Page images


Forced from my home and all its pleasures,

Afric's coast I left forlorn ;
To increase a stranger's treasures,

O'er the raging billows bornę.
Men from England bought and sold me,

Paid my price in paltry gold ;
But, though theirs they have enroll’d me,

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 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, 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 ;
By our sufferings, since ye brought us

To the man-degrading mart;
All sustain'd by patience, taught us

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 !


'Twas in the glad season of spring,

Asleep at the dawn of the day, I dream'd what I cannot but sing,

So pleasant it seem'd as I lay. I dream'd that on ocean afloat,

Far hence to the westward I sail'd, 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,
She sung of the slave's broken chain,

Wherever her glory appear'd.
Some clouds, which had over us hung,

Fled, chased by her melody clear,
And methought while she liberty sung,

'Twas liberty only to hear.

Thus swiftly dividing the flood,

To a slave-cultured island we came,
Where a demon, her enemy, stood

Oppression his terrible name.
In his hand, as the sign of his sway,

scourge hung with lashes he bore, And stood looking out for his prey

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.






[Composed in June, 1788. Mr Cowper died aged eighty-seven.]

FAREWELL! endued with all that could engage
All hearts to love thee, both in youth and age !
In prime of life, for sprightliness enrolld
Among the gay, yet virtuous as the old ;

In life's last stage, (O blessings rarely found!)
Pleasant as youth with all its blossoms crown'd;
Through every period of this changeful state
Unchanged thyself --wise, good, affectionate!

Marble may flatter, and lest this should seem
O’ercharged with praises on so dear a theme,
Although thy worth be more than half supprest,
Love shall be satisfied, and veil the rest.



[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,
When, 'scaped from literary cares,
I wander'd on his side.

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,
Pursued the swallow o'er the meads

With scarce a slower flight.

It was the time when Ouse display'd

His lilies newly blown ;
Their beauties I intent survey'd,

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,
And puzzling set his puppy brains

To comprehend the case.

But with a chirrup clear and strong,

Dispersing all his dream,
I thence withdrew, and follow'd long

The windings of the stream.

My ramble finish’d, I return'd,

Beau trotting far before,
l'he floating wreath again discern'd,

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.

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