"For they have keen affections, kind desires, / Love strong as death, and active patriot fires; / All the rude energy, the fervid flame, / Of high-souled passions, and ingenuous shame: / Strong but luxuriant virtues boldly shoot / From the wild vigour of a savage root."
— More, Hannah (1745-1833)
The native genius of the sable race!
Perish the proud philosophy, which sought
To rob them of the powers of equal thought!
Does then th' immortal principle within
Change with the casual colour of the skin?
Does matter govern spirit? or is mind
Degraded by the form to which 'tis joined?
No: they have heads to think, and hearts to feel
And souls to act with firm, thought unerring zeal;
For they have keen affections, kind desires,
Love strong as death, and active patriot fires;
All the rude energy, the fervid flame,
Of high-souled passions, and ingenuous shame:
Strong but luxuriant virtues boldly shoot
From the wild vigour of a savage root.
Nor weak their sense of honour's proud control,
For pride is virtue in a pagan soul;
A sense of worth, a conscience of desert,
A high, unbroken haughtiness of heart:
That self-same stuff which erst proud empires swayed,
Of which the conquerors of the world were made.
Capricious fate of man! that very pride
In Afric scourg'd, in Rome was deify'd.
(ll. 59-82, p. 103 in Wood, pp. 330-1 in Lonsdale)
See also Slavery, a Poem. By Hannah More (London: T. Cadell, 1788). <Link to ECCO>.
Collected in Marcus Wood's The Poetry of Slavery (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003). Excerpted in Roger Lonsdale's Eighteenth Century Women Poets (Oxford UP, 1989).