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قراءة كتاب The Freedmen's Book

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‏اللغة: English
The Freedmen's Book

The Freedmen's Book

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

lands. If commerce were attended with strict honesty and religion for companions, it would be a blessing to every shore it touched at.

"The poor wretched Africans are blessed with a most fertile and luxuriant soil; but they are rendered miserable by what Providence meant for a blessing. The abominable traffic in slaves, and the horrid cruelty and treachery of the petty kings, is encouraged by their Christian customers. They carry them strong liquors, powder, and bad fire-arms to inflame them to madness, and to furnish them with the hellish means of killing and kidnapping. It is a subject that sours my blood. I mention these things to guard my friend from being too hasty in condemning a people who have been made much worse by their Christian visitors.

"Wherever thou residest, make human nature thy study. Whatever may be the religion or the complexion of men, study their hearts. Let simplicity, kindness, and charity be thy guides; and with these, even savages will respect you, while God will bless you."

The writings of the Rev. Laurence Sterne, who was living in England at that time, were well calculated to inspire humanity toward animals and kindly feelings toward the poor. These writings were very popular, and two of the characters conspicuous in them, called Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim, were great favorites with the public. Ignatius Sancho especially delighted in the writings of Sterne; and in 1776, when he was about forty-seven years old, he addressed a letter to him as follows:—

"Reverend Sir,—It would perhaps look like an insult upon your humanity to apologize for the liberty I am taking. I am one of those people whom the vulgar and illiberal call 'Negurs.' The first part of my life was rather unlucky, as I was placed in a family who judged ignorance to be the best and only security for obedience. By unwearied application I got a little reading and writing. Through God's blessing, the latter part of my life has been truly fortunate, for I have spent it in the service of one of the best families in the kingdom. My chief pleasure has been books. How very much, good sir, am I, among millions, indebted to you for the character of your amiable Uncle Toby! I declare I would walk ten miles, in dog-days, to shake hands with the honest Corporal. Your sermons have touched me to the heart, and I hope have amended it. In your tenth discourse I find this very affecting passage: 'Consider how great a part of our species, in all ages, down to this, have been trodden under the feet of cruel and capricious tyrants, who would neither hear their cries nor pity their distresses. Consider Slavery, what a bitter draught it is, and how many millions are made to drink of it.'

"I am sure you will forgive me if I beseech you to give some attention to Slavery, as it is practised at this day in the West Indies. That subject, handled in your striking manner, would perhaps ease the yoke of many; but if only of one, what a feast for a benevolent heart! and sure I am, you are an Epicurean[1] in acts of charity. You, who are universally read and as universally admired, could not fail. Dear sir, think that in me you behold the uplifted hands of thousands of my brother Moors. You pathetically observe that grief is eloquent. Figure to yourself their attitudes, hear their supplications, and you cannot refuse."

Mr. Sterne wrote the following reply:—

"July 27th, 1766.

"There is a strange coincidence, Sancho, in the little events of this world, as well as the great ones. I had been writing a tender tale of the sorrows of a poor, friendless negro girl, and my eyes had scarce done smarting with it, when your letter, in behalf of so many of her brethren and sisters, came to me. But why her brethren or your brethren, Sancho, any more than mine? It is by the finest tints, and the most insensible gradations, that nature descends from the fairest face to the sootiest complexion. At which of these tints are the ties of blood to cease? and how many shades lower in the scale must we descend, ere mercy is to vanish with them?

"It is no uncommon thing, my good Sancho, for one half of the world to use the other half like brutes, and then endeavor to make them so. For my part, I never look Westward, when I am in a pensive mood, without thinking of the burdens our brothers and sisters are there carrying. If I could ease their shoulders from one ounce of them, I declare I would this hour set out upon a pilgrimage to Mecca for their sakes. It casts a sad shade upon the world, that so great a part of it are, and have so long been, bound in chains of darkness and chains of misery. I cannot but respect you and felicitate you, that by so much laudable diligence you have broken the chains of darkness, and that by falling into the hands of so good and merciful a family, you have been rescued by Providence from the chains of misery.

"And so, good-hearted Sancho, adieu. Believe me, I will not forget your letter.

"Laurence Sterne."

The last sickness of Ignatius Sancho was very painful, but he was tenderly cared for by his good wife. He was fifty-two years old when he died. After his death, a small volume was published, containing a number of his letters, some articles he had written for newspapers, and an engraved likeness of him, which looks very bright and good-natured. The book was published by subscription, in which a large number of the English nobility and some distinguished literary men joined.


"The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; He hideth his face; He will never see it. Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand. The poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble. Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear; thou wilt prepare their heart to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress."



God gave to Afric's sons
A brow of sable dye;
And spread the country of their birth
Beneath a burning sky.

With a cheek of olive He made
The little Hindoo child;
And darkly stained the forest tribes,
That roam our Western wild.

To me He gave a form
Of fairer, whiter clay;
But am I, therefore, in his sight,
Respected more than they?

No;—'tis the hue of deeds and thoughts
He traces in his book;
'Tis the complexion of the heart
On which He deigns to look.

Not by the tinted cheek,
That fades away so fast,
But by the color of the