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The poor

To preach what you are pleased to call strange notions,
That all mankind as brethren must be equal ;
That privileged orders of society
Are evil and oppressive; that the right
Of property is a juggle to deceive

whom

you oppress; I plead me guilty. Sir John Tr. It is against the custom of this court That the prisoner should plead guilty. John Ball.

Why then put you
The needless question ? Sir Judge, let me save
The vain and empty insult of a trial.
What I have done, that I dare justify.
Sir John Tr. Did you not tell the mob they were

oppress'd;
And preach upon the equality of man ;
With evil intent thereby to stir them up
To tumult and rebellion ?
John Ball.

That I told them
That all mankind are equal, is most true:
Ye came as helpless infants to the world;
Ye feel alike the infirmities of nature;
And at last moulder into common clay. [earth
Why then these vain distinctions ?- bears not the
Food in abundance ?-must your granaries
O’erflow with plenty, while the poor man starves ?
Sir Judge, why sit you there, clad in your
Why are your cellars stored with choicest wines ?
Your larders hung with dainties, while your vassal,
As virtuous, and as able too by nature,
Though by your selfish tyranny deprived
Of mind's improvement, shivers in his rags,
And starves amid the plenty he creates.

furs ;

I have said this is wrong, and I repeat it-
And there will be a time when this great truth
Shall be confess'd -- be felt by all mankind.
The electric truth shall run from man to man,
And the blood-cemented pyramid of greatness
Shall fall before the flash.
Sir John Tr.

Audacious rebel ;
How darest thou insult this sacred court,
Blaspheming all the dignities of rank?
How could the Government be carried on
Without the sacred orders of the King
And the nobility

John Ball. Tell me, Sir Judge,
What does the Government avail the peasant ?
Would not he plough his field, and sow the corn,
Aye, and in peace enjoy the harvest too?
Would not the sun shine and the dews.descend,
Though neither King nor Parliament existed ?
Do

your court politics ought matter him ?
Would he be warring even unto death [contend,
With his French neighbours ? Charles and Richard
The people fight and suffer :— think ye, Sirs,
If neither country had been cursed with a chief,
The peasants would have quarrell’d?
King.

This is treason ! The patience of the court has been insulted Condemn the foul-mouth'd, contumacious rebel. Sir John Tr. John Ball, whereas you are accused

before us, Of stirring up the people to rebellion, And preaching to them strange and dangerous doc

trines;

And whereas your behaviour to the court
Has been most insolent and contumacious;
Insulting Majesty-and since you have pleaded
Guilty to all these charges; I condemn you
To death : you shall be hanged by the neck,
But not till you are dead-your bowels open'd-
Your heart torn out, and burnt before your face-
Your traitorous head be severed from your body -
Your body quarter'd, and exposed upon
The city gates a terrible example
And the Lord God have

mercy on your

soul. John Ball. Why, be it so.

I can smile at your vengeance, For I am arm'd with rectitude of soul. The truth, which all my life I have divulged, And am now doom'd in torments to expire for, Shall still survive. The destined hour must come, When it shall blaze with sun-surpassing splendour, And the dark mists of prejudice and falsehood Fade in its strong effulgence. Flattery's incense No more shall shadow round the gore-dyed throne; That altar of oppression, fed with rites, More savage than the priests of Moloch taught, Shall be consumed amid the fire of Justice; The rays

of truth shall emanate around, And the whole world be lighted. King.

Drag him hence : Away with him to death; order the troops Now to give quarter, and make prisoners Let the blood-reeking sword of war be sheathed, That the law may take vengeance on the rebels.

POEMS

CONCERNING

THE SLAVE TRADE.

SONNET I.

Hold your mad hands! for ever on your plain
Must the gorged vulture clog his beak with blood ?
For ever must your Niger's tainted flood,
Roll to the ravenous shark his banquet slain ?
Hold
your

mad hands! and learn at length to know,
And turn your vengeance on the common foe,
Yon treacherous vessel and her godless crew !
Let never traders with false pretext fair
Set on your shores again their wicked feet:
With interdict and indignation meet
Repel them, and with fire and sword pursue !
Avarice, the white cadaverous fiend, is there,
Who spreads his toils accursed wide and far,
And for his purveyor calls the demon War.

1

SONNET II.

Why dost thou beat thy breast and rend thine hair,
And to the deaf sea pour thy frantic cries ?
Before the gale the laden vessel flies ;
The Heavens all-favouring smile, the breeze is fair;
Hark to the clamours of the exulting crew!
Hark how their cannon mock the patient skies !
Why dost thou shriek, and strain thy red-swoln eyes,
As the white sail is lessening from thy view ?
Go pine in want and anguish and despair,
There is no mercy found in human-kind !
Go, Widow, to thy grave, and rest thee there!
But may the God of Justice bid the wind
Whelm that curst bark beneath the mountain wave,
And bless with liberty and death the Slave!

SONNET III. Oh, he is worn with toil ! the big drops run Down his dark cheek; hold-hold thy merciless hand, Pale tyrant! for beneath thy hard command O’erwearied nature sinks. The scorching sun, As pitiless as proud Prosperity, Darts on him his full beams; gasping he lies Arraigning with his looks the patient skies, While that inhuman driver lifts on high The mangling scourge. O ye who at your ease Sip the blood-sweeten'd beverage, thoughts like these Haply ye scorn: I thank thee, gracious God, That I do feel upon my cheek the glow Of indignation, when beneath the rod A sable brother hes in silent woe.

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