Page images

Grief is itself a medicine, and bestow'd

To improve the fortitude that bears the load,
To teach the wanderer, as his woes increase,
The path of Wisdom, all whose paths are peace;
But slavery!-Virtue dreads it as her grave:
Patience itself is meanness in a slave;
Or if the will and sovereignty of God
Bid suffer it a while, and kiss the rod,
Wait for the dawning of a brighter day,
And snap the chain the moment when you may.
Nature imprints upon whate'er we see,
That has a heart and life in it, Be free!

The beasts are charter'd-neither age nor force
Can quell the love of freedom in a horse:
He breaks the cord that held him at the rack;
And, conscious of an unincumber'd back,
Snuffs up the morning air, forgets the rein;
Loose fly his forelock and his ample mane;
Responsive to the distant neigh he neighs;
Nor stops till, overleaping all delays,

He finds the pasture where his fellows graze.
Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian


Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame;
Trade in the blood of innocence, and plead
Experience as a warrant for the deed?

So may the wolf, whom famine has made bold,
To quit the forest and invade the fold:
So may the ruffian, who, with ghostly glide,
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bedside;
Not he, but his emergence forced the door,
He found it inconvenient to be poor.

Has God then given its sweetness to the cane,
Unless his laws be trampled on-in vain?
Built a brave world, which cannot yet subsist,
Unless his right to rule it be dismiss'd?
Impudent blasphemy! So Folly pleads,
And Avarice being judge, with ease succeeds.
But grant the plea, and let it stand for just,
That man make man his prey, because he must;
Still there is room for pity to abate,

And soothe the sorrows of so sad a state.

A Briton knows, or if he knows it not,
The Scripture placed within his reach, he ought,
That souls have no discriminating hue,

Alike important in their Maker's view;
That none are free from blemish since the fall,
And Love divine has paid one price for all.
The wretch, that works and weeps without relief,
Has One that notices his silent grief.

He, from whose hands alone all power proceeds,
Ranks its abuse among the foulest deeds,
Considers all injustice with a frown;

But marks the man that treads his fellow down.
Begone the whip and bell in that hard hand
Are hateful ensigns of usurp'd command.
Not Mexico could purchase kings a claim
To scourge him, weariness his only blame.
Remember Heaven has an avenging rod:
To smite the poor is treason against God.
Trouble is grudgingly and hardly brook'd,
While life's sublimest joys are overlook'd:
We wander o'er a sunburnt thirsty soil,
Murmuring and weary of our daily toil,
Forget to enjoy the palm-tree's offer'd shade,
Or taste the fountain in the neighbouring glade:
Else who would lose, that had the power to improve,
The occasion of transmuting fear to love?

O'tis a godlike privilege to save,

And he that scorns it is himself a slave.

Inform his mind; one flash of heavenly day
Would heal his heart, and melt his chains away.
Beauty for ashes' is a gift indeed,

And slaves, by truth enlarged, are doubly freed.
Then would he say, submissive at thy feet,
While gratitude and love made service sweet,→→
My dear deliverer, out of hopeless night,
Whose bounty bought me but to give me light,
I was a bondman on my native plain,

Sin forged, and ignorance made fast, the chain;
Thy lips have shed instruction as the dew,
Taught me what path to shun, and what pursue:
Farewell my former joys! I sigh no more
For Africa's once loved, benighted shore;

[ocr errors]

Serving a benefactor I am free;

At my best home, if not exiled from thee.

Some men make gain a fountain, whence proceeds A stream of liberal and heroic deeds;

The swell of pity, not to be confined

Within the scanty limits of the mind,

Disdains the bank, and throws the golden sands,
A rich deposit, on the bordering lands:
These have an ear for his paternal call,
Who makes some rich for the supply of all;
God's gift with pleasure in his praise employ,
And Thornton is familiar with the joy.

O could I worship aught beneath the skies,
That earth has seen, or fancy can devise,
Thine altar, sacred Liberty, should stand,
Built by no mercenary vulgar hand,

With fragrant turf, and flowers as wild and fair
As ever dress'd a bank, or scented summer air.
Duly, as ever on the mountain's height
The peep of Morning shed a dawning light,
Again, when Evening, in her sober vest,
Drew the gray curtain of the fading west,

My soul should yield thee willing thanks and praise,
For the chief blessings of my fairest days?
But that were sacrilege-praise is not thine,

But his who gave thee, and preserves thee mine:
Else I would say, and as I spake bid fly
A captive bird into the boundless sky,
This triple realm adores thee-thou art come
From Sparta hither, and art here at home.
We feel thy force still active, at this hour
Enjoy immunity from priestly power,

While Conscience, happier than in ancient years,
Owns no superior but the God she fears.
Propitious spirit! yet expunge a wrong

Thy rights have suffer'd, and our land, too long.
Teach mercy to ten thousand hearts, that share
The fears and hopes of a commercial care.
Prisons expect the wicked, and were built
To bind the lawless, and to punish guilt;
But shipwreck, earthquake, battle, fire, and flood,
Are mighty mischiefs, not to be withstood;

And honest Merit stands on slippery ground,
Where covert guile and artifice abound.
Let just Restraint, for public peace design'd,
Chain up the wolves and tigers of mankind;
The foe of virtue has no claim to thee,
But let insolvent Innocence go free.

Patron of else the most despised of men,
Accept the tribute of a stranger's pen;
Verse, like the laurel, its immortal meed,
Should be the guerdon of a noble deed;
I may alarm thee, but I fear the shame
(Charity chosen as my theme and aim)
I must incur, forgetting Howard's name.
Bless'd with all wealth can give thee, to resign
Joys doubly sweet to feelings quick as thine,
To quit the bliss thy rural scenes bestow,
To seek a nobler amidst scenes of woe,

To traverse seas, range kingdoms, and bring home,
Not the proud monuments of Greece or Rome,
But knowledge such as only dungeons teach,
And only sympathy like thine could reach;
That grief, sequester'd from the public stage,
Might smooth her feathers, and enjoy her cage;
Speaks a divine ambition, and a zeal,
The boldest patriot might be proud to feel.
O that the voice of clamour and debate,
That pleads for peace till it disturbs the state,
Were hush'd in favour of thy generous plea,
The poor thy clients, and Heaven's smile thy fee!
Philosophy, that does not dream or stray,
Walks arm in arm with Nature all his way;
Compasses earth, dives into it, ascends
Whatever steep Inquiry recommends,
Sees planetary wonders smoothly roll
Round other systems under her control,
Drinks wisdom at the milky stream of light,
That cheers the silent journey of the night,
And brings at his return a bosum charged
With rich instruction, and a soul enlarged.
The treasured sweets of the capacious plan,
That Heaven spreads wide before the view of


All prompt his pleased pursuit, and to pursue
Still prompt him, with a pleasure always new;
He too has a connecting power, and draws
Man to the centre of the common cause,
Aiding a dubious and deficient sight
With a new medium and a purer light.
All truth is precious, if not all divine;
And what dilates the powers must needs refine.
He reads the skies, and, watching every change,
Provides the faculties an ampler range;
And wins mankind, as his attempts prevail,
A prouder station on the general scale.
But Reason still, unless divinely taught,
Whate'er she learns, learns nothing as she ought;
The lamp of revelation only shews,

What human wisdom cannot but oppose,
That man in nature's richest mantle clad,
And graced with all philosophy can add,
Though fair without, and luminous within,
Is still the progeny and heir of sin.

Thus taught, down falls the plumage of his pride;
He feels his need of an unerring guide,

And knows that falling he shall rise no more, Unless the power that bade him stand restore. This is indeed philosophy; this known Makes wisdom, worthy of the name, his own; And, without this, whatever he discuss; Whether the space between the stars and us; Whether he measure earth, compute the sea, Weigh sunbeams, carve a fly, or spit a flea; The solemn trifler with his boasted skill Toils much, and is a solemn trifler still: Blind was he born, and his misguided eyes Grown dim in trifling studies, blind he dies. Self-knowledge truly learn'd of course implies The rich possession of a nobler prize ; For self to self, and God to man reveal'd, (Two themes to nature's eye for ever seal'd) Are taught by rays, that fly with equal pace From the same centre of enlightening grace. Here stay thy foot; how copious, and how clear, The o'erflowing well of Charity springs here !

« PreviousContinue »