Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nero care ? de name not halí so bad as murderer, and Nero take care he no deserve either.

Mr. F. Your resolution is a good one, and happy would it be for all the gentlemen of honour, as you call them, if they would make the laws of God, and the dictates of common sense, a part of their code.

Speech OF Mr. Pitt, IN THE British PARLIAMENT, ON

THE SUBJECT OF THE SLAVE TRADE.

SIR,

WHILE I regret the ill success which has hitherto attended

my

efforts on this subject, I am 'consoled with the thought that the house has now come to a resolution declarative of the infamy of the slave trade.

2. The only question now is, on the continuance of this traffick; a traffick of which the very thought is beyond all human endurance; a traffick which even its friends think so intolerable that it ought to be crushed. Yet the abolition of it is to be resolved into a question of expediency.

3. Its advocates, in order to continue it, have deserted even the principles of commerce ; so that, it seems, a traffick in the liberty, the blood, the life of human beings, is not to have the advantage of the common rules of arithmetick, which govern all other commercial dealings.

4. The point now in dispute is the continuance for one year. As to those who are concerned in this trade, a year will not be of any consequence; but will it be of none* to the unhappy slaves ? It is true, that, in the course of commercial concerns in general, it is said sometimes to be beneath the magnanimity of a man of honour to insist on a scrupulous exactness, in his own favour, upon a disputed item in accounts.

5. But does it make any part of our magnanimity to be exact in our own favour in the traffick of human blood ? If I could feel that any calculation upon the subject were to be made in this way, the side on which I should determine would be in favour of the unhappy sufferers; not of those who oppressed them.

* Pronounced nun.

6. . But this one year is only to show the planters that parliament is willing to be liberal to them! Sir, I do not understand complimenting away the lives of so many human beings. I do not comprehend the principle on which a few individuals are to be complimented, and their minds set at rest, at the expense and total sacrifice of the interest, the security, the happiness of a whole quarter of this world, which, from our foul practices, has, for a vast length of time, been a scene of misery and horrour.

7. I say, because I feel, that, in continuing this trade, you are guilty of an offence beyond your power to atone for ; and, by your indulgence to the planters, thousands of human beings are to be consigned to misery.

8. Every year in which you continue this trade, you add thousands to the catalogue of misery, which, if you could behold in a single instance, you would revolt with horrour from the scene; but the size of the misery prevents you from beholding it. Five hundred out of one thousand, who are obtained in this traffick, perish in this scene of horrour, and are brought miserable victims to their graves.

9. The remaining part of this wretched group are tainted both in body and mind, covered with disease and infection, carrying with them the seeds of pestilence and insurrection to your islunds.

10. Let me then ask the house, whether they can derive any advantage from these doubtful effects of a calculation on the continuance of the traffick ? and whether two years will not be better than three for its continuance?

11. For my part, I feel the infamy of the trade so heavily, the impolicy of it so clearly, that I am ashamed not to have been able to have convinced the house to abandon it altogether at an instant; to pronounce with one voice the immediate and total abolition. There is no excuse for us. It is the very death of justice to utter a syllable in support of it.

12. I know, sir, I state this subject with warmth. I should detest myself for the exercise of moderation. I cannot, without suffering every feeling, and every passion, that ought to rise in the cause of humanity, to sleep within me, speak coolly upon such a subject. And did they feel as I think they ought, I am sure the decision of the house

would be with us for a total and immediate abolition of this abominable traffick.

13. In short, unless I have misunderstood the subject, and unless some reasons should be offered much superiour

I have yet heard, I shall think it the most singular act that ever was done by a deliberative assembly, to refuse to assent to the proposed amendment. It has been by a resolution declared to be the first object of their desire, the first object of their duty, and the first object of their inclination.

to any

THE SLAVES. AN ELEGY.

If late I paused upon the twilight plain
Of Fontenoy, to weep the free-born brave,
Sure fancy now may cross the western main,
And melt in sadder pity for the slave.

2. Lo, where to yon plantation drooping goes :
A sable herd of human kind! while near
Stalks a pale despot, and around him throws
The scourge, that wakes, that punishes the tear.

3. O'er the far beach the mournful murmur strays,
And joins the rude yell of the tumbling tide,
As faint they labour in the solar blaze,
To feed the luxury of British pride!

4. E'en at this moment, on the burning gale,
Floats the weak wailing of the female tongue ;
And can that sex's softness nought avail ?
Must feeble woman shriek amid the throng?

5. O cease to think, my soul, what thousands die
By suicide, and toil's extreme despair ;
Thousands, who never raised to Heaven the eye;
Thousands, who feared no punishment but here.

6. Are drops of blood the horrible manure,
That fills with luscious juice the teeming cane ?
And must our fellow-creatures thus endure,
For traffick vile, the indignity of pain ?

7. Yes, their keen sorrows are the sweets we blend.
With the green beverage of our morning meal,
The while to love meek mercy we pretend,
Or for fictitious ills affect to feel.

8. Yes, 'tis their anguish mantles in the bowl, Their sighs excite the Briton's drunken joy ; Those ignorant sufferers know not of a soul, Thạt we, enlightened, may its hopes destroy.

9. And there are men, who, leaning on the laws, What they have purchased claim a right to hold. Cursed be the tenure, cursed its cruel cause ; Freedom's a dearer property than gold !

10. And there are men, with shameless, front have said “ That nature formed the negroes for disgrace ; “ That on their limbs subjection is displayed ; The doom of slavery stamped upon their face."

11. Send your stern gaze from Lapland to the Line,
And every region's natives fairly scan;
Their forms, their force, their faculties combine,
And own the vast variety of man!

12. Then why suppose yourselves the chosen few,
To deal oppression's poisoned arrows round;
To gall, with iron bonds, the weaker crew,
Enforce the labour, and inflict the wound?

13. 'Tis sordid interest guides you. Bent on gain,
In profit only can ye reason find;
And pleasure too ; but urge no more in vain
The selfish subject to the social mind.

14. Ah! how can he, whose daily lot is grief,
Whose mind is vilified beneath the rod,
Suppose his Maker has for him relief?
Can he believe the tongue that speaks of God?

15. For when he sees the female of his heart,
And his loved daughters, torn by lust away,
His sons the poor inheritors of smart,-
Had he religion, think ye

he could

? 16. Alas! he steals him from the loathsome shed, What time moist midnight blows her venomed breath, And, musing how he long has toiled and bled, Drinks the dire balsam of consoling death!

pray

17. Haste, haste, ye winds, on swiftest pinions fly, Ere from this world of misery he Tell him his wrongs bedew a nation's eye, * Tell him Britannia blushes for his wo!

18. Say, that, in future, negroes shall be blest,
Ranked e'en as men, and men's just rights enjoy ;
Be neither sold, nor purchased, nor opprest;
No grief shall wither, and no stripes destroy !

19. Say that fair freedom bends her holy flight
To cheer the infant, and console the sire ;
So shall he, wondering, prove, at last, delight,
And in a throb of ecstasy expire.

20. Then shall proud Albion's crown, where laurels twine,
Torn from the bosom of the raging sea,
Boast, ʼmidst the glorious leaves, a gem divine,
The radiant gem of pure humanity !

THE HUMANE INDIAN.

AN

Indian, who had not met with his usual success in hunting, wandered down to a plantation among the back'settlements in Virginia, and, seeing a planter at his door, asked for a morsel of bread, for he was very hungry. The planter bid him begone, for He would give him none.

2. “Will you give me a cup of your beer ?" said the Indian. “ No, you shall have none here," replied the planter.

“But I am very faint," said the savage. Will you give me only a draught* of cold water ?" "Get you gone, you Indian dog ; you shall have nothing here," said the planter.

3. It happened, come months after, that the planter went on a shooting party up into the woods, where, intent upon his game, he missed his company, and lost his way; and, night coming on, he wandered through the forest, till he espied an Indian wigwam.

4. He approached the savage's habitation, and asked him to show him the way to a plantation on that side the country. It is too late for you to go there this evening, sir,” said the Indian ;

“ but if you will accept of my homely fare, you are welcome."

5. He then offered him some venison, and such other refreshment as his stock afforded, and, having laid some bear-skins for his bed, he desired that he would repose

* Propounced drar.

« EelmineJätka »