The World's Convention

Joseph Sturge, the founder of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery

Society, proposed the calling of a world's anti-slavery convention, and

the proposal was promptly seconded by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

The call was addressed to "friends of the slave of every nation and of

every clime."

YES, let them gather! Summon forth

The pledged philanthropy of Earth.

From every land, whose hills have heard

The bugle blast of Freedom waking;

Or shrieking of her symbol-bird

From out his cloudy eyrie breaking

Where Justice hath one worshipper,

Or truth one altar built to her;

Where'er a human eye is weeping

O'er wrongs which Earth's sad children know;

Where'er a single heart is keeping

Its prayerful watch with human woe

Thence let them come, and greet each other,

And know in each a friend and brother!

Yes, let them come! from each green vale

Where England's old baronial halls

Still bear upon their storied walls

The grim crusader's rusted mail,

Battered by Paynim spear and brand

On Malta's rock or Syria's sand!

And mouldering pennon-staves once set

Within the soil of Palestine,

By Jordan and Gennesaret;

Or, borne with England's battle line,

O'er Acre's shattered turrets stooping,

Or, midst the camp their banners drooping,

With dews from hallowed Hermon wet,

A holier summons now is given

Than that gray hermit's voice of old,

Which unto all the winds of heaven

The banners of the Cross unrolled!

Not for the long-deserted shrine;

Not for the dull unconscious sod,

Which tells not by one lingering sign

That there the hope of Israel trod;

But for that truth, for which alone

In pilgrim eyes are sanctified

The garden moss, the mountain stone,

Whereon His holy sandals pressed,--

The fountain which His lip hath blessed,--

Whate'er hath touched His garment's hem

At Bethany or Bethlehem,

Or Jordan's river-side.

For Freedom in the name of Him

Who came to raise Earth's drooping poor,

To break the chain from every limb,

The bolt from every prison door!

For these, o'er all the earth hath passed

An ever-deepening trumpet blast,

As if an angel's breath had lent

Its vigor to the instrument.

And Wales, from Snowden's mountain wall,

Shall startle at that thrilling call,

As if she heard her bards again;

And Erin's "harp on Tara's wall"

Give out its ancient strain,

Mirthful and sweet, yet sad withal,--

The melody which Erin loves,

When o'er that harp, 'mid bursts of gladness

And slogan cries and lyke-wake sadness,

The hand of her O'Connell moves!

Scotland, from lake and tarn and rill,

And mountain hold, and heathery bill,

Shall catch and echo back the note,

As if she heard upon the air

Once more her Cameronian's prayer

And song of Freedom float.

And cheering echoes shall reply

From each remote dependency,

Where Britain's mighty sway is known,

In tropic sea or frozen zone;

Where'er her sunset flag is furling,

Or morning gun-fire's smoke is curling;

From Indian Bengal's groves of palm

And rosy fields and gales of balm,

Where Eastern pomp and power are rolled

Through regal Ava's gates of gold;

And from the lakes and ancient woods

And dim Canadian solitudes,

Whence, sternly from her rocky throne,

Queen of the North, Quebec looks down;

And from those bright and ransomed Isles

Where all unwonted Freedom smiles,

And the dark laborer still retains

The scar of slavery's broken chains!

From the hoar Alps, which sentinel

The gateways of the land of Tell,

Where morning's keen and earliest glance

On Jura's rocky wall is thrown,

And from the olive bowers of France

And vine groves garlanding the Rhone,--

"Friends of the Blacks," as true and tried

As those who stood by Oge's side,

And heard the Haytien's tale of wrong,

Shall gather at that summons strong;

Broglie, Passy, and he whose song

Breathed over Syria's holy sod,

And, in the paths which Jesus trod,

And murmured midst the hills which hem

Crownless and sad Jerusalem,

Hath echoes whereso'er the tone

Of Israel's prophet-lyre is known.

Still let them come; from Quito's walls,

And from the Orinoco's tide,

From Lima's Inca-haunted halls,

From Santa Fe and Yucatan,--

Men who by swart Guerrero's side

Proclaimed the deathless rights of man,

Broke every bond and fetter off,

And hailed in every sable serf

A free and brother Mexican!

Chiefs who across the Andes' chain

Have followed Freedom's flowing pennon,

And seen on Junin's fearful plain,

Glare o'er the broken ranks of Spain

The fire-burst of Bolivar's cannon!

And Hayti, from her mountain land,

Shall send the sons of those who hurled

Defiance from her blazing strand,

The war-gage from her Petion's hand,

Alone against a hostile world.

Nor all unmindful, thou, the while,

Land of the dark and mystic Nile!

Thy Moslem mercy yet may shame

All tyrants of a Christian name,

When in the shade of Gizeh's pile,

Or, where, from Abyssinian hills

El Gerek's upper fountain fills,

Or where from Mountains of the Moon

El Abiad bears his watery boon,

Where'er thy lotus blossoms swim

Within their ancient hallowed waters;

Where'er is beard the Coptic hymn,

Or song of Nubia's sable daughters;

The curse of slavery and the crime,

Thy bequest from remotest time,

At thy dark Mehemet's decree

Forevermore shall pass from thee;

And chains forsake each captive's limb

Of all those tribes, whose hills around

Have echoed back the cymbal sound

And victor horn of Ibrahim.

And thou whose glory and whose crime

To earth's remotest bound and clime,

In mingled tones of awe and scorn,

The echoes of a world have borne,

My country! glorious at thy birth,

A day-star flashing brightly forth,

The herald-sign of Freedom's dawn!

Oh, who could dream that saw thee then,

And watched thy rising from afar,

That vapors from oppression's fen

Would cloud the upward tending star?

Or, that earth's tyrant powers, which heard,

Awe-struck, the shout which hailed thy dawning,

Would rise so soon, prince, peer, and king,

To mock thee with their welcoming,

Like Hades when her thrones were stirred

To greet the down-cast Star of Morning!

"Aha! and art thou fallen thus?

Art thou become as one of us?"

Land of my fathers! there will stand,

Amidst that world-assembled band,

Those owning thy maternal claim

Unweakened by thy, crime and shame;

The sad reprovers of thy wrong;

The children thou hast spurned so long.

Still with affection's fondest yearning

To their unnatural mother turning.

No traitors they! but tried and leal,

Whose own is but thy general weal,

Still blending with the patriot's zeal

The Christian's love for human kind,

To caste and climate unconfined.

A holy gathering! peaceful all

No threat of war, no savage call

For vengeance on an erring brother!

But in their stead the godlike plan

To teach the brotherhood of man

To love and reverence one another,

As sharers of a common blood,

The children of a common God

Yet, even at its lightest word,

Shall Slavery's darkest depths be stirred:

Spain, watching from her Moro's keep

Her slave-ships traversing the deep,

And Rio, in her strength and pride,

Lifting, along her mountain-side,

Her snowy battlements and towers,

Her lemon-groves and tropic bowers,

With bitter hate and sullen fear

Its freedom-giving voice shall hear;

And where my country's flag is flowing,

On breezes from Mount Vernon blowing,

Above the Nation's council halls,

Where Freedom's praise is loud and long,

While close beneath the outward walls

The driver plies his reeking thong;

The hammer of the man-thief falls,

O'er hypocritic cheek and brow

The crimson flush of shame shall glow

And all who for their native land

Are pledging life and heart and hand,

Worn watchers o'er her changing weal,

Who fog her tarnished honor feel,

Through cottage door and council-hall

Shall thunder an awakening call.

The pen along its page shall burn

With all intolerable scorn;

An eloquent rebuke shall go

On all the winds that Southward blow;

From priestly lips, now sealed and dumb,

Warning and dread appeal shall come,

Like those which Israel heard from him,

The Prophet of the Cherubim;

Or those which sad Esaias hurled

Against a sin-accursed world!

Its wizard leaves the Press shall fling

Unceasing from its iron wing,

With characters inscribed thereon,

As fearful in the despot's ball

As to the pomp of Babylon

The fire-sign on the palace wall!

And, from her dark iniquities,

Methinks I see my country rise

Not challenging the nations round

To note her tardy justice done;

Her captives from their chains unbound;

Her prisons opening to the sun

But tearfully her arms extending

Over the poor and unoffending;

Her regal emblem now no longer

A bird of prey, with talons reeking,

Above the dying captive shrieking,

But, spreading out her ample wing,

A broad, impartial covering,

The weaker sheltered by the stronger

Oh, then to Faith's anointed eyes

The promised token shall be given;

And on a nation's sacrifice,

Atoning for the sin of years,

And wet with penitential tears,

The fire shall fall from Heaven!


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