Charity "He Found It Inconvenient To Be Poor"

Len Deighton

"He Found It Inconvenient To Be Poor"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Having talked about the humane treatment of savages by Captain Cook during his explorations in the Pacific, in contrast to the inhumane treatment of Montezuma and his Indians in Mexico by Cortez, Cowper discusses commerce as one means of knitting the world more closely. However, the slave trade reveals no charity, or love of one's fellow men, but only cruelty. He castigates those who trade in slaves to work the sugar plantations. The fact that slavery brings them money, he says, is no more an excuse than for a burglar to break into a house because he is poor. Only those blinded by greed see no wrong in it.

Canst thou, and honored with a Christian name,
Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame?
Trade in the blood of innocence, and plead
Expedience as a warrant for the deed?
. . .
So may the ruffian, who with ghostly glide,
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bedside:
Not he, but his emergence forced the door,
He found it inconvenient to be poor.
Had God then given its sweetness to the cane
Unless his laws be trampled on–in vain?
Built a brave world, which cannot yet subsist,
Unless his right to rule it be dismissed?
Impudent blasphemy! So folly pleads,
And, avarice being judge, with ease succeeds.