Landon in The Literary Gazette 1825/The Slave Ship

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For works with similar titles, see The Slave Ship.

Literary Gazette, 20th August, 1825, Page 541

[It has been the good fortune of the Literary Gazette to introduce several young poets to the public, whose talents have speedily procured them fame of a high and permanent order. We this week (we are persuaded) begin a new career of the same kind; and in this belief beg to recommend the signature of "Iole" to the attention of our readers.— Ed. L. G.]

This unique introduction is a smokescreen to cover Letitia Landon’s writing incognito under another name. Why she chose to do so requires further research but obviously, William Jerdan, the editor was quite happy to go along with it. She continued to use the pseudonym Iole until early in 1827. Iole is a name that has already arisen in her poetry (Hercules and Iole), as is Ianthe. Also, possibly the ‘le’ in Iole is meant for Letitia Elizabeth. Whilst the style is quintessentially Landon, the ultimate proof is that two Iole poems are included in Landon’s collection, The Vow of the Peacock and Other Poems, in 1835. As in other instances, she claimed poetry that was not immediately

attributable to her by including it in one of her published volumes.

Literary Gazette, 20th August, 1825, Page 541

"While at the anchorage at Zanzibar," says a private letter from an officer of the Andromache, "a vessel or two arrived, with at least from 150 to 200 slaves each on board; which vessels were, in fact, (had any idea of humanity or kindness prevailed among the dealers,) incapabie of containing more than 20 or 25 persons. The wretched cargoes were literally stowed in bulk*[1]; all sexes and ages wedged together at the bottom of the vessel, and their feet only kept from the water occasioned by the usual leakage, by a cargo of rhinoceros’ hides and horns, gums of several kinds, (particularly copal,) and elephants' teeth."


No surge was on the sea,
No cloud was on the day,
When the ship spread her white wings,
Like a sea-bird on her way.

Ocean lay bright before,
The shore lay green behind,
And a breath of spice and balm
Came on the landward wind.

There rose a curse and wail,
As that vessel left the shore;
And last looks sought their native land,
Which should dwell there no more!

Who seeing the fair ship
That swept through the bright waves,
Would dream that tyrants trod her deck,
And that her freight was slaves!

By day was heard the lash,
By night the heavy groan;
For the slave's blood was on the chain
That festered to the bone!

Was one in that dark ship,
A prince in his own land;
He scorned the chain, he scorned the threat —
He scorned his fetter'd hand.

He called upon his tribe,
And said they might be free!
And his brow was cold and stern,
As he pointed to the sea.

Next night a sullen sound
Was heard amid the wave!
The tyrants sought their captives,---
They only found their grave.Iole.

  1. * Stowed in bulk is a nautical phrase for any thing closely packed, without separation;—a barrel of herrings will convey the best idea of an Arab slave-vessel; and, indeed, of some of the smaller French traders formerly engaged in this traffic about Mauritius and Bourbon.