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THE WEST INDIES.

PART I.

ARGUMENT.

Introduction; on the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The Mariner's Compass.-Columbus.-The Discovery of America.-The West Indian Islands.— The Caribs.-Their Extermination.

"THY chains are broken, Africa: be free!" Thus saith the island-empress of the sea; Thus saith Britannia.-Oh, ye winds and waves! Waft the glad tidings to the land of slaves; Proclaim on Guinea's coast, by Gambia's side, And far as Niger rolls his eastern tide,1 Through radiant realms, beneath the burning zone, Where Europe's curse is felt, her name unknown, Thus saith Britannia, empress of the sea, Thy chains are broken, Africa: be free!"

Long lay the ocean-paths from man conceal'd: Light came from heaven,-the magnet was reveal'd, A surer star to guide the seaman's eye Than the pale glory of the northern sky; Alike ordain'd to shine by night and day, Through calm and tempest, with unsetting ray; Where'er the mountains rise, the billows roll, Still with strong impulse turning to the pole, True as the sun is to the morning true, Though light as film, and trembling as the dew.

Then man no longer plied with timid oar, And failing heart, along the windward shore; Broad to the sky he turn'd his fearless sail, Defied the adverse, woo'd the favoring gale, Bared to the storm his adamantine breast, Or soft on Ocean's lap lay down to rest; While free, as clouds the liquid ether sweep, His white-wing'd vessels coursed the unbounded deep;

From clime to clime the wanderer loved to roam, The waves his heritage, the world his home.

Then first Columbus, with the mighty hand Of grasping genius, weigh'd the sea and land; The floods o'erbalanced-where the tide of light, Day after day, roll'd down the gulf of night, There seem'd one waste of waters :-long in vain His spirit brooded o'er the Atlantic main; When sudden, as creation burst from nought, Sprang a new world, through his stupendous thought, Light, order, beauty!-While his mind explored The unveiling mystery, his heart adored; Where'er sublime imagination trod,

He heard the voice, he saw the face of God.

Far from the western cliffs he cast his eye O'er the wide ocean stretching to the sky:

1 Mungo Park, in his travels, ascertained that " the great ver of the Negroes" flows eastward. It is probable, therefore, that this river is either lost among the sands, or empties itself to some inland sea, in the undiscovered regions of Africa.Bales Part II, line 64.

In calm magnificence the sun declined,
And left a paradise of clouds behind :
Proud at his feet, with pomp of pearl and gold,
The billows in a sea of glory roll'd.

"Ah! on this sea of glory might I sail, Track the bright sun, and pierce the eternal veil That hides those lands, beneath Hesperian skies, Where day-light sojourns till our morrow rise!"

Thoughtful he wander'd on the beach alone; Mild o'er the deep the vesper planet shone, The eye of evening, brightening through the west Till the sweet moment when it shut to rest: "Whither, O golden Venus! art thou fled? Not in the ocean-chambers lies thy bed; Round the dim world thy glittering chariot drawn Pursues the twilight, or precedes the dawn; Thy beauty noon and midnight never see, The morn and eve divide the year with thee."

Soft fell the shades, till Cynthia's slender bow Crested the farthest wave, then sunk below: "Tell me, resplendent guardian of the night, Circling the sphere in thy perennial flight, What secret path of heaven thy smiles adorn, What nameless sea reflects thy gleaming horn?"

Now earth and ocean vanish'd, all serene The starry firmament alone was seen; Through the slow, silent hours, he watch'd the host Of midnight suns in western darkness lost, Till Night himself, on shadowy pinions borne, Fled o'er the mighty waters, and the morn Danced on the mountains:-" Lights of heaven!" he cried,

"Lead on ;—I go to win a glorious bride;
Fearless o'er gulfs unknown I urge my way,
Where peril prowls, and shipwreck lurks for prey:
Hope swells my sail;-in spirit I behold
That maiden world, twin-sister of the old,
By nature nursed beyond the jealous sea,

Denied to ages, but betroth'd to me.”1

1 When the Author of The West Indies conceived the plan of this introduction of Columbus, he was not aware that he was indebted to any preceding poet for a hint on the subject; but, some time afterwards, on a second perusal of Southey's Madoc, it struck him that the idea of Columbus walking on the shore at sunset, which he had hitherto imagined his own, might be only a reflection of the impression made upon his mind long be fore, by the first reading of the following splendid passage. He therefore gladly makes this acknowledgment, though at his own expense, in justice to the Author of the noblest narrative poem in the English language, after the Faerie Queen and Paradise Lost.

When evening came, toward the echoing shore
I and Cadwallon walk'd together forth;
Bright with dilated glory shone the west;
But brighter lay the ocean flood below,

The burnish'd silver sea, that heaved and flash'd
Its restless rays intolerably bright.

"Prince" quoth Cadwallon, "thou hast rode the waves

In triumph when the Invader felt thine arm.

Oh what a nobler conquest might be won

There, upon that wide field!" "What meanest thou?"

I cried: "That yonder waters are not spread

A boundless waste, a bourne impassable;
That thou shouldst rule the elements,-that there
Might manly courage, manly wisdom, find
Some happy isle, some undiscover'd shore,

The winds were prosperous, and the billows bore
The brave adventurer to the promised shore;
Far in the west, array'd in purple light,
Dawn'd the new world on his enraptured sight:
Not Adam, loosen'd from the encumbering earth,
Waked by the breath of God to instant birth,
With sweeter, wilder wonder gazed around,
When life within, and light without he found;
When, all creation rushing o'er his soul,

Earth from her lap perennial verdure pours,
Ambrosial fruits, and amaranthine flowers;
O'er the wild mountains and luxuriant plains,
Nature in all the pomp of beauty reigns,
In all the pride of freedom.-NATURE FREE
Proclaims that MAN was born for liberty.
She flourishes where'er the sun-beams play
O'er living fountains, sallying into day;
She withers where the waters cease to roll,

He seem'd to live and breathe throughout the whole. And night and winter stagnate round the pole:

So felt Columbus, when, divinely fair,
At the last look of resolute despair,
The Hesperian isles, from distance dimly blue,
With gradual beauty open'd on his view.
In that proud moment, his transported mind
The morning and the evening worlds combined,
And made the sea, that sunder'd them before
A bond of peace, uniting shore to shore.

Man too, where freedom's beams and fountains
Springs from the dust, and blossoms to the skies;
Dead to the joys of light and life, the slave
Clings to the clod; his root is in the grave:
Bondage is winter, darkness, death, despair;
Freedom the sun, the sea, the mountains, and the sir'

Vain, visionary hope! rapacious Spain
Follow'd her hero's triumph o'er the main,
Her hardy sons in fields of battle tried,
Where Moor and Christian desperately died.
A rabid race, fanatically bold,
And steel'd to cruelty by lust of gold,
Traversed the waves, the unknown world explored,
The cross their standard, but their faith the sword;
Their steps were graves; o'er prostrate realms they
trod;

They worshipp'd Mammon while they vow'd to God.

Let nobler bards in loftier numbers tell
How Cortez conquer'd, Montezuma fell;
How fierce Pizarro's ruffian arm o'erthrew
The Sun's resplendent empire in Peru;
How, like a prophet, old Las Casas stood,
And raised his voice against a sea of blood,
Whose chilling waves recoil'd while he foretold
His country's ruin by avenging gold.
-That gold, for which unpitied Indians fell,
That gold, at once the snare and scourge of hell,
Thenceforth by righteous Heaven was doom'd to shed
Unmingled curses on the spoiler's head;
For gold the Spaniard cast his soul away,-
His gold and he were every nation's prey.

But themes like these would ask an angel-lyre,
Language of light and sentiment of fire;
Give me to sing, in melancholy strains,
Of Carib martyrdoms and Negro chains;
One race by tyrants rooted from the earth,
One doom'd to slavery by the taint of birth!

Where first his drooping sails Columbus furl'd,
And sweetly rested in another world,
Amidst the heaven-reflecting ocean, smiles
A constellation of elysian isles;

Fair as Orion, when he mounts on high,
Sparkling with midnight splendor from the sky:
They bask beneath the sun's meridian rays,
When not a shadow breaks the boundless blaze;
The breath of ocean wanders through their vales
In morning breezes and in evening gales:

Some resting-place for peace. Oh! that my soul
Could seize the wings of morning! soon would I
Behold that other world, where yonder sun
Now speeds to dawn in glory."

In placid indolence supinely blest,

A feeble race these beauteous isles possess'd;
Untamed, untaught, in arts and arms unskill'd,
Their patrimonial soil they rudely till'd,
Chased the free rovers of the savage wood,
Ensnared the wild-bird, swept the scaly flood,
Shelter'd in lowly huts their fragile forms
From burning suns and desolating storms;
Or when the halcyon sported on the breeze,
In light canoes they skimm'd the rippling seas:
Their lives in dreams of soothing languor flew,
No parted joys, no future pains, they knew,
The passing moment all their bliss or care;
Such as their sires had been the children were,
From age to age; as waves upon the tide
Of stormless time, they calmly lived and died.

Dreadful as hurricanes, athwart the main
Rush'd the fell legions of invading Spain;
With fraud and force, with false and fatal breath
(Submission bondage, and resistance death),
They swept the isles. In vain the simple race
Kneel'd to the iron sceptre of their grace,
Or with weak arms their fiery vengeance braved,
They came, they saw, they conquer'd, they enslaved
And they destroy'd;-the generous heart they broke,
They crush'd the timid neck beneath the yoke;
Where'er to battle march'd their fell array,
The sword of conquest plow'd resistless way;
Where'er from cruel toil they sought repose,
Around the fires of devastation rose.
The Indian, as he turn'd his head in flight,
Beheld his cottage flaming through the night,
And, 'midst the shrieks of murder on the wind,
Heard the mute blood-hound's death-step close behind

The conflict o'er, the valiant in their graves,
The wretched remnant dwindled into slaves;
Condemn'd in pestilential cells to pine,
Delving for gold amidst the gloomy mine.
The sufferer, sick of life-protracting breath,
Inhaled with joy the fire-damp blast of death.
-Condemn'd to fell the mountain palm on high,
That cast its shadow from the evening sky,
Ere the tree trembled to his feeble stroke,
The woodman languish'd, and his heart-strings broke;
-Condemn'd, in torrid noon, with palsied hand,
To urge the slow plow o'er the obdurate land,

The laborer, smitten by the sun's quick ray,
A corpse along the unfinish'd furrow lay.
D'erwhelm'd at length with ignominious toil,
Mingling their barren ashes with the soil,
Down to the dust the Carib people pass'd,
Like autumn foliage withering in the blast:
The whole race sunk beneath the oppressor's rod,
And left a blank among the works of God.

From rude Caffraria, where the giraffes browse,
With stately heads, among the forest boughs,
To Atlas, where Numidian lions glow
With torrid fire beneath eternal snow:
From Nubian hills, that hail the dawning day,
To Guinea's coast, where evening fades away,
Regions immense, unsearchable, unknown,
Bask in the splendor of the solar zone;

A world of wonders,-where creation seems
No more the works of Nature, but her dreams;
Great, wild, and beautiful, beyond control,
She reigns in all the freedom of her soul;
Where none can check her bounty when she showers
O'er the gay wilderness her fruits and flowers;
None brave her fury, when, with whirlwind breath,

The Cane.-Africa.-The Negro.-The Slave-Carry-And earthquake step, she walks abroad with death:
ing Trade.-The Means and Resources of the Slave O'er boundless plains she holds her fiery flight,
Trade. The Portuguese,-Dutch,- Danes,-In terrible magnificence of light;
French, and English in America.

At blazing noon pursues the evening breeze,
Through the dun gloom of realm-o'ershadowing trees,
Her thirst at Nile's mysterious fountain quells,
Or bathes in secrecy where Niger swells
An inland ocean, on whose jasper rocks

With shells and sea-flower-wreaths she binds her
locks:

She slept on isles of velvet verdure, placed
'Midst sandy gulfs and shoals for ever waste;
She guides her countless flocks to cherish'd rills,
And feeds her cattle on a thousand hills;

PART II.

ARGUMENT.

AMONG the bowers of paradise, that graced
Those islands of the world-dividing waste,
Where towering cocoas waved their graceful locks,
And vines luxuriant cluster'd round the rocks;
Where orange-groves perfumed the circling air,
With verdure, flowers, and fruit for ever fair;
Gay myrtle foliage track'd the winding rills,
And cedar forests slumber'd on the hills;
-An eastern plant, ingrafted on the soil,1
Was till'd for ages with consuming toil;
No tree of knowledge with forbidden fruit,
Death in the taste, and ruin at the root;
Yet in its growth were good and evil found,
It bless'd the planter, but it cursed the ground;
While with vain wealth it gorged the master's hoard,
And spread with manna his luxurious board,
Its culture was perdition to the slave,—
It sapp'd his life, and flourish'd on his grave.

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Her steps the wild bees welcome through the vale,
From every blossom that embalms the gale;
The slow unwieldy river-horse she leads
Through the deep waters, o'er the pasturing meads;
And climbs the mountains that invade the sky,
To soothe the eagle's nestlings when they cry.
At sun-set, when voracious monsters burst
From dreams of blood, awaked by maddening thirst;
When the lorn caves, in which they shrunk from light,
Ring with wild echoes through the hideous night;
When darkness seems alive, and all the air
Is one tremendous uproar of despair,
Horror, and agony;-on her they call;
She hears their clamor, she provides for all,
Leads the light leopard on his eager way,
And goads the gaunt hyena to his prey.

In these romantic regions, man grows wild;
Here dwells the Negro, Nature's outcast child,
Scorn'd by his brethren; but his mother's eye,
That gazes on him from her warmest sky,
Sees in his flexile limbs untutor'd grace,
Power on his forehead, beauty in his face;
Sees in his breast, where lawless passions rove,
The heart of friendship and the home of love;
Sees in his mind, where desolation reigns
Fierce as his clime, uncultured as his plains,
A soil where virtue's fairest flowers might shoot,
And trees of science bend with glorious fruit;
Sees in his soul, involved with thickest night,
An emanation of eternal light,
Ordain'd, 'midst sinking worlds, his dust to fire,
And shine for ever when the stars expire.
Is he not man, though knowledge never shed
Her quickening beams on his neglected head?
Is he not man, though sweet religion's voice

Ne'er bade the mourner in his God rejoice?

Is he not man, by sin and suffering tried?
Is he not man, for whom the Savior died?
Belie the Negro's powers;-in headlong will,
Christian, thy brother thou shalt prove him still:
Belie his virtues; since his wrongs began,
His follies and his crimes have stampt him Man.

The Spaniard found him such:-the island-race
His foot had spurn'd from earth's insulted face;
Among the waifs and foundlings of mankind,
Abroad he look'd, a sturdier stock to find;
A spring of life, whose fountains should supply
His channels, as he drank the rivers dry:
That stock he found on Afric's swarming plains,
That spring he open'd in the Negro's veins;
A spring, exhaustless as his avarice drew,
A stock that like Prometheus' vitals grew
Beneath the eternal beak his heart had tore,
Beneath the insatiate thirst that drain'd his gore.
Thus, childless as the Caribbeans died,
Afric's strong sons the ravening waste supplied;
Of hardier fibre to endure the yoke,

And self-renew'd beneath the severing stroke;
As grim Oppression crush'd them to the tomb,
Their fruitful parents' miserable womb
Teem'd with fresh myriads, crowded o'er the waves,
Heirs to their toil, their sufferings, and their graves.

Freighted with curses was the bark that bore The spoilers of the west to Guinea's shore; Heavy with groans of anguish blew the gales That swell'd that fatal bark's returning sails; Old Ocean shrunk, as o'er his surface flew The human cargo and the demon crew. -Thenceforth, unnumber'd as the waves that roll From sun to sun, or pass from pole to pole, Outcasts and exiles, from their country torn, In floating dungeons o'er the gulf were borne: -The valiant, seized in peril-daring fight; The weak, surprised in nakedness and night; Subjects by mercenary despots sold; Victims of justice prostitute for gold; Brothers by brothers, friends by friends betray'd; Snared in her lover's arms the trusting maid; The faithful wife by her false lord estranged, For one wild cup of drunken bliss exchanged; From the brute-mother's knee, the infant-boy, Kidnapp'd in slumber, barter'd for a toy; The father, resting at his father's tree, Doom'd by the son to die beyond the sea:

-All bonds of kindred, law, alliance broke,
All ranks, all nations crouching to the yoke;
From fields of light, unshadow'd climes, that lie
Panting beneath the sun's meridian eye;
From hidden Ethiopia's utmost land;
From Zaara's fickle wilderness of sand;
From Congo's blazing plains and blooming woods;
From Whidah's hills, that gush with golden floods;
Captives of tyrant power and dastard wiles,
Dispeopled Africa, and gorged the isles.
Loud and perpetual o'er the Atlantic waves,
For guilty ages roll'd the tide of slaves;
A tide that knew no fall, no turn, no rest,
Constant as day and night from east to west;
Still widening, deepening, swelling in its course,
With boundless ruin and resistless force.

Quickly, by Spain's alluring fortune fired, With hopes of fame, and dreams of wealth inspired Europe's dread powers from ignominious ease Started; their pennons stream'd on every breeze: And still, where'er the wide discoveries spread, The cane was planted, and the native bled; While, nursed by fiercer suns, of nobler race, The Negro toil'd and perish'd in his place.

First, Lusitania,--she whose prows had borne Her arms triumphant round the car of morn, -Turn'd to the setting sun her bright array, And hung her trophies o'er the couch of day.

Holland,-whose hardy sons roll'd back the sea To build the halcyon-nest of liberty, Shameless abroad the enslaving flag unfurl'd, And reign'd a despot in the younger world.

Denmark,-whose roving hordes, in barbarous times,

Fill'd the wide North with piracy and crimes, Awed every shore, and taught their keels to sweep O'er every sea, the Arabs of the deep, -Embark'd, once more to western conquest led By Rollo's spirit, risen from the dead.

Gallia, who vainly aim'd, in depth of night, To hurl old Rome from her Tarpeian height, (But lately laid, with unprevented blow, The thrones of kings, the hopes of freedom low), -Rush'd o'er the theatre of splendid toils, To brave the dangers and divide the spoils.

Britannia, she who scathed the crest of Spain. And won the trident sceptre of the main, When to the raging wind and ravening tide She gave the huge Armada's scatter'd pride, Smit by the thunder-wielding hand that hurl'd Her vengeance round the wave-encircled world; -Britannia shared the glory and the guilt,By her were Slavery's island-altars built, And fed with human victims ;-while the cries Of blood demanding vengeance from the skies, Assail'd her traders' grovelling hearts in vain -Hearts dead to sympathy, alive to gain, Hard from impunity, with avarice cold, Sordid as earth, insensible as gold.

Thus through a night of ages, in whose shade The sons of darkness plied the infernal trade, Wild Africa beheld her tribes, at home, In battle slain; abroad, condemn'd to roam O'er the salt waves, in stranger isles to bear (Forlorn of hope, and sold into despair), Through life's slow journey, to its dolorous close, Unseen, unwept, unutterable woes.

PART III.

ARGUMENT.

The Love of Country, and of Home, the same in all Ages and among all Nations.-The Negro's Home and Country.-Mungo Park.-Progress of the Slave Trade. The Middle Passage.-The Negro in the

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THERE is a land, of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside;
Where brighter suns dispense serener light,
And milder moons emparadise the night;
A land of beauty, virtue, valor, truth,
Time-tutor❜d age, and love-exalted youth;
The wandering mariner, whose eye explores
The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores,
Views not a realm so beautiful and fair,
Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air;
In every clime the magnet of his soul,
Touch'd by remembrance, trembles to that pole;
For in this land of Heaven's peculiar grace,
The heritage of nature's noblest race,
There is a spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest,
Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside
His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride,
While in his soften'd looks benignly blend
The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend:
Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,
Strews with fresh flowers the narrow way of life; The negro-village swarms abroad to play ;

In the clear heaven of her delightful eye,

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West Indies.-The Guinea Captain.-The Creole
Planter. The Moors of Barbary.-Buccaneers.
Maroons. St. Domingo.-Hurricanes.-The Yel-
low Fever.

An angel-guard of loves and graces lie;
Around her knees domestic duties meet,
And fire-side pleasures gambol at her feet.
"Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?"
Art thou a man?-a patriot ?-look around;
O, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,
That land thy country, and that spot thy home!

Where broken-hearted Switzerland bewails
Her subject mountains and dishonor'd vales;
Where Albion's rocks exult amidst the sea,
Around the beauteous isle of Liberty;
—Man, through all ages of revolving time,
Unchanging man, in every varying clime,
Deems his own land of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside;
His home the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

On Greenland's rocks, o'er rude Kamschatka's
plains,

In pale Siberia's desolate domains;
When the wild hunter takes his lonely way,
Tracks through tempestuous snows his savage prey,
The reindeer's spoil, the ermine's treasure shares,
And feasts his famine on the fat of bears;
Or, wrestling with the might of raging seas,
Where round the pole the eternal billows freeze,
Plucks from their jaws the stricken whale, in vain
Plunging down headlong through the whirling main;
-His wastes of ice are lovelier in his eye
Than all the flowery vales beneath the sky,
And dearer far than Cæsar's palace-dome,
His cavern-shelter, and his cottage-home.

And is the Negro outlaw'd from his birth?
Is he alone a stranger on the earth?
Is there no shed, whose peeping roof appears
So lovely that it fills his eyes with tears?

No land, whose name, in exile heard, will dart
Ice through his veins and lightning through his heart?
Ah! yes: beneath the beams of brighter skies,
His home amidst his father's country lies;
There with the partner of his soul he shares
Love-mingled pleasures, love-divided cares :
There, as with nature's warmest filial fire,
He soothes his blind, and feeds his helpless sire,
His children sporting round his hut behold
How they shall cherish him when he is old,
Train'd by example from their tenderest youth
To deeds of charity, and words of truth.'
-Is he not blest? Behold; at closing day,

He treads the dance through all its rapturous rounds,
To the wild music of barbarian sounds;

Or, stretch'd at ease, where broad palmettoes shower
Delicious coolness in his shadowy bower,
He feasts on tales of witchcraft, that give birth
To breathless wonder, or ecstatic mirth:
Yet most delighted, when, in rudest rhymes,
The minstrel wakes the song of elder times,
When men were heroes, slaves to Beauty's charms,
And all the joys of life were love and arms..

-Is not the Negro blest? His generous soil
With harvest-plenty crowns his simple toil;
More than his wants his flocks and fields afford:

He loves to greet the stranger at his board:

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The winds were roaring, and the White Man fled;
The rains of night descended on his head;
The poor White Man sat down beneath our tree,
Weary and faint, and far from home, was he:
For him no mother fills with milk the bowl,
No wife prepares the bread to cheer his soul;
-Pity the poor White Man who sought our tree;
No wife, no mother, and no home, has he."
Thus sang the Negro's daughters;—once again,
O that the poor White Man might hear that strain!

O'er China's garden-fields and peopled floods;
In California's pathless world of woods;
Round Andes' heights, where Winter from his throne, pay to old people is very great.-One of the severest insults

1 Dr. Winterbotham says, "The respect which the Africans

Looks down in scorn upon the summer zone;
By the gay borders of Bermuda's isles,
Where Spring with everlasting verdure smiles,
On pure Madeira's vine-robed hills of health;
In Java's swamps of pestilence and wealth;
Where Babel stood, where wolves and jackals drink,
'Midst weeping willows, on Euphrates' brink;
On Carmel's crest; by Jordan's reverend stream,
Where Canaan's glories vanish'd like a dream;
Where Greece, a spectre, haunts her heroes' graves,
And 'Rome's vast ruins darken Tiber's waves;

which can be offered to an African is to speak disrespectfully
of his mother." "The Negro race is, perhaps, the most pro-
lific of all the human species. 'heir infancy and youth are sin-
gularly happy.-The mothers are passionately fond of their
children."-Goldbury's Travels.-"'Strike me,' said my
attendant, but do not curse my mother.'-The same senti-
ment I found universally to prevail.-One of the first lessons
in which the Mandingo women instruct their children is the
practice of truth. It was the only consolation for a Negro
mother, whose son had been murdered by the Moors, that the
poor boy had never told a lie."-Park s Travels. The do-
scription of African life and manners that follows, and the song

of the Negro's daughters, are copied without exaggeration from

the authentic accounts of Mungo Park.

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