Page images
PDF
EPUB

The sufferings, however, of an animal nature, occasioned by intemperance, are not to be compared with the moral ago. nies which cunvulse the soul. It is an immortal being who sins, and suffers ; and as his earthly house dissolves, he is approaching the judgment seat, in anticipation of a miserablo eternity. He feels his captivity, and in anguish of spirit clanks his chains and cries for help. Conscience thunders, remorse goads, and as the gull opens before him, he recoils, and trembles, and weeps, and prays, and resolves, and pro... mises, and reforms, and“ seeks it yet again,”—again re. solves, and weeps, and prays, and. “ seeks it yet again!" Wretched man ! he has placed himself in the hands of a giant, who never pities, and never relaxes his iron gripe. He may struggle, but he is in chains. He may cry for release, but it comes not; and lost! lost! may be inscribed upon

the door posts of his dwelling.

In the mean time these paroxysms of his dying moral na. ture decline, and a fearful apathy, the harbinger of spiritual death, comes on. His resolution fails, and his mental energy, and his vigorous enterprise ; and nervous irritation and de. pression ensue. The social affections lose their fulness and tenderness, and conscience loses its power, and the heart its sensiblity, until all that was once lovely and of good report, retires and leaves the wretch abandoned to the appetites of a ruined animal. In this deplorable condition, reputation ex. pires, business falters and becomes perplexed, and temptations to drink multiply as inclination to do so increases, and the power of resistance declines. And now the vortex roars, and the struggling victim buffets the fiery wave with feebler stroke, and warning supplication, until despair flashes upon his soul, and with an outcry that picrces the heavens, he ceases to strive, and disappears.

XXXIX.-HOME DEAR TO THE AFRICAN ; AND THE GUILT OP

TEARING HIM FROM IT.

Extract from “ The West Indies," a Poem, by James Montgomery.

Man, through all ages of revolving time,
Unchanging inan, in every varying clime,

[ocr errors]

Deoms his own land of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside ;
His HOME the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
And is the Negro outlawed from his birth? +
Is he alone a stranger on the earth?
Is there no shed, whose peeping roof appears
So lovely, that it fills his eyes with tears?
No land, whose name, in exile heard, will dart
Ice through his veins, and lightning through his heart ?
Ah! yes; beneath the beams of brighter skies,
His home ainidst his father's country lies ;
There, with the partner of his soul, lie shares
Love.mingled pleasures, love-divided cares;
There, as with nature's warmest, filial fire,
He soothes his blind, and feeds his helpless sire ;
His children, sporting round his hut, behold
How they shall cherish him when he is old.
Thus lived the Negro in his native land,
Till Christian cruisers anchored on his strand;

-'Twas night; his babes around him lay at rest,
Their mother slumber'd on their father's breast;
A yell of murder rang around their bed ;
They woke; their cottage blazed; the victims fled;
Forth sprang the ambushed ruffians on their prey,
They caught, they bound; they drove them far away;
The white man bought them at the mart of blood;
In pestilential barks they crossed the flood;
Then were the wretched ones asunder torn,
To distant isles, to separate bondage borne,
Denied, though sought with tears, the sad relief
That misery loves,--the fellowship of grief.

XL.THE SLAVE TRADE.

Extract from Mr. Wilberforce's Speech, delivered on the 2d of April,

1792, in the House of Commons, on a motion for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Mr. Speaker,--I CANNOT but persuade myself, that what. ever difference of opinion there may bave been, we shall this day be at length unanimous. I cannot believe that a British House of Commons will give its sanction to the continuance of this infernal traffic., the African slave trade. We wero for awhile ignorant of its real nature; but it has now been completely developed, and laid open to your view in all its horrors. Never was there, indeed, a system so big with wickedness and cruelty ; it attains to the fullest measure of pure, unmixed, unsophisticated wickedness; and scorning all competition or comparison, it stands without a rival in the se. cure, undisputed possession of its detestable pre.eminence.

But I rejoice, sir, to see that the people of Great Britain have stepped forward on this occasion, and expressed their sense more generally and unequivocally than in any instance wherein they have ever before interfered. I should in vain attempt to express to you the satisfaction with which it has filled my mind, to see so great and glorious a concurrence, to see this great cause triumphing over all lesser distinctions, and substituting cordiality and harmony in the place of dis. trust and opposition. Nor have its effects amongst ourselves been in this respect less distinguished or less honorable. It has'raised the character of Parliament. Whatever may have been thought or said concerning the unrestrained prevaleney of our political divisions, it has taught surrounding nations, it has taught our admiring country, that there are subjects still beyond the reach of party. There is a point of eleva. tion where we get above the jarring of the discordant ele. ments that ruffle and agitate the vale below. In our ordinary atmosphere, clouds and vapors obscure the air, and we are the sport of a thousand conflicting winds and adverse currents; but here, we move in a higher region, where all is pure,

and clear, and serene, free from perturbation and discomposure :

As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm;
Tho' round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.

Here then, on this august eminence, let us build the templo of benevolence; let us lay its foundation deep in truth and justice, and let the inscription on its gates be "peace and good will towards men." Here let us offer the first fruit of our prosperity ; here let us devote ourselves to the service of these wretched men, and go forth burning with a generous ardor to compensate, if possible, for the injuries we have hitherto brought on them. Let us heal the breaches we have made. Let us rejoice in becoming the happy instruments of arresting the progress of rapine and desolation, and of in. troducing into that immense country the blessings of Chris. tianity, the comforts of civilized, and the sweets of social life. I am persuaded, sir, there is no man who hears me, who would not join with me in hailing the arrival of this happy period; who does not feel his mind cheered and solaced by the con. templation of these delightful scenes.

XLI.-MR. WILBERFORCE THE FIRST AND GREAT PROJECTOR

OF A BOLISHING THE SLAVE TRADE.

Extract from the same speech.

I CANNOT but believe, Mr. Speaker, that the hour is at length come, when we shall put a final period to the exist. ence of this abominable--this unchristian traffic—the slave trade. But if, in this fond expectation, I should be unhap. pily mistaken, be assu

suured, sir, I never will desert the cause;. but to the last moment of my life, I will exert my utmost powers in the service of that unhappy country. In truth, if I were not to persevere, I must be dead to every generous emotion that can actuate and stimulate the mind of man. Can a noble object interest? or the consciousness of an ho. norable office? What object so noble as this of relieving the miseries of thousands upon thousands of our fellow creatures; introducing Christianity and civilization to a fourth part of the habitable globe? I am, indeed, conscious of the honorable nature of the office I have undertaken, and grateful to God for having permitted me to take the lead in the communication of such extended blessings.

My task is one in which it is impossible to tire ; my work repays itself: it fills my mind with complacency and peace. I lie down with it at night with composure, and rise to it in the morning with alacrity. If it obliges me to be conversant with scenes of wretchedness, this is but like visiting a hospital from mo.

tives of humanity, where your own feelings repay you for the pain you undergo. No, sir, no; I never will desist from . this blessed work; but I cannot help persuading myself that there will be no call for my perseverance. I will not allow myself to doubt about the issue, and cheerfully wait the event of your decision.

XLII.—THE LOVE OF COUNTRY AND OF HOME.

Extract from “The West Indies ” a Poom, by James Montgomery.

THERE is a land, of every land the pride,
Beloved by heaven, o'er all the world beside ;
Where brighter suns dispense serener light;
And milder moons emparadise the night;
A land of beauty, virtue, valor, truth,
Time-tutored age, and love-exalted youth:
The wandering mariner, whose eye explores
The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores, .
Views not a realm so bountiful and fair,
Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air ;
In every clime the magnet of his soul,
Touched by remembrance, trembles to that pole ;
For in this land of heaven's peculiar grace,
The heritage of nature's noblest race,
There is a spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest :
Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside
His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride,
While in his softened looks benignly blend
The sire, the son, the husband, father, friend :
Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,
Strews with fresh flowers the narrow way of life ;
In the clear heaven of her delightful eye,
An angel-guard of loves and graces lie;
Around her knees domestic duties meet,
And fire-side pleasures gambol at her feet.
“Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found ?”
Art thou a man ?-a patriot ?-look around;
O thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,
That land, THY COUNTRY, and that spot, TAY HOMB!

« PreviousContinue »