Tag Archives: Abolition

George Saville Carey, “The Negro’s Soliloquy”

GEORGE SAVILLE CAREY

 “The Negro’s Soliloquy”

By yon bright streamers in the sky,
Which glimmer on the sea;
The chearing sun approaches nigh,
Yet brings no hope to me,
The peaceful night yields me no rest,                         5
Which gives to others sleep,
My heart it bleeds within my breast,
My eyes do nought but weep.

The toils, I cou’d endure of day,
Or spurn the tyrant’s chain,                                 10
But Norah’s driven far away,
Which racks my tortur’d brain;
My wife is she,—ah cruel heart,
That cou’d her heart oppress,
But ’tis alone the tyrant’s part,                                     15
To triumph o’er distress.

Haste, blessed tidings! haste along,
From fair Britannia’s isle,
Ah, come and ease the anxious throng,
And make the slave to smile;                                 20
If then good hap, my Norah lives,
These limbs shall ne’er have rest,
Until we meet, oh, then I’ll cleave,
Forever to her breast.

NOTES:

1 streamers “Ray[s] proceeding from the sun” (OED).

21 hap Luck.

Source: One Thousand Eight Hundred; or, I Wish You a Happy New Year. Being a choice collection of favourite songs, on serious, moral, and lively subjects (Tewkesbury, 1800), pp. 31-2. [ECCO]

Edited by Bill Christmas

[Mrs. Letches], “A Tribute”

[MRS. LETCHES]

 “A Tribute”

What tho’ in quick succession Stars appear,
The glorious Sun is ever bright and clear!
Those lesser Orbs can ne’er his radiance shade,
For with immortal splendor he’s array’d:
No more can humble merit throw a veil                                                                                  5
On real worth—its lustre will prevail!

 With tender sympathy my bosom glows!
To ease your wrongs, and to relieve your woes!
With Eagle-sight my Soul would scape her bounds,
To pour the balm of comfort o’er your wounds.                                                                   10

Angelic Liberty! thou source divine!
Shall mortals dare to manacle thy power?
Shall the best gift which Heav’n did deign assign
To guilty man when drave from Eden’s bow’r!
Be trampled on by violaters base?                                                                                            15
And Scourge, and Chains, and Food to horses due,
Be long prepar’d for that unhappy race,
Afric’s sad sons! while they their direful task pursue!

Forbid it justice, honesty, and love,
Conspire ye heaven-born souls! and crush the throne                                                 20
Of avarice vile — so shall the blest above
Resound your triumph to the Almighty One:
Who sweetly will approve the glorious deed
Which so congenial to his Orders are;
For smiling mercy came, mild Heaven’s meed,                                                                       25
When justice stern did call for doom severe.

NOTES:

 Author Mrs. Letches This attribution is based on an inscription on the title page in what appears to be a contemporary hand (see ESTC T42632). She published anonymously as “A Lady” in one of the centers of the Atlantic “triangle” trade and her personal history remains unknown. Throughout the eighteenth century, Bristol’s booming port not only transported goods but also enslaved African people to the Americas and West Indies. At this same time, Bristol was known to have a large abolitionist movement that Mrs. Letches clearly contributed to. She dedicated her volume to “the Inhabitants of Bristol” (iii).

13 deign “To think it worthy of oneself (to do something); to think fit, vouchsafe, condescend” (OED).

14 drave That is “driven”; bow’r “Sanctuary.”

16 Scourge “To beat with a scourge; to whip severely, flog” (OED).

18 Afric’s sad sons “A native or inhabitant of Africa, esp. a black African” (OED).

 22 Resound To sing the praises of; Almighty One God.

25 meed “Something given in return for labour or service; recompense” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Bristol, 1792), pp. 18-19. [Google Books]

 Edited by Sherry Portillo

[Mrs. Letches], “Evening Reflections on Brandon-Hill”

[MRS. LETCHES]

 “Evening Reflections on Brandon-Hill”

Soft pleasing Twilight! welcome is thy glad
Approach to weary man! he, forgetful still
Of all the toils succeeding days present him,
Salutes thee as the grey-clad harbinger
Of solemn sable night. Brutes do thee homage—                                           5
With silent cheerfulness attend thy mild
Inviting. Ev’n the lovely feather’d race,
Whose grateful melody makes groves and vales
Echo, yet cease their warbling, unoppress’d
With Care, repose their feeble frames, unconscious                                       10
Of ill, or snares by artful fowlers spread
To allure their innocence, or rash intent
Of inquisitive boys, invaders rude
Of liberty! on dew-besprinkled bough; —
Press fond the senseless clod with filial love:                                                  15
Than these; what transport must the bosoms swell
Of Afric’s sons, forlorn mal-treated tribe,
When Heav’n’s Majestic emblem they behold
Withdraw his radiance thence, to illuminate
Other worlds! When even their base oppressors                                            20
Content, permit them to recline their tortur’d
Frames on beds, inferior far to those
Prepar’d for pamper’d steeds. So absolute,
O Night! hast thou dominion o’er the
Petty tyrant? Mak’st him forget the                                                                     25
Oblivious draught infused! Men they
Doom—infringing justice and humanity—to
Feel the powerful scourge, and groan beneath
Unnatural tyranny, which God abhors.—
O merciful Disposer of events!                                                                           30
Inspire the breasts of the “Noble few,” foes
To cruelty and avarice, to crush their
Dreadful power! that distant nations may
Learn of Britain’s Senate, Justice and Mercy.

NOTES:

Author Mrs. Letches This attribution is based on an inscription on the title page in what appears to be a contemporary hand (see ESTC T42632). She published anonymously as “A Lady” in Bristol, one of the centers of the Atlantic “triangle” trade, and her personal history remains unknown. Throughout the eighteenth century, Bristol’s booming port not only transported goods but also enslaved African people to the Americas and West Indies. At this same time, Bristol boasted a large abolitionist movement that Mrs. Letches clearly contributed to. She dedicated her volume to “the Inhabitants of Bristol” (iii).

Title Brandon-Hill St. Brandon’s Hill is located close to Bristol city center in southwest England. It is possibly the oldest municipal open space in the country.

4 harbinger “One that goes before and announces the approach of some one; a forerunner” (OED).

5 sable Black.

9 warbling “Singing or making tuneful melody with sweet quavering notes” (OED).

15 filial “Of or pertaining to a son or daughter” (OED).

18 Heav’n’s Majestic emblem The sun.

 31 Noble few Abolitionists.

 34 Britain’s Senate Parliament.

 

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Bristol, 1792), pp. 7-8. [Google Books]

 Edited by Sherry Portillo