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Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That is noble, and befpeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the bleffing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein
Of all your empire; that where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
Sure there is need of social intercourse, Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid, Between the nations in a world, that seems To toll the death-bell of its own decease, And by the voice of all its elements To preach the general doom*. - When were the winds Let flip with such a warrant to deftroy ? When did the waves so haughtily overleap Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry ? Fires from beneath, and meteors † from above, Portentous, unexampled, unexplained, Have kindled beacons in the skies; and the old And crazy earth has had her shaking fits More frequent, and foregone her usual reft.
* Alluding to the calamities in Jamaica.
# August 18, 1783.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail,
And Nature * with a dim and fickly eye
To wait the close of all? But grant her end
More diftant, and that prophecy demands
A longer respite, unaccomplished yet;
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak
Displeasure in his breaft, who smites the earth
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice.
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve
And stand exposed by common peccancy
To what no few have felt, there should be peace,
And brethren in calamity should love.
Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now Lie scattered, where the shapely column ftood. Her palaces are duft. In all her stre The voice of singing and the sprightly chord Are filent. Revelry, and dance, and show Suffer a syncope and folemn pause; While God performs upon the trembling stage Of his own works his dreadful part alone. How does the earth receive him ?-With what signs
Of gratulation and delight her king? Pours she not all her choiceft fruits abroad, Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums, Disclofing paradise wherever he treads ? She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb, Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps And fiery caverns roars beneath his foot. The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke, For he has touched them. From the extremeft point Of elevation down into the abyss His wrath is busy, and his frown is felt. The rocks fall headlong, and the vallies rise, The rivers die into offensive pools, And, charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross And mortal nuisance into all the air. What solid was, by transformation strange, Grows fluid; and the fixt and rooted earth, Tormented into billows, heaves and swells, Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs And agonies of human and of brute Multitudes, fugitive on every side, And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene Migrates uplifted; and, with all its foil Alighting in far diftant fields, finds out
A new poffeffor, and survives the change.
Ocean has caught the frenzy, and, upwrought
To an enormous and overbearing height,
Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice,
Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
Refiftless. Never such a sudden flood,
Upridged so high, and sent on such a charge,
Poffeffed an inland scene. Where now the throng,
That pressed the beach, and, hafty to depart,
Looked to the sea for safety? They are gone,
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep-
A prince with half his people! Ancient towers,
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes,
Where beauty oft and lettered worth consume
Life in the unproductive shades of death,
Fall prone: the pale inhabitants come forth,
And, happy in their unforeseen release
From all the rigours of restraint, enjoy
The terrors of the day, that sets them free.
Who then that has thee, would not hold thee fast,
Freedom! whom they that lose thee so regret,
That even a judgment, making way for thee,
Seems in their eyes a mercy for thy fake.
Such evil fin hath wrought; and such a flame Kindled in heaven, that it burns down to earth,
And in the furious inqueft, that it makes
On God's behalf, lays waste his faireft works.
The very elements, though each be meant
The minister of man, to serve his wants,
Conspire against him. With his breath he draws
A plague into his blood; and cannot use
Life's neceffary means, but he muft die.
Storms rise to overwhelm him: or, if stormy winds
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise,
And, needing none affiftance of the storm,
Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there.
The earth shall shake him out of all his holds,
Or make his house his grave: nor lo content,
Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood,
And drown him in her dry and dusty gulphs.
What then !-were they the wicked above all,
And we the righteous, whose fast anchored ifle
Moved not, while their's was rocked, like a light skiff,
The sport of every wave? No: none are clear,
And none than we more guilty. But, where all
Stand chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts
Of wrath obnoxious, God may choose his mark :
May punish, if he please, the less, to warn
The more, malignant. If he spared not them,
Tremble and be amazed at thine escape,
Far guiltier England, left he spare not thee !