John Greenleaf Whittier

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In a publication of L.F. Tasistro - Random Shots and Southern Breezes - is a description of a slave auction at New Orleans, at which the auctioneer recommend the woman on the stands as "a good Christian!" A Christian! going, gone! Who bids for God's own image? for his grace, Which that poor victim of the marketplace Hath in her suffering won? My God! can such things be? Hast Thou not said that whatsoe'er is done Unto Thy weakest and Thy humbles one Is even done to Thee? In that sad victim, then Child of Thy pitying love, I see Thee stand; Once more the jest-word of a mocking band, Bound, sold, and scourged again! A Christian up for sale! Wet with her blood your whips, o'er - task her frame, Make her life loathsome with your wrong and shame, Her patience shall not fail! A heathen hand might deal Back on your heads the gathered wrong of years: But her low, broken prayer and nightly tears, Ye neither heed nor feel. Con well thy lesson o'er, Thou prudent teacher, tell the toiling slave No dangerous tale of Him who came to save The outcast and the poor. But wisely shut the ray Of God's free Gospel from her simple heart, And to her darkened mind alone impart One stern command, Obey! So shalt thou deftly raise The market price of human flesh; and while On thee, their pampered guest, the planters smile, Thy church shall praise. Grave, reverend men shall tell From Northern pulpits how thy work was blest, While in that vile South Sodom first and best, Thy poor disciples sell. Oh, shame! the Moslem thrall, Who, with his master, to the Prophet kneels, While turning to the sacred Kebla feels His fetter break and fall. Cheers for the turbaned Bey Of robber-peopled Tunis! he hath torn The dark slave-dungeons open, and hath born Their inmates into day: But our poor slave in vain Turns to the Christian shrine his aching eyes; It rites will only swell his market price, And rivet on his chain. God of all right! how long Shall priestly robbers at Thine altar stand, Lifting in prayer to Thee the bloody hand And haughty brow of wrong? Oh, from the fields of cain, From the low rice-swamp, from the trader's cell; From the black slave-ship's foul and loathsome hell, And coffle's weary chain; Hoarse, horrible, and strong, Rises to Heaven that agonizing cry, Filling the arches of the hollow sky, How long, O God, how long?