The Night of Freedom (XHTML)
Topical political long poem against slavery, written by William Wallace Hebbard (Boston: Samuel Chism, 1857). Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.
THE NIGHT OF FREEDOM:
AN APPEAL, IN VERSE,
GREAT CRIME OF OUR COUNTRY
BY WILLIAM WALLACE HEBBARD,
Author of “The Patriot’s Hope,” “Toil and the Toilers,” etc.
“A changeless tone
Of sadness, like the nightwinds, is the strain.”
SAM’L CHISM,—FRANKLIN PRINTING HOUSE,
This is a prooftext
of The Night of Freedom, published in 1857 in
electronic edition has been prepared for the Antislavery Literature Project,
Prooftext by Joe Lockard. Digitization by NetConnect
Wallace Hebbard remains an unknown poet. There is no biographical information currently available concerning
Hebbard. The two texts by this author
mentioned on the title page of The Night of Freedom do not appear in
bibliographic indexes. The only other
known text by Hebbard is Will
It Come? A Story of Instinct, Intuition, Metaphysics, Love and Worship (Hyde Park, NY: Hildreth and Getchell, 1870). The
publisher, Samuel Chism, operated presses in
— Joe Lockard
[unnumbered page 2]
"And that dark land of slaves
With something good and bad of every land;
Greater than thee have lost their seat
Greater scare none can stand!
Thy flag now flouts the skies,
The highest under heaven!"
[unnumbered page 3]
THE NIGHT OF FREEDOM
Land of the Pilgrims, Washington—and Pierce!
O, breathed my humble muse immortal verse,
How should it twine thy praise in fadeless wreaths,
Because thine air it is that Freedom breathes!
Long hast thou been the glory of the world!—
The crown-jewel in its ring of States impearled,
As 'mong the clouds a star, till Freedom’s blaze
Hath won for thee that world's admiring gaze!
Long have the struggling nations looked to thee,
As trembling voyagers on a storm-tossed sea,
Look, through the storm the sun at length hath riven,
Up to a bow of Promise set in heaven!
Long have the fettered people stretched their hands
Imploringly to thee,—and all the Lands
Round which thy morning-radiance broke, would see
A noon-day glory long encircling thee!
And prayers are daily floating o’er the wave,
Not for thy conquering sword their land to save,
and flash despair among the Tyrant bands
Who'd rivet slavery's chains upon their hands ; —
But, as thou art the hope of all the free,
Thou shalt not prove untrue to liberty!
Alas, O Fatherland!—truth must appear,
Although it rend each Patriot's heart with fear.
These prayers, then, in behalf of Freedom given.
Appeal from thee, unhappy Land, to Heaven!
And ruling in thy courts and halls alone,
Hath closed its ear to Freedom's every tone!
And thou, so full of glory and of shame!
The shrine where Freedom fans her vestal flame,
And yet a fen whence slavery’s vapors rise
To form a cloud whose blackness shame, the skies! —
Poor native land!—so glorious at thy birth,
That Freedom hail'd thee as her light as earth,
And nations watched thy rising from afar,
As eastern sages watched the
O who that saw thee then, could e'er have dreamed,
And thou, with other fallen stars, be hurled,—
By Him whose Arm Almighty moves the world,—
From starry heights of triumph and of bliss,
Down, meteor-like, Disunion's dread abyss!
But hush, O muse! breathe not the fearful word!
Such music from a Patriot's Lyre be heard?
And yet how can a Patriot’s soul forbear, —
How leave the word unbreathed, his lyre to rust.
And this transgression of his country spare,
When he remembers that "our God is just?"
His brow will flush—his breast will swell, with shame,
The fires of grief will burn within his soul,
And send up to his lips, like living flame,
The words which must this blackened page unroll!
What though his breath shall fan a threatening breeze,
Or raise a storm, in some old fogy's breast?
Shall truth be dumb a class of men to please?—
Shall God be silent that a sin may rest?
The sacred rights of men are here concerned—
And not the South alone must he consult,
Or those who ne'er the rights of men discerned,
To guide him to a, just true result—
His is the guide of that unerring Word,
Which breathes within his soul its trumpet-tones—
And, though old tyranny's deepest depths be stirred,
And echo back his voice in mocking groans,
He’ll speak that word!—But see! the imps arise,
The flames of hate are flashing in their eyes,
And all the "powers of darkness" crowd their rear,
As on they bear—a Pall for Freedom's bier!
In lengthened lines the grim battalions rest
Upon that Spot of spots, of Freedom blest,
By Revolution's holiest memories crowned,
The spot where Freedom's shrine the last should fall,
They'll dare that blackened slavery roll to "call!"
Plead, on, ye owners of the soil!—in vain—
As Abel plead, of yore, the tyrant Cain!
Your rights shall prove as nothing, and that hill
Must yield its honor to a southern Will!—
Aye, though it stands, hath stood, in queenly pride
Since roll'd beneath the
With monumental grandeur towering high,
To link its well-earned glory with the sky;—
And though our Fatherland, with every tongue,
Its highest mead around its brow hath flung—
Though, the whole world's admiring gaze is on
That sacred hill as Freedom's holiest throne—
Its glory must depart!—the breath that dooms,
Comes fresh and fragrant from tie Southern
And what's this late "Decision," but the door
Wide open flung, through which his imps may pour
What bar hath
What human power, to stay this withering blight?
Hath not this deep-laid plot, this giant wrong
Made National? Why not, then, loud and long
That music from the tombs, "a doleful sound,"
Triumphant float o'er "consecrated ground,"
And realize this bold blasphemer's dream!
Hath not the Supreme Bench sanctioned the scheme?
But list that syren voice: "Well, let them come!
To Freedom yet! Suppose you that the flame,
Enkindled by this late Judicial shame,
Will stand the fearless indignation flood
That surges every vein of Freedom's blood?
Or other fields that Freedom's battle won,
With slaves? ha ha! We'll teach those southern
To scent their human game on other grounds!"
Vain boast! Behold your weakness in your awe
Of every sanction of your country's law!
Behold your terror, in that country's force,
As o'er your trampled Rights it takes its course!
[page 9 ]
Behold your failure, and your whelming shame,
As Treason, treason, TREASON, brands your
Where is your Constitution? — Gathering wrath,
As lowering clouds above your very path,
To burst in storms of civil war, around
The homes you dreamed were built on "hallowed
Where is that "Declaration," Freedom-shrined
As all the wisdom of the world combined?
From booming cannon, and from pealing bell, —
From fawning priests and statesmen, and the fools
Among the people, used as Tyranny-tools—
From Judges on the Supreme-Slavery bench —
Till heaven itself shall nausea at the stench!
"Sounding generalities," indeed! — as chains
They'll sound upon our sacred battle-pains!
As chains they’ll clank upon each place of graves
Where Freedom’s heroes sleep! O, northern slaves!
Will ye submit? Tamely, basely endure
The loathsome ill ye have the power to cure?
Yes, yes and ere this "Night of Freedom's" o'er,
Ye’ll welcome Slavery to your very door,
And help it on to spread its scene of woe
Round Freedom's first and last strong-hold! But oh,
Shall we, on whom no Office-chains are hung,
Who wear no shackles on a limb or tongue —
Who've dared indulge the dream that Right, not
Is national! and unto whom, belong
The deadliest blows this dragon-power can give,
Shall we succumb—and let the monster live
To coil his serpent-folds around the tower
We've honored, loved, as freedom's shrine of
No stone in that high tower that would not call,
Indignant on our souls to let it fall,
Forever 'neath that blood-bought soil to hide,
Rather than yield it thus to boasting pride!
And yet beneath its very shadow live
The men to whom we must the victory give,
If fall that hold of Freedom must:—behold,
Within their hands the "thirty pieces" told,
For which our Savior-Freedom must be sold!
The treaty's signed—accepted is the evil—
Mark, me! "Mortgaged," not Deeded, is the word,
And when the owners of that deed are heard,
Without that bogus vote to interfere,
How will their Chieftain sweep that mortgage clear!
But see! Iscariot pales with mortal fear—
Is there no kind pro-slavery doctor near?
Alas! with stomach braced, he shuts his eyes,
And swallows southern pills of "Compromise!"
O potent pills of Southern politics!
Made up of dough, and honeyed o'er with tricks,
To operate both ways, South and North—and then.
That black looks white, and everything reverse,
"Making what is the better seem the worse,
Then back again like necromancer's jest,
Making the really bad appear the best,"
Till "pulling wool," not cotton's "all the go,"
But not on "the place where wool ought to grow!"
Hush ! heard you not those voices murmuring there?
How can ye smile?—the shadows of despair
Should rather settle round the brows of all,—
Down with the physic! hath not slavery sent on,
For this same purpose, Honorable Thomas Benton?
Comes not his voice, as from Disunion’s brink,
Commanding you this nauseous cup to drink—
And that you'll prove his wisdom as his fame,
By stifling indignation in your shame?
O Pilot! what engulphing waves of sin,
Our "noble ship of State" is sailing in!
What shoals and breakers lie in wait, to sever
The Union of its Stripes, and Stars, forever!
"Up with the helm," exclaims the "learned Smith,"
And "don't give up the ship, though but a myth !"
Down with the helm, and "let the Union slide,"
Roars from the banks, a man of power end pride;
"Off with the shrouds, down with the mast and sail,"
A voice is heard above the furious gale,
"While shout on shout above the deck is rolled,
"Off with the hatches—clear the offensive hold—
Out with the dripping cotton, and the wool,
Light it of human blood, of which 'tis full,—
Down with the yards of Gutta-percha made,
Furl up the cotton sails of Southern trade;
Make up your reckoning by the light Divine,
Let go the anchor Hope, and every line
That binds a useless yard or topmast, sever,
To bind the
union of the
Alas! O ship—thy fate, divine who can?
Benumbed to freezing, almost every man
"Who's breasted long this furious southern gale,
At length shrink? from his post—is turning pale,
And ere subsides the pestilential breeze,
We may not he surprised to see them freeze!
Of course you'll not misunderstand this blame,
For Sumner, Wilson, Hale, or Burlingame!
And yet whence comes this last disgrace and crime,
This bold "denial," serving Power and Time,
This cringing, paling, of our boasted few,
The noblest, as we hoped, of all the crew?
"No mercy for the slave?"—in Freedom's name,
Where is the blush for him, the tinge of shame,
Who dares thus on that Senate's blood-stained floor
The highest hopes of those he serves, ignore?
No mercy for the slave—no efforts given,
By which—some future period—shall be riven
One chain, at least, this guilty Land of lands,
Hath bound as law upon four million hands?
No hope, that when this "Night of Freedom's" o'er,
The flying bondman may be safe once more?
See! through that vale of sorrow and of sin,
A single beam of hope is bursting in!—
A single soul, by love of Freedom fired,
By earth's sweet angels, Faith and Hope, inspired,
True to the flame that burns in every breast,
Snaps wide the chains by which he's been opprest,
And filled with high resolve, as e'er a prayer
Bore on its heaven-bound errand, through the air,
Discovers, over joy's ecstatic heights,
His angel beckoning from the northern lights!
Hope lends him wings, his lithe limbs spurn the
And on for life—for life and Freedom—bound!
No mercy now, O, Champions of the free,
"No interference with the States?" But see!
He rushes, frantic, to your very door,
And pleads! Bounds not your heart as ne'er before?
But hark! close, bolt your door! the bloodhounds
Crush down your heart—to pleading woe be dumb!—
Obey the law—that high law—of the land!—
The very voice of heaven itself withstand!
And as those hounds of hell come furious on,
With cold, hard front, bid that poor soul begone!
But dream not that your sin is ended here—
Hark to the bold command, mid jest and sneer,
That bids you forth to join the chase,—and then
With utmost speed, lead on those robber-men!
See how he rushes on, as, glancing back,
Your shadow, too, he sees upon his track;
And O, that pleading gaze! Melt not your eyes,
As trembling, fainting, bleeding, on he flies?
But though it freeze to ice your very veins,
Triumphant drag him back!—then let the chains
Securely round your Court-house door be thrown,
And while each heart within is turned to stone,
And Freedom's sons, barred out, around are pouring,
Enthrone upon the bench of law a Loring, —
Then go and tell the world the solemn lie,
Who is the slave, in all that thronging crowd?
Not he, around whom bursts this slavery cloud;
I know his back shall feel the reeking thong—
His knees shall bend at slavery's bloody shrine—
And in his sorrow-stricken spirit, long
Shall rust like steel this damning deed of thine;—
But see,—within that bowed and bleeding form,
There lives a heart that throbs to virtue warm,
There is a Will that's dared in Freedom's van,
And there a Soul that never wronged a man!
Can this, poor whipper-in, be said of thee?
Of thee, O Union-saver, is it true?
Have not ye both bowed low to slavery,
Your virtue and your boasted honor too?
But see! the storm is rising! clouds on clouds
Of Law, hang threatening o'er the pitying crowds;
And on that shadowy car of Civil Force,
Rendition from the Court-house takes its course,
To parallel that old example given
When to the Cross the Nazarene was driven!—
With this distinction:—thieves stole chattels then,
And died with Him,—now, live by stealing men!
And who dare breast that rushing cloud?—it holds
A Nation's tempest in its gathering folds!
With dripping brow, as in the gloom of death,
Each Patriot, spell-bound, holds his stifling breath,
And crushing back his burning wrath, looks on—
Half deeming Justice from the earth hath flown!
But why this loathsome sacrifice?—why must
This pall of death upon our path be thrust—
This anguish of disgrace and bitter loss,
Our pride, our hopes, our RIGHTS, be thrown
Of all disguises to the light unrolled,
The answer stands revealed in Southern gold!
But this one question let me urge, I pray: —
To use a phrase of business,—"Will it pay ?
"Go—sell your soul—to Southern gold bow down,
Unheed the wail of Freedom and of men,
And as the last, last tones of conscience drown,
Betray your country's highest hopes—what then?
Think you the Tyrant will not ask for more?
How know you that the chains his slaves have worn
Will not be thrown around your very door,
And you, yourselves, to bonds in triumph borne?
Or think you that our
Or that its stripes and stars will longer wave
That you have helped to fetter Freedom's hands,
And dug your own dishonored moral grave?
Alas! that you should even dream of peace!
Awake! repent! and while you hold the lease,
God yet in mercy spares, pray, beg of Heaven,
The bonds which fetter you may yet be riven!
Alas! this lust of gain, whose base control
In worse than chains of steel hath bound the soul;
This "root of all evil," conceived, begotten,
Of yore, in falsehood, not as now, in cotton,
Is, after all, the cause of all the woe,
That threatens to "dissolve" and overthrow.
And while that master plies his reeking thong,
'T is gold, not blood, each gaping wound should
And that each drop shall coin, his arm is strong,
But Satan links his chain with every blow!
And every vein that arm shall cause to swell,
Shall pour a lava-tide to forge the steel,
With which the fiery chains are made in hell
To bind the souls of earth that cannot feel!
Who, then, are slaves—the first and last in bonds?
Not he who, from a servile task, absconds,
And, daring every earthly tie to part,
Lays at the shrine of Freedom all his heart—
Not he, though sent in bleeding anguish back,
To lay that panting heart on slavery's rack;
Thou art the slave, who e'er where e'er, thou art,
In whom this cold, unfeeling, earthborn lust,
Hath silenced conscience, ossified the heart,
And trampled God's own image in the dust!
Not slaves, indeed, O, devotees of gain,
And yet bend low to gold? Behold your chain!
Its links are golden, but its hook is steel,
And rusting in your vitals shall it cling,
Till your enslaved and cankered souls shall feel
That hook your every power is withering!
Where is the freedom of our boasted land?
O, point me not to Bunker's towering brow—
'T is mournful on that glorious height to stand,
And contrast "Seventeen Seventy-Six" with now!
And point me not to
I know its ground is holy, every rood,
For there the blood of Freedom fell like rain,
That we might live as sons of Patriots should!
But who that visits now that holy spot,
Hath not its lessons long ago forgot?
Where is the freedom which those heroes sought
Who fell at Monmouth,
A glimpse of which their dying vision caught,
And in whose arms they sprang to realms divine?
Tell me no more of haunted plain or wood,
Of storied hill, or hallowed grot, or glen,
Where Freedom's heroes baptized with their blood,
The richest legacy of Heaven to men;
Lost, lost forever, is each sacred spell!—
And, though some may retain the very air
Which sighed the requiem as those martyrs fell,
The spirit which they glowed with is not there,
Else would that spirit in its strength arise,
When deeds are wrought which shame the very
One glimpse through
Who is it you behold in felon chains?
A freeman who hath dared a tyrant's hate—
An Abel who hath crossed a track of "Kanes!"
No crime is on his hands, that o'er him falls
The shadow of those towering granite walls—
No crime is in his heart, except it be
The daring to be true to
Look on him Patriots—on that manly form—
The soul that beams in that unquailing eye—
The hero bravely breasting Slavery's storm,
That he may shield the light of
Then go and "ring your bells and fire your guns,"
And, flinging up your flags triumphant high,
Shout, till that sorrowing heart of Williamson's
Send up the moisture to his burning eye—
Till wordless grief his manly bosom swell,—
One glimpse beneath that dome at
What "Brooks" of blood within its Senate run!—
See! the dark face of murder on you turns!
Its eye, filled with a fiendish malice, burns
Demoniac triumph!—Livid brow and cheek,
More sure than words, the ruffian's purpose speak!
Its victim, busy in his wonted place,
Dreams not of harm, when lo! th' assassin's face,
Th' assassin's upraised arm, the word—the blow!—
And senseless in his gore he's lying low!
O for a soul of fire, a tongue of flame,
To speak the meanness of that deed of shame!
The Muse of Dante, breathing lurid fire—
The mightiest breath that ever swept a Lyre,—
Were insufficient!—Shades of Tamerlane,
Caligula, Comodus, Nero, Cain!—
Avaunt!—back to your kindred shades of night,
Infernal vision!—"spare our aching sight!"
One glimpse along that "line of Compromise:"—
Of all the shields against her infant's doom,
What like a Mother's heart?—see how she flies!
Room, in thine arms, O Cincinnati, room!
Room in thy broader arms,
Alas! no Cincinnatus heeds the call,
The "Powers of Darkness" gather round thy fall!
But lo!—what crime is this? That mother's hand,
Nerved with an awful power, the pirate band
Waves back aghast, and holds the fatal knife
Suspended o'er those threads of infant life!
That Mother's heart! that frenzied gaze! that vow!
O, were old
Would not a Cincinnatus leave his plow,
Unsheath his sword, and guard that mother there?
But see, the hounds press on! their savage yell
Resounds already through her prison cell! —
All hope of
"But shall they not be free in heaven?" she plead;
And from that heart by man's oppression riven,
Up went the dread appeal of woe to Heaven:—
"Forgive, O righteous God, if sin it be,
I give these treasures back, unstained, to Thee!"
The blade flashed in the light!—one babe was free!
O what is tyranny, that it can make
Infanticide a virtue in our land,
And not content with human hearts to break,
Enforces crime upon the human hand ?
Where is "The Patriot's Hope"?—the Patriot's fire,
The "Golden Rule"—the Christian heart of Love?
Is only judgment left, in awful ire
And vialed wrath, outpouring from above?
Poor native land! God hear thy Patriots sigh!
God hear them pour for thee, the heart-wrung
And stretch some bow of Promise from on high
To span the storm that's brooding in the air!
But what is this?—what can it be, that flings
So foul an incense from its unseen wings?
It blights, it withers all that's bright and fair!
Some fell Lycanthrope from his southern lair?
No eagle surely would thus smite the air!
What is't?—Ask him who wrote
What was it, scaling
"Squat like a toad?"—and in this low disguise
Behold the "Squatter Sovereign" here to-night!
More deadly than the Simoon's withering gales,
His pestilential breath sweeps through our vales
Till touched by some Ithurial spear, and lo!
Our spinal nerves, like magic, turn to dough!
"We will subdue you," are his swelling words:—
Slaves of the North, behold your southern lords!
Pluck from the soil of Freedom every flower;—
And let your Senate-heroes feel the power
With which they dare to cope;—light up the flame
Of persecution round each hero's name:—
Rob lawyers of their clients—preachers cast
"Among the useless lumber of the Past:"—
Let Poets rue the day they dare to fling
The faintest note from Freedom's northern string,—
And if rebel those "gentry of the quill,"
Grind, bolt, and bag them in the fogy mill!—
Stop not to plead "the spirit or the letter,"—
A Gutta-percha bludgeon answers better!
And lo! our northern knaves, as pliant bow,
As subjects never bowed to earthly throne;—
Look through your streets—you 'll see them even
As surely slaves as earth hath ever known!
"Who knows not well these cankers of the North?"
Who tax our justice with their double claim,
As fools for pity, and as knaves for blame!"—
Who, urged by party aims, or southern trade,
The tools of this great crime, themselves have made;
And that the northern heart their wounds may feel,
Turn all their gold of manhood into steel: —
Not dreaming that the forge through which 't will
Will prove their mettle, after all, but brass!—
And all the tears that e'er 'll reward their toils,
Will be the sap which in such mettle boils!
But see! they pale with well-feigned fear and dread,
Freedom again lifts up her drooping head!
No longer feels himself the great "I AM,"
As "Brother Jonathan," with firm resolve,
Flings in his face, proposals to "dissolve."
And lo! these Patriots (?) self-bound to the stake
Of office—martyrs for their Country's sake,
Swift from their office, party, trade, communion,
Fling in themselves,
to "save the glorious
See! o'er the gulf they swing them to and fro,
To "test the virtues of cohesive dough!"
Like monkeys—as it's told—in tropic vales,
To bridge a chasm, "linking heads and tails!"
Look once again. Away your vision glides
A nectar drinks, from rivers bright and fair
As ever flung their music on the air;
And on the flowery banks of Nemewas,
Behold the loveliest land beneath the stars!—
A land that Freedom well might fix upon,
In which her Pilgrim sons at last might dwell,
new Canaan of her
One moment gaze from Oread's lofty mount,
And as your eyes survey those splendid plains,
Ask Earth, ask Heaven, if Slavery's hosts should
On such an Eden-land for slaves and chains?
Alas! already here? Hark to the yell!—
The border-ruffians striking Freedom's knell,
As on they roll, that worse than Hindoo-car,
That Slavery-Engine, miscalled "Civil war."
And see! O Coleman, from thy gory bed,
Appeal the deed at Freedom's fountain head!
And in that Court of courts, O Barber, rise!—
And while thy blood from earth for vengeance cries,
Room on the witness-stand! Just Judge of heaven,
Hark to the voice of Freedom's martyred seven!
Alas! no judgment yet,—no sentence given.
What shriek is that within that dying room?
Oh! 't is not in imagination's power,
Nor in the pencil's touch, to paint the gloom
That fills that stricken house!—O evil hour,
No voice but terror for the stricken now,
No vision but the spectres and the chains,
No wreath of fancies for the widowed brow,
But those which cluster in a maniac's brains?
Stand by that dying bed—and mark those sighs,
Those sobs, that wail, those pleading, up-turned eyes,
Gaze on those writhing lips, that pallid brow;—
Then at the Throne of Right Eternal, bow—
Pour forth, as ne'er before, your soul to Heaven!—
And if an answer from on high is given,
What saith the voice?—"the golden rule of life?"—
That unavenged should be that widowed wife?
But ah! 't is not alone her dreary state,
That calls for vengeance on the Tyrant's hate,
Though every tear her eyes are doomed to shed,
And every sigh that rends her life apart,
Should pierce, as shafts of steel and balls of lead,
Through every slavery-propagandist's heart!
But Freedom calls!—her voice will be obeyed!
And though, in Eighteen fifty-six, she failed,
When Eighteen sixty rounds a new decade,
How will her robber-foes, aghast, have paled!
Else will this awful storm of civil war,
Continue still its mutterings near and far,
Till Freedom, in her strength, the foe shall meet,
And, trampling border-ruffians 'neath her feet,
Her own dominions from the spoiler gains,
And rears a Bunker-hill on
I know 't is said, "the South is not to blame"—
That "Northern renegades have lit the flame,
Which only flashes back to whence it came!"
How speaks indignant truth? Tongue cannot tell
The scorn with which she does that charge repel!
Had those brave freemen on some foreign shore,
Unchecked by law, thus wantonly been slain,
Would not our Country thrill in every pore,
In vengeance's sea of blood to wash the stain?
From hill to hill throughout our wide-spread land,
How would ye rise, O, Freedom's matchless host!
When Attucks fell, how from old Shawmut flew
The lightning-fires that roused a nation's blood!—
What indignation on the tyrant's crew,
Blazed from the eyes of Patriots then! O, could
Those fires electric thrill our sluggish veins,
How should we burn to free our Fatherland!
How should we rise, and wash these gory stains
From scutcheons—sacred once to Freedom's band!
Oh God! whence, whence hath fled this nation's
Lost, lost forever? Stay the dread decree!
And while these whelming billows round us roll,
O, let us still believe in
No hope? must Slavery still press on for spoil?
Hears not a righteous God the bondmen's wail?
Forever shall this robbery of toil,
This blight and mildew, o'er our land prevail?
Revenge, with Freedom's votaries hath no place,—
They owe but kindness to the human race,—
"And South or North—wherever hearts of prayer
Their common woes and hopes to Jesus bear—
Wherever fruits of Christian love are found,
In holy lives, to them is holy ground."
But—now the South our hearts' best blood hath
Her gauntlet at our feet insulting flung,—
And fastened, undisguised, her dread eclipse
Around our homes, our hearths, our hearts, our lips;
Now—that her hand hath stained the Senate floor,
And dyed the
And widowed wives and outraged beauty there,
How can the Patriot's hand the blow forbear,
And stifle indignation into prayer?
Is not the last fond hope forever gone,
That Slavery 'll cease our rights to fix upon?
Are not exhausted Patience, Honor, Peace,
And all by which we hold the Union-Lease?
Thrills not with outraged Rights avenging flame,
Each heart that can be thrilled at deeds of shame?
'T is said
Will not this mountain burst? Look to it well,
Ye who would "compromise" its smothered fires!
Ye who, for southern gold, would dare to sell
The very graves in which repose your sires!
Look to it well! O, "Brethren of the South,"—
Retreat for life! else soon its pent-up lava
Will issue vengeance from its crater-mouth,
And crush your tyranny in the dust forever!
O Father, hear the Patriot's cry of pain!
Away these shades of Night and Horror roll,
And let that day of Glory dawn again,
That erst around our threatened
Alas! no beam descends athwart the gloom,—
And from the mutterings of the clouds of doom,
That, rising South and North, our heavens deform,
Well may we tremble at the coming storm!
When erst "Apollo to his son resigned
His car and coursers, to illume mankind,
His car and coursers, stooping from the skies,
Cleft earth with heat—and opened to the eyes
Of the pale tenants of the realms below,
The boundless chaos, and the scenes of woe
That reigned around,—e'en Pluto and his bride,
Who swayed the infernal sceptre side by side,
Trembled beneath the intolerable light,
And the ghosts shrunk and shuddered at the sight!"
Those coursers, through the storm, are on their way,
To cleave this Night of Freedom unto day!
Hark to the rumbling of their shadowy car
Of stifled wrath, and doom, and civil war!
Behold their lightning track!—and Freedom's son
Urging at utmost speed the coursers on!
Behold, and pale! O, Pluto of the shades
Where every bud and bloom of Freedom fades!
Behold and pale! O, ruffian ghosts, be dumb;
Down 'mong your kindred shades; your hour is come.
But O, my native land!—loved as the dame
Who taught my infant lips thy deeds of fame;
Dear as the apple of the mournful eye,
That gazes now upon thy storm-rocked sky!—
How can I give thee up? Ye blissful days
On which, through vistas of the Past I gaze,
Bend round the Present with your dazzling blaze!
And ye, O sainted sires!—list to the prayer
That issues through this night of cold despair,
From hearts, enkindled by the sacred flame
That lit your steps on earth, to deeds of fame!
Haste to our rescue! e'er this whelming wave,
Prove our lov'd, our once honored, country's grave!
Haste! spread your brooding wings, in mercy's name,
"And shade the light that bursts upon our shame!"
But ah! that "Mene tekel" on the walls!
The moonlight through the rifted ruin falls,
As erst through doomed
The ghastly smiles of Desolation play'd!
And as around its crumbled walls and towers,
Some bard, in search of history's withered flowers,
Pours on the sighing air, in mournful lay,
"The fond remembrance of that splendid day
When on those towers the beams of science shone,
And princes kneeled around Zenobia's throne"—
Some future minstrel thus the muse shall woo,
When thou, O Fatherland, art crumbling too!—
"Where now these ruins moulder on the ground,
Where Desolation walks her silent round,
The slippery serpent drags his sinuous trail,
To marble columns clings the slimy snail,
The solemn raven croaks, the cricket sings,
And bats and owlets flap their sooty wings:—
Once, a proud
By Wisdom reared, to brave the shocks of Time,
And consecrated to the smiling Three,
religion, peace, and civil liberty!
Its earliest priests, in stainless robes arrayed,
By no threats daunted, by no arts betrayed,
Ne'er let the censer nor the olive drop,
Though clouds and tempests brooded o'er its top.
Time brought their pious labors to a close;
Others succeeded, and new scenes arose ;—
The hovering tempests fell upon its walls—
The brooding clouds were welcomed to its halls—
The shuddering altars felt the fires of hell—
The olive withered, and the censer fell,
The columns broke, the trembling arches frowned,
The temple sunk!—and ruin stalks around!"
Men of the North! One lesson, e'er this song
Of Facts—already, doubtless, overlong,—
Dies on your ear forever,—it is this:
Bear up!—though lions roar, and serpents hiss—
Though war's red lightnings flash, and thunders roll,
And Slavery's whelming wave submerge your soul!
"No friendly taper glimmering on your sight,
Your polar star lost in the gloom of night,"
Your spirits freezing in the piercing blasts
Which Slavery's vengeance round your pathway
Bear up, bear bravely, nobly up! and show
This giant Wrong no undetermined foe!
I know—how well!—the danger in your path,—
I've heard the boiling surge, the muttering wrath,—
I've seen "the fiery darts," the "plagues and
The racks, the bowie-knives,—the bludgeon canes,—
I've felt this noonday pestilence of Death,
Of North and South, steal on my stifling breath,—
Its slime around my breathed opinions flung—
Its gall'd miasma on my lips and tongue—
Its loathsome night-shade on my spirits hung!
I've seen the serpent trail my every deed,
And, fastening into each his fangs can bleed,
I've felt him at my very vitals feed!
I've heard his snaky comrades, hidden, hiss,
While coiling round and round my honor, this
Gorged now with feeding, tries his strength my name
To crush forever, in the dust of shame!
And woe to all, who will not bend the knee,
And own this serpent-Public, Deity!
And this, the Freedom of the
Who wonders that our brethren of the South,
The poor untutored sons of Nature'll bow,
When thus their chains are on our very mouth!
Who wonders they will send their slave-hounds forth
To scent their negroes' footsteps round your door,
When knowing the opinion of the North,
Will sanction all they please to do, and more!
When Freemen dare not brave the public breath,
When Northern hearts are "Pierced" by Southern
And Freedom suffering worse than pains of death,
To see her votaries gagged and spurned by fools!
But still bear up, brave heroes of the Free!
And oh! whoever, and where'er you be,
The prayer, the honest thought, the truthful word,
Ne'er dare to stifle in your breast unheard!
Look up! behold the Judge! His cause is yours!
And while, on Truth's eternal base, endures
His Court of courts, His "Higher Law" shall be
Enforced, at last, triumphant for the free!
He, Conquering "rides upon the storm!" and all
Who calmly trust in Him, though darkness fall,
And tempests rage, and billows roll, shall see
As mist before the sun, each danger flee!
Results are His! speed you along the way
Round which is beaming Truth's resplendent ray!
On with your work! dare nobly for the poor,
The weak, th' oppressed, the sick; and heart and
Fling wide for all who'd pass their threshold o'er!
Obey the voice within!—and that withstand
Which bans the feeling heart, the helping hand!
Obey the law! but first, that "higher Law,"
Whence mundane codes their vital sanctions draw!
Be true! be free! Fear, leave for those who cower
As self-sold slaves, low at the feet of Power!
Out with your thought! on with your noble deeds!
Truth, aching for your help, your action pleads
In tongues more trumpet-toned than ever fell
On mortal ear!—Hark to their awful swell!
Not only from four millions held in chains,
The blood-stained Senate floor
And victims of Lecompts, and Griers, and Kanes;—
From lips by slavery's hand long sealed, they
As records, soon to meet your eyes, will tell!
Injunctions where his "duty" marked the way!—
By sullied acts of present power and place!—
His Supreme-Bench subject to slavery's plot!—
From Washington, who, seeing liberty,
At last, as God's great gift to all, would be
Ere yet arraigned before the bar of heaven,
From slavery, rusting on his scutcheon, shriven,
And thus the deadliest blow that could be given,
Deal to his country's crime! From Reed and Wythe,
Untimely cut from life by Tyranny's scythe!—
From these they swell upon your startled ear,
To mingle with the living tones, you’ll hear
Soon burst from fourteen million souls, as erst
The pent-up wrath of Revolution burst!
HEED WELL THEIR CALL! men of the North!—and
Up with the Right that's bleeding in the dust,
And brand the tools that "Pierce" its heart of trust!
Down with the wrong that's gained itself the
Away with all the bonds—of limb and soul,
Of South and North—from black, and red, and
And then shall Danger's surges cease to roll,
And Day shall dawn at last on "Freedom's night!"