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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 highr? 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, that duty urges
Agents of his will to use?
Hark! he answers-wild tornadoes,
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 receiv'd the chain; By the mis’ries that we tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main; By our suff'rings, since ye brought us
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 pow'rs, Prove that you have human feelings,
Ere you proudly question ours!
PITY FOR POOR AFRICANS.
Video meliora proboque,
I own I am shock'd at the purchase of slaves, And fear those, who buy them and sell them, are
knaves; What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and
groans, Is almost enough to draw pity from stones.
I pity them greatly, but I must be mum,
and rum? Especially sugar, so needful we see? What, give up our desserts, our coffee, and tea!
Besides, if we do, the French, Dutch, and Danes, Will heartily thank us, no doubt, for our pains; If we do not buy the poor creatures, they will, And tortures and groans will be multiplied still.
If foreigners likewise would give up the trade,
your wish might be said; But, while they get riches by purchasing blacks, Pray tell me why we may not also go snacks?
Your scruples and arguments bring to my mind
A youngster at school more sedate than the rest,
He was shock’d, sir, like you, and answer'd_"Oh no! What! rob our good neighbour! I pray you don't go; Besides the man's poor, his orchard's his bread, Then think of his children, for they must be fed.”
“You speak very fine, and you
very grave, But apples we want, and apples we'll have; If you will
shall have a share, If not, you shall have neither apple nor pear."
go with us, you
They spoke, and Tom ponder'd—“I see they will go:
“ If the matter depended alone upon me, His apples might hang till they dropp'd from the
tree; But, since they will take them, I think I'll go too, He will lose none by me, though I get a few."
His scruples thus silenc'd, Tom felt more at ease, And went with his comrades the apples to seize; He blam'd and protested, but join'd in the plan: He shar'd in the plunder, but pitied the man.