Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--Escape of a slave at sea (Zanzibar) (Eastern Africa)

Stanzas excerpted from...
  The Wrongs of Africa: Part the First (1787) 
-by William Roscoe

. . . The promis'd bounty. This be thy reward,
Cried, with malicious smile, the watchful fiend
That first devis'd the treachery, and display'd
His implements of torture, whips, and bonds.
—Deep in the centre of the floating pile,
Were thrown the hapless brothers, there to pass
The changing moons, till in the western world
New woes awaited them, whilst mutual hate
Sharpen'd each pang, and doubled every ill.

    Thus blasted were the joys of private life;
And the fair fruit of confidence, receiv'd
A canker in its core, that all unseen
To poison turn'd its salutary powers.
—But these were trivial injuries, confin'd
To private wrong; and like the fever's rage,
Sought but precarious victims for their prey:
But soon the epidemic madness swell'd
To pestilential fury, and involv'd
Surrounding nations in one general doom.

Nor only then, beneath the gloom of night,
In the lone path, the sable ruffian lurk'd
Watchful to seize and sell for useless toys,
His weaker fellow; but deluded states
Avow'd the public measure; to the field
March'd forth contending armies, unprovok'd
By previous wrong, to wage unnatural war:
Whilst he, the white deceiver, who had sown
The seeds of discord, saw with horrid joy
The harvest ripen to his utmost wish;
And reap'd the spoils of treachery, guilt, and blood.

    Deep in the shady covert of a wood,
That screen'd from noon-day rage the slight-built bowers,
And distant far from ocean's heaving tides,
Lay a small hamlet; whose inglorious sons,
Were strangers yet to war; save when provok'd
By hunger's call, the monsters of the waste
Attacked their dwellings. O'er the lone retreat

Sail'd the dim cloud of night, and thro' the trees
Sigh'd the soft gale, and hush'd to deep repose
The guiltless tenants; when a sudden fire
Involv'd their habitations; thro' the flames
They rush'd for safety; but a numerous throng
Of native ruffians, from a distant shore,
Attack'd the helpless crew, and bore away
Their trembling victims; loudly rose the voice
Of anguish, whilst the mother for her child
Struggled with frantic violence, And dar'd
Th'extreme of danger; whilst the lover clasp'd
The mistress of his choice, and rais'd his breast
To meet the threatn'd blow; whilst youth, alarm'd,
Trusted to flight for safety, and the tear
Of supplicating age was pour'd in vain:
—Fond tears, and vain attempts! shall mercy rest
In savage bosoms, when the cultur'd mind
Disclaims her influence? From their peaceful home
For ever torn, and chain'd in long array,
The mourning sufferers move along the plain,

A spectacle of woe; and frequent turn
Their tear-dimm'd eyes towards the fav'rite spot
That gave them birth, and saw their youthful sports;
Whose streams had cool'd their thirst, whose forests dark
Had screen'd their slumbers, and whose varied scenes
Had winess'd all their joys. They turn, and mourn
Their simmple threshold now with kindred blood
Defil'd; their roof's of rapid flames the prey;
The partners of their pleasure's now condemn'd
To share their lot, or pouring out their lives
Beneath untented wounds.—They turn and weep,
Whilst o'er the burning sand the frequent goad
Hastens their lingering steps, till on their sight
Open's th'extended ocean: hovering near,
Like some dread monster, watchful for its prey,
The vessel glooms portentous; soon to seize
Her living victims, and to whelm them deep
In the dark cavern of her loathsome womb.

. . .



Phivos Nicolaides said...

Love your old post card and the sensitive words you write!

YogaforCynics said...

Hmmm...fascinating postcard and poem. I'm going to have to look more into British abolitionist poetry...

Lydia said...

Phivos~ Dear friend, I did not write the words in this poem, only posting them for your consideration. I'm glad you like them and the postcard.

YogaforCynics~ Agreed. I only read a sampling yesterday and there is a rich field of work by extremely passionate people.

La Belette Rouge said...

Is there a post that tells how you got into collecting postcards? I am off on a voyage to discover that story.

Lydia said...

La Belette~ How nice of you to ask, and I think I will put a link to it in my sidebar. Thank you for the idea. Here is the first Old Postcard Wednesday post: CLICK!

Melinda said...

Where in the world do you find these amazing postcards!? It makes me wish I had collected some of the ones I have come across in my life (Les and I cleared out his Mom's home after she died, preparing it for the market and came across some great ones).

I enjoyed this one--and also wanted to visit S.A.


Lydia said...

Melinda~ This is one of my "new" ones...I shopped for vintage postcards online a few months ago! I bought some from a seller in the U.S., but I bought this powerful one and some other spectacular cards from a seller in France.
I'm so hooked on old postcards!



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