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It does not feel for man; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax,
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own; and having power
To' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as a lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations, who had else
Like kindred drops been mingled into one,
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worse than all, and most to be deplored
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Just estimation prized above all price,
I had much rather be myself the slave,
And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
We have no slaves at home-Then why abroad?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire; that, where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid,
Between the nations in a world, that seems
To toll the deathbell of its own decease,
And by the voice of all its elements (winds
To preach the general doom?. When were the
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy ?
When did the waves so haughtily o'erleap
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry ?
Fires from beneath, and meteors 3 from above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplain’d,
Have kindled beacons in the skies; and the old
And crazy Earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and foregone her usual rest.
Is it a time to wrangle when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And Nature with a dim and sickly eye 4
To wait the close of all? But grant her end
More distant, and that prophecy demands
A longer respite, unaccomplish'd yet;
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak
Displeasure in His breast, who smites the Earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve
And stand exposed by common peccancy
? Allading to the calamities in Jamaica. 3 August 18, 1783.
* Alluding to the fog that covered both Europe and Asia during the whole sammer of 1783.
To what no few have felt, there should be peace, And brethren in calamity should love.
Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now Lie scatter'd, where the shapely column stood. Her palaces are dust. In all her streets The voice of singing and the sprightly chord Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show Suffer a syncope and solemn pause ; While God performs upon the trembling stage Of his own works his dreadful part alone. [signs How does the Earth receive him ?-with what Of gratulation and delight her king ? Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad, Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums, Disclosing Paradise where'er he treads? She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb, Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps And fiery caverns, roars beneath his foot. The hills move lightly and the mountains smoke, For he has touch'd them. From the extremest Of elevation down into the abyss (point His wrath is busy and his frown is felt. The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise, The rivers die into offensive pools, And, charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross And mortal nuisance into all the air. What solid was, by transformation strange, Grows fluid; and the fix'd and rooted earth, Tormented into billows, heaves and swells, Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs And agonies of human and of brute Multitudes, fugitive on every side,
And fugitive in vain. The silvan scene
Migrates uplifted; and, with all its soil
Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
A new possessor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the frenzy, and upwrought
To an enormous and o’erbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice,
Which winds and waves .obey, invades the shore
Resistless. Never such a sudden flood,
Upridged so high, and sent on such a charge,
Possess'd an inland scene. Where now the throng
That press'd the beach, and, hasty to depart,
Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone,
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep-
A prince with half his people! Ancient towers,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes
Where beauty ost and letter'd worth consume
Life in the unproductive shades of death,
Fall prone: the pale inhabitants come forth,
And, happy in their unforeseen release
From all the rigours of restraint, enjoy
The terrors of the day, that sets them free.
Who then, that has thee, would not hold thee fast,
Freedom! whom they that lose thee so regret
That e'en a judgment, making way for thee,
Seems in their eyes a mercy for thy sake.
Such evil Sin hath wrought; and such a flame
Kindled in Heaven that it burns down to Earth,
And in the furious inquest, that it makes i
On God's behalf, lays waste his fairest works.
The very elements, though each be meant
The minister of man, to serve his wants,
Conspire against him. With his breath he draws
A plague into his blood; and cannot use
Life's necessary means, but he must die.
Storms rise to'o'erwhelm him; or, if stormy winds
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise,
And, needing none assistance of the storm,
Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there.
The earth shall shake him out of all his holds,
Or make his house his grave: nor so content,
Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood,
And drown him in her dry and dusty gulfs.
What then!--Were they the wicked above all,
And we the righteous, whose fast anchor'd isle
Moved not, while theirs was rock’d, like a light
The sport of every wave? No: none are clear, :
And none than we more guilty. But, where all
Stand chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts
Of wrath obnoxious, God may choose his mark:
May punish, if he please, the less, to warn
The more malignant. If he spared not them,
Tremble and be amazed at thine escape,
Far guiltier England, lest he spare not thee!
Happy the man, who sees a God employ'd In all the good and ill that checker life! Resolving all events, with their effects And manifold results, into the will And arbitration wise of the Supreme. Did not his eye rule all things, and intend The least of our concerns (since from the least The greatest oft originate); could chance Find place in his dominion, or dispose One lawless particle to thwart his plan; Then God might be surprised, and unforeseen Contingence might alarm bim, and disturb The smooth and equal course of his affairs.