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NECESSARY TO THE HAPPINESS OF THE MARRIED
The lady thus address’d her spouse:-
“What a mere dungeon is this house!
By no means large enough; and was it,
Yet this dull room, and that dark closet,
Those hangings with their worn-out graces,
Long beards, long noses, and pale faces,
Are such an antiquated scene,
They overwhelm me with the spleen”
Sir Humphrey, shooting in the dark,
Makes answer quite beside the mark:
“No doubt, my dear, I bade him come,
Engag'd myself to be at home,
And shall expect him at the door,
Precisely when the clock strikes four.”
“You are so deaf,” the lady cried
(And rais'd her voice, and frown'd beside),
• You are so deaf, my dear,
What shall I do to make
“Dismiss poor Harry!" he replies;
“Some people are more nice than wise :
For one slight trespass all this stir?
What if he did ride whip and spur,
'Twas but a mile-your fav’rite horse
Will never look one hair the worse."
“Well, I protest 'tis past all bearing”—
“Child! I am rather hard of hearing.”
Yes, truly; one must scream and bawl:
I tell you, you can't hear at all ! »
Then, with a voice exceeding low,
“ No matter if you hear or no.'
Alas! and is domestic strife,
That sorest ill of human life,
A plague so little to be fear’d,
As to be wantonly incurr'd,
To gratify a fretful passion,
On ev'ry trivial provocation ?
The kindest and the happiest pair
Will find occasion to forbear;
And something, ev'ry day they live,
To pity, and perhaps forgive.
But if infirmities, that fall
In common to the lot of all,
A blemish or a sense impair’d,
Are crimes so little to be spar’d,
Then, farewell all that must create
The comfort of a wedded state:
Instead of harmony, 'tis jar,
And tumult, and intestine war.
The love that cheers life's latest stage,
Proof against sickness and old age,
Preserv'd by virtue from declension,
Becomes not weary of attention ;
But lives, when that exterior grace,
Which first inspir'd the flame, decays
'Tis gentle, delicate, and kind,
To faults compassionate or blind,
And will with sympathy endure
Those evils it would gladly cure :
But angry, coarse, and harsh expression
Shows love to be a mere profession;
Proves that the heart is none of his,
Or soon expels him if it is.
Forc'd from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn ;
To increase a stranger's treasures,
O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold; But, though slave they have enrollid me,
Minds are never to be sold. Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask, Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task ? Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's claim; Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same. Why did all-creating Nature
Make the plant, for which we toil ? Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must dress the soil. Think, ye masters iron-hearted,
Lolling at your jovial boards; Think how many backs have smarted
For the sweets your cane affords. Is there, as ye sometimes tell
us, Is there one, who reigns on high? Has he bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne the sky ? Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means that duty urges,
Agents of his will to use?
Hark! he answers—wild tornadoes,
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks; Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
Are the voice, with which he speaks. He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo,
Fix'd their tyrants' habitations
Where his whirlwinds answer—no.
By our blood in Afrie wasted,
Ere our necks receiv'd the chain ;
By the mis’ries that we tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main ;
By our suff'rings, since ye brought us
To the man-degrading mart;
All, sustain'd by patience, taught us
Only by a broken heart.
Deem our nation brutes no longer,
Till some reason ye shall find
Worthier of regard, and stronger
Than the colour of our kind.
Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings
Tarnish all your boasted pow'rs,
Prove that you have human feelings,
Ere you proudly question ours?
“ Video meliora proboque,
own I am shock'd at the purchase of slaves, And fear those who buy them, and sell them, are
knaves ; What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and
groans, Is almost enough to draw pity from stones. I pity them greatly, but I must be mum, For how could we do without sugar or rum? Especially sugar, so needful we see? What, give up our desserts, our coffee, and tea! Besides, if we do, the French, Dutch, and Danes, Will heartily thank us, no doubt, for our pains; If we do not buy the poor creatures, they will, And tortures and groans will be multiplied still.
If foreigners likewise would give up the trade,
Much more in behalf of your wish might be said;
But, while they get riches by purchasing blacks,
Pray tell me why we may not also go snacks?
Your scruples and arguments bring to my mind
A story so pat, you may think it is coin'd,
On purpose to answer you, out of my mint;
But I can assure you I saw it in print.
A youngster at school, more sedate than the rest,
Had once his integrity put to the test;
His comrades had plotted an orchard to rob,
And ask'd him to go and assist in the job.
He was shock’d,sir, like you, and answer'd—“Oh, no.
What! rob our good neighbour! I pray you don't go!
Besides, the man's poor, his orchard's his bread,
Then think of his children, for they must be fed.”
“ You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
But apples we want, and apples we'll have;
If you will go with us, you shall have a share,
If not, you shall have neither apple nor pear."
They spoke, and Tom ponder'd—“I see they will go ;
Poor man! what a pity to injure him so!
Poor man! I would save him his fruit if I could,
But staying behind would do him no good.
“ If the matter depended alone upon me,
His apples might hang, till they dropp'd from the
But, since they will take them, I think I'll go too,
He will lose none by me, though I get a few."
His scruples thus silenc'd, Tom felt more at ease,
And went with his comrades the apples to seize;
He blam’d and protested, but join'd in the plan :
He shar'd in the plunder, but pitied the man.