OF THE FRIENDS OF EMANCIPATION,
HELD IN LONDON IN 1840.
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!