Primary tabs


The Branded Hand.

Page Image

Words by Whittier.
Music by G. W. C.

Welcome home again, brave seaman!
With thy thoughtful brow and grey,
And the old heroic spirit,
Of our


Page Image
earlier, better day —
With that brow of calm endurance,
On whose steady nerve in vain
Press'd the


Page Image
iron of the prison,
Smote the fiery shafts of pain!

Why, that brand is brightest honor!
Than its traces never yet
Upon old armorial hatchments
Was a prouder blazon set;
And thy unborn generations,
As they crowd our rocky strand,
Shall tell with pride the story

As the templar home was welcom'd,
Back from Syrian wars,
The scars of Arab lances,
And of Paynim scimetars,
The pallor of the prison,
And the shackle's crimson span,
So we meet thee, so we greet thee,
Truest friend of God and man!

He suffer'd for the ransom
Of the dear Redeemer's grave,
Thou for His living presence
In the bound and bleeding slave;
He for a soil no longer
By the feet of angels trod,
Thou for the true Shechina,
The present home of God!

In thy lone and long night watches,
Sky above and wave below,
Thou didst learn a higher wisdom
Than the babbling school men know;
God's stars and silence taught thee
As His angels only can,
That, the one, sole sacred thing
Beneath the cope of heaven is man!

That he, who treads profanely
On the scrolls of law and creed,
In the depths of God's great goodness
May find mercy in his need;
But wo to him that crushes
The soul with chain and rod,
And herds with lower nature
The awful form of God!

Then lift thy manly right hand,
Bold ploughman of the wave!
Its branded palm shall prophecy
"Salvation to the Slave!"
Hold up its fire-wrought language,
That who so reads may feel
His heart swell strong within him,
His sinews change to steel.

Hold it up before our sunshine,
Up against our Northern air
Ho! men of Massachusetts,
For the love of God look there!
Take it henceforth for your standard
Like Bruce's heart of yore,
In the dark strife closing round ye,
Let that hand be seen before!



1. Jonathan Walker, a citizen of Massachusetts, returning from Florida, on the high seas took on board his ship, and befriended some poor fugitives escaping from the horrors of slavery. For this humane act he was imprisoned at Pensacola, Florida, made to pay a fine, put in the stocks, pelted with eggs, and at last the letters "S. S." branded into the living flesh of his right hand, with a hot iron. These lines were addressed to him by Whittier, on his return home.