Of America: A Voice from the Crowd.

I praise your JACKSON and your South!
No, I’ve no taste at all that way;
These words are not sweet in my mouth,
Though dear they are to some, you say;
A trick of speech I’ve somehow caught
I can’t hate freedom as I ought,
Or love your barterers of slaves;
In fact, if I the truth must tell,
I think your JACKSON and his crew,
Accurst of God, are fit for hell,
Though they may fight, and conquer too.
Time was when nobly England rose,
And grandly told Earth of man’s rights;
Slavery and wrong, her ancient foes,
In these you say she now delights.
Her voice that once so sternly spoke,
And, speaking, smote slaves’ fetters off,
That antique utterance is your joke,
A grand-dame’s tale, at which you scoff.
Your Times has taught us what to say,
That years must change and so must thought;
JACKSON’s your CROMWELL of to-day;
Ah, ours, for rights, not fetters fought.
Clasp you the hands that wield the whip!
Press you the palms that rivet chains!
My curse will through my teeth slip,
I’ll brand your heroes as all Cains.
For cotton, and through envy, sell
Your nobler notions if you can;
I will not, and I hold it well
I loathe these men who deal in man.
Scoff, sneer or jest; let him who likes
Prate of their courage and their worth,
Right and not Might my fancy strikes,
Though Might not Right may rule the earth.
At times, God, for his own good will,
Gives hell, o’er men and nations, rule;
But Right, though crushed, I hold Right still,
Though worldly-wide ones call me fool.
Brute force has Cossacked nations down,
Yet Cossacks I do not adore;
Than Poland’s Bashkirs —nay, don’t frown,—
I do not love your JACKSONS more.
No, Cavaliers that women sell,
To their great nobleness I’m blind;
Heroes who cash their children—well,
They’re not exactly to my mind.
One’s flesh and blood, you know, are here,
Dear to one, not as current gold;
I would not be a Cavalier,
By whom his son or daughter’s sold;
Curse those who sell their blood to lust,
Their very flesh to stripes and toil;
I spit at such—the thought, I trust,
Of such should make my blood to boil.
The very meanest thing I see,
A cringing beggar whining here,
Rather a thousand times I’d be,
Than a girl-selling Cavalier.
God wills and darkly works his will,
His wisdom’s hidden from our eyes,
Yet my faith rests upon Him still,
To judge and scourge He will arise.
Wrong seems to conquer often;--Right
Seems to be conquered;--watch and wait;
The years bring seeing to our sight,
Truth’s triumph cometh, soon or late.
Therefore success I seem to see
Makes me not in the evil trust,
Nor seems its triumph sure to me,
Rather its failure. God is just.

Title:Of America: A Voice from the Crowd.

Author:W. C. Bennett

Publication:The Philadelphia Inquirer

Published in:

Date:August 15th 1863



This is one of several poems castigating British political decisions during the American Civil War. Indeed, this seems to be part of a series of poems forming a transatlantic literary tussle over the subject of slavery between the Bennett and the Times American correspondent Charles Mackay. Another poem similar to this ‘A Voice from the Crowd’ is also included on the database where it was collected from the Blackburn Times. The poem resists the popular association of American Confederate secessionists with Cromwell’s shift towards democracy in England in the 17t century, and is staunchly abolitionist in its tone. – SR