Epitaph On A Child
Cruel the pang to hear the struggling sigh,
Watch o'er the faded cheek and closing eye;
See infant innocence with parting breath
Its weeping parents bless, and smile in death.—
Check your vain tears!—Lo! He who 'walk'd the wave,'
Triumphant rising from the vanquish'd grave,
To man, by blood celestial ransom'd, cries,
He lives, for ever lives, in Me who dies.
A Fragment Of Simonides
Danaë, with her infant Son Perseus, was exposed in a Vessel to the fury of the waves, by order of her Father Acrisius.
As on the well-fram'd Vessel's side
Impetuous pours the stormy tide,
Aloud the furious whirlwinds sound,
And foaming surges break around,
Danaë, while tears her cheek bedew,
Her Arm around her Infant threw,
And, ‘ah!’ she cried, ‘what weight of woe
‘This wretched breast is doom'd to know,
‘Yet calm my helpless babe you lie,
‘And balmy slumber seals your eye,
‘Hush'd in this drear abode you sleep
‘Amid the horrors of the deep,
‘Now by the moon reveal'd to sight,
‘Now wrapp'd in shades of gloomy night,
‘Nor heed the howling waves that spread
‘Tremendous o'er your shelter'd head.
‘In your warm robe you lie reclin'd
‘Regardless of the raging wind.
‘If all these fears to you were fear
‘My words would pierce your infant ear;
‘But still may Sleep's oblivious hand
‘O'er you extend it's influence bland,
‘And O! may Slumber's placid reign
‘Lull the rude tempest of the main,
‘Bid the dread scene of terror cease,
‘And give my tortur'd bosom peace.’
The Ninth Olympic Ode Of Pindar
The Lay Archilochus prepar'd, the meed
Of every Victor on Olympia's sand,
Might have sufficed, thrice chanted, to proceed
Brave Epharmostus and his social band;
But from her bow let each Aonian maid
The glittering shafts of harmony prepare,
The heights of sacred Elis to invade,
Her shady forests, and her pastures fair;
Seats sacred still to thunder-bearing Jove,
Which Pelops gain'd, the dower of Hippodamia's love.
To Pythia too one dulcet arrow send.—
Nor does the Poet humble lays require
That sings the Chiefs for Glory who contend.—
To princely Opus now the silver lyre
Awake, and chant her sons athletic worth.
Opus, where Themis, with her daughter, reigns,
Divine Eunomia.—Mindful of his birth,
He decks the capital of Locris' plains
With every flower on Alpheus' brink that grows,
And every blooming wreath Castalia's cirque bestows.
My votive voice, in soothing lays,
Shall sing the much-lov'd city's praise;
And, swifter than the courser scours the plain,
Or the wing'd galley cleaves the yielding main,
Will send the Messenger of Fame
Through all the admiring world, her honors to proclaim.
If haply my assiduous hand
Shall cull the flowers that deck the Graces' Land.
For every bliss that crowns mankind,
Must from the Powers Superior rise;
And every plan's by them design'd,
That forms the Valiant or the Wise.
Favor'd by them, Alcides' nervous arm
Repell'd the Monarch of the briny flood;
Nor did the silver bow his heart alarm,
But, firmly, angry Phœbus' rage he stood;
Nor could stern Pluto's rod his breast dismay,
Which drives the dying to his drear abodes:—
Rash Muse, desist! nor urge the impious lay;
Hateful's the wisdom that blasphemes the Gods.—
'Tis madness, strength absurdly thus to boast,
And mortal might compare with Heaven's triumphant Host.
Let War and Disord, with the ills they bring,
Be banish'd distant from the Ethereal Train:
Fair Protogenia's new-rais'd city sing,
Where, from Parnassus to the level plain,
Deucalion and his Mate, descending first,
By Jove's command the rising dome design'd;
While from the stones their living offspring burst,
To fill the nations, and renew mankind.—
Let strains like these their pleas'd descendants hear,
Old wine delights the taste, new numbers charm the ear.
Of old o'er earth's involved head,
The congregated waters spread,
And o'er the wasted country urg'd their course;
Till Jove, relenting, check'd their ruthless force,
And bade their native beds again
The raging waves absorb, and spare the ravag'd plain.
From Pyrrha and Deucalion then
Your sires arose, a hardy race of men.
Thence your honor'd lineage springs,
The offspring of a a God's embrace;
And hence, for ever native Kings,
With glory reigns the warlike race.
Opus, thy daughter erst Olympic Jove
To shady Mænalus from Elis bore;
And there compressing with impetuous love,
Restor'd her to her plighted Lord once more,
Her womb then teeming with the heavenly child;
Lest fate his days without a son should claim.
The Hero on the foster'd Infant smil'd,
Pleas'd with his form, and gave his grandsire's name,
And subjects brave bestow'd, and fair domains;
Whence Opus' lofty walls, and Locris' hardy swains.
Drawn by his virtues, to whose friendly towers,
From Argos, Thebes, and Pisa's fertile plain,
And fair Arcadia, croud the social powers,
Menoetius, chief among the warrior train
He lov'd, from Actor and Ægina sprung:
Whose son when wrong'd Atrides call'd to arms,
Was nobly found the vengeful train among;
Who, when the Greeks from Telephus' alarms
Found shameful safety on the friendly flood
With Peleus' godlike son, the threatening storm withstood.
From hence the skilful well might find
The impatience of Patroclus' mind:
Achilles, therefore, with parental care,
Advis'd him ne'er alone to tempt the war.—
O could I soar on daring wings,
Where, in her rapid car, the Muse exulting sings;
(For ample power, and eager will,
Attend with duteous care her footsteps still
Thy social worth, and Isthmian prize,
Lampromachus, should grace my lay.
When Fame beheld two trophies rise
Congenial, in one rolling day.
Twice, Epharmostus, too, thy matchless might
Fair Corinth saw, twice Nemea's hallow'd ground:
Argos thy manly brows with glory dight,
And Attica thy youthful forehead crown'd:
What praise thou met'st in Marathon's fam'd course!
Now, scorning with the beardless youth to run,
Match'd with the veteran race, thy rapid force,
Temper'd with skill, the silver goblet won;
Shout with exulting voice the friendly train,
To see the loveliest youth the fairest trophies gain.
Lycæan Jove's high feast with wonder glow'd
As bold Parrhasia's sons thy form behold;
Her prize Pellene on thy strength bestow'd,
A guard from warring winds, and wintry cold.
Iolaus' tomb, and fair Eleusis' plain
Wash'd by the briny wave, thy deeds attest.
Though men by labor strive applause to gain,
Yet native merit ever shines the best;
Nor shall the wreaths attain'd by toil and care,
With heaven-descended might, and inborn worth compare.
Not every path extends the same,
But various are the roads to Fame;
With different eye the same pursuits we view,
Nor all one wish with equal zeal pursue;
But his great fame shall highest soar,
Who climbs the arduous heights of Science' sacred lore.
By which inspir'd, I now proclaim
My Hero's heaven-born strength, and native Fame;
Who, conqueror on Oïlia's plain,
Bade the bright wreath of Victory twine,
Great Ajax, round thy votive fane,
And graced with wreaths the hallow'd shrine.
The Sixth Olympic Ode Of Pindar
The skilful Architect whose dædal hand
Contrives the far-resplendent dome to raise,
Bids the bright porch on shapely columns stand,
That rich with gold and polish'd marble, blaze.—
So we superbly pour along
In conscious dignity the opening Song.
To him Olympia's Wreath who wears,
Who guards the Thunderer's sacred Fane,
And every social blessing shares,
With Syracusa's happy train;
Each friendly voice shall notes of triumph blow,
And each unenvious hand, a votive Wreath bestow.
In this thrice-honor'd State by fortune placed
The happy son of Sostratus behold!
Nor is the Warrior, or the Seaman graced
Till Danger and till Toil their worth unfold.
But Fame's eternal Pæans wait
The virtuous labors of the brave and great.—
To thee, Agesias, shall belong
Those genuine Praises, which of old
Adrastus with no flattering tongue
On Amphiaraus, sacred Seer! bestow'd:
What time the fatal earth with yawning womb,
Him and his fiery steeds clos'd living in the tomb.
Now seven funeral pyres begun
To shed a lurid blaze around,
When Talaus' sorrowing son
Pour'd to the Theban host this mournful sound:
‘O how I languish to behold
‘The bravest of my warrior train,
‘Who Fate's eternal mysteries can unfold,
‘Or spread destruction o'er the embattled plain!
To him, the Syracusan Youth belong
Such praise, to whom I tune the Olympic Song.
No Son of Discord, I proclaim
His Worths, his Triumphs are the same:
And with an oath confirm the unerring strain,
Form'd by the favoring help of all Aonia's train.
Come then, O Phintis! to the shining Car
With speed, with speed, the rapid Coursers join;
That whirling o'er the purest paths afar
We reach his Ancestor's high-honor'd line.
Above the rest my Coursers know
When Pisa's Olive decks the Hero's brow,
To bear him o'er the sounding road
Where, far from dark oblivion's cell,
Bright Honor holds her high abode,
And Fame and Glory ever dwell.
Now wide the Gates of Harmony display,
For to Eurota's shores I guide the sounding Lay.
To fair Pitana sing, who whilom bore
Evadne, beauteous in her hair that flows.
Compress'd by Neptune on the silent shore,
With strictest care she hid her virgin throes;
But when the circling moons her pain
Maturely brought, she bade her female train,
To Æpytus' parental hands
With silent care the Child convey;
Phasana's turrets who commands,
Where Alpheus pours his silver-winding way:
On whose enamell'd banks she learn'd to prove,
In great Apollo's arms, the blushing Rites of Love.
As o'er Heaven's eternal field
Roll'd the hours in circling pace,
Time to Æpytus reveal'd
The produce of the stolen embrace;
Now to Pytho's sacred Shrine
Eager the anxious Monarch goes,
To listening Phœbus and the powers divine
The impious deed impatient to disclose.
Mean time her zone with purple texture graced
Beside the silver urn Evadne placed
Veil'd by the bow'ring grove from sight,
And gave the heaven-born child to light,
While on his birth the God with golden hair
Invokes the auspicious Fates, and chaste Lucina's care.
Not long, Iamus, on the lonely glade
Unnoticed, unprotected, didst thou lie:—
For by the Gods command, lo through the shade!
Two watchful Dragons dart with azure eye,
And from the Bees transparent hoard
Thy little breast with dulcet nurture stor'd.
And now by rocky Pytho taught
The wandering King, return'd again,
From all his train domestic sought
The fruit of fair Evadne's pain;
For shining Phœbus from his sacred Shrine
Proclaim'd Evadne's Love, and own'd the Boy divine.
And openly declar'd his future worth
Above mankind in mystic lore should shine,
And ne'er be wanting in the happy birth
Of glorious sons.—Thus spake the voice divine!
Five days were pass'd the mother's pain,
Unfound the Infant by the careful train.
Far from the reach of every eye,
Deep in the irriguous rushes laid,
While purple violets growing by,
With dewy leaves his body shade:
His mother's voice at length the place proclaim'd,
And from his fragrant couch the heavenly Infant named.
As the gently circling hours
Still their fostering influence shed,
And opening Manhood's roseate flowers
Kindly crown'd his blooming head;
Descending then to Alpheus' shores,
While round his head the night-winds blow,
He calls the God who rules where Ocean roars,
And Phœbus dreadful with his silver bow:
Desiring public Fame, and fair Renown,
Might with their verdant Wreaths his Temples crown.—
Soon each paternal voice divine
Own'd him as sprung from Heavenly Line;
‘Rise, Son, and this propitious sound pursue,
‘Till Pisa's crowded plains rise to thy raptur'd view.’
The Hero straight the voice obey'd; and now
Cronius, thy cliffs and rocky heights they scale;
There the kind Gods the twofold Art bestow
Of Augury, that never knew to fail;
There, many a dreadful labor done,
At length when great Alcmena's Son
Arriv'd, and bade the awful Shrine
Sacred to potent Jove arise,
And first began those Rites divine,
Where Courage wins the Olympic Prize;
He rais'd the crouded Fane's prophetic fame,
Whilst Grecia's shouting Sons Iamus' Worth proclaim.
Hence endless Fame, and happy Fortunes wait
On the Iamidæ's exulting race.—
Those who in Virtue's rugged ways are great
The most conspicuous paths of life shall grace,
Still glorious deeds the Hero speak
Though Envy burst her venom'd cheek,
And teach her offspring to despise
The Man, on Pisa's trophied plain
Whose Coursers know the Olympic Prize
In the twelve-turn'd Course to gain.—
Grateful, Agesias! to the powers divine
Were all the fervent vows of thy maternal line.
Who beneath the sacred shade
Which Cyllene's mountains shed,
Honors due for ever paid
To Hermes' venerable head;
To him who cleaves the yielding skies,
The Herald of the ethereal train,
Who in the Olympic strife appoints the prize,
And guards Arcadia's happy-peopled plain.
He and his thundering Sire to thee decreed,
O son of Sostratus! the glorious meed.—
A sudden thought I raptur'd feel,
Which, as the whetstone points the steel,
Brightens my sense, and bids me warbling raise
To the soft-breathing flute, the kindred notes of praise.
From fair Arcadia too my line I bring,
From Stymphalus the bright Metopa came,
Mother of warlike Thebes, whose silver spring
I drink, and votive songs of triumph frame.
Bid your compeers now Æneas raise
Their voices to Parthenian Juno's praise;
Then shall be known if we avoid
The long-borne Adage of Disgrace
Which ancient Malice has employ'd
To stigmatise Bœotia's race;
To thee the secrets of the Muse belong,
And well thou know'st to guide the far-resounding song.
To Syracusa's and Ortygia's praise,
Tell them aloud to swell the exulting strain;
Whose plains with blameless sceptre Hiero sways,
Performing sacred Rites to Ceres' Fane,
To her lov'd Daughter, Pluto's Love,
And him the King of Gods, Ætnean Jove.
Him the sounding Lyre, and Song,
Know, and honor as their friend;
Ne'er may time that rolls along
To his blessings give an end,
Still may he, Fortune's friend, with chearful voice
In bold Agesias' worth, and votive hymns rejoice.
Stymphalus' maternal walls,
And Aracadia's fleecy glades
Leaving:—here his fortune calls
To Sicilia's fragrant shades;
Either country claims him now;—
When the midnight tempests roar,
And raging loud the stormy whirlwinds blow,
Two anchors best the shatter'd vessel moor.
On each may Heaven it's guardian care bestow!—
And thou who rul'st where Ocean's torrents flow,
Amphitrite's honor'd mate,
Through the rocks and shoals of Fate
Propitious guide Agesias' bark along,
And grace with livelier flowers my rapture-breathing Song.
A POETICAL ESSAY.
By gay Amusement's soul-subduing power
To chear the mournful or the vacant hour,
In fancy's freakful gambols to delight,
Or wage with active limbs the mimic fight,
In earlier times, to breasts mature unknown,
Were cares of playful infancy alone;
Nor did soft dissipation's art assuage
The toils of manhood, or the pains of age.
Not from mankind alone these rules we draw,
Oft warp'd by prejudice from nature's law:
But brutes, who with unbiass'd step pursue
The eternal canons they from instinct drew,
Confirm beyond a doubt this striking truth,
That sports are native attributes of youth.
The lamb frisks wanton o'er the dewy ground,
The kitten hunts its tail in fruitless round;
But o'er the down the ewes all pensive stray,
And grave grimalkin silent waits her prey,
Save when maternal fondness bids her share
The frolick pastimes of her youthful care.
Even so, ere social compact bids arise
Unnumber'd wants, and every want supplies,
Of childhood's joys no evanescent trace
Delights man's sullen solitary race;
For, if his eager footstep haunt the wood,
He urges not the chace for sport but food;
Fierce as the hungry pard, with ravening haste,
Joyless and fell, he prowls the gloomy waste.
And if perchance in polish'd times we find
Pleasure more inmate of the female mind,
Say what forbids our serious thought to draw
The smiling preference from nature's law,
And view the mother's fondness that beguil'd
By kindred sports the sorrows of her child?
Far, far from me be that malignant train,
Who scowl severe on pleasure's silken reign;
Oft may her magic touch with sportive power
Chear the dull languor of the tedious hour;
For hours there are, when the o'er-labor'd sense
Shrinks from the serious toil or thought intense.
Oft to Amusement's visionary sway
The real ills that poison life give way.
In Lydia's plains, so tells the enchanting page
Of Hist'ry's aweful sire the Carian sage,
In Lydia's plains, what time with wasting hand
Remorseless famine ravaged all the land,
And the starv'd native on Pactolus' shore
Ey'd the shrunk wave and curs'd the useless ore,
By sports of art inventive fancy sought
To turn from pinching want the tortur'd thought;
Their fascinating power the mind engag'd,
And hunger for a while unheeded rag'd.
How will Amusement's foes delight to trace
The dreary leisure of the savage race,
Or with imagination's eye pervade
The lonesome refuge of the Indian's shade,
When all the labors of the chace are o'er,
Hunger appeas'd, and sleep can lull no more!
Or let them picture to their aching sight
The lengthen'd horrors of a polar night,
Where, till returning spring dissolves the snow,
No dawning light shall gild the mountain's brow,
Nor can the native ply his needful toil,
Chace the rough bear or turn the ungrateful soil;
Chearless and unemploy'd, condemn'd to wear
In listless apathy the wintry year.
When agriculture to the fertile plain
Lur'd from the barren waste the improving swain,
Soon partial property, with selfish plan,
Her favorites cull'd, and sorted man from man.
Then lusty labor bade the harvest rise
To sate the lazy owner's pamper'd eyes;
Who, deeming useful toil beneath his care,
Pass'd all his hours in indolence and war,
Or sought in peace by dangerous sports to gain
A mimic semblance of the martial plain,
Rov'd 'mid the forest haunts with wild delight,
And wag'd with beasts of prey the unequal fight,
Or with his fellow warriors joy'd to wield
In friendly strife the weapons of the field,
In sportive exercise the javelin threw,
Pois'd the long lance, or bent the twanging yew.
Hence Grecia's chiefs the prize triumphant bore
From Pisa's groves or Isthmus' wave-worn shore,
While garlands of eternal fame inspire
The kindling raptures of a Pindar's lyre,—
Hence in the tournament the mail-clad knight
Provok'd his peers to dare the listed fight,
Urg'd his barb'd courser to the swift career,
And broke in beauty's cause the ashen spear,
While to the warbling harp's responsive string,
Applauding bards the victor's triumph sing.
Nor was the humbler swain, who till'd the ground,
Condemn'd to labor's unremitting round;
For, when the plenteous produce of the soil
Stor'd in full garners pays his annual toil,
Or when their fleecy weight his flocks resign,
Or laughing autumn swells the purple vine,
As pious cares his grateful mind employ,
He consecrates the hallow'd hours to joy;
Stretch'd on the turf the blazing hearth around,
While by the talking eld the bowl is crown'd,
With sinewy limbs the rustic youth contend,
Or to the mark the unerring javelin send,
And from the village maid's approving eyes
The jocund victor gains the fairest prize.
When opulence assum'd his golden reign,—
With luxury and science in his train,
And beauty, man's fastidious empire o'er,—
Join'd in the scenes she only judg'd before,
The vacant hours to gentler toils invite,—
Than the rude image of the bleeding sight;
Each coarse delight to softer joy gives place,
And sports of labor yield to sports of grace.—
Responsive to the lyre's inspiring sound,
In mingled measure now they beat the ground,
Now on the chequer'd field with silent care
Attentive wage the sedentary war.
Even manlier exercise the arts despoil
Of half its danger, and of half its toil:
No more the knight, in shining armour dress'd,
Opposes to the pointed lance his breast;
Scarce does the skilful fencer's bosom feel
The pliant pressure of the bated steel;
For the stupendous quoit or craggy stone,
Afar with emulous contention thrown,
Deliver'd with inferior force is seen
The bowl slow-rolling o'er the shaven green;
Or else, defended from inclement skies,
The ball rebounding from the racket flies;
Or o'er the cloth, impell'd by gentler skill,
The ivory orbs the net insidious sill.
Even in those rougher transports of the chace,
Where nature's genuine form we seem to trace,
And art appears unequal to supply
Assistance to the calls of luxury,
For the wild tenants of the wood and plain
Still their primæval character retain,
Still will their wiles the experienc'd hunter foil,
And still fatigue attend on cold and toil;
Even in the forest-walks has polish'd care
Taught healthful sport a gentler form to wear.
Swoln opulence is not content to stray
In anxious search thro' many a tedious day,
Where constant hopes the eager thought employ,
And expectation doubles every joy:
But the wing'd tribe, by care domestic bred,
Watch'd with attention, with attention fed,
Where'er the sportsman treads in clouds arise,
Prevent his wish, and sate his dazzled eyes;
And each redoubled shot with certain aim
Covers the ensanguin'd field with home-bred game—
Transporting joy! to vulgar breasts unknown,
Save to the poulterer and cook alone;
Who search the crouded coop with equal skill,
As sure to find, almost as sure to kill.
No more the courser with attentive eyes
'Mid the rank grass and tangled stubble pries,
Till, many an hour in watchful silence pass'd,
A moment's frenzy pays his toil at last.
No chearful beagle now, at early dawn,
Explores with tender nose the dewy lawn,
Avows the recent path with carol sweet,
And trails the listening leveret to her seat;
Stretch'd on the couch the lazy sportsmen lie,
Till Sol ascending gilds the southern sky,
And leave the hind, with mercenary care,
To seek the refuge of the lurking hare.
Dullest of all pursuits, why mention here
The chace inglorious of the stall-fed deer?
When even that generous race who justly claim
Toilsome pre-eminence of sylvan fame,
Who joy to lay with sanguine vengeance low
The sheepfold and the henyard's treacherous foe;
Even they who us'd, ere morn's first opening light,
To trace the skulking felon of the night,
With slacken'd vigor now their sports delay,
Till Phoebus pours the orient beams of day.
Nor does the drag, evaporating soon,
Beneath the warmer influence of noon,
Frustrate their hopes; for, bearing in their mind
That well-known adage, 'Those that hide can find,'
Sure of success, the covert they explore,
For foxes turn'd adrift the night before.
But say, is this the pastime of the fields,
Where panting expectation rapture yields?—
Coldly the certain victim we pursue,
And losing doubt we lose the transport too.
If such the texture luxury has thrown
O'er scenes confin'd to ruder man alone,
What shall we find them when the gentler fair
Mix with the band and every pleasure share?—
Not those bold dames who join the rustic train,
Chear the staunch hound, the fiery courser rein;
Or those to point the feather'd shaft who know,
And joy 'to bear, and draw the warrior bow.'
O may Britannia's nymphs such arts despise,
Content alone to conquer with their eyes!
For Omphale as ill the lion's spoil
Becomes, as Hercules the distaff's toil;
But such as haunt the seats of courtly fame,
Where female charms the first attention claim,
And their contending powers the arts employ
To ravish every sense with every joy.—
The splendid theatre's refulgent round,—
With pomp, with elegance, with beauty crown'd.—
Not that I mean whose homelier scenes invite
To tales of grief, of humour, of delight,
Where Shakespear's honied style enthralls the ear,
Wakes the loud laugh, or draws the heart-felt tear—
Shakespear! ador'd in these degenerate days,
To whom we hymns inscribe, and temples raise,
Worship his image, and neglect his plays.—
Ah! who the evening's festal hours will quit
For scenes of tragic woe or comic wit?—
Scenes of a purer polish must engage
The loose attention of a courtly age;
Scenes where satiric point ne'er gives offence,
Or verse disturbs its placid stream with sense;
Where from Hesperian fields the eunuch train
Trill with soft voice the unimpassion'd strain,
In measur'd cadence while the dancers art
Wakes without words the feelings of the heart.
Delightful joys! of universal power,
Suited to every taste and every hour,
Since the loose drama no connexion ties,
And all may judge who trust their ears and eyes.—
See in majestic swell yon festive dome,
Like the Pantheon of imperial Rome,
And where as many fabled forms unite,
Visions of bliss or demons of affright.
Or, sought in vernal hours, that ampler space
Where beauty's steps the eternal circle trace,
And midnight revelry delights her soul
With breezes redolent of tea and roll,
In fragrant steam while thro' the crouded room
The Arabian berry yields its rich perfume,
And 'mid the murmurs of the mingled throng
Unheeded music swells the slighted song;
Or, Lent's delight, the Oratorio dull,
Of yawning connoisseurs and coxcombs full;
When, plays profane deny'd, our ears explore
The pious freaks of Alexander's whore;
The rout repeated with incessant call,
The formal concert, and the mirthless ball.—
Say is this joy?—Yes, to the virgin's heart
First stung by potent love's resistless smart;
Who 'mid the empty croud of silken beaux
Her glance on one distinguish'd fav'rite throws;
Yes, to the insidious wretch whose guilty care
Hunts artless virtue into vice's snare,
Whose every thought and action is address'd
To wound a parent's or a husband's breast,
Or that more gross tho' less pernicious tribe
Who venal beauty's joyless favors bribe;
Yes, to the rural nymph of distant plains
Who three sweet months of charming London gains;
Yes, to the youth escap'd from smoke and trade
To shew the western town his stol'n cockade:—
To these, where passion gently soothes the breast,
Or vice affords their joys a guilty zest;
Or novelty, fair pleasure's youthful queen,
Gives fresh allurements to each splendid scene,
To these, in fancy's varying mirror shown,
Amusement charms with beauties not its own.—
To all the rest, with listless mind who fly
To midnight crouds from languor's leaden eye,
To the full circle run from home-felt care,
Then start to meet the ghastly spectre there,
The night of revel wears as dull away
As to th' o'erlabor'd hind the tedious day.—
Of these our joys how transient then the state,
Since still disgust must on possession wait!
Pleasure we all pursue with eager pace,
Yet lose the quarry when we lose the chace;
Thro' fancy's medium when our view we bend,
Ten thousand charms the ideal form attend;
Shewn plainly to our disappointed eyes
The enchantment breaks, and every beauty flies.—
The sprightly boy who draws in shadowy plan
The future pleasures of the envied man,
His father's hounds in all his brothers views,
And warm a visionary fox pursues;
Or else, like Hecat', mounted on a broom
His fancied racer spurs around the room;
Tho' airy phantoms then his mind employ,
Yet then he feels more true substantial joy
Than all the sports of ripen'd age shall gain
From Meynell's hunt, or fam'd Newmarket's plain.
Yet not alone to rich Augusta's towers,
A nation's wealth where dissipation showers;
Or Bladud's walls, in rising splendor dress'd,
Proud of the healing fount, and frequent guest;
Or those unnumber'd shores where fashion laves
Her jaded limbs in ocean's briny waves;—
Not to these seats, for courtly haunts design'd,
Is pleasure's universal reign confin'd:
Britannia scarcely owns a town so small
As not to boast its periodic ball,
Where, when full-orb'd, Diana pours her light,
And gilds the darkness of the wintry night,
The village beaux and belles their hours employ—
In the full swing of fashionable joy:—
Aside the unfinish'd handkerchief is thrown,
And the fair sempstress adjusts her own;
The apothecary quits the unpounded pill,
Even the attorney drops his venal quill,
And, as his eyes the sprightly dance behold,
Forgets to drain the widow's purse of gold.—
To these 'tis joy.—But even the courtly train,
Anxious the dregs of pleasure's bowl to drain,
When, fully sated with each splendid show
That elegance and grandeur can bestow,
To rural solitude they fly, will there
This faint reflection of amusement share.
When from Southampton's or from Brighton's shore,
Which charm'd when London's revelry was o'er,
The fading beauty of autumnal hours,
Recalls the sportsman to his native bowers,
To tell his neighbours all the toils of state,
Recount of public cares the enormous weight,
And how he slumber'd thro' the long debate;
His wife and daughters quit the Gothic hall
To taste the raptures of the rustic ball.
The high-born misses, insolent and vain,
Scorn while they mingle with the homely train,
Still at the top, in spite of order, stand,
And hardly touch a mean plebeian hand;
While madam, eager 'mid the card-room's strife,
Insults the lawyer's and the curate's wife,
Now smiles contemptuous, now with anger burns,
And domineers and scolds, and cheats by turns;
Pleas'd on the village gentry to retort
Slights she receives from dutchesses at court.
But what are these, by starts alone pursu'd,
These partial errors of the moon?—when view'd
By that assemblage of each rustic grace,
That cynosure of joy, a county race;
Where, with fatigue and dulness in her train,
Provincial pleasure holds her proudest reign?
O that my Muse in equal verse could tell
Each varied object which she knows so well!—
The crowded ordinary's loud repast,
The frequent bumper swallow'd down in haste,
The rattling carriage driven with drunken speed,
The bawling hawker, and the restive steed,
The proffer'd bet with interjection strong,
And the shrill squallings of the female throng;
The sounding hoof, the whip's coercive sound,
As the fleet coursers stretch along the ground,
When the repeated oath and menace loud
Warn from the listed course the pressing croud;
The various horrors of the narrow lane,
As the promiscuous heaps the town regain,
Where coaches, waggons, horsemen, footmen, all
Rush eager to the alehouse, or the ball;
The fragrant toilette of the crouded room,
The stables and the kitchen's mix'd perfume;
The minuet's sober note till midnight drawn,
The gayer dance beyond the hour of dawn,
While the vex'd gamester at his rubber hears
The eternal tune still droning in his ears;
The supper, circling toast, and choral lay,
Protracted far into the solid day;
The interrupted sleep, till noon again
Rouse to the early feast the drowsy train,
And to the bev'rage of the Indian weed
The smoking haunch and mantling bowl succeed.—
Is this Amusement?—Ask the county knight,
Press'd into pleasure in his own despight,
Who, quitting all the placid joys of home
For seven months session in St. Stephen's dome,
Compell'd each office of fatigue to share,
And every quarter fill the Quorum's chair,
Must all these mingled forms of mirth partake,
Drink, dance, and gamble for his country's sake;
Ask him if days in dull committees spent,
Or sleepless nights to oratory lent,
Tho' litigation waste the morning's hours,
Or fancy crown the eve with eastern flowers;
Ask him if months that toils like these employ,
Are half so hard as this oppressive joy.
Yet to the village sons who throng the ground,
Sent forth in numbers from each cottage round,
Who leave awhile untill'd the fertile soil,
And snatch a respite from diurnal toil,
These varied sports a real joy afford,
No art can give the pleasure-sated lord.
Behold the transports of yon festive scene,
Where the wide country on the tented green
Its inmates pours, impatient all to share
The expected pleasures of the annual fair!—
See to the amorous youth and village maid
The pedlar's silken treasury display'd;
The liquorish boy the yellow simnel eyes,
The champion's cudgel wins the envied prize;
The martial trumpet calls the gazers in
Where lions roar, or fierce hyenas grin.—
Responsive to the tabor's sprightly sound
Behold the jingling morrice beat the ground,
The neighing courser sleek and trick'd for sale,
Grains in his paunch and ginger in his tail;
The dwarf and giant painted to the life,
The spirit-stirring drum, and shrill-ton'd fife,
Prelusive to the warlike speech that charms
The kindling heroes of the plain to arms.—
Here bliss unfeign'd in every eye we trace,
Here heart-felt mirth illumines every face,
For pleasure here has never learn'd to cloy,
But days of toil enliven hours of joy.
Joy, how unlike its unsubstantial shade
Which faintly haunts the midnight masquerade,
Where the distorted vizard ill conceals
The deep ennui each languid bosom feels,
And, but for shame, each vot'ry of delight,
Fatigued with all the nonsense of the night,
Would, like Squire Richard, seek with sated eye
Wrestling and backsword for variety.
Nor do I fable—worn with constant care
Of fev'rish riot and fantastic glare,
From splendid luxury our youth resort
To all the roughness of barbarian sport,
And leave each softer elegance of town
To share the pastime of the rustic clown;
Croud to behold, on the forbidden stage,
Christian and Jew in bloody fight engage,
Amusement in a fractur'd shoulder spy,
And gaze with rapture on a batter'd eye.
Nor this alone: reflection's form to shun
To scenes of business indolence will run.
Fatigu'd and cloy'd, of rest impatient still,
What crouds the senate's loaded gall'ry fill!
From Siddons' tears and Jordan's smile they fly
To long harangues, impell'd by novelty;
As pleas'd when dulness lulls, with cadence deep,
Knights, citizens, and burgesses to sleep,
As when, aroused in freedom's hallow'd cause,
Unsullied praise the Son of Chatham draws,
And eloquence, with more than Grecian art,
Decks the pure dictates of a Cato's heart.
Of British politics, ah selfish pride!
Which joys like these to female ears deny'd;
Till beauty's champion, with attentive care,
Turn'd out a Nabob to divert the fair,
And now they hear his chosen band dispense
The cream of opposition eloquence.
But say, what fashionable form appears,
Whose vacant brow reflection's aspect wears?
Who rolls the eye with senseless sapience full,
In trifles wise, and venerably dull?—
I know him well.—In midnight fumes enclos'd
Of the Virginian weed, while Folly doz'd,
Dulness advanc'd with Aldermannic tread
In solemn silence to the ideot's bed,
And in the produce of the stol'n embrace
The father's sense, and mother's wit we trace:
Both with a parent's love their offspring kiss'd,
Presag'd his future fame, and call'd him Whist.
Far from the courtly race, in private bred,
With rural swains his early youth he led,
The chearing solace, by the wintry fire,
Of the fat parson or the drunken squire;
Till, when each livelier game could charm no more,
And dear Quadrille itself became a bore,
Capricious taste, with novel nonsense fraught,
To town this scientific stranger brought,
Taught him the courtly circle's smile to share,
Till fashion bade him reign sole monarch there.
Struck with amaze, his sprightlier rivals fly
The chilling torpor of his gorgon eye:
Spadille no longer rears his sable shield,
Pam drops his halberd and forsakes the field.—
See where around the silent vot'ries sit,
To radiant beauty blind, and deaf to wit;
Each vacant eye appears with wisdom fraught,
Each solemn blockhead looks as if he thought.
Here coward insolence insults the bold,
And selfish av'rice boasts his lust of gold;
Ill-temper vents her spleen without offence,
And pompous dulness triumphs over sense.
Should some intrusive infant in the room
Disturb with jocund voice the general gloom,
The parent's eye, with short-liv'd frenzy wild,
Reproves the frolic of his wiser child.—
O strange extreme of fancy's wayward mood!
Distemper'd pleasure's sickly change of food,
Which, loathing every taste of known delight,
Provokes with trash her blunted appetite.—
Yet, if this stretch of studious thought be joy,
Let schemes of use the anxious mind employ,
Turn Wingate's solid pages, or explore
The untried depth of mathematic lore;
Or else with Herschell's telescopic eye
Trace new-found planets thro' the vaulted sky;
Or, if the cold blood curdling round the heart,
Deny of science this sublimer part,
On politics awake the learn'd debate,
For every Briton knows to mend the state;
Nor strive in serious trifles to excel,
Which childhood even might blush to know too well.
Far from fantastic fashion's giddy range,
Far from the dulness of fastidious change,
Pleasure, by fancy's airy fingers dress'd,
Object of every wish in every breast,
Holds her abode; nor shall o'erweening pride
Her roseate smiles in gloomy accent chide.—
O may I oft partake her genial hour,
Join in her train, and bless her friendly power;
Oft taste the pure unsullied scenes of joy,
Where wit and beauty mingled charms employ;
The free libation of the temperate bowl,
'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul;'
The theatre, where truth, by genius dight,
Holds her broad mirror to the conscious sight;
The heart-felt thrilling of the warbled lay,
The dancing measures of the young and gay;
The manlier sports, where hope, by doubt repress'd,
With expectation fires the panting breast,
And languor on the upland brow inhales
New health and vigor from the morning gales;
The evening walk, when spring adorns the glades,
Or summer's foliage all the forest shades;
The joyous hours, when winter bids retire
To the warm comfort of the social fire;
The honest laugh, which care's stern brow unbends;
The brilliant jest, which shines but ne'er offends;
The tender strain, the hymn to Bacchus roar'd
In choral transport round the festive board;
The catch, which oft in vain the songsters try,
While one is still too low, and one too high,
Till, after many a fruitless effort pass'd,
The harmonious discord is produc'd at last;
Even cards, if cards can e'er the mind engage,
Divested quite of avarice and rage,
Even cards some drowsy interval may chear,
But ne'er in wisdom's borrow'd robe appear;—
And, only source of pleasure's keenest zest,
May some pursuit still animate the breast;
From whence, returning to the sportful hour,
Amusement charms with renovated power.
For let the Muse, in her concluding strain,
This truth impart to pleasure's votive train;—
Urg'd to excess all human bliss must cloy,
And joy perpetual ceases to be joy.
Naucratia; Or Naval Dominion. Part Iii.
Awhile let War his bloody banners fold,
And smiling Peace her gentler triumphs hold.
The generous flame that warm'd Eliza's days,
Shines forth in George's reign with brighter blaze.
Again Britannia's sons, through seas unknown,
Round Earth's vast circle trace a naval zone,
Her Wallis, Byron, Carteret, try once more
The course her Drake, her Ca'ndish led of yore.
And see true Genius, rais'd by native worth
O'er the proud claims of fortune and of birth,
Born to control the rage of winds and seas,
Skill'd to arrest the ravage of disease,
Her Cook behold!—before his eagle eye
The dread of death, the sense of hardship fly;
And o'er his sails Hygeia hovering, flings
Health's genial influence from her silver wings.
From the soft dalliance of the amorous train
Who haunt the islets of the Southern main,
Boldly he ventures to the rugged coast
Clad in the horrors of Antarctic frost,
Where endless winter o'er the iron plains
In all the pomp of desolation reigns:
His course he keeps with persevering soul,
To seek a more inhospitable pole.
For where the northern constellations rise
In the dim zenith of the chilling skies,
Still neighbouring Europe's friendly harbours yield
A near asylum from the frozen field.
Not so the southern regions—drear—unknown—
Rude coasts, where cheerless solitude alone
Reigns death-like in terrific silence, save
Where howling famine prowls the ice-bound wave.
Nought damps the breast pure virtue's flame inspires,
Not the red blaze of wild ambition's fires.
Sent by a Prince benign, whose parent sway
Freedom's true vot'ries glory to obey;
Friend to the human race,—whose generous mind,
His country bless'd,—that blessing o'er mankind
Prompt to extend, bids his expanding sails
Waft peace and plenty on the favouring gales.—
The gallant chief obeys with ready breast
His pious Sovereign's mild and just behest.
O'er oceans wafted, 'mid New Zealand's groves
Bleats the meek flock, the lowing heifer roves;
By guiltless plenty spread, dire feasts no more
The blushing herbage stain with human gore.
On Otaheité's soft and genial fields
Its cheering juice the vine ambrosial yields;
And on the enormous island's region wide,
A continent encircled by the tide,
O'er lands uncultur'd yellow harvests rise,
And infant cities meet the wondering eyes.
There, peopled realms with art and science crown'd,
Sages and kings in future times renown'd,
Truth's moral rules by deep reflection given,
And Faith's illumin'd creed, that opens heaven;
Scenes of warm hope, and ages of delight
Crowd in prophetic prospect on the sight.—
Such were the chiefs that fabling Greece of old
Amid her legendary gods enroll'd,
And taught her sons to pile the votive flame
To Pan's, to Ceres', and to Bacchus' name.
Mourn Virtue, mourn the rash insidious blow
That laid on earth thy faithful votary low!—
Yet as the weeping powers of Mercy pay
Their solemn tribute to their Cook's morai,
And o'er his tomb by guiltless laurels crown'd,
As the slow dirge and swelling hymn resound,
Proud of a son in toil, in danger tried,
Fearless in both, in both by blood undy'd,
Fame to the listening winds her voice shall raise,
And breathe the immortal song of virtuous praise;
While heavenly justice from the empyreal sphere
Sends down its seraphs to his briny bier,
To waft his spirit from the realms of night
To the bless'd mansions of celestial light.
O form'd o'er vice, o'er madness to prevail,
Bless'd source of blameless glory! Science, hail!—
When bleeding Discord rear'd her gorgon head,
And wide o'er earth and ocean ruin spread,
A generous foe to thy fam'd vot'ries gave
A peaceful passage o'er the hostile wave.—
Gallia! though stern Oppression's iron arm
Hung o'er thy plains, blasting each genial charm,
Thy gallant nobles knew with gentlest care
To heal by courtesy the wounds of war.—
Semblance alone of mercy—for beneath,
Writhed the fell serpent in the flowery wreath.—
The showy plumes that valour's crest adorn,
From pining Labour's wretched hands were torn,
And the kind smile that cheer'd the suppliant foe,
Frown'd unrelenting on domestic woe.—
The hour of vengeance comes!—but vengeance dress'd
In such dire horrors, that a rival's breast,—
An envied, injur'd rival's—swells with grief
At ills that pass excess, and mock belief.—
The hour of vengeance comes!—Justice in vain
Tries with numb'd arm the tempest to restrain.
She drops the sword, and Anarchy's wild hand
Waves the red torch of ruin o'er the land.—
Though her strong forts, and stronger hosts oppose
A dreadful barrier to assailing foes,
Domestic fury arm'd with civic rage,
Beyond the inroads of a Vandal age,
Spreading sad desolation's cruel sway,
Sweeps every trace of ancient worth away;
Rears slaughter's pile where slavery's fabric stood,
And stains fair Freedom's cause with blameless blood.—
So Ætna lifts aloft her haughty brow,
And hears the harmless tempest howl below:
Sublimely great, her azure head she shrouds
In the thick umbrage of surrounding clouds,
Her ample base while golden harvests hide,
And the ripe vintage purples o'er her side.—
But ah! the dreadful harbingers of doom
In silent ambush lurk within her womb,
Prompt at the fated moment to ascend,
And with fierce shock her fiery entrails rend;
Pour down the steeps with laughing plenty grac'd,
Lay every hope and every beauty waste,
Till the wide regions to the affrighted eye
One vast extent of smoking ruin lie.
Not to her native seats confin'd alone
Was struggling Gallia's wild convulsive groan;
With maniac rage she lifts her blood-stain'd hand,
And waves confusion o'er each neighbour land.
Europe's astonish'd sons, with trembling awe
Breathless and pale, the impending mischief saw,
And fearful threw their trembling eyes for aid
To shores their coward envy once betray'd.
Did Britain frown malignant on the woes
By fate retorted on her faithless foes?—
No—prone to godlike mercy, lo, she spreads
Her ample buckler o'er their prostrate heads.—
Each former wrong from memory's tablet tore,—
They were oppress'd, and she a foe no more.
Useless her generous aid—the furious bands
Pour like a torrent o'er Batavia's lands.
Iberia, struck with fear, the tempest flies,
And shameful safety by submission buys.
The swarming millions of exhaustless foes,
Nor valour can defeat, no skill oppose,
Vain was her force on foreign regions shewn,
Compell'd perhaps to combat for her own,
But that the guard of her surrounding wave
A potent check to mad invasion gave;
There in her native fortress firm she stood,
And frown'd defiance from her subject flood.
Not the wild frenzy of a transient hour
The trident firm can grasp of naval power.
That sceptre high she waves with sway supreme,
And scorns the phantoms of ambition's dream.—
Behold her veteran chief, victorious Howe,
The faded laurel tear from Gallia's brow;
On her own shores o'erthrown her naval pride,
Her captur'd ships in Britain's harbours ride.—
From brave Cornwallis' sails, in base retreat,
Flies with inglorious speed the numerous fleet.
Safe in the sheltering port, the timid foe
Eludes of Bridport's arm the threat'ning blow;
By peril taught with what resistless might
He knew to hurl the tempest of the fight.
And valiant Jarvis by the Iberian coast
Pours on the faithless foe his scanty host.
Superior squadrons rashly try in vain,
With swarming numbers to usurp the main;
Strict discipline to skill and courage join'd,
A penetrating eye, and ardent mind,
Conceive and execute the bold design,—
His thunder breaks the bold extended line,
And with a dauntless few he bears away
The well earn'd spoils of Britain's proudest day.
Pure source of every joy! mild Concord, bring
Each healing blessing on thy snowy wing;
Teach the wild storm of ruthless war to cease,
And charm the nations to the reign of Peace.
Then happier Commerce to the ambrosial gale
Shall free and fearless spread her welcome sail;
Waft wealth and plenty on each favouring breeze,
And dread no danger but from winds and seas.
Yet must the Muse, though cruel seem her lays,
Her warning voice in strain prophetic raise.
When hush'd to peace the ruder tempests sleep,
And Zephyr gently curls the rippling deep,
Will the skill'd mariner disarm his mind,
Lull'd by the placid swell and silken wind?—
No—long experience points the uncertain skies
Where unexpected whirlwinds sudden rise:
And though amid th'unruffled seas of spring
The flitting halcyon dip his azure wing,
By danger school'd, he stands prepar'd to brave
The loudest fury of the wintery wave.
Foster'd too oft by Peace's laughing reign,
Will luxury corrupt her fair domain:
Too oft with timid eye will Commerce gaze
On the rich stores surrounding wealth displays;
Then chill'd by danger, and by toil dismay'd,
Buy from a foreign force precarious aid.—
So Carthage fell!—in native strength elate
While the bold inmates of her rival state,
A race rapacious, unexhausted stood,
Resistless sons of rapine and of blood.—
War's dreadful clarion by Ambition blown,
The Muse of mercy ever must disown,
Though selfish pride assume the patriot's name,
And worlds, misjudging, call oppression fame:
Yet while by Cruelty or Avarice led,
Arm'd Violence will rear the hydra head;
While warlike hords will gaze with harpy eye
On the rich fields of peace and industry;
Let not her moral strain, seductive, charm
The sword of vengeance from the manly arm;
Or, while of war's destructive band she sings,
Forget what ill from coward softness springs:—
Full well she knows to paint the horrors spread
Terrific o'er the bleeding soldier's head,
When sinking breathless 'neath the hostile wound,
Wild War's insulting tumult raging round,
The last convulsive throe of ebbing life
Hangs on the orphan child and widow'd wife.
But ah! though dread that scene—let fancy trace
The woes degrading of the unwarlike race,
The gentle sons of sentimental fear,
Too weak to guard what manhood holds most dear,
When lust and murder with unbridled sway
Speed o'er their ruin'd seats their fatal way.—
Then to the gallant race who bravely stand
A breathing bulwark to their native land,
Shall not the Muse with care assiduous raise
The deathless guerdon of unblemish'd praise,
And o'er the martyr'd soldier's hallow'd bier
Pour with swoll'n eye affliction's grateful tear?—
Secure those chiefs of glory's purest meed,
Like Hawke who conquer, or like Wolfe who bleed.
Arm'd in her cause, on Chalgrave's fatal plain,
Where sorrowing Freedom mourns her Hambden slain,
Say, shall the moralizing bard presume
From his proud hearse to tear one warlike plume,
Because a Cæsar or a Cromwell wore
An impious wreath, wet with their country's gore?
Oft as the exulting Muse with pride surveys
The pile of fame Britannia's navies raise,
Trembling she sees the glorious fabric stand
On the loose basis of a shifting sand.
Athens and Carthage shine on history's page,
Portentous beacons to a distant age.—
How high their naval power, her annals tell,
Her annals too record how soon they fell.—
So may Britannia fall—yon bleeding shore,
Wasted by black revenge, and drench'd with gore,
Her commerce lost, her shatter'd fleets destroy'd,
Her coasts by predatory war annoy'd;
Her frantic sons by brutal fury stung,
Flames in the eye, and poison on the tongue,
Rushing in wild delirium of disease
With venom'd fang their shrinking foes to seize,
Spreading with hornet rage destruction round,
And satisfied to perish, if they wound.—
Yet, strong in native power, should Peace again
Bless with returning smile her genial plain,
Soon would her renovated fields display
Their freshening treasures to the healing ray;
As spring, emerging from the wintery blast,
Her flowers unfolds, nor heeds the tempest past.
But should the horrors of domestic broil,
Or hostile inroad Britain's bosom spoil;—
Whelm'd in the blood-stain'd wave her naval force,
Or basely poison'd in its vital source;
Though her firm sons in sullen courage stood,
And mark'd invasion's fatal paths with blood;
Though myriads pour'd upon her shores in vain,
But whiten'd with their bones her hostile plain;
Though Fame, where'er she turn'd her wondering eyes,
Beheld new Agincourts, new Creçis rise;
Yet, press'd at home, while on each distant coast
She mourn'd her empire sunk, her commerce lost,
Prone in the dust her vaunted power would lie,
Undone, amid the shouts of victory.
So when the loud tornado's fatal powers
Shake from their base the city's lofty towers,
The ruin'd fragments lie, no more to rise
Beneath the influence bland of brightening skies;
But noisome weeds 'mid the fall'n columns spread,
And the loath'd reptile shrouds his venom'd head.
'Tis not the oak whose hardy branches wave
O'er Britain's cliffs, and all her tempests brave;
'Tis not the ore her iron bowels yield,
The cordage growing on her fertile field,
That form her naval strength.—'Tis the bold race
Laughing at toil, and gay in danger's face,
Who quit with joy, when fame and glory lead,
Their richest pasture and their greenest mead,
The perils of the stormy deep to dare,
And jocund own their dearest pleasures there.
One common zeal the manly race inspires,
One common cause each ardent bosom fires,
From the bold youth whose agile limbs ascend
The giddy mast when angry winds contend,
And while the yard dips low its pointed arm,
Clings to the cord, and sings amidst the storm,
To the experienced chief, who knows to guide
The labouring vessel through the rolling tide;
Or when contending squadrons fierce engage,
Directs the battle's thunder where to rage:—
All, all alike with cool unfeign'd delight
Brave the tempestuous gale, and court the fight.
Britain! with jealous industry maintain
The sacred sources of this generous train,
Daring beyond what fable sings of old,
Yet mild in conquest, and humane as bold;
Now rushing on the foe with frown severe,
Now mov'd to mercy by compassion's tear.—
Fierce as the ruthless elements they brave
When their wrong'd country calls them to the wave;
Mild as the softest breeze that fans thy isle,
When sooth'd by peace and wooing beauty's smile.
A race peculiar to thy happy coast,
But lost by folly once, for ever lost.
Ne'er from the lap of luxury and ease
Shall spring the hardy warrior of the seas.—
A toilsome youth the mariner must form,
Nurs'd on the wave, and cradled in the storm.
This school thy coasts supply—the unwrought ore
Wafted from port to port around thy shore,
The northern mines, that sable stores unfold
To chase from blazing hearths frore winter's cold;—
These nurseries have train'd the daring crew
Through storms and war thy glory to pursue:
These have thy leaders train'd, and naval fame
Reads in their rolls her Cook's immortal name.
O ne'er may Commerce with misdeeming zeal
Weaken this source, her own, her country's weal,
And the canal, by tortur'd streams supplied,
Along our coasts with baleful labour guide,
Then boast, if war insults our chalky shores,
It yields safe conduct to our arms and stores.—
Perish such safety!—ne'er may commerce know
Safe conduct here but from a vanquish'd foe.—
Where mountain forests spread their deep'ning shade,
Where metals lurk beneath the midland glade,
Where mingled art and industry combine,
Weave the rich web, the liquid ore refine,
Let the canal, scoop'd out with plastic care,
To distant marts the useful produce bear;
But never may its stagnate waters lave
The sandy borders of the briny wave,
Or the rude bargeman's vile inglorious race
The generous hero of the sea replace.
O Millbrook! shall my devious feet no more
Pace the smooth margin of thy pebbly shore?
No more my eyes, when even the zephyrs sleep,
View the broad mirror of thy glassy deep,
Where the reflected spire and bordering shade
Inverted shine, by softer tint portray'd;
Or by the dancing moon-beam's silvery gleam
See the bright ripple of the curling stream,
While round the passing bark as eddies play,
A track of trembling radiance marks her way;
Or as the surge with ineffectual roar
Spends its rude force on the surrounding shore,
Behold its harmless vengeance idly beat
With vain and baffled fury at my feet?—
No more along the Channel's azure space
My sight the ship's expanding sail shall trace,
Through whose white folds—clad by the leafy year,
On the green uplands future fleets appear!—
Now through the stagnate pool, by banks confin'd,
Rolls the slow barge, dragg'd by the inglorious hind.—
By vengeance arm'd, ye powers of ocean rise!
And when full orb'd in equinoctial skies
The pale moon hangs, and with malignant pride
Rouses the driving storm, and swells the tide,
Lift high the trident, and with giant blow
Lay of vain man the pigmy labours low,
Chastize the weak presumption that would chain
The briny surge, and subjugate the main.
Though bold, and skill'd in all his native art,
On shore the mariner's incautious heart
Unpractic'd in the devious paths of guile
Falls a sure prey to each insidious wile;
Hence oft the dupe of selfish avarice made,
Hence oft by beauty's venal smile betray'd;
And hence did Faction once with treacherous aim
Lure the brave seaman from the paths of fame;
And Britain saw, amaz'd, her strongest power
On her own head with dreadful aspect lower;
While the base art of Gallic miscreants draws
Her truest patriots from their country's cause.—
Turn—turn the eye, nor view the only stain
That blots the annals of our naval reign;
On one dark tint of shame O cease to gaze,
Lost in surrounding glory's brighter blaze;
As the small spots that cloud the orb of day
Vanish to nothing in his noontide ray!
And see the beams of naval glory rise
Bright in meridian splendour to the skies!
Batavia's fleets, which long our hovering host
Held timid prisoners on their sheltering coast,
The transitory hour of absence seize,
And give their canvas to the freshening breeze.
The buoyant cutter spreads her agile wings,
And to our coast the wish'd-for tidings brings;
The foe's designs while valiant Trollope views,
By turns eludes them, and by turns pursues.
Soon as the bark arrives in Garien's bay,
Where Britain's wave-worn vessels anchoring lay,
Instant aloft the expected signal flies,
All view with beating hearts and ardent eyes;
All see with joy the leading flag display'd,
Bent is each sail, and every anchor weigh'd:
With canvas crowded groans the bending mast,
Loud through the cordage sings the favouring blast,
And as the keels the foaming surge divide,
Before the prow wild roars the whitening tide.
And now their eyes with glance impatient meet
The long hop'd prospect of the adverse fleet.
No squadron this by hands unskilful sped,
A race of seamen by a seaman led.—
Impetuous through the battle's fiery tides
The storm of war heroic Duncan guides.
The opposing line is pierced—when clustering foes
Vindictive round the daring warrior close;
Now on his beam the vollied thunders break
With dreadful peal, and now his stern they rake;—
Calm 'mid the fiery storm of death he stands,
Firm in his conduct, clear in his commands.—
Courage must bend to greater courage still,
Superior numbers to superior skill.
Her masts o'erthrown, and pil'd with dead her deck,
The Belgic leader lies a cumbrous wreck;
The scatter'd squadrons see with haggard eye
Britannia's ensign o'er Batavia's fly.
Dismay'd,—confus'd,—along the stormy main
Vainly they try the friendly coast to gain:
For all whose barks the battle's rage had borne,
Their timbers batter'd, and their cordage torn,
Fall to the victor's power,—while a mean race,
Veiling in coward boasts their own disgrace,
Safe in the shoaly Texel's channel, tell
How Belgium triumph'd, and Britannia fell.
What trophies shall the Muse to Duncan raise,
Whose worth transcends the boldest flight of praise?—
Will all the powers man's genius can display
Give added lustre to the beams of day?
His virtues shine in native worth array'd,
Nor want, nor ask, precarious flattery's aid.
Him to his senate Britain's Monarch calls,
His praise resounding from that senate's walls;
Walls where in woven tints portray'd are seen
The naval triumph of the maiden Queen.
The delegated sons of Britain's choice
In his applauses speak a people's voice;
And while from Caledonia's northern skies,
Prolific parent of the brave and wise,
Bursts the full strain in patriot ardour loud
Of such a son with honest vaunting proud,
England asserts her share of Duncan's fame,
And claims the hero in Britannia's name.
Nor, Onslow, shall the Muse to thee deny
The warrior's meed, the wreath of victory;
Or, gallant Burgess, o'er thy trophied bier
Forget to pour the tributary tear.
Nor the less known, though not less valiant train,
Who, nobly purging faction's recent stain,
Rush'd to the watery field at glory's call,
Unprais'd shall live, nor unlamented fall.—
Ah, gallant race! by bleeding victory crown'd,
Who, while life's current stream'd from every wound,
Cried with exulting, though with parting breath,
‘Now has our faith been prov'd!’ and smil'd in death.
Nor o'er the tombs of those who nobly died
Hang only pageant plumes of funeral pride;
All ranks unite to aid whom all revere,
And wipe the widow's and the orphan's tear:
Not opulence the boon alone bestows,
From humbler hearts the stream benignant flows;
And while the chiefs of Britain's banner'd host
Console the friends of kindred warriors lost,
The meanest soldier of the generous band
His scantier offering brings with liberal hand.
Imperial mistress of the briny plains,
Without a rival, now Britannia reigns.
Where'er in warlike pomp her barks appear,
Abash'd her recreant foes avow their fear,
On Gallia's threat'ning boasts, with scornful frown,
From her white cliffs she looks indignant down;
And while her fleet each clime remote explores,
While wide increasing Commerce spreads her stores
Wealth, science, courage, mingled flowers bestow
To deck the naval crown on George's brow.
Ye laurel'd chiefs, who rais'd his billowy reign!
Ye living heroes, who that power maintain!
Whose actions of renown my voice has sung
In feeble accents with a faltering tongue,
Forgive the daring effort, nor repine,
Though but recorded in a verse like mine.
The proudest Muse who soars on fiction's wings
Dims the bright lustre of the deeds she sings,
The minstrels of the epic song of old,
Who mighty acts of fabled chiefs unfold,
What seeds of fame for others have they sown,
Whose glorious works ennobled but their own?—
Your worth on that eternal base shall live
Nor fiction can destroy nor fiction give;
For History on her adamantine page
Those names displays to Time's remotest age,
Who free and fearless Glory's track pursued
Through every danger, and o'er every flood,
Britannia's thunder on Oppression hurl'd,
And thron'd her empress of the naval world.
Yet though the Muse wake not her sounding strings
With cadence equal to the theme she sings,
Oft tuned to humbler mood, her warbled lay
Has cheer'd the seaman on his watery way;
Now painting to his mind the faithful band
Of love and friendship in his native land,
Hailing with accents partial to the brave
The kind and constant warrior of the wave;
Now chanting slow the melancholy dirge
To Hosier, festering on the hostile surge;
Now striking loud the free heroic lyre
Kindling the blaze of emulative fire,
While the recording sailor's notes repeat
How gallant Russel vanquish'd Gallia's fleet.—
Nor let the sons of letter'd pride despise
Germs whence the vigorous shoots of valour rise:
So Attic freedom own'd Harmodius' strain,
So rous'd Tyrtæus' song the Spartan train.
Never shall Anarchy's mad dæmon tread
Insulting here, o'er Freedom's hallow'd head,
While Freedom's sons in festive carol raise
To George and Liberty their votive lays;
Never shall sink Britannia's naval fire
While rous'd to glory by her Thomson's lyre.—
Responsive to his lay, her Genius long
In act shall realize the raptur'd song
His fancy heard—what time the angelic train
Hail'd the bless'd isle emerging from the main,
With seraph hand their golden viols strung,
And to his ear the hymn prophetic sung.—
‘Long as her native oak's strong limbs defy
‘The furious blasts that rend her stormy sky,
‘Long as her rocky shores the ocean laves,
‘Shall Freedom and Britannia rule the waves.’
Alfred. Book Vi.
ARGUMENT. Consequences of the Battle of Eddington.—The Danes blockaded on Ashdown.—Circumstances attending the Surrender and Conversion of Guthrum, Chief of the Danes.—Second Prophecy of the future Fortune of Alfred, and of the British Islands.— Homage from the united Army to Alfred.—Conclusion.
Soon as the Morn, in rosy mantle dight,
Spread o'er the dewy hills her orient light,
The victor monarch ranged his warrior train,
In martial order on the embattled plain;
Ready to front again the storm of fight,
Or urge the advantage, and pursue the flight;
But not the horizon's ample range could show
A trace, a vestige, of the vanquish'd foe.
Now, from the exulting host, in triumph peal'd,
The shouts of conquest shake the echoing field;
While, to the sheltering convent's hallow'd walls,
A softer voice the laurel'd hero calls;
Where, from the bloody scene of fight removed,
Trembling, 'mid hope and fear for all she loved,
Elsitha, prostrate on the earth, implored
Blessings on Albion's arms, and Albion's lord.
Sweet were the warrior's feelings, when he press'd
His lovely consort to his beating breast;
Sweet too, Elsitha, thine—with conquest crown'd,
To see the mighty chief, in arms renown'd,
Though loud the chearing shouts of conquest rise,
And war's triumphant clangor rends the skies,
Forego the scenes of public joy awhile,
To share the bliss of Love's domestic smile.
Yet such, alas! of human joy the state,
Some grief on Fortune's brightest hours must wait;
Amid the victor laurel's greenest wreath,
Twines the funereal bough of pain and death.
Elsitha's eye, among the conquering train,
Seeks many a friend, and near ally, in vain.
Leofric, her brother's heir, whose ardent breast
Her influence, mild and bland, had oft repress'd;
Would Indignation's angry frown reprove,
Or warn him from the dangerous smiles of Love;
Leofric, who, when the dawn awoke her fears,
Dried, with consoling voice, her gushing tears,
Mangled, and lifeless, from the combat borne,
Refutes, at eve, the promised hope of morn.
And, as her heart the painful image draws,
Of youthful Donald bleeding in her cause,
The royal warrior, beautiful and brave,
A timeless victim of the silent grave,
O'er her swoll'n breast a softer sorrow steals,
Her heart a warmer sense of pity feels,
While tears, as pure as seraph eyes might shed,
Flow o'er his memory, and embalm him dead.
Even Alfred, when his firmer looks survey
The field of fate, in morning's sober ray,
See Victory's guerdon, though with safety fraught,
By blood of kindred heroes dearly bought.
Though myriads saved from slavery and death,
Their spirits waft to Heaven with grateful breath:
Yet chiefs of noble race, and nobler worth,
Glory and grace of Albion's parent earth,
Extended pale and lifeless in his sight,
Check the tumultuous tide of full delight;
And as the hymns of praise ascend the air,
His bosom bows in penitence and prayer,
O'er the red sword Contrition's sorrows flow,
Though Freedom steel'd its edge, and Justice sped the blow.
But when he views, along the tented field,
With trailing banner, and inverted shield,
Young Donald, borne by Scotia's weeping bands,
In deeper woe the generous hero stands.
'O, early lost,' with faultering voice he cried,
'In the fresh bloom of youth and glory's pride;
Dear, gallant friend! while memory here remains,
While flows the tide of life through Alfred's veins,
Ne'er shall thy virtues from this breast depart,
Ne'er Donald's worth be blotted from this heart.—
Yet the stern despot of the silent tomb,
Who spreads o'er youth and age an equal doom,
Shall here no empire boast,—his ruthless dart
That pierced, with cruel point, thy manly heart,
Snatch'd from his iron grasp, by hovering Fame,
Graves, in eternal characters, thy name.
All who the radiance of thy morn have seen,
Shall augur what thy noon-tide ray had been,
If Fate's decree had given thy rising sun
Its full career of glory to have run;
But oft are Valour's fires, that early blaze,
Quench'd in the crimson cloud their ardours raise.—
'Ah, wretched Gregor! how can words relate,
To thy declining age, thy Donald's fate?
For while of such a son the untimely doom
Drags thy gray hairs in sorrow to the tomb,
Each tale of praise, that tries to soothe thy care,
But wounds thy heart, and plants new horrors there.—
On me, on England's cause, the curse shall fall,
On me the wretched sire shall frantic call;
Who from his arms his soul's last solace led,
On distant plains to mingle with the dead.
Then O, my valiant friends, whose ears attest
Of Donald's dying voice the sad bequest,
With yours my dearest care shall be combined
To smooth the tempests of your monarch's mind;
With you protect, from War's, from Faction's rage,
The feeble remnant of his waning age.
As round our isle the azure billow roars,
From all the world dividing Britain's shores,
Within its fence be Britain's nations join'd
A world themselves, yet friends of human-kind.'
He ceased,—the words applauding Scotia hails,
And low the spear in filial homage vails,
Homage to Alfred, and to England's train,
Eternal friendship vows, and equal reign,
While swells in shouts of transport to the wind,
'Never shall man divide, whom Heaven has join'd!'
And now the light-arm'd foot, and agile horse,
Whose speed pursued the invader's flying force,
Returning from the chase, to Alfred show
The distant refuge of the scatter'd foe.
Through woods and heaths they urge the swift career,
Pale Terror hanging on their trembling rear;
Nor thought of rest, nor hope of safety find,
And hear the victor's shouts in every wind,
Till distant Ashdown's verdant height they scale,
Tremendous frowning o'er Berochia's vale,
On the proud summit of whose rampired steep
Hangs the strong mound, o'er trenches broad and deep;
Where erst her wing Rome's towering eagle spread,
In haughty triumph o'er the Briton's head.
The Monarch hears, and bids his troops prepare
Their flight to follow, and renew the war,
Resolved to sweep from Albion's rescued coast,
The last remains of Scandinavia's host.
'To-day in peace the social hours employ,
In moderate triumph, and in temperate joy:
Let the skill'd Leech the wounded warrior tend,
The generous soldier mourn his parted friend;
Let holy priests, with orison sincere,
Chant the sad requiem o'er the hero's bier;
But when the morrow's dawn first gilds the plain,
Let war's stern duties reassume their reign;
Beneath its banners, let each different band,
Prompt to obey, in silent order stand,
The trumpet's signal waiting, to pursue
The distant squadrons, and the fight renew.'
The chiefs fulfil their king's behest,—the day
In joy, by grief attemper'd, wears away.
For Valour mourns, mid Conquest's chearful cries,
Of friendship, and of blood, the sever'd ties.
But sheath'd in radiant arms, by morn's first light,
The ardent warriors claim the promised fight.
The clarion blows—silent the steady throng
In close compacted order move along;
Each rank, each file, prepared with martial care,
Instant to form the threatening front of war,
Should, from the hollow vale, or mountain's crest,
The ambush'd foe their toilsome march molest.
Twice dewy morn unveil'd her eyelids gray,
Twice blush'd the dappled west with setting day,
While onward still the unwearied victors pass'd,
Till Ashdown's verdant summits rose at last.
The scene of former fame as Alfred hails,
Omen of hope in every breast prevails.
There, on the summit of the embattled brow,
In eve's red beam, the Danish banners glow;
For Guthrum, gathering courage from despair,
The relics of the war collected there.
Close round the camp his host the Briton draws,
And with his mail-clad foot the fortress awes.
While a selected troop, by Edgar led,
Their wakeful guard wide o'er the champaign spread,
Scouring, with rapid steeds, the extended lawn,
In distant circle, till the approach of dawn.
Now sinks of twilight dim the last faint gleam,
And Hesper yields to Luna's brighter beam.
For with full orb the effulgent Queen of Night
Shed, through a cloudless sky, her silver light.—
O'er the broad downs her rays their lustre throw,—
A flood of radiance gilds the vale below.
There the high trees, in splendour keen array'd,
Cast every deep recess in darker shade;
Their leafy summits waving to the sight,
Seem a vast flood of undulating light.—
When, issuing from the camp, a warlike train,
Their bright arms glittering, speed across the plain.
The alarm is instant given,—the Saxon horse
Close on their passage, and oppose their course.
Hemm'd and surrounded by a mightier host,
Useless is flight, and hope from combat lost.
Urging their swift career, with rested lance,
As on each side the circling troops advance,
A voice exclaims, 'Ye English chiefs, forbear!—
Those who nor fight, nor fly, in pity spare.
From yon fenced camp, where morning's rising ray
Shall scenes of carnage and of death display,
This youth, from Guthrum sprung, whose arms nor feel
Valour's firm nerve, nor grasp the warrior's steel,
His royal sire, beneath my guidance, sends
To seek protection from his distant friends.
Your vigilance has marr'd his vain design,
To you, ourselves, our weapons, we resign,
If we must fall, opposed in arms who stood,
Stain not your swords with unoffending blood.'
'Well may the race, in Murder's livery dyed,
Such fate expect,' the gallant Edgar cried.—
'Though mid the thunder of the battle's storm,
Where Horror stalks abroad in ghastly form,
The victor's falchion, with vindictive blow,
May strike a flying, or a yielding foe,
Yet cool, in peaceful parle, the English sword
An unresisting bosom never gored;
Ne'er have our warriors wreak'd their impious rage
On woman, helpless infancy, or age;
To Alfred's tent, devoid of terror, go,
Who in a suppliant, ne'er beholds a foe.'
Straight to the circling camp which Albion's race,
Round Denmark's steep and guarded fortress, trace,
Brave Edgar bids his bands their captives bring,
The royal youth presenting to the king:
Trembling before the monarch's feet he kneels,
Who all the man, and all the parent feels.
'Dismiss thy fears,' with voice benign he said,
His hand extending to the youth dismay'd;
'That mercy which I trembling ask of Heaven,
To mortal suffering ever shall be given.
Such pity as, I trust, my child would know,
From the brave bosom of a generous foe;
Such, bless'd by Providence, my conquering sword
Shall, to the offspring of my foe, afford.
Cursed be the coward rage that sees offence,
Howe'er derived, in weeping innocence!—
Let every doubt, and every terror end,
And in your father's foe, embrace a friend.'
Contending passions struggling in the breast,
Low sinks the youth, by fear and hope depress'd.
Edgar, as prompt to succour and to spare,
As the dread front of bleeding war to dare,
Caught the faint stripling ere he reach'd the ground,
And from his head the shining helm unbound.
Though on the lips was Death's pale ensign spread,
Though from the cheek the blooming rose was fled,
Though on the liquid radiance of the eyes,
The sable lash a silken curtain lies,
Yet o'er the brows, which, with the forehead, show
Like jet encircled in a bed of snow,
Flows in loose ringlets to the fresh'ning air
The soft redundance of the ambrosial hair,
And charms, of more than mortal grace, betray'd
The form and features of a beauteous maid.
Soon as that form struck Edgar's starting eyes,
'My Emma here?' the youth enraptured cries:
'And do these looks once more her beauties trace?
These arms now clasp her in their fond embrace?—
Look up, my love, and with thy fragrant breath
My bosom free from anguish worse than death.'
Waked by the well-known voice, her eye unseal'd,
Through the dark lid returning life reveal'd,
Again their beams reviving pleasure speak,
Again the tint of health illumes her cheek,
And, leaning on young Edgar's raptured breast,
A silent tear her blushing love confess'd.
'Dear beauteous maid,' he cried, 'from me receive
Each tender care that love, that truth can give:
To thee their thanks shall England's chieftains bring,
And bless the charms that rescued England's king.
Love, love of thee, thy faithful Edgar gave
To Guthrum's power a voluntary slave.
Love form'd the spell that drew me to remain
Mid the rude sons of Riot's desperate reign,
Where one soft glance from lovely Emma's eye,
O'erpaid the galling pangs of slavery.
Hence 'twas my hap—to Heaven's protecting power
May grateful Albion consecrate the hour!—
To warn my sovereign, with prophetic breath,
From the abode of danger and of death.
Hence, too, my voice his faithful followers drew
To save Elsitha from a ruffian crew,
Of whose dire cruelty the mildest doom
Is the swift mercy of an instant tomb.'
'Bless'd be thy aid! the lovely cause be bless'd!
For ever partner of Elsitha's breast.—
'Mine, mine,' the royal matron cries, 'the care
To soothe the sorrows of the weeping fair,
From me the Danish maid shall ever prove
At once a parent's and a sister's love.'
Sweet tears of joy now fill the virgin's eye,
Her gentle bosom breathes the grateful sigh,
While a kind glance her looks on Edgar stole
Spoke the soft language of her inmost soul.
Soon the report to Guthrum rumour brings,
For evil tidings fly on eagle wings,
That, by the radiance of the moon betray'd,
The hostile camp detain'd the captive maid.
A herald to the English king he sent
To ask safe conduct to the royal tent.—
The solemn pledge of safety given, he sought
The British host, with splendid ransome fraught;
Where, as along the martial files he pass'd,
Each soldier's eye a glance of triumph cast,
To view the tyrant of the wasted land,
Sad, and unarm'd, an humble suppliant stand.
Yet still was grief by rage indignant drown'd,
Still on his rugged brow defiance frown'd.—
But when the chief his blushing daughter saw
Respect from all, and kind attention draw;
Saw his benignant foes employ their care,
To soothe each terror of the anxious fair,
A kindly beam of fond affection stole,
Unfelt before, across his stubborn soul.
Struggling, he scarce restrain'd the swelling sigh,
Scarce check'd the tear that trembled in his eye;
The stifled pang his faltering voice suppress'd,
He show'd the gold, and silence told the rest.
'Think not,' the Monarch cried, 'our mercy sold;
The mercenary price of proffer'd gold;
Treasures, by plunder gain'd, the lawless spoil
Of England's ruin'd towns, and wasted soil;—
Can these the indignant owners' vengeance bribe,
Panting to force them from your vanquish'd tribe?
Soon as the orient beams of morn are shed
Shall, o'er your camp, war's furious storm be sped.
Nor think yon feeble mounds your heads can shield,
When kindling fury calls us to the field;
When wrongs beyond the strength of man to bear,
Harden each heart, and sharpen every spear.
Look forth on yonder field, and trembling see
Superior numbers, fired by victory.
Numbers, increasing still with every hour,
Croud from the regions round, and swell our power;
Determined each to make your slaughter'd host
A dreadful landmark on the English coast,
And paint Invasion's image on your shore,
In the dire blazonry of Danish gore.
Mistake me not—we do not wish to gain
By threats, a prize our swords must soon obtain.
But anxious to withhold the fatal blow,
To spare a vanquish'd, though a cruel, foe.
Pitying I view the horrors that await,
Your fortress forced, and mercy ask'd too late;
When, by retentive sway no longer bound,
The insatiate fiends of havoc stalk around.
'In safety to your camp return, and there
Weigh well your state in council,—and prepare
Once more the dread award of war to try,
Or trust a generous victor's clemency.—
For this sweet maid, whom Fortune's changeful hour
Has given a captive to my happier power,
Whether you yield to Concord's gentler charms,
Or dare the stern arbitrement of arms,
I pledge my faith her beauties to restore,
Free, and unransomed, to her native shore;
Or, if she fear o'er ocean's wave to roam,
I am her parent, and my realm her home.'
'Enough! enough!' the Danish chief replies,
The bursting shower now gushing from his eyes;
'Firm 'gainst your conquering numbers had I stood,
And, lost to hope, bought glory with my blood,
Smiling elate in death, while round me rose
A dreadful monument of bleeding foes;
But mercy, pure as thine, O, England's lord!
Subdues the stubborn breast that scorns thy sword.
'Go to my camp, declare the conflict o'er,
That Alfred sways, and we resist no more;
Tell them, the sanguine toils of battle cease,—
Here I remain, a hostage of the peace.'
The Danes, with doubting eye and sullen breast,
Receive, in silence deep, their king's behest,
Yet unresolved, or at his will to yield,
Or try again the fortune of the field.
But when the morn's returning light display'd,
Far as the eye the spacious scene survey'd,
Gleams of refulgent arms on every side,
And myriads crowding still to swell the tide,
Hope from resistance sunk,—and bending low
Their banners, trail'd in dust, submission show,
Slow issuing on the plain, the yielding band,
By their piled arms, in anxious silence stand.
To whom the victor thus:—'Dismiss your fear,
Nor vengeance shall ye feel, nor insult hear;
The galling taunts a captive's ear that brave,
Tarnish the brightest trophies valour gave.
To those who wish from Albion's realms to fly,
Who pant for Scandinavia's bleaker sky,
My friendly barks shall yield free conduct o'er,
Shall land in safety on their native shore;
But all who here have ties congenial form'd,
Whose bosoms Albion's milder scenes have charm'd,
Beneath our sway protected may remain,
May freely cultivate the wasted plain;
For much, alas! of our unhappy soil,
Ravaged by war, demands the labourer's toil;
So by your care shall plenty be restored,
Your ploughs repair the ruin of your sword.
Though your remorseless priests, the conflict o'er,
Their bloody idols sate with human gore,
Our holy faith, with lenient precept, shows
The light of pity to repentant foes.—
Demons of Hell grasp Persecution's rod,
Mercy's the darling attribute of God.'
First ran a murmur through the attentive crowd,
Then shouts of joy their glad assent avow'd.
A few, by early ties to Denmark bound,
Cross'd the blue ocean to their natal ground;
But most, from infancy inured to roam,
War their employment, and a camp their home,
Unknown the wish, which turns with fond delight,
To woods and fields that charm'd the infant sight,
While barren moors, in memory's tablet drawn,
Eclipse of cultured care the greenest lawn,
In fertile England fix, nor wish to try
A harsher region, or a ruder sky,
Her laws adopting, happy to obey
The mild decrees of Alfred's parent sway;
Abjure the Pagan lore, whose fiend-like breath
Taught horrid rites of cruelty and death,
For that pure faith, with angel meekness fraught,
To unresisting foes which kindness taught.
From the brave hand his conquest that achieved
The holy cross the Danish chief received,
Wash'd, by the sacred lymph, from sin's foul ban,
No longer Guthrum now, but Athelstan.
Circling a mount, high rising from the plain,
The honour'd tomb of ancient heroes slain,
The minstrel train around, in choral lays
The exulting peal of peace and triumph raise,
While loud the thrilling harp's melodious wire
Vibrates responsive to the vocal choir.
When, issuing from the rest, with awful gait,
Slow moves a sacred troop, in solemn state,
A snowy garb each form majestic wears,
Each on his arm a golden viol bears.
Alfred with wonder, mid the hallow'd band
Conspicuous, sees Cornubia's Druid stand;
Him who, 'mid Athelney's surrounding shade,
Of distant times the glorious scenes display'd;
On the green summit of the grassy mound
Aloft he stands, and views the region round.
Again his heart mysterious strains inspire,
Again his accents breathe prophetic fire,
Which bursting boldly from his struggling breast,
In notes like these the attentive king address'd.
'Alfred, lo! now confirm'd my mystic strain,
Conquest her ensigns waves o'er Albion's reign;
Crown'd with success thy pious efforts see,
Thy foes are vanquish'd, and thy people free.
Much yet for thee remains;—in ether blue
Where yon bold heights melt from the aching view,
Beneath their base, among the flowery meads,
Her silver current gentle Isis leads.
There, to the Muse, must thy protective power
The solemn shade extend, and rear the tower.
Amid the warrior-laurel's blood-stain'd leaves,
Behold her brighter laurel Science weaves.
Lo! Rhedecyna's princely domes arise,
And shoot their thousand turrets to the skies.
There shall Religion light her holy flame,
And moral Wisdom glow at Virtue's name;
With desultory step shall Study rove,
In rapt attention, through each twilight grove.
There all that lies in volumes famed of old,
All that inquiring ages can unfold,
Whatever toil, or genius, can impart,
To charm, inform, and purify the heart,
Sought, and combined, by Education's hand,
Shall spread instruction round the illumined land.
'There, as from war relieved, thy bosom woos,
In Science' awful shade, the moral Muse,
The hallow'd form of Themis shall arise,
Her ample volume opening to thine eyes.
There shalt thou read the sacred code, whose zeal,
On private happiness, rears public weal.
In vain their guard constituent powers may draw,
And public Freedom's bold invader awe,
If fraud oppressive, or litigious strife,
Invade the humbler walks of private life;
Too oft the jealous patriot's general plan
Protects the state, regardless of the man,
While rule on rule that laws coercive frame,
Leave individual freedom but a name;
As the rich arms that blazon'd knighthood dress,
Protect the life, but every limb oppress.
Small is the woe to human life that springs
From tyrant factions, or from tyrant kings,
Compared with what it feels from legal pride,
From statutes rashly framed, or ill applied.
One legislator England's sons shall see,
From aught of pride, and aught of error free;
One code behold a patriot mind employ,
To shield from fraud and force domestic joy.
Though through the creviced wall, and shatter'd pane,
Sings the chill blast, or drives the drizzly rain,
The cot, more guarded than the embattled tower,
Stands a firm fortress 'gainst despotic power.
The poorest hind, in independance strong,
Is free from dread, if innocent of wrong,
Firm o'er his roof while holy Freedom rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers.
'Let the stern despot of coercive law,
With racks and wheels, the wretched culprit awe,
Bid torturing flames and axes seal his doom,
Or plunge him living in the dungeon's tomb;
Thine be the glorious privilege to spare
The scourge of Justice, by preventive care.
The friendly decade, link'd in social ties,
Shall check the guilty scyon ere it rise,
The mild reproof shall weaken Passion's flame,
And kindling vice be quench'd by virtuous shame,
While mutual safety binds the blameless throng,
Each man responsive for his neighbour's wrong.
'As from the scanty rill, mid sheltering reeds
That steals, unnoticed, through the irriguous meads,
Swells the full stream Augusta's walls that laves,
Proud Commerce brooding o'er its sea-broad waves.
From the small acorn's orb, as, nursed by years,
Aloft the oak its giant branches rears,
And wide o'er wat'ry regions learns to roam,
Wherever tempests blow, and billows foam;
So, boldly rising from this humble base,
The simple canon of an artless race,
A fabric stands, the wonder of the sage,
The guard and glory of a polish'd age.
Not to thy native coasts confined alone,—
Borne by thy sons to Earth's remotest zone,
Where, in the burning east, the lamp of day
Chears the mild Bramin with its orient ray,
Where its declining radiance warms a clime
Yet wrapp'd from notice in the womb of time;
Mid boundless tracts, beneath the rigid poles,
Where scarce the foliage bursts, the current rolls,
Where the wild savage treads the dreary coasts,
Rude as their cliffs, and sullen as their frosts;
Or where, embosomed in the southern tide,
Bloom isles and continents yet undescried,
By British arms, and British virtues borne,
Shall arts of cultured life the waste adorn;
The patriot dictates of an Alfred's mind
Spread peace and freedom wide o'er human kind.
'Now learn events, yet unreveal'd that lie
In the dark bosom of futurity.—
As my delighted eyes, in yon firm line,
With friendly folds see Albion's banners join,
I view them, in prophetic vision shewn,
United subjects of a mighty throne;
See Cambria's, Caledonia's, Anglia's name
Blended, and lost in Britain's prouder fame.
And ye, fair Erin's sons, though Ocean's tide
From Britain's shores your kindred shores divide,
That tide shall bear your mingled flags unfurl'd,
A mutual barrier from an envying world;
While the same waves that hostile inroad awe,
The sister isles to closer compact draw,
Waft Friendship's intercourse, and Plenty's stores,
From Shannon's brink, to Humber's distant shores.
Each separate interest, separate right shall cease,
Link'd in eternal amity and peace,
While Concord blesses, with celestial smiles,
The favour'd empire of the British Isles.
'But come, victorious bands! with common toil
Sketch the white courser on the pendent soil.
O'er many a rood the chalky outline drawn
Pourtrays the Saxon ensign on the lawn,
Which, from the extended vale, the curious eye
In times remote, with wonder shall descry—
The lasting monument of victory.
When in revolving age's lapse, once more
We hail the argent steed from Elba's shore,
This in your brave descendants' shields shall shine,
The patriot kings of Othbert's mighty line;
Othbert, of Roman race; who led his train
From Tiber's brink to cold Germania's plain.
This, drawn in silver blazonry, shall grace
The stoutest warriors of Britannia's race;
Mid fiery horrors, yet to war unknown,
Horrors by fiends to future battle shewn;
Mid flames more dreadful than the lightning's glare,
Peals that with louder thunder rend the air
Than Jove's dread bolts, the honour'd badge they bear.
'Oft then, with festal joy, the rustic crew
Shall, the worn outline which you trace, renew;
And, as in yon deep foss and threatening mound,
By which the upland summit now is crown'd,
Then smooth'd by time, by flocks successive trod,
And softly clad in verdure's velvet sod,
With sinewy arm they hurl the massy bar,
Speed the swift race, or wage the sportive war;
Little they reck, though faithful annals tell,
That here Invasion fought, Invasion fell.
'Nor Vinitagia, shall thy humble towers,
Though the dark shade thy lowly walls embowers,
Be shrowded from the Muse's favouring eye,
Or miss the votive strain of melody.
For all who fame in arms, or arts revere,
All to whom Freedom's sacred cause is dear,
All who enjoy a sovereign's temper'd sway,
Which temperate freedom glories to obey,
Shall love, shall venerate the hallow'd earth,
Which gave their first of kings, their Alfred, birth.
'Yet o'er the scene, with dawning splendour bright,
One cloud of sorrow throws funereal night;
Deep in the vale, where yon green summit stands,
Conspicuous rising mid the level lands,
There shall thy son, thy Edward, yield his breath,
And tread the inevitable road of death.—
Restrain thy tears,—for not in youth's fresh bloom
Sinks he, untimely, to the silent tomb.
In lapse of age possessor of thy crown,
Mature in years, in virtue, in renown,
He falls in peace, a people's general groan
His holy passport to a heavenly throne.
'There shall, in Time's remote and distant day,
A voice to Alfred's name devote the lay.
If not like hallow'd poets, who of old
In verse divine of gods and heroes told;
Or those pourtraying truth in fiction's dye,
The fairy bards of Gothic minstrelsy;
Yet while his tongue shall chaunt, in humble strain,
The real glories of an Alfred's reign,
If not by Genius, fired by patriot zeal
For Freedom's favourite seat, for Albion's weal;
For him, though no perennial laurel bloom,
Living to grace his brow, or shade his tomb;
Yet Truth approving, sure may give one flower,
Faint though its tint, and short its transient hour.
'O, would that bard sublime, whose seraph fire
Shall call forth rapture from the epic wire,
Whose daring Muse shall soar, with eagle flight,
Beyond of Grecian song the proudest height,
Drink, with undazzled look, the etherial beams
From the pure fount whence light immortal streams,
Fill, with the magic of his mighty hand,
That outline his creative fancy plann'd,
Then should a monument eternal rise,
Worthy of Alfred's glory, to the skies.
But scorning earthly deeds, and earthly fame,
His bosom burning with celestial flame,
To sapphire fields aloft he wings his flight,
Lost in the blaze of empyréan light.'
Now on the summit of the upland lawn,
In martial pride, beneath their banners drawn,
Stood the united host.—With thrilling clang
At once a thousand harps symphonious rang,
Proclaiming, while war's brazen clarions cease,
'Pride, pomp, and circumstance, of glorious peace.'
Brave Caledonia bows the conquering sword,
And Cambria's prince owns his superior lord.
All hail the godlike hero, first who reigns
Unrivall'd monarch of Britannia's plains;
While Erin's joyful shouts applauding, join
The strains fraternal of the British line.—
The king, surrounded by his victor bands,
In all the pride of conscious virtue stands;
The sounds of homage that around him roll,
Swell not the placid current of his soul.—
Though by the chiefs of shouting hosts adored,
A conquering nation stooping to his sword;
While, with a stronger arm than shook the field,
His clemency compels their souls to yield:
Though myriads burn his purpose to fulfil,
Their rein his wisdom, and their spur his will;
Though conscious Rectitude, with inward voice,
The impulse seconds, and confirms his choice;
In specious colours painting to his mind,
The power unlimited to bless mankind.
Uncheck'd by human barriers, to impart
Wide, the pure dictates of a patriot heart,
Spread peace and justice o'er a smiling land,
Crush stern Oppression with a giant hand;
Yet in Truth's faithful mirror stands reveal'd,
A charge too vast for mortal man to wield.
Convinced, of public care the unnumber'd dyes
From human rights and human crimes that rise,
No single heart can judge, or arm secure,
However active, and however pure;
That the bright lure of arbitrary sway
May tempt the firmest foot from Virtue's way;
With careful hand around his throne he draws
The sacred bulwark of unbiass'd laws.
Or, if awhile his fervid pulse might beat
With the wild frenzy of Ambition's heat,
Sudden the visionary vapours fly
From the mild lustre of Elsitha's eye.
To the soft charities of social life
He turns, from lust of power, and rage of strife;
Feels the true duty of the royal mind,
His first, his purest bliss, to bless mankind.
Scorning the base degenerate power that craves
A hard-wrung homage, from a horde of slaves,
His generous thoughts to nobler fame aspire,
His bosom glows with more celestial fire;
Happy to form, by Virtue's sovereign sway,
A gallant race of freemen to obey,
Respect by deeds of goodness to impart,
And fix his empire o'er the willing heart;
While patriot worth this godlike mandate taught,
'Free be the Briton's action as his thought.'
Such the true pride of Alfred's royal line,
Such of Britannia's kings the right divine.
As in his mind revolving thus, he stood,
The thoughts congenial of the wise and good,
Along the blue serene, with distant voice,
Again Heaven's thunder consecrates his choice;
While Britain's throne applauding angels saw
Rear'd on the base of Liberty and Law.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Ii.
As when stern Winter's desolating power,
Arm'd with the piercing frost, and sleety shower,
O'er shivering Nature spreads it's iron reign,
Bare stands the grove, and waste extends the plain;
Yet in the scatter'd seed, and buried root
The embryo blossom hides, prepar'd to shoot
When Spring with milder influence shall prevail,
And balmy Zephyrs breathe the genial gale:
So, wrapp'd in Ignorance, though the human heart
No vivid hues retain of ancient art,
Yet still the dormant seeds expectant there
Await the hour of Cultivation's care;
Still verdant scions from the root shall grow
When mild Occasion's fostering breezes blow,
To bud and bloom again with Parent worth,
And emulate the stock that gave them birth.
Yet as the culture asks severer toil
When poisonous weeds o'errun the useless soil;
So Reason labors long to bend the breast
Where Error's barbarous tenets are impress'd:
Soon learns the untutor'd thought with generous aim
To catch the glow of Virtue's holy flame,
But where strong forms of Prejudice deprave
The simpler rules that untaught Nature gave,
Ere yet Refinement with her gentle rein
The impatient course of giddy sense restrain.
There every dreadful passion will impart
Superior horror to the vicious heart,
And fill the annals of the unhappy times
With dire events, and unexampled crimes.
The ruffian tribes that pour'd tumultuous forth
In countless myriads from the frozen North,
By no soft touch of milder manners graced,
Rapacious inmates of the howling waste,
'Mid the vast wild of Scandinavian plains,
Of tempest and of cold the drear domains,
A system fram'd, whose universal sway
The varied race with common zeal obey,
From where the wintry surges foaming break
Of the loud Baltic, to the Caspian lake.—
Boldly they vaunt with unsubmitting soul
To scorn of sovereign power the strong control,
Yet to the rule of martial order yield,
And own a Monarch on the embattled field.
By Victory crown'd, the chiefs with equal pride
In different lots the subject realms divide,
And the fierce leader of each separate hord
Reigns o'er his share an independent lord,
What arms had won maintaining by the sword.
For though each stern commander homage paid
When War's loud clarion claim'd the promis'd aid,
The tumult o'er, no civil force remain'd
That Anarchy's impetuous rage restrain'd:
Each haughty chief could regal justice awe,
And mock the uncertain rules of feeble law.
In constant feuds the ungovern'd tribes engage,
And the dire battle Hate and Vengeance wage.
No pity unrelenting Conquest shews,
But the fell tyrant spoils his weaker foes,
Licentious Rapine leads the furious train
And Age, and Rank, and Beauty plead in vain.
Though Prejudice may warp, or Passion blind
Awhile, the honest purpose of the mind,
Yet to the conscious soul of man belong
The love of Justice, and the hate of Wrong;
Firm, though obscur'd, the sacred dictates stand
Implanted there by Heaven's creative hand.
Hence while loud Discord bids with giant pride
Sad Desolation o'er the realms preside,
Some nobler breasts neglected Virtue draws
To arm and vindicate her injur'd cause:
Uncheck'd by doubt, by danger undismay'd,
Prompt to redress when sorrow claims their aid,
With equal hand they deal the avenging blow,
And lay with joy the oppressive tyrant low;
But chief they glory when the generous care
Of weeping Beauty calls them to the war,
With dauntless arms her suppliant power they guard,
And deem her favoring smiles a full reward.
For the rough tribes thro' Northern wilds that stray'd
To female merit early deference paid,
The gentler sex partook the grave debate,
And more than shar'd the arduous toils of state.
The hardy warrior whose indignant mind
No arm could vanquish, and no law could bind,
To their commands a willing homage gave,
And each unconquer'd knight was Beauty's slave.
Amid the crimes that barbarous rudeness knows
Thus the fair form of Chivalry arose,
Join'd love's soft glow to valor's fiercer flame,
And mildly sooth'd the intemperate thirst of fame.
It's influence still, defying change and time,
Spreads o'er each modern European clime,
Lives spite of fickle mode's capricious rage,
And marks the manners of a polish'd age.
Though the rude Nations in their inroads bore
The wild Mythology of Northern lore,
Yet soon the splendor of the Roman rite
Caught with it's mystic glare their dazzled sight.
To charm their grosser sense the Priests combine
Each monstrous fiction with a faith divine;
And all that feverish Fancy knows to paint,
The virgin martyr, and the warrior saint,
The fabled cure, and legendary tale,
With force resistless o'er their thoughts prevail.
While such the general impulse of the mind,
To Superstition, and to Arms inclin'd,
A frantic Hermit with enthusiast breath
Kindles the dreadful flames of war and death:
‘Arouse ye chiefs of valiant fame!’ He cries,
‘Lo! Heaven and Glory, point the bold emprise!—
‘No more at human pity's humbler call
‘On man's oppressors let your vengeance fall,
‘Behold on Solyma's afflicted lands
‘The injur'd Deity your zeal demands!
‘The sacred ground by dying martyrs trod,
‘The seats made holy by a bleeding GOD,
‘Mohammed's sons with impious orgies stain,
‘And soil the hallow'd earth with rites profane,
‘Bid resignation's patient votaries feel
‘The pangs of trying flame, and torturing steel,
‘Pollute with murder'd saints the dome divine,
‘And wash with blood Jehovah's awful shrine.
‘Go forth my sons! and with religious care
‘Spread your cross-banners streaming to the air!
‘Secure of praise! secure of conquest go!
‘And wreak heaven's vengeance on a heathen foe;
‘Fame's deathless guerdon shall the victor gain,
‘And crowns immortal sanctify the slain!’
Fired by such words unusual ardors rise,
And far and wide the swift contagion flies,
All ranks, all orders to the impression yield,
And swarming millions croud the tented field.
Not such the numbers Xerxes led of yore
From hostile Persia to the Grecian shore,
When his proud fleet the indignant billows chain'd,
And thirsty hosts the failing river drain'd.
The rash design though pious folly plann'd,
Though discord soon dissolv'd the inconstant band,
From scenes of war yet milder manners grew,
And man advantage from destruction drew.
The haughty chief to arm his numerous train,
And grace with martial pomp the glittering plain,
The wide demesnes of ancient tenure sold,
And fiefs enfranchis'd for the wanted gold:
Whence the freed peasant chearful tills the soil,
And busy Commerce plies her active toil.
While as the countless hosts in long array
Through eastern Europe bend their tedious way,
And view with wondering eyes the gay resort
Of wealth, and splendor, to Byzantium's court,
The wrecks of Roman pride, and Grecian skill
With new delight the astonish'd bosom fill.
Though lur'd by Rapine, war unjust they wage,
And waste the Arts with more than Vandal rage,
Yet soon to scenes of elegance awake,
A softer turn, and nobler aims they take,
Each curious relic while they spoil admire,
And plundering works of taste, that taste acquire.
Even from the mixture of Arabian foes
On the barbarian West improvement rose:
The Saracen had learn'd with liberal heart
To love the paths of Science, and of Art,
The splendors of magnificence had known,
And deck'd in pomp each oriental throne,
But most his glowing Fancy lov'd to rove
Amid the devious maze of Fiction's grove,
And the luxuriance of the fabling lay
Struck Europe's ruder Bards with forceful sway;
The minstrel now who tun'd his Gothic lyre
To teach the son the achievements of the sire,
Blends with the dreadful tale of blood and arms,
What eastern legends tell of magic charms,
Heightens the horror of the furious fight
With the wing'd dragon, and the enchanted knight,
And bids the bold Romance the hearer move
With the mix'd powers of Wonder, War, and Love.
While thus the Muse enjoys her infant dream,
Coy Reason still conceals her golden beam.
Rome's ancient language in impervious folds
From vulgar eyes each source of Wisdom holds,
And as they list the subtle Priests dispense
The scanty shares of knowledge and of sense.
Hence Learning rose, who insolent, and proud,
Looks down contemptuous on the admiring croud:
While, as unmeaning rules the hearer vex,
And artful doubts the wilder'd thought perplex,
In the strict bands of letter'd form confin'd,
Peculiar prejudice enslaves the mind.
Unlike Philosophy's bold sons of old
Who freely question'd what the instructor told,
O'eraw'd by Pride in education's hours
The timid mind distrusts it's opening powers,
Worships each mystic knot by Error tied,
And blindly follows where it's teachers guide.
Rome's legal Code at length on Naples' coast
By chance recover'd, as by ravage lost,
Soon wiser laws, the work of many an age,
Plann'd by the Prince, the Statesman, and the Sage,
Mix with the edicts fram'd in Error's school,
And smooth the rigid form of Gothic rule;
Wisdom unseals charm'd Reason's drowsy eyes,
And once again Astræa leaves the skies.
Themis abash'd, her folly taught to feel,
Less frequent makes to heaven the rash appeal,
And blushes to decide the doubtful right
By burning Ordeal, or the listed fight.
The haughty noble quits the civil sword,
And the gown'd Judge succeeds the feudal Lord,
Impartial Justice curbs the oppressive deed,
And Science smiles from savage licence freed.
Now from the Abbey's solitary site
The imperfect glimmerings shone of classic light.
The still recluse condemn'd for years to pore
O'er the dull leaf of theologic lore,
Awhile would quit fatigu'd the toilsome page
To view the spoils of learning's happier age.
As there his curious eyes delighted trace
The thoughts congenial of a warrior race,
The attractive charm his ruder style refines,
And with more art romantic fable shines.
Those precious relics of imperial Rome
That haply chanc'd to 'scape the general doom,
The scatter'd monuments of old delight,
Strike the warm Fancy, and her powers excite:
The Latian Muse avows her native clime,
And drops the fervile bands of monkish rhyme:
While flying from Romania's ruin'd shore
Westward the Greeks their exil'd learning bore.
O had bright Science then with perfect grace
Her potent influence shed o'er Europe's race!
Their victor armies at Musurus' call,
Had chased the foe from fad Byzantium's wall.
That source whence verse it's purest charms deriv'd,
The glorious voice of Greece, had then surviv'd;
The docile ear by living masters taught
Had from their speech the genuine accents caught,
In native tones the Attic Muse had sung,
Nor mourn'd like Philomel her mangled tongue.
Again Hesperia's happy seats behold
The sacred laurels bud that bloom'd of old.
Chear'd and protected by the papal throne,
The rising arts a Leo's bounty own.
Starts from the sculptur'd stone the breathing frame
To emulate the forms of ancient fame;
The speaking canvass boasts a livelier hue
Than e'er Apelles' plastic pencil drew,
As Raphael's lines, or Titian's glowing dye,
Bid the bold picture strike the enchanted eye.
In Tuscan numbers Tasso's powers display
The solemn grandeur of the Epic lay;
While Vida tunes to Roman strains the wire
With Virgil's sweetness, and with Virgil's fire.
And even from northern Belgia Science draws
Superior strength to vindicate her cause.
The tedious manuscript no longer foils
The verbal copyist's persevering toils,
No more the expensive volumes only wait
To deck the palace of the rich and great,
On letter'd art the press new strength bestows,
And ampler rays diffusive learning throws.
The increasing powers of ripening sense pervade
The gloomy stillness of the cloister's shade,
Destroy the bonds that Reason's force confin'd,
And burst the fetters that enchain'd the mind.
Though the lone Abbey from barbarian rage
Sav'd the bright ruins of the classic page;
Though sometimes meek Religion's holy form
Would faintly shine through Superstition's storm:
Yet every vice that shuns the face of day
Work'd in monastic night it's secret way;
Each impious wile the Church unceasing tries,
That spreads her empire, or her stores supplies;
Now on the expiring votary's heart employs
The enchanting vision of seraphic joys,
Now bids despair attend the parting breath,
And plants with thorns the trembling bed of death;
Draws from the fears of langour and of pain
The rich possession, and the wide domain,
On the sad Widow's spoil the altar rears,
And bathes the sacred fane with Orphan tears.
Drunk with the vast excess of wealth and power,
Unmindful of returning Reason's hour,
She boldly prostitutes the laws of Heaven,
And for vile lucre is the indulgence given.
Crimes even that Nature shudders to behold
Obtain their pardon for the stated gold,
And impious leave for future Vice is sold.
But the long reign of Gothic night is pass'd,
And Wisdom's awful morning dawns at last,
The fierce anathemas unheeded come,
And Luther shakes the enormous power of Rome.
The forms of Falshood strive in vain to bear
The trying search of Truth's ethereal spear.
Even those less happy regions that remain
Press'd by the weight of Error's galling chain,
Immers'd in clouds of darkness though they seem,
Catch a faint twilight from the distant beam:
Convinc'd that true Religion's piercing eye
Will every source of pious fraud descry,
The furious Priest corrects his cruel zeal,
And milder sway the breathing nations feel,
Mercy's soft calls the bigot's wrath assuage,
And papal thunder loses half it's rage.
In Gaul the contrast strongly mark'd appears
Of Reason's force, and Error's gloomy fears:
With fond delight her partial eye surveys
Each hallow'd prejudice of earlier days,
Yet though her sons with ancient rite adore
The legendary saints that liv'd of yore,
Oft arm'd by hate though Persecution stood,
And drench'd Lutetia's walls with native blood;
Her's was the earliest boast with lenient care
To form soft Courtesy's attractive air;
Throw o'er the willing mind Politeness' chains,
And raise that empire which she yet maintains.
But on Britannia's shores with ample sway
Religion's purest charms their power display.—
As the dread earthquake and the raging storm
The high behests of awful heaven perform,
So a proud tyrant's disappointed aims
Broke the strong tie of Rome's despotic claims.
The labors by the haughty sire begun
Attain perfection from the pious son;
And though a female's bigot zeal succeeds,
Burns the firm martyr, and the patriot bleeds,
While stand Iberia's sons exulting by
And civil Freedom mark with harpy eye,
The transient terror flies, like vapors driven
By sweeping Eurus o'er the face of heaven,
And Worship freed from each polluting stain,
Adorns the annals of Eliza's reign.
Hail glorious Queen! in whose propitious hour
The towering structure rose of Britain's power.
Let the Historian laboring to impart
His favorite paradox with envious art,
Invoke capricious Malice to deface
The scene of Albion's ripening strength and grace:
Still shall the voice of former times be heard
To vindicate that worth our sires rever'd.
'Twas thine to bid Britannia's native force
Check rash Invasion in her headlong course,
Old Ocean's waves with prows triumphant sweep,
And reign unrivall'd o'er the subject deep:
Thine too the milder glory to increase
The gentle sway of Courtesy and Peace.
Though Artists with fastidious look behold
The dome it's rude magnificence unfold,
Though modern Elegance affect to scorn
The rougher Manners which thy court adorn,
Yet sure some reverential awe shall wait
Each venerable pile of ancient state;
Yet sure some bosom even those days shall charm,
When Love romantic, strengthening Valor's arm,
Call'd each heroic passion boldly forth,
And gave the admiring world a Sydney's worth.
The expectant Muse at length with joyful eyes
The rising hope of ancient fame descries.
Melodious Spenser while his cares refine
The wild redundance of the Saxon line,
On Gothic fable rears his rich machine,
And sings the paynim foe and elfin Queen:
While like the laurel'd son of Grecian fame
Immortal Shakespear burns with native flame.—
Unequall'd Bard! the grateful Muse shall raise
To thee the monument of deathless praise,
Nor interweave one flower of foreign bloom
Amid the votive wreaths that deck thy tomb:
For no faint blaze from elder learning caught
Rais'd in thy breast the imitative thought;
Nor shall my verse compare thy wonderous page
With the best scenes of Athens' perfect stage,
Or of thy Phœnix wing a rival own
Save the Mæonian Prodigy alone.
A numerous train of tuneful Bards succeed,
Strike the loud lyre, or fill the warbling reed.
In the just pride of inborn Genius bold,
Yet taught by every Muse that charm'd of old,
Soaring with eagle eye, and eagle flight,
Amid the realms of empyrean light,
Lo Milton throws with daring hand away
The splendid fetters of the Runic lay!
While Dryden's clear harmonious notes rehearse
The humblest subject in the sweetest verse,
Nor ask the figur'd style or pompous phrase,
From common speech his simplest lines to raise;
Yet when some theme with energy sublime,
Calls forth the wonders of his varied rhyme,
'Tis his to catch the animating fire,
Bid the bold strain to giddy heights aspire,
Rival the Mantuan swan, or mate the Theban lyre.
But while fair Poesy with favoring smile
Beholds her votaries thrive in Albion's isle,
The meeker Arts with trembling step explore
Some safe asylum on a foreign shore,
For o'er her fields stern War terrific stood,
And long and dreadful raged the thirst of blood.—
Though the poetic bay with changeless form
Braves the worst fury of the thundering storm,
The inferior flowers that paint the shelter'd vale,
Shrink at the breath of every ruder gale.—
Soon polish'd Gallia's hospitable plain
Yields a kind refuge to the exil'd train,
For civil Fury from her seats was flown,
And Monarchy had fix'd her stable throne,
Their gifts the smiling powers of Peace disclose,
And Lewis there a new Augustus rose:
A Prince's wiles again the Arts invoke
With magic touch to lighten Slavery's yoke,
Reason's keen eye with skilful care to blind,
And turn from Freedom's view the active mind.
The grateful race encourag'd by his sway
The patronage with ample bounty pay,
Give what his fleets and armies ne'er could claim,
Unsullied glory, and unenvied fame.
For though a British Muse would blush to aid
The guilty fabric by Ambition made,
Yet to impartial rules of Justice true
She gives the praise to real Merit due.—
Not opening Science nor encourag'd Art
Alone their lustre to his reign impart:
The splendid period by his care refin'd
Marks a strong era of the improving Mind.
By him new modell'd wondering Europe saw
Her ancient Arms, her Manners, and her Law.
Though dear the price each fair attainment cost,
When in the exchange was Independence lost.
Beauty with sense endow'd, with sweetness graced,
Sits the chief arbitress of soften'd taste,
And fame attends, as her applauding eyes
Of valor or of wit, award the prize.
No more the rural Lord mid distant plains
O'er vassal fiefs a little tyrant reigns;
To the gay circle of the Monarch's court
All Power, all Splendor, and all Arts resort,
There steep'd in joy the nobler race reside
And change for royal smiles provincial pride.
While marshall'd Discipline with studious care
Gives a new semblance to the forms of War:
No more, their stated service forced to yield,
Untrain'd the hasty levies throng the field,
No more the stripling of illustrious birth
Leads armies by hereditary worth:
An order of the state the Soldier stands,
And though a slave himself the rest commands,
Derives his rank from regal will alone,
And only pays obedience to the throne.
While Gallia thus a general power obtains
And guides mankind by soft Opinion's reins,
Long was the scene of bleeding Britain's woes
Ere from the strife emerging Peace arose.
Each party yields at times, at times prevails,
As changing Fortune lifts her dubious scales;
Till lost, or scatter'd, Virtue's Patriot train,
Her cause deserted, and her Hambden slain,
Contending sects fulfill'd a Tyrant's view,
And Faction seiz'd the sword that Freedom drew;
In civil rage each gentler care was drown'd,
And fierce on joy the wild Enthusiast frown'd.
Nor when reviving Albion saw restor'd
Her ravish'd sceptre, and her legal lord,
Did liberal art the polish'd lustre boast
That mark'd each work of Gallia's rival coast,
Licentious Vice a laughing court debas'd,
And looser Manners tainted public Taste.
Nor could a graver prince intent alone
To change religion on his tottering throne,
From a short reign of struggle and of care
One transient smile to prostrate Science spare.
And though we own with deference and with awe,
The public virtues that adorn'd Nassau,
Yet candor must confess his rigid mind
No Pleasure sooth'd, no Elegance refin'd.
At length Britannia's sons with transport view
Another Queen their ancient fame renew,
Once more the prize in Arts and Arms obtain,
And see Eliza's days reviv'd in Anna's reign.
Whate'er of wisdom, and whate'er of grace,
Could form or dignify the human race,
Taught Albion now her splendid worth to raise,
Beyond the envied height of classic praise.
For say could all the learned sage display'd
In Academus, or the Tuscan shade,
Compare with Newton, whose immortal force
Pursued coy Nature to her inmost source,
Or Locke who knew with lynx's eye to find
Man's secret Soul, and analyse the Mind?
Or shall Refinement in the brightest page
Of Roman Splendor rival Anna's Age?
Where, though Politeness now of freer school.
Condemn Formality's too rigid rule,
Adorn'd by Reason, Converse learn'd to please,
And manly Dignity attemper'd Ease,
Public attention waited conscious Worth,
And liberal Manners mark'd illustrious Birth.
The Muses too their tuneful powers employ,
And the loud Pæan join of general joy:
What though their voice strikes not the ravish'd ear
With notes that Greece and Rome were wont to hear,
Yet when sweet Pope's melodious lines convey
The moral subject in the perfect lay,
To British numbers charms unknown impart,
And varied sounds combine with happiest art,
Rapp'd with delight Aonia's listening throng
Drink the soft accents of the dulcet song,
And own the immortal strains of earlier time
Are nearly rivall'd in a northern clime,
By verse of Gothic frame and manacled with rhime.
Though Britain must revere the kings who draw
Their royal claims from Liberty and Law,
In holy Freedom's pure regalia shine,
And deem a People's Voice their Right Divine:
Yet midst her patrons Science cannot place
The earliest monarchs of the Brunswick race.
No princely favor kindles Genius' flame;
Or raises modest worth to wealth or fame;
To private vanity the artists trust,
Whence the stiff portrait, and the unmeaning bust,
While her Pagodas gaudy China rears,
And Cibber's brow the sullied laurel wears.
But see! a Prince succeeds whose generous heart
The liberal Patron glows of every art,
The slumbering train warm'd by his chearing smile
Break from their trance, and polish Albion's isle.
Yet though Medusa's charm revers'd is shewn
As Sculpture animates the Parian stone,
By Architecture though the dome is graced
With all the ornaments of Attic taste,
Though drawn by Painting's animating hand
With life, with character, the portraits stand;
Yet Britain's candid sons must yield the prize
To the bright influence of Italian skies,
Where Guido's touch enthusiast rapture fir'd,
And holy zeal a Raphael's tints inspir'd.
Theirs be the unenvied triumph!—while applause
From her inventive powers Britannia draws.
The stores in Nature's rural empire placed
To chuse with judgment, and arrange with taste,
O'er the soft grace her genuine forms impart
To throw the simple stole of decent Art,
For the high fountain, and the pent cascade,
Cyphers of turf, and cabinets of shade,
To teach the wave in graceful bends to flow,
To crown with wood the mountain's heathy brow,
And bid the flower and blooming shrub succeed
The rugged bramble, and the loathsome weed,
This be her glory!—pleas'd to shine alone
In native charms, and Beauty all her own:
Secure her fame unhurt by time shall stand
Since Mason's verse records what Brown has plann'd.
But ah! while thus the Arts inferior train
Thrive in the sunshine of a George's reign;
Sweet Poesy, whose sacred powers exceed
The Sculptor's chisel, and the Painter's reed,
Whose pen has Virtue's moral shape design'd,
And drawn the immortal image of the Mind,
Whose magic sounds to melody dispense
The flowers of Fancy, and the force of Sense;
Sweet Poesy, neglected and forlorn,
The feeble rays of patronage must mourn.
By wealth or wisdom placed in happier state
Though a bold few disdain to court the great;
Though Mason frame the warm descriptive lay,
Or strike the lyre with Pindar, and with Gray;
Though listening Harmony with raptur'd ear
Attentive stand, the enchanting notes to hear,
As sailing on the rainbow-tinctur'd wings
Of chaste Imagination, Hayley sings:
In plaintive strains at sighing Friendship's call
Though tuneful Seward mourn her Andre's fall,
And wrap the felon cord that clos'd his breath
In radiant Glory's amaranthine wreath;
Tho' Warton young-ey'd Fancy's favorite child,
On whose auspicious birth the Muses smil'd,
And taught his glowing colors to portray
The rural landscape, and the vernal day,
With classic Art his flowing numbers fill,
And join the Critic's to the Poet's skill;
Yet as with streaming eye the sorrowing Muse
Pale Chatterton's untimely urn bedews,
Her accents shall arraign the partial care
That shielded not her son from cold despair:
And many a bard by frowning Fortune led
To abject interest bows the venal head,
Compell'd to point with cruel wit the dart
That wing'd by malice rives the blameless heart,
Or ideot pride by slavish notes to raise,
And cast to swine the precious gems of praise.
O let, Imperial George! the Muses share
The kindly dews of thy parental care.
Too oft has Poesy with servile aim
By tyrants favor'd, sung a tyrant's fame,
O let one monarch wake her nobler rage,
And consecrate to Truth her holy page!
Rais'd by thy hand, I see on Albion's plain
The seeds of Grecian glory bloom again!
See Genius plume once more her eagle wing,
Hear other Homers, other Shakespears sing!
And while their voice down time's eternal flood
Wafts the clear honors of the Wise and Good,
Ages unborn shall bless the just decree,
And future Heroes owe their fame to thee.
Here let us pause,—attentive to survey
The present æra of Refinement's sway.
As in some perfect scene of Britain's isle,
Where all the charms of cultur'd Nature smile,
To velvet lawns, and flowery shades, succeed
The furrow'd champain, and the irriguous mead,
Then woods, and heaths in soft perspective rise,
Till rough the distant mountains meet the skies;
So let our search the changing picture trace
Through all the different tribes of human race;
The strong gradations mark with curious eye
Midst civil and barbarian life that lie,
From Europe's crouded towns and inmates mild,
To the rude savage, and the dreary wild.
Conspicuous rising o'er the various scene,
Of Arts and Arms, though Europe shine the Queen
Yet even her offspring from Refinement share
Unequal influence, and a partial care.
With studious zeal the polish'd sons of France
Lead up attractive Pleasure's airy dance,
Each varied mark of character forsake
One pliant form of general mode to take,
The fairest wreaths from Courtesy to claim
Their first ambition, and their proudest aim.
Not so Britannia, on her bleaker plains
Still wild Caprice in spite of Science reigns,
No central court there all distinction draws,
No judge directs of critic art the laws,
All as they list presume to regulate
The page of learning and the powers of state,
Indignant cast each servile rule away,
Nor even in Taste admit despotic sway.—
No ductile texture can the mind acquire
Mid Faction's storms, and Freedom's glowing fire:
The amorous youth at Party's noisy call
Quits for the grave debate the lively ball;
And in the social scenes of softer grace
Will Business oft intrude with serious face,
While Politics on public cares decide,
And settle Europe's rights by Beauty's side.
Though Italy first saw reviving Art,
And wakening Science sooth again the heart,
She loiters now in Glory's bright career,
Nor longer pants the prize of fame to wear;
No more her pencil bids the canvas glow,
But yields the envied wreath to Reynolds' brow;
Damp'd is the bold Historian's generous fire,
Numb'd the free hand, and mute the living lyre.
Yet her's the boast with skilful touch to bring
The sweetest sounds from Music's trembling string,
To bid full Harmony with swelling note
In undulating lays of Rapture float,
The liquid strains of melody prolong,
And lap the soul in extasy of song.
Iberia's sons, of yore who foremost strove
In the bright lists of Valor and of Love,
Who caught in early time each softer grace
From their brave victors of the Moorish race,
(No more to Emulation's call awake,)
The paths of Glory and of Art forsake.—
What time Columbus taught them to explore
The treasur'd wonders of the Atlantic shore,
Gold, all corrupting gold with fatal charm
Entranced the bosom, and unnerv'd the arm,
And lazy Avarice every wish confines
To the rich produce of the Indian mines.
While Bigotry, whose blast no power survives,
Thro' the waste realms with furious whirlwind drives,
And bids them Heaven's avenging Justice feel
For fell Pizarro's flames, and Cortez' murderous steel.
In Belgia o'er a people's prostrate heads
Her universal reign where Commerce spreads,
The thirst of gain absorbs all other care,
And few the votaries of Refinement there.
While in Germania endless forms conspire
To damp the ingenuous glow of native fire,
The Herald's blazon, and the Noble's pride,
The different ranks so rigidly divide,
That deepest Science, and exalted worth
Can ne'er o'erleap the casual bar of Birth.
Besides such empty claims the thoughts employ,
So clog the free exchange of social joy,
Such serious trifles so engage the taste,
Such dire effects attend a name misplaced,
That far the gentler Graces wing their flight,
Nor bear the drudgery to grow polite.
Yet the strong marks of characters like these
Fade every hour and vanish by degrees.—
Those numerous causes that with different force
Have biass'd, or oppos'd, Refinement's course,
Have dimm'd her radiant beams with sullen gloom,
Or veil'd the lustre of her native bloom,
With daily lapse their weaken'd influence lose,
One general form as Gallia's arts diffuse,
What Prejudice destroy'd, or Error stain'd,
By imitative Zeal is now regain'd,
And Europe's changing race with common care
Affect her manners, and assume her air.
Piercing the midnight gloom of Northern skies
At length in Russian climes the Arts arise:
Already by a patriot Monarch sought,
Had Industry each rougher Science taught,
And now those joys that graver toil beguile,
The favoring warmth confess of Catherine's smile.
O glorious Princess! lo the sorrowing Muse
Thy great designs with anxious look pursues!
For as she frequent bends her weeping eye
To scenes on Europe's utmost bound that lie,
And sees pale Tyranny's oppressive throne
Triumphant rear'd o'er regions once her own,
A gleam of hope awhile her anguish charms
Drawn from thy generous aims, and conquering arms:
She views in Fancy's dream thy Victor host
Drive the grim Despot from the Grecian coast,
Sees European Freedom bless the shore,
And Science grace her favorite seats once more.
Asia's wide realms, on whose propitious earth
First teeming Genius gave Refinement birth,
Lie the sad objects of barbarian sway,
To tyrants fierce, and fiercer lusts a prey.
For on her eastern plain's extremest verge
Her early claims though distant China urge,
Though Arts which Europe saw of late unfold
Inform'd she boasts her wiser chiefs of old;
Yet as her jealous sons have never join'd
The common intercourse of human kind,
To each fond tale the traveller displays
A doubtful credit wavering Reason pays,
And Learning fears the incurious race to own,
Of all unknowing, and by all unknown.
What else exists beneath the cope of heaven
Is to the savage tribe of wanderers given,
Who unrestrain'd by precept or by law,
From climate, and from soil, their difference draw.
The sable African no culture boasts,
Fierce as his sun, and ruthless as his coasts;
And where the immeasurable forests spread
Beyond the extent of Ocean's western bed,
Unsocial, uninform'd, the tawney race
Range the drear wild, and urge the incessant chace.
Amid the wide expanse of southern seas
Where the blest isles inhale the genial breeze,
The happier native in the fragrant grove
Woos the soft powers of Indolence and Love:
But where more keen the ray, more rude the gale,
Manners less mild and harsher cares prevail;
Till in the sad extremes of polar frost,
The sacred beam of human reason lost,
Man scarcely rises from the shaggy brood
That prowl insatiate o'er the icy flood.
Dire were the scene!—but Europe's gentler kind,
Tempting the billowy deep and fickle wind,
With venturous prows each distant seat explore,
And boldly tread the inhospitable shore;
Tame the wild waste, correct the unwholesome air,
And fix of polish'd life the empire there.
On Afric's southmost point their happy toil
Bids gay Pomona clothe the sultry soil,
Their power on Asia's eastern coast commands,
And Ganges flows by European lands:
In the vast tracts beyond the Atlantic main
Their Arts, their Science, and their Manners reign,
Where rising Glory soars with pinion young,
And imitates the parent whence she sprung:
While, (civil Discord's bloody storm o'erblown,)
Albion, her brave descendants proud to own,
‘Lo these my sons!’ exulting shall exclaim,
‘Who caught from me immortal Freedom's flame,
‘And firmly zealous in the holy cause,
‘Extend o'er half the globe Britannia's laws.’
May Europe's race the generous toil pursue,
And Truth's broad mirror spread to every view;
Awake to Reason's voice the savage mind,
Check Error's force, and civilize mankind;
Faith's radiant beam impart to farthest climes,
And teach pure Wisdom undebas'd by crimes;
To the free breeze the swelling sail unfold
Impell'd by Virtue, not allur'd by Gold.
No more with arms the trembling tribes destroy,
But soft Persuasion's gentler Powers employ,
Till, from her throne barbarian Rudeness hurl'd,
Refinement spread her Empire o'er the world.
Alfred. Book Iv.
ARGUMENT. Success of Oddune, Earl of Devon, against a new Danish Armament from Ireland.—Irish join Oddune.—Measures of Alfred to profit from the turn of Fortune.—Alfred's difficulties, and extraordinary Adventure to obviate them.—Relief of the Queen Elsitha.—Fortunate junction of Donald, and the Scotish Troops, with Alfred.—Assistance from Wales.
And now the westering sun's declining ray,
Shot faintly forth the fading light of day,
Shed o'er the waving trees a golden gleam,
And the high mountains tinged with mellower beam;
When, near the rock, emerging from the wood,
Clad in refulgent arms, a warrior stood.—
As firmly stood the king, his ready sword
Shone in his hand, a safeguard to its lord.
When thus the bard.—'Your threats of war forbear;—
With pious reverence breathe this hallow'd air.
No arms of mortal temper triumph here,
Heaven's mighty aid, protects Heaven's chosen seer.'
'I come,' the stranger said, 'from fields of fame,
A Saxon born, and Aribert my name.
I come from Devon's shores, where Devon's lord
Waves o'er the prostrate Dane the British sword.—
Freedom might yet revisit Britain's coast,
Did Alfred live to lead her victor host.'
'He lives,' the prophet cries, 'lo, here he stands!
Alfred! preserved from Denmark's conquering bands;
Preserved from scenes where England's warriors yield,
And all the bleeding woes of Wilton's field;
From the pursuit of Treason's fiend-like train,
From warring tempests, and a dangerous main.
Preserved by Heaven, in this propitious hour,
To save his country from the oppressor's power.'
'O, moment of delight!' the youth replies;
'Again the Genius of the land shall rise;
Again shall Albion's dauntless warriors fight
For Glory's guerdon, in their monarch's sight.—
I will not Expectation's ear delay;
Short be my tale, though glorious was the day.—
By Hubba led, from Erin's subject coast,
In barks unnumber'd, came the invading host,
For, o'er each breezy hill and fertile plain,
There spread the tyrant empire of the Dane.
Shut up in Kenwith's towers, the indignant Earl
Saw Rapine wide its harpy vengeance hurl:
Saw, far as Fear could throw her trembling eye,
The region round one smoking ruin lie;
Circling the fortress, with insulting boast,
The stern invader draws his numerous host.
From the embattled summit's craggy brow
We mock awhile his idle rage below.—
Short was our triumph,—soon the warrior's breast
Shrunk from the toil, by famine dire oppress'd.
The exulting Danes, by fancied victory crown'd,
With bitter taunts their prey devoted wound.
‘Perish by want, or fall beneath our swords,
‘Or kneel,’ they cry, ‘submissive, to your lords.’
Silent, and sad, we stand.—Our gallant chief
Heaves the deep groan of mingled rage and grief;
Points to the scene of ruin, stretch'd afar,
Adds not a word, but gives the sign for war.
Not with more fury down the rock's steep side,
Rolls the wide cataract its thundering tide,
Than Devon's hardy sons resistless pour'd
War's fiery torrent on the barbarous horde.
Hosts following hosts, in vain our band engage,
With giant sinews, and with lion rage;
Through their thinn'd files our arms despairing force,
While piles of carnage mark our crimson course.
Hubba, in vain, his scatter'd ranks unites,
Prone, on the plain, the ensanguined dust he bites.
And that famed standard which the accursed loom
Of hags malignant wove in midnight gloom,
The sable raven, weiard art imbues
With drops distill'd from Hell's unwholesome dews,
Which often o'er the enthusiast troops had hung,
And, 'mid the foe, infernal horror flung;
For, in the magic folds, terrific glare
Pale Fear, and shameful Flight, and black Despair;
Torn, and defaced, amid the victor bands,
A monument of rescued freedom stands.
'Yet Erin's sons their banners still display,
Firm stand their squadrons, and dispute the day.—
Connel, the gallant chief, whose arms, of yore,
From the fierce Pict the spoils of conquest bore,
I mark'd conspicuous 'mid the warlike band,
Elate, and graced with ensigns of command.
With social voice, my ancient friend I sought,
And, in mild speech, with gentle chidings fraught,
I shew'd of broken faith the foul disgrace,
And base submission to an alien race;
Shew'd how it dimm'd Ierne's wonted fame,
Sullied the former honours of her name,
To aid the inroad of a foreign brood,
Of spoil rapacious, prodigal of blood.
Rising in warmth, of Alfred's deeds I told,
And Albion's friendly force, in days of old.—
I saw the glow of shame ingenuous rise,
Paint the flush'd cheek, and bend to earth the eyes.—
‘Enough, my friend! thy warning voice,’ he cried,
‘Shall bring Ierne's sons to Alfred's side.
‘Easy their hearts, in Honour's cause, to gain,
‘Manly and kind a brave and artless train.’
Instant along the line, from man to man,
With lightning speed, the generous impulse ran,
Each long'd to draw, on Albion's side, his sword,
Each vow'd destruction on the Danish horde;
Whose baleful sway had warp'd their kindred band,
And 'gainst a brother aim'd a brother's hand.
'At once the spears, with hostile arm address'd,
In stern defiance, at the opposing breast,
Lift high their steely points, and social join'd,
The mingling ensigns wanton in the wind.
'By recent victory warm'd, and Erin's aid,
Now plans of bold emprize the chief essay'd:
At his command, to Wessex' southmost shore
I go, the wasted region to explore,
If haply still some valiant breasts remain,
To arm, and vindicate their suffering reign;
When lo, the guidance of protecting Heaven,
More than a host in Alfred's name has given.'
'Bless'd omen! hail!' exclaims the seer divine,
'O, hail, of happier fate the unerring sign!
Alfred, to thee a pledge the Immortal Power
Gives, of approaching Glory's radiant hour.
As the event of this auspicious day
Fulfils the promise of my closing lay,
So shall each wondrous scene my verse foretold,
Its gorgeous tints, in lapse of time, unfold,
And mighty ages, as they roll along,
Shall spread thy name, shall realize my song.
Go forth, my Prince, at Fame's, at Duty's call,
Before thy sword shall Rage and Treachery fall;
Thy victor march, while favouring angels guide,
And Heaven approving, thunders on thy side.'
Confirming what the Bard prophetic spoke,
O'er the blue vault the distant thunder broke;
With awe and pleasure mix'd, the monarch heard,
And, 'rapt, his silent orisons preferr'd.
Down through the gloomy shade, along the stream,
Whose silver waves, in the dim twilight gleam,
To Athelney the king his course directs,
Where anxious love his wish'd return expects,
Whence many an eager look, at setting day,
Thrown o'er the waters, chides his tedious stay.
The night in council, and in slumber, worn,
Soon as the ruddy streaks of rising morn
Glow in the east, toward Kenwith's rescued towers
They march, to join victorious Oddune's powers.
With hasty step the exulting band advance,
Wave high the plumed crest, and shake the lance;
For little reck they now the baffled Dane,
His vanquish'd numbers scatter'd o'er the plain,
Eager the war with Albion's foes to wage,
Fired by reviving hope, and stung with generous rage.
Onward they move, o'er many a barren field,
Her stores where Plenty once was wont to yield;
Alas! neglected lay the weedy soil,
Untouch'd by ploughs, or aught of human toil,
'Mid empty cotes, and ruin'd hamlets round,
The stagnant marsh usurps the uncultured ground.
Touch'd with the scene, now Pity melts in tears,
Now the stern arm avenging Valour rears.
When, with meridian force, the orb of day
Hung high in Heaven's blue vault his sultry ray,
In pleasing prospect to the warriors' eyes,
The embattled heights of trophied Kenwick rise.
Here, proudly waving in the noontide beam,
Triumphant Oddune's Saxon banners stream;
There, on each painted fold, and blazon'd shield,
A golden harp shines on an azure field.
Meanwhile, in Kenwith's towers, the chiefs debate
Of Albion's better hopes, and happier fate;
Doubtful if Fortune, to her sea-girt shore,
Would Freedom's sway, and Concord's smiles, restore,
Or that her wayward fancy but beguiles
Their sanguine wish, with transitory smiles.
When lo, the warder's bugle loudly calls
The attentive warriors to the topmost walls,
Whence, far advancing o'er the extended glade,
They see a band in radiant arms array'd.
Speeding before the rest, a knightly train,
Spurring their fiery steeds, devour the plain.
And now the floating pennons meet their eyes,
Where, in bright fold, the Saxon courser flies.
Of friendly greeting now the shouts they hear,
And Alfred! Alfred! pierces every ear;
Now, lighting from his steed, before his bands,
Full in their sight their long-lost monarch stands.
Eager, as clustering bees on sounding wing
Pour from their hive around their idol king,
So crowd the impatient Saxons round their lord,
To life, to liberty, to arms, restored.
With generous transport godlike Alfred press'd
The happy victor to his grateful breast,
Nor did he grasp with cold or thankless hand,
The gallant leader of Ierne's band.
'Friends, brothers of the war,' the hero cried,
'Of these freed plains the bulwark and the pride,
Though, by your arms, to fame, to virtue true,
Much has been done, yet much remains to do.—
From those far borders where pellucid Tweed
Laves, with his silver stream, Northumbria's mead,
To where Sabrina's virgin waves divide
The neighbouring confines with their amber tide.
O'er all the breezy hills and fruitful plains,
The ruthless foe in power tyrannic reigns,
While, in sad exile from their native home,
Wretched, and bare, the houseless wanderers roam;
Or to the earth bent down in servile awe,
Receive, from cruel lords, oppressive law.—
Yet when they see our prosperous ensigns fly,
Hear our victorious shouts ascend the sky,
While England's and Ierne's sons unite,
To wage the war in England's monarch's right,
Soon shall rekindling Valour's embers burn,
The slave be free, the fugitive return.
'Where Druid Coitmaur spreads its leafy zone,
Now by the Saxon name of Selwood known,
To the steep site where, o'er the vale below,
Ægbryhta rears aloft the rocky brow,
Shape we our course, while, with inspiring sound,
Returning Freedom swells her pæan round.'
Not slow the generous train the path to tread,
Where Fame and Duty call'd, and Alfred led.
Soon on Ægbryhta's steep, 'mid Selwood's shade,
Flow'd Alfred's banner to the wind display'd.
Not in the midnight storm (no starry ray
To guide his vessel through the watery way,)
Feels the chill'd mariner more keen delight,
When the bright Pharos blazes to the sight,
Than Albion's sons now feel, to view on high,
This loadstar shine, of peace and victory.
By recent sufferings fired, the indignant train,
Who dragg'd inglorious Slavery's galling chain,
Or, from their home, to wilds and forests driven,
Beneath the inclement cope of Albion's heaven,
Croud, with impatient ardour, to efface
By manly hardihood, their late disgrace;
Prompt to avenge their own, their country's woes,
On the crush'd helmets of their vanquish'd foes.
All who can grasp a sword, for fight prepare,
While age and woman bend in fervent prayer.
From tongue to tongue the animating sound,
Was wafted to remotest Albion's bound,
That Alfred lived again, to dare the fight,
Undaunted champion of his country's right.
From Somerton's wide meads and verdant hills,
Where the rich vat the milky current fills;
From Wilton's champaigns wide, and chalky bourns,
Her slaughter'd sons where weeping Albion mourns;
From fair Berrochia's hills, and uplands green,
Of Saxon conquest late the splendid scene;
Berrochia—deck'd with rural pride her plains,
Lovely and chaste her maids, and brave her swains,
By royal favour graced, her fostering earth
The trophied seat of godlike Alfred's birth,
Her regions still by royal footsteps trod,
Of heroes, and of kings, the loved abode.—
From mild Hantona's soft and genial air,
Her spreading forests, and her pastures fair,
Save, on her southmost borders, where the main
Affords a refuge to the flying train,
All round the monarch crowd in loyal swarms,
Breathing revenge, and sheath'd in threatening arms.
Even from sad Mercia's subjugated seat,
Of Perfidy and Shame the dire retreat,
The gallant Leofric leads a generous few,
True to their banish'd prince, to England true;
Even from the chalky bourn of Cantium's shore,
To Alfred's aid, the favouring billows bore
Bertie, whose daring sires, in search of fame,
To Albion's coasts, from far Boruscia came,
What time his hardy warriors Hengist led
From Elba's brink to Thames' redundant bed;
Whose daring sons 'gainst Norman William stood,
Their Saxon rights maintaining with their blood.—
His trusty bow each manly yeoman draws,
Or bares his shining brand in Freedom's cause;
Freedom, resounds from each determined voice,
Freedom, the first, and death, the second choice.—
Proud of his subjects' faith, the warrior King
Stands forth, encircled by the attentive ring,
While long repeated shouts of rapture prove
That bless'd, unsullied crown, a people's love,
Emerging from Affliction's pale disguise,
His form majestic, to their gazing eyes
Shone, in terrific vengeance awful dress'd,
And all the English Hero stood confess'd.
But soon the dignity of sovereign sway
To Kindness' milder attributes gave way;
Alfred, surrounded by his gallant bands,
A long-lost parent 'mid his children stands,
Who hail, with Transport's tributary tear,
The man they love, the monarch they revere!
Yet, 'mid the squadrons spreading o'er the plain,
Looking for Caledonia's sons in vain,
In mournful tint pourtray'd, his fancy draws,
Blooming in youth, and warm in Virtue's cause,
The brave and generous Donald's hapless doom,
His warlike fire quench'd in a watery tomb;
From his full eye the tears of sorrow start,
And sighs of sever'd friendship swell his heart.
Remorseless War! and harsh Adversity!
Rude and severe instructors though ye be,
Yet, by the precepts of your rugged school,
Imperial greatness learns itself to rule;
'Tis your unflattering mirror that displays
A faithful image to the monarch's gaze.
In Fortune's prosperous hour the silken tribe,
Whose venal reverence hopes of favour bribe,
The sons of selfish Luxury and Guile,
Bask in the sunshine of the royal smile;
But let Misfortune's iron tempest beat,
The insect minions from the storm retreat.
Then Truth and Honour round the insulted throne,
Stand—Loyalty's impenetrable zone,
Unconquer'd guardians of their monarch's cause,
Palladium of their country's rights and laws.—
True Friendship thrives in war's unkindly soil,
Nurtur'd by mutual cares, and mutual toil.
Stern Independence there,—too proud to stand,
Obsequious bowing, 'mid the courtier band—
Flames in the foreward of the embattled field,
His bleeding breast his honour'd sovereign's shield.
And modest Diffidence, whose dazzled eye
Shrinks from the glance of scepter'd majesty,
On the refulgent glare of mail-clad foes
The eagle-look of bold defiance throws;
Presses before him in the battle's strife,
And ransoms, with his own, his monarch's life.
Then, while to union common dangers draw,
Lost in the soldier's love, the subject's awe,
O'er the respect that true allegiance feels,
The kindlier hue of warm affection steals,
And as their tints the social passions blend,
The sword that serves the prince, protects the friend.
Now burning to avenge his country's woes,
On scenes of war his thoughts the hero throws.
Guthrum the strong, of northern kings the heir,
To martial toil inured, and martial care,
Whose giant arm, in War's destructive field,
Scatter'd the files, and made the mighty yield;
Whose veteran skill the storm of fight could guide,
Check its wild rage, or loose its furious tide,
Proud, cruel, fierce, now held the sceptre-sword,
O'er conquer'd Albion, delegated lord.—
Alfred, revolving deep, what future fate
On Albion's persecuted shores must wait,
Should all her foes their scatter'd force combine,
Ruled by one chief, and bent on one design,
With firm demeanour, but with anxious breast,
Thus the brave leaders of his host address'd.
'Strong are our ruthless foes, their station strong,
And warlike skill informs their numerous throng;
Urged by rude force alone, we know too well
How fierce the tempest of their battle fell.—
What now their power, when temperate Valour leads,
And Wisdom guides the blow that Fury speeds?
Flush'd with success, while every bosom glows,
Secure of victory o'er vanquish'd foes;
And the slight 'vantage of the present hour,
Inflames their rage, nor aught impairs their power.
Not ours, with thoughtless confidence, to dare
The venturous shock of such unequal war,
Or, on the hazard of one doubtful day,
Throw the last remnant of our hope away.—
No—let some generous warrior, in whose breast
High courage beats, by prudence calm repress'd,
Unshock'd by peril, unsurprised by change,
Keen to observe, and skilful to arrange,—
If such there be,—with bold, yet wary eye,
The latent station of the foe descry;
Seek, in the guarded camp, the adverse band,
And trace each scheme by hostile cunning plann'd.
His life to fame a people's shouts shall call,
A people's tears immortalize his fall.'
The monarch ceased.—Around, in doubtful mood,
Irresolute and mute, the warriors stood.—
When thus again the King:—'I must not blame
The deep suspense that damps your generous flame.
As to my conduct, by the award of Heaven,
Of Albion's fate the sacred charge is given;
As me it most concerns of all mankind,
That Albion's sons enthrall'd, deliverance find;
As all the joys this bosom e'er can feel
Are solely center'd in my country's weal,—
Mine be the enterprize—'tis mine to go,
And search the secret councils of the foe.
As, to his ranks, this arm your march must guide,
Be, by these eyes, his warlike plans descried.
Following the line which Fame, which Duty draws,
I here devote me to my Country's cause,
Resolved to execute the perilous deed,
To live her guardian, or her martyr bleed.'
He paused.—A murmur spread through all the train,
When thus his words their rising zeal restrain:
'Fix'd as the will of Fate, my purposed course,
I deem him not my friend who checks its force.'
Sudden he quits the band, to thought resign'd,
The venturous scheme revolving in his mind.
In meditation deep, as through the shade,
Devious, his undirected footsteps stray'd,
Straight, from a distant harp, the warbling note,
Across the impervious forest, seem'd to float.
As, through the darkling mist, a transient beam
Of setting day oft throws a golden gleam,
So, o'er the pensive gloom that wrap'd his soul,
A sudden ray of consolation stole.
Well was he skill'd the song sublime to raise,
Or steep the impassion'd soul in melting lays.
Fair Leothete, of Gallia's dames the pride,
Led to his father's couch, a blooming bride,
Oft to his youthful fancy would unfold,
What ancient bards of Anglia's chiefs had told,
What time brave Hengist, from the Cimbrian shore,
To Britain's drooping sons their succour bore;
Hence caught his infant breast the mingled flame,
Of Heaven-descended song, and martial fame,
And, 'mid the toils of empire, still his mind
Had arts of peace, with deeds of prowess join'd.
'This be my guard,' reflecting, Alfred cried;
'This, through the adverse camp, my steps shall guide,
The sternest bosom, and the rudest arm,
Their savage aim forego, if music charm.'
Through the thick covert of the tangled wood
His listening ear the leading sound pursued,
Till, opening sudden on a verdant glade,
Stretch'd on the turf, he saw the minstrel laid;
Edwin, whose youthful ear, 'mid mountains hoar,
Had learn'd, of Cambrian bards, the tuneful lore,
And, high Plinlimmon's echoing rocks among,
Drunk the bold strains of Thaliessin's song.
From him the monarch ask'd the sacred lyre,
The minstrel's mystic wreath, and loose attire.
In this array, by danger unappal'd,
Onward he moves where Albion's safety call'd;
Yet, cautious of the perils that might rise
Round his lone march, and mar his bold emprise,
From scatter'd squadrons of the adverse power,
Who, bent on spoil, the bordering regions scour,
Brave Ethelwood, and a selected few,
Chiefs of tried virtue, resolute and true,
His course from midnight wanderers to defend,
Array'd in arms, their monarch's steps attend.
Through many a bosky dell their way they keep,
To the green foot of high Æcglea's steep.
When thus the King:—'Here, friends, your task is done,
What else remains to act, I act alone.
Should, from the hostile camp, some vagrant eye
Your plume-crown'd helms and gleaming arms descry,
Inglorious death our lot, or shameful thrall,
England's last hope extinguish'd in our fall.
'For two successive days, beneath this bourn
Conceal'd, with caution wait your friend's return.
If these elapse, conclude your Alfred lost,
The station quit, and seek my faithful host;
There, with our valiant peers, and Erin's chief,
Explore the means of succour and relief:
Either with desperate arm resolve to dare
Again, the bold uncertainty of war;
Or if, alas, fair Albion's shores must bow
Beneath the insults of a cruel foe,
Let him not boast o'er Albion's sons to reign,
But only sway a waste unpeopled plain.
Or verdant Erin's sea-encircled lands
Shall yield a refuge to your exiled bands,
Or Scotia's heights, indented by the wave,
Or Cambria's mountain-rocks your powers may save;
As erst, to Britain's native sons, their seat
Gave, from our conquering sires, a safe retreat;
So may they to their ancient foes afford
A sure asylum from the Danish sword.'
He said, and warmly press'd each friendly hand,
Assumed his minstrel garb, and left the band.
Now, unmolested by the scouts, he pass'd,
For o'er the bard a sacred shield is cast,
Graced, and revered, even by the fiercest throng,
In conscious safety moves the man of song.
By wasted fields and ruin'd farms he hies,
Till, full in sight, the Danish tents arise;
There, fearless mingling with the hostile train,
He pours sweet Melody's enchanting strain;
Entranced, around the listening Pagans stand,
And transient rapture soothes the savage band,
While, with attentive look, amid his foes
A soldier's eye the royal minstrel throws,
Surveys the trenches' depth, the turf-raised bar,
And, as he warbles, meditates the war.
Amid the banquet's glee proud Guthrum heard
The strain melodious of the scepter'd bard.
Summon'd to grace the royal tent he stands,
And sweeps the thrilling strings with skilful hands.
His ardent mind, as struggling passions fire,
Indignant thus to prostitute his lyre,
He pour'd such fervid energy of song,
As roused the fierceness of the boisterous throng:
For fancied fights the tipsy rout prepare,
And grasp imagined arms, and beat the empty air.
Till, as the fumes of foul debauch arise,
With limbs enervate, and with swimming eyes,
To feverish rest the reeling train retire,
And drown in sleep the visionary fire.
With joyful look the wary hero view'd
Stern Vigilance, by long success, subdued;
Saw daring Courage turn'd to frantic heat,
And Victory prepare her own defeat;
But, as along the noisy camp he pass'd,
Listening to Riot's roar in every blast,
Startled with horror and amaze, he hears
The whisper'd sound of 'Alfred!' strike his ears.
Instant he turns, alarm'd—his warlike hand
The useless harp quits for the shining brand,
When thus the voice—'My King! my master! say,
What fiend has tempted here thy dangerous way,
'Mid scenes where ruthless Hate and envious Strife,
Lurk, in dread ambush, for thy sacred life?
O, fly this fatal place, weak all disguise
To hide thy well-known form from Treason's eyes.
Many are here, like me, of Saxon race,
The servile ministers of foul Disgrace,
Prompt to betray, for Treachery's base reward,
That prince whose life my dying arm would guard.'
Soon as these accents reach'd the monarch's ear,
'Edgar!' he cried, 'my faithful Edgar here?
Edgar, to whom, on that destructive day,
Which tore my every hope and joy away,
Elsitha, and my infant son, I gave,
From death, or insult worse than death, to save.
Torture no words can paint, my bosom rives.'—
'She lives, my prince! my friend! Elsitha lives.'
Oft Death's pale image in the battle's storm
Had met the hero in its direst form,
Nor did he e'er in ghastlier shape appear,
Than, when in Edgar's voice, a traitor near,
Show'd him a fate that Valour might appal,
Slain in disguise, unhonour'd in his fall.
Yet, in those scenes, to Duty's claims resign'd,
Nor doubt, nor terror, shook his mighty mind.
Amid distress and danger firm he stood,
As Albion's cliffs defy the stormy flood,
Frown on the raging surf with haughty brow,
And view the idle breakers chafe below.
That mind, nor danger nor distress could tame,
In every hour, and every scene, the same,
Tumultuous trembled at Elsitha's name.
Now, that she lived, was wild impetuous joy;
Now fears and doubts the springing hope destroy.
For she the woes of slavery might prove,
Disgraceful chains, or more disgraceful love.
'Rescued from death, from shame,' the youth exclaims,
'The first and fairest of our English dames,
Deep, in a cloister's holy shelter veil'd,
In safety rests from human search conceal'd,
Where, in pellucid current, Avon laves
The irriguous meadows with her silver waves.—
Precarious safety! for the victor Dane
Awes, with surrounding hosts, the neighbouring plain;
No mansion sacred, no retreat secure,
If plunder tempt, or beauty's charms allure.'
The warrior heard—at once his throbbing breast,
A thousand joys, a thousand fears possess'd.
The glowing image of Elsitha's charms,
With rapturous hope the lover's bosom warms;
The baneful thoughts of former pain subside,
Lost in wild Extacy's tumultuous tide.—
Now torturing Fancy paints the sacred fane,
Forced by the unbridled fury of the Dane,
While Indignation's fiery currents roll,
And all the warrior rushes on his soul.
'My friend! my better genius, come!' he cries,
The avenging hero flashing from his eyes;
'Alone, unfriended, though I seem to stand,
Arms, grasp'd by Faith and Valour, are at hand,
Soldiers resolved to conquer or to fall,
Their succouring force if outraged Virtue call.'
Through the still camp, in sleep lethargic bound,
They pass, and reach, unseen, the turf-raised mound;
Unseen, they guard the pass, for slumbers deep,
In death-like rest, the drunken warders steep.
Through the thick shade they bend their silent way,
Where Ethelwood, and England's warriors lay:
With joy and gratitude they saw restored,
Crown'd with success, and safe, their much-loved lord.
With kind and friendly zeal the faithful train
Heap the full board, and spread the couch in vain;
No thought has he of hunger or of rest,
While fair Elsitha's image fills his breast;
Even with diminish'd lustre Glory shined,
And love, with England, shared the monarch's mind.
Not the wild blaze by feverish passion blown,
For chaste Affection's pure unsullied throne,
Is Alfred's breast, whence those true virtues spring,
Which form a people's friend, a patriot king.
With all their leader's wrongs enflamed, the band,
Elate in arms, a radiant phalanx stand.
By Edgar guided, through the waning night,
Through the first orient streaks of dawning light,
Onward they press,—but when the mounting ray
Profusely pour'd the golden flood of day,
Cautious, and wary, of the neighbouring foe,
Beneath the shade their wearied limbs they throw:
But soon as Eve distills her balmy dew,
Again the chiefs their silent march renew,
Till, urging on the sable noon of night,
As the bright stream reflects a feeble light,
On its green edge, by contrast dim, display'd,
The holy turrets rise in glimmering shade.—
Sudden they halt—when, with terrific clang
Of martial shouts, the echoing arches rang;
Blazes with sudden light the solemn pile,
And torches glide along each fretted ile.
With female shrieks the vaulted roofs resound,
By the loud bell's tremendous pealing drown'd.
The notes of horror strike the valiant train,
Thrill in their ears, and harrow every vein.
Not so their chief—at once his active mind,
In passion cool, each circumstance combined.—
That one neglected moment might destroy
The treasury of all his promised joy
He saw—and bade the clarion's warlike breath
Swell the vindictive strain of war and death;
Through every cell the martial thunder broke,
To each astonish'd Dane defiance spoke.—
Rushing before his troops, with ardent breast,
Full on the foe the gallant Alfred press'd.
The clouds of grief that o'er his exiled head,
So long their melancholy shadow spread,
Now vanish to the winds—he sees once more,
Opposed in arms, the invaders of his shore,
Clad in his people's spoils, and red with Albion's gore.
Amid the ranks, with whirlwind speed he drives,
Unnumber'd breasts the sword of vengeance rives.
Now rushing on, the Saxon troops pursue
The daring line their leader's faulchion drew.
Before the gathering storm the oppressive band,
Already scatter'd by the monarch's hand,
With broken ranks recede, and, vanquish'd, yield
To Alfred, and to England's sons, the field!
The holy inmates of the lone abode,
Virgins, and matrons, consecrate to God,
As with pure zeal, for this unlook'd for aid,
The grateful orison of thanks they paid;
The intrepid warrior bless'd, whose arm was given
To guard the hallow'd votaries of Heaven.
But who the agonies of bliss can paint
When Alfred clasp'd again his widow'd saint!
Clasp'd her, with transport, to a breast adored,
To life, to love, to happiness restored;
Rescued from savage insults, rude alarms,
To joy and safety, by a husband's arms,
The first, sole, passion of her opening youth,
Mirror of constancy, and soul of truth;
Dreadful in fight as Heaven's red bolts of death,
Gentle in peace as May's ambrosial breath;
For whom her brightest laurels Conquest wove,
Twined with the myrtle wreaths of nuptial love.—
Could one condemn'd, alas! to weep in vain,
Virtues he ne'er must hope to meet again,
Behold, for him reversed, the general doom,
And love connubial rescued from the tomb;
As fond Admetus clasp'd Alcestes' charms,
As Eleonora bless'd her Edward's arms,
His mind, to Fancy's eye, might picture well,
Transports which few have felt, which none can tell.
And now his arms his smiling infant press'd,
Now drew his blushing consort to his breast;
From her soft eyes, which chasten'd fondness speak,
A lucid tear steals down her lovely cheek;
So the mild sun-beam of the vernal hour,
Oft watry shines through April's crystal shower.
He read the enquiring thought that tear express'd,
And thus in accent bland his queen address'd.
'Of many a valiant chief, since last we met,
Glory's bright beams in shades of death are set.
Even he, my dear ally, of Mercia's line,
Than brother more, Elsitha, since he's thine,
Burthred, from native Albion wandering far,
The sacrifice of Treason and of War,
On distant shores has breathed the expiring sigh,
No friend to tend his couch, or close his eye.'
'O witness, Heaven!' the royal Dame replied,
'To thee I speak, my husband, and my pride,
That, thus again to thy dear arms restored,
Saved and protected by thy victor sword,
This bosom swells alone with Rapture's sigh,
No tears but those of Transport fill this eye;
Bowing, in gratitude, for favours given,
Shall this weak mind arraign the will of Heaven?'
Here stopp'd her faultering voice, while copious flow
The mingled tides of Pleasure and of Woe.
For while she raised her eye in praise, the tear
Of anxious diffidence still trembled there,
Till her loved consort, with affection true,
Kiss'd, from its lovely source, the pearly dew.—
By mutual fondness every doubt allay'd,
And years of pain in one short moment paid.
When thus brave Ethelwood—'My warning voice
Breaks on this happy scene against my choice—
Short is, alas! the insidious calm;—around
Soon shall again the storm of conflict sound,
Soon the returning foe, in morning's hour,
O'er this retreat his numerous bands will pour.
A troop in arms, so valiant, and so near,
Will wake, at once, his vengeance and his fear.
Toward Selwood's shade, and high Ægbryhta's bourn,
To meet your friends and brave allies, return,
Who many an anxious look impatient fling,
Far o'er the horizon's verge, to seek their king.'
The Monarch heard, and Glory's kindling flame
Shot, with redoubled ardour, through his frame.
When selfish passion clouds the warrior's breast,
Dim shine her mouldering flames, by sloth depress'd,
But from chaste Love, and faithful Beauty's arms,
With heighten'd radiance blaze her heavenly charms.
Instant he gives the sign;—in bright array
The troops obedient measure back their way;
Not as when wild Dismay, and pallid Fear,
Hang on the vanquish'd squadron's flying rear.
With slow and steady foostep they recede,
Yet in retreat look back to Victory's meed,
With eager hope of future conflict burn,
And lingering go, more dreadful to return.—
Now, as in pleasing prospect, to their eyes
The tented summits of Ægbryhta rise,
Wondering they see, upon the aerial brow,
Cambria's and Caledonia's banners flow.
Young Donald's bands, saved from the waves and wind,
On Cambria's coast, by Mervin's warriors join'd,
Mervin, who ruled Dimeta's western plains,
The princely leader of Silurian swains,
March'd, with united squadrons, to his aid,
Their ensigns each in friendly folds display'd.
Here, crown'd with recent conquest, to the skies
The snow-white steed in Saxon banners flies,
There Cambria's griffin, on the azure field,
In snaky volumes writhes around the shield;
And Scotia's lion, proud, erect, and bold,
Rears high his irritable crest in gold.
Gold too her harp, and strung with silver wire,
Erin her arms displays with kindred fire,
And Britain's sister isles in Alfred's cause conspire.
Proud of his native chiefs and brave allies,
In Alfred's breast new hopes of victory rise.
Sincere he clasps, in Friendship's warm embrace,
The warlike chief of each congenial race;
But when he saw the Scotish prince restored,
Donald, whose timeless doom he oft deplored;
Donald, who urged with more than friendly zeal,
Scotia's free sons to arm for England's weal;
Donald, whom oft his pensive thought would form,
Floating, a corse, before the enfuriate storm,
His hoary locks while wretched Gregor tore,
Devoting Alfred's cause, and England's shore,
With love unfeign'd, and gratitude, he press'd
A rescued brother to his throbbing breast,
Anxious to learn what potent arm could save
Him and his gallant warriors from the wave.
When thus the Prince:—'Forced by the billowy roar,
With dreadful impulse, on the craggy shore,
Where rose abrupt the mountain from the tide,
The wild wave dashing on its rugged side,
Onward we rush'd to fate;—when in our sight,
Shewn by the lurid tempest's forked light,
Flash'd sudden gleam of hope,—beneath the brow
Whence high Dimeta's glittering turrets show,
There opes a spacious bay, where Milver's steep
Guards the still harbour from the howling deep,
In peaceful calm, there gently heaves the main,
And round, the angry whirlwind raves in vain.
Keneth, whose watchful eyes the advantage mark,
Steers, through the severing rocks, his shatter'd bark,
The flaming torch then rears aloft, to guide
Our labouring vessals through the placid tide.
The wave-worn bands assembling on the coast,
As anxious we survey our scatter'd host,
That ship alone our sorrowing eyes deplore,
Which royal Alfred through the surges bore.—
What empty rites of funeral woe we paid
To thee, my friend; the generous Cambrian's aid;
And how, when Fame declared that Albion's lord,
From the dire storm to Albion's fields restored,
Waved high the crest, and shook the avenging sword,
By valiant Mervin join'd, from Milver's bay,
To join the bold emprize we sped our way,
Some fitter time shall show—these hours demand
The leader's counsel, and the soldier's hand.'
The generous King now to his consort's charms
Courteous presents his new compeers in arms.
With manly firmness, and with martial tread,
Advancing, Mervin bows his helmed head.
Connal avows himself chaste Beauty's knight,
Her slave in peace, her champion in the fight.
In doubtful awe young Donald's steps advance,
And as his eye, abash'd, with sidelong glance
Caught fair Elsitha's form, with glowing hue,
Low on the ground, a downcast look he threw,
While, in Confusion's blushing tint array'd,
His faultering voice his inward thoughts betray'd.
In royal Burthred's hospitable court,
Of valour and of wit the famed resort,
Ere Scandinavia's sons, with felon sway,
Swept every polish'd charm of life away;
Where many a chief, to win Elsitha's eye,
The manly skill display'd of chivalry,
As once, in friendly sojourn, Donald staid,
He view'd, with passion'd eye, the royal maid;
Though but a stripling, fated then to prove
The inevitable tyranny of Love.
Vain were his vows, his fond pretensions vain,
Nor vows nor prayers her favouring smile could gain;
Already valiant Alfred's courteous art,
Had fix'd his image in her virgin heart,
While deeds of generous worth and high renown,
Virtue's true meed, and laurell'd Glory's crown,
Recorded by a people's general voice,
Fire her pure breast, and consecrate her choice.
Leaving the Mercian court, he sought to foil
His hopeless love, by hardihood and toil;
Till well, he deem'd, that time and absence join'd,
Had chaced the soft invader from his mind.
For when his sire led back from Erin's coast,
By Triumph graced, the Caledonian host,
Drinking each warlike tale with greedy ears,
He burns to emulate the deeds he hears,
Secure that Love had lost his faded flame,
Quench'd in the brighter blaze of martial fame.
Even when he learn'd from Alfred's dreadful tale,
What perils dire his hapless queen assail,
Though in her cause to arm he eager sought,
Fame only edged his sword, he fondly thought.
Love, so he vainly deem'd, had wing'd his flight,
And Fame and Friendship charm'd him to the fight;
For friendship still remain'd when passion fell,
And still he wish'd the fair Elsitha well;
Her image bright, yet cold as Dian's ray,
Through toil and hardship led his venturous way;
Around his bark when roar'd the wintry storm,
Mild Friendship cheer'd him in Elsitha's form;
Elsitha's friendship, like the leading star,
Guided his footsteps through the paths of war.
But as the dew, which oft, at early dawn,
In wintry whiteness, clothes the summer lawn,
Melts, when the orb of day new gilds the plain,
And verdure reassumes its genial reign;
So, from the lustre of Elsitha's eye,
The cold resolves of frozen friendship fly;
The vainly smother'd passion stands confess'd,
And all the lover glows in Donald's breast.
Yet to his heart he shudders to declare,
The thoughts his reason reads indignant there.
On Virtue's solid rock his conduct placed,
By Duty guarded, and by Honour graced,
O'er him the fiery floods of passion roll,
Consume his frame, but ruffle not his soul.
Hence, though his mind her steady seat maintains,
A subtle poison steals through all his veins;
While, in his languid eye, his sorrows speak,
And tear Health's ruddy blossoms from his cheek.
So o'er the early bloom of opening spring,
When Eurus harshly waves the ungenial wing,
Though, rooted deep, the vigorous plant defies
The chilling blasts of unpropitious skies,
Yet the green germs that bursting first appear,
The vernal prelude of the youthful year,
Shrink from the breeze—and Maia's gentle hours
Mourn the bare spray despoil'd of leaves and flowers.