Song: Fair Delia While Each Sighing Swain
Fair Delia while each sighing swain
Whose heart your charms adores,
Fills with his tender vows the plain,
And favoring smiles implores:
My Wishes varying from the rest
Demand a different boon,
And only ask this one request,
The mercy of a frown.
Ah! far from me those witching smiles
Those languid eyes remove,
Whose charms my senses might surprise,
And tempt my heart to Love;
The chilling frowns of cold disdain
I'll patiently endure,
Content to bear a transient pain
My freedom to secure.
To William Mitford, Esq.
Mitford, the candid Critic of my lays,
Who oft when wild my careless Muse would sing
Smooth'd the rough note, and check'd her vagrant wing,
Accept the humble gift she grateful pays;
Though now your thoughts to bolder heights you raise,
By History's awful Goddess taught to bring
Celestial flowers from Freedom's hallow'd Spring
To crown the Chiefs of Grecia's happier days,
Yet how to harmonize the tuneful strain
Your voice has shewn Aonia's listening throng;
Nor will you, though your nicer ear retain
What sounds to purest Melody belong,
This tribute from a ruder Bard disdain,
Proud to record your friendship in his song.
Song: Let No Shepherd Sing To Me
Let no Shepherd sing to me
The stupid praise of Constancy,
Nature bids her subjects range,
All creation's full of change.
See the varying hours display
Morning, Evening, Night, and Day,
See the circling seasons bring
Summer, Winter, Autumn, Spring.
Shall the river's current full
Idly sleep a stagnate pool,
Shall the pedant's mandate bind
The rapid wave, the fleeting wind.
Thus I sung when Chloe's eyes
Made my vanquish'd heart their prize,
Where's my passion now to range,
Love of Freedom, love of Change.
Still my breast retains it's views,
Still variety pursues,
Happy in one Nymph to find
Every charm of Womankind.
A Greek Scolion, Or Song
By CALLISTRATUS, On HARMODIUS and ARISTOGEITON
In myrtle wreaths my sword I bear,
As, fir'd by zeal, the illustrious pair
Conceal'd from view the avenging sword
The haughty Tyrant's breast that gor'd,
And Athen's equal rights restor'd.
Belov'd Harmodius! Death in vain
O'er thee usurp'd a transient reign.
Those happy Isles thy footsteps tread
Where amaranthine flowers are shed
On Peleus' Son, and Diomed.
In myrtle wreaths my sword I bear,
As, fir'd by zeal, the illustrious pair
Their patriot weapons veil'd from sight,
When in Minerva's solemn rite
Hipparchus sunk to endless night.
Eternal glory's deathless meed
Shall, lov'd Harmodius, crown thy deed,
And brave Aristogeiton's sword,
Because the Tyrant's breast ye gor'd,
And Athens' equal rights restor'd.
Song: The Flowers Of The Spring That Enamel The Vale
The flowers of the Spring that enamel the vale,
Give their dyes to the meadows, their sweets to the gale,
From the sun-beam, the shower, and the soft-falling dew
Receive all their treasures of odour, and hue.
When Winter extends his tyrannical reign,
Fades every gay blossom that painted the plain,
And all the bright offspring of sunshine and showers
Shrink up at the blast of December's stern hours,
Though Love's gentle power can more sweetness disclose
Than the vi'let or woodbine, the jasmine or rose,
Yet none of them holds so precarious perfume,
A texture so tender, so fleeting a bloom.
All it's sweetness it draws like the Daughters of May
From Pity's soft dew, and from Kindness' mild ray,
Like them it will shrink from the frost of Disdain,
But never like them will it blossom again.
Sent To Mr. Haley, On Reading His Epistles On Epic Poetry
What blooming garlands shall the Muses twine,
What verdant laurels weave, what flowers combine,
To crown their favorite Son whose generous heart
Has check'd the arrogance of Critic Art,
And shewn that still in their exhaustless mine
The purest gems of radiant Genius shine,
To grace the venturous Poets who explore
The unsun'd treasures of their sacred store?
Nor this the Syren note of flattering praise,
Or the fond tribute partial friendship pays;
A voice unknown to fame, to thee unknown,
But wak'd by thy superior worth alone,
Attempts, perhaps with too officious zeal,
Thy thoughts awhile from higher cares to steal,
And in presumptuous numbers dares essay
To hail the glories of thy matchless lay.
O fairest hope of Britain's tuneful Choir!
Why yield to other hands the Epic Wire?
Say who of all her Bards like thee shall swell
To strains of extasy th' Heroic shell?
When the long series of connecting rhime
Denies the raptur'd flight or march sublime
Who shall the interval so well beguile
With each rich ornament of polish'd style?
Who o'er the thrilling heart such forms shall throw
Of frantic horror, or pathetic woe?
Or when the notes from Freedom's clarion blown
Chill the pale Despot on his trembling throne,
What manly son of Britain's warbling throng
Shall join the Pæan with so bold a song?
And if inventive Fancy love to stray
'Mid the wild tracts of Fiction's faery way,
Say who shall mate those magic powers that stole
The nightly vision o'er Serena's soul?
Then let, illustrious Bard!—though rude her voice,
A Muse of humble mien divert thy choice.—
With timid hand snatch no reflected grace
From the sweet Maniac of Hesperian race.
Since Genius' keenest rays thy bosom fire
O strike with native force the British Lyre,
That, while such virtuous chiefs adorn thy strain
As Greece and Rome shall emulate in vain,
Albion may consecrate thy deathless name,
And found her Epic pride on Hayley's fame.
The solemn hand of sable-suited night
Enwraps the silent earth with mantle drear;
Thick gathering clouds obscure fair CYNTHIA's light;
Nor shines one star the dusky scene to chear.
O'er the sad mansion, hid in aweful gloom,
The Æthiop darkness spreads her ebon sway;
Save that alone from yonder studious room
The wasting taper sheds a trembling ray.
Now, while the tenants of this sacred dome
Turn the grave page, or sink to soft repose,
Along the Gothic cloisters let me roam,
And, deep in thought, the tedious moments lose.
Now breathes the whistling wind a mournful song,
And pattering drops the drizzly tempest tell;
While Echo stalks the gloomy vaults among,
Sadly-responsive to the midnight bell.
And hark!—the staring owl with boding strain
Shrieks notes of terror from the learned grove.
Ah horrid sounds! full well ye soothe my pain!
Full well your music greets despairing love!
No longer now around the social bowl
I join the festive laugh, or sprightly lay;
But pour in ceaseless sighs my lovesick soul,
Till fades the lamp at bright AURORA's ray.
How at the fragrant hour of rising morn
Would eager transport throb in ev'ry vein,
To hear the swelling shout and jocund horn
Invite the hunter to the sportive plain!
But, ah, the gay delights of youth are fled!—
In sighs and tears my fading life I wear;
So the pale lilly hangs its drooping head,
When frosts untimely blast the ripening year.
Philosophy, thou guardian of the heart,
O come in all thy rigid virtue dressed!
With manly precept ease my killing smart,
And drive this tyrant from my wounded breast.
Oft would my eyes, disdaining balmy sleep,
The aweful labors of thy sons explore,
Fathom with restless toil each maxim deep,
And hang incessant o'er the sacred lore:
Alas! opposed to love how weak, how frail
Is all the reasoning of the unfeeling sage!
No forceful arm can o'er his power prevail;
No lenient hand the wounds he gives asswage.
Yes, tyrant, yes; thou must retain thy power,
Till my torn bosom yields to stronger Death:
Still must I love, even in that fatal hour,
And call on DELIA with my latest breath.
And when all pale my lifeless limbs extend,
And fate has sealed the irrevocable doom,
May then my memory find a faithful friend,
To write these votive numbers on my tomb:
'Here rests a youth, who, Love and Sorrow's slave,
'Gave up his early life to pining care,
'Till worn with woe he sought, in this calm grave,
'A safe retreat from comfortless Despair.'
So, when the stone lies o'er my clay-cold head,
If chance fair DELIA to the place draw near,
With one sad sigh she may lament me dead,
And bathe the senseless marble with a tear.
Ode To Harmony
Immortal Harmony! thy heavenly strain
Coeval grew with sea, and earth, and skies.—
What time from chaos' rude primeval reign
The Almighty Fiat bade creation rise,
The angelic host around applauding stood,
And loud their golden lyres proclaim'd that all was good.—
Those sacred lays whose voice sublime
High heaven's eternal mansions hear,
Amid the transient lapse of time
Shall never meet the human ear,
Till, torn the veil of flesh away,
Stand to the soul confess'd the realms of endless day.
Yet streams from that immortal source,
Were not to mortal sense denied,
On Israel's race with swelling force
Unbounded rush'd the sacred tide:
Judea's palmy groves around
Re-echo to the hallow'd sound.—
Now to the harp's responsive strings
His plaintive hymn Jessides sings,
Now with exulting rapture glows
O'er dread Jehovah's prostrate foes,
Isaiah now with fiercer fire
Strikes loud the bold prophetic wire,
And treads, or seems in act to tread,
O'er proud Assyria's vanquish'd head.
While now the lay pathetic thrills
By Babel's willow-border'd rills,
As from Judea's captive train
The victor's taunting voice demands the choral strain.
But hark!—what lays enchanting sound
Unroots the forest from the ground?
By the persuasive powers subdu'd
Charm'd from the prey the savage brood
Attentive listen round.—
'Tis he, the first of Grecia's choir,
'Tis Orpheus strikes the living lyre!
And see Alcæus' sterner hand
Appals pale slavery's trembling band,
See rapid Pindar loosely flings
His fingers o'er the warbling strings,
While, as the drama's potent art
Or melts or terrifies the heart,
More sighs arise, more sorrows flow,
As Music's aiding hand strikes deep the shafts of woe.
Nor yet amid the wreck of time
The rapturous powers are lost:
Soft breathe her airs on every clime,
And visit every coast.—
What though Hesperia's sunnier day
Now boast to wake the sweetest lay;
Yet sure, if ere the throbbing breast
Sweet Music's native voice confess'd,
To the soft measures that proceed
From Caledonia's northern reed,
No feeling bosom shall deny
The genuine claim of Melody.
Though wild caprice with frantic hand
Awhile may seize the sacred lyre,
While folly's sons applauding stand
To hear her strike the wire:
O Albion! as thy polish'd ear
Will none but classic numbers hear,
So let thy voice propitious own
Those thrilling notes that strike the heart alone.
Whether the soft melodious lay
In simple measures flow,
Now warbling elegantly gay,
Now tuned to placid woe.
Or Harmony with choral song
Pour her impetuous stream along,
While loud the swelling strains of rapture roll,
O'ercome the captive sense, and shake the astonish'd soul.
The Fading Gleam Of Parting Day
The fading gleam of parting day
Forsakes the western sky,
Now shines Diana's chaster ray
With virgin majesty;
Her face with milder glory bright
Pales o'er the dusky shades of night,
And brings the varied scene to view:
The glassy lake, the bubbling stream,
Again reflect the borrow'd beam,
And take the silver hue.
From the deep shade of yonder trees
The screaming night-birds call,
While floats in Zephyr's balmy breeze
The distant water-fall;
Sad Philomela's warbling throat
Pours forth the sweetly-mournful note,
And charms the lay-resounding grove,
Where, trembling at the gentle gale,
The bending fir, and poplar pale,
In rushing murmurs move.
What joyful sounds arise!—
These strains of rural music sink,
And shrill-ton'd clarions rend the skies,
The air a voice of triumph chears—
Behold, an awful form appears
On Cherwell's sedgy brink!
His azure length of robe behind
Loosely wantons in the wind,
Glowing like the vernal morning
Beams benign his eye-balls shed,
Ceres' wealth his brows adorning
Shades his venerable head.
Say, heav'nly Vision, what these notes portend;
Sits white-wing'd Vict'ry on Britannia's arms?
Does proud Iberia to our legions bend,
Or flies the Gaul at Granby's dread alarms,
Or stalks on India's sun-burnt plains afar
The force of Conflict keen, and giant rage of War?
‘Far hence, he cried, the tumult's roar
‘To distant climes shall fly,
‘Mirth revels now on Albion's shore,
‘And blithe Festivity.
‘Ye Muses, twine each fragrant flower
‘To crown with roseate braids the hour
‘Which gave to George a blooming Heir;
‘Ye guardians of this favour'd isle,
‘With graceful pleasure kindly smile,
‘Ye Nymphs your wreaths prepare.
‘Come happy babe! delight the lands
‘Which time shall make thy own;
‘Come happy babe! whom Heav'n commands
‘To fill a future throne.
‘And when the sacred lore of truth
‘Shall gently form thy ripening youth,
‘May ev'ry grateful Briton find
‘The soul of George's godlike race,
‘With lovely Charlotte's softer grace,
‘Attemper'd in thy mind.
‘For thee on Afric's burning coast
‘Aloft the British ensign waves;
‘For thee by rattling tempests tost
‘Their navies awe the Gallic pride,
‘On every realm, whose hostile side
‘The boundless ocean laves;—
‘With nobler skill and fiercer fire
‘Strike the rapture-breathing lyre!
‘Hark!—on Cambria's cloud-topt mountains
‘Music winds her streams along:
‘As they flow, the crystal fountains
‘Listen to the jocund song!
‘Lo! glorious shades and halcyon days appear
‘Fair as the Morn in saffron mantle dight,—
‘But sounds divine ill suit the human ear,
‘And fleeting visions mock the mortal sight.’
He said: and rushing from my wond'ring eyes,
On rapid light'ning borne, he sought his native skies.
Ode On The Birth Of The Prince Of Wales
The fading beam of parting day
Forsakes the western sky,
Now shines Diana's gentler ray
With virgin majesty;
Her face with milder glory bright
Illumes the dusky shades of night,
And brings the varied scene to view.
The glassy lake, and bubbling stream,
Again reflect the borrow'd beam,
And take a silver hue.
From the deep shade of yonder trees
The screaming night-birds call,
While floats on Zephyr's balmy breeze
The distant waterfall:
Sad Philomela's warbling throat
Pours to the moon her plaintive note
And charms the lay-resounding grove,
Where, trembling at the gentle gale,
The verdant beech, and poplar pale,
With rustling murmurs move.
What dreadful sounds arise?—
These notes of rural music sink
And shrill-ton'd clarions rend the skies;
The air a voice of triumph chears,
And lo! a form divine appears
On Cherwell's sedgy brink.
His azure length of robe behind
Loosely wantons in the wind;
Glowing like the vernal morning
Beams benign his eye-balls shed;
Ceres' wealth his brows adorning
Shades his venerable head.
Say heavenly vision what these notes portend?
Sits white-wing'd Victory on Britannia's arms?
Does proud Iberia to her legions bend,
Or flies the Gaul at Granby's dread alarms,
Or stalks on India's sun-burn'd coasts afar
The force of conflict keen, and giant rage of war?
‘Far hence,’ he cried, ‘the tumult's roar
‘To distant realms shall fly:
‘Mirth revels now on Albion's shore
‘With blythe festivity.
‘Ye Muses twine each fragant flower
‘To crown the day, to crown the hour,
‘Which gave to George a blooming heir;
‘Ye Guardians of this favor'd isle
‘On this your future monarch smile,
‘Ye Nymphs your wreaths prepare.
‘Come happy child! delight the land
‘Where time shall fix thy throne:
‘O come, and take from Freedom's hand
‘A sceptre all her own:
‘And when the sacred lore of truth
‘Display'd, shall form thy ripening youth,
‘May every joyful Briton find
‘The soul of George's godlike race,
‘With lovely Charlotte's softer grace,
‘Attemper'd, in thy mind.
‘For thee on Afric's sultry coast
‘The British ensign proudly waves;
‘For thee by distant tempests tost
‘Our navies awe the Gallic pride
‘On every shore, whose hostile side
‘The boundless Ocean laves.—
‘With nobler skill, and fiercer fire,
‘Strike the rapture-breathing lyre.—
‘Hark!—from Cambria's cloud-top'd mountains
‘Music winds her stream along,
‘As they flow the crystal fountains
‘Listen to the jocund song,
‘Lo radiant forms and glorious shades appear,
‘Fair as the morn in saffron mantle dight;
‘But strains divine ill suit the human ear,
‘And fleeting visions mock the mortal sight.’—
He said, and rushing from my wondering eyes,
On volley'd lightening borne, he sought his native skies.
October And May
ADDRESSED TO SAMUEL JAMES ARNOLD, Esq.
: 'Behold, with mild and matron mien,
'With sober eye, and brow serene,
'October sweep along;
'Bright are her groves with vivid dyes,
'Refulgent beam her cloudless skies,
'And sweet her red-breast's song.
'Her temper bland, no passions sway,
'The same to-morrow as to-day,
'Her tints so soft, so warm,
'That Painting, with enraptur'd view,
'Hangs o'er each variegated hue,
'And copies every charm.
'Then let the Muse's thrilling lyre
'To Painting join its silver wire,
'And hail October's fame;
'Nor let that peevish vixen May,
'Whose frowns and tears deform the day,
'Her notes for ever claim.'
Why, faith! there's truth in what you say:
Yet poets love the young and gay;—
Though fickle May is teasing,
Though frowns and tears obscure her smiles,
In spite of all her pouting wiles
The little vixen's pleasing.
Then when she smiles, she smiles so sweet,
Such colours and such perfumes meet,
Such health is in her hue;
Such odours from her bosom breathe,
That poets give to her the wreath,
Who smell, as well as view.
Besides, you painters have the art,
Charms artificial to impart,
And make the wrinkle sleek.
Though red the blushing hawthorn shine,
To me it looks like deep carmine
Upon a faded cheek.
See how the hawthorn snowy blooms;
Its scent the passing gale perfumes:
Mark how the lilac blows—
Profuse while Flora o'er the meads,
Where'er the laughing goddess treads,
Her fragrant burden throws.
'But Spring's gay landscape shows too bright
'Masses of vegetable white,
'And light unvaried green;'—
Can then the artist's partial eye
No charm in Nature's works descry,
Unless he paint the scene?
The rugged brow, the form uncouth,
Will more than beauty or than youth
The painter's skill engage;
But will from youth and beauty's charms
The painter fly, and in his arms
Clasp ugliness and age?
Light ills, whence comic laughter flows,
And tragedy's severer woes,
Are favourites of the Muse;
But days replete with ease and joy,
Unting'd by aught of pain's alloy,
In real life we choose.
Say, can the robin's plaintive note
Mate Philomela's warbling throat
Which nightly charms the grove;
Or full and sweet, the feather'd throng,
Who loudly chant the matin song
Of ecstacy and love?
And bounding see in sportive dance,
Frolic the summer months advance,
Led on by youthful May;
While on October's solemn state
The hours of dreary winter wait,
The heralds of decay.
The frowning brow, the tearful eye
Of blooming May shall swiftly fly,
And every cloud be past;
While on October's richest hue
Doubtful we throw an anxious view,
And fear each smile her last.
But you, my friend, whose gifted mind,
In friendly union fondly join'd,
The sister arts inspire;
Who know alike with skilful hand
The glowing pencil to command,
And strike the sacred lyre,
Will now mild Autumn's various dyes,
His mellow tints, and purple skies,
With plastic hand pourtray;
Now taste the fragrant breath of Spring,
Her sylvan chorus join, and sing
The ambrosial sweets of May.
The Tenth Olympic Ode Of Pindar
O Muse, awake the Olympic Lay,
Which to Archestratus' brave Son we owe;
The meed I promis'd to bestow,
Oblivion's icy hand had wip'd away:
And thou, O Truth, the favorite Maid
Of thundering Jove, vouchsafe thy aid
To quell their slanderous falshoods, who pretend
I e'er with wilful aim deceiv'd a trusting Friend.
Full many an hour has roll'd away
Since shame has made my cheeks with crimson glow,
So long the promis'd meed to owe:
But now the song, with interest, I'll repay;
And, as where Ocean's billows roar,
They clear from stain the pebbled shore,
So shall the breath of this my friendly strain,
To listening crouds assert my spotless faith again.
Where, gently fann'd by Zephyr's balmy breeze,
Fair Truth o'er Locris' colony presides;
Her Guardian, sweet Calliope, she sees,
While warlike Mars the generous care divides.—
Bold Cycnus, in the hard-fought field,
Forced Hercules at first to yield;
Agesidamus, so thy might
Was wavering in the Olympic fight,
Till, as Achilles' friendly tongue
Patroclus' fainting limbs new strung;
Brave Ilas' words thy drooping spirits fire,
Thy slumbering virtues rouse, and god-like deeds inspire.
When Emulation warms the breast,
The Youth (Heaven aiding) matchless Fame shall gain;
But few the envied Prize obtain
By slothful luxury and lazy rest.
Now custom bids my Muse proclaim
Jove's Festival and solemn Game,
With which Alcides honor'd Pelops' Shrine,
When Neptune's baffled sons confess'd his power divine.
When his triumphant arm had laid,
O blameless Cteatus! thy glory low;
And bold Eurytas felt the blow,
O'ercome by stratagem in Cleon's glade;
From proud Augeas to obtain
The promis'd meed of toil and pain;
And wreak on Molion's sons the fatal day,
When stretch'd on Elis' plains his slaughter'd army lay.
Soon did the faithless King his fraud repay,
He saw his country's fairest hopes expire;
Saw his exulting cities fall a prey
To vengeful slaughter, and consuming fire;
Saw desolation's iron reign
Extend o'er all his fair domain—
Vain are the endeavours to withstand
The vengeance of a mightier hand;
Awhile he rashly tried to oppose
The forceful entry of his shouting foes;
Till, seeing fell destruction round him wait,
He sought amid the press, a voluntary fate.
On Pisa's plains the son of Jove
Assembled, with their spoils, his conquering band;
And bade for ever sacred stand
To his eternal Sire this hallow'd grove:
Bade sacred fences straight surround
The Altis' consecrated ground;
Whilst round, the festive seats with splendor gleam,
And crown the verdant brink of Alpheus' honored stream.
Alpheus, who, with the imperial train
Of high Olympus, shares the sacrifice;
Where the Saturnian summits rise,
With site conspicuous from the trophied plain:—
There, erst when Oenomaus sway'd,
In snow was wrapp'd the unnoticed glade.
On the first rites propitious smil'd the Fates;
And Time, on whom even Truth for confirmation waits:
He, rolling on with never-ceasing course,
To the succeeding race of men declares,
How the rich spoils of war's resistless force,
The godlike Hero 'midst his army shares;
And bids the festive games still chear
Again each fifth revolving year.—
Who in the contests, now ordain'd,
The first Olympic wreath obtain'd?
Whose coursers in the rattling car,
Or limbs exerted in the sportive war,
Or feet inur'd to urge the rapid race,
Snatch'd from their baffled foes the matchless olive's grace?
On the long Stadium's even course,
Oeonus, great Licymnius' valiant son,
The Prize with active footsteps won,
Who brought from Midia's plains his friendly force:
Resplendent with the wrestler's oil,
Fair Victory crown'd the Tegean's toil:
While brave Doryclus, from Tirynthe's shore,
The Cæstus' manly prize from all his rivals bore.
Conspicuous on his conquering car,
The Muse Mantinian Semus' Coursers sings;
Phrastor the unerring javelin flings;
While, by Eniceus' sinews hurl'd, afar
Beyond the rest the Discus flies.—
Resound the shores with friendly cries;
While lovely Luna pours her argent light
Full-orb'd, and chears with rays the gloomy shades of night.
The echoing woods, and vaulted temples round,
Ring with the jocund shouts, and festive strain.
Following their great example, we resound
Their glories who the Olympic Olive gain:
And in the far-resounding verse
The manly Victor's praise rehearse,
And tune the Hymn to awful Jove;
Who, 'mid the sapphire plains above,
Bids the bright-gleaming lightning fly,
And darts the thunder thro' the trembling sky.
Breath'd to soft flutes sweet sounds the lingering lay,
Which, form'd on Dirce's brink, though long deferr'd, we pay.
As grateful comes the long-hop'd air;
As to the expecting sire whom age and pain
To second childhood bend again,
The happy offspring of a legal heir:
The joyful tidings straight impart
New vigor to his sinking heart;
For wealth itself the dying breast offends,
When to a stranger's hand the envied gift descends.
So he who at dread Pluto's gate
Arrives unsung;—though worth and fair renown
His every word and action crown,
What shining honor shall that worth await?
Thy ears, the lyre, and dulcet flute,
Agesidamus! shall salute;
O'er thy fair fame distil mellifluous lays,
And all Pieria's Choir afford thee ample praise.
And on his country too we must bestow
The faithful tribute of a votive verse;
On Locris' race the honied stream shall flow,
While their victorious son my lays rehearse;
Whom, by Olympia's awful shrine,
My eyes beheld, with strength divine,
In the stern conflict bear away
The envied trohpies of the day.
Lovely his form, while youth's soft grace
Shed smiling beauty o'er his face;
Youth's bloom divine, which, join'd to potent Love,
The ruthless arm of Death from Ganymedes drove.
Beauty. Part Ii
Of all that Nature's rural prospects yield,
The chrystal fountain and the flow'ry field,
Enough, my Muse!—the force of Beauty trace
Now in each feature of the female face,
For there she boasts superior powers, that move
The melting soul to extasy and love.
O! whisper to my heart, Aonia's choir,
Harmonious numbers, and seraphic fire!
Resistless Queen of Paphos, aid my strain,
With all the Loves and Graces in thy train.
Ye sportive Nymphs, and laughing Pleasures join,
Adorn each thought, and polish ev'ry line.
With such assistance shall my song rehearse
The fairest subject in the sweetest verse.
Britannia! happy land! thy sea-girt coast
The tend'rest ornament of love can boast:
From other regions exil'd, here alone
Fair Delicacy rears her sacred throne:
Honor and Modesty her lineage claim,
Her nurse was Decency, her tutor Fame,
Desire attends where'er her footsteps move,
Unalter'd bliss, and never-fading love.
O! keep her rules for ever in your view,
Ye Nymphs of Albion, for I sing to you:
Tho' your bright charms can kindle fiercer flames
Than those of fam'd Circassia's lovely dames,
With stedfast course pursue her perfect plan,
Whose dictates please us more than Beauty can.
Let Gallia's sunburn'd maids their cheeks incrust
With the false varnish of a crimson dust;
On artificial locks, which tow'ring rise
A monstrous pile, and seem to threat the skies,
Let them, with taste capricious, powder spread,
To ape the honours of a hoary head:
So Caledonia's fir-crown'd hills appear,
When big with snow descends th' inclement year:
Let them, each soft endearment laid apart,
With open impudence attack the heart:
Form'd as you are each Beauty to display,
And mock the painter's tint, and poet's lay,
Ne'er may this modest ornament be lost,
Your first perfection, and your fairest boast,
Which can your eyes with force resistless arm,
Point ev'ry glance, and double ev'ry charm.
Ne'er may your skill such foreign arts employ,
To raise that passion which they must destroy:
Still let your skins, with native lustre, shew
The white rose, blended with its blushing foe;
Still let your hair, with unaffected grace,
In glossy ringlets decorate your face:
With powers like these can pomp and splendor vie,
The sparkling di'mond, or the Tyrian dye:
When youth and beauty deck the blooming maid,
The purple sickens, and the di'monds fade.
Adorn'd with charms that ev'ry art despise,
Victorious Love exults, and triumphs in her eyes.
Not all the blossoms Nature's fingers fling
O'er the gay plains, when Zephyr breathes the spring,
Please like the Nymph, whose winning smiles inspire
Love's gentle flame, and kindle warm desire;
Pale is each flower, and faded ev'ry green,
If female Beauty heighten not the scene.
When newly form'd, and plac'd in Eden's shade,
Our waking Sire the blushing fields survey'd,
Awhile he view'd the land with fond delight,
Awhile the fair creation charm'd his sight;
But soon the pleasing novelty was o'er,
And soon the fair creation charm'd no more:
Heaven saw the dull stagnation of his breast,
And, pitying, sent him Eve, to make him blest;
With her, distress he rather wish'd to share,
To live by toil, and taste the bread of care,
Than with his careless limbs on roses thrown,
To prove the joys of Paradise alone:
With her thro' dreary wastes he chose to go,
Friend to her grief, and partner of her woe:
Chear'd by the flame of love, the desart smil'd,
And more than Eden bloom'd upon the wild.
May the curs'd wretch! from female charms who roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves;
Who from kind Nature's lucid fountain flies
To the polluted pools of guilty joys,
Far from the social haunts of man be driv'n,
And left to conscience, and avenging Heaven.
But hail! ye favour'd train! supremely blest
With the rich treasure of a feeling breast,
Who fir'd by transports, exquisitely fine,
Submissive kneel at Beauty's brightest shrine,
Whether the sprightly virgin claim your care,
Or arm'd with majesty, the haughtier fair,
Or the sweet nymph, whose melting eyes proclaim
Her bosom, form'd for Love's imperial flame,
Where as we gaze, the torch of young Desire
Lights in our breasts a sympathetic fire:
Hail, happy train! form'd only to receive
The fairest joys the hand of Heaven can give,
Joys, which alone th' exalted soul can prove,
The burning extasies of mutual love.
Far from your paths be hate, and fell disdain,
Pale jealousy, and sorrow's weeping train:
To crown your hours, may love with friendship join,
And smiling peace her roseate garlands twine,
And every golden moment take its flight,
Wing'd with soft ease, and pregnant with delight,
Till time proclaims their destin'd period run,
And death concludes the bliss which love begun.
Ye stoic tribe, who o'er the mind preside
With useless sway, and impotence of pride:
Who form your empty rules, with childish art,
To force each gen'rous passion from the heart,
With eager zeal your air-built schemes pursue,
And talk of feelings which ye never knew:
So may the wretch of lights and colours dream,
Whose eye-balls never drank the solar beam;
Love shall superior to your efforts rise,
Elude your labours, and your toils despise:
Love, whose fierce rays in every climate shine,
The Arctic Circle, or the scorching Line:
Inspir'd by Love, beneath the spicy shade,
The am'rous Indian wooes the sable maid:
Love's sacred power the frozen Zemblians know
'Midst icy rocks, and mountains form'd of snow,
For there his glowing beam with genial light
Has pierc'd the gloom, and chear'd the polar night.
Where eastern luxury (those joys unknown
Which spring from mutual liberty alone,)
Commits, relentless, to the Eunuch's care,
With barb'rous dignity, th' imprison'd fair,
O'er the deserted shores and barren plains,
Pale Tyranny in all her horrors reigns;
No dauntless Patriots there the Despot awe,
His will is reason, and his sentence law:
While the mean slaves, a cruel, coward train,
Bow to the rod, and kiss the galling chain:
But where, with gentle sway, Love's friendly hand
Has stretch'd its influence o'er a happy land,
There in the shade of each inspiring grove,
By science led, the warbling Muses rove;
There all the gen'rous passions fix their seat,
And ev'ry bosom burns with patriot heat,
There manly courage dwells, ingenuous shame,
And Virtue's conscious worth, and Freedom's glorious flame.
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.
Beauty. Part Iii.
Ye pleasing visions, and fantastic dreams,
Of hallow'd mountains, of poetic streams,
And shades for ever sacred to the song
Of Græcian Phœbus, and the Thespian throng,
O! melt into the winds, nor longer spread
Your sweet delusions round my raptur'd head:
But thou, celestial Truth, my prayer attend,
And be my Muse, my Guardian, and my Friend:
While I from Fancy's fairy realms depart,
To search the nobler regions of the heart,
Deign, heavenly Guide, my numbers to inspire,
And wake to bolder strains the breathing lyre.
The flow'ry landscape, and the blooming fair,
Bright as they are, no more demand my care,
Direct my eyes from Nature's pleasing roll,
To read the moral Beauty of the soul,
To trace her form by matter unconfin'd,
Thro' each divine perfection of the mind,
And there behold her sovereign hand dispense,
The powers of bliss to each attending sense.
Say, if we roam where all the Graces lead,
Thro' the cool thicket, or th' enamel'd mead?
Tho' Nature in her vernal pride appear,
Or laughing Summer deck the purple year,
What scenes of pleasure can the bosom share
Deform'd by passion, or disturb'd by care?
Or what delightful hopes does love impart,
When jaundic'd jealousy infects the heart?
'Tis in the mind that Beauty stands confess'd,
In all the noblest pride of glory dress'd,
Where virtue's rules the conscious bosom arm,
There to our eyes she spreads her brightest charm:
There all her rays, with force collected, shine,
Proclaim her worth, and speak her race divine.
Ye sages, who creation's depth explore,
And hang incessant o'er the pleasing lore,
Who view the earth, in stated periods, run
Her course mysterious round the central sun,
Who view five diff'rent orbs direct their flight
Round the same chearing fount of heat and light;
Who rushing forward, urg'd by force divine,
See distant suns on distant systems shine,
Till all the wisdom reas'ning man can boast,
Amidst the boundless fields of space is lost.
Vast as it is! does this stupendous whole
With half that wonder strike th' astonish'd soul?
With half that veneration fill the mind?
As those brave chiefs, the patrons of mankind,
Who mov'd by pity for the public weal,
Despis'd the tyrant's axe, the bigot's wheel,
Repell'd the cruel force of factious hate,
Or bravely fell, to save a sinking state?
Ye warrior kings! Ambition's fav'rite train,
Who hunt false glory thro' th' embattled plain;
Tho' varnish'd speciously your martial rage
Beams forth too brightly from th' historian's page,
Tho' lays divine record each impious name,
And worlds misjudging, call th' oppression, fame;
The honest man, from power at distance plac'd,
By freedom guarded, and by virtue grac'd,
More true rewards from reason's hand shall find,
Than ye, the storms and earthquakes of mankind.
Tho' half the globe, by error drawn aside,
Scorn modest merit, while they kneel to pride;
Fair reason dares assert the fair pretence
To endless fame, of peaceful innocence,
Will snatch the wreath from proud ambition's sword,
And honor Shenstone more than Prussia's Lord.
So when some torrent, swell'd by hasty rains,
Rolls from the hills, and hides the neighb'ring plains,
The meads around one liquid mirror lie,
A glorious object to the stranger's eye,
But worthier praises to the stream belong,
Which winds its waves the humbler vales among,
Improves the fields that grace its sedgy sides,
And pours fair plenty where its current glides.
O! would the royal race but learn to know
From what blest source their future praise must flow,
Enroll'd with Titus in the lists of fame
Succeeding times should sanctify each name:
The smiles of freedom o'er a realm to spread,
To bid fair science lift her lovely head,
To strike dread terror thro' the guilty breast,
To raise the humble, and relieve th' oppress'd,
With lenient hand to stop the heart-felt sigh,
And wipe the tear from pale affliction's eye,
These! these are charms! to which compar'd the globe,
The crown, the scepter, and the purple robe,
The arm'd array, the courtier's idle state,
And all the low ambition of the great,
Meet with our childhood's toys an equal lot,
A moment's transport, and the next forgot.
Virtue alone, on active wings, shall rise
From earth's mean pomp, and seek her native skies:
She of superior lustre nobly proud,
Contemns the suffrage of the fickle croud,
Mocks envy's darts, and scandal's pois'nous breath,
Great, tho' defam'd, and conqu'ror, ev'n in death.
For freedom arm'd, on Chalgrave's fatal plain,
Lo! glorious Hampden number'd with the slain:
O! while with mournful sighs you view his tomb,
Own him more blest in that untimely doom,
Than impious Cromwell; tho' his stronger fate
Grac'd him with all the gorgeous pomp of state,
Who, base deserter of his country's cause,
Despis'd her senates, and revers'd her laws;
Chang'd regal power for arbitrary sway,
Fought to enslave, protected to betray,
And clos'd the horrid scene of social strife
With the sad off'ring of his sov'reign's life.
Thrice happy train! whom freedom leads afar,
To hurl on foreign foes the bolts of war:
Rancour to you shall ne'er impute the guilt
Of royal blood, in civil discord spilt,
But the victorious band shall justly claim
The wreath of glory, and immortal fame;
While on the youthful warrior's fatal bier
His sorrowing country pours the pensive tear:
Secure those chiefs of honor's lasting meed,
Who fight like Granby, or like Wolfe who bleed.
Are there so mean, who boast of worth that springs
From venal statesmen, and deluded kings?
Who without blushing own, their hands have sold
Their fame, their truth, their liberty for gold?
Who break each tye of public, private life,
For sounding titles, or a portion'd wife,
Proud on their breasts a glitt'ring mark to bear,
Which honor hates, and virtue scorns to wear:
Tho' the misdeeming vulgar's dazzled sight
Awhile may bless these meteors spurious light,
Short is their joy!—let fortune hide her head,
Such pride is tarnish'd, and such glory fled:
While that unfading worth, which builds alone
On Virtue's solid base, a lasting throne,
And, by no random censures kept in awe,
Is clear'd by Conscience, and by Virtue's law;
On fortune's smiles can look with coolness down,
Can bear, without a pang, her keenest frown:
The threats of want, of death, unmov'd can hear,
And fearing God, disclaim all other fear,
Shine forth alike, oppress'd, or grac'd by power,
In courts, in camps, in exile, or the tower.
Thus far, O Beauty! has my daring tongue,
In humble lays, thy various merits sung:
Still as the theme, impetuous I pursue,
The fleeting goal flies farther from my view;
Ev'n in the breast by virtue's dictates arm'd,
Thy light is sickly, and thy shape deform'd;
The stormy passions all their rage employ
To cloud that lustre which they can't destroy.
Then Wisdom, come! unfold thy mystic page,
Rich with the spoils of ev'ry clime, and age,
Thy aweful volume let my eyes explore,
Till vanquish'd Nature yield up all her store.
And thou, Morality, whose sacred art
By virtuous precepts forms the human heart,
Teach me whate'er experience yet has found,
In all its curious search, and ample round;
And shew my wav'ring mind a certain course
To trace bright Beauty to her perfect source.
In vain you try to solve the thorny maze,
And guide my feet thro' error's devious ways,
Lost and bewilder'd midst her paths I rove,
Uncertain how to turn, or where to move.
But from the regions of celestial day,
Behold! a form etherial wings her way!
Meek-eye'd Religion, hail!—for well I know
Thy mild demeanor, and thy placid brow.
'Tis thine alone the wand'ring thought to bring
To fair perfection's bright, unsully'd spring:
'Tis thine, with firm, tho' modest look, to gaze
Upon th' empyreal heav'n, and sapphire blaze.
But hold, my Muse! nor rashly thus aspire,
With verse so mean, to join th' angelic choir,
Who glorify in ceaseless strains above,
The First Great Cause of harmony and love:
The awful praises of whose hallow'd Name
No heart can image, and no tongue proclaim,
Enough for thee his glorious works to trace
In earth, and skies, and man's imperial race;
To view in ev'ry clime, and ev'ry hour,
Th' omnipotent, and omnipresent Power,
To see all Nature's charms derive their force
From this eternal, universal Source,
And in mysterious silence wrap'd, to own
That Beauty's perfect grace is found in Him alone.
Lenore, A Tale
LENÓRE wakes from dreams of dread
At the rosy dawn of day,
‘Art thou false, or art thou dead?
‘William wherefore this delay?’
Join'd with Frederick's host he sought
On Praga's bloody field, the foe,
Since no tidings had been brought
Of his weal, or of his woe.
Tir'd of war, the royal foes
Bid the storm of battle cease,
And in mutual compact close
Terms of amity, and peace;
Either host with jocund strain,
Drum, and cymbals chearing sound,
Seek their peaceful homes again,
All with verdant garlands crown'd.
Young and old, on every side
Croud the way, their friends to meet,
Many a mother, many a bride,
Sons, and husbands, fondly greet.
Pale and chearless mid the rest
Ah! the sad Lenore see!
None to clasp thee to his breast,
Not a glowing kiss for thee.
Now amid the warlike train
Running swift, with tearful eye,
All she asks, but all in vain.—
See the lingering rear pass by!—
Now she rends with frantic hand
Tresses of her raven hair,
Falling breathless on the sand,
Agonizing in despair.
Lo! with grief her mother wild.—
'Pitying heaven! look down with grace.—
'O my child! my dearest child!'
And clasps her in a fond embrace.
‘Ah my mother all is o'er;
‘Desart now the world will prove.—
‘Heaven no mercy has in store.
‘Ah my lost, my slaughter'd love!’
'Aid her Heaven! her grief appease.—
'Breathe my child a fervent prayer.
'Ever just are Heaven's decrees,
'Heaven is ever prompt to spare.'
‘Prayers alas! are useless all,
‘Heaven to me no mercy shews,
‘Vainly I for aid should call,
‘Unregarded are my woes.’
'Aid Lord! O aid! His parent sight
'Watchful guards each duteous child;
'Soon shall his high-honor'd rite
'Soothe to peace thy sorrows wild.'—
‘Ah! the pangs my heart that rive
‘Holy rites would soothe in vain;
‘Can they bid the dead revive?—
‘Bid my William breathe again?’
'Hear my child! in foreign lands
'Far away his troth he plights,
'Binds his faith by newer bands,
'Thee for newer loves he slights.—
'Unregarded let him rove,
'Short his visions of delight,
'Perjuries of treacherous love
'Heaven with vengeance will requite.'
‘Mother, time returns no more;
‘I am wretched, lost, forlorn;
‘Every hope but death is o'er,
‘Woe the hour that I was born!
‘Wrap me deep in night, and shade,
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Heaven's mercy is no more display'd,
‘O my Love, my murder'd love!’
'God of Mercy! Hear! O hear!
'Frantic sorrow makes her wild;
'Judge not in thy wrath severe,
'Spare, O spare thy tortur'd child.
'O my child, forget thy woe,
'Lift to heaven thy sorrowing eye
'Endless blessings there to know,
'Bridal joys that never die.'
‘Mother, what is endless bliss?
‘Endless pain, what, Mother?—Tell
‘All my Heaven was William's kiss,
‘William's loss is all my hell.
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Night and horror shroud my head.
‘Can I live to mourn my love?
‘Can I joy when William's dead?’
Thus the frenzy of despair
Thro' her swelling veins was driven,
Thus her madd'ning accents dare
War against the will of heaven;
Frantic thro' the live-long day
Her breast she beat, her hands she wrung,
Till Sol withdrew his golden ray,
And heaven's high arch with stars was hung.
Thro' the stillness of the night
Hark!—a horse—he this way bends.—
Now she hears the rider 'light,
Now his foot the step ascends.
Hark?—the tinkling gate bell rung
Now her listening senses hear.—
Accents from a well-known tongue
Thro' the portal reach her ear.
'Rise my love—the bar remove—
'Dost thou wake or dost thou sleep?
'Think'st thou of thy absent love?—
'Dost thou laugh or dost thou weep?'—
‘William! Thou?—From sorrow's power
‘I have learn'd to weep, and wake.
‘Whence in midnight's gloomy hour,
‘Whence his course does William take?’
'We can only ride by night.—
'From Bohemia's plains I come,
'Late, ah late I come, but dight
'To bear thee to my distant home.'—
‘William! William! hither haste.
‘Thro' the hawthorn blows the wind,
‘In my glowing arms embraced
‘Rest, and warmth, my love shall find.’
'Thro' the hawthorn let the winds
'Keenly blow with breath severe,
'The Courser paws, the spur he finds,
'Ah! I must not linger here.
'Lightly on the sable steed
'Come, my love,—behind me spring.
'Many a mile o'erpast with speed,
'To our bride-bed shall thee bring.'
‘Many a mile o'er distant ground
‘Ere our nuptial couch we reach?—
‘The iron bells of midnight sound,
‘Soon the midnight fiends will screech.’—
'See how clear the moon's full ray,
'Soon the dead's swift course is sped,
'Long, O long ere dawn of day
'We shall reach the bridal bed.'
‘Who shall tend thy nuptial bower
‘Who thy nuptial couch shall spread?’
'Silent, cold, and small, our bower,
'Form'd of planks our nuptial bed.
'Yet for me, for thee there's space—
'Lightly on the courser bound,
'Deck'd is now our bridal place,
'Guests expecting wait around.'
Won by fond affection's charm
On the horse she lightly sprung,
Roud her love, her lilly arm
Close the love-sick virgin flung.
On they press their rapid flight
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints a sparkling light
Marks the steed's unceasing course.
On the left, and on the right,
Heaths, and meads, and fallow'd grounds,
Seem receding from their sight;
How each bridge they pass resounds.
'Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear,
'Swift the course of death is sped.
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
‘No, ah! no!—Why name the dead?’
Hark! The solemn dirge, and knell!
Croaking round the raven flies,—
Hear the death song!—hear the bell—
See a grave fresh opened lies.
See the sad funereal rite,
See the coffin and the bier,
Hear the shriek of wild affright,
Groans of lamentation hear!
'While sounds the dirge, while death-bells ring,
'The corpse interr'd at midnight see.—
'Home my blooming bride I bring,
'You our bridal guests must be.—
'Sexton come, come with thy choir,
'Songs of love before us sing;
'O'er the couch of fond desire
'Priest thy nuptial blessings fling.'
Down the sable bier was laid,
Hush'd the knell, and hush'd the dirge.
All his voice at once obey'd.
All their flight behind him urge.
On the steed still speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force;
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
To the left, and to the right,
As they pass with lightning speed,
Mountains vanish from their sight,
Streams, and woods, and towns recede.
'Fears my love?—The moon shines clear.—
'Swift the course of death is sped,—
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
‘Leave, ah leave at peace the dead.’
Wheels, and racks, and gibbets, see
By the pale moon's trembling glance;
Crowding sprites, with horrid glee,
Round the seats of terror dance:
'Come, ye goblins! hither come,
'Hither let your footsteps tread,
'Follow to our distant home,
'Dance around our bridal bed.'
Soon they hear, and follow fast,
Loudly murmuring as they move,
Like the shrill autumnal blast
Whistling thro' the wither'd grove.
Far the steed now speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
Far, shewn by the moon's pale light,
Far the distant landscape flies.
Far, receding from their sight,
Fly the clouds, the stars, the skies.
'Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear.—
'Swift the course of death is sped.
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
'Leave! O leave at rest, the dead.
'Crows the cock—dark courser hear—
'Soon the sand will now be run.
'Now I scent the morning air,
'Sable steed thy toil is done;—
'Now our labour is compleat;
'Swift's the passage of the dead;
'We have reach'd our destin'd seat,
'Open now the nuptial bed.'
'Gainst an iron-grated door
Fierce with loosen'd rein he drives;
The ponderous bars resist no more,
Even a touch their hinges rives.
Over tombs with clattering sound
Now they urge their destin'd way;
Scatter'd grave-stones gleam around
In the wan moon's glimmering ray.
Turn, O instant turn, the eye,
See a ghastly wonder shewn!—
The horseman's flesh, like tinder dry,
Drops piecemeal from each naked bone.
From the skull now falls the hair,
Drear the death-like Phantom stands,
A skeleton expos'd and bare,
Scythe and hour-glass in his hands.
See the black steed wildly rear—
Sparkling streams of horrid light
From his snorting nostrils glare,
Down he sinks to endless night.—
On the breeze loud shrieks are borne,
Groan the graves with boding breath;
Lenore's heart by tortures torn,
Vibrates now 'tween life and death.
Hand and hand in fatal ring
By the pale moon's fading ray,
Demons round them dance, and sing,
Howling forth this dreadful lay.—
'Patient bear th' heart-rending blast,
'Wage not impious war with Heaven,
'Here on earth thy days are past.
'Mercy to thy soul be given!'
Carmen Seculare For The Year 1800
Incessant down the stream of Time
And days, and years, and ages, roll,
Speeding through Error's iron clime
To dark Oblivion's goal;
Lost in the gulf of night profound,
No eye to mark their shadowy bound,
Unless the deed of high renown,
The warlike chief's illustrious crown,
Shed o'er the darkling void a dubious fame,
And gild the passing hour with some immortal name.
Yet, evanescent as the fleeting cloud,
Driven by the wild winds o'er the varying skies,
Are all the glories of the great and proud,
On Rumour's idle breath that faintly rise.
A thousand garbs their forms assume,
Woven in vain Conjecture's loom;
Their dyes a thousand hues display,
Sporting in Fancy's fairy ray;
Changing with each uncertain blast,
Till melting from the eyes at last,
The shadowy vapours fly before the wind,
Sink into viewless air, 'nor leave a rack behind.'
But if the raptur'd train whom Heaven inspires
Of glory to record each deathless meed,
Tune to heroic worth their golden lyres,
And give to memory each godlike deed,
Then shall the eternal guerdon wait
The actions of the wise and great;—
While as from black Oblivion's sway
They bear the mighty name away,
And waft it, borne on pinion high,
With joyful carol to the sky,
Sage History, with eye severe,
Tracing aloft their bold career,
Clears the rich tale from Fiction's specious grace,
And builds her sacred lore on Truth's eternal base.
Hence from the splendid tales of old,
That Græcia's mystic story told,
From all that copious Fancy sings
Of fabled demi-gods and kings,
The godlike bard with master hand
Sublime his epic wonder plann'd;
And while fair Fiction's richest dyes
Still fascinate the gazing eyes,
Such precious gems, from Truth's refulgent mine,
Amid the bright materials shine,
That as her cares the gorgeous mass explore,
The Muse of History stamps the Poet's sterling ore.
In frozen climes, 'mid Error's shade,
The northern Muse records the hero's name.
While, as her glowing hand portray'd
The wonders of the warrior's fame,
Led through the mazes of the fight
The royal maid and elfin knight,
O'er the wild scene of magic hue
Her awful mirror History threw;
Till, as before Sol's ardent fire,
The lesser glories of the sky expire,
Faded the Muses' quivering lamp away,
Sunk in the radiant blaze of Truth's meridian ray.
Yet still their votive fingers twine
For Virtue's sons the wreath divine;
Still round the victor's godlike brow
They bid their freshest laurels grow;
And many a chief, of warlike name,
And many a sage, of letter'd fame,
Whom Genius, Worth, and Glory give
In Britain's graver page to live,
By Britain's verse adorn'd shall flourish long,
Her solemn annals grace, and consecrate her song.
Lo, bursting from its scanty source,
Flows through the lowly mead the rippling stream,
No harvests in its waters gleam,
No swelling canvass marks its course:
But as it winds amid the hills,
A thousand congregated rills
Pour in its bed from every side,
And swell the undulating tide,
Till the charm'd eye the expanding deep explores,
While Commerce loads its wave, and Plenty crown its shores.
So through the silent lapse of time,
By Glory's ceaseless currents fed,
Has Britain's power increasing spread,
And roll'd its plenteous waves to every clime.
Mightier in each succeeding age,
She lives through Fame's recording page;
From her scyth'd cars that wide destruction hurl'd
On the proud master of a subject world,
To her bold fleets that o'er the azure main,
Teach Earth's remotest shores to bless her George's reign.
As the wing'd hours, in endless flight,
Urge on their destin'd way,
Fond Hope anticipates a happier day,
While opening ages crowd upon her sight.
Yet still a lingering look is cast
On deeds of ancient glory past.—
Hence dwells the Muse, with partial eye,
On years of crested chivalry—
On England's sons by Egbert join'd;
On Alfred's comprehensive mind,
Who chased Invasion from her coast,
Who boasted yet a prouder boast,
To drive Oppression from her land
By laws which patriot wisdom plann'd?
On Edward's and on Henry's fame,
Mark'd in charactery of Gallic shame;
On the bold warriors of the royal maid
Who high the British trident first display'd—
Hide Britain! hide a guilty age,
Blood-stain'd by wild Sedition's rage,
And on a happier era gaze—
Era of Albion's brighter days,
Now in the blaze of heavenly light that dies,
Sure from its Phœnix nest a form as bright shall rise.
Once more exult Britannia's train,
Triumphant in a female reign,
And all Eliza's fame in Anna blooms again;
Again her victor navies sweep,
By Russel led, the confines of the deep;
While o'er Germania's spacious fields,
Or where her liberal foison Belgium yields,
Unconquer'd Marlbro' bids her thunders fall
On the crush'd helmet of the vanquish'd Gaul.
On fam'd Ramillia's plains he stood,
On Danube's borders, red with hostile blood;
On Oudenard, where George's warlike brand
Proclaim'd the future lords of Albion's land,
The dauntless heroes of the Brunswick line,
Kings of Britannia's choice, true heirs of right divine.
Not great in arms alone—a wreath more fair
Than ever conquest knew to wear,
For ever verdant and for ever young,
Of peace and love domestic sprung,
To concord sacred, and from carnage free,
Shall crown her blest, her proudest victory;
What time she taught the guardian wave that roars
A native rampart round her stormy shores,
To clasp for ever in its fond embrace
The sister nations of Britannia's race,
Ocean's stern regent shouting from his tide,
The realms which God has join'd shall never man divide.
She falls—the queen, the patriot falls—once more
Her eye Britannia turns to Elba's shore;
Again the Saxon steed, whose silver form
Led the brave warrior through the battle's storm,
Waves in her banners wide, and throws
Amazement on her baffled foes,
Happy in mingled folds to join
With each bold tribe of Albion's ancient line,
With Erin's golden harp, and Scotia's threat'ning spine.
Again the battle roars!—again the mind
Of fickle Gaul to proud Iberia join'd,
Shakes the red reins of wild Ambition's car—
Britannia rouses to the naval war,
Prompt to avenge her martial train
Insulted on the wave, her own domain—
While Caledonia's sons misled,
On England's hills rebellion spread;
A transient stain, long wash'd away
By seas of blood, in many a hard fought day.—
With doubtful chance, but unabated rage,
In foreign fields the adverse hosts engage;
On Tournay's plains, the astonish'd foe
Saw Albion's warriors, great in overthrow,
Win in defeat a lasting wreath,
Though stain'd with slaughter, and defac'd by death;
While happier Dettingen bade Victory's wing
Wave o'er Britannia's sons, Britannia's king,
Till Slaughter wearied quits her crimson car,
Yet 'mid a transient peace prepares for future war.
Stung with rekindling rage, from Ganges' shore,
To where Sol's fiery coursers steep
Their glowing bosoms in the Atlantic deep,
Resounds the horrid yell of Discord's roar.
The feather cinctur'd chief, who roves
Through Canada's resounding groves,
Hears Niagara's thundering fall, or laves
In frore Laurentius' sea broad waves—
The blameless tribes of Brama's race,
Who India's spicy forests trace;
The despot lords, and sable bands,
Who tread on Senegal's wide burning sands;
Fair Lusitania's vine clad coast
Rescued from proud Invasion's host,
Germania's broad and rich domain,
Embden's strong towers, and Minden's trophied plain,
Beheld Britannia's ensigns wave,
Potent to conquer, or to save;
While far o'er Ocean's stormy bed,
Wherever Valour fought and Conduct led,
Her ample sails she saw unfurl'd,
Hail'd by surrounding shores, queen of the wat'ry world.
Why clouds the sky? why swells the gathering storm
O'er the soft breezes blown from Zephyr's breath?
'Tis he, the fiend!—I see his ghastly form—
See the terrific arm of death.
High, high he rears his iron dart,
To rive the venerable monarch's heart.
Short triumph!—Glory's amaranthine flowers
Shed heavenly fragrance o'er his parting hours.
Though the funereal cypress shade his bier,
Victoria twines her votive laurels there,
Soothes with her voice his placid breast,
And wafts his spirit to the realms of rest—
While godlike to his grandsire's throne,
Britannia sees her native Prince arise,
Pours the loud pæan to the skies,
Hailing with fond acclaim a Monarch all her own.
Yet fiercer blaz'd awhile the martial flame—
Awhile o'er Gallia's prostrate head,
Her kindred shield Iberia spread,
The lavish purchaser of shame;
Till the united foes o'erborne,
Their honours tarnish'd and their laurels torn,
Yielding the field, the storms of battle cease,
And Europe, joyful, hails the blest return of Peace.
Beneath the olive's fostering shade
Now loves each peaceful art to grow,
Bounty, in seraph garb array'd,
Strikes with her rod the rock, the streams of Science flow.
The marble gives the breathing form,
As nature perfect, and as nature warm;
The canvass to the eye portrays,
With heroes fam'd in earlier days,
Full many a chief of generous worth,
Offspring of Albion's parent earth:
The gallant youth on Abraham's heights who fell,
Where weeping Victory rung his hallow'd knell,
In emulative tints his warriors leads,
'Again for Britain fights, again for Britain bleeds.'
The Muses now their golden lyres
Vibrate responsive to the warbled song,
And Rapture wakes the thrilling wires;
In measur'd cadence to the sound,
Sweet flows the magic strain around,
And charms the listening throng.—
Nor do the softer arts alone,
The genial dew expanding own;
Rais'd by the Monarch's favouring smile,
Severer Science hails the happy isle.
Mathesis with uplifted eye,
Tracing the wonders of the sky,
Now shews the mariner to guide
His vessel through the trackless tide;
Now gazing on the blue profound,
Where whirl the stars in endless round,
Beholds new constellations rise,
New systems crowd the argent skies;
Views with new lustre round the glowing pole,
Wide his stupendous orb the Georgian planet roll;
Seas, where yet the venturous keel
Never plough'd the foaming wave,
Isles, the halcyon gales that feel,
Temper'd by tides the southern shore that lave,
Where smiling Peace and genial Love
Through shades perennial rove;
The bleak inhospitable plains,
Where in dread state antarctic Winter reigns,
Where never yet the solar power
Has warm'd even noontide's sullen hour,
Shot through the frozen sky his vigorous beam,
Unbound the soil, or thaw'd the stream;
In every clime from pole to pole,
Where wind can blow, or billow roll,
Britannia's barks the coast explore,
Waft Science, Peace, and Plenty o'er,
Till Earth's remotest regions share
A wealthy people's stores, a patriot Monarch's care.
Proud o'er the heaving surges of the deep,
See the tall ship in state majestic ride!
Wide spread her swelling sails in ample sweep,
Dread roars the thunder from her lofty side;
Awful she looms, the terror of the main,
And billows rage, and tempests howl in vain—
Yet in the planks unheeded, day by day,
Works the insidious worm his subtle way;
The puny malice of an insect train
Destroys what mountain waves, and winds, assail in vain.
Fell Sedition's rancorous race,
Treachery, with serpent eye,
Sophistry, whose guileful tongue,
Pleads the specious cause of wrong,
Envy, with her Gorgon face,
And smooth Hypocrisy,
These dire fiends united bore
Their poison to the Atlantic shore;
All, with silent hate impress'd,
The offspring lur'd from the fond mother's breast.—
Betray'd—deceiv'd—the thoughtless brood,
Rear'd, like the pelican, with parent blood,
Turn their wild vengeance 'gainst Britannia's heart,
And aim, with fatal rage, the parricidal dart.
Mad to destroy an envied foe,
The Gaul vindictive aids the traitorous blow.—
As when o'er Asian plains pale Eurus flings
Contagion from his hovering wings,
While issue from his noisome breath,
Dark fumes of pestilence and death,
The wretched inmates of the soil,
Stung by insatiate lust of spoil,
Reckless of fate, the tainted plunder seize,
And drink polluted steams of dire disease.
So from the borders of the Atlantic shore,
The faithless race the taint of faction bore.
Each poison rank in Gaul's prolific air,
Sheds wide its seeds, nor asks the planter's care;
Fed by the produce of the region fell,
Unnumber'd monsters thrive, the progeny of hell.
Oppression's black insatiate brood,
And raging Lust, and Murder steep'd in blood,
Mad Anarchy's tumultuous band,
The locusts of a wretched land;
Wild Atheism's blood-shot eye,
Lifted in impious threat against the sky,
Who from the dying wretch, with fiendlike power,
Tears the last comfort of the parting hour—
All drink new vigour from the fatal air,
Raise high their baleful crests, and boast their empire there.
O'er Europe's coasts the black contagion spreads—
From sluggish waves that scarcely roll,
Beneath the torpid influence of the pole,
To summer seas renown'd of yore,
That lave Hesperia and the Grecian shore;
O'er all, the gale malignant poison sheds.
The fatal Siroc for a while
Blows o'er our distant fields, and taints our happy isle.
But soon the guardian angel of the main,
Protective of his favourite reign,
Swells the fresh breeze—before its healing breath
Flies the destructive progeny of death;
Freed from the pest alone Britannia stands,
Bulwark and envy of surrounding lands,
While trembling Europe Gallic rage deplores,
Through her unpeopled walls, round all her ravag'd shores.
Mysterious Heaven!—at thy behest
Ne'er let misdeeming man repine;
'Tis our's to bow with patient breast,
To punish, and to spare, is thine.
What though with giant arm the host,
Murder their joy, and blasphemy their boast,
The favouring angel seem to guide;
Though Fame and Conquest fan their feverish pride;
Though their red feet in impious triumph trod
On the crush'd servants of the living God;
Does not thy voice direct afar
The fury of the elemental war?
Do not the pestilence and storm
The awful mandates of thy will perform?
Whether the thunder's threat'ning power
Tremendous shake the midnight hour,
Or Zephyr's genial breeze of dawn,
Scatter fresh blossoms o'er the vernal lawn;
Whether Hygeia swell the balmy gale,
Or o'er the sky Fate's noisome vapours sail,
Be this on man's submissive soul impress'd,
All waits upon thy will, and what thou will'st is best.
Ye Belgian regions! Lincelle's glorious plain,
And Valentinian's conquer'd towers proclaim
Of Britain's generous sons the warlike fame,
Brave on the embattled field as on the main.—
The strongest arm is weak to save
The treacherous self-devoted slave.—
With torpid gaze, lo! Europe's sons beheld
Wave after wave, with rising force impell'd,
Roll o'er their plains in fatal power,
Their harvests waste, and shake their loftiest tower.
From countless foes, and timid friends,
Britannia's host her sea-girt rock ascends,
And views the storm, that tears surrounding lands,
Break like the idle surge against her wave-worn sands.
In vain the proud vindictive foe
Threatens to deal the homefelt blow—
Lo, from the loom, the farm, the fold,
Her voluntary swains enroll'd,
Quit for the sword life's calm domestic charms;
Each wood the clarion shakes, each valley gleams with arms.
Amaz'd, abash'd, the vaunting host,
That frown'd destruction on her chalky coast,
Flies with its boasted chief to meet disgrace,
'Mid Syria's glowing sands, and Egypt's servile race.
The murky cloud that wraps the skies,
Melts to the winds—With golden gleam
Again Hyperion sheds his radiant beam,
And vernal gales and hours resplendent rise.
Lo! where the sons of havock spoil
Fair Salem's venerable soil,
Profane the consecrated earth,
Scene of a Saviour's hallow'd birth,
By favouring breezes wafted, to the skies
Britannia's red cross banner flies,
Speaks to the impious foe celestial ire,
In voice of thunder, and with breath of fire—
Soon falls the boast of Gallia's demon fame,
In whelming billows sunk, or wrapp'd in sheets of flame.
Scenes portray'd in ancient lore,
Scenes whence England's chiefs of yore,
Raising high the blazon'd shield,
O'er Palestine's religious field
The wreaths of conquest bore;
Acon's bulwarks, Jaffa's towers,
Leading where his mail clad powers,
Richard to the Paynim dart
Dauntless bar'd his lion heart—
Where the venom'd stroke of death,
Aim'd at Edward's bosom, fail'd,
While his faithful consort's breath
From the deep wound the poisonous taint inhal'd;
There, with pious glory bright,
Another Briton braves the fight,
Follow'd by a gallant train
Of naval warriors, from their native main,
Who round their walls a breathing bulwark rise.
Serenely brave the Christian hero stands,
And the proud spoiler of Hesperian lands,
Before the warlike few, dismay'd and vanquish'd, flies.
Excited by the vaunting foe,
Again the Indian Satrap's pride
The force of Britain's arms defied,
And aim'd the fatal blow—
Again decreed her warlike train
Should fall by Murder's arm, or wear Oppression's chain.—
Vain hope! her veteran bands defy
The glowing sand, the sultry sky,
Wind through the deep irriguous vale,
The rampire-crested mountain scale,
Till steep'd in gore, before his captur'd walls,
Breathing revenge in death, the fierce usurper falls.
Glorious and godlike heirs of fame,
With sinewy arm, with daring breast, who brave
The howling tempest and the heaving wave,
And hostile vengeance pour'd in vollied flame,
Ocean, where'er his billows flow,
Records your conquests o'er the foe;
Where by disgrac'd Iberia's shore
Biscaya's turbid waters roar;
Where by the Gaul's insulted coast
Destruction wrecks her scatter'd host;
By Erin's rocks, Batavia's sand,
Hesperia's liberated strand,
Proudly ye ride, while round each sheltering cape
The adverse fleets inglorious speed their way,
Cautious avoid the unequal fray,
Their proudest boast to fly, their triumph to escape.
Spirits of warriors! who of yore,
By yellow Tiber's trophied shore,
Saw heap'd on rich Campania's soil,
A conquer'd world's collected spoil;
And thou, O Julius, whose embattled host
First shook Invasion's scourge on Albion's coast,
Say, when from Cassibellan's agile car,
Flash'd the just vengeance of defensive war;
Say, did ye deem that e'er the painted race,
In distant times, your shore remote should trace,
Chase from your far fam'd towers Oppression's doom,
Restore your wasted fields, protect the walls of Rome.
Sire of the winter drear,
Who lead'st the months in circling dance along,
May Peace and Concord claim the votive song,
That chants the glories of the rising year;
For Albion longs around her generous brow
To bind the olive's sober bough,
Though unappall'd her laurel'd front defies
The fiery blast that flashes through the skies.—
Wooing, O Peace! thy halcyon ray,
Ready she stands for war, nor shuns the ensanguin'd fray;
But on Ierne's kindred sky
She casts Affection's fondest eye.
O! as the era past saw Anna join
Each warrior nation of Britannia's line,
So may the auspicious hours that now ascend,
The sister isles in ceaseless Union blend—
While Ocean's guardian arms around them thrown,
Form to their coasts an adamantine zone;
There, proudly rising o'er the circling main,
Lord of the waves, their patriot King shall reign;
And fam'd through every clime, from pole to pole,
Long as the unfailing stream of Time shall roll,
Religion, Virtue, Glory, shall adorn
The illustrious age of George, the Monarch Briton born!
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.
Alfred. Book Iii.
ARGUMENT. Measures against the Danes.—Prophecy of the future Fortunes of Alfred and his Posterity.
Along the borders of the silver Thone,
With alders dank, and matted sedge o'er-grown,
Led by the guidance of the shepherd swain,
Unseen, and silent, pass the cautious train,
Till, mid the conflux of the mingling streams,
A deep morass the emerging island seems.
Across the ford the guide directs their course,
Each stemming, with his arms, the current's force,
They pass, with toil, the dangerous traject o'er,
For, swoll'n by showers, the angry waters roar.
Then, Alfred, did thy generous bosom know
A pride nor pomp, nor luxury, can bestow,
When thy firm limbs, with nerve superior strung,
And active strength, the endowment of the young,
With abler effort gave thee force to guide,
The old and feeble through the threatening tide.
Nor did that arm, which oft in Glory's field
Had taught the might of giant foes to yield,
Disdain, by many a vigorous stroke, to save
A peasant's household from the whelming wave;
Nor did that voice, which oft, with martial breath,
Had roused the soldier's heart to war and death,
Disdain, with words of mild reproof, to cheer
A woman's weakness, and an infant's fear.—
Then, as Benignity's consoling breast
The real source of patriot zeal express'd,
Fame, from the warrior turns awhile, the eye,
To hail the hero of humanity.
Fix'd on the arid spot, whose scanty bounds
On every side the deep morass surrounds,
The monarch, and his martial friend, with care,
'Gainst close surprise and bold attack prepare;
Exert each art their safety to ensure,
And every pass, with wary eye, secure.
Oft from the isle, beneath the twilight shade,
By Ethelwood attended, Alfred stray'd,
And many a chief conceal'd, of gentle blood,
They found, and tempted o'er the sheltering flood;
Hence of fair Athelney the glorious name
Shall flourish still, the favourite theme of Fame,
The Isle of Nobles live, recorded long
In each historian's page, and poet's song.
Not to inglorious ease can be confined
The sanguine efforts of the hero's mind;
Valour, when devastation spreads around,
Sits not in Safety's rosy fetters bound:
Oft issuing from the marsh, their midnight arms
Harass the scatter'd Danes with new alarms.
Reckless of vanquish'd foes, the victor lay,
To bloated sloth, and foul excess, a prey;
Hence oft the Saxons, from the slumbering horde,
Seize their own flocks to store the genial board;
While Slaughter stalks amid the astonish'd foe,
The vengeance dreadful, though unseen the blow.
Oft too the monarch, stealing from the cares
Of present councils, and of future wars,
Through the lone groves would pace, in solemn mood,
Wooing the pensive charms of Solitude.
While, deep revolving in his fancy's range
Of human deeds, the desultory change,
By Hope encouraged, or by Fear depress'd,
Contending passions shook his mighty breast.
It chanced one stormy morn, as forth he sped,
The rude blast whistling round his listless head,
For equal rise, if care engross the mind,
The breeze of summer, or the wintry wind;
While through the wood, in pensive musing lost,
He stray'd,—his path a lucid streamlet cross'd:
Aside he turn'd, and traced the rivulet's course,
With pace reverted, toward its mountain source.
Onward, with heedless aim, his footsteps move
Along the dell, through many a tangled grove,
Till, issuing sudden from the gloomy shade,
He trod the verdure of a grassy glade,
Where shines the expanded water, clear and bright,
A lucid mirror to the tranquil sight,
Smooth as the chrystal's polish'd surface; save
Where, from the shrubby heights, the sparkling wave,
Dashing from rock to rock in frothy wreath,
Ruffles the border of the lake beneath.
The drooping willows fringe the edge, and seem
To drink fresh verdure from the passing stream.
Here mossy cliffs, with mountain plants o'ergrown,
The wild goat browsing from the pendant stone,
Their rifted sides echoing the sea mew's clang,
With threatening summits o'er the valley hang.
While, from the dell, receding gently, there
The rising upland softly melts to air;
Whose bowering forests round the placid flood,
Wave to the eye, a theatre of wood;
There the bright beech its silver bole displays,
And giant oaks their massy foilage raise,
The trembling poplar's humbler leaf beneath
Whispers responsive to the rude wind's breath;
And, with the woodbine mix'd, and sylvan rose,
In scarlet pride the mountain service glows.
In foaming eddy, where the lucid tide
Pours headlong down the high clift's rugged side,
A grove of dusky pines athwart the glade
Shoot, with projected limbs, a solemn shade;
And as aloft the quivering branches play,
Shut from the soil the garish eye of day.
Deep in the dark recess, with briars o'er-grown,
A cavern opens in the mossy stone:
O'er its dank mouth the flexile ivy grows,
Where an aged yew funereal shadows throws;
Scath'd oaks their knotty branches fling around,
With mystic misseltoe their summits crown'd;
While, echoing to the torrent's distant shock,
Howls the dread whirlwind through the creviced rock.—
Albeit unused to fear, the monarch's breast
Pants, with an awe, unfelt before, impress'd,
And, o'er his better reason, sudden spread
Terrific chills of superstitious dread.
The tempest's voice that usher'd in the day,
In distant murmurs faintly dies away,
The screaming birds their boding carol cease,
And even the torrent's roar seems hush'd to peace.
While, from the rock's deep bosom, notes so sweet,
Of such enchanting strain, the hero greet,
Entranced he stands, the lay divine to hear,
And all Elysium opens on his ear.
The dulcet numbers ceased; with awe-struck breast
Alfred the Genius of the place address'd:
'Whoe'er thou art, whether of mortal line,
Bless'd with celestial gifts, and song divine,
Or some attendant of the angelic host,
The holy guardian of this favour'd coast,
Before whose voice obedient tempests fly,
Whose lays melodious calm the troubled sky;
To me propitious be thy powers inclined,
To me most lost, most wretched, of mankind.'
A hollow murmur check'd him as he spoke,
And, from the rock, a voice tremendous broke.—
'O, King of England! not to man is given
To fathom or arraign the will of Heaven!
Oft in the bright serene of prosperous days,
Unseen, the Demon of Destruction plays;
Oft through Misfortune's drear and bleak abode,
To power and greatness lies the rugged road,
'Tis man's to bow beneath the chastening rod,
Virtue's true meed lies in the hand of God.'
With sudden horror rock'd the trembling ground,
And distant thunder shook the vast profound;
When, from the cave, a venerable form
Stalk'd forth, announced by the preluding storm.
About his limbs a snowy garment roll'd
Floats to the wind in many an ample fold;
His brow serene a rich tiara bound,
And loose his silver tresses stream'd around.
In his right hand a golden harp declared
The sacred function of the Druid bard.—
Soon as the royal chief the vision saw,
To earth he bent, in reverential awe.
'Rise, son of regal dignity,' he said,
'Nor bow to human dust thy laurel'd head!
Mortal like thee, I draw precarious breath,
Subject to pain, to sorrow, and to death.
'Tis thine o'er mighty nations to preside,
Command their armies, and their councils guide;
'Tis mine to look beyond Time's passing date,
And read the page obscure of future fate,
Strike, with bold hand, the free prophetic lyre,
And wake to distant years the warbling wire:
Our powers alike, by power supreme, are given,
Each but the feeble minister of Heaven.—
'Mid famed Cornubia's rocks, wash'd by the main,
Oft have I listen'd to the mystic strain,
What time on old Bellerium's topmost height
Aerial visions swam before my sight,
And lays divine, by voice immortal, sung,
In heavenly cadence o'er my senses hung.
Nor is to me unknown the sacred lore
Of Mona's Druid caves, and Arvon's shore.—
Even now I feel the enthusiast flame arise,
And unborn ages burst upon my eyes;
Visions of distant times before me roll,
And all the Godhead rushes on my soul.'
His eye-balls, as he spoke, with rapture glow'd,
His snowy robes in ampler volume flow'd,
The radiant fillets that his temples bind,
Burst—looser float his tresses to the wind;
His form expands, he moves with firmer tread,
And lambent glories play around his head:—
With rapid hand he strikes the sacred lyre,
To strains of rapture wakes the thrilling wire,
And, to the sound responsive, pours along
The fervid energy of mystic song.
'As the dark clouds whose vapoury mantles spread
A dusky veil round Camelet's dreary head,
Roll down his steepy sides,—and ether blue
Gives all the gorgeous landscape to the view,
So the dim shades o'er future scenes that lie,
Disperse, and Fate lies open to my eye.
As purer skies to transient storms succeed,
And happier hours the auspicious seasons lead,
So yields the gloom that hangs o'er Albion's isle,
To brighter hopes, and prosperous Fortune's smile.
Invasion haunts her rescued plains no more,
But hostile inroad flies the dangerous shore;
Where'er her armies march, her ensigns play,
Fame points the course, and Glory leads the way.
Her fleets o'er Ocean's tributary throne,
Rear vast, and wide, an empire of their own,
Supreme from where the radiant lord of day,
Shoots o'er the glowing wave his orient ray,
To where their fires his burning axles steep
In the blue bosom of the Atlantic deep:
Alike in arts and arms illustrious found,
Proudly she sits with either laurel crown'd.
'Yet what avail the trophies Conquest brings,
If Power oppressive, from her hovering wings,
Baleful she shake?—or what the victor's wreath,
If raised in blood from baleful seeds of death?—
Hail England's favour'd Monarch!—round thy head
Shall Freedom's hands perennial laurels spread;
Fenced by whose sacred leaves, the royal brow
Mocks the vain lightnings aim'd by Faction's blow.
'Beyond the proudest germ of Fame that springs,
Rear'd by the Muse, to grace victorious kings;
Above the forms of Liberty, that raise
The sons of Greece and Rome to deathless praise;
Above the labour'd scenes that sages draw,
Ideal forms of polity and law,
By thee a glorious fabric be design'd,
The noblest effort of a patriot mind.—
On a firm basis shall the structure stand,
Defying Time's, deriding Faction's, hand.—
Not a frail pile that mad Ambition rears
On Folly's hopes, or Guilt's repulsive fears;
Where specious Sophistry persuades the crowd
To adulate the selfish, and the loud;
Or, by some fawning demagogue address'd,
To lift a people's minion o'er the rest,
Bending to idol power the servile knee,
The worst of slaves, yet boasting they are free.
Thy code, arranged by Nature's purest plan,
Shall guard the freedom, and the rights of man,—
Man's real right's—not Folly's maniac dream,
Senseless Equality's pernicious theme;
But that true freedom, where all orders draw
Equal protection from an equal law,
And by that equal law restrain'd alone,
Nor fear the noble proud, or prouder throne.
Nobles, the people's shield, the monarch's arm,
Powerful to aid, but impotent to harm;
A sacred throne on Mercy's basis rear'd,
By Virtue foster'd, by Oppression fear'd;—
To which thy guardian laws shall boast they gave
One power by aught uncheck'd, the power to save.
No tyrant here the public weal can harm,
Unheard his mandate, and unnerved his arm,
While the imperial patriot is endued
With unresisted energy of good.
O happiest state on earth, to mortal given,
Pure right divine, true delegate of Heaven,
To whom its happiest attributes belong,
The bless'd impossibility of wrong.—
Each rank supported, firm, by mutual aid,
Each state in Wisdom's equal balance weigh'd;
Say, can the mighty fabric ever fall,
Raised on the weal, the liberty of all?
Still shall it mock, to Time's remotest hour,
The mine of Treason, and the shock of Power.
'Now, in yon visionary scene, behold
Thy future sons their shadowy forms unfold,
What various glories on thy offspring wait,
And learn of heroes yet unborn, the fate.
Full many an inroad of the hostile Dane
Shall yet, with native gore, die England's plain,
Alternate each shall sink, or each prevail,
As wavering Fortune lifts her dubious scale,
Till the bold sons of either warlike line
Their mingled blood in social compact join.
Even now are moor'd, near Isca's sandy bed,
A Danish host, by valiant Rollo led.
Heaven's awful mandates to the chieftain's sight,
Reveal'd in boding visions of the night,
Warn him to quit Danmonia's fertile shore,
Plough the blue wave, and Gallia's realms explore,
There shall a mighty province long proclaim,
Conquer'd by northern arms, the Norman name.
Their swords the southern regions shall subdue,
And fame, and power, through milder climes pursue,
Fields which Ilissus' hallow'd current laves,
And regions wash'd by Tiber's yellow waves;
Awe the proud tyrant of the turban'd host,
And rule, in peaceful sway, Sicilia's coast,
Reserved, in Heaven's appointed time, again
To lead their squadrons to Britannia's plain,
By victor armies destined to fulfil
Of Alfred's sainted heir the sacred will;
Till Albion views her Alfred's line restored,
And hails Plantagenet her Saxon lord.
'Freedom's perennial scyon, that defies
The ungenial blasts of Hyperborean skies,
Which, when its roots the savage warrior tore
From Græcia's isles, and mild Hesperia's shore,
Struck its strong fibres in the frost-bound glade,
Which black Hercynia's piny forests shade,
To Albion's happier soil transplanted, found
A fostering climate, and congenial ground.
'Even from the change the Norman race shall bring,
The feudal vassal, and the warrior king,
Though one vast army seem to meet the eyes,
Shall public safety, public freedom, rise;
Hence, on Britannia's plains, the rural lord
Grasps, with a freeman's arm, the freeman's sword;
'Mid senates hence, his independent voice
Speaks the free suffrage of a people's choice,
Teaches the servile minion fear to own,
Or crushes factions that besiege the throne.
'Behold, where Thames, through Runny's fertile meads,
Placid, and full, his wave pellucid leads
To England's swains, and England's chiefs, his brow
Prone on the earth, the baffled tyrant bow,
Imperial Freedom, waving in her hand
Her charter, fixing rights by Alfred plann'd,
Careful to foster, with protective wing,
The sacred pandects of a patriot king.
'And see, ascending from his winding shore,
Aloft heroic Honour proudly soar
O'er the plumed host, in blazon'd trophies dight,
Won from the vanquish'd Gaul in many a fight,
A warlike son of thine, by Conquest crown'd,
For knighthood twines the garter's mystic round;
Reviving deeds, of ancient Honour born,
Heroic wreaths by British Arthur worn;
What time, at Freedom's call, his dauntless host,
Against thy sires, defended Albion's coast.
Rears Fame's bright guerdon o'er the waving crest,
Spreads Faith's true cross o'er every pious breast,
While Europe's kings, and Rome's imperial lord,
Sit, glad companions, round the equal board,
And Virtue, to a people's general gaze,
The unsullied wreath of Chivalry displays.
'But many a cloud of horror and dismay
The horizon shades of Albion's brightest day.
Though dress'd in halcyon smiles, with ray serene,
Sol's golden orb may chear the rural scene,
Yet gathering mists, by winds tempestuous driven,
Oft blunt his beam, and hide the face of Heaven;
Nor on this seat of earth, where suns and showers
Alternate mark the seasons and the hours,
Can man expect that years shall wing their flight,
For ever tranquil, and for ever bright,
Till soaring o'er the atmosphere, that flings
Vapour and tempest from its watery wings,
On Faith and Virtue's pinions borne, he rise
To purest ether spread o'er cloudless skies,
And drink, with eagle eye, the empyreal ray,
'Mid the blest mansions of eternal day.
'Lo, died in civil blood, the argent rose,
In rival tint, with guilty crimson glows,
Till, blending o'er the fall'n usurper's tomb,
In friendly wreath the mingled flowrets bloom,
To crown Britannia's native race, who stand
With thee, the avengers of their native land.
For now, even now, rough Cambria's warlike coast
Pours, from a thousand hills, the auxiliar host.—
From Saxon arms receding, though they bore
Their sacred rites to Mona's Druid shore.
Sons of the chiefs who Cæsar's arms withstood,
Of Cassibellan's, and Caradoc's blood,
Sons of the chiefs our glorious Arthur led,
Waving their spears, with Saxon carnage red.
To them shall bow again the British line,
And Tudor's royal stem unite with thine;
Tudor, whose ancient claim from Cadwal springs,
Whom Cambria weeps, the last of British kings;
While Albion views her pristine fame display'd,
Proud of the triumphs of the Briton maid.
'Alas! as down the stream of Time, the eye
Anxious I throw, new horrors I descry.—
To England's fields, what scenes of discord bring
A factious people, a misguided king.—
Hide, blushing Albion!—hide the impious strife
Closed with the offering of a monarch's life,
To mark the hopes which happier hours afford,
Of rescued rights, and regal power restored.
'O, wayward race of man! by woe untamed,
By dark Misfortune's lessons unreclaim'd—
Albion laments again the fatal hour,
When royal frenzy grasps at boundless power.
Temperate,—for sad experience well had shewn,
Her own best rights were buried with the throne;
Temperate, but firm, in law and reason's cause,
Again the sword, reluctant, Freedom draws;
But her true bulwark guards, with jealous eye,
The crown revering, though the tyrant fly.
'At length, where Elbe's parental current flows,
Once more her eye insulted England throws;
Her hopes regard that sacred source, once more,
Whence Saxon freedom bless'd her happy shore;
For there the scyons of thy generous line,
In patriot Virtue's pure regalia, shine:
There, on thy banners, still the Saxon steed
Flies o'er the crimson field in mimic speed.
To ancient rights, which, long as Britain's isle
Flourish'd in Monarchy's paternal smile,
From parent worth and warlike fame begun,
In long succession pass'd from sire to son;
From gods and heroes of a fabling age,
Through chiefs enroll'd on History's sacred page,
Loud Fame announces, with an angel's voice,
Added, in Brunswick's claim, a people's choice.
'And see, best glory of that patriot race,
Her monarch, Briton-born, Britannia grace;
Loved, honour'd, and revered by all, save those
Who, foes to Freedom, to her friends are foes.
But foes in vain—for Anarchy's wild roar
Shall never shake this Heaven-defended shore,
While Freedom's sons gird Freedom's sacred throne,
With loyal Faith's impenetrable zone.
O'er laurels Rome's sweet poet cull'd to grace
The mighty hero of the Julian race,
Shall rise the glory of his honour'd name,
‘Nor oceans bound his sway, nor stars his fame.’—
Ocean but rolls his azure waves to guide
His fleets to empire, o'er his ambient tide;
And far beyond the planets that appear
Circling, in ceaseless course, the earthly sphere,
Beyond the stretch of human eye-sight far,
Improving Science hails the Georgian star.
'My soul, from times remote, reduce the lay;
Of Alfred's prosperous hours the pride display.
Oft through the thick expanse of sable clouds,
Whose gloom the blunted beam of morning shrouds,
The struggling ray of Sol awhile contends,
Yet, when his car the arch of Heaven ascends,
When, from the azure vault, his glories shine,
Sowing the etherial plains with flame divine;
Though harvests rise with vegetative power,
Swells the ripe fruit, and glows the blooming flower,
Remembering still the hours of winter pass'd,
The transient sunshine, and the ungenial blast,
The wary husbandman, with prescient care,
Guards 'gainst the driving storm, and piercing air.
So, when emerging from Misfortune's shade,
Alfred, thy patriot virtues shine display'd,
And tranquil days, with Plenty in their train,
Brighten once more the renovated plain;
When the tumultuous shouts of battle cease,
When thrills the warbling string with notes of peace,
Ne'er let thy active mind in sloth repose,
But jealous watch the blessings Peace bestows.
Be it thy care, by Freedom's ready guard,
Each threatening blow Invasion aims, to ward.
Thy voice shall teach the labourer of the field
The sickle, and the sword, by turns to wield;
By thee array'd, lo! Britain, wide and far,
Trains, 'mid the smiles of Peace, her sons to war.
Now the industrious swain, with rural toil,
‘Drives the keen plough-share, through the stubborn soil,’
And now aside the shining coulter throws,
Grasps the keen sword, and braves his country's foes;
Follows his native lord through War's alarms,
In peace his patron, and his chief in arms.
O, shame to England's glory!—Can it be?—
Too sure the stain my starting eye-balls see.
See where Corruption's black insidious band,
Wrest Freedom's faulchion from the Freeman's hand;
Wrest from the Briton's hand, and bid a host
Of mercenary aliens guard the coast.
Hail, glorious sage! immortal patriot, hail!
Whose fervent words o'er dark mistrust prevail.
I see, once more, Britannia's arms restored,
Once more the indignant Briton grasp the sword,
The rural empire hail its rural band,
And Chatham renovate what Alfred plann'd.
'Albion, in thee, shall own the power that gave
A certain empire o'er the uncertain wave,
Taught her commercial sails the surge to sweep,
Or awe, with warrior prow, the hostile deep.
Far o'er the distant wave, where rising day
Throws, on the sultry coast, its orient ray,
Where, through the shade of many a fragrant grove,
By Ganges' stream the guiltless Bramins rove,
To the lone Pilgrim shall thy vessels bear
Of English charity the fostering care,
Pointing the way where, in succeeding days,
Thy sons an empire o'er the East shall raise,
Mock the vain tear of Ammon's haughty son,
And win a world his armies never won.
Thy barks shall sail through pathless seas that roll,
With sluggish current, round the freezing pole,
With prow adventurous, labouring to explore
A northern passage to the Indian shore.—
O, glorious effort of a daring train!
The attempt illustrious, though the issue vain:
In times remote shall Albion oft pursue,
Successless, yet unfoil'd, this specious view.
Yet, though opposing continents appear,
And icy horrors of the polar year,
To bar her course,—full many a fertile isle,
Adorn'd with lavish Nature's sweetest smile,
Studding the bosom of the southern wave,
Rewards the failing labours of the brave.
'By Conquest crown'd, while Britain's navies ride,
In state imperial, o'er the obedient tide,
While, train'd to arms, her brave and hardy swains
Stand a firm barrier to their native plains,
Scorn'd shall Invasion's idle terrors sleep,
Whelm'd, by her watchful navies, in the deep;
Or, by the scowling tempest wafted o'er,
Destruction meet upon her martial shore.
'And see, by fair Augusta's stately towers,
Pellucid Thames his placid current pours,
Wafting, through many a league of Albion's reign,
The golden produce of her happy plain,
Or, bearing on his refluent tide, the sail
Of Commerce, swell'd by Fortune's favouring gale.
To pile her marts contending nations meet,
The world's productions offering at her feet.
Whate'er of wealth in various regions shines,
Glows in their sands, or lurks within their mines;
Whate'er from bounteous Nature men receive,
Whatever toil can rear, or art can weave,
Her princely merchants bear from every zone,
Their country's stores increasing with their own.
And, as the dewy moisture Sol exhales,
With beam refulgent, from the irriguous vales,
Descends in favouring showers of genial rain,
To fertilize the hill and arid plain,
So wealth, collected by the merchant's hand,
Spreads wide, in general plenty, o'er the land.
'Phantoms of glory, stay!—They fleet along,
Born on the stream of visionary song.—
Hear ye yon shout?—The shout of triumph hear!
It swells, it bursts, on my enraptured ear.—
The hour of vengeance comes! On yon bleak height
The vulture claps his wings, and snuffs the fight.
See o'er the ranks the crimson banners float!
Hark, the loud clarion swells the brazen note!
Denmark's dark raven, cowering, hears the sound,
His flagging pinion droops, and sweeps the ground.'
He ceased.—Amazed the wondering warrior stood,
The mystic numbers chill'd his curdling blood.—
Pale sinks the seer in speechless extacy,
Wild heaves his breast, and haggard rolls his eye;
Till, seizing with his hand the sacred lyre,
His skilful fingers swept again the wire,
Soft o'er his mind the stream of music stole,
And sooth'd the labouring rapture of his soul.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Iii.
Thus far with cautious Pencil have I traced
The striking forms on History's tablet placed.
Harder the task on Truth's unblemish'd page
To sketch the living features of the age,
Each transient character with care define,
And catch the fleeting shape with ready line;
Contrast the Manners modern times display
With the Refinements of an earlier day;
Remark what each from chance, or custom, draws,
And seek with curious eye the latent cause;
Shew Virtue's sinking worth, or kindling flame,
And give impartial praise, or candid blame.
In Rome, while Rome's meridian power was graced
With the bright æra of Augustan taste,
Tho' Art's skill'd votaries reach'd their utmost goal,
Though social pleasure sooth'd the liberal soul,
Yet rude the joys, and coarse the manners shew,
To those which Europe's modern nations know,
Where sweet Benevolence the expression warms,
Dwells on the tongue, and every accent forms.
Nor is the exterior semblance bright alone,
A specious veil o'er selfish passion thrown;
The gentle bosom real kindness feels,
And o'er the soften'd mind Affection steals;
Pity and Horror watch o'er human life,
And Murder trembling drops his fatal knife.
Even War, terrific War! has learn'd to wear
A milder garb, and features less severe:
The fury of the doubtful conflict o'er,
Though gorged with death, and red with streaming gore,
The valiant captive meets attentive care,
And vanquish'd foes fraternal kindness share;
Humanity still meek and prompt to save,
Heals every wound the bleeding combat gave,
Bids the worst horrors of the battle cease,
And lends Bellona half the charms of peace.
Politeness too it's nicest skill employs,
And gives the last fine touch to human joys,
Sweetly combines with unaffected ease
The care to aid us, and the wish to please.
Far from that pertness whose capricious fit
Deems satire freedom, and ill manners wit,
Mistakes fastidious pride for judgment chaste,
And thinks that censure shews superior taste:
Far from that fulsome flattery Dulness pays
Who servile adulation takes for praise,
The eye on every latent foible draws,
And gives an insult where she means applause.
And far, O far! from that insidious aim
Which screens Deceit beneath Refinement's name,
The selfish smile, the promise insincere,
And all the rules of Fashion's favorite peer.
But that smooth polish, elegant and bright,
Which placing merit in the fairest light,
By soft compliance rude ill-temper veils,
And half reforms the vices it conceals.
Say from what source shall keen enquiry trace
These striking characters of gentler grace?—
Numerous the varied springs whose powers combin'd
Direct and regulate the ductile mind.—
First that blest fountain of serene delight,
Meek-ey'd Religion's mild unsullied rite,
The patient votary's humbled breast imbues
With heavenly Charity's ambrosial dews,
In vain the Infidel's o'erweening pride
Affects her hallow'd dictates to deride,
Exalts the wisdom of the ancient school,
And boasts of moral Virtue's rigid rule;
By Christian Faith the perfect doctrines taught
Shall mock Philosophy's sublimest thought,
In the clear beams of Truth celestial shine,
And speak their Holy Teacher all divine.
Thence even the stubborn Sceptic mildness draws,
And feels their influence though he scorn their laws.
The sacred rights of human Nature known,
From Europe's climes has exil'd Slavery flown,
Who saw of old her sable wing display
A gloomy shade o'er Freedom's brightest day.—
O could my verse forget she still defiles
The sunny regions of the Atlantic isles!
Still dwells amidst the hardier race that try
In fields of blood for British Liberty!
There the sad Libyan bought in shameful trade,
Vanquish'd by foes, or by his chiefs betray'd,
Waits from his cruel lord's remorseless breath
The doom of labor, insult, stripes, and death.
Were such the fatal gifts from home ye brought
Such the dire lessons Parent Europe taught?—
Ah no!—beneath her inimical skies
Blasted at once the venom'd monster dies.
Bold Chivalry employ'd her earliest care
To sooth the rugged brow of frowning War,
Valor's fierce form by Courtesy refin'd,
And bent to Mercy's sway the headstrong mind.
She taught her gallant votaries to forego
Each mean advantage o'er a prostrate foe,
And shew'd her pupils rear'd in Error's gloom,
To shame the polish'd chiefs of Greece and Rome.
Crown'd by success, and deck'd in impious pride,
See in stern pomp the imperious Consul ride,
With each sad victim of uncertain war
Dragg'd in remorseless triumph at his car.
While Kings and Chiefs superior insult know,
And only feel pre-eminence in woe.
O had of Gothic days the rudest knight
Seen these barbarians, falsely deem'd polite,
Shout as the wretched Hero pass'd along,
Scorn'd and affronted by the unfeeling throng,
How had he turn'd aside the indignant eye
As the dire pageant mov'd exulting by,
To curse the hearts that selfish maxims steel,
And execrate the effects of patriot zeal.—
Now view on nearer Poitier's trophied plain
The gentler triumphs of Britannia's train!
Though every taunt swol'n Insolence could give
Warm in the Victor's glowing breast must live,
Yet when aloft o'er England's valiant few
With unexpected pinion Conquest flew,
And Gaul's pale Genius sunk her flagging wing,
And mourn'd her slaughter'd Peers and captive King;
No keen resentment edg'd the British sword,
No biting insult barb'd one cruel word,
But godlike Edward mild in fortune's hour
Sooth'd the sad Monarch fall'n from regal power,
To vanquish'd greatness generous homage paid
And serv'd the prisoner that his sword had made.
Even those destructive tubes whose fiery breath
Spreads wide the scenes of carnage and of death,
Though their dread roar the novice ear affright,
Aid mercy's power and humanize the fight.
Unseen each blow, no warrior treads the plain
Demanding vengeance for a brother slain,
No favorite kill'd awakes Pelides' hate,
No spoils of Pallas urge a Turnus' fate,
From hands unknown the mortal stroke is given,
And every bullet seems a bolt from Heaven.
Yet, to the chiefs of elder time unknown,
Punctilious rage from feudal Honor grown
Provokes for spleenful wrongs the deadly strife,
And claims in private war the forfeit life.—
But though too plainly from this dreadful cause
Society a milder aspect draws,
And practis'd in the School of Fear, or Shame,
Fools grow polite, and Savages are tame;
Let not the applauding Muse provoke to chide
The weeping Orphan, or the widow'd Bride,
Awake the trembling Matron's anxious fears,
Or ope the sacred source of Beauty's tears.
No!—let us turn from fields of death the view,
And the calm scenes of softer Peace pursue.
Their placid sway the gentler sex impart,
Refine the manners, and improve the heart,
From the harsh breast each sterner thought remove,
And tune the yielding soul to joy and love.
No barbarous Jealousy's misjudging care
Severely watches o'er the imprison'd Fair,
No houshold Tyrant fixes Beauty's doom,
To ply the incessant web and servile loom,
Nor does the mind allur'd by Plato's dream,
Verging to Folly's opposite extreme,
It's bosom's Queen in hues ethereal paint
And deem the blooming maid the impassive saint.
Daughters of Love! they shine with native power,
And bless the lone, and grace the social hour,
With spotless truth, and ardent passion, blend
The enchanting mistress, and the faithful friend,
Each fonder joy that lessens grief dispense,
Convince the reason and delight the sense.
With bashful coyness temper fierce desire,
And lead by virtue while by charms they fire.
The potent force of such resistless sway
Inspires the Muse, and governs every lay;
The tender Bard exerts his utmost skill,
And all our strains pathetic warblings fill.
The Drama lays her awful robe aside
Of gloomy horror, and terrific pride,
Content alone the gentle mind to move
With the sad story of distressful love.—
Delightful Art!—though first in shapeless guise
Reviving Genius saw thy form arise,
When the rude bigot on the barbarous stage
Produc'd the mysteries of the holy page;
Soon Avon's towering eagle bore thy name
Beyond the exalted flights of Attic fame.
Though nicer skill succeeding times demand,
Though now correctness prune with cautious hand,
With scorn tho' Gallia view the Gothic school,
Attentive to adopt each ancient rule,
While the deep pathos, and the bold sublime,
Escape her dull harangues, and duller rhyme.
Not all her precepts form'd by critic care
Shewn in the flowing numbers of Voltaire,
Not even the Grecian Muse, who stalks a Queen
With solemn footstep o'er the crouded scene,
And by her numerous Choir attended, sings
The splendid fate of magistrates and kings,
Shall with our Shakespear vie, whose every thought
Drawn from sensation, and by Nature taught,
Defies the slavish rules of scenic art,
And speaks at once conviction to the heart.
Yet now his track no daring bard pursues,
No more the stage is trod by History's Muse;
No Tyrants there the pangs of conscience own,
No Furies haunt the Usurper on his throne;
With softer anguish Tragedy prevails,
And deeds of horror yield to plaintive tales,
While full the sympathetic currents flow
At each affecting scene of humbler woe.
Even Comedy who us'd with jocund grace
To dress in chearful smiles the applauding face,
Oft quits the playful scourge of ridicule,
Spares the pert coxcomb, and the pompous fool,
The winning form of gentle pity wears,
And unsuspected cheats us into tears.
And see in amorous style the Novel dress'd
With sentimental sorrow melts the breast,
Swells the fair bosom with the heaving sigh,
And fills with drops of grief the virgin's eye.
Perhaps too far the enchanting lore imparts
It's keen sensations to unguarded hearts;
The tender scenes by Vice though oft design'd
So rivet to the page the attentive mind,
So oft with glowing tales of Passion sooth
The unexperienced ear of female youth,
That many a Maid rapp'd by their magic power
Steals from her custom'd rest the midnight hour,
To trace through lengthen'd tomes of grief display'd
The monstrous shapes by Folly's hand portray'd;
Whence the perverted Fancy learns to lose
The sweet attractions of the chaster Muse.—
Awake to each fictitious feeling grown,
And mov'd by ills to real life unknown,
The mind, with scenes of fabled woe possess'd,
Will shut to homely grief the senseless breast,
And turn from Want and Pain the offended ear,
To pour for feign'd distress the barren tear.
Wide too her wave has swelling Knowledge spread,
And the full stream surrounding Nations fed.
With unremitting care the sage of old
Each maze of Science labor'd to unfold,
Hung o'er the tedious page with aching sight
Toil'd through the day, and watch'd the wintry night:
But teeming presses now around diffuse
The monthly magazine and daily news,
Where bards on bards in endless train succeed,
And all pretend to judge, who know to read.
Whate'er pursuits the attentive mind employ
Must mark our manners with a strong alloy.
Gaming a feature of the human frame
In various states and various climes the same,
Can the warm'd breast with strong sensation strike,
And rude and courtly bosoms charm alike.
For this old Rome's luxurious youth would slight
The healthful labor, and the sportive fight;
For this among the extended woods that spread
Where the blue German hid his restless head,
The rugged inmates won by lust of play
Dear life, and dearer freedom gave away:
Even in the dusky tribes by Nature placed
Mid the lone horrors of the Atlantic waste,
Where scarce the claim of property obtains,
In savage fury dreadful, Gaming reigns.
Hence though the sons of wealth in this delight
Now waste with wakeful toil the livelong night,
Though on one stake will ample fortunes lie,
And mortgaged manors wait a single die;
Yet here no form peculiar can we trace
No striking character of modern race.
But Cards by dull invention first design'd
To sooth a frantic Monarch's listless mind,
O'er Europe now extend their strong controul,
And almost seem to fascinate the soul:
Of every calling, and of every state,
The grave, the gay, the humble, and the great,
Save the hard sons of wretched labor, fed
By daily drudgery, with daily bread,
How few but give to this unmeaning play
Three tedious hours from every circling day!
Nor let the serious Muse though light they seem,
Beneath her solemn care such trifles deem;
Weak masters though they be, their potent art
Gives a strong tincture to the human heart:
As the fang'd brood hot Libya's sands among
Though by fierce rage or maddening hunger stung,
If the clear stream their form reflected shew,
Loose all their vengeance on the shadowy foe;
So here those powers by Reason unrepress'd
Whose furious whirlwinds shook the human breast,
Bade with deep wounds contending nations bleed,
And urg'd the daring, or the atrocious deed,
In trifling cares their idle force engage,
And waste on mimic forms their harmless rage.—
Yet let not Fashion's modern votaries boast
Of harsher manners through their influence lost:
If life's severer evils they subdue,
And smooth the rugged mind, they weaken too;
If savage Hate they quell, and wild Desire,
They damp the Poet's, and the Patriot's fire,
The fervid glow of Friendship's flame remove,
And almost quench the golden lamp of Love.
Her magic powers as pleasure thus combines,
Each bosom softens and each care refines,
Still sure the scenes of opulence to share,
Spreads Luxury her splendid empire there;
On Europe's lap is pour'd the varied store
Of every climate, and of every shore.
For her Arabia gives her rich perfume,
And labors for her eye the Persian loom;
For her the Indian culls with fainting toil
The spicy harvests of his sultry soil;
In her cool air remov'd from Asian fields
It's luscious juice the ripe Anana yields;
And Industry with busy care supplies
The want of glowing lands, and sultry skies,
While all the fruits that Summer heats afford,
With blush untimely deck December's board;
Spring throws her mantle o'er the freezing hours,
And hoary Winter binds his brow with flowers.
The swelling sail in climes remote unfurl'd,
Wafts home the produce of another world.
No more the bark steer'd by the starry ray,
With prow uncertain plows the watery way;
But guided by that Gem whose mystic power
To Arctic regions points in every hour,
Commerce new oceans ventures to explore,
And launches boldly from the lessening shore,
Dares the dread wonders of the deep unfold,
And toils at once for glory and for gold.
But does not Reason's faithful mirror shew
The future prospect of distress and woe,
And point what dangers modern softness wait
In the sad tale of Rome's declining state?—
Far yet such fears!—unnumber'd checks there lie
To stop the fatal flight of Luxury.
First, a less dangerous form it's power receives
From the strong influence Beauty's empire gives.
Of culinary skill the enormous waste
Offends with dull disgust her nicer taste;
Grandeur must art as well as wealth display,
And appetite to elegance give way.
Foul Gluttony, his beastly empire o'er,
Now snuffs the bleeding Hecatomb no more;
The rosy silk, and glittering gem, adorn
No rich tiara by the tyrant worn;
The flowing muslin in resplendent folds
No bloated son of selfish passion holds;
A nobler end the gifts of Commerce share,
And deck with heighten'd charms the lovely fair;
The snowy lawn's transparent web displays
The panting bosom to the enamor'd gaze;
For them the loom it's dædal labor plies,
For them the gems disclose their various dies,
Rival their glowing cheeks, and emulate their eyes.
Even tho' their smiles the stubborn bosom tame,
They kindle martial valor's generous flame:
Europe of old her free-born daughters gave
To Virtue's champion, not to Passion's slave,
Not only Love's sweet raptures to dispense,
And sooth with wanton blandishment the sense,
But the rough scenes of changeful life to share,
Double each joy, and lighten every care,
While he their choice who fiercest waged the fight,
For Beauty ever graced the boldest knight:
And still amid Refinement's softest reign
The glorious wish their gentle breasts retain.
No lazy Sybarite with wily art
By female manners wins the female heart,
But through the studied garb and air refin'd,
Must beam the symptoms of the manly mind,
For warlike fame their sure attention draws,
And the brave soldier gains their first applause.
Contending Nations too with jealous pride,
And different interest, Europe's shores divide;
Each state, like Greece of old in Freedom's hour,
With greater strength boasts independent power,
And fierce Ambition by incessant storms
In valor's rigid school the hero forms.
Hence though it's sweet allurements Wealth display,
Though Pleasure wide extend her silken sway,
Still Europe may her manly sons behold,
Firm though luxurious, and though gentle bold;
The polish'd noble feels the generous fires
And dauntless courage of his feudal sires,
Her rule severe imperious Honor brings,
And checks the power of arbitrary kings.
Does Honor call?—unsheath'd the avenging sword
Mocks the stern mandate of the regal lord.
Does martial Honor point to bold renown?—
From sumptuous banquets, and from beds of down,
Elate and gay the pamper'd warrior flies
To fatal climates, and ungenial skies;
The extremes of heat and cold unshelter'd braves,
And tempts the furious strife of winds and waves;
Sees all around him crouding legions fall
Pierced by the gleaming steel, or distant ball,
Unmov'd receives the cannon's thundering breath,
And meets with breast unarm'd the shafts of death.
Ah Britain! while with radiance all divine
On thee the unsullied rays of Freedom shine!
While thy bold sons with steady eye pervade
Each form by ancient error sacred made,
The haughty noble's titled boast deride,
And treat with scorn hereditary pride,
Despise fantastic Honor's shadowy name,
Till Sense and Reason ratify her claim,
Dread in my bosom even those Virtues raise,
Anxious I view and tremble while I praise.
Though Rank in other climes may chance to tread
Insulting o'er indignant Merit's head,
Yet curb'd it's visionary fetters hold
The aspiring Slave of plunder, and of gold.
Custom will oft where Prudence yields, prevail,
And Prejudice may save if Wisdom fail:
Should e'er Corruption's dark insidious wave
Sap the firm barriers ancient Freedom gave;
Should Patriot Glory fly the ill-fated land,
And sordid Wealth the sole distinction stand,
What could repel with salutary force
Increasing Luxury's unbridled course?
Thy recreant sons may then lament too late
The happier errors of each neighbouring state;
And Virtue's pure ethereal substance fled,
Wish Honor's fainter semblance in it's stead.
Though Commerce wide her general blessings shower
When moderation bounds her restless power,
Though on our shores she spread with liberal hand
The fair productions of each distant land,
And richer harvests from our cultur'd fields
Rough Industry by her encourag'd yields,
Feeds both the toiling hive, and lazy drones,
The Hind that labors, and the Lord that owns;
Yet when forsaking every manlier thought,
Each firm resource with native vigor fraught,
A feeble state with abject hope relies
But on the uncertain aid her force supplies;
From imposts laid on vice subsistence draws,
And lavish waste encourages by laws;
Disdains each nobler call that charm'd of old,
And rates perfection by the test of gold,
Soon shall corruption with unbounded tide
In sweeping fury o'er the region ride;
While crouding woes the wretched empire wait
That strove by bloated weakness to be great,
Gave her own strength and inborn worth away
For the faint phantom of commercial sway;
Proud to extend a vast precarious reign
On Folly founded, and which Crimes maintain.
Sure, or the scene a gloomy aspect wears
View'd through the medium of prophetic fears,
Or now, even now, the sad contagion spreads,
And dire effects on British manners sheds.
The race who draw their worth from wealth alone,
Nor other rank, nor other merit own,
In high esteem by abject flattery placed,
Debase our morals, and corrupt our taste:
The dread infection flies from sire to son,
And Folly dissipates what Avarice won;
Expence the place of elegance supplies,
And half demolish'd Beauty's empire lies.
The breast that Education never form'd
Bright Science train'd, or sportive Fancy warm'd,
Knows not with mirth unting'd by scorn to please.
Be gay with dignity, and grave with ease,
But vents the jest uncouth with coarse delight,
And deems unmanner'd insolence polite.
While the rude vulgar glad to draw disgrace
On the invidious claims of birth, and place,
Applaud the glare by lavish Ignorance shewn,
And give distinctions chance may make their own.
Ye ancient Lords of Britain's fair domain!
'Tis yours to vindicate Refinement's reign;
Though Wisdom's eye disdain the titled slave
Staining the Honors which his fathers gave,
Yet with a brighter hue shall Virtues shine
That add new lustre to a noble line.—
Say is the pride of birth concentred all
In the old trophy and the banner'd hall?—
Yours be the fairer boast in docile youth
To catch from Learning's voice the lore of Truth,
Drink the pure reasonings of the patriot sage,
And cull each flower that decks the classic page,
Till by the fame of godlike heroes fir'd,
The man shall copy what the boy admir'd.
If leaving these superior aims ye try
In every vice with every fool to vie,
Each fair advantage fortune gives forego
To wage unequal conflict with the foe,
Say can the gazing croud be justly blam'd
Who pay to Wealth the deference Honor claim'd,
When sickly folly taints that generous worth
Which heighten'd grandeur and ennobled birth?
Your happier purpose be it to restore
The fame that waited Britain's Lords of yore,
Ere true Nobility's unblemish'd shape
Was chang'd for manners every knave can ape.
Yours be it Freedom's empire to support
No Faction's slaves, no flatterers of a Court.
Watch with keen eye the encroachments of the throne,
But guard it's rights for they protect your own.
Fly not, discharg'd each due of public care,
To breathe soft Dissipation's summer air,
Where Pleasure's hand prepares the poppied draught,
To drown reflection, and to deaden thought.
No, rather joy the shouting train to meet
Who hail the lord of each paternal seat;
Where your wide forests spread parental shade
View the gay scenes of rural taste display'd;
Let Hospitality's warm hand await
To court the stranger to the friendly gate;
Enforce with steady zeal your Country's laws,
To Justice true, and firm in Virtue's cause;
Curb Vice licentious in her mad career,
And teach oppressive Arrogance to fear;
Redress when injur'd Merit heaves the sigh,
And wipe the tear from pale Affliction's eye:
So shall your fame with purer honor live
Than wealth, than faction, or than rank can give,
While these best titles on each name attend,
The bad man's terror, and the poor man's friend.
Long may ye mock in this secure defence
The vain attempts of wealthy Insolence:
No more shall sense by rudeness be debas'd,
Or Fortune's lavish minions vitiate taste;
Her stores profuse no more shall Commerce fling,
But brood o'er Industry with fostering wing;
While your examples teach her wiser train
To use with prudence, what by care they gain.
And you ye fair! forgive the honest lay
That even your slightest errors dares display,
Nor think satiric rage my arm can move
To wound like Diomed the Queen of Love,
Though I presume to point the fated hour,
Mark'd with the symptoms of your fading power,
And mourn that all those arts which life refine,
Rais'd by your sway, shall with your sway decline.
Oft by the youth neglected now ye stand
Nor meet Attention's fond assiduous hand:
O be it yours to check with just disdain;
This mark of selfish Luxury's domain,
Ah! leave that thirst of riot's endless joy
Whose constant round your empire must destroy:
Beauties from scene to scene that restless fly
Lose all their force, and sate the public eye;
The midnight revel early age o'ertakes,
And the wan cheek the native rose forsakes;
Light Affectation too intent to please
Disfigures more than time or pale disease;
And tyrant Fashion with Procrustes' arm
Shapes to it's wild caprice each tortur'd charm.
For Love's! for Virtue's sake! ah lay aside
The undaunted forehead, and the martial stride!
Again the garb of female softness wear,
And quit the fierceness of the Grenadier:
For can the ornaments your cares combine
When all the toilet's rich materials shine,
Match blushing Modesty's transparent red
O'er the warm cheek in sweet suffusion spread,
Or like the downcast eye's mild lustre move,
Whose lid veils Meekness and whose glance is Love?
In fabled times by Ida's lofty wood,
When rival Goddesses contending stood,
Though Juno conscious of her awful mien
March'd with the state of Jove's imperious Queen,
Though Pallas deck'd her Amazonian charms
In the refulgent glare of radiant arms,
Yet Love prevail'd in Cytherea's eyes,
And smiling Beauty gain'd the golden prize.
From Albion far may heaven's benign decrees
Avert the storms my anxious mind foresees:
Still may she shine with pure Refinement's grace
Secure on Virtue's adamantine base;
Prosperous awhile though private Vice may stand,
No miracle can save a vicious land;
In life's calm paths though fortune oft dispense
Success to Guilt, and pain to Innocence.
Whence Faith with strengthen'd eye beyond the tomb
Sees the dread hour of Justice yet to come,
On public crimes must early vengeance wait,
And speedy ruin wrap an impious state,
Since from the offence the sure correction springs,—
And her own scourge abandon'd Folly brings.
But let not man attempt with bounded skill
To search the depths of Heaven's eternal will,
Inspect the rolls of fate with fruitless care,
And read the future doom of empires there.
Enough, her eye as cool Reflection throws
O'er all the scenes these lengthen'd lays disclose,
To mark each prospect as they move along,
And draw these moral maxims from the song:
That though Refinement know with temperate ray
To wake each bloom of Merit into day,
Urg'd to excess her heighten'd powers destroy
The expanding bud, and blast each promis'd joy,
As storms and sultry gleams o'ercome the flower
Rais'd by the genial sun, and gentle shower.
That Education, while her careful art
Clears from each baneful Prejudice the heart
Must cherish inborn Glory's generous aim,
The source of rising Worth, and future Fame.
That above all, on each ingenuous breast
Be with strong force this sacred Truth impress'd;
No polish'd Manners rival Virtue's price,
No savage Ignorance disgusts like Vice.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part I.
As when the stream by casual fountains fed
First gushes from the cavern's mossy bed,
Dashing from rock to rock, the scanty rill
With no luxuriant herbage clothes the hill;
Yet when increas'd the ampler current flows,
Each bordering mead with deeper verdure glows,
It's lingering waves through painted vallies glide,
And Health and Plenty deck it's verdant side;
Till swell'd by wintry storms and sweeping rains,
If chance it's rising deluge drown the plains,
The stagnate waters choke the sedgy soil,
And the fond hopes of future harvests foil:
So first Refinement in it's infant hour
Sheds o'er the savage tribe an useless power,
Nor can it's feeble energy impart
Or grace or softness to the human heart;
But when in Reason's moderate bounds confin'd
It's plenteous streams invigorate the mind,
The rising Arts their genial influence share,
And all the social Virtues flourish there;
Till Luxury's polluting torrents roll
A flood destructive o'er the enervate soul,
And to the flowers of generous growth succeeds
The baneful progeny of Vice's weeds.
Man, ere by rules of civil compact taught,
(Uncouth his form, and unimprov'd his thought,)
O'er the rude waste a selfish savage goes,
Nor mutual cares, nor mutual kindness knows,
How to subsist his Being's sole employ,
Strength all his art, and rapine all his joy;
And where a steril soil, and frowning heaven,
Are to his race by ruthless Nature given,
Compell'd by chace his scanty food to gain,
Pierc'd by sharp winds, or drench'd by chilling rain,
While from the assailing climate, rigid grown,
The alter'd fibres lose each nicer tone,
Long is the torpid soul by want oppress'd,
And dawning Reason slowly lights the breast.
But when his milder, happier portion, lies
In kindly regions, and more genial skies,
Where balmy sweets the ambient gales dispense,
And native Luxury enchants the sense,
Where Earth disdaining cultivation's care
Bids her free sons the luscious banquet share,
And the thick groves a roof sufficient spread
To shield from dews and heat the slumbering head;
Press'd by no want, in leisure's vacant hours
The expanding Mind perceives her latent powers,
And from the silken air the nerves derive,
To each sensation tremblingly alive,
Pleasures uncheck'd by labor's stern control,
And bear each finer feeling to the soul.
Then as reclining on the fertile soil,
Unknown the want of culture's stubborn toil,
His grazing charge the gentle herdsman tends,
And o'er the vale his eye delighted bends,
Ten thousand lovely images suggest
The dreams of Fancy to his tranquil breast,
The female form his soften'd heart inspires
With milder thoughts and more refin'd desires,
Sweet notes of rural courtship fill the grove,
And flow the tender strains of pastoral love:
Or as his eyes the nightly ether view,
And trace the heavenly concave's cloudless blue,
He learns to know what different signs appear
To guide and regulate the varied year;
Observes the changeful Moon alternate show
Her orb full-beaming, and her waning bow,
And marks the inferior Planets as they roll
In stated periods round the shining pole.
Hence every charm that polish'd Nature knows,
All that eludes or weakens human woes
First dawn'd in regions where the solar beam
Pours with superior force the effulgent stream,
And to our view the infant Arts arise
Beneath the warmth of Asia's fostering skies,
Or on Arabia's happier coasts inhale,
Loaded with sweets, the aromatic gale,
Or with attentive ear the fables learn
Of mystic lore, by Nile's redundant urn;
Till gently wafted by the favoring breeze
O'er the smooth surface of Ionian seas,
The smiling train their lovely offspring bore
To rise and flourish on the Grecian shore.
Inventive Fancy emulous to raise
For Worth deceas'd the monument of praise,
To bid Fame live beyond this transient breath,
And snatch heroic deeds from icy death,
With filial love the frail memorial rear'd,
And the heap'd fragment mark'd the tomb rever'd:
But vain the pious care!—Oblivion's sway
Soon swept each undistinguish'd name away,
The story of renown no breast retains,
And unexplain'd the mouldering pile remains.
Then ripening Genius sought the Muses aid,
And rustic Verse it's opening powers display'd;
Though no soft grace of polish'd diction shine,
Though harsh the cadence, and though rude the line,
Yet strengthen'd Memory felt the useful art
That fix'd the favorite legend in the heart;
The hoary Sage the sure advantage saw,
And in rough strains promulg'd his simple law,
In the short verse the moral rule compress'd,
And early form'd to truth the docile breast.
The infant warblings of the Muses lyre
Subdue the will perverse, and passion dire;
Their gloomy wilds the savage race forsook
As Orpheus sung, and milder manners took,
And charm'd to order by Amphion's lay
The forms of civil life mankind obey.
As bursts the beam of day through clouded skies
At length with light ethereal Letters rise,
To chain the fleeting sound their magic taught,
Portray'd the Idea, and embodied thought;
Blest, happiest, privilege to mortals given!
Which wings the aspiring soul from Earth to Heaven.
Whether progressive skill the art acquir'd,
Or power divine the sacred gift inspir'd;
Whether a mere invention of the Mind
As opening Science civiliz'd mankind,
Or a peculiar mark of heavenly grace
At first bestow'd on Israel's favor'd race
Though Reason doubt;—from morn to setting day
The various tribes of human-kind survey,
And own that all who following Wisdom's plan
Fulfil those duties that distinguish Man;
All who extend their penetrating sight
Beyond the reach of animal delight,
This blessing from one common fountain share,
Though ting'd with ignorance, or refin'd by care:
Even Greece where letter'd Science prosper'd best
It's oriental origin confess'd,
Fix'd by the fabled Author Asia's claim,
And mark'd it's source by Cadmus' mystic name.
As the ripe feed when sown with skilful toil
Soon feels the influence of a friendly soil,
With rapid shoots the planter's care repays,
And high in air it's waving boughs displays;
So Greece beheld the ingenuous Arts expand
In her congenial air, and kindly land,
While Freedom by the insulting despot driven
From Southern climes, and Asia's warmer heaven,
Fix'd with delight her European throne
Oe'r favor'd realms, and regions all her own.
Cheer'd by her sway each slumbering Muse awakes,
And from her smiles superior vigor takes:
Now Poesy with animating fire
Throws her bold fingers o'er the Epic wire,
And Lyric Extasy exulting sings
Borne on the Theban eagle's towering wings,
While the chaste Drama rising by degrees,
By care successive polish'd, learns to please,
From the rude outlines of the mimic art
First shewn by Thespis in his wandering cart,
To the fam'd Bards whose labor'd scenes engage
The dumb attention of the Attic stage.
Soon every Science, every Art succeeds,
Happy to follow where a Sister leads.
Charm'd from her seats on Egypt's watery plain,
And freed from fabling Error's mystic chain,
Through the still gloom of Academus' shade
Philosophy with solemn footstep stray'd;
Bold Imitation still to Nature true
The perfect form from perfect models drew,
For ne'er were equall'd Grecia's lovely race
Or for the faultless shape, or beauteous face.
Music devoid of each capricious art
Touch'd with her sweetest melody the heart:
And Architecture plann'd, in awful state
The Dome with just proportion simply great,
Or nobly plain the Doric pile appear'd,
Or her light column soft Ionia rear'd,
Or Corinth bade her polish'd Temples rise
With ornamental grandeur to the skies.
With force united this illustrious train
Grac'd the loud forum, and the holy fane,
But chiefly were their magic charms combin'd
When the lov'd Drama fix'd the Athenian mind:
Whether the drops of generous pity spring
At the sad fate of Thebes' unhappy King,
Or glows the exulting heart with patriot flame
To hear the tale of Grecia's ancient fame,
On this delightful source of virtuous joy
The lavish Arts their choicest skill employ,
And all their various powers at once convene
To dress in gorgeous pomp the attractive scene.
Encourag'd thus by Freedom's favoring smiles,
While every Muse the listening ear beguiles,
While Wisdom grave, and polish'd Grace combine,
At once to form the Virtues, and refine,
Improvement spreads to life's more humble cares,
And Industry the happy influence shares:
Down the steep cliff, and o'er the craggy brow
Strong Agriculture drives his laboring plow,
And to the currents of the rising gale
Adventurous Commerce trusts her swelling sail;
To the bleak rock the cultur'd glebe succeeds,
Where waves the harvest and the vintage bleeds,
And the fraught vessel with her woven wings
The wealth of nations to Piræus brings.
Rous'd by those honors cull'd by Glory's hand
To dress the Victor on the Olympic sand,
With active toil each ardent stripling tries
To bind his forehead with the immortal prize;
Hence strength and beauty deck the Grecian race,
And manly labor gives them manly grace.—
Yet while the scenes of Nature and of Art
The perfect forms of elegance impart,
While Wisdom's sacred lore the bosom warms,
And brighter Virtue boasts her moral charms,
The bliss in social intercourse that lies
Unknown they lose, or knowing they despise,
Illiberal folly 'midst their mirth we find,
And savage grossness taints the noblest mind,
The genial board licentious sports beguile,
And sages woo the harlot's venal smile.
For the soft Sex whose mild enchanting power
With gentle pleasure cheers the festal hour,
Denied the banquet's temperate joys to share,
Are the mere drudges made of houshold care;
Hence faint the force of that refin'd desire
Which modest Beauty only can inspire.
To other paths diverted passion turns,
And with enthusiast ardor Friendship burns.—
Far be it from the virgin Muse to try
O'er that mysterious scene to throw her eye.
Enough for her, while every manly breast
She sees in Virtue's purest radiance dress'd,
Sees every heart, with patriot Glory warm,
Check the proud war, or perish in the storm,
To cry like Philip on that fatal plain
Where Victory wept the sacred Thebans slain,
Curs'd be the slanderous tongue that worth like this would stain.
Though some prevailing characters we trace
Through every nation of the Grecian race,
Though Superstition, Manners, Speech, the same,
One common origin to all proclaim;
Though when the different states assembled stood
By Pisa's shades, or fair Castalia's flood,
Where each time-hallow'd rite conspir'd to draw
On the full festival religious awe,
By the mix'd forms of mutual converse taught
The separate tribes congenial features caught;
Yet Greece no general bond of empire found
Which all her sons in one firm compact bound,
But each republic as it's fabric rose
Peculiar laws, peculiar customs chose.
Sparta, where royal power's divided sway
Alternate knew to govern and obey,
Where Kings and People equal rule restrain'd,
And rigid Law the only tyrant reign'd,
Saw grave Politeness spread her sober grace,
And Modesty suffuse the warrior's face:
No subtle reasoning mov'd her steady throng,
But every sentence clear, concise, and strong,
In artless guise the speaker's mind convey'd,
And simple language simple truths display'd:
No Luxury debauch'd her frugal train,
For public glory there, was private gain.
While Athens, where alike with frantic zeal
All aim'd by turns to guide the general weal,
For wide her blessings ample Freedom threw,
And every voice an equal suffrage knew;
Athens' beheld her sons forego their claim,
The substance quitting for the shadowy name,
And noisy Faction at Ambition's call
Usurp'd that empire which belong'd to all,
While specious Demagogues seduced the sense
With all the flowery tropes of eloquence,
And the free audience polish'd, and severe,
Mark'd each oration with a critic ear.
In vain might Prudence raise her warning voice
If soft persuasion won the public choice,
In vain it's aims might patriot care pursue
If one mistaken accent censure drew.
Awaken'd thus to every thrill of joy
While arts of elegance their thoughts employ,
Borne by the tide of eloquence along,
Mov'd by a tale, a fable, or a song,
Of their own delegated powers afraid,
Despising laws by their own suffrage made,
The fickle race impatient of control
Rush headlong onward to Corruption's goal:
What patriot sage to turn the current tries
Is doom'd to exile, or by poison dies,
And him they raise who impudent and loud
Inflames the passions of the giddy croud:
And though Invasion with remorseless hand
Spread flame and carnage o'er the groaning land,
The Theatre employs their sole debate,
And more they prize the Drama than the state:
If the fond scene present some favorite theme,
Lull'd by sweet Fancy's vain delusive dream,
Of Persia check'd and Greece preserv'd they boast
Though conquering Philip ravages their coast,
And Marathon's victorious deeds display
On the dread eve of Chæronea's day.
Of human glory thus how short the date!
Expence and Pride, on Wealth and Freedom wait,
And from her burthen'd lap Profusion throws
The seeds of growing Vice, and future woes.—
The fervent zeal of public spirit dead,
And patriot Virtue's manly influence fled,
The daring bands of freemen who defied
In fields of blood the Median Tyrant's pride,
Purchas'd, betray'd, divided, and o'erthrown,
Bend to a state their sires had hardly known.
Yet Science lov'd to breathe her favorite air,
Though Liberty was fled still linger'd there.
Even of those Chiefs who shar'd the unjust command
Which Philip and his greater son had plann'd,
Some brave descendants felt the Muses charms,
And sooth'd with liberal Arts usurping Arms;
Warm Patronage awhile with partial ray
Supply'd the loss of Freedom's genuine day,
And Genius consecrates to deathless fame
With grateful voice her Philadelphus' name.
Though mad Ambition soon with impious blow
Laid every fence of civil Virtue low,
And sunk in sloth, or petrified by fear,
No daring arm oppos'd her wild career,
Yet ne'er did abject Luxury's domain
O'er Grecia stretch her universal reign,
Or Asiatic Indolence dispense
That blasting torpor to each blunted sense,
Chill'd by whose touch the generous Purpose flies,
Droops Emulation, faded Glory dies,
While the corrupted heart each vice imbibes
That sinks mankind below the bestial tribes.
Religion, Language, Manners, though we find
Give one strong tincture to the Grecian mind,
Yet different Interest each republic draws,
Divided Claims, and independent Laws,
The neighbouring states eternal war alarms,
And ease invaded yields to manlier arms;
Whence strict the rules of discipline remain,
And firm their courage on the embattled plain.
Though by compulsion strong, and stronger art,
Philip could temporary peace impart,
With potent gold a shameful union bought
Which public Wisdom oft had vainly sought,
Short was the race by his Ambition run,
And short the glory of his conquering son;
Then as the spoils of empire to divide
Contending chiefs with impious ardor tried,
And Freedom bade some bolder states unite
To guard with ancient zeal her sacred right,
The doubtful conflict for a time call'd forth
The dormant relics of heroic worth,
Till every weak distinction swept away
By the full tide of Rome's superior sway,
Whate'er the stores of Grecian art supplied,
Serv'd but to swell the happier Victor's pride;
And haughty Luxury asham'd to own
O'er tributary realms a partial throne,
Attends the rising power by Fate design'd
To fix her boundless empire o'er mankind.
Lo! in the regions whence Favonius blows
A hardy race Hesperia's vales disclose:
With sinews firm the rugged offspring rise
And brave the force of less auspicious skies,
For freezing winds had erst Campania known,
And yellow Tiber worn an icy zone.
The sons of Rome ne'er felt the soft control
Of milky kindness stealing o'er the soul,
Nor did their nerves to pleasure's touch awake
Of gentler thoughts the mild impression take;
The rigid texture of their rougher frame
The dangerous glories of the field inflame;
To wage with sure success the bloody fight
Their favorite care, and war their sole delight.
Victors, or vanquish'd, by the example taught
They found new paths to conquest as they fought.
Triumphant Carthage vaunts her powers in vain
And claims the exclusive empire of the main,
Rome to the sea her ductile Genius turns,
And from her foe the means of Victory learns;
Repairs with wiser toil the ruin'd fleet,
And gains superior art from each defeat,
Her naval care with perseverance plies,
Till, by the course of long experience wise,
The watery war her perfect gallies dare,
And Libya's ancient splendor melts to air.
In vain to check these unremitting foes
Their studied Tactics Grecia's sons oppose,
Whose force compelling countless hosts to yield,
With Persia's bleeding Myriads strew'd the field:
The Legions active, disciplin'd, and fierce,
With varied shock the close-wedg'd Phalanx pierce,
And Freedom's noblest sons are doom'd by fate
The servile subjects of a foreign state.
Their country vanquish'd, still the arts remain,
Still learned Athens boasts her polish'd train;
The flowery garlands there they weave to bind
In pleasures roseate wreaths the Roman mind,
The joys of peace the haughty Victors learn,
And Greece exulting triumphs in her turn.
Though first they view with undiscerning eyes
Sculpture's fair grace, and Painting's glowing dyes,
Though Consuls by the piece the marble rate,
And the wrought brass is valu'd by the weight;
Yet soon their hearts the Muses sway confess'd
And powerful numbers sooth'd the warlike breast,
Each swelling bosom caught the generous fire,
And Roman fingers struck the Grecian lyre:
Not with that fierce delight, that sudden glow
Which from the genuine beams of Nature flow,
That burst of Harmony which pour'd along
The full luxuriance of the Epic Song!—
Matur'd by time their ripening Genius rose,
From the harsh lines of Ennius' measur'd prose
To strains on which the Muse enamour'd hung,
And drank each dulcet note from Maro's tongue.
But ne'er shall Imitation's loveliest charm
Like native Grace the raptur'd bosom warm,
This bright and awful as the beam of day,
That like the paler moon's reflected ray.
By no fallacious hues does Nature please,
But boldly gives the manners that she sees,
Not Truth in Fiction's splendid garb arrays,
But with free stroke the living form portrays,
Her Bards divine the real actions sing
Of the stern Hero, or the warrior King,
Or paint the life the amorous Shepherd leads
In the rich verdure of Sicilian meads,
While with the verse their heated Fancy weaves
Each sacred tale Mythology believes:
But Imitation with correcter hand
Fills but the outline that Invention plann'd,
With care retrenches each superfluous part,
Or adds the tinsel ornaments of art,
Describes the manners that she never knew,
And faintly copies what her Mistress drew;
Hence with assiduous step the Latian Muse
The march sublime of elder Greece pursues,
Content to glean with unremitting toil
The scatter'd produce of her happier soil.
And now the improving sons of Rome behold
The scenes of Attic elegance unfold,
Admire the fane by sculptur'd Nature graced,
And catch from every glance congenial taste:
The Capitol by conquering Consuls trod
Receives with friendly rite each marble God,
In bend majestic swells the Parian arch
Through which in solemn pomp the Victors march;
Rome with delight the pleasing toil pursues,
And emulates the beauties that she views,
Exults in arts and artists of her own,
Bids the warm canvass breathe, and animates the stone.
Happy had Rome adorn'd by spoils like these
Been satisfied with Grecian Arts to please!
But Asia's subject regions now disclose
The fatal sources of unnumber'd woes.—
Each delegated chief who us'd of yore
To guide the thundering battle's furious roar,
Bind the green laurel round his conquering brow,
And then return contented to the plow,
Now proudly stretches with rapacious hand
O'er plunder'd provinces his harsh command;
Loaded with wealth the stern Proconsuls come,
And eastern splendor dazzles wondering Rome.
Caught with the lustre of the shining ore
The charms of Poverty can please no more,
The ancient fame of frugal heroes dies,
And venal hopes, and venal passions rise;
The honest boast of Democratic pride
Is drown'd in dark Corruption's swelling tide,
And Freedom's awful rights are basely sold
For the vile barter of barbaric gold.
No more Rome's venerable Senate flings
Dismay and terror o'er usurping kings;
No more the injur'd Nations grateful see
Oppression tremble at her just decree;
No more her sword is drawn in Glory's cause
For rights betray'd, or violated laws:
The Tyrant buys impunity for vice,
And every public outrage has it's price:
Avarice can fix a giddy people's choice,
And servile legions arm at Faction's voice.
In vain a few with steady courage stood,
To stem the torrent of the whelming flood,
The selfish passions with insidious force
Of patriot worth had poison'd every source;
Still lawless power uprear'd her hydra head,
And Freedom was no more though Cæsar bled.
Intent the aims of faction to compleat,
Now smoother Cunning seiz'd Ambition's seat.—
A Youth unmov'd by pity or by rage,
As Manhood firm, yet cold as palsied Age,
Hiding in specious guile his cruel views,
The impious scheme with ceaseless toil pursues.
His wiles, the work of ages to destroy,
Severity and ease by turns employ;
Death's stern decrees, or friendship's milder call,
Allure the timid, or the bold appal:
The enchanting Muses, whose delightful art
Can bend the stubborn purpose of the heart,
His voice invokes to charm the attentive mind,
And hide the fetters that inslave mankind.
The Muses hear!—forgetful that their sway
Was first produced in Freedom's happier day
They hear, and mindless of their ancient worth,
Betray the parent power that gave them birth,
Adore the Author of their country's doom,
And seal the fate of Liberty and Rome.
After a dreadful scene of war and woes,
The brazen gates of two-faced Janus close,
The sad effects of civil discord cease,
And all a restless world is wrapp'd in peace.
By Actium's Victory stopp'd the fatal strife,
No more the dire proscription threatens life,
No more the bloody scroll of Death appears,
But Mercy's snowy garb Augustus wears.
The gentler Arts each harsher care beguile,
And Science grows beneath his fostering smile:
Around his throne the laughing Loves resort,
And own the influence of a peaceful court.
Pleasures refin'd that Grecia never knew
Croud to the sight, and bless the raptur'd view:
To the pert quaintness of Socratic wit,
Or the rude jests that lower manners fit,
To feasts where sage disputes the hours employ,
Or the loose revels of licentious joy,
Succeeds that intercourse of sweet delight,
Though gay not vicious, and though free polite,
Their mingled gifts where ease and mirth dispense,
Ease void of roughness, mirth restrain'd by sense:
And lovely Woman, though not taught to know
That public homage later days bestow,
With modest smiles domestic converse graced,
And soften'd by her looks each ruder taste.
Even Freedom though her sacred power was fled
O'er Manners yet a parting radiance shed,
On the warm heart was Virtue's form impress'd,
And dauntless Courage fir'd the warrior's breast.
The generous youth in Mars' gymnastic field
By manly sports his hardy sinews steel'd,
Curb'd the bold steed, the dusty conflict stood,
Or plung'd his glowing limbs in Tiber's flood,
Science a milder charm to Valor gave,
And Empire seem'd to polish, not enslave,
Rome equal Arms, superior Arts could boast,
And hardly deem'd her ancient Glory lost.
But short the light of Pleasure's transient gleam!
Soon Nature starting from the illusive dream
Shrinks back affrighted as her eyes survey
The horrid form of arbitrary sway.—
Monsters who built on vice their dreadful joy,
Proud of their crimes and happy to destroy,
Seiz'd the vast power that Freedom's sons resign'd,
And shook the rod of vengeance o'er mankind;
Life hung alone upon a tyrant's breath,
And each capricious frown awarded death.
Amid the waste of years though haply shine
A Titus, Trajan, or an Antonine,
The short-liv'd interval more strongly shews
The striking contrast of despotic woes.
What force can free the mind that Vice has chain'd,
Or clear the current if the fountain's stain'd?—
No distant regions happier hopes afford
Beneath the empire of a milder lord;
Fear still beholds where'er her eye she flings,
Subjected states, and tributary kings;
And Power o'ertakes the exile as he goes
O'er Libyan deserts, or through Scythian snows.
Condemn'd the endless scenes of blood to see,
While looks are watch'd, and hardly thought is free,
In Rome's sad inmates, now a wretched race,
No more the marks of ancient worth we trace,
In the dull soul, a stupid, lifeless void,
Rous'd by no action, by no cares employ'd,
Each fading Energy of Virtue dies,
As droops the plant beneath inclement skies.
The cohorts from the frontier distant far
In slothful ease forget the toils of war,
Or from their camp with factious arms o'erawe
The weak remains of Freedom and of Law,
O'er Senates with tumultuous force prevail,
And set the Empire of the world to sale.
The Muse no more with native beauty warms
But tricks with art her meretricious charms:
Science in simple form, and semblance chaste,
Offends the alter'd times degenerate taste.
Each social Charity of private life,
The smiling offspring, and the tender wife,
Now cease the scene domestic to endear:
For who can wish a wretched race to rear
Slaves to a cruel tyrant's fickle gust,
Rods of his power, or minions of his lust?—
To the sweet joys that blushing Beauty gave
Succeeds the traffick of the female slave,
Till sated the perverted Fancy roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves.
Debarr'd each just pursuit, the restless mind
Seeks in flagitious deeds relief to find,
In sensual cares grows exquisitely nice,
And only seeks variety of vice.
Their stores the tributary realms supply
To glut even Luxury's insatiate eye;
For Italy, while Rome no rival knew,
Ere yet Byzantium's sister empire grew,
Saw on her shores contending nations meet
To lay their various produce at her feet.
Commerce who independent states can draw
To equal compact by her general law,
Who weighs what nature gives and what denies,
While mutual barter mutual want supplies,
Exulting Rome contemn'd, who saw unfurl'd
Her conquering banners o'er a subject world,
And her proud offspring buoy'd by ancient fame,
Not gain by purchase, but by empire claim.
All that the warmer southern climes dispense
Fair to the eye, and grateful to the sense,
Whatever eastern regions can afford
To grace the mansion, or to deck the board,
In endless heaps the imperial seat supplied,
Her pleasure gratified, or sooth'd her pride,
At the full feast to indolence resign'd,
Lie the soft race on purple beds reclin'd,
And o'er the room in many a crimson fold
The arras hangs with ivory rough and gold:
Of massive plate the attentive slaves produce
The meanest vessels of domestic use,
And in rich mists the cooling odors shed
Ambrosial fragrance round the listless head,
Through the wide dome the fumes of incense roll,
And Grecia's purest vintage crowns the bowl.
A nation's wealth their lavish fancies waste
To furnish viands for one great repast;
And Luxury her bloated form so swells
We scarcely credit what th' Historian tells.
To load the table when the Tyrant fed,
Seas have been drain'd, and Hecatombs have bled;
The Euxine mourn'd her shores despoil'd of fish,
And woods unpeopled form'd one costly dish;
Even when the calls of appetite were o'er,
And Nature's loaded powers could act no more,
With brutal skill were shameful means pursu'd,
That blunted hunger's sickly force renew'd,
In the pall'd taste could false desires excite,
And goad the sated sense to fresh delight.
In constant scenes like these enervate grown,
The slaves of Lust and Gluttony alone,
No joy beyond voluptuous ease they deem,
And small exertions cruel hardships seem,
From Indolence, and Vice their pleasures flow,
And Fear's the only active power they know:
Too selfish e'er to think of public care,
Too weak the weight of manly arms to bear,
A Favorite's nod degenerate legions wait,
And servile Eunuchs regulate the state.
Firm discipline is lost by long neglect,
And mercenary hosts the throne protect.
Weaken'd by Constantine's misjudging pride
Whose vain designs the imperial strength divide,
Open and wide the extended frontier lay,
To each barbarian hord an easy prey:
On every side the ruffian bands contend,
By turns invade them, and by turns defend,
Till lur'd by wealth and splendor's tempting prize,
The warlike tribes such coward chiefs despise,
Against the trembling race their swords employ,
And spread destruction round with savage joy,
Pour o'er each region like a wintry flood,
And Rome's diminish'd empire sets in blood.
Of the long sway of twice six hundred years
Stupendous fabrick! scarce a wreck appears,
Save a poor remnant as the ruin falls
Preserv'd to languish in Byzantium's walls.
Now through the extent of Nature's wide domain
Once more the horrid powers of darkness reign,
Again Chaotic ignorance rears her head,
And o'er mankind her sable veil is spread.
What scatter'd arts survive the general doom
Retreat to wither in the cloister's gloom;
And if by chance from thence some sickly beam
Shoots faintly forth a transitory gleam,
It serves but like the meteor's lurid light
To add new horror to the shades of night.
Ye sylvan muses! as my step invades
The deep recesses of your hallow'd shades,
Say will ye bid your echoing caves prolong
The harsher cadence of your votary's song?
Not anxious now to strike the trembling wire,
Sweetly responsive to your vernal choir;
Or from the treasur'd stores of earth to bring
The fragrant produce of the roseate spring:
Mine the rude task, while summer's fading ray
To yellow autumn yields the shortening day,
And all the variegated woods appear
Clad in the glories of the withering year,
With dogs and fiery weapons to profane
The peaceful sabbath of your rural reign;
Your desolated regions to explore
'Mid the wild tempest, and the season frore;
Destruction on your feather'd race to pour,
And add new horrors to the wintry hour.
'Twas thine, immortal Somerville! to trace
The livelier raptures of the joyful chace,
O'er hills and dales to urge, with eager speed,
The hound sagacious, and the panting steed;
And guide the labors of the enthusiast throng
With all the extatic energy of song.—
Severer care these calmer lays demand,
And Fancy curb'd by sage Instruction's hand:
Yet, for the Muse some scatter'd charms shall gleam
'Mid the rich chaos of this copious theme;
Yet, here shall Glory view with generous aim,
The rising elements of martial fame.
As from the chace Britannia's youth shall learn
The docile steed with ready hand to turn;
O'er the rude crag his bounding steps to guide,
Or press his ardor down the mountain's side,
Till, rushing to the field with fierce delight,
She sends forth other Lindseys to the fight:
So shall the steady train, of careful eye,
Who wound th' aerial offspring as they fly,
Whose limbs unwearied keep the constant way,
From morn's first opening dawn, till parting day,
Manly and firm, an unexhausted race,
With hardy frames the shining phalanx grace;
With steps, by labor unsubdu'd, shall know
Incessant to pursue the fainting foe;
Shall, 'midst the rocks and woods, with active toil
Hang o'er his march, and all his movements foil;
Their close platoons, with cool and certain aim,
Shall send destruction forth in vollied flame:
Or o'er the field dispers'd, each shot they pour
Shall mark some hostile victim's fatal hour.
Of old, ere man with imitative skill,
Taught mimic thunders to obey his will,
Train'd by superior care, the elastic yew
With sinewy arm, our English bowmen drew:
The warlike art exulting Albion saw
Protected by the fostering hand of law;
Attentive senates watch'd, with anxious zeal,
This martial bulwark of the general weal;
The rules they order'd, or the prize they gave,
Compell'd the slothful, and inflam'd the brave;
And oft her archer-sons would trophies wear
From Gallia's cross-bow won, and Scotia's spear.
Nor let the frown of literary pride,
Or false refinement's sneer, my labors chide:
Not all are form'd with unremitting view
Pale study's restless labors to pursue:
Not all their hours are dull enough to waste
In the void round of fashionable taste;
Nor can the gentle airings, which engage
The fainter wish of languor, and of age,
From his pursuits the sanguine votary draw
Of wealth, of joy, of wisdom, or of law,
Till slow disease demands the leach's care,
Sad substitute for exercise and air!
The impatient youth, whom manly vigor fires,
Ruddy with health, and stung by wild desires;
By active sports alone can soothe to rest
The boiling fervors of his panting breast.
Nor shall Britannia's patriots blame the cause,
To woods and fields her wealthier chiefs that draws.
Let Gallia's sons to rural scenes resort
Only when exil'd from a partial court,
Whose dearest hopes a Monarch's favor crown,
Rais'd by his smile, or blasted by his frown;
But Albion's freer lords must try to gain
The unbiass'd suffrage of her rustic train.
And every tie that binds her nobler band,
With dearer love, to their paternal land,
Her yeomen shall behold with grateful eye,
A surer pledge of wealth and liberty.
Come then, ye hardy youths, who wish to save
By generous labor powers that nature gave!
Who fly from languor, hush'd in dread repose
Beneath the leaves of sloth's enchanting rose,
Glad on the upland brow, or echoing vale,
To drink new vigor from the morning gale;—
Come! and the Muse shall shew you how to foil
By sports of skill the tedious hours of toil;
The healthful lessons of the field impart,
And careful teach the rudiments of art.
When the last sun of August's fiery reign
Now bathes his radiant forehead in the main,
The panoply by sportive heroes worn
Is rang'd in order for the ensuing morn;
Forth from the summer guard of bolt and lock
Comes the thick guêtre, and the fustian frock;
With curious skill, the deathful tube is made
Clean as the firelock of the spruce parade:
Yet, let no polish of the sportsman's gun
Flash like the soldier's weapon to the sun,
Or the bright steel's refulgent glare presume
To penetrate the peaceful forest's gloom;
But let it take the brown's more sober hue,
Or the dark lustre of the enamell'd blue.
Let the close pouch the wadded tow contain,
The leaden pellets, and the nitrous grain;
And wisely cautious, with preventive care,
Be the spare flint, and ready turnscrew there;
While the slung net is open to receive
Each prize the labors of the day shall give.
Yet oft the experienc'd shooter will deride
This quaint exactness of fastidious pride;
In some old coat that whilom charm'd the eye,
Till time had worn it into slovenry,
His dusky weapon, all by rust conceal'd,
Through rainy service in the sportive field,
He issues to the plain, secure to kill,
And founds his glory on superior skill.
The night recedes, and mild Aurora now
Waves her gray banner on the eastern brow;
Light float the misty vapors o'er the sky,
And dim the blaze of Phœbus' garish eye;
The flitting breeze just stirs the rustling brake,
And curls the crystal surface of the lake;
The expectant sportsmen, urg'd by anxious haste,
Snatch the refreshment of a short repast,
Their weapons seize, their pointers call around,
And sally forth impatient to the ground.
Here where the yellow wheat away is drawn,
And the thick stubble clothes the russet lawn,
Begin the sport.—Eager and unconfin'd
As when stern Æolus unchains the wind,
The active pointer, from his thong unbound,
Impatient dashes o'er the dewy ground,
With glowing eye, and undulating tail,
Ranges the field, and snuffs the tainted gale;
Yet, 'midst his ardor, still his master fears,
And the restraining whistle careful hears.
So when Britannia's watchful navies sweep,
In freedom's awful cause, the hostile deep,
Though the brave warrior panting to engage,
And loose on England's foes his patriot rage,
The tempest's howling fury deems too slow
To fill his sails, and waft him to the foe;
Yet, 'mid the fiery conflict, if he spy
From the high mast his leader's signal fly,
To the command obedience instant pays,
And martial order martial courage sways.
See how exact they try the stubble o'er,
Quarter the field, and every turn explore;
Now sudden wheel, and now attentive seize
The known advantage of the opposing breeze.—
At once they stop!—yon' careful dog descries
Where close and near the lurking covey lies.
His caution mark, lest even a breath betray
The impending danger to his timid prey;
In various attitudes around him stand,
Silent and motionless, the attending band.
So when the son of Danae and Jove,
Crown'd by gay conquest and successful love,
Saw Phineus and his frantic rout invade
The festive rights by Hymen sacred made,
To the rude Bacchanals his arm outspread
The horrid image of Medusa's head;
Soon as the locks their snaky curls disclose,
A marble stiffness seiz'd his threatening foes;
Fix'd were the eyes that mark'd the javelin thrown,
And each stern warrior rear'd his lance in stone.
Now by the glowing cheek and heaving breast
Is expectation's sanguine wish express'd.—
Ah curb your headlong ardor! nor refuse
Patient to hear the precepts of the Muse.
Sooner shall noisy heat in rash dispute
The reasoning calm of placid sense confute;
Sooner the headlong rout's misguided rage
With the firm phalanx equal combat wage,
Than the warm youth, whom anxious hopes inflame,
Pursue the fleeting mark with steady aim.
By temperate thought your glowing passions cool,
And bow the swelling heart to reason's rule;
Else when the whirring pinion, as it flies,
Alarms your startled ear, and dazzled eyes,
Unguided by the cautious arm of care,
Your random bolts shall waste their force in air.
They rise!—they rise!—Ah yet your fire restrain,
Till the scar'd birds securer distance gain;
For, thrown too close, the shots your hopes elude,
Wide of your aim, and innocent of blood;
But mark with careful eye their lessening flight,
Your ready gun, obedient to your sight,
And at the length where frequent trials shew
Your fatal weapon gives the surest blow,
Draw quick!—yet steady care with quickness join,
Lest the shock'd barrel deviate from the line;
So shall success your ardent wishes pay,
And sure destruction wait the flying prey.
As glory more than gain allures the brave
To dare the combat loud, and louder wave;
So the ambition of the sportsman lies
More in the certain shot than bleeding prize.
While poachers, mindful of the festal hour,
Among the covey random slaughter pour;
And, as their numbers press the crimson'd ground,
Regardless reck not of the secret wound,
Which borne away, the wretched victims lie
'Mid silent shades to languish and to die.
O let your breast such selfish views disclaim,
And scorn the triumph of a casual aim:
Not urg'd by rapine, but of honor proud,
One object single from the scattering croud;
So, when you see the destin'd quarry down,
Shall just applause your skilful labor crown.
If your staunch dogs require no instant toil
To rescue from their jaws the fluttering spoil,
Re-load your fatal piece with prudent zeal,
While glows with recent flame the smoaking steel;
So the black grain shall kindling warmth acquire,
And take the flinty spark with readier fire;
Or if some scatter'd bird, that lay behind,
Sudden should rise, and fleet away on wind,
You check her rapid course, nor murmuring stand,
Your empty weapon useless in your hand.
Now some observant eye has mark'd their flight,
And seen dispers'd the weary'd covey light;
Soon to the spot the ranging pointer drawn,
Explores with tender nose the tainted lawn,
Where, to his nicer sense, their fumes betray
The secret ambush of the fearful prey.
With cautious action now, and stealthful pace,
His careful steps pursue the running race;
Now fix'd he stands, now moves with doubtful tread,
Stopp'd by their pause, or by their motion led,
Till, rooted by the sheltering hedge, his feet
Declare the trembling victim's last retreat.
But as, with beating breasts, on either side
The impatient youths the pleasing task divide,
And in the row between, the lurking game
Lies hid from sight, ah, careful be the aim!
Lest, skreen'd and parted by the thorny mound,
The erring shots should give a fatal wound,
And change the jocund sportsman's verdant wreath
For funeral weeds, for mourning, tears, and death.
In Lydian plains, where rich Pactolus roll'd
Through groves of perfume, and o'er sands of gold,
Crœsus, of Asia's lords the proudest name,
Shar'd every gift of fortune, and of fame;
So wide his empire, and so vast his store,
That avarice and ambition ask'd no more;
Though blest in these, the dearer bliss he knows
With which a parent's happy bosom glows,
For not the fairest image ever dress'd
In the fond wishes of a father's breast,
By flattery swell'd, could mate the virtuous praise
To Atys' worth that truth unbiass'd pays.
At war's loud clarion if the nations bled,
Conquest his armies crown'd if Atys led;
If the rude waves of civil discord broke,
Hush'd was the rising storm if Atys spoke;
His lenient voice bade loud rebellion cease,
And charm'd contending factions into peace:
Nor less his care domestic knew to bring
Joy to his sire, than safety to his king;
Nor was the patriot's glory priz'd above
The dearer charity of filial love.
While prosperous scenes the monarch's thoughts beguile,
Too little warn'd of Fortune's transient smile,
'Mid the dark moments of the boding night
A horrid vision seem'd to meet his sight,
With dying mien his Atys stood confess'd,
Transfix'd by horrid steel his bleeding breast.—
Swift from his couch he starts, while wild despair
Contracts his eye-balls, and uplifts his hair.
In vain the orient morn's reviving power
Chas'd the pale phantoms of the midnight hour;
The recollected scene his peace annoys,
Sinks in his heart, and poisons all his joys;
Around him visionary falchions gleam
In act to realize his dreadful dream;
And if by chance loud rumor wafts from far
Uncertain clamors of intended war,
His laboring breast foretels the fatal deed,
And sees in fancied fights his Atys bleed.
What shall his fears invent, or how control
The generous ardor of the hero's soul?—
His mind to gentler thoughts he tries to move,
And conquer strong renown by stronger love.
The fairest maid of Lydia's glowing dames,
Whose beauteous form the manly youth inflames,
With eastern roses crown'd, is blushing led
In Hymeneal pomp, to Atys' bed.
To cares of empire, and to toils of fight,
Succeed the festal day, and genial night:
Soft Pleasure spreads around her blooming flow'rs,
And wanton Cupid leads the laughing hours.
Amid these joys, from Mysia's subject plain,
Before the throne, behold a suppliant train!
‘O mighty prince!’ they cry, ‘we now repair
‘To claim the aid of thy paternal care;
‘A savage monster of portentous size,
‘Whose cruel strength our utmost force defies,
‘Ranges our fields, spreads devastation round,
‘And roots the unripen'd harvest from the ground.
‘O, let thy youths, to range the woods who know,
‘Attend with faithful dogs, and twanging bow;
‘In his dire haunts the fierce invader brave,
‘Repel his fury, and thy subjects save.
‘Perhaps the prince.’—The eager monarch, here,
Urg'd by the influence of parental fear,
Arrests their speech: ‘My arms, my youths shall go,
‘Your terrors quell, and check this savage foe;
‘But for my son, him other cares employ,
‘And the soft scenes of Hymeneal joy,
‘Nor must the rugged chace, or dubious fight,
‘Mar the sweet transports of the nuptial rite.’
He ceas'd; attentive round the Mysian band,
Pleas'd with the promis'd aid, submissive stand.
Not so the prince, his ardent bosom glows
To burst the silken bands of still repose.
‘Ah! what, my sire,’ he cries, ‘has Atys done?
‘What sad distrust awaits your hapless son,
‘That thus immers'd in sloth you keep him far
‘From fields of glory, and from toils of war?
‘For love's soft raptures though the hero burn,
‘Yet fame and danger claim their wonted turn.
‘How shall I meet, involv'd in this disgrace,
‘The indignant murmurs of your warrior race?
‘How will, with tears of silent scorn, my bride
‘Her alter'd lord's inglorious safety chide!
‘O give my wishes way, or let me hear
‘The hidden source of this injurious fear.’
This earnest prayer the smother'd secret draws,
And the sad Monarch owns the latent cause:
When Atys, smiling:—‘How shall I reprove
‘The fond excesses of paternal love,
‘Though for my undeserving life is shown
‘A nice regard you never paid your own?
‘But shall the heir of Crœsus' martial name
‘Inglorious life prefer to glorious fame?—
‘Life is a bliss, when crown'd by virtue's meed,
‘And death a prize, when honor bids us bleed;
‘Omens and dreams in vain the purpose stay
‘When duty calls, and glory points the way.
‘Or grant some god the vision sent, yet here
‘Vain are your cares, and useless is your fear;
‘Transfix'd by steel my bleeding breast you saw,
‘Not torn and mangled by a bestial jaw;
‘Then let me go, and when you meet your son
‘Clad in the shaggy spoils his arms have won,
‘The shadowy phantoms of the night shall cease
‘To haunt your slumbers, and disturb your peace.’
The Monarch hears, and with reluctant eyes
Gives the consent his boding heart denies;
His brow a placid guise dissembling wears,
While Reason vainly combats stronger fears.
It chanced a youth of Phrygia's royal train,
His hand polluted by a brother slain,
Exil'd by vengeance from his native ground,
In Crœsus' peaceful court a refuge found;
Where oft would Atys' gentler care impart
The balm of friendship to his wounded heart;
To him the wretched king in secret spoke,
While tears and sighs his faltering accents choke;
‘If, brave Adrastus, thy oppressive woes
‘In Sardis' sheltering walls have found repose,
‘If here the expiating rite renew'd
‘Has paid the forfeit for fraternal blood,
‘If pity's tear, if friendship's lenient balm
‘Have tried with studious zeal thy griefs to calm,
‘Go with my son, and by attentive care
‘Partake his labors, and his dangers share.
‘Shield him from peril that my soul alarms,
‘And bring him back in safety to my arms.’
To whom the youth: ‘Oft has my ready breast
‘Panted to ask the office you request,
‘As oft my conscious shame that wish restrain'd,
‘Disgraced by exile, and by murder stain'd:
‘Since you command, your Atys I'll attend,
‘Obey my patron, and protect my friend;
‘Watch o'er his safety in the doubtful strife,
‘Or ransom with my own his dearer life.’
Now to the Mysian fields elate and gay
The eager warriors bend their jocund way,
The echoing hills and forest walks resound
With shouts of men, and chidings of the hound.
Rous'd from his lair, and issuing on the plain,
Forth bursts the monster on the hunter train,
Around the circling youths impatient stand,
And launch their steely darts with ready hand.
Too rashly eager as the Phrygian threw,
With erring aim the pointed jav'lin flew,
In Atys' breast the quivering weapon stood,
And drank with fatal barbs his vital blood.—
The mournful shrieks that rent the ambient air,
The weeping troops, Adrastus' loud despair;
The silent agony, the gushing tide
Of the sad parent, and the widow'd bride,
The plaints they utter, and the woes they feel,
No heart can image, and no tongue reveal.
As the ill-fated youth is borne along,
All pale and bleeding, through the groaning throng,
By the cold corse Adrastus' frantic cries,
Death in his voice, and horror in his eyes;
‘Why have the gods in partial vengeance shed
‘Their choicest curses on my wretched head?
‘Fated the keenest strokes of wrath to prove,
‘And doom'd to murder those whom most I love!
‘O much wrong'd sire, let thy avenging hand
‘Expiate by guilty blood this weeping land:
‘Be on my heart thy instant fury hurl'd,
‘And save from future parricide the world!’
‘Alas, my son!' the wretched King replied,
‘'Tis awful Jove who thus corrects my pride,
‘Which, crown'd by conquest, and with power elate,
‘It's fortune deem'd beyond the reach of fate.
‘Alas! too late repentant, now I find
‘The fleeting happiness of human kind!
‘My hopes, my cares are past! this cruel blow
‘Has laid at once my vain ambition low;
‘The offended gods this chastisement have given,
‘Thou but the fatal instrument of heaven.’
Silent the youth withdrew, till sad were paid
The tributary rites to Atys' shade:
Then, as chill midnight's dreary hours return,
Weeping he sought the monumental urn:
‘Atys!’ he cried, ‘behold Adrastus come
‘A willing victim to thy hallow'd tomb!—
‘This erring hand, the fatal stroke that gave,
‘Shall lay thy murderer breathless on thy grave.’
Then pierced with sudden arm his struggling breast,
And on the blood-stain'd marble sunk to rest.
As more obliquely on autumnal skies
With milder force October's suns arise,
The purple pheasant tempts the youth to rove
With well-train'd spaniels through the faded grove.
See how with emulative zeal they strive,
Thrid the loose sedge, and through the thicket drive!
Not ranging lawless o'er the forest wide,
But close attendant on their master's side;
No babbling voice the bosom falsely warms,
Or swells the panting heart with vain alarms,
Till all at once their choral tongues proclaim
The secret refuge of the lurking game;
Loud on the breeze the chearful clamor floats,
And the high wood re-echoes with their notes.
Swift is their course, no lengthen'd warnings now
Space to collect the scatter'd thoughts allow,
No wary pointer shews the cautious eyes
Where from his russet couch the bird shall rise:
Perhaps light running o'er the mossy ground,
His devious steps your sanguine hopes confound;
Or, by the tangled branches hid from sight,
Sudden he wings his unexpected flight.
No open view along the uncumber'd field
To the cool aim will time and distance yield;
But the nice circumstance will oft demand
The quickest eye-sight and the readiest hand,
Swift as he rises from the thorny brake,
With instant glance the fleeting mark to take,
And with prompt arm the transient moment seize,
'Mid the dim gloom of intervening trees.
His gaudy plumage when the male displays
In bright luxuriance to the solar rays,
Arrest with hasty shot his whirring speed,
And see unblam'd the shining victim bleed;
But when the hen to thy discerning view
Her sober pinion spreads of duskier hue,
The attendant keeper's prudent warning hear,
And spare the offspring of the future year;
Else shall the fine which custom laid of old
Avenge her slaughter by thy forfeit gold.
Soon as the ready dogs their quarry spring,
And swift he spreads his variegated wing,
Ceas'd is their cry, with silent look they wait
Till the loud gun decides the event of fate;
Nor, if the shots are thrown with erring aim,
And proudly soars away the unwounded game,
Will the staunch train pursue him as he flies
With useless speed, and unavailing cries.
And now when cloudy skies and drizzling rains
Swell the full springs, and drench the moisten'd plains,
The extended space of land and ocean cross'd
From the bleak scenes of Hyperborean frost,
With active wing the unwearied Woodcocks fly
To southern climates, and a milder sky,
The osier'd borders of the brook explore,
And with deep bills the forest marshes bore.
Where now matur'd yon slender ashes stand,
Rise from their stools and tempt the woodman's hand,
Where the loose trunks admit the partial ray
Along the border take your cautious way.
Here let your care the shorten'd gun employ,
Lest the thick boughs the purpos'd aim annoy;
Let super-added steel with pressure sure,
From the dank drip the shelter'd pan secure:
And as the silent bird the stems among
Wheels slow his desultory flight along,
With steady eye his wavering motion watch,
And through the parting trees the advantage catch;
Though distant be the shot, the slightest wound
Shall lay the fluttering victim on the ground.
Rous'd by the spaniel, 'midst the forest shade,
Behold the trembling Leveret cross the glade!
If round the extended plains yield ample space,
Or for the rapid course, or chearful chace,
O, sacred be her steps! nor let thy hand
Blast the fair hopes of a congenial band,
Or for a transient pleasure meanly foil
The lengthen'd transport of the hunter's toil;
But where steep hills and spacious woodlands rise,
Or the long flight the frequent copse denies,
Blameless arrest her rapid flight, nor spare
The timid victim for the inglorious snare.
Where shining rills with copious moisture feed
The deeper verdure of the irriguous mead,
Or where between the purple heaths is seen
The mossy bosom of the low ravine,
The fearful Snipes, hid from the searching eye,
'Mid the dank sedge and nodding rushes lie.
With sudden turns oblique, when first they rise,
As from the weaver's arm the shuttle flies
They shape their wavering course: but patient stay
Till, with securer wing, they soar away:
Then as aloft their outstretch'd pinions sail,
Borne on the bosom of the buoyant gale,
The fatal shot sent forth with cautious sight,
Shall bring them wheeling from their towering height.
When winter now, a gloomy tyrant, reigns
In dreadful silence o'er the ravaged plains,
Involves in sheets of snow the bending woods,
And throws his icy mantle o'er the floods,
Close by the harden'd brook, whose sullen stream
No more soft murmuring aids the poet's dream,
Where, 'midst the matted sedge, the emerging flood
With air and life renews the finny brood,
The patient fowler stands with silent aim
To watch the station of the watery game:
Not like the gentle angler, careless laid,
In the cool shelter of the summer shade,
But train'd with hardy sinews to defy
The chilling keenness of a wintry sky;
While here the aquatic Wild-fowl's timid race
With wonted pinion seek the well known place;
Where rushes thick the Widgeon's haunt conceal,
The blue-wing'd Mallard, and the tenderer Teal;
Swift on the various race, in fiery shower,
The scattering shots unseen destruction pour,
With mingled slaughter strew the frost-bound flood,
And dye the sullied snow with gushing blood.
Such are the sports that fertile Albion yields,
Such the wing'd inmates of her milder fields;
But bounteous Nature, with diffusive hand,
Spreads wide her various produce o'er the land,
Each different region marks with nurturing care,
And bids a race congenial flourish there.
A tribe peculiar by her power is plac'd
On the drear mountain, and the howling waste,
Which art and industry would rear in vain,
Or in the shelter'd vale, or cultur'd plain.
Hence wandering far from England's gentler scene,
Her spacious champains, and her pastures green,
The hardy youth will Cambria's cliffs explore,
Or climb the heights of Caledonia hoar,
The Grouse and sable Heath-cock to pursue
Where moors unbounded tire the sated view,
And sullen silence reigns, save where the tide
Pours in swoln torrents from the mountain's side;
While summer suns in full effulgence shed
Their burning fervors on the throbbing head.
Thus has my verse in humble strains reveal'd
The various pleasures of the sportive field,
And shewn the different labors of the day
As the revolving seasons roll away:
But vainly shall preceptive rules impart
A perfect knowledge of this manly art;
Practice alone can certain skill produce,
And theory confirm'd by constant use.
As well the stripling of the gay parade,
Proud of his silken sash and smart cockade,
Though taught by wise instructors to explore
The martial depth of mathematic lore,
Might hope to drive Victoria's crimson car
Triumphant o'er the bleeding ranks of war,
Ere the long march, the early toil, and late,
The frequent scenes of danger and of fate,
The fervor of the glowing breast allay,
Change ardor's blaze for valor's temperate ray,
And teach the mind, unruffled and serene,
To keep her powers 'mid horrors wildest scene.
The hardy youth who pants with eager flame
To send his leaden bolts with certain aim,
Must ne'er with disappointed hopes recoil
From cold and heat, from hunger and from toil,
Must climb the hill, must tread the marshy glade,
Or force the passage through the opposing shade,
Must range untam'd by Sol's meridian power,
And brave the force of winter's keenest hour,
Till industry and time their work have wrought,
And honor crown the skill that labor taught.
Yet some, these harsher rudiments to spare,
And equal art with easier toil to share,
Or watch with careful aim and ready sight
The swallow-wheeling in her summer flight,
Or on some lofty cliff, whose chalky steep
Hangs with rude brow impending o'er the deep,
Where gulls and screaming sea-mews haunt the rock,
Pour fire incessant on the mingled flock.
But vain their hopes—presented to the eye
In such diversive lines the objects fly,
The dazzled sight unnumber'd marks pursues,
And shifts it's aim, uncertain which to chuse;
Decision quick and calm, the shooter's boast,
By frequent change, is check'd, confus'd, and lost,
And, guarded by irresolute delay,
Utouch'd shall future coveys fleet away.
More hurtful still to try with distant blow
To bring the percher from th' aerial bough.
How shall his thoughts the level that prepare
With all the caution of mechanic care,
Exact and steady as the sage's eye
Through Galileo's tube surveys the sky,
With ready view the transient object seize,
Swift as the motion of the rapid breeze,
Pursue the uncertain mark with swift address,
And catch the fleeting moment of success?
Ere yet the Muse her lay preceptive end
Ye eager youths these friendly rules attend:
'Tis not enough, that cautious aim, and sure,
From erring shots your brave compeers secure,
That prudence guard those ills which erst might flow
From the wing'd javelin, and the sounding bow;
For on the gun unnumber'd dangers wait,
And various forms of unexpected fate.
Drawn thro' the thorny hedge, the uncertain lock
May give with sudden spring, a deadly shock;
Or the loose spark the rapid flash may raise,
And wrap the sulphurous dust in instant blaze.
'Tis hence the military race prepare
The novice youth with such assiduous care,
And teach him with punctilious art to wield
The weighty fire-lock in the embattled field.
Though some may deem the attention urg'd too far,
As the mere pomp and circumstance of war;
When closely wedg'd the firm battalions stand,
Rank press'd on rank, and band impelling band,
Did not fastidious zeal with cautious plan
Define each act, and every motion scan,
Oft would the bullets 'mid the battles roar
The thirsty herbage die with friendly gore,
And oft the dangerous weapon's kindling breath
Change fields of exercise, to fields of death.
Behold yon' eager race who o'er the plain,
With stimulating heel and loosen'd rein,
Their panting coursers urge to leave behind
The rapid currents of the northern wind,
Though, as with headlong rage they rush along,
Impending dangers seem to wait the throng;
Though accident with more apparent face
Seem to attend the ardor of the chace;
Yet, 'mid these calmer sports, with ghastly mien
The pallid form of slaughter lurks unseen;
And while the hunter checks his bold career
To pour on Russel's tomb the sorrowing tear,
The sportive train who haunt the fatal glades
Where hoary Camus flows by Granta's shades,
Shall weep the unexpected blow that gave
Their much-lov'd Cotton to a timeless grave.
Lamented youth! when erst on Warley's plains
We led in radiant arms our rustic swains,
What time Britannia, friendless and forlorn,
Her shores expos'd, her naval trophies torn,
Bold in her native vigor dar'd oppose
Rebellious subjects, and combining foes;
In vain thy generous bosom burn'd to stand
The manly bulwark of an injur'd land,
Or nobly bleeding by the hostile ball,
In freedom's, and in Albion's cause to fall;
Doom'd by relentless fate, to press the ground,
The unhappy victim of a casual wound.
Votaries of rural joy! with mine while flow
Your kindred streams of sympathetic woe,
By salutary care, ah! learn to shun
The hidden dangers of the unguarded gun!
And, as in fields of pleasure you acquire
The soldier's manly toil and steady fire,
His cautious use of arms attentive heed,
Careful by no inglorious wound to bleed,
Nor lavish life, but in the sacred cause
Of Britain's injur'd rights, and violated laws.
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.