To Sir Toby
a Sugar-Planter in the interior parts of Jamaica
If there exists a hell—the case is clear—
Sir Toby’s slaves enjoy that portion here:
Here are no blazing brimstone lakes—’tis true;
But kindled rum too often burns as blue,*
In which some fiend, (whom nature must detest)
Steeps Toby’s name, and bands poor Cudjoe's breast.
Here, whips on whips excite a thousand fears,
And mingled howlings vibrate on my ears:
Here Nature’s plagues abound, of all degrees,
Snakes, scorpions, despots, lizards, centipees—
No art, no care escapes the busy lash,
All have their dues, and all are paid in cash:—
The lengthy cart-whip guards this tyrant's reign
And cracks like pistols from the fields of cane.
Ye powers! who form’d these wretched tribes, relate,
What had they done, to merit such a fate?
Why were they brought from Eboe’s sultry waste
To see that plenty which they must not taste—
Food, which they cannot buy, and dare not steal,
Yams and potatoes!—many a scanty meal! —
One, with a jibbet wakes his negro’s fears,
One to the wind-mill nails him by the ears;
One keeps his slave in dismal dens, unfed,
One puts the wretch in pickle, ere he's dead:
This, from a tree suspends him by the thumbs,
That, from his table grudges even the crumbs!
O’fer yond’ rough hills a tribe of females go,
Each with her gourd, her infant, and her hoe;
Scorch’d by a sun that has no mercy here,
Driven by a devil, whom men call overseer:
In chains twelve wretches to their labour haste,
Twice twelve I see with iron collars grac’d:—
Are these the joys that flow from vast domains!
Is wealth, thus got, Sir Toby, worth your pains—
Who would that wealth, on terms like these, possess,
Where all we see is pregnant with distress;
Angola’s natives scourg’d by hireling hands,
And toil’s hard earn gins shipp’d to foreign lands?
Talk not of blossoms and your endless spring;
No joys, no smiles, such scenes of misery bring!
Though Nature here has every blessing spread,
Poor is the labourer—and how meanly fed!
Here Stygian paintings light and shade renew,
Pictures of woe, that Virgi’s pencil drew:
Here, surly Charons make their annual trip,
And ghosts arrive in every Guinea ship,
To find what hells this western world affords,
Plutonian scourges, and despotic lords; —
Where they who pine, and languish to be free
Must climb the rude cliffs of the Liguanee;
Beyond the clouds in sculking haste repair,
And hardly safe from brother traitors there!°
°Alluding to the independent Negroes in the Blue-Mountains; who, for a stipulated reward deliver up ever fugitive that falls into their hands.