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THE POOR MAN'S FUNERAL.

Yon motley, sable-suited throng, that wait
Around the poor man's door, announce a tale
Of woe;-the husband, parent, is no more.
Contending with disease, he labored long,
By penury compelled; yielding at last,
He laid him down to die; but, lingering on
From day to day, he from his sick-bed saw,
Heart-broken quite, his children's looks of want
Veiled in a clouded smile; alas he heard
The elder lispingly attempt to still
The younger's plaint-languid he raised his head,
And thought he yet could toil, but sunk
Into the arms of death-the poor man's friend.

The coffin is borne out; the humble pomp
Moves slowly on; the orphan mourner's hand
(Poor helpless child !) just reaches to the pall.
And now they pass into the field of graves,
And now around the narrow house they stand,
And view the plain black board sink from the sight.
Hollow the mansion of the dead resounds,
As falls each spadeful of the bone mixed mould.
The turf is spread; uncovered is each head-
A last farewell: all turn their several ways.
Woes me! those tear-dimmed eyes, that sobbing breast!
Poor child! thou thinkest of the kindly hand
That wont to lead thee home: no more that hand
Shall aid thy feeble gait, or gently stroke
Thy sun-bleached head and downy cheek.
But go, a mother waits thy homeward steps;
In vain her eyes dwell on the sacred page-
Her thoughts are in the grave; 'tis thou alone,
Her first-born child, canst rouse that statue-gaze
Of woe profound. Haste to the widowed arms;
Look with thy father's look, speak with his voice,
And melt a heart that else will break with grief.

GRANVILLE SHARP, 1735-1813.

“The 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.

112

THE POOR MAN'S FUNERAL.

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 characterma 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 slavery throughout the whole extent of the British empire.

In 1765, a man by the name of Lisle had brought to England from Bar. badoes, 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 10 Wm. Sharp, surgeon, the brother of Granville, and in process of time was cured. When cured, his so-called owner, who had, in his sickness, abandoned him, met him, 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. Suf. fice it to say that, by great exertions, he finally obtained the full release of the man.

But Mr. Sharp saw that the case of poor Strong was but one of many

Yon motley, sable-suited throng, that wait
Around the poor man's door, announce a tale
Of woe;-the husband, parent, is no more.
Contending with disease, he labored long,
By penury compelled; yielding at last,
He laid him down to die; but, lingering on
From day to day, he from his sick-bed saw,
Heart-broken quite, his children's looks of want
Veiled in a clouded smile; alas he heard
The elder lispingly attempt to still
The younger's plaint--languid he raised his head,
And thought he yet could toil, but sunk
Into the arms of death the poor man's friend.

The coffin is borne out; the humble pomp
Moves slowly on; the orphan mourner's hand
(Poor helpless child!) just reaches to the pall

.
And now they pass into the field of graves,
And now around the narrow house they stand,
And view the plain black board sink from the sight

.
Hollow the mansion of the dead resounds,
As falls each spadeful of the bone mixed mould.
The turf is spread; uncovered is each head
A last farewell: all turn their several ways.
Woes me! those tear-dimmed eyes, that sobbing breast!
Poor child! thou thinkest of the kindly hand
That wont to lead thee home: no more that hand
Shall aid thy feeble gait, or gently stroke
Thy sun-bleached head and downy cheek.
But go, a mother waits thy homeward steps;
In vain her eyes dwell on the sacred page-
Her thoughts are in the grave; 'tis thou alone,
Her first-born child, canst rouse that statue-gaze
Of woe profound. Haste to the widowed arms;
Look with thy father's look, speak with his voice,

2

And melt a heart that else will break with gries.

See" Memoirs of Granville Sharp, Esq.” by Prince Hoare. London, 1820, 4to. pp. 554.

* Read av interesting account of the case in the " Memoirs" before referred 10, and also “Clarkson's History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade," pp. 66 and 67

11

GRANVILLE SHARP, 173.5–1813.

* The lives of some men may be contemplated in their opinions and are studies; of others, in their exertions and public concerns. liis Ty that the world beholds the union of unceasing action and un wearied

more rarely does it enjoy the sight of such united power de

similar cases that existed in England, and of his labors in this great department 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 had 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 case 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 territory, 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 re. peating with truth

"Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;

They touch our country, and their shackles fall.?" 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.

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

114

similar cases that existed in England, and of his labors in this great depar

. ment of humanity, we will quote the words of the “Edinburgh Review:"' “Regardless of the dangers to which he exposed himself

, both in ba person and his fortune, Mr. Sharp stood forward in every case as the courageous friend of the poor Africans in England, in direct oppostien to an opinion of Yorke and Talbot, ihe attorney and solícitor-general for the time being. This opinion had been acted upon ; and so bad was its authority that, after it had been made public, it was held s 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 bei to the plantations. Discouraged by Judge Blackstone, and several other eminent lawyers, Mr. Sharp devoted three years of his life to the studia the English law, that he might render himself the more effectual adrecar of these friendless strangers. In his work, entitled, ' A Representato dal the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of tolerating Slavery in Engizd.

" published in the year 1769, and afterwards, in his learned and laborios Inquiry into the Principles of Villanage,' he refuted the opinion of York and Talbot by unanswerable arguments, and neutralized their authoriy 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 Engan 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 case 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 take upon the pleadings), it was at last ascertained and declared to be the bo of the land that, as soon as ever any slave set his foot upon English te tory, he became free. Among the heroes and sages of British story

, can think of few whom we should feel a greater glow of honest pride 6 claiming as an ancestor than the man to whom we owe our power of *

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 the 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, to be instrumental in furnishing munitions of war to the troops of his own country, 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 conscientious 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 to 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 seamen-thus showing himself ahead of his age in another department of philanthropy. 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

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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

eating with truth

Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive oar air, that moment they are free;

They touch our country, and their shackles fall.'" After this, Mr. Sharp interested himself very much in the cause ei avery in America, and corresponded with that great-hearted philanthroSt Anthony Benezet, with Dr. Franklin, Dr. Rush, and others. During Edinburgh Review, xi. 362. I must give a short extract from one of the letters of the venerabile De sh to Mr. Sharp, dated Philadelphia, May 1, 1773, it does so much cred the heart of the author, "A spirit of humanity and religion begins i aken, in several of the colonies, in favor of the poor negroes. The clergy in to bear a public testimony against this violation of the laws of Nature Christianity. Great events

have been brought about by small beginnings hony Benezet stood alone a few years ago in opposing negro slavery Iphia, and now three-fourths of the province, as well as the city, af

I sometimes please myself with the hopes of living to see i

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abolished. With esteem for your virtues, and in particular for your zeal in be half of the negro slaves in America, I am, with great respect, yours,

“ BENJAMIN Rusu.'' 1 The office for the supply of cannon for the army.

ing them that they are so. All this has been urged to me with such plausible sophistry, and important self-sufficiency of the speaker, as if he supposed that the mere sound of words was capable of altering the nature of things; as if there were no distinction between good and evil, but the circumstances of persons, or occasions, might render it expedient or necessary to practice the one as well as the other. Thus the tyrant's plea of necessity is made to remove all bounds of law, morality, and common right! But · Woe be to them that call evil good, and good evil!' Happy would it be for this nation, and the eternal souls of such as mislead it, if the feelings of the seamen and other laborious poor

had no other stimulation than the recital of their unhappy case by such poor advocates as myself! Are they not surely of the same blood—have they not the same natural knowledge of good and evil, to discern, and the same feelings to be sensible of injuries—as those who cause their sufferings?

It is to prevent and dissuade from acts of violence and injustice, but surely not to aggravate the sense of them, that such circumstances are noticed. Nay, it is charity towards the oppressors, as well as the oppressed, to endeavor to convince them of their error; and how can this be done but by speaking of the oppressions? It is even a crime to be silent on such occasions ; for the Scriptures command,"Open thy mouth; judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."1 Nay, it is the cause of God himself, who has declared, " For the oppressor of the poor reproacheth his Maker; but he that honoreth him hath mercy on the poor.”9

Granville Sharp now took an increased interest in the abolition of the slave trade, in connection with which an instance of horrible cruelty had been brought to light which has hardly its parallel on the page of history. The ship Zong sailed from Africa, with 440 slaves on board, for the island of Jamaica. Many had died on the voyage, and when they got in sight of Jamaica, a large number were sick. “ The master of the ship then called together the officers, and told them that, if the sick slaves died a natural death, the loss would fall on the owners of the ship, but if they were thrown alive into the sea, it would be the loss of the underwriters.” Accordingly, they proceeded to their horrid work, and actually threw overboard into the sea one HUNDRED AND THIRTY-TWO HUMAN BEINGS ALIVE! This, as might be supposed, did much to arouse the nation to the character of the execrable traffic, and Granville Sharp never ceased laboring for its abolition till he saw the object of his wishes attained.

Another event which distinguishes the life of Mr. Sharp occurred about the year 1787-it was the foundation of the colony of free blacks at Sierra

· Proy. xxxi. 9.

Ibid. xiv, 31.

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