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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

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The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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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.

[title page]

THE NIGHT OF FREEDOM:

AN APPEAL, IN VERSE,

AGAINST THE

GREAT  CRIME  OF  OUR  COUNTRY

HUMAN BONDAGE!

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.”

BOSTON:

SAM’L CHISM,—FRANKLIN PRINTING HOUSE,

HAWLEY STREET, CORNER OF FRANKLIN.

1857.

This is a prooftext of The Night of Freedom, published in 1857 in Boston.  Original spelling, punctuation and page citations have been retained; minor typographic errors have been corrected.

This electronic edition has been prepared for the Antislavery Literature Project, Arizona State University, a public education project working in cooperation with the English Server, Iowa State University.   Digitization has been supported by a grant from the Institute for Humanities Research, Arizona State University.

Prooftext by Joe Lockard.  Digitization by NetConnect India .  All rights reserved by the Antislavery Literature Project.  Permission for non-commercial educational use is granted.

Introduction

            William 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 Boston, Worcester, and Newton, Massachusetts from the 1840s-1860s, publishing primarily religious and educational texts.

    Joe Lockard


[unnumbered page 2]

"And that dark land of slaves

America ! Half-brother of the world!

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!"

                                                FESTUS.


[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
[page 4]

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! —

A land of Right and Wrong in "compromise!"


[page 5

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 Bethlehem star!

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,


[page 6]

     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 Warren's martyred life-drops, "hallowed ground,"

By Revolution's holiest memories crowned,

The spot where Freedom's shrine the last should fall,


[page 7]

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 Battle's gory tide,

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

     "Toombs!"

And what's this late "Decision," but the door

Wide open flung, through which his imps may pour

What bar hath Massachusetts now—what right,

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


[page 8]

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!

We’ll teach them Massachusetts is not dumb

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?

To Bunker-Hill, to Concord, Lexington,

Or other fields that Freedom's battle won,

With slaves? ha ha!  We'll teach those southern

     hounds

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 Treasontreason, TREASON,  brands your

     name!

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

     ground!"

Where is that "Declaration," Freedom-shrined

As all the wisdom of the world combined?

" Independence forever!" let it swell

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


[page 10]

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

     Wrong,

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

     Power?

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,


[page 11]

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—

And Liberty is mortgaged to the devil!

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.

With Union dragged, so blind the eyes of men,

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,"


[page 12]

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,—

"The glorious Union is about to fall!"

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;


[page 13]

"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 Hull forever!"

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,


[page 14]                   

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,


[page 15]

Discovers, over joy's ecstatic heights,

His angel beckoning from the northern lights!

Hope lends him wings, his lithe limbs spurn the

     ground,

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

     come!

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!


[page 16]

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,

That this's "a glorious Land of Liberty!"

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,


[page 17]

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!


[page 18]

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

     across ?

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 Union firmer stands,

     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?


[page 19]

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

         flow,

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,


[page 20]    

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 Concord's sacred plain—

     I know its ground is holy, every rood,

For there the blood of Freedom fell like rain,


[page 21]

     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, Trenton, Brandywine,

 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

     skies!

One glimpse through Philadelphia's dungeon grate:

     Who is it you behold in felon chains?

A freeman who hath dared a tyrant's hate—


[page 22]                     

     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 Liberty!

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 Liberty!—

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,—

Shout, " Liberty" around his prison cell!

One glimpse beneath that dome at Washington:—

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!


[page 23]

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!

A Milton's jarring trump—a Byron's ire,—

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, Ohio,—quick!

     Alas! no Cincinnatus heeds the call,

Rome of the mighty West!—and fast and thick


[page 24]

     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 Rome the scene of that despair,

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 Liberty on earth has fled—

"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,


[page 25]

     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

          prayer,

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 on Paradise,

     What was it, scaling Eden's walls of light,

"Squat like a toad?"—and in this low disguise

     Behold the "Squatter Sovereign" here to-night!

More deadly than the Simoon's withering gales,


[page 26]                   

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

          now,


[page 27]

     As surely slaves as earth hath ever known!

"Who knows not well these cankers of the North?"

Asked Whittier—"Esau's bartering rights for

     broth!—

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

     pass,

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!

"The Union is in danger!" "Uncle Sam"

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


[page 28]                    

Of office—martyrs for their Country's sake,

Swift from their office, party, trade, communion,

Fling in themselves, to "save the glorious Union!"

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

To where Missouri rolls, and in its tides

A nectar drinks, from rivers bright and fair

As ever flung their music on the air;

And on the flowery banks of Nemewas,

     Saline, Neosho, Kansas, Mermaton,

Behold the loveliest land beneath the stars!—

     A land that Freedom well might fix upon,

In which her Pilgrim sons at last might dwell,

As "the new Canaan of her Israel !"

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

          count


[page 29]

     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,


[page 30]

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,


[page 31]

Her own dominions from the spoiler gains,

And rears a Bunker-hill on Kansas plains!

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 the Itasca lake to the Rio-Grande,

     From Maine to California's golden coast,

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,


[page 32]                    

     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

          soul?

     Lost, lost forever? Stay the dread decree!

And while these whelming billows round us roll,

     O, let us still believe in Liberty!

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

          wrung

Her gauntlet at our feet insulting flung,—


[page 33]

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 Kansas plains with Freedom's gore,

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 Mount Etna's soon to burst in flame!

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!


[page 34]                   

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 Union stole!

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


[page 35]

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!


[page 36]                  

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 Palmyra's gathering shade,

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 Temple rose, with front sublime,


[page 37]

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!


[page 38]

"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

     casts,—

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

     chains,"

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,


[page 39]

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 Free States, now!

     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

          tools,

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,                                                                                 


[page 40]                

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

door,

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!


[page 41]

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 Kansas plains,

And victims of Lecompts, and Griers, and Kanes;—

From lips by slavery's hand long sealed, they

          swell!

As records, soon to meet your eyes, will tell!

From Taylor, scorning all who dared to lay

Injunctions where his "duty" marked the way!—

From Harrison, who'd not his past disgrace

By sullied acts of present power and place!—

From Wilson, of the land of Penn—who'd not

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,


[page 42]

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

then

Forth to the field, as Freedom's LIVING MEN!

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

throne,

Upon which Liberty should reign alone!

Away with all the bonds—of limb and soul,

Of South and North—from black, and red, and

white!—

And then shall Danger's surges cease to roll,

And Day shall dawn at last on "Freedom's night!"