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VERSES BY ALEXANDER SELKIRK. 197 But the sound of the church-going bell
These valleys and rocks never heard, Never sigh’d at the sound of a knell,
Or smiled when a sabbath appear'd. Ye winds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Of a land I shall visit no more.
A wish or a thought after me? 0, tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see. How fleet is a glance of the mind !
Compared with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light. When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there; But, alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair. But the seafowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair ; Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair. There's mercy in every place,
And mercy, encouraging thought ! Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.
OBSCUREST night involved the sky,
The Atlantic billows roar'd,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Than he with whom he went,
With warmer wishes sent. He loved them both, but both in vain, Nor him beheld, nor her again. Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay; Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away; But waged with death a lasting strife, Supported by despair of life. He shouted; nor his friends had failid
To check the vessel's course, But so the furious blast prevail'd,
That, pitiless perforce, They left their outcast mate behind, And scudded still before the wind. Some succour yet they could afford;
And, such as storms allow, The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship nor shore, Whate'er they gave, should visit more. Nor, cruel as it seem’d, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Alone could rescue them;
In ocean, self-upheld:
His destiny repell’d :
His comrades, who before
Could catch the sound no more:
Of narrative sincere,
Is wet with Anson's tear :
Descanting on his fate,
A. more enduring date:
No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone;
We perish'd each alone:
THE NEGRO’S COMPLAINT.
Forced from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn;
O’er the raging billows borne.
Paid my price in paltry gold; But, though slave they have enrolld me,
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me to torture, me to task?
Dwells in white and black the same.
Why did all creating Nature
Make the plant for which we toil? Sighs-must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must dress the soil,
Think, ye masters, iron hearted,
Lolling at your jovial boards: Think how many backs have smarted
For the sweets your cane affords. Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
Is there One who reigns on high? Has he bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne, the sky? Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Agents of his will to use?
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks; Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
Are the voice with which he speaks. He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo, Fix'd their tyrants' habitations
Where his whirlwinds answer-No. By our blood in Afric wasted,
Ere our necks received the chain;' By the miseries that we tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main : By our sufferings, since ye brought us
To the man-degrading mart:
Only by a broken heart!
Till some reason ye shall find