Sonnet to W. Wilberforce
The Cambridge Intelligencer (February 28, 1795)
February 28, 1795.
Hail, Wilberforce! pursue thy glorious plan,
Unbought defender of thy kind! proceed.
Still teach a guilty Court the Rights of Man;
Not made to suffer only, and to bleed—
Though he has bled of late, and largely too,
At their command.—Tell them that GOD design'd
A nobler object when he made mankind,
And trace the noble purpose to their view.
Inculcate Faith, and Hope, and Charity;
To soothe Revenge, and quell resisting pride.
Shew them how JESUS liv'd, and bid them see
(Still more illustrious lesson!) how he died!
There let them learn, that Man was made for Peace,
So shall the fury of the battle cease.
1. William Wilberforce (1759-1833), philanthropist and crusader against slavery, founded the "Proclamation Society" in 1787 to rid society of vice. Although a close friend of Pitt, Wilberforce opposed the war with France and considered peace to be possible after the fall of Robespierre. As a member of the House of Commons from Hull, he rose to speak in favor of Grey's motion for peace on January 26, 1795. Wilberforce, however, was a staunch anti-Jacobin and supported the coercive measures against radical groups in 1795.