborers in New Hampshire!"
RANDOLPH OF ROANOKE.
O MOTHER EARTH upon thy lap
Thy weary ones receiving,
And o'er them, silent as a dream,
Thy grassy mantle weaving,
Fold softly in thy long embrace
That heart so worn and broken,
And cool its pulse of fire beneath
Thy shadows old and oaken.
Shut out from him the bitter word
And serpent hiss of scorning;
Nor let the storms of yesterday
Disturb his quiet morning.
Breathe over him forgetfulness
Of all save deeds of kindness,
And, save to smiles of grateful eyes,
Press down his lids in blindness.
There, where with living ear and eye
He heard Potomac's flowing,
And, through his tall ancestral trees,
Saw autumn's sunset glowing,
He sleeps, still looking to the west,
Beneath the dark wood shadow,
As if he still would see the sun
Sink down on wave and meadow.
Bard, Sage, and Tribune! in himself
All moods of mind contrasting, —
The tenderest wail of human woe,
The scorn like lightning blasting;
The pathos which from rival eyes
Unwilling tears could summon,
The stinging taunt, the fiery burst
Of hatred scarcely human!
Mirth, sparkling like a diamond shower,
From lips of life-long sadness;
Clear picturings of majestic thought
Upon a ground of madness;
And over all Romance and Song
A classic beauty throwing,
And laurelled Clio at his side
Her storied pages showing.
All parties feared him: each in turn
Beheld its schemes disjointed,
As right or left his fatal glance
And spectral finger pointed.
Sworn foe of Cant, he smote it down
With trenchant wit unsparing,
And, mocking, rent with ruthless hand
The robe Pretence was wearing.
Too honest or too proud to feign
A love he never cherished,
Beyond Virginia's border line
His patriotism perished.
While others hailed in distant skies
Our eagle's dusky pinion,
He only saw the mountain bird
Stoop o'er his Old Dominion!
Still through each change of fortune strange,
Racked nerve, and brain all burning,
His loving faith in Mother-land
Knew never shade of turning;
By Britain's lakes, by Neva's tide,
Whatever sky was o'er him,
He heard her rivers' rushing sound,
Her blue peaks rose before him.
He held his slaves, yet made withal
No false and vain pretences,
Nor paid a lying priest to seek
For Scriptural defences.
His harshest words of proud rebuke,
His bitterest taunt and scorning,
Fell fire-like on the Northern brow
That bent to him in fawning.
He held his slaves; yet kept the while
His reverence for the Human;
In the dark vassals of his will
He saw but Man and Woman!
No hunter of God's outraged poor
His Roanoke valley entered;
No trader in the souls of men
Across his threshold ventured.
And when the old and wearied man
Lay down for his last sleeping,
And at his side, a slave no more,
His brother-man stood weeping,
His latest thought, his latest breath,
To Freedom's duty giving,
With failing tongue and trembling hand
The dying blest the living.
Oh, never bore his ancient State
A truer son or braver!
None trampling with a calmer scorn
On foreign hate or favor.
He knew her faults, yet never stooped
His proud and manly feeling
To poor excuses of the wrong
Or meanness of concealing.
But none beheld with clearer eye
The plague-spot o'er her spreading,
None heard more sure the steps of Doom
Along her future treading.
For her as for himself he spake,
When, his gaunt frame upbracing,
He traced with dying hand "Remorse!"
And perished in the tracing.
As from the grave where Henry sleeps,
From Vernon's weeping willow,
And from the grassy pall which hides
The Sage of Monticello,
So from the leaf-strewn burial-stone
Of Randolph's lowly dwelling,
Virginia! o'er thy land of slaves
A warning voice is swelling!
And hark! from thy deserted fields
Are sadder warnings spoken,
From quenched hearths, where thy exiled sons
Their household gods have broken.
The curse is on thee, — wolves for men,
And briers for corn-sheaves giving!
Oh, more than all thy dead renown
Were now one hero living!
THE CURSE OF THE CHARTER-BREAKERS.
The rights and liberties affirmed by Magna Charta were deemed of such importance, in the thirteenth century, that the Bishops, twice a year, with tapers burning, and in their pontifical robes, pronounced, in the presence of the king and the representatives of the estates of England, the greater excommunication against the infringer of that instrument. The imposing ceremony took place in the great Hall of Westminster. A copy of the curse, as pronounced in 1253, declares that, "by the authority of Almighty God, and the blessed Apostles and Martyrs, and all the saints in heaven, all those who violate the English liberties, and secretly or openly, by deed, word, or counsel, do make statutes, or observe them being made, against said liberties, are accursed and sequestered from the company of heaven and the sacraments of the Holy Church."
William Penn, in his admirable political pamphlet, England's Present Interest Considered, alluding to the curse of the Charterbreakers, says: "I am no Roman Catholic, and little value their other curses; yet I declare I would not for the world incur this curse, as every man deservedly doth, who offers violence to the fundamental freedom thereby repeated and confirmed."
IN Westminster's royal halls,
Robed in their pontificals,
England's ancient prelates stood
For the people's right and good.
Closed around the waiting crowd,
Dark and still, like winter's cloud;
King and council, lord and knight,
Squire and yeoman, stood in sight;
Stood to hear the priest rehearse,
In God's name, the Church's curse,
By the tapers round them lit,
Slowly, sternly uttering it.
"Right of voice in framing laws,
Right of peers to try each cause;
Peasant homestead, mean and small,
Sacred as the monarch's hall, —
"Whoso lays his hand on these,
England's ancient liberties;
Whoso breaks, by word or deed,
England's vow at Runnymede;
"Be he Prince or belted knight,
Whatsoe'er his rank or might,
If the highest, then the worst,
Let him live and die accursed.
"Thou, who to Thy Church hast given
Keys alike, of hell and heaven,
Make our word and witness sure,
Let the curse we speak endure!"
Silent, while that curse was said,
Every bare and listening head
Bowed in reverent awe, and then
All the people said, Amen!
Seven times the bells have tolled,
For the centuries gray and old,
Since that stoled and mitred band
Cursed the tyrants of their land.
Since the priesthood, like a tower,
Stood between the poor and power;
And the wronged and trodden down
Blessed the abbot's shaven crown.
Gone, thank God, their wizard spell,
Lost, their keys of heaven and hell;
Yet I sigh for men as bold
As those bearded priests of old.
Now, too oft the priesthood wait
At the threshold of the state;
Waiting for the beck and nod
Of its power as law and God.
Fraud exults, while solemn words
Sanctify his stolen hoards;
Slavery laughs, while ghostly lips
Bless his manacles and whips.
Not on them the poor rely,
Not to them looks liberty,
Who with fawning falsehood cower
To the wrong, when clothed with power.
Oh, to see them meanly cling,
Round the master, round the king,
Sported with, and sold and bought, —
Pitifuller sight is not!
Tell me not that this must be:
God's true priest is always free;
Free, the needed truth to speak,
Right the wronged, and raise the weak.
Not to fawn on wealth and state,
Leaving Lazarus at the gate;
Not to peddle creeds like wares;
Got to mutter hireling prayers;
Nor to paint the new life's bliss
On the sable ground of this;
Golden streets for idle knave,
Sabbath rest for weary slave!
Not for words and works like these,
Priest of God, thy mission is;
But to make earth's desert glad,
In its Eden greenness clad;
And to level manhood bring
Lord and peasant, serf and king;
And the Christ of God to find
In the humblest of thy kind!.
Thine to work as well as pray,
Clearing thorny wrongs away;
Plucking up the weeds of sin,
Letting heaven's warm sunshine in;
Watching on the hills of Faith.;
Listening what the spirit saith,
Of the dim-seen light afar,
Growing like a nearing star.
God's interpreter art thou,
To the waiting ones below;
'Twixt them and its light midway
Heralding the better day;
Catching gleams of temple spires,
Hearing notes of angel choirs,
Where, as yet unseen of them,
Comes the New Jerusalem!
Like the seer of Patmos gazing,
On the glory downward blazing;
Till upon Earth's grateful sod
Rests the City of our God!
The storming of the city of Derne, in 1805, by General Eaton at the head of nine Americans, forty Greeks, and a motley array of Turks and Arabs, was one of those feats of hardihood and daring which have in all ages attracted the admiration of the multitude. The higher and holier heroism of Christian self-denial and sacrifice, in the humble walks of private duty, is seldom so well appreciated.
NIGHT on the city of the Moor!
On mosque and tomb, and white-walled shore,
On sea-waves, to whose ceaseless knock
The narrow harbor gates unlock,
On corsair's galley, carack tall,
And plundered Christian caraval!
The sounds of Moslem life are still;
No mule-bell tinkles down the hill;
Stretched in the broad court of the khan,
The dusty Bornou caravan
Lies heaped in slumber, beast and man;
The Sheik is dreaming in his tent,
His noisy Arab tongue o'erspent;
The kiosk's glimmering lights are gone,
The merchant with his wares withdrawn;
Rough pillowed on some pirate breast,
The dancing-girl has sunk to rest;
And, save where measured footsteps fall
Along the Bashaw's guarded wall,
Or where, like some bad dream, the Jew
Creeps stealthily his quarter through,
Or counts with fear his golden heaps,
The City of the Corsair sleeps!
But where yon prison long and low
Stands black against the pale star-glow,
Chafed by the ceaseless wash of waves,
There watch and pine the Christian slaves;
Rough-bearded men, whose far-off wives
Wear out with grief their lonely lives;
And youth, still flashing from his eyes
The clear blue of New England skies,
A treasured lock of whose soft hair
Now wakes some sorrowing mother's prayer;
Or, worn upon some maiden breast,
Stirs with the loving heart's unrest!
A bitter cup each life must drain,
The groaning earth is cursed with pain,
And, like the scroll the angel bore
The shuddering Hebrew seer before,
O'erwrit alike, without, within,
With all the woes which follow sin;
But, bitterest of the ills beneath
Whose load man totters down to death,
Is that which plucks the regal crown
Of Freedom from his forehead down,
And snatches from his powerless hand
The sceptred sign of self-command,
Effacing with the chain and rod
The image and the seal of God;
Till from his nature, day by day,
The manly virtues fall away,
And leave him naked, blind and mute,
The godlike merging in the brute!
Why mourn the quiet ones who die
Beneath affection's tender eye,
Unto their household and their kin
Like ripened corn-sheaves gathered in?
O weeper, from that tranquil sod,
That holy harvest-home of God,
Turn to the quick and suffering, shed
Thy tears upon the living dead!
Thank God above thy dear ones' graves,
They sleep with Him, they are not slaves.
What dark mass, down the mountain-sides
Swift-pouring, like a stream divides?
A long, loose, straggling caravan,
Camel and horse and armëd man.
The moon's low crescent, glimmering o'er
Its grave of waters to the shore,
Lights up that mountain cavalcade,
And gleams from gun and spear and blade
Near and more near! now o'er them falls
The shadow of the city walls.
Hark to the sentry's challenge, drowned
In the fierce trumpet's charging sound!
The rush of men, the musket's peal,
The short, sharp clang of meeting steel!
Vain, Moslem, vain thy lifeblood poured
So freely on thy foeman's sword!
Not to the swift nor to the strong
The battles of the right belong;
For he who strikes for Freedom wears
The armor of the captive's prayers,
And Nature proffers to his cause
The strength of her eternal laws;
While he whose arm essays to bind
And herd with common brutes his kind
Strives evermore at fearful odds
With Nature and the jealous gods,
And dares the dread recoil which late
Or soon their right shall vindicate.
'T is done, the hornëd crescent falls!
The star-flag flouts the broken walls!
Joy to the captive husband! joy
To thy sick heart, O brown-locked boy!
In sullen wrath the conquered Moor
Wide open flings your dungeon-door,
And leaves ye free from cell and chain,
The owners of yourselves again.
Dark as his allies desert-born,
Soiled with the battle's stain, and worn
With the long marches of his band
Through hottest wastes of rock and sand,
Scorched by the sun and furnace-breath
Of the red desert's wind of death,
With welcome words and grasping hands,
The victor and deliverer stands!
The tale is one of distant skies;
The dust of half a century lies
Upon it; yet its hero's name
Still lingers on the lips of Fame.
Men speak the praise of him who gave
Deliverance to the Moorman's slave,
Yet dare to brand with shame and crime
The heroes of our land and time, —
The self-forgetful ones, who stake
Home, name, and life for Freedom's sake.
God mend his heart who cannot feel
The impulse of a holy zeal,
And sees not, with his sordid eyes,
The beauty of self-sacrifice!
Though in the sacred place he stands,
Uplifting consecrated hands,
Unworthy are his lips to tell
Of Jesus' martyr-miracle,
Or name aright that dread embrace
Of suffering for a fallen race!
A SABBATH SCENE.
This poem finds its justification in the readiness with which, even in the North, clergymen urged the prompt execution of the Fugitive Slave Law as a Christian duty, and defended the system of slavery as a Bible institution.
SCARCE had the solemn Sabbath-bell
Ceased quivering in the steeple,
Scarce had the parson to his desk
Walked stately through his people,
When down the summer-shaded street
A wasted female figure,
With dusky brow and naked feet,
Came rushing wild and eager.
She saw the white spire through the trees,
She heard the sweet hymn swelling:
O pitying Christ! a refuge give
The poor one in Thy dwelling!
Like a scared fawn before the hounds,
Right up the aisle she glided,
While close behind her, whip in hand,
A lank-haired hunter strided.
She raised a keen and bitter cry,
To Heaven. and Earth appealing;
Were manhood's generous pulses dead?
Had woman's heart no feeling?
A score of stout hands rose between
The hunter and the flying:
Age clenched his staff, and maiden eyes
Flashed tearful, yet defying.
"Who dares profane this house and day?"
Cried out the angry pastor.
"Why, bless your soul, the wench's a slave,
And I'm her lord and master!
"I've law and gospel on my side,
And who shall dare refuse me?"
Down came the parson, bowing low,
"My good sir, pray excuse me!
"Of course I know your right divine
To own and work and whip her;
Quick, deacon, throw that Polyglott
Before the wench, and trip her!"
Plump dropped the holy tome, and o'er
Its sacred pages stumbling,
Bound hand and foot, a slave once more,
The hapless wretch lay trembling.
I saw the parson tie the knots,
The while his flock addressing,
The Scriptural claims of slavery
With text on text impressing.
"Although," said he, "on Sabbath day
All secular occupations
Are deadly sins, we must fulfil
Our moral obligations:
"And this commends itself as one
To every conscience tender;
As Paul sent back Onesimus,
My Christian friends, we send her!"
Shriek rose on shriek, — the Sabbath air
Her wild cries tore asunder;
I listened, with hushed breath, to hear
God answering with his thunder!
All still! the very altar's cloth
Had smothered down her shrieking,
And, dumb, she turned from face to face,
For human pity seeking!
I saw her dragged along the aisle,
Her shackles harshly clanking;
I heard the parson, over all,
The Lord devoutly thanking!
My brain took fire: "Is this," I cried,
"The end of prayer and preaching?
Then down with pulpit, down with priest,
And give us Nature's teaching!
"Foul shame and scorn be on ye all
Who turn the good to evil,
And steal the Bible from the Lord,
To give it to the Devil!
"Than garbled text or parchment law
I own a statute higher;
And God is true, though every book
And every man's a liar!"
Just then I felt the deacon's hand
In wrath my coat-tail seize on;
I heard the priest cry, "Infidel!"
The lawyer mutter, "Treason!"
I started up, — where now were church,
Slave, master, priest, and people?
I only heard the supper-bell,
Instead of clanging steeple.
But, on the open window's sill,
O'er which the white blooms drifted,
The pages of a good old Book
The wind of summer lifted,
And flower and vine, like angel wings
Around the Holy Mother,
Waved softly there, as if God's truth
And Mercy kissed each other.
And freely from the cherry-bough
Above the casement swinging,
With golden bosom to the sun,
The oriole was singing.
As bird and flower made plain of old
The lesson of the Teacher,
So now I heard the written Word
Interpreted by Nature!
For to my ear methought the breeze
Bore Freedom's blessed word on;
Thus saith the Lord: Break every yoke,
Undo the heavy burden!
FROM A MISSIONARY OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SOUTH, IN KANSAS, TO A DISTINGUISHED POLITICIAN.
DOUGLAS MISSION, August, 1854.
LAST week — the Lord be praised for all His mercies
To His unworthy servant! — I arrived
Safe at the Mission, via Westport; where
I tarried over night, to aid in forming
A Vigilance Committee, to send back,
In shirts of tar, and feather-doublets quilted
With forty stripes save one, all Yankee comers,
Uncircumcised and Gentile, aliens from
The Commonwealth of Israel, who despise
The prize of the high calling of the saints,
Who plant amidst this heathen wilderness
Pure gospel institutions, sanctified
By patriarchal use. The meeting opened
With prayer, as was most fitting. Half an hour,
Or thereaway, I groaned, and strove, and wrestled,
As Jacob did at Penuel, till the power
Fell on the people, and they cried 'Amen!'
"Glory to God!" and stamped and clapped their hands;
And the rough river boatmen wiped their eyes;
"Go it, old hoss!" they cried, and cursed the niggers —
Fulfilling thus the word of prophecy,
"Cursed be Cannan." After prayer, the meeting
Chose a committee — good and pious men —
A Presbyterian Elder, Baptist deacon,
A local preacher, three or four class-leaders,
Anxious inquirers, and renewed backsliders,
A score in all — to watch the river ferry,
(As they of old did watch the fords of Jordan,)
And cut off all whose Yankee tongues refuse
The Shibboleth of the Nebraska bill.
And then, in answer to repeated calls,
I gave a brief account of what I saw
In Washington; and truly many hearts
Rejoiced to know the President, and you
And all the Cabinet regularly hear
The gospel message of a Sunday morning,
Drinking with thirsty souls of the sincere
Milk of the Word. Glory! Amen, and Selah!
Here, at the Mission, all things have gone well:
The brother who, throughout my absence, acted
As overseer, assures me that the crops
Never were better. I have lost one negro,
A first-rate hand, but obstinate and sullen.
He ran away some time last spring, and hid
In the river timber. There my Indian converts
Found him, and treed and shot him. For the rest,
The heathens round about begin to feel
The influence of our pious ministrations
And works of love; and some of them already
Have purchased negroes, and are settling down
As sober Christians! Bless the Lord for this!
I know it will rejoice you. You, I hear,
Are on the eve of visiting Chicago,
To fight with the wild beasts of Ephesus,
Long John, and Dutch Free-Soilers. May your arm
Be clothed with strength, and on your tongue be found
The sweet oil of persuasion. So desires
Your brother and co-laborer. Amen!
P.S. All's lost. Even while I write these lines,
The Yankee abolitionists are coming
Upon us like a flood — grim, stalwart men,
Each face set like a flint of Plymouth Rock
Against our institutions — staking out
Their farm lots on the wooded Wakarusa,
Or squatting by the mellow-bottomed Kansas;
The pioneers of mightier multitudes,
The small rain-patter, ere the thunder shower
Drowns the dry prairies. Hope from man is not.
Oh, for a quiet berth at Washington,
Snug naval chaplaincy, or clerkship, where
These rumors of free labor and free soil
Might never meet me more. Better to be
Door-keeper in the White House, than to dwell
Amidst these Yankee tents, that, whitening, show
On the green prairie like a fleet becalmed.
Methinks I hear a voice come up the river
From those far bayous, where the alligators
Mount guard around the camping filibusters:
"Shake off the dust of Kansas. Turn to Cuba —
(That golden orange just about to fall,
O'er-ripe, into the Democratic lap;)
Keep pace with Providence, or, as we say,
Manifest destiny. Go forth and follow
The message of our gospel, thither borne
Upon the point of Quitman's bowie-knife,
And the persuasive lips of Colt's revolvers.
There may'st thou, underneath thy vine and fig-tree,
Watch thy increase of sugar cane and negroes,
Calm as a patriarch in his eastern tent!"
Amen: So mote it be. So prays your friend.
" A! fredome is a nobill thing!
Fredome mayse man to haif liking.
Fredome all solace to man giffis;
He levys at ese that frely levys!
A nobil hart may haif nane ese
Na ellys nocht that may him plese
Gyff Fredome failythe."
THROUGH the long hall the shuttered windows shed
A dubious light on every upturned head;
On locks like those of Absalom the fair,
On the bald apex ringed with scanty hair,
On blank indifference and on curious stare;
On the pale Showman reading from his stage
The hieroglyphics of that facial page;
Half sad, half scornful, listening to the bruit
Of restless cane-tap and impatient foot,
And the shrill call, across the general din,
"Roll up your curtain! Let the show begin!"
At length a murmur like the winds that break
Into green waves the prairie's grassy lake,
Deepened and swelled to music clear and loud,
And, as the west-wind lifts a summer cloud,
The curtain rose, disclosing wide and far
A green land stretching to the evening star,
Fair rivers, skirted by primeval trees
And flowers hummed over by the desert bees,
Marked by tall bluffs whose slopes of greenness show
Fantastic outcrops of the rock below;
The slow result of patient Nature's pains,
And plastic fingering of her sun and rains;
Arch, tower, and gate, grotesquely windowed hall,
And long escarpment of half-crumbled wall,
Huger than those which, from steep hills of vine,
Stare through their loopholes on the travelled Rhine;
Suggesting vaguely to the gazer's mind
A fancy, idle as the prairie wind,
Of the land's dwellers in an age unguessed;
The unsung Jotuns of the mystic West.
Beyond, the prairie's sea-like swells surpass
The Tartar's marvels of his Land of Grass,
Vast as the sky against whose sunset shores
Wave after wave the billowy greenness pours;
And, onward still, like islands in that main
Loom the rough peaks of many a mountain chain,
Whence east and west a thousand waters run
From winter lingering under summer's sun.
And, still beyond, long lines of foam and sand
Tell where Pacific rolls his waves a-land,
From many a wide-lapped port and land-locked bay,
Opening with thunderous pomp the world's highway
To Indian isles of spice, and marts of far Cathay.
"Such," said the Showman, as the curtain fell,
"Is the new Canaan of our Israel;
The land of promise to the swarming North,
Which, hive-like, sends its annual surplus forth,
To the poor Southron on his worn-out soil,
Scathed by the curses of unnatural toil;
To Europe's exiles seeking home and rest,
And the lank nomads of the wandering West,
Who, asking neither, in their love of change
And the free bison's amplitude of range,
Rear the log-hut, for present shelter meant,
Not future comfort, like an Arab's tent."
Then spake a shrewd on-looker, "Sir," said he,
"I like your picture, but I fain would see
A sketch of what your promised land will be
When, with electric nerve, and fiery-brained,
With Nature's forces to its chariot chained,
The future grasping, by the past obeyed,
The twentieth century rounds a new decade."
Then said the Showman, sadly: "He who grieves
Over the scattering of the sibyl's leaves
Unwisely mourns. Suffice it, that we know
What needs must ripen from the seed we sow;
That present time is but the mould wherein
We cast the shapes of holiness and sin.
A painful watcher of the passing hour,
Its lust of gold, its strife for place and power;
Its lack of manhood, honor, reverence, truth,
Wise-thoughted age, and generous-hearted youth;
Nor yet unmindful of each better sign,
The low, far lights, which on th' horizon shine,
Like those which sometimes tremble on the rim
Of clouded skies when day is closing dim,
Flashing athwart the purple spears of rain
The hope of sunshine on the hills again:
I need no prophet's word, nor shapes that pass
Like clouding shadows o'er a magic glass;
For now, as ever, passionless and cold,
Doth the dread angel of the future hold
Evil and good before us, with no voice
Or warning look to guide us in our choice;
With spectral hands outreaching through the gloom
The shadowy contrasts of the coming doom.
Transferred from these, it now remains to give
The sun and shade of Fate's alternative."
Then, with a burst of music, touching all
The keys of thrifty life, — the mill-stream's fall,
The engine's pant along its quivering rails,
The anvil's ring, the measured beat of flails,
The sweep of scythes, the reaper's whistled tune,
Answering the summons of the bells of noon,
The woodman's hail along the river shores,
The steamboat's signal, and the dip of oars:
Slowly the curtain rose from off a land
Fair as God's garden. Broad on either hand
The golden wheat-fields glimmered in the sun,
And the tall maize its yellow tassels spun.
Smooth highways set with hedge-rows living green,
With steepled towns through shaded vistas seen,
The school-house murmuring with its hive-like swarm,
The brook-bank whitening in the grist-mill's storm,
The painted farm-house shining through the leaves
Of fruited orchards bending at its eaves,
Where live again, around the Western hearth,
The homely old-time virtues of the North;
Where the blithe housewife rises with the day,
And well-paid labor counts his task a play.
And, grateful tokens of a Bible free,
And the free Gospel of Humanity,
Of diverse sects and differing names the shrines,
One in their faith, whate'er their outward signs,
Like varying strophes of the same sweet hymn
From many a prairie's swell and river's brim,
A thousand church-spires sancify the air
Of the calm Sabbath, with their sign of prayer.
Like sudden nightfall over bloom and green
The curtain dropped: and, momently, between
The clank of fetter and the crack of thong,
Half sob, half laughter, music swept along;
A strange refrain, whose idle words and low,
Like drunken mourners, kept the time of woe;
As if the revellers at a masquerade
Heard in the distance funeral marches played.
Such music, dashing all his smiles with tears,
The thoughtful voyager on Ponchartrain hears,
Where, through the noonday dusk of wooded shores
The negro boatman, singing to his oars,
With a wild pathos borrowed of his wrong
Redeems the jargon of his senseless song.
"Look," said the Showman, sternly, as he rolled
His curtain upward. "Fate's reverse behold!"
A village straggling in loose disarray
Of vulgar newness, premature decay;
A tavern, crazy with its whiskey brawls,
With "Slaves at Auction!" garnishing its walls;
Without, surrounded by a motley crowd,
The shrewd-eyed salesman, garrulous and loud,
A squire or colonel in his pride of place,
Known at free fights, the caucus, and the race,
Prompt to proclaim his honor without blot,
And silence doubters with a ten-pace shot,
Mingling the negro-driving bully's rant
With pious phrase and democratic cant,
Yet never scrupling, with a filthy jest,
To sell the infant from its mother's breast,
Break through all ties of wedlock, home, and kin,
Yield shrinking girlhood up to graybeard sin;
Sell all the virtues with his human stock,
The Christian graces on his auction-block,
And coolly count on shrewdest bargains driven
In hearts regenerate, and in souls forgiven!
Look once again! The moving canvas shows
A slave plantation's slovenly repose,
Where, in rude cabins rotting midst their weeds,
The human chattel eats, and sleeps, and breeds;
And, held a brute, in practice, as in law,
Becomes in fact the thing he's taken for.
There, early summoned to the hemp and corn,
The nursing mother leaves her child new-born;
There haggard sickness, weak and deathly faint,
Crawls to his task, and fears to make complains;
And sad-eyed Rachels, childless in decay,
Weep for their lost ones sold and torn away!
Of ampler size the master's dwelling stands,
In shabby keeping with his half-tilled lands;
The gates unhinged, the yard with weeds unclean,
The cracked veranda with a tipsy lean.
Without, loose-scattered like a wreck adrift,
Signs of misrule and tokens of unthrift;
Within, profusion to discomfort joined,
The listless body and the vacant mind;
The fear, the hate, the theft and falsehood, born
In menial hearts of toil, and stripes, and scorn!
There, all the vices, which, like birds obscene,
Batten on slavery loathsome and unclean,
From the foul kitchen to the parlor rise,
Pollute the nursery where the child-heir lies,
Taint infant lips beyond all after cure,
With the fell poison of a breast impure;
Touch boyhood's passions with the breath of flame,
From girlhood's instincts steal the blush of shame.
So swells, from low to high, from weak to strong,
The tragic chorus of the baleful wrong;
Guilty or guiltless, all within its range
Feel the blind justice of its sure revenge.
Still scenes like these the moving chart reveals.
Up the long western steppes the blighting steals;
Down the Pacific slope the evil Fate
Glides like a shadow to the Golden Gate:
From sea to sea the drear eclipse is thrown,
From sea to sea the Mauvaises Terres have grown,
A belt of curses on the New World's zone!
The curtain fell. All drew a freer breath,
As men are wont to do when mournful death
Is covered from their sight. The Showman stood
With drooping brow in sorrow's attitude
One moment, then with sudden gesture shook
His loose hair back, and with the air and look
Of one who felt, beyond the narrow stage
And listening group, the presence of the age,
And heard the footsteps of the things to be,
Poured out his soul in earnest words and free.
"O friends!" he said, "in this poor trick of paint
You see the semblance, incomplete and faint,
Of the two-fronted Future, which, to-day,
Stands dim and silent, waiting in your way.
To-day, your servant, subject to your will;
To-morrow, master, or for good or ill.
If the dark face of Slavery on you turns,
If the mad curse its paper barrier spurns,
If the world granary of the West is made
The last foul market of the slaver's trade,
Why rail at fate? The mischief is your own.
Why hate your neighbor? "Blame yourselves alone!
"Men of the North! The South you charge with wrong
Is weak and poor, while you are rich and strong.
If questions, — idle and absurd as those
The old-time monks and Paduan doctors chose, —
Mere ghosts of questions, tariffs, and dead banks,
And scarecrow pontiffs, never broke your ranks,
Your thews united could, at once, roll back
The jostled nation to its primal track.
Nay, were you simply steadfast, manly, just,
True to the faith your fathers left in trust,
If stainless honor outweighed in your scale
A codfish quintal or a factory bale,
Full many a noble heart, (and such remain
In all the South, like Lot in Siddim's plain,
Who watch and wait, and from the wrong's control
Keep white and pure their chastity of soul,)
Now sick to loathing of your weak complaints,
Your tricks as sinners, and your prayers as saints,
Would half-way meet the frankness of your tone,
And feel their pulses beating with your own,
"The North! the South! no geographic line
Can fix the boundary or the point define,
Since each with each so closely interblends,.
Where Slavery rises, and where Freedom ends.
Beneath your rocks the roots, far-reaching, hide
Of the fell Upas on the Southern side;
The tree whose branches in your northwinds wave
Dropped its young blossoms on Mount Vernon's grave;
The nursling growth of Monticello's crest
Is now the glory of the free Northwest;
To the wise maxims of her olden school
Virginia listened from thy lips, Rantoul;
Seward's words of power, and Sumner's fresh renown,
Flow from the pen that Jefferson laid down!
And when, at length, her years of madness o'er,
Like the crowned grazer on Euphrates' shore,
From her long lapse to savagery, her mouth
Bitter with baneful herbage, turns the South,
Resumes her old attire, and seeks to smooth
Her unkempt tresses at the glass of truth,
Her early faith shall find a tongue again,
New Wythes and Pinckneys swell that old refrain,
Her sons with yours renew the ancient pact,
The myth of Union prove at last a fact!
Then, if one murmur mars the wide content,
Some Northern lip will drawl the last dissent,
Some Union-saving patriot of your own
Lament to find his occupation gone.
"Grant that the North's insulted, scorned, betrayed,
O'erreached in bargains with her neighbor made,
When selfish thrift and party held the scales
For peddling dicker, not for honest sales, —
Whom shall we strike? Who most deserves our blame?
The braggart Southron, open in his aim,
And bold as wicked, crashing straight through all
That bars his purpose, like a cannon-ball?
Or the mean traitor, breathing northern air,
With nasal speech and puritanic hair,
Whose cant the loss of principle survives,
As the mud-turtle e'en its head outlives;
Who, caught, chin-buried in some foul offence,
Puts on a look of injured innocence,
And consecrates his baseness to the cause
Of constitution, union, and the laws?
"Praise to the place-man who can hold aloof
His still unpurchased manhood, office-proof;
Who on his round of duty walks erect,
And leaves it only rich in self-respect;
As More maintained his virtue's lofty port
In the Eighth Henry's base and bloody court.
But, if exceptions here and there are found,
Who tread thus safely on enchanted ground,
The normal type, the fitting symbol still
Of those who fatten at the public mill,
Is the chained dog beside his master's door,
Or Circe's victim, feeding on all four!
"Give me the heroes who, at tuck of drum,
Salute thy staff, immortal Quattlebum!
Or they who, doubly armed with vote and gun,
Following thy lead, illustrious Atchison,
Their drunken franchise shift from scene to scene,
As tile-beard Jourdan did his guillotine!
Rather than him who, born beneath our skies,
To Slavery's hand its supplest tool supplies;
The party felon whose unblushing face
Looks from the pillory of his bribe of place,
And coolly makes a merit of disgrace,
Points to the footmarks of indignant scorn,
Shows the deep scars of satire's tossing horn;
And passes to his credit side the sum
Of all that makes a scoundrel's martyrdom!
" Bane of the North, its canker and its moth!
These modern Esaus, bartering rights for broth!
Taxing our justice, with their double claim,
As fools for pity, and as knaves for blame;
Who, urged by party, sect, or trade, within
The fell embrace of Slavery's sphere of sin,
Part at the outset with their moral sense,
The watchful angel set for Truth's defence;
Confound all contrasts, good and ill; reverse
The poles of life, its blessing and its curse;
And lose thenceforth from their perverted sight
The eternal difference 'twixt the wrong and right;
To them the Law is but the iron span
That girds the ankles of imbruted man;
To them the Gospel has no higher aim
Than simple sanction of the master's claim,
Dragged in the slime of Slavery's loathsome trail,
Like Chalier's Bible at his ass's tail!
"Such are the men who, with instinctive dread,
Whenever Freedom lifts her drooping head,
Make prophet-tripods of their office-stools,
And scare the nurseries and the village schools
With dire presage of ruin grim and great,
A broken Union and a foundered State!
Such are the patriots, self-bound to the stake
Of office, martyrs for their country's sake:
Who fill themselves the hungry jaws of Fate,
And by their loss of manhood save the State.
In the wide gulf themselves like Curtius throw,
And test the virtues of cohesive dough;
As tropic monkeys, linking heads and tails,
Bridge o'er some torrent of Ecuador's vales!
"Such are the men who in your churches rave
To swearing-point, at mention of the slave!
When some poor parsons haply unawares,
Stammers of freedom in his timid prayers;
Who, if some foot-sore negro through the town
Steals northward, volunteer to hunt him down.
Or, if some neighbor, flying from disease,
Courts the mild balsam of the Southern breeze,
With hue and cry pursue him on his track,
And write Free-soiler on the poor man's back.
Such are the men who leave the pedler's cart,
While faring South, to learn the driver's art,
Or, in white neckcloth, soothe with pious aim
The graceful sorrows of some languid dame,
Who, from the wreck of her bereavement, saves
The double charm of widowhood and slaves!
Pliant and apt, they lose no chance to show
To what base depths apostasy can go;
Outdo the natives in their readiness
To roast a negro, or to mob a press;
Poise a tarred schoolmate on the lyncher's rail,
Or make a bonfire of their birthplace mail!
"So some poor wretch, whose lips no longer bear
The sacred burden of his mother's prayer,
By fear impelled, or lust of gold enticed,
Turns to the Crescent from the Cross of Christ,
And, over-acting in superfluous zeal,
Crawls prostrate where the faithful only kneel,
Out-howls the Dervish, hugs his rags to court
The squalid Santon's sanctity of dirt;
And, when beneath the city gateway's span
Files slow and long the Meccan caravan,
And through its midst, pursued by Islam's prayers,
The prophet's Word some favored camel bears,
The marked apostate has his place assigned
The Koran-bearer's sacred rump behind,
With brush and pitcher following, grave and mute,
In meek attendance on the holy brute!
" Men of the North! beneath your very eyes,
By hearth and home, your real danger lies.
Still day by day some hold of freedom falls
Through home-bred traitors fed within its walls.
Men whom yourselves with vote and purse sustain,
At posts of honor, influence, and gain;
The right of Slavery to your sons to teach,
And 'South-side' Gospels in your pulpits preach,
Transfix the Law to ancient freedom dear
On the sharp point of her subverted spear,
And imitate upon her cushion plump
The mad Missourian lynching from his stump;
Or, in your name, upon the Senate's floor
Yield up to Slavery all it asks, and more;
And, ere your dull eyes open to the cheat,
Sell your old homestead underneath your feet!
While such as these your loftiest outlooks hold,
While truth and conscience with your wares are sold,
While grave-browed merchants band themselves to aid
An annual man-hunt for their Southern trade,
What moral power within your grasp remains
To stay the mischief on Nebraska's plains?
High as the tides of generous impulse flow,
As far rolls back the selfish undertow;
And all your brave resolves, though aimed as true
As the horse-pistol Balmawhapple drew,
To Slavery's bastions lend as slight a shock
As the poor trooper's shot to Stirling rock!
"Yet, while the need of Freedom's cause demands
The earnest efforts of your hearts and hands,
Urged by all motives that can prompt the heart
To prayer and toil and manhood's manliest part;
Though to the soul's deep tocsin Nature joins
The warning whisper of her Orphic pines,
The north-wind's anger, and the south-wind's sigh,
The midnight sword-dance of the northern sky,
And, to the ear that bends above the sod
Of the green grave-mounds.in the Fields of God,
In low, deep murmurs of rebuke or cheer,
The land's dead fathers speak their hope or fear,
Yet let not Passion wrest from Reason's hand
The guiding rein and symbol of command.
Blame not the caution proffering to your zeal
A well-meant drag upon its hurrying wheel;
Nor chide the man whose honest doubt extends
To the means only, not the righteous ends;
Nor fail to weigh the scruples and the fears
Of milder natures and serener years.
In the long strife with evil which began
With the first lapse of new-created man,
Wisely and well has Providence assigned
To each his part, — some forward, some behind;
And they, too, serve who temper and restrain
The o'erwarm heart that sets on fire the brain.
True to yourselves, feed Freedom's altar-flame
With what you have; let others do the same.
Spare timid doubters; set like flint your face
Against the self-sold knaves of gain and place:
Pity the weak; but with unsparing hand
Cast out the traitors who infest the land;
From bar, press, pulpit, east them everywhere,
By dint of fasting, if you fail by prayer.
And in their place bring men of antique mould,
Like the grave fathers of your Age of Gold;
Statesmen like those who sought the primal fount
Of righteous law, the Sermon on the Mount;
Lawyers who prize, like Quincy, (to our day
Still spared, Heaven bless him!) honor more than pay,
And Christian jurists, starry-pure, like Jay;
Preachers like Woolman, or like them who bore
The faith of Wesley to our Western shore,
And held no convert genuine till he broke
Alike his servants' and the Devil's yoke;
And priests like him who Newport's market trod,
And o'er its slave-ships shook the bolts of God!
So shall your power, with a wise prudence used,
Strong but forbearing, firm but not abused,
In kindly keeping with the good of all,
The nobler maxims of the past recall,
Her natural home-born right to Freedom give,
And leave her foe his robber-right, — to live.
Live, as the snake does in his noisome fen!
Live, as the wolf does in his bone-strewn den!
Live, clothed with cursing like a robe of flame,
The focal point of million-fingered shame!
Live, till the Southron, who, with all his faults,
Has manly instincts, in his pride revolts,
Dashes from off him, midst the glad world's cheers,
The hideous nightmare of his dream of years,
And lifts, self-prompted, with his own right hand,
The vile encumbrance from his glorious land!
"So, wheresoe'er our destiny sends forth
Its widening circles to the South or North,
Where'er our banner flaunts beneath the stars
Its mimic splendors and its cloudlike bars,
There shall Free Labor's hardy children stand
The equal sovereigns of a slaveless land.
And when at last the hunted bison tires,
And dies o'ertaken by the squatter's fires;
And westward, wave on wave, the living flood
Breaks on the snow-line of majestic Hood;
And lonely Shasta listening hears the tread
Of Europe's fair-haired children, Hesper-led;
And, gazing downward through his hoar-locks, sees
The tawny Asian climb his giant knees,
The Eastern sea shall hush his waves to hear
Pacific's surf-beat answer Freedom's cheer,
And one long rolling fire of triumph run
Between the sunrise and the sunset gun!"
My task is done. The Showman and his show,
Themselves but shadows, into shadows go;
And, if no song of idlesse I have sung,
Nor tints of beauty on the canvas flung;
If the harsh numbers grate on tender ears,
And the rough picture overwrought appears;
With deeper coloring, with a sterner blast,
Before my soul a voice and vision passed,
Such as might Milton's jarring trump require,
Or glooms of Dante fringed with lurid fire.
Oh; not of choice, for themes of public wrong
I leave the green and pleasant paths of song,
The mild, sweet words which soften and adorn,
For sharp rebuke and bitter laugh of scorn.
More dear to me some song of private worth,
Some homely idyl of my native North,
Some summer pastoral of her inland vales,
Or, grim and weird, her winter fireside tales
Haunted by ghosts of unreturning sails;
Lost barks at parting hung from stem to helm
With prayers of love like dreams on Virgil's elm.
Nor private grief nor malice holds my pen;
I owe but kindness to my fellow-men;
And, South or North, wherever hearts of prayer
Their woes and weakness to our Father bear,
Wherever fruits of Christian love are found
In holy lives, to me is holy ground.
But the time passes. It were vain to crave
A late indulgence. What I had I gave.
Forget the poet, but his warning heed,
And shame his poor word with your nobler deed.
IN WAR TIME.
TO SAMUEL E. SEWALL AND HARRIET W. SEWALL,
These lines to my old friends stood as dedication in the volume which contained a collection of pieces under the general title of In War Time. The group belonging distinctly under that title I have retained here; the other pieces in the volume are distributed among the appropriate divisions.
OLOR ISCANUS queries: "Why should we
Vex at the land's ridiculous miserie?"
So on his Usk banks, in the blood-red dawn
Of England's civil strife, did careless Vaughan
Bemock his times. O friends of many years!
Though faith and trust are stronger than our fears,
And the signs promise peace with liberty,
Not thus we trifle with our country's tears
And sweat of agony. The future's gain
Is certain as God's truth; but, meanwhile, pain
Is bitter and tears are salt: our voices take
A sober tone; our very household songs
Are heavy with a nation's griefs and wrongs;
And innocent mirth is chastened for the sake
Of the brave hearts that nevermore shall beat,
The eyes that smile no more, the unreturning feet!
THY WILL BE DONE.
WE see not, know not; all our way
Is night, — with Thee alone is day:
From out the torrent's troubled drift,
Above the storm our prayers we lift,
Thy will be done!
The flesh may fail, the heart may faint,
But who are we to make complaint,
Or dare to plead, in times like these,
The weakness of our love of ease?
Thy will be done!
We take with solemn thankfulness
Our burden up, nor ask it less,
And count it joy that even we
May suffer, serve, or wait for Thee,
Whose will be done!
Though dim as yet in tint and line,
We trace Thy picture's wise design,
And thank Thee that our age supplies
Its dark relief of sacrifice.
Thy will be done!
And if, in our unworthiness,
Thy sacrificial wine we press;
If from Thy ordeal's heated bars
Our feet are seamed with crimson scars,
Thy will be done!
If, for the age to come, this hour
Of trial hath vicarious power,
And, blest by Thee, our present pain,
Be Liberty's eternal gain,
Thy will be done!
Strike, Thou the Master, we Thy keys,
The anthem of the destinies!
The minor of Thy loftier strain,
Our hearts shall breathe the old refrain,
Thy will be done!
A WORD FOR THE HOUR.
THE firmament breaks up. In black eclipse
Light after light goes out. One evil star,
Luridly glaring through the smoke of war,
As in the dream of the Apocalypse,
Drags others down. Let us not weakly weep
Nor rashly threaten. Give us grace to keep
Our faith and patience; wherefore should we leap
On one hand into fratricidal fight,
Or, on the other, yield eternal right,
Frame lies of law, and good and ill confound?
What fear we? Safe on freedom's vantage-ground
Our feet are planted: let us there remain
In unrevengeful calm, no means untried
Which truth can sanction, no just claim denied,
The sad spectators of a suicide!
They break the links of Union: shall we light
The fires of hell to weld anew the chain
On that red anvil where each blow is pain?
Draw we not even now a freer breath,
As from our shoulders falls a load of death
Loathsome as that the Tuscan's victim bore
When keen with life to a dead horror bound?
Why take we up the accursed thing again?
Pity, forgive, but urge them back no more
Who, drunk with passion, flaunt disunion's rag
With its vile reptile-blazon. Let us press
The golden cluster on our brave old flag
In closer union, and, if numbering less,
Brighter shall shine the stars which still remain.
16th First mo., 1861.
"EIN FESTE BURG IST UNSER GOTT."
WE wait beneath the furnace-blast
The pangs of transformation;
Not painlessly doth God recast
And mould anew the nation.
Hot burns the fire
Where wrongs expire;
Nor spares the hand
That from the land
Uproots the ancient evil.
The hand-breadth cloud the sages feared
Its bloody rain is dropping;
The poison plant the fathers spared
All else is overtopping.
East, West, South, North,
It curses the earth;
All justice dies,
And fraud and lies
Live only in its shadow.
What gives the wheat-field blades of steel?
What points the rebel cannon?
What sets the roaring rabble's heel
On the old star-spangled pennon?
What breaks the oath
Of the men o' the South?
What wets the knife
For the Union's life? —
Hark to the answer: Slavery!
Then waste no blows on lesser foes
In strife unworthy freemen.
God lifts to-day the veil, and shows
The features of the demon!
O North and South,
Its victims both,
Can ye not cry,
"Let slavery die!"
And union find in freedom?
What though the cast-out spirit tear
The nation in his going?
We who have shared the guilt must share
The pang of his o'erthrowing!
Whate'er the loss,
Whate'er the cross,
Shall they complain
Of present pain
Who trust in God's hereafter?
For who that leans on His right arm
Was ever yet forsaken?
What righteous cause can suffer harm
If He its part has taken?
Though wild and loud,
And dark the cloud,
Behind its folds
His hand upholds
The calm sky of to-morrow!
Above the maddening cry for blood
Above the wild war-drumming,
Let Freedom's voice be heard, with good
The evil overcoming.
Give prayer and purse
To stay the Curse
Whose wrong we share,
Whose shame we bear,
Whose end shall gladden Heaven!
In vain the bells of war shall ring
Of triumphs and revenges,
While still is spared the evil thing
That severs and estranges.
But blest the ear
That yet shall hear
The jubilant bell
That rings the knell
Of Slavery forever!
Then let the selfish lip be dumb,
And hushed the breath of sighing;
Before the joy of peace must come
The pains of purifying.
God give us grace
Each in his place
To bear his lot,
And, murmuring not,
Endure and wait and labor!
TO JOHN C. FRÉMONT.
On the 31st of August, 1861, General Frémont, then in charge of the Western Department, issued a proclamation which contained a clause, famous as the first announcement of emancipation: "The property," it declared, "real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri, who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men." Mr. Lincoln regarded the proclamation as premature and countermanded it, after vainly endeavoring to persuade Frémont of his own motion to revoke it.
THY error, Frémont, simply was to act
A brave man's part, without the statesman's tact,
And, taking counsel but of common sense,
To strike at cause as well as consequence.
Oh, never yet since Roland wound his horn
At Roncesvalles, has a blast been blown
Far-heard, wide-echoed, startling as thine own,
Heard from the van of freedom's hope forlorn!
It had been safer, doubtless, for the time,
To flatter treason, and avoid offence
To that Dark Power whose underlying crime
Heaves upward its perpetual turbulence.
But if thine be the fate of all who break
The ground for truth's seed, or forerun their years
Till lost in distance, or with stout hearts make
A lane for freedom through the level spears,
Still take thou courage! God has spoken through thee,
Irrevocable, the mighty words, Be free!
The land shakes with them, and the slave's dull ear
Turns from the rice-swamp stealthily to hear.
Who would recall them now must first arrest
The winds that blow down from the free Northwest,
Ruffling the Gulf; or like a scroll roll back
The Mississippi to its upper springs.
Such words fulfil their prophecy, and lack
But the full time to harden into things.
BESIDE a stricken field I stood;
On the torn turf, on grass and wood,
Hung heavily the dew of blood.
Still in their fresh mounds lay the slain,
But all the air was quick with pain
And gusty sighs and tearful rain.
Two angels, each with drooping head
And folded wings and noiseless tread,
Watched by that valley of the dead.
The one, with forehead saintly bland
And lips of blessing, not command,
Leaned, weeping, on her olive wand.
The other's brows were scarred and knit,
His restless eyes were watch-fires lit,
His hands for battle-gauntlets fit.
"How long!" — I knew the voice of Peace, —
"Is there no respite? no release?
When shall the hopeless quarrel cease?
"O Lord, how long! One human soul
Is more than any parchment scroll,
Or any flag thy winds unroll.
"What price was Ellsworth's, young and brave?
How weigh the gift that Lyon gave,
Or count the cost of Winthrop's grave?
"O brother! if thine eye can see,
Tell how and when the end shall be,
What hope remains for thee and me."
Then Freedom sternly said: "I shun
No strife nor pang beneath the sun,
When human rights are staked and won.
"I knelt with Ziska's hunted flock,
I watched in Toussaint's cell of rock,
I walked with Sidney to the block.
"The moor of Marston felt my tread,
Through Jersey snows the march I led,
My voice Magenta's charges sped.
"But now, through weary day and night,
I watch a vague and aimless fight
For leave to strike one blow aright.
"On either side my foe they own:
One guards through love his ghastly throne,
And one through fear to reverence grown.
"Why wait we longer, mocked, betrayed,
By open foes, or those afraid
To speed thy coming through my aid?
"Why watch to see who win or fall?
I shake the dust against them all,
I leave them to their senseless brawl."
"Nay," Peace implored: "yet longer wait;
The doom is near, the stake is great:
God knoweth if it be too late.
"Still wait and watch; the way prepare
Where I with folded wings of prayer
May follow, weaponless and bare."
"Too late!" the stern, sad voice replied,
"Too late!" its mournful echo sighed,
In low lament the answer died.
A rustling as of wings in flight,
An upward gleam of lessening white,
So passed the vision, sound and sight.
But round me, like a silver bell
Rung down the listening sky to tell
Of holy help, a sweet voice fell.
"Still hope and trust," it sang; "the rod
Must fall, the wine-press must be trod,
But all is possible with God!"
Written when, in the stress of our terrible war, the English ruling class, with few exceptions, were either coldly indifferent or hostile to the party of freedom. Their attitude was illustrated by caricatures of America, among which was one of a slaveholder and cowhide, with the motto, "Haven't I a right to wallop my nigger? "
You flung your taunt across the wave;
We bore it as became us,
Well knowing that the fettered slave
Left friendly lips no option save
To pity or to blame us.
You scoffed our plea. "Mere lack of will,
Not lack of power," you told us:
We showed our free-state records; still
You mocked, confounding good and ill,
Slave-haters and slaveholders.
We struck at Slavery; to the verge
Of power and means we checked it;
Lo! — presto, change! its claims you urge,
Send greetings to it o'er the surge,
And comfort and protect it.
But yesterday you scarce could shake,
In slave-abhorring rigor,
Our Northern palms for conscience' sake:
To-day you clasp the hands that ache
With "walloping the nigger!"
O Englishmen! — in hope and creed,
In blood and tongue our brothers!
We too are heirs of Runnymede;
And Shakespeare's fame and Cromwell's deed
Are not alone our mother's.
"Thicker than water," in one rill
Through centuries of story
Our Saxon blood has flowed, and still
We share with you its good and ill,
The shadow and the glory.
Joint heirs and kinfolk, leagues of wave
Nor length of years can part us:
Your right is ours to shrine and grave,
The common freehold of the brave,
The gift of saints and martyrs.
Our very sins and follies teach
Our kindred frail and human:
We carp at faults with bitter speech,
The while, for one unshared by each,
We have a score in common.
We bowed the heart, if not the knee,
To England's Queen, God bless her!
We praised you when your slaves went free:
We seek to unchain ours. Will ye
Join hands with the oppressor?
And is it Christian England cheers
The bruiser, not the bruisëd?
And must she run, despite the tears
And prayers of eighteen hundred years,
Amuck in Slavery's crusade?
Oh, black disgrace! Oh, shame and loss
Too deep for tongue to phrase on!
Tear from your flag its holy cross,
And in your van of battle toss
The pirate's skull-bone blazon!
MITHRIDATES AT CHIOS.
It is recorded that the Chians, when subjugated by Mithridates of Cappadocia, were delivered up to their own slaves, to be carried away captive to Colchis. Athenæus considers this a just punishment for their wickedness in first introducing the slave-trade into Greece. From this ancient villany of the Chians the proverb arose, "The Chian hath bought himself a master."
KNOW'ST thou, O slave-cursed land!
How, when the Chian's cup of guilt
Was full to overflow, there came
God's justice in the sword of flame
That, red with slaughter to its hilt,
Blazed in the Cappadocian victor's hand?
The heavens are still and far;
But, not unheard of awful Jove,
The sighing of the island slave
Was answered, when the Ægean wave
The keels of Mithridates clove,
And the vines shrivelled in the breath of war.
"Robbers of Chios! hark,"
The victor cried, "to Heaven's decree!
Pluck your last cluster from the vine,
Drain your last cup of Chian wine;
Slaves of your slaves, your doom shall be,
In Colchian mines by Phasis rolling dark."
Then rose the long lament
From the hoar sea-god's dusky caves:
The priestess rent her hair and cried,
"Woe! woe! The gods are sleepless-eyed!"
And, chained and scourged, the slaves of slaves,
The lords of Chios into exile went.
"The gods at last pay well,"
So Hellas sang her taunting song,
"The fisher in his net is caught,
The Chian hath his master bought;"
And isle from isle, with laughter long,
Took up and sped the mocking parable.
Once more the slow, dumb years
Bring their avenging cycle round,
And, more than Hellas taught of old,
Our wiser lesson shall be told,
Of slaves uprising, freedom-crowned,
To break, not wield, the scourge wet with their blood and tears.
AT PORT ROYAL.
In November, 1861, a Union force under Commodore Dupont and General Sherman captured Port Royal, and from this point as a basis of operations, the neighboring islands between Charleston and Savannah were taken possession of. The early occupation of this district, where the negro population was greatly in excess of the white, gave an opportunity which was at once seized upon, of practically emancipating the slaves and of beginning that work of civilization which was accepted as the grave responsibility of those who had labored for freedom.
THE tent-lights glimmer on the land,
The ship-lights on the sea;
The night-wind smooths with drifting sand
Our track on lone Tybee.
At last our grating keels outslide,
Our good boats forward swing;
And while we ride the land-locked tide,
Our negroes row and sing.
For dear the bondman holds his gifts
Of music and of song:
The gold that kindly Nature sifts
Among his sands of wrong;
The power to make his toiling days
And poor home-comforts please;
The quaint relief of mirth that plays
With sorrow's minor keys.
Another glow than sunset's fire
Has filled the west with light,
Where field and garner, barn and byre,
Are blazing through the night.
The land is wild with fear and hate,
The rout runs mad and fast;
From hand to hand, from gate to gate
The flaming brand is passed.
The lurid glow falls strong across
Dark faces broad with smiles:
Not theirs the terror, hate, and loss
That fire yon blazing piles.
With oar-strokes timing to their song,
They weave in simple lays
The pathos of remembered wrong,
The hope of better days, —
The triumph-note that Miriam sung,
The joy of uncaged birds:
Softening with Afric's mellow tongue
Their broken Saxon words.
SONG OF THE NEGRO BOATMEN.
Oh, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come
To set de people free;
An' massa tink it day ob doom,
An' we ob jubilee.
De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves
He jus' as 'trong as den;
He say de word: we las' night slaves;
To-day, de Lord's freemen.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice an' corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
Ole massa on he trabbels gone;
He leaf de land behind:
De Lord's breff blow him furder on,
Like corn-shuck in de wind.
We own de hoe, we own de plough,
We own de hands dat hold;
We sell de pig, we sell de cow,
But nebber chile be sold.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice an' corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
We pray de Lord: he gib us signs
Dat some clay we be free;
De norf-wind tell it to de pines,
De wild-duck to de sea;
We tink it when de church-bell ring,
We dream it in de dream;
De rice-bird mean it when he sing,
De eagle when he scream.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice an' corn:
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
We know de promise nebber fail,
An' nebber lie de word;
So like de 'postles in de jail,
We waited for de Lord
An' now he open ebery door,
An' trow away de key;
He tink we lub him so before,
We lub him better free.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
He'll gib de rice an' corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
So sing our dusky gondoliers;
And with a secret pain,
And smiles that seem akin to tears,
We hear the wild refrain.
We dare not share the negro's trust,
Nor yet his hope deny;
We only know that God is just,
And every wrong shall die.
Rude seems the song; each swarthy face,
Flame-lighted, ruder still:
We start to think that hapless race
Must shape our good or ill;
That laws of changeless justice bind
Oppressor with oppressed;
And, close as sin and suffering joined,
We march to Fate abreast.
Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be
Our sign of blight or bloom,
The Vala-song of Liberty,
Or death-rune of our doom!
ASTRÆA AT THE CAPITOL.
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1862.
WHEN first I saw our banner wave
Above the nation's council-hall,
I heard beneath its marble wall
The clanking fetters of the slave!
In the foul market-place I stood,
And saw the Christian mother sold,
And childhood with its locks of gold,
Blue-eyed and fair with Saxon blood.
I shut my eyes, I held my breath,
And, smothering down the wrath and shame
That set my Northern blood aflame,
Stood silent, — where to speak was death.
Beside me gloomed the prison-cell
Where wasted one in slow decline
For uttering simple words of mine,
And loving freedom all too well.
The flag that floated from the dome
Flapped menace in the morning air;
I stood a perilled stranger where
The human broker made his home.
For crime was virtue: Gown and Sword
And Law their threefold sanction gave,
And to the quarry of the slave
Went hawking with our symbol-bird.
On the oppressor's side was power;
And yet I knew that every wrong,
However old, however strong,
But waited God's avenging hour.
I knew that truth would crush the lie, —
Somehow, some time, the end would be;
Yet scarcely dared I hope to see
The triumph with my mortal eye.
But now I see it! In the sun
A free flag floats from yonder dome,
And at the nation's hearth and home
The justice long delayed is done.
Not as we hoped, in calm of prayer,
The message of deliverance comes,
But heralded by roll of drums
On waves of battle-troubled air!
Midst sounds that madden and appall,
The song that Bethlehem's shepherds knew !
The harp of David melting through
The demon-agonies of Saul!
Not as we hoped; but what are we?
Above our broken dreams and plans
God lays, with wiser hand than man's,
The corner-stones of liberty.
I cavil not with Him: the voice
That freedom's blessed gospel tells
Is sweet to me as silver bells,
Rejoicing! yea, I will rejoice!
Dear friends still toiling in the sun;
Ye dearer ones who, gone before,
Are watching from the eternal shore
The slow work by your hands begun,
Rejoice with me! The chastening rod
Blossoms with love; the furnace heat
Grows cool beneath His blessed feet
Whose form is as the Son of God!
Rejoice! Our Marah's bitter springs
Are sweetened; on our ground of grief
Rise day by day in strong relief
The prophecies of better things.
Rejoice in hope! The day and night
Are one with God, and one with them
Who see by faith the cloudy hem
Of Judgment fringed with Mercy's light!
THE BATTLE AUTUMN OF 1862.
THE flags of war like storm-birds fly,
The charging trumpets blow;
Yet rolls no thunder in the sky,
No earthquake strives below.
And, calm and patient, Nature keeps
Her ancient promise well,
Though o'er her bloom and greenness sweeps
The battle's breath of hell.
And still she walks in golden hours
Through harvest-happy farms,
And still she wears her fruits and flowers
Like jewels on her arms.
What mean the gladness of the plain,
This joy of eve and morn,
The mirth that shakes the beard of grain
And yellow locks of corn?
Ah! eyes may well be full of tears,
And hearts with hate are hot;
But even-paced come round the years,
And Nature changes not.
She meets with smiles our bitter grief,
With songs our groans of pain;
She mocks with tint of flower and leaf
The war-field's crimson stain.
Still, in the cannon's pause, we hear
Her sweet thanksgiving-psalm;
Too near to God for doubt or fear,
She shares the eternal calm.
She knows the seed lies safe below
The fires that blast and burn;
For all the tears of blood we sow
She waits the rich return.
She sees with clearer eye than ours
The good of suffering born, —
The hearts that blossom like her flowers,
And ripen like her corn.
Oh, give to us, in times like these,
The vision of her eyes;
And make her fields and fruited trees
Our golden prophecies!
Oh, give to us her finer ear!
Above this stormy din,
We too would hear the bells of cheer
Ring peace and freedom in.
SUNG AT CHRISTMAS BY THE SCHOLARS OF ST. HELENA'S ISLAND, S. C.
OH, none in all the world before
Were ever glad as we!
We're free on Carolina's shore,
We're all at home and free.
Thou Friend and Helper of the poor,
Who suffered for our sake,
To open every prison door,
And every yoke to break!
Bend low Thy pitying face and mild,
And help us sing and pray;
The hand that blessed the little child,
Upon our foreheads lay.
We hear no more the driver's horn,
No more the whip we fear,
This holy day that saw Thee born
Was never half so dear.
The very oaks are greener clad,
The waters brighter smile;
Oh, never shone a day so glad
On sweet St. Helen's Isle.
We praise Thee in our songs to-day,
To Thee in prayer we call,
Make swift the feet and straight the way
Of freedom unto all.
Come once again, O blessed Lord!
Come walking on the sea!
And let the mainlands hear the word
That sets the islands free!
President Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation was issued January 1, 1863.
SAINT PATRICK, slave to Milcho of the herds
Of Ballymena, wakened with these words:
"Arise, and flee
Out from the land of bondage, and be free!"
Glad as a soul in pain, who hears from heaven
The angels singing of his sins forgiven,
And, wondering, sees
His prison opening to their golden keys,
He rose a man who laid him down a slave,
Shook from his locks the ashes of the grave,
And outward trod
Into the glorious liberty of God.
He east the symbols of his shame away;
And, passing where the sleeping Milcho lay,
Though back and limb
Smarted with wrong, he prayed, "God pardon him!"
So went he forth; but in God's time he came
To light on Uilline's hills a holy flame;
And, dying, gave
The land a saint that lost him as a slave.
O dark, sad millions, patiently and dumb
Waiting for God, your hour at last has come,
And freedom's song
Breaks the long silence of your night of wrong!
Arise and flee! shake off the vile restraint
Of ages; but, like Ballymena's saint,
The oppressor spare,
Heap only on his head the coals of prayer.
Go forth, like him! like him return again,
To bless the land whereon in bitter pain
Ye toiled at first,
And heal with freedom what your slavery cursed.
Read before the Alumni of the Friends' Yearly Meeting School, at the Annual Meeting at Newport, R. I., 15th 6th mo., 1863.
ONCE, more, dear friends, you meet beneath
A clouded sky:
Not yet the sword has found its sheath,
And on the sweet spring airs the breath
Of war floats by.
Yet trouble springs not from the ground,
Nor pain from chance;
The Eternal order circles round,
And wave and storm find mete and bound
Full long our feet the flowery ways
Of peace have trod,
Content with creed and garb and phrase:
A harder path in earlier days
Led up to God.
Too cheaply truths, once purchased dear,
Are made our own;
Too long the world has smiled to hear
Our boast of full corn in the ear
By others sown;
To see us stir the martyr fires
Of long ago,
And wrap our satisfied desires
In the singed mantles that our sires
Have dropped below.
But now the cross our worthies bore
On us is laid;
Profession's quiet sleep is o'er,
And in the scale of truth once more
Our faith is weighed.
The cry of innocent blood at last
Is calling down
An answer in the whirlwind-blast,
The thunder and the shadow cast
From Heaven's dark frown.
The land is red with judgments. Who
Stands guiltless forth?
Have we been faithful as we knew,
To God and to our brother true,
To Heaven and Earth?
How faint, through din of merchandise
And count of gain,
Have seemed to us the captive's cries!
How far away the tears and sighs
Of souls in pain!
This day the fearful reckoning comes
To each and all;
We hear amidst our peaceful homes
The summons of the conscript drums,
The bugle's call.
Our path is plain; the war-net draws
Round us in vain,
While, faithful to the Higher Cause,
We keep our fealty to the laws
Through patient pain.
The levelled gun, the battle-brand,
We may not take:
But, calmly loyal, we can stand
And suffer with our suffering land
For conscience' sake.
Why ask for ease where all is pain?
Shall we alone
Be left to add our gain to gain,
When over Armageddon's plain
The trump is blown?
To suffer well is well to serve;
Safe in our Lord
The rigid lines of law shall curve
To spare us; from our heads shall swerve
Its smiting sword.
And light is mingled with the gloom,
And joy with grief;
Divinest compensations come,
Through thorns of judgment mercies bloom
In sweet relief.
Thanks for our privilege to bless,
By word and deed,
The widow in her keen distress,
The childless and the fatherless,
The hearts that bleed!
For fields of duty, opening wide,
Where all our powers
Are tasked the eager steps to guide
Of millions on a path untried:
The slave is ours!
Ours by traditions dear and old,
Which make the race
Our wards to cherish and uphold,
And cast their freedom in the mould
Of Christian grace.
And we may tread the sick-bed floors
Where strong men pine,
And, down the groaning corridors,
Pour freely from our liberal stores
The oil and wine.
Who murmurs that in these dark days
His lot is cast?
God's hand within the shadow lays
The stones whereon His gates of praise
Shall rise at last.
Turn and o'erturn, O outstretched Hand!
Nor stint, nor stay;
The years have never dropped their sand
On mortal issue vast and grand
As ours to-day.
Already, on the sable ground
Of man's despair
Is Freedom's glorious picture found,
With all its dusky hands unbound
Upraised in prayer.
Oh, small shall seem all sacrifice
And pain and loss,
When God shall wipe the weeping eyes,
For suffering give the victor's prize,
The crown for cross!
This poem was written in strict conformity to the account of the incident as I had it from respectable and trustworthy sources. It has since been the subject of a good deal of conflicting testimony, and the story was probably incorrect in some of its detals. It is admitted by all that Barbara Frietchie was no myth, but a worthy and highly esteemed gentlewoman, intensely loyal and a hater of the Slavery Rebellion, holding her Union flag sacred and keeping it with her Bible; that when the Confederates halted before her house, and entered her dooryard, she denounced them in vigorous language shook her cane in their faces, and drove them out; and when General Burnside's troops followed close upon Jackson's, she waved her flag and cheered them. It is stated that May Quantrell, a brave and loyal lady in another part of the city, did wave her flag in sight of the Confederates. It is possible that there has been a blending of the two incidents.
UP from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.
"Halt!" — the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
"Fire!" — out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.
She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word:
"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.
All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!
WHAT THE BIRDS SAID.
THE birds against the April wind
Flew northward, singing as they flew;
They sang, "The land we leave behind
Has swords for corn-blades, blood for dew."
"O wild-birds, flying from the South,
What saw and heard ye, gazing down?"
"We saw the mortar's upturned mouth,
The sickened camp, the blazing town!
"Beneath the bivouac's starry lamps,
We saw your march-worn children die;
In shrouds of moss, in cypress swamps,
We saw your dead uncoffined lie.
"We heard the starving prisoner's sighs,
And saw, from line and trench, your sons
Follow our flight with home-sick eyes
Beyond the battery's smoking guns."
"And heard and saw ye only wrong
And pain," I cried, "O wing-worn flocks?"
"We heard," they sang, "the freedman's song,
The crash of Slavery's broken locks!
"We saw from new, uprising States
The treason-nursing mischief spurned,
As, crowding Freedom's ample gates,
The long-estranged and lost returned.
"O'er dusky faces, seamed and old,
And hands horn-hard with unpaid toil,
With hope in every rustling fold,
We saw your star-dropt flag uncoil.
"And struggling up through sounds accursed,
A grateful murmur clomb the air;
A whisper scarcely heard at first,
It filled the listening heavens with prayer.
"And sweet and far, as from a star,
Replied a voice which shall not cease,
Till, drowning all the noise of war,
It sings the blessed song of peace!"
So to me, in a doubtful day
Of chill and slowly greening spring,
Low stooping from the cloudy gray,
The wild-birds sang or seemed to sing.
They vanished in the misty air,
The song went with them in their flight;
But lo! they left the sunset fair,
And in the evening there was light.
THE MANTLE OF ST. JOHN DE MATHA.
A LEGEND OF "THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE," A. D. 1154-1864.
A STRONG and mighty Angel,
Calm, terrible, and bright,
The cross in blended red and blue
Upon his mantle white!
Two captives by him kneeling,
Each on his broken chain,
Sang praise to God who raiseth
The dead to life again!
Dropping his cross-wrought mantle,
"Wear this," the Angel said;
"Take thou, O Freedom's priest, its sign, —
The white, the blue, and red."
Then rose up John de Matha
In the strength the Lord Christ gave,
And begged through all the land of France
The ransom of the slave.
The gates of tower and castle
Before him open flew,
The drawbridge at his coming fell,
The door-bolt backward drew.
For all men owned his errand,
And paid his righteous tax;
And the hearts of lord and peasant
Were in his hands as wax.
At last, outbound from Tunis,
His bark her anchor weighed,
Freighted with seven-score Christian souls
Whose ransom he had paid.
But, torn by Paynim hatred,
Her sails in tatters hung;
And on the wild waves, rudderless,
A shattered hulk she swung.
"God save us!" cried the captain,
"For naught can man avail;
Oh, woe betide the ship that lacks
Her rudder and her sail!
"Behind us are the Moormen;
At sea we sink or strand:
There's death upon the water,
There's death upon the land!"
Then up spake John de Matha:
"God's errands never fail!
Take thou the mantle which I wear,
And make of it a sail."
They raised the cross-wrought mantle,
The blue, the white, the red;
And straight before the wind off-shore
The ship of Freedom sped.
"God help us!" cried the seamen,
"For vain is mortal skill:
The good ship on a stormy sea
Is drifting at its will."
Then up spake John de Matha:
"My mariners, never fear!
The Lord whose breath has filled her sail
May well our vessel steer!"
So on through storm and darkness
They drove for weary hours;
And lo! the third gray morning shone
On Ostia's friendly towers.
And on the walls the watchers
The ship of mercy knew, —
They knew far off its holy cross,
The red, the white, and blue.
And the bells in all the steeples
Rang out in glad accord,
To welcome home to Christian soil
The ransomed of the Lord.
So runs the ancient legend
By bard and painter told;
And lo! the cycle rounds again,
The new is as the old!
With rudder foully broken,
And sails by traitors torn,
Our country on a midnight sea
Is waiting for the morn.
Before her, nameless terror;
Behind, the pirate foe;
The clouds are black above her,
The sea is white below.
The hope of all who suffer,
The dread of all who wrong,
She drifts in darkness and in storm,
How long, O Lord! how long?
But courage, O my mariners!
Ye shall not suffer wreck,
While up to God the freedman's prayers
Are rising from your deck.
Is not your sail the banner
Which God hath blest anew,
The mantle that De Matha wore,
The red, the white, the blue?
Its hues are all of heaven, —
The red of sunset's dye,
The whiteness of the moon-lit cloud,
The blue of morning's sky.
Wait cheerily, then, O mariners,
For daylight and for land;
The breath of God is in your sail,
Your rudder is His hand.
Sail on, sail on, deep-freighted
With blessings and with hopes;
The saints of old with shadowy hands
Are pulling at your ropes.
Behind ye holy martyrs
Uplift the palm and crown;
Before ye unborn ages send
Their benedictions down.
Take heart from John de Matha! —
God's errands never fail!
Sweep on through storm and darkness,
The thunder and the hail!
Sail on! The morning cometh,
The port ye yet shall win;
And all the bells of God shall ring
The good ship bravely in!
On hearing the bells ring on the passage of the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The resolution was adopted by Congress, January 31, 1865. The ratification by the requisite number of States was announced December 18, 1865.
IT is done!
Clang of bell and roar of gun
Send the tidings up and down.
How the belfries rock and reel!
How the great guns, peal on peal,
Fling the joy from town to town!
Ring, O bells!
Every stroke exulting tells
Of the burial hour of crime.
Loud and long, that all may hear,
Ring for every listening ear
Of Eternity and Time!
Let us kneel:
God's own voice is in that peal,
And this spot is holy ground.
Lord, forgive us! What are we,
That our eyes this glory see,
That our ears have heard the sound!
For the Lord
On the whirlwind is abroad;
In the earthquake He has spoken;
He has smitten with His thunder
The iron walls asunder,
And the gates of brass are broken!
Loud and long
Lift the old exulting song;
Sing with Miriam by the sea,
He has cast the mighty down;
Horse and rider sink and drown;
"He hath triumphed gloriously!"
Did we dare,
In our agony of prayer,
Ask for more than He has done?
When was ever His right hand
Over any time or land
Stretched as now beneath the sun?
How they pale,
Ancient myth and song and tale,
In this wonder of our days,
When the cruel rod of war
Blossoms white with righteous law,
And the wrath of man is praise!
All within and all about
Shall a fresher life begin;
Freer breathe the universe
As it rolls its heavy curse
On the dead and buried sin!
It is done!
In the circuit of the sun
Shall the sound thereof go forth.
It shall bid the sad rejoice,
It shall give the dumb a voice,
It shall belt with joy the earth!
Ring and swing,
Bells of joy! On morning's wing
Send the song of praise abroad!
With a sound of broken chains
Tell the nations that He reigns,
Who alone is Lord and God!
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF EMANCIPATION AT NEWBURYPORT.
NOT unto us who did but seek
The word that burned within to speak,
Not unto us this day belong
The triumph and exultant song.
Upon us fell in early youth
The burden of unwelcome truth,
And left us, weak and frail and few,
The censor's painful work to do.
Thenceforth our life a fight became,
The air we breathed was hot with blame;
For not with gauged and softened tone
We made the bondman's cause our own.
We bore, as Freedom's hope forlorn,
The private hate, the public scorn;
Yet held through all the paths we trod
Our faith in man and trust in God.
We prayed and hoped; but still, with awe,
The coming of the sword we saw;
We heard the nearing steps of doom,
We saw the shade of things to come.
In grief which they alone can feel
Who from a mother's wrong appeal,
With blended lines of fear and hope
We cast our country's horoscope.
For still within her house of life
We marked the lurid sign of strife,
And, poisoning and imbittering all,
We saw the star of Wormwood fall.
Deep as our love for her became
Our hate of all that wrought her shame,
And if, thereby, with tongue and pen
We erred, — we were but mortal men.
We hoped for peace; our eyes survey
The blood-red dawn of Freedom's day:
We prayed for love to loose the chain;
'T is shorn by battle's axe in twain!
Nor skill nor strength nor zeal of ours
Has mined and heaved the hostile towers;
Not by our hands is turned the key
That sets the sighing captives free.
A redder sea than Egypt's wave
Is piled and parted for the slave;
A darker cloud moves on in light;
A fiercer fire is guide by night!
The praise, O Lord! is Thine alone,
In Thy own way Thy work is done!
Our poor gifts at Thy feet we cast,
To whom be glory, first and last!
Written on reading pamphlets published by clergymen against the abolition of the gallows.
THE suns of eighteen centuries have shone
Since the Redeemer walked with man, and made
The fisher's boat, the cavern's floor of stone,
And mountain moss, a pillow for His head;
And He, who wandered with the peasant Jew,
And broke with publicans the bread of shame,
And drank with blessings, in His Father's name,
The water which Samaria's outcast drew,
Hath now His temples upon every shore,
Altar and shrine and priest; and incense dim
Evermore rising, with low prayer and hymn,
From lips which press the temple's marble floor,
Or kiss the gilded sign of the dread cross He bore.
Yet as of old, when, meekly "doing good,"
He fed a blind and selfish multitude,
And even the poor companions of His lot
With their dim earthly vision knew Him not,
How ill are His high teachings understood!
Where He hath spoken Liberty, the priest
At His own altar binds the chain anew;
Where He hath bidden to Life's equal feast,
The starving many wait upon the few;
Where He hath spoken Peace, His name hath been
The loudest war-cry of contending men;
Priests, pale with vigils, in His name have blessed
The unsheathed sword, and laid the spear in rest,
Wet the war-banner with their sacred wine,
And crossed its blazon with the holy sign;
Yea, in His name who bade the erring live,
And daily taught His lesson, to forgive!
Twisted the cord and edged the murderous steel;
And, with His words of mercy on their lips,
Hung gloating o'er the pincer's burning grips,
And the grim horror of the straining wheel;
Fed the slow flame which gnawed the victim's limb,
Who saw before his searing eyeballs swim
The image of their Christ in cruel zeal,
Through the black torment-smoke, held mockingly to him!
The blood which mingled with the desert sand,
And beaded with its red and ghastly dew
The vines and olives of the Holy Land;
The shrieking curses of the hunted Jew;
The white-sown bones of heretics, where'er
They sank beneath the Crusade's holy spear;
Goa's dark dungeons, Malta's sea-washed cell,
Where with the hymns the ghostly fathers sung
Mingled the groans by subtle torture wrung,
Heaven's anthem blending with the shriek of hell!
The midnight of Bartholomew, the stake
Of Smithfield, and that thrice-accursed flame
Which Calvin kindled by Geneva's lake;
New England's scaffold, and the priestly sneer
Which mocked its victims in that hour of fear,
When guilt itself a human tear might claim, —
Bear witness, O Thou wronged and merciful One!
That Earth's most hateful crimes have in Thy name been done!
Thank God! that I have lived to see the time
When the great truth begins at last to find
An utterance from the deep heart of mankind,
Earnest and clear, that all Revenge is Crime,
That man is holier than a creed, that all
Restraint upon him must consult his good,
Hope's sunshine linger on his prison wall,
And Love look in upon his solitude.
The beautiful lesson which our Saviour taught
Through long, dark centuries its way hath wrought
Into the common mind and popular thought;
And words, to which by Galilee's lake shore
The humble fishers listened with hushed oar,
Have found an echo in the general heart,
And of the public faith become a living part.
Who shall arrest this tendency? Bring back
The cells of Venice and the bigot's rack?
Harden the softening human heart again
To cold indifference to a brother's pain?
Ye most unhappy men! who, turned away
From the mild sunshine of the Gospel day,
Grope in the shadows of Man's twilight time,
What mean ye, that with ghoul-like zest ye brood,
O'er those foul altars streaming with warm blood,
Permitted in another age and clime?
Why cite that law with which the bigot Jew
Rebuked the Pagan's mercy, when he knew
No evil in the Just One? Wherefore turn
To the dark, cruel past? Can ye not learn
From the pure Teacher's life how mildly free
Is the great Gospel of Humanity?
The Flamen's knife is bloodless, and no more
Mexitli's altars soak with human gore,
No more the ghastly sacrifices smoke
Through the green arches of the Druid's oak;
And ye of milder faith, with your high claim.
Of prophet-utterance in the Holiest name,
Will ye become the Druids of our time!
Set up your scaffold-altars in our land,
And, consecrators of Law's darkest crime,
Urge to its loathsome work the hangman's hand?
Beware, lest human nature, roused at last,
From its peeled shoulder your encumbrance cast,
And, sick to loathing of your cry for blood,
Rank ye with those who led their victims round
The Celt's red altar and the Indian's mound,
Abhorred of Earth and Heaven, a pagan brotherhood!
THE HUMAN SACRIFICE.
Some leading sectarian papers had lately published the letter of a clergyman, giving an account of his attendance upon a criminal (who had committed murder during a fit of intoxication), at the time of his execution, in western New York. The writer describes the agony of the wretched being, his abortive attempts at prayer, his appeal for life, his fear of a violent death; and, after declaring his belief that the poor victim died without hope of salvation, concludes with a warm eulogy upon the gallows, being more than ever convinced of its utility by the awful dread and horror which it inspired.
FAR from his close and noisome cell,
By grassy lane and sunny stream,
Blown clover field and strawberry dell,
And green and meadow freshness, fell
The footsteps of his dream.
Again from careless feet the dew
Of summer's misty morn he shook;
Again with merry heart he threw
His light line in the rippling brook.
Back crowded all his school-day joys;
He urged the ball and quoit again,
And heard the shout of laughing boys
Come ringing down the walnut glen.
Again he felt the western breeze,
With scent of flowers and crisping hay;
And down again through wind-stirred trees
He saw the quivering sunlight play.
An angel in home's vine-hung door,
He saw his sister smile once more;
Once more the truant's brown-locked head
Upon his mother's knees was laid,
And sweetly lulled to slumber there,
With evening's holy hymn and prayer!
He woke. At once on heart and brain
The present Terror rushed again;
Clanked on his limbs the felon's chain!
He woke, to hear the church-tower tell
Time's footfall on the conscious bell,
And, shuddering, feel that clanging din
His life's last hour had ushered in;
To see within his prison-yard,
Through the small window, iron barred,
The gallows shadow rising dim
Between the sunrise heaven and him;
A horror in God's blessed air;
A blackness in his morning light;
Like some foul devil-altar there
Built up by demon hands at night,
And, maddened by that evil sight,
Dark, horrible, confused, and strange,
A chaos of wild, weltering change,
All power of check and guidance gone,
Dizzy and blind, his mind swept on.
In vain he strove to breathe a prayer,
In vain he turned the Holy Book,
He only heard the gallows-stair
Creak as the wind its timbers shook.
No dream for him of sin forgiven,
While still that baleful spectre stood,
With its hoarse murmur, "Blood for Blood!"
Between him and the pitying Heaven!
Low on his dungeon floor he knelt,
And smote his breast, and on his chain,
Whose iron clasp he always felt,
His hot tears fell like rain;
And near him, with the cold, calm look
And tone of one whose formal part,
Unwarmed, unsoftened of the heart,
Is measured out by rule and book,
With placid lip and tranquil blood,
The hangman's ghostly ally stood,
Blessing with solemn text and word
The gallows-drop and strangling cord;
Lending the sacred Gospel's awe
And sanction to the crime of Law.
He saw the victim's tortured brow,
The sweat of anguish starting there,
The record of a nameless woe
In the dim eye's imploring stare,
Seen hideous through the long, damp hair, —
Fingers of ghastly skin and bone
Working and writhing on the stone!
And heard, by mortal terror wrung
From heaving breast and stiffened tongue,
The choking sob and low hoarse prayer;
As o'er his half-crazed fancy came
A vision of the eternal flame,
Its smoking cloud of agonies,
Its demon-worm that never dies,
The everlasting rise and fall
Of fire-waves round the infernal wall;
While high above that dark red flood,
Black, giant-like, the gallows stood;
Two busy fiends attending there:
One with cold mocking rite and prayer,
The other with impatient grasp,
Tightening the death-rope's strangling clasp.
The unfelt rite at length was done,
The prayer unheard at length was said,
An hour had passed: the noonday sun
Smote on the features of the dead!
And he who stood the doomed beside,
Calm gauger of the swelling tide
Of mortal agony and fear,
Heeding with curious eye and ear
Whate'er revealed the keen excess
Of man's extremest wretchedness:
And who in that dark anguish saw
An earnest of the victim's fate,
The vengeful terrors of God's law,
The kindlings of Eternal hate,
The first drops of that fiery rain
Which beats the dark red realm of pain,
Did he uplift his earnest cries
Against the crime of Law, which gave
His brother to that fearful grave,
Whereon Hope's moonlight never lies,
And Faith's white blossoms never wave
To the soft breath of Memory's sighs;
Which sent a spirit marred and stained,
By fiends of sin possessed, profaned,
In madness and in blindness stark,
Into the silent, unknown dark?
No, from the wild and shrinking dread,
With which he saw the victim led
Beneath the dark veil which divides
Ever the living from the dead,
And Nature's solemn secret hides,
The man of prayer can only draw
New reasons for his bloody law;
New faith in staying Murder's hand
By murder at that Law's command;
New reverence for the gallows-rope,
As human nature's latest hope;
Last relic of the good old time,
When Power found license for its crime,
And held a writhing world in check
By that fell cord about its neck;
Stifled Sedition's rising shout,
Choked the young breath of Freedom out,
And timely checked the words which sprung
From Heresy's forbidden tongue;
While in its noose of terror bound,
The Church its cherished union found,
Conforming, on the Moslem plan,
The motley-colored mind of man,
Not by the Koran and the Sword,
But by the Bible and the Cord!
O Thou! at whose rebuke the grave
Back to warm life its sleeper gave,
Beneath whose sad and tearful glance
The cold and changëd countenance
Broke the still horror of its trance,
And, waking, saw with joy above,
A brother's face of tenderest love;
Thou, unto whom the blind and lame,
The sorrowing and the sin-sick came,
And from Thy very garment's hem
Drew life and healing unto them,
The burden of Thy holy faith
Was love and life, not hate and death;
Man's demon ministers of pain,
The fiends of his revenge, were sent
From thy pure Gospel's element
To their dark home again.
Thy name is Love! What, then, is he,
Who in that name the gallows rears,
An awful altar built to Thee,
With sacrifice of blood and tears?
Oh, once again Thy healing lay
On the blind eyes which knew Thee not,
And let the light of Thy pure day
Melt in upon his darkened thought.
Soften his hard, cold heart, and show
The power which in forbearance lies,
And let him feel that mercy now
Is better than old sacrifice!
As on the White Sea's charmëd shore,
The Parsee sees his holy hill10
With dunnest smoke-clouds curtained o'er,
Yet knows beneath them, evermore,
The low, pale fire is quivering still;
So, underneath its clouds of sin,
The heart of man retaineth yet
Gleams of its holy origin;
And half-quenched stars that never set,
Dim colors of its faded bow,
And early beauty, linger there,
And o'er its wasted desert blow
Faint breathings of its morning air.
Oh, never yet upon the scroll
Of the sin-stained, but priceless soul,
Hath Heaven inscribed "Despair!"
Cast not the clouded gem away,
Quench not the dim but living ray, —
My brother man, Beware!
With that deep voice which from the skies
Forbade the Patriarch's sacrifice,
God's angel cries, Forbear!
THE PEACE CONVENTION AT BRUSSELS.
STILL in thy streets, O Paris! doth the stain
Of blood defy the cleansing autumn rain;
Still breaks the smoke Messina's ruins through,
And Naples mourns that new Bartholomew,
When squalid beggary, for a dole of bread,
At a crowned murderer's beck of license, fed
The yawning trenches with her noble dead;
Still, doomed Vienna, through thy stately halls
The shell goes crashing and the red shot falls,
And, leagued to crush thee, on the Danube's side,
The bearded Croat and Bosniak spearman ride;
Still in that vale where Himalaya's snow
Melts round the cornfields and the vines below,
The Sikh's hot cannon, answering ball for ball,
Flames in the breach of Moultan's shattered wall;
On Chenab's side the vulture seeks the slain,
And Sutlej paints with blood its banks again.
"What folly, then," the faithless critic cries,
With sneering lip, and wise world-knowing eyes,
"While fort to fort, and post to post, repeat
The ceaseless challenge of the war-drum's beat,
And round the green earth, to the church-bell's chime,
The morning drum-roll of the camp keeps time,
To dream of peace amidst a world in arms,
Of swords to ploughshares changed by Scriptural charms,
Of nations, drunken with the wine of blood,
Staggering to take the Pledge of Brotherhood,
Like tipplers answering Father Mathew's call;
The sullen Spaniard, and the mad-cap Gaul,
The bull-dog Briton, yielding but with life,
The Yankee swaggering with his bowie-knife,
The Russ, from banquets with the vulture shared,
The blood still dripping from his amber beard,
Quitting their mad Berserker dance to hear
The dull, meek droning of a drab-coat seer;
Leaving the sport of Presidents and Kings,
Where men for dice each titled gambler flings,
To meet alternate on the Seine and Thames,
For tea and gossip, like old country dames!
No! let the cravens plead the weakling's cant,
Let Cobden cipher, and let Vincent rant,
Let Sturge preach peace to democratic throngs,
And Burritt, stammering through his hundred tongues,
Repeat, in all, his ghostly lessons o'er,
Timed to the pauses of the battery's roar;
Check Ban or Kaiser with the barricade
Of "Olive-leaves" and Resolutions made,
Spike guns with pointed Scripture-texts, and hope
To capsize navies with a windy trope;
Still shall the glory and the pomp of War
Along their train the shouting millions draw;
Still dusty Labor to the passing Brave
His cap shall doff, and Beauty's kerchief wave;
Still shall the bard to Valor tune his song,
Still Hero-worship kneel before the Strong;
Rosy and sleek, the sable-gowned divine,
O'er his third bottle of suggestive wine,
To plumed and sworded auditors, shall prove
Their trade accordant with the Law of Love;
And Church for State, and State for Church, shall fight,
And both agree, that "Might alone is Right!"
Despite of sneers like these, O faithful few,
Who dare to hold God's word and witness true,
Whose clear-eyed faith transcends our evil time,
And o'er the present wilderness of crime
Sees the calm future, with its robes of green,
Its fleece-flecked mountains, and soft streams between,—
Still keep the path which duty bids ye tread,
Though worldly wisdom shake the cautious head;
No truth from Heaven descends upon our sphere,
Without the greeting of the skeptic's sneer;
Denied and mocked at, till its blessings fall,
Common as dew and sunshine, over all.
"Then, o'er Earth's war-field, till the strife shall cease,
Like Morven's harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian's lyre,
Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.
Lend, once again, that holy song a tongue,
Which the glad angels of the Advent sung,
Their cradle-anthem for the Saviour's birth,
Glory to God, and peace unto the earth!
Through the mad discord send that calming word
Which wind and wave on wild Genesareth heard,
Lift in Christ's name his Cross against the Sword!
Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war,
Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky's rim, the fountain-shading palm.
Still lives for Earth, which fiends so long have trod,
The great hope resting on the truth of God, —
Evil shall cease and Violence pass away,
And the tired world breathe free through a long Sabbath day.
11th mo., 1848.
Read at Woodstock, Conn., July 4, 1883.
WE give thy natal day to hope,
O Country of our love and prayer!
Thy way is down no fatal slope,
But up to freer sun and air.
Tried as by furnace-fires, and yet
By God's grace only stronger made,
In future tasks before thee set
Thou shalt not lack the old-time aid.
The fathers sleep, but men remain
As wise, as true, and brave as they;
Why count the loss and not the gain?
The best is that we have to-day.
Whate'er of folly, shame, or crime,
Withhin thy mighty bounds transpires,
With speed defying space and time
Comes to us on the accusing wires;
While of thy wealth of noble deeds,
Thy homes of peace, thy votes unsold,
The love that pleads for human needs,
The wrong redressed, but half is told!
We read each felon's chronicle,
His acts, his words, his gallows-mood;
We know the single sinner well
And not the nine and ninety good.
Yet if, on daily scandals fed,
We seem at times to doubt thy worth,
We know thee still, when all is said,
The best and dearest spot on earth.
From the warm Mexic Gulf, or where
Belted with flowers Los Angeles
Basks in the semi-tropic air,
To where Katahdin's cedar trees
Are dwarfed and bent by Northern winds,
Thy plenty's horn is yearly filled;
Alone, the rounding century finds
Thy liberal soil by free hands tilled.
A refuge for the wronged and poor,
Thy generous heart has borne the blame
That, with them, through thy open door,
The old world's evil outcasts came.
But, with thy just and equal rule,
And labor's need and breadth of lands,
Free press and rostrum, church and school,
Thy sure, if slow, transforming hands
Shall mould even them to thy design,
Making a blessing of the ban;
And Freedom's chemistry combine
The alien elements of man.
The power that broke their prison bar
And set the dusky millions free,
And welded in the flame of war
The Union fast to Liberty,
Shall if not deal with other ills,
Redress the red man's grievance, break
The Circean cup which shames and kills
And Labor full requital make?
Alone to such as fitly bear
Thy civic honors bid them fall?
And call thy daughters forth to share
The rights and duties pledged to all?
Give every child his right of school,
Merge private greed in public good,
And spare a treasury overfull
The tax upon a poor man's food?
No lack was in thy primal stock,
No weakling founders builded here;
Thine were the men of Plymouth Rock,
The Huguenot and Cavalier;
And they whose firm endurance gained
The freedom of the souls of men,
Whose hands, unstained with blood, maintained
The swordless commonwealth of Penn.
And thine shall be the power of all
To do the work which duty bids,
And make the people's council hall
As lasting as the Pyramids!
Well have thy later years made good
Thy brave-said word a century back,
The pledge of human brotherhood,
The equal claim of white and black.
That word still echoes round the world,
And all who hear it turn to thee,
And read upon thy flag unfurled
The prophecies of destiny.
Thy great world-lesson all shall learn,
The nations in thy school shall sit,
Earth's farthest mountain-tops shall burn
With watch-fires from thy own uplit.
Great without seeking to be great
By fraud or conquest, rich in gold,
But richer in the large estate
Of virtue which thy children hold,
With peace that comes of purity
And strength to simple justice due,
So runs our loyal dream of thee;
God of our fathers! make it true.
O Land of lands! to thee we give
Our prayers, our hopes, our service free;
For thee thy sons shall nobly live,
And at thy need shall die for thee!