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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 6, Num. 3
330                   CHURCH REVIEW.

books, the gentleman said: "Wait, Doctor, I have a book I want
to show you; I know it will interest you, and I would not take
anything for it." He went to a drawer, in which he keeps his
most valuable papers, and took from beneath them all a copy of
Phillis Wheatley's poems, published according to act of par-
liament, of England, Sept. 1st 1773, which is now one hundred
and sixteen years ago. We can but wish a copy of it were in
every family of our race variety, especially in the hand of every
young man and woman who are coming out of the schools and
colleges to-day.
  We confess that we have no native genius for writing poetry,
and we believe all true poets are born--not made in the schools
and universities.  But we love poetry, and the gentleman was
kind enough to lend it to us, and so thankful were we that it
was read through with unusual interest and avidity, and being
boundlessly concerned about the religious, educational and
moral advancement of our race variety, that we conceived that
a few thoughts respecting this young native-born African's
literary turn of mind, might somewhat inspire our young
  The following letter was sent by the author's master to the
publishers:  "Phillis was brought from Africa to America in
the year 1761, between seven and eight years of age. Without
any assistance from school education, and by only what she
was taught in the family, she, in sixteen months' time from her
arrival, attained the English language, to which she was an
utter stranger before, to such a degree as to read  any of the
most difficult parts of the sacred writings, to the great astonish-
ment of all who heard her.   As to her writing, her own
curiosity led her to it, and this she learnt in so short a time
that, in the year 1765, she wrote a letter to the Rev. Mr.
Occam, the Indian Minister, while in England. She has a
great inclination to learn the Latin tongue, and has made some
progress in it  This relation is given by her master, who
bought her, and with whom she now lives.--John Wheatley,
Boston, Mass., Nov. 14, 1772.".
  The above letter is the plain verbatim statement of a man,
respecting the natural ability and aptability of a slave--a na-
tive-born African young woman-think of it. A bondwoman-
her time, strength, womanly qualities and virtues belonging to
another; yet, thank heaven, the mind was free to think and act
as God intended all minds should do. It is plainly evident that
all this noble specimen of African greatness needed in the
world was her freedom and the proper educational training.
Had she been given the chance, with proper encouragement,
we believe her name would stand to-day high in the galaxy of
poetesses in the world. When! 0, when will this nation and
this country atone for the sin, the outrage, the  degradation
perpetrated upon the colored people, for their enslavement in
this country for two hundred and forty years? It has created
such deep-seated prejudice against this branch of the human


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OHS/National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center Serial Collection

African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 6, Num. 3

Volume:  06
Issue Number:  03
Date:  01/1890


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