« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Until at length the vernal sun looks forth,
PERSECUTION OF THE COVENANTERS.
With them each day was holy, every hour They stood prepared to die, a people doom'd To death ;-old men, and youths, and simple maids. With them each day was boly; but that morn On which the angel said, See where the Lord Was laid, joyous arose; to die that day Was bliss. Long ere the dawn, by devious ways, O'er hills, through woods, o'er dreary wastes, they sought The upland muirs, where rivers, there but brooks, Dispart 10 different seas: Fast by such brooks A little glen is sometimes scoop d, a plat With green sward gay, and flowers that strangers seem Amid the heathery wild, that all around Fatigues the eye. In solitudes like these, Thy persecuted children, Scotia, foil'd A tyrants and a bigot's bloodly laws: There, leaning on his spear (one of the array, Whose gleam, in former days, hath scathed the rose On England's banner, and had powerless struck The infatuate monarch and his wavering host), The lyart veteran heard the word of God By Cameron thunder'd, or by Renwick pour'd In gentle stream; then rose the song, the loud Acclaim of praise. The wheeling plover ceased Her plaint. The solitary place was glad, And on the distant cairns the watcher's ear Caught doubtfully at times the breeze borne note. But years more gloomy follow'd; and no more The assembled people dared, in face of day, To worship God, or even at the dead Of night, save when the wintry-storm raved fierce, And thunder.peals compell’d the men of blood To couch within their dens : then dauntlessly The scatter'd few would meet, in some deep dell By rocks o'er-canopied, to hear the voice, Their faithful pastor's voice : He by the gleam Of sheeted lightning oped the sacred book, And words of comfort spake: Over their souls His accents soothing came-as to her young The heathfowl's plumes, when, at the close of eve, She gathers in, mournful, her brood dispersed By murderons sport, and o'er the remnant spreads Fondly her wings; close nestling 'neath lier breast, They, cherishd, cower amid the purple blooms.
TIIE POOR MAN'S FUNERAL.
Yon motley, sable-suited throng, that wait
The coffin is borne out; the humble pomp
GRANVILLE SHARP, 1735-1813.
“Tue lives of some men may be contemplated in their opinions and private studies; of others, in their exertions and public concerns. It is rarely that the world beholds the union of unceasing action and unwearied study; still more rarely does it enjoy the sight of such united power de. voting itself, at once meekly and resolutely, in the fear of God, to the best good of man. Yet such was the character of Granville Sharp.".
Such are the remarks made by the biographer of Mr. Sharp in entering upon the consideration of his character-a character to which I feel, with depressing sensibility, no justice can be done in the short space allotted to these biographical notices. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Sharp, Arch. deacon of Northumberland, and was born in Durham, on the 10th of Nov., 1735. In 1750, he left Durham, having been apprenticed to a linen draper of London. At the end of his apprenticeship, he engaged in a linen factory, and it was at this period he made his first advances in learning. Having a series of controversies with a scholar in London, whose name is not given, upon some disputed doctrines in the New Testament, his antagonist denied the correctness of our translation; whereupon, Mr. Sharp, with that singleness of purpose which attended him through life, to spare no labors to ascertain the truth, immediately set upon the study of Greek, and with so much success that he some years afterwards published a small work upon the Greek Article. A controversy of a similar character with a learned Jew led him to the study of the Hebrew language.
In June, 1758, he obtained a subordinate appointment in the Ordnance office. From this time to 1765, little is known of him, except that he was pushing his studies in the ancient languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, with untiring industry. In this latter year, a circumstance happened which gave a new direction to his whole life, and which has caused him to be looked up to by a grateful posterity as the pioneer in the great and glorious reform, then commenced, of the abolition of slavery in England; then of the abolition of the slave trade; and finally, in 1834, of the abolition of elavery throughout the whole extent of the British empire.
In 1765, a man by the name of Lisle had brought to England from Barbadoes, an African, whom he claimed as his slave, by the name of Jonathan Strong. He treated him in a very cruel manner, and beat him so severely over the head as to cause his head to swell: from this a serious disorder fell into his eyes, and he was abandoned by his master to the charities of the world. In this situation he applied to Wm. Sharp, surgeon, the brother of Granville, and in process of time was cured. When cured, his 80-called owner, who had, in his sickness, abandoned him, met bim, and seeing him so well and strong, claimed him as his property. He fled to some friends for protection, and the knowledge of his case soon came to the ears of Granville Sharp, and enlisted all the energies of his soul. Suffice it to say that, by great exertions, he finally obtained the full release of the man.2
But Mr. Sharp saw that the case of poor Strong was but one of many
See - Memoirs of Granville Sharp, Esq.” by Prince Hoare. London, 1820, 4to. pp. 554.
* Read an interesting account of the case in the "Memoirs” before referred to, and also “Clarkson's History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade," pp. 66 and 67.
similar cases that existed in England, and of his labors in this great depart. ment of humanity, we will quote the words of the “Edinburgh Review;"!
* Regardless of the dangers to which he exposed himself, both in his person and his fortune, Mr. Sharp stood forward in every case as the courageous friend of the poor Africans in England, in direct opposition to an opinion of Yorke and Talbot, the attorney and solicitor-general for the time being. This opinion had been acted upon; and so high was its authority that, after it hud been made public, it was held as the settled law of the land, that a slave, neither by baptism nor arrival in Great Britain or Ireland, acquires freedom, but may be legally forced back to the plantations. Discouraged by Judge Blackstone, and several other eminent lawyers, Mr. Sharp devoted three years of his life to the study of the English law, that he might render himself the more effectual advocate of these friendless strangers. In his work, entitled, ‘A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of tolerating Slavery in England,' published in the year 1769, and afterwards, in his learned and laborious 'Inquiry into the Principles of Villanage,' he refuted the opinion of York and Talbot by unanswerable arguments, and neutralized their authority by the counter-opinion of the great Lord Chief Justice Holt, who many years before had decided that, as force could be used against no man in England without a legal process, every slave coming into England became free, inasmuch as the laws of England recognized the distinction between person and property as perpetual and sacred. Finally, in the great ease of Somerset, which was argued at three different sittings, in January, in February, and in May of the year 1772 (the opinion of the judges having been taken upon the pleadings), it was at last ascertained and declared to be the law of the land that, as soon as ever any slave set his foot upon English terri. tory, he became free. Among the heroes and sages of British story, we can think of few whom we should feel a greater glow of honest pride in claiming as an ancestor than the man to whom we owe our power of repeating with truth
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
After this, Mr. Sharp interested himself very much in the cause of slavery in America, and corresponded with that great-hearted philanthropist Anthony Benezet, with Dr. Franklin, Dr. Rush, and others. During
· Edinburgh Review, xii. 362.
9 I must give a short extract from one of the letters of the venerable Dr. Rush to Mr. Sharp, dated Philadelphia, May 1, 1773, it does so much credit to the heart of the author. “A spirit of humanity and religion begins to awaken, in several of the colonies, in favor of the poor negroes. The clergy begin to bear a public testimony against this violation of the laws of Nature and Christianity. Great events have been brought about by small beginnings. Anthony Benezet stood alone a few years ago in opposing negro slavery in Philadelphia, and now three-fourths of the province, as well as the city, cry out against it. I sometimes please myself with the hopes of living to see it all this time, he was merely a clerk in the Ordnance office ;' but an inci. dent soon occurred which prevented him from remaining in it any longeran incident which showed a scrupulous integrity, a transparent beauty of character, as rare as it is delightful to behold. He had long witnessed with great solicitude the difficulties between England and her then American colonies, and sympathized entirely with the latter, justly holding ihe senti. ment “our country, right or wrong,'' to be an execrable one. Accordingly, in 1774, he published a work entitled, “A Declaration of the People's Natural Rights to a Share in the Legislature,” the very thing for which we so strenuously contended. When, therefore, hostilities actually occurred, and he saw that he would be obliged, by his official station, 10 be instrumental in furnishing munitions of war to the troops of his own couniry, which he deemed to be in the wrong, he at once resigned his public office, though he had been in it nearly twenty years, and was fitted for no other employment-had none in view—and had spent all his paternal inheritance, and the excess of his salary above his own wants, in acts of benevolence and philanthropy. How refreshing to witness such instances of strictly con. scientious conduct! But that God in whom he trusted did not leave him to want. His brothers, who were in comfortable circumstances, highly applauded his course, and cordially invited him to partake of their bounty 10 any extent, and for any duration. He accepted their kind invitation for the time, and devoted himself to literary pursuits.
He had before, in 1767, published a work “On the Pronunciation of the English Tongue," and, in 1768, a tract entitled, “Remarks on several Important Prophecies," and a small treatise on the “Eastern Coast of Africa." He also took strong ground against the impressment of seamenthus showing himself ahead of his age in another department of philan. thropy. On this subject he had an interview with Dr. Johnson, who, instead of encouraging him in his laudable efforts, argued the “necessity" of impressing seamen. How much he was influenced by the “great moralist," will appear from the following remarks, in his own diary, upon
THE DUTY OF PLEADING FOR THE OPPRESSED.
I have been told that it is the common lot of the poor and laborious part of mankind to endure hardships and inconveniences; that the pressing and forcing them into service is no injustice, nor illegality, being nothing more than one necessary contingent circumstance of their low condition of life, in which they were bred; and that the cruelty rather rests with persons, who, like me, take notice of their grievances, and render them unhappy by persuad
abolished. With esteem for your virtues, and in particular for your zeal in be balf of the negro slaves in America, I am, with great respect, yours,
“ BENJAMIN Rush." • The office for the supply of cannon for the army.