The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/Little Sado's story
Little Sado's storyEdit
Robert Sutcliff, in his book of travels in America, relates the incident
which has suggested the following lines. Little Sado was an African
boy, who was rescued from a slave-ship by a United States’ frigate, and
provided by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society with a home, in a
respectable family, near Philadelphia.
“Although tended with the greatest tenderness,” says Sutcliff, “yet he
was often seen weeping at the recollection of his near connexions. He
said that himself and sister were on a visit, at a relation's, and that
after the family had retired to rest, they were suddenly alarmed at the
dead of night, by a company of man-stealers breaking into their
habitation. They were all carried off towards the sea, where they arrived
at the end of three days, and were confined until the vessel sailed.
“Not long after this negro boy had been brought into S. P.'s family, he
was taken ill of a bad fever; and for a time there appeared but little
hopes of his recovery, although the best medical help was obtained, and
every kindness and attention shown him.
“There being now scarcely any prospect of his recovery, his mistress
was desirous of administering some religious consolation, and observed
to him, as he had always been a very good boy, she had no doubt that if
he died at this time, his spirit would be admitted into a state of eternal
rest and peace. On hearing this he quickly replied, ‘I know that if I die,
I shall be happy; for as soon as my body is dead, my spirit shall fly
away to my father and mother and sisters and brothers in Africa.’ The
boy recovered. His good conduct had gained the favour and respect of
the whole family, and I have no doubt that the care bestowed upon his
education, will in due time afford him a brighter prospect of a future
state than that of returning to Africa.”
“Why weep'st thou, gentle boy? Is not thy lot
Amidst a home of tenderness and friends
Who have been ever kind to thee? Thy heart
Should be too young for the world's bitterness,
And the deep grief, that even amidst thy smiles,
Seems scarce to be forgotten. Thou art good,
A very innocent and gentle boy,
And I would have thee happy. Is there aught
Thou lackest with us, Sado? Did I not,
In thy sore sickness, with a mother's care,
Watch by thy couch and nurse thee? Day by day
Have I not taught thee patiently? and more
Than earthly learning, show'd thee of the way
To win eternal happiness. A better hope
Than that which only look'd to Afric's shore,
To find thy future Heaven!”—
“Yes, thou hast done all this,
And much more, lady! Thou hast been to me
A true and tireless friend, and may there be
Laid up for thee a full reward of bliss,
In that bright Heaven of which I've heard thee tell,
Where God and all his holy angels dwell.
“Yet how can I but weep
Whene'er I think upon the mother's eye,
That smiled to meet my glance in days gone by,
And watch'd in tenderness above my sleep,
Now grown all dim with hopeless grief for me,
Who never more may home or parent see.
“'T was on a bright sunny morn,
When with glad heart I sprang across the hills,
With my young sister, and beside the rills,
Whose shining waves and clustering flowers were borne,
While at the cabin door my mother stood,
And watch'd our footsteps to the distant wood.
“She never saw us more—
For in the dead of night, while deep we slept
Within our uncle's home, the man-thieves crept
With stealthy pace, like tigers, to our door.
And, bursting in, they dragg'd us far away,
A helpless, frighten'd, unresisting prey.
“Ah, lady, now thine eyes
Are wet with tears:—then wonder not I weep,
Within whose waking thoughts, or dreams of sleep,
The memories of such scenes as this arise,
And worse than these, the constant thought of pain,
That I shall never see my home again.
“Three days they drove us on,
A weary, wretched, and despairing band,
Until with swollen limbs we reach'd the strand,
Where ‘neath the setting sun the sea-waves shone;
Then gasping in the slave-ship's hold we lay,
And wish'd each groan might bear our lives away.
“Ah, thou canst never know
Of all our sufferings in that loathsome den,
And from the cruel and hard-hearted men,
Who mock'd at all our anguish and our woe;
Until at length thy country's ship came by,
And saved us from our depth of misery.
“Yet still, though not a slave,
I am a stranger in a stranger's land,
Far sever'd from my own dear kindred band,
By many a wide-stretch'd plain and rolling wave;
And, although even with thee my lot is cast,
I cannot lose the memory of the past.
“Then wonder not I weep;
For never can my lost home be forgot;
Nor all the loved ones who have made that spot
The heaven to which e'en yet, amid my sleep,
My hopes are somtimes turn'd—though thou hast taught
My waking hours a holier, better thought.”