The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/Pharoah
Thus saith Jehovah! let this people go!
The king was on his throne array'd all gorgeously,
In regal purple rich with fretted gold,
And starr'd with sparkling gems, while snowy lawn
Was mingling with its folds luxuriously.
The crown of Egypt was upon his brow,
And her proud sceptre was beside his hand.
The nobles of his land were gather'd round,
Thronging the proud pavilion where he sate;
And the wise men, the Magi of the East,
The Priests, the Soothsayers, Astrologers,
And the most cunning sorcerers, were there.
And also, there, apart from all the rest,
Yet even at the foot of Pharaoh's throne,
Two men array'd in humble garments stood.
One spoke not, but with meekly folded arms,
Awaited silently the king's decree.
His form was finely moulded, and his face
Had much expressive beauty, though his eye
Spoke with a sadden'd feeling—and his brow,
Amid the clustering curls that shaded it,
Told that the freshness of his youth had pass'd.
The other form was taller, and his limbs
Were nerved to manlier strength—his bold dark eye
Sent its proud glances round him fearlessly;
While with his mantle gather'd o'er his breast,
And his right arm extended as he spake,
He pour'd his eloquence to Pharaoh's ear.
“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, God Omnipotent!
Let thou this people go—their wives, their children,
Their herds of cattle, and their snowy flocks,—
And whatsoe'er belongeth unto them,
Shall with themselves, unransom'd, all be free.
Say not within thy heart, as thou hast said,
That his unchanging will shall pass away,
And yet be unaccomplish'd; nor yet hope
With words deceitful to evade his purpose.
Why should'st thou war with Heaven? can thy weak arm
Cope with His wrathful strength, who wields the thunder,
And looketh on the wide extended earth,
Even as a little thing?—Thy heart is raised,
Yea, lifted up in pride and vanity,
For thine exalted power and high estate—
But know'st thou not that He who raiseth up,
Can bring thee low e'en to the very dust,
And change thy glory into emptiness?
Then waken not the terrors of His wrath,
Nor scorn his mandate—let this people go!”
But Pharaoh harden'd still his heart, till God,
With a high hand, brought out his chosen people,
And whelm'd the might of Egypt in the wave.
Oh ye! who still in cruel bondage, worse
Than e'en the Egyptian, hold the ill-starr'd slave,
Do ye not dread that God's long slumbering wrath
At length will pour its terrors upon you?
Are slavery and oppression aught more just
Than in the days of Moses?—and if not,
With how much deeper hue does the dark stain
Attach itself to you, who proudly bear
The name of Christians—and declare yourselves
The servants of the perfect law of Him,
Who died upon the cross! is slavery just?
Ye dare not say it is—ye dare not say
The Negro is not God's own heritage,
The work of His own hand—one flesh, one blood,
With you who crush him to the very earth!
What, is it just that a white skin should give
To man the power to tyrannize o'er man?
That hundreds of the human race should toil,
To feed the wealth and luxury of one—
A scanty sustenance their only meed?
Yet in this age of intellectual light,
And high profession of religious faith,
Even now there are (may Heaven forgive them) those,
So wholly lost to what they owe themselves,
Their country, and their God, that they would lift
Their voice in favour of the wrong, and e'en pollute
The very Senate-House with arguments
For the vile cause of slavery—Oh shame—
Shame on them tenfold!—did not their hot breath
Spread a foul gangrene o'er the very walls,
Like the dark plague-spot on the Jewish tents,
In days of old? what, freemen! will ye bear
To be insulted thus, upon the spot
That of all others, like a polish'd mirror,
Should be o'erclouded by the slightest breath
That spoke of stern oppression? rouse ye, rouse,
And tear the veil of blindness from your eyes!
Deceive yourselves no longer with false dreams
Of wealth and interest—look upon the North—
Is she not rich and prosperous as yourselves?
And yet no slave is there—no hapless wretch,
To blight the soil with curses and hot tears.
But do you say that you lament the evil,
But that ye made it not, nor is your power
Efficient for the cleansing of the stain,
Though you should gladly lend your aid therein,
If but the path were open?—then awake!
No longer sit with idly folded hands,
And conscience lull'd securely into rest,
Until destruction with a voice of thunder,
Break on your guilty torpor—Oh, beware!
And harden not your hearts like ancient Pharaoh,
Lest a worse fate than even his befal you.
And you, friends of the cause of liberty,
Shrink not, though you be straiten'd in your course,
Even as was Israel at the Red Sea wave.
Nerve every faculty—call every means,
And every energy of heart and mind
Forth into action—summon up your strength,
Ply argument, persuasion, eloquence,—
Bear patiently with deeply rooted feelings,
Of prejudice, self-interest, and all else,
That may have twined round your opponents’ hearts;
Yet combat still, remove and overpower them,
Until no longer o'er the smiling land,
Is heard the voice of tyranny, and all
Who breathe the same pure air alike are free:
So may God bless you! and the franchised slave,
Remember only in his grateful prayers,
That he has ever drain'd oppression's cup,
And that he owes his liberty to you.