To Englishmen





Written when, in the stress of our terrible war, the English ruling

class, with few exceptions, were either coldly indifferent or hostile to

the party of freedom. Their attitude was illustrated by caricatures of

America, among which was one of a slaveholder and cowhide, with the

motto, "Haven't I a right to wallop my nigger?"



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 "walloping the nigger!"



O Englishmen!--in hope and creed,

In blood and tongue our brothers!

We too are heirs of Runnymede;

And Shakespeare'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 gift 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,

Amuck in Slavery's crusade?



Oh, black disgrace! Oh, 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!

1862.





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