previous next

49. to Englishmen.

by John G. Whittier.
You flung your taunt across the wave;
     We bore it as became us,
Well knowing that the fettered slave
     Left friendly lips no option save
To pity or to blame us.

You scoffed our plea. “Mere lack of will,
     Not lack of power,” you told us;
We showed our free-State records; still
     You mocked, confounding good and ill,
Slave-haters and slaveholders.

We struck at slavery; to the verge
     Of power and means we checked it:
Lo!--presto, change! its claims you urge,
     Send greetings to it o'er the surge,
And comfort and protect it.

But yesterday you scarce could Shake,
     In slave-abhorring rigor,
Our Northern palms, for conscience‘ sake;
     To-day you clasp the hands that ache
With “wallopping the nigger!” 1

O Englishmen!--in hope and creed,
     In blood and tongue our brothers I
We, too, are heirs of Runnymede;
     And Shakspeare's fame and Cromwell's deed,
Are not alone our mother's.

“Thicker than water,” in one rill,
     Through centuries of story,
Our Saxon blood has flowed, and still
     We share with you its good and ill,
The shadow and the glory.

Joint heirs and kinfolk, leagues of wave
     Nor length of years can part us:
Your right is ours to shrine and grave,
     The common freehold of the brave,
The gifts of saints and martyrs.

Our very sins and follies teach
     Our kindred frail and human:
We carp at faults with bitter speech,
     The while for one unshared by each
We have a score in common.

We bowed the heart, if not the knee,
     To England's Queen-God bless her!
We praised you when your slaves went free:
     We seek to unchain ours. Will ye
Join hands with the oppressor?

And is it Christian England cheers
     The bruiser, not the bruised?
And must she run, despite the tears
     And prayers of eighteen hundred years,
A muck in Slavery's crusade?

O black disgrace! 0 shame and loss,
     Too deep for tongue to phrase on!
Tear from your flag its holy cross,
     And in your van of battle toss
The pirate's skull-bone blazon!

1 See English caricatures of America — Slaveholder and cowhide, with the motto: “Haven't I a right to wallop my nigger!”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)
Runnymede (United Kingdom) (1)
England (United Kingdom) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John G. Whittier (1)
Shakspeare (1)
Saxon (1)
Christian England (1)
Ruth N. Cromwell (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: