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THE SLAVE SHIPS.
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
That fatal, that perfidious bark,
Built i' the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark." Milton's Lycidas.
The French ship Le Rodeur, with a crew of twenty-two men, and with one hundred and sixty negro slaves, sailed from Bonny in Africa, April, 1819. On approaching the line, a terrible malady broke out-an obstinate disease of the eyes-contagious, and altogether beyond the resources of medicine. It was aggravated by the scarcity of water among the slaves, (only half a wine glass per day being allowed to an individual,) and by the extreme impurity of the air in which they breathed. By the advice of the physician, they were brought upon deck occasionally; but some of the poor wretches, locking themselves in each other's arms, leaped overboard, in the hope, which so universally prevails among them, of being swiftly transported to their own homes in Africa. To check this, the captain ordered several, who were stopped in the attempt, to be shot, or hanged, before their companions. The disease extended to the crew; and one after another was smitten with it, until only one remained unaffected. Yet even this dreadful condition did not preclude calculation: to save the expense of supporting slaves rendered unsaleable. and to obtain grounds for a claim against the underwriters, thirty-six of the negroes, having become blind, were thrown into the sea and drowned!
In the midst of their dreadful fears lest the solitary individual, whose sight remained unaffected, should also be seized with the malady, a sail was discovered. It was the Spanish slaver, Leon. The same disease had been there; and, horrible to tell, all the crew had become blind! Unable to assist each other, the vessels parted. Spanish ship has never since been heard of. The Rodeur reached Guadaloupe on the 21st of June; the only man who had escaped the disease, and had thus been enabled to steer the slaver into port, caught it in three days after its arrival-Speech of M. Benjamin Constant, in the French Chamber of Deputies, June 17, 1820.
"THE ONE IDEA."
BY SARAH JANE CLARKE.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
Our glorious one Idea!
From the source of life it came, And it shineth far and mounteth high, An ever living flame.
Then let it burn! what mortal hand
It sweepeth off the wild, rank growth
As, fanned by mighty viewless wings,
Our men are men of One Idea !"
For pilgrims toiling on to pay
Their cold reluctant vows
For prophets, in woe's sackcloth clad,
Thus come our band-impassioned zeal
Their father's glory, as an Ark,
Moving in light before themThe promises of Freedom's God,
As rainbows bending o'er them!
Their foes, like pirates half o'ercome,
Go scowling on their way;
But as to some high festival,
And now peels out a song!
Their steeps keep time to freedom's march, Sounding within the soul,
And high, and broad, and startling truths Their daring hands unroll,
And rear with bold, exulting shouts, Aloft in freedom's air,
Till they float before a gazing world As glorious banners, there!
Our wives, our girls, of "One Idea!"
It dwells in beauty and in power,
Flowers, dew, and warm sunlight:
The sunlight of that perfect peace
Which cometh from above.
They have that strong, brave, soaring hope
So far beneath their lofty gaze
Rank's vain distinctions lie,
They could stand before a crowned queen
Then turn, and smile on honest worth,
And bow to royal intellect,
Though by the world uncrowned.
And yet no stern Zenobias,
No maids of Orleans they,
But once name Freedom's holy war
And dare to sneer at human rights,
Then cringe beneath each lightning glance
Now blessed Father of us all,
Lead them from error's labyrinth,
That wraps their moral powers-
MASSACHUSETTS TO VIRGINIA.
Written on reading an account of the proceedings of the citizens of Norfolk, (Va.) in reference to George Jatimer, the alleged fugitive slave, the result of whose case in Massachusetts will probably be similar to that of the negro SOMERSET in England, in 1772.
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
The blast from Freedom's northern hills, upon its Southern way,
No word of haughty challenging, nor battle bugle's peal,
Nor steady tread of marching files, nor clang of horseman's steel.
No trains of deep-mouthed cannon along our highways go
Around our silent arsenals untrodden lies the snow;
And to the land-breeze of our ports, upon their errands far,
A thousand sails of Commerce swell, but none are spread for War.
We hear thy threats, Virginia! thy stormy words and high
Wild are the waves which lash the reefs along St. George's bank,
Through storm, and wave, and blinding mist, stout are the hearts which man
The cold North light, and wintry sun glare on their icy forms,
What means the Old Dominion? Hath she forgot the day
Forgets she how the Bay State, in answer to the call
Of her old House of Burgesses, spoke out from Faneuil Hall?
What asks the Old Dominion? If now her sons have proved
We hunt your bondmen, flying from Slavery's hateful hell
Our voices, at your bidding, take up the blood-hounds' yell-
Thank God! not yet so vilely can Massachusetts bow,
The spirit of her early time is with her even now;
Dream not because her pilgrim blood moves slow, and calm, and cool,
All that a sister State should do, all that a free State may,
Heart, hand, and purse we proffer, as in our early day;
But that one dark loathsome burden, ye must stagger with alone,
Hold, while ye may, your struggling slaves, and burden God's free air With woman's shriek beneath the lash, and manhood's wild despair;
A voice from lips whereon the coal from Freedom's shrine hath been, Thrilled, as but yesterday, the hearts of Berkshire's mountain men; The echoes of that solemn voice are sadly lingering still
In all our sunny valleys, on every wind-swept hill.
And when the prowling man-thief came hunting for his prey
A hundred thousand right arms were lifted up on high,
A hundred thousand voices sent back their loud reply;
Through the thronged towns of Essex the startling summons rang, And up from bench and loom and wheel her young mechanics sprang.
The voice of free, broad Middlesex-of thousands as of one-
From rich and rural Worcester, where through the calm repose
And sandy Barnstable rose up, wet with the salt sea spray-
And the cheer of Hampshire's woodmen swept down from Holyoke Hill,