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THE NEGRO'S COMPLAINT.
FORCED from my home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn ;
O'er the raging billows borne.
Paid my price in paltry gold ;
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask, Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task ? Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's claim ; Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same.
Why did all-creating Nature
Make the plant for wbich 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, Are the means, which duty urges
Agents of His will to use ?
Hark! He answers — Wild tornados,
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 we have tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main ;
To the man-degrading mart;
Only by a broken heart :
Deem our nation brutes no longer,
Till some reason ye shall find Worthier of regard, and stronger
Than the colour of our kind. Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings
Tarnish all your boasted powers, Prove that you have human feelings,
Ere you proudly question ours !
THE MORNING DREAM.
'Twas in the glad season of spring,
Asleep at the dawn of the day,
So pleasant it seem'd as I lay.
Far hence to the westward I saild, While the billows high-lifted the boat,
And the fresh-blowing breeze never fail'd.
In the steerage a woman I saw,
Such at least was the form that she wore, Whose beauty impress'd me with awe,
No'er taught me by woman before.
She sat, and a shield at her side
Shed light, like a sun on the waves, And smiling divinely, she cried
“ I go to make freemen of slaves."
Then raising her voice to a strain
The sweetest that ear ever heard,
Wherever her glory appear’d.
Fled, chased by her melody clear,
'Twas liberty only to hear.
Thus swiftly dividing the flood,
To a slave-cultured island we came,
Oppression his terrible name.
A scourge hung with lashes he bore,
From Africa's sorrowful shore.
But soon as approaching the land
That goddess-like woman he view'd, The scourge he let fall from his hand,
With blood of his subjects imbrued. I saw him both sicken and die,
And the moment the monster expired, Heard shouts, that ascended the sky,
From thousands with rapture inspired.
Awaking, how could I but muse
At what such a dream should betide ? But soon my ear caught the glad news,
Which served my weak thought for a guide — That Britannia, renown'd o'er the waves
For the hatred she ever has shown, To the black-sceptre'd rulers of slaves,
Resolves to have none of her own.
ASHLEY COWPER, ESQ.
WILLIAM, OF WESTON. [Composed in June, 1788. Mr Cowper died aged eighty-seven.]
FAREWELL! endued with all that could engage
In life's last stage, (O blessings rarely found !)
Marble may flatter, and lest this should seem
THE DOG AND THE WATER LILY.
[This exquisite moral application of an event so trivial in itself, was composed in July, 1788. Beau, a present to the Poet from the Misses Gunning, daughters of Sir Robert Gunning, celebrated for their beauty, and for having married two of the richest peers of England, was a constant attendant upon his master in all his rambles, and is even now remembered by some of the aged inhabitants of Olney. His skin stuffed is still, or was, at Eartham, in possession of Mr Hayley's heirs.]
The noon was shady, and soft airs
Swept Ouse's silent tide,
My spaniel, prettiest of his race,
And high in pedigree, (Two nymphs adorn'd with every grace
That spaniel found for me,)
Now wanton'd lost in flags and reeds,
Now starting into sight,
With scarce a slower flight.
It was the time when Ouse display'd
His lilies newly blown ;
And one I wish'd my own.
With cane extended far I sought
To steer it close to land ; But still the prize, though nearly caught,
Escaped my eager hand.
Beau mark'd my unsuccessful pains
With fix'd considerate face,
To comprehend the case.
But with a chirrup clear and strong,
Dispersing all his dream,
The windings of the stream.
My ramble finish’d, I return'd,
Beau trotting far before,
And plunging left the shore.
I saw him with that lily cropp'd
Impatient swim to meet My quick approach, and soon he dropp'd
The treasure at my feet.