Abolitionist Poets

Richard Savage, from Of Public Spirit in Regard to Public Works

Richard Savage (1697?–1743), a poet best known from the biography written by his friend Samuel Johnson, attributed his love of liberty to his "Bastard's birth" — "Born to himself, by no possession led, / In freedom fostered, and by fortune fed." Below is an excerpt from his 1737 poem.


Know, Liberty and I are still the same,
Congenial! — ever mingling flame with flame!
Why must I Afric's sable children see
Vended for slaves, tho' form'd by nature free,
The nameless tortures cruel minds invent,
Those to subject, whom nature equal meant?
If these you dare (albeit unjust success
Empow'rs you now unpunish'd to oppress)
Revolving empire you and yours may doom,
(Rome all subdu'd, yet Vandals vanquish'd Rome,)
Yes, empire may revolve, give them the day,
And yoke may yoke, and blood may blood repay.

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