The Lamentations of Saint John Brown
This is a hard road, Lord, you have me ride. My children have died while I was not at home. Now it is my time. The coming day will be a test of my faith and it will find me in the army of the righteous, heaven bound. I am in bondage to my oath to remove the great sin from this land. I wear my sorrow like a brace of pistols. I can not completely trust a man, black or white, afraid to die in the commission of God's will, to drink from the bitter cup and break the chains. That weakened heart, that disappointment, has long been a quality of the abolition forces. They put out a pamphlet and talk in the halls and churches, where even the Friends often judge a Negro to be criminal for the violence of liberating himself from under the oppressive hand, and they deliver him, for this offence, to the slavers to avoid prosecution from the laws. There is no higher law than God, there is no sterner judge. I bloodied my hands in Missouri, Lord. Fighting slavery I have cut the unjust to pieces, and now, Douglass, who purchased his freedom with coin, rides from the camp before the morning breaks at Harper's Ferry, having failed in his mission to recruit slaves from the plantations. He rides out with less than grace, Lord, through slave territory, dreadful and alone, but he does not look back.