The Slave Trade

On reading the late Debate in the House of Lords upon the Bishop of Rochester’s Motion respecting THE SLAVE TRADE

Go, soft Humanity, thou whimpering fool!
Go, go, to CLARENCE’S and THURLOW’S school;
They’ll teach thine eyes like red hot balls to burn,
Thy face to flint, thine heart to marble turn;
And pert Lord ABINGDON, so kind and civil,
Will kick—aye kick thee to the very Devil.
Come, dry those Tears for fable Slaves that flow,
Think’st thou that Negro-flesh can feel a blow?
Think’st thou the Almighty ever cramm’d a soul,
O horrible!—in such a dead black hole?
No, no, they’re Asses, downright Brutes, I swear,
Mind that—and contradict me, if you dare.
Know that their Sweat, their blood, their Groans, their Sighs,
The Tears of fifteen million pairs of Eyes,
These with God’s gracious blessing yield us clear,
Think Providence! Four million pounds a year!

By Paul Positive
Sheffield, March 19 1794

Printed in the Sheffield Register No. 355, 25 March 1794 (currently held in Sheffield University Library Special Collections)

Click here to listen to a performance of this poem on Soundcloud.

Click here to read a brief commentary on this poem.