The first grey dawn of the morning was beaming
The bright rays shone forth the glad spirit of light
The rising sun over the ocean was streaming
And dispelled with his rays the dark shadows of night
The air - oh, how pure, and the morning was mild
And the waters lay hushed like a sleeping child
What cheer, cried the mate, as he passed to and fro
What cheer! Art thou watching? Is all right below?
Alls right, cried a voice, the hatches are tight
As the chains that are binding the slaves this night
Up, up, with the flag, then let us away
Spread the sails, 'tis a favouring wind
And long ere the break of the morning we'll leave
The coast of old Afric behind
The moonlight will follow our track o'er the deep
As we start through the sparkling wave
For our cargo of blacks are all hushed in sleep
As though they were hushed in the grave
Then up with the anchor and let us away
We dare not - we must not, now longer delay
Gloomily still the captain with his arms upon his breast
With his cold brow sternly knitted and iron lips compressed
Are all well whipped below there? Ay! Ay! The seamen said
Heave up the worthless lubbers - the dying and the dead
Help, oh! thou God of Christians! Save a mother from despair
Cruel white man sold my children - Oh, God of Christians hear my prayer!
I'm young and strong and hardy - he's a sick and feeble boy
Take me, whip me, chain me, starve me! Oh, God, in mercy, save my boy!
The mother, my child - they've killed my child!
They've killed shrieked - now all is o'er
Down the savage captain struck her lifeless on the vessel's floor
Shall outraged nature cease to feel? Shall mercy's tears no longer flow?
Shall ruffians threat of cord and steed, the dungeon's gloom, the assasin's blo
Shall tongues be mute when deeds are wrought? Shall freemen lock the midnight t
Shall mercy's bosom cease to sigh, for women's shrieks - and slavery!
Shall honour bleed, shall truth succumb, shall pen, and press, and soul be dumb
Let every man arise to save from scourge and chain the Negro Slave
Old England, sweet land of the fair and the free
Whose house is the waters, whose flag sweeps the sea!
Still stretch out thy hand o'er the ocean's broad wave
Protecting the helpless unfortunate slave
And nations which call themselves free shall repent
Of thousands in pain to eternity sent!
Each who forward the cause, oh the very of the grave
With gale strength - the prayer of the liberated slave
Source: Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads