Thomas George Ingall, “The Negroe’s Complaint”


The Negroe’s Complaint”

The sun had long sunk in the west,
The moon in her splendor shone bright,
The crew had retired to rest,
In their hammocks to pass the long night;

When Oran, but late made a slave,                                                     5
Contriv’d to escape from the hold,
And as he hung o’er the wild wave
He thus did his sorrows unfold.

“With anguish my heart does now bleed,
Thus depriv’d of my liberty sweet,                                              10
To slavery now I’m decreed,
Yet death with more pleasure I’ll meet.

The white man who, thirsting for gold,
Hopes to barter my freedom for gain,
My loss with regret shall be told,                                                         15
And seek me, but seek me in vain.

By the light of the moon still I view
That shore where with freedom I rov’d;
Ye hills and ye vallies adieu!
It was there I met Orra, and lov’d.                                                20

Sweet maid to be from thee thus torn;
My grief is more than I can bear,
My fate is too hard to be born;
I give myself up to despair.

T’was for thee that the leopard I forc’d                                                  25
To rise from the couch where he lay;
T’was for thee that the tiger I cours’d,
That thou with their spoils might’st be gay.

As I follow’d the pard o’er the field,
The men who in ambush where laid,                                             30
Rush’d forth and compell’d me to yield
And in chains to their vessel convey’d.

But sooner than suffer their chain
To death I will chearfully fly,
And free me from sorrow and pain:                                                      35
For Orra alone now I sigh.

To P’Shaphon my god I return,
That spirit which to me he gave;
For freedom and death now I burn:”
So saying, he plung’d in the wave.                                                   40


5 Oran This name likely alludes to a city in present day Algeria, located in North Africa (Encyclopedia Britannica).

20 Orra This name possibly alludes to a female “Indian” (i.e. black, non-slave) character in Charles Dibdin’s comic opera The Islanders (1780). Her lover Yanko, also an “Indian,” is forcibly separated from her.  It may also be a play on the word “orra” which refers to “a person, esp. a servant or laborer” (OED).

23 born “To suffer (pain, hardship, or adversity) without being overcome or overwhelmed” (OED).

26 couch “The lair or den of a wild beast” (OED).

27 cours’d A variant spelling of “coursed” which means “to chase, pursue, run after” (OED).

29 pard “A panther, a leopard” (OED).

37 P’Shaphon “An Indian idol” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: The Lady’s Magazine, vol. 23 (February, 1792), p. 101.  [Google Books]

Edited by Teresa Diviacchi

3 thoughts on “Thomas George Ingall, “The Negroe’s Complaint”

  1. Cary Rand

    Great addition to our literature. Perhaps NCTE would like the link. (National Council of Teachers of English) for their English Journal.

  2. Katherine Rhoda

    Thank you for this. It is reminiscent of the 1788 poem “The African” by James Currie and William Roscoe. See William Wallace Currie, Memoir of the Life, Writings and Correspondence of James Currie, M.D. F.R.S. of Liverpool (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1831), Vol.1, pp. 127–35, available on the Internet Archive.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *