The Columbiad: Book Iv

The Argument


Destruction of Peru foretold. Grief of Columbus. He is comforte the promise of a vision of future ages. All Europe appears in vision. Effect of the discovery of America upon the affairs of Europe. Improvement in commerce; government. Revival of letters. Order of the Jesuits. Religious persecution. Inquisition. Rise and progress of more liberal principles. Character of Raleigh; who plans the settlement of North America. Formation of the coast by the gulph stream. Nature of the colonial establishments, the first great asylum and infant empire of Liberty. Liberty the necessary foundation of morals. Delaware arrives with a reinforcement of new settlers, to consolidate the colony of Virginia. Night scene, as contemplated by these patriarchs, while they are sailing up the Chesapeak, and are saluted by the river gods. Prophetic speech of Potowmak. Fleets of settlers from seyeral parts of Europe steering for America.


In one dark age, beneath a single hand,
Thus rose an empire in the savage land.
Its wealth and power with following years increase,
Its growing nations spread the walks of peace;
Religion here, that universal name,
Man's proudest passion, most ungovern'd flame,
Erects her altars on the same bright base,
That dazzled erst, and still deludes the race;
Sun, moon, all powers that forceful strike his eyes,
Earth-shaking storms and constellated skies.

Yet all the pomp his labors here unfold,
The vales of verdure and the towers of gold,
Those infant arts and sovereign seats of state,
In short-lived glory hasten to their fate.
Thy followers, rushing like an angry flood,
Too soon shall drench them in the nation's blood;
Nor thou, Las Casas, best of men, shalt stay
The ravening legions from their guardless prey.
O hapless prelate! hero, saint and sage,
Foredoom'd with crimes a fruitless war to wage,
To see at last (thy life of virtue run)
A realm unpeopled and a world undone!
While pious Valverde mock of priesthood stands,
Guilt in his heart, the gospel in his hands,
Bids, in one field, their unarm'd thousands bleed,
Smiles o'er the scene and sanctifies the deed.
And thou, brave Gasca, with persuasive strain,
Shalt lift thy voice and urge thy power in vain;
Vain are thy hopes the sinking land to save,
Or call her slaughter'd millions from the grave.

Here Hesper paused. Columbus with a sigh
Cast o'er the continent his moisten'd eye,
And thus replied: Ah, hide me in the tomb;
Why should I live to see the impending doom?
If such foul deeds the scheme of heaven compose,
And virtue's toils induce redoubled woes,
Unfold no more; but grant a kind release;
Give me, tis all I ask, to rest in peace.

And thou shalt rest in peace, the Saint rejoin'd,
Ere these conflicting shades involve mankind.
But broader views shall first thy mind engage,
Years far advanced beyond this darksome age
Shall feast thee here; the fruits of thy long care
A grateful world beneath thy ken shall share.
Europe's contending kings shall soon behold
These fertile plains and hills of treasured gold;
And in the path of thy adventurous sail
Their countless navies float on every gale,
For wealth and commerce search the western shore.
And load each ocean with the shining ore.

As up the orient heaven the dawning ray
Smiles o'er the hills and gives the promised day,
Drives fraud and rapine from their nightly spoil,
And social nature wakes to various toil;
So from the blazing mine the golden store
Mid rival states shall spread from shore to shore,
Unite their force, its opulence to share,
Extend the pomp but sooth the rage of war;
Wide thro the world while genius unconfined
Tempts loftier flights, and opens all the mind,
Dissolves the slavish bands of monkish lore,
Wakes the bold arts and bids the Muses soar.
Then shall thy northern climes their seats display
United nations there commence their sway;
O'er earth and ocean spread their peerless fame,
And send thro time thy patriarchal name.

Now turn thy view to Europe; see the rage
Of feudal faction every court engage;
All honest labor, all commercial ties
Their kings discountenance, their lords despise.
The naked harbors, looking to the main,
Rear their kind cliffs and break the storms in vain,
The willing wave no foreign treasures lade,
Nor sails nor cities cast a watery shade;
Save, where yon opening gulph the strand divides,
Proud Venice bathes her in the broken tides,
Weds her tamed sea, shakes every distant throne,
And deems by right the naval world her own.

Yet must we mark, the bondage of the mind
Spreads deeper glooms, and subj ugates mankind;
The zealots fierce, whom local creeds enrage,
In holy feuds perpetual combat wage,
Support all crimes by full indulgence given,
Usurp the power and wield the sword of heaven,

But lo, where future years their scenes unrol,
The rising arts inspire the venturous soul.
From all the ports that cleave the coast of Spain,
New fleets ascending streak the western main;
From Tago's bank, from Albion's rocky round,
Commercing squadrons o'er the billows bound;
Thro Afric's isles observe the sweeping sails,
Full pinions tossing in Arabian gales,
Indus and Ganges deep in canvass lost,
And navies crowding round Cambodia's coast;
New nations rise, all climes and oceans brave,
And shade with sheets the immeasurable wave.

See lofty Ximenes with solemn gait
Move from the cloister to the walks of state,
And thro the factious monarchies of Spain,
Curb the fierce lords and fix one royal reign.
Behold dread Charles the imperial seat ascends,
O'er Europe's thrones his conquering arm extends;
While wealthier shores, beneath the western day,
Unfold their treasures to confirm his sway.

Roused at false glory's fascinating call,
See Francis train the gallant youths of Gaul,
O'erstrain the strength of her extended states,
Scale the proud Alps, or burst their granite gates,
On Pavia's plain for Cesar's crown contend,
Of arms the votary, but of arts the friend.

And see proud Wolsey rise, securely great,
Kings at his call and mitres round him wait;
From monkish walls the hoarded wealth he draws
To aid the tyrant and restrain the laws,
Wakes Albion's genius, neighboring princes braves,
And shares with them the commonwealth of waves,

Behold dark Solyman, from eastern skies,
With his grim host magnificently rise,
Wave his broad crescent o'er the Midland sea,
Thro vast Hungaria drive his conquering way,
Crowd close the Christian powers, and carry far
The rules of homicide, the lore of war.

The Tuscan dukes excite a nobler strife;
Lorenzo calls the Fine Arts forth to life,
Fair nature's mimic maids; whose powers divine
Her charms develop and her laws define;
From sire to son the splendid labors spread,
And Leo follows where good Cosmo led.
Waked from the ground that Gothic rovers trod,
Starts the bronze hero and the marble god;
Monks, prelates, pontiffs pay the reverence due
To that bold taste their Grecian masters knew;
Resurgent temples throng the Latian shore,
The Pencil triumphs and the Muses soar.

O'er the dark world Erasmus rears his eye,
In schoolman lore sees kings and nations lie,
With strength of judgment and with fancy warm,
Derides their follies and dissolves the charm,
Tears the deep veil that bigot zeal has thrown
On pagan books and science long unknown,
From faith in senseless rites relieves mankind,
And seats bold virtue in the conscious mind.
But still the frightful task, to face alone
The jealous vengeance of the papal throne,
Restrains his hand: he gives the contest o'er,
And leaves his hardier sons to curb that power.

Luther walks forth in yon majestic frame,
Bright beam of heaven, and heir of endless fame,
Born, like thyself, thro toils and griefs to wind,
From slavery's chains to free the captive mind,
Brave adverse crowns, control the pontiff sway,
And bring benighted nations into day.

Remark what crowds his name around him brings,
Schools, synods, prelates, potentates and kings,
All gaining knowledge from his boundless store,
And join'd to shield him from the papal power.
First of his friends, see Frederic's princely form
Ward from the sage divine the gathering storm,
In learned Wittemburgh secure his seat,
High throne of thought, religion's safe retreat.
There sits Melancthon, mild as morning light,
And feuds, tho sacred, soften in his sight;
In terms so gentle flows his tuneful tongue,
Even cloister'd bigots join the pupil throng;
By all sectarian chiefs he lives approved,
By monarchs courted and by men beloved.

And lo, where Europe's utmost limits bend,
From this new source what various lights ascend!
See haughty Henry from the papal tie
His realms dissever, and the priest defy;
While Albion's sons disdain a foreign throne,
And learn to bound the oppressions of their own.

Then rises Loyola, a strange new name,
By paths unseen to reach the goal of fame;
Thro courts and camps he teaches how to wind,
To mine whole states and overreach mankind.
Train'd in his school, a bold and artful race
Range o'er the world, and every sect embrace,
All creeds and powers and policies explore,
New seats of science raise on every shore;
Till their wide empire gains a wondrous birth,
Built in all empires o'er this ancient earth.
Our wildmen too, the tribes of Paraguay,
Receive their rites and bow beneath their sway.

The world of men thus moving in thy view
Improve their state, more useful works pursue;
Unwonted deeds in rival greatness shine,
Call'd into life, and first inspired by thine.
So while imperial Homer tunes the lyre,
His living lays unnumber'd bards inspire;
From age to age the kindling spirit flies,
Sounds thro the earth and echoes to the skies.

Now roll the years, when Europe's ample space
By peace and culture rears a wiser race,
Men bred to labor, school'd in freedom's lore,
And formed to colonize our favorite shore.
To speed their course, the sons of bigot rage
In persecution whelm the inquiring age;
Myriads of martyr'd heroes mount the pyre,
And blind devotion lights the sacred fire.

Led by the dark Dominicans of Spain,
A newborn Fury walks the wide domain,
Gaunt INQUISITION; mark her giant stride,
Her blood-nursed vulture screaming at her side.
Her priestly train the tools of torment brings.
Racks, wheels and crosses, faggots, stakes and strings;
Scaffolds and cages round her altar stand,
And, tipt with sulphur, waves her flaming brand.
Her imps of inquest round the Fiend advance,
Suspectors grave, and spies with eye askance,
Pretended heretics who worm the soul,
And sly confessors with their secret scroll,
Accusers hired, for each conviction paid,
Judges retain'd and witnesses by trade.

Dragged from a thousand jails her victim trains,
Jews, Moors and Christians, clank alike their chains,
Read their known sentence in her fiery eyes,
And breathe to heaven their unavailing cries;
Lash'd on the pile their writhing bodies turn,
And, veil'd in doubling smoke, begin to burn.
Where the flames open, lo! their limbs in vain
Reach out for help, distorted by the pain;
Till folded in the fires they disappear,
And not a sound invades the startled ear.

See Philip, throned in insolence and pride,
Enjoy their wailings and their pangs deride;
While o'er the same dread scenes, on Albion's isles,
His well-taught spouse, the cruel Mary, smiles.
What clouds of smoke hang heavy round the shore!
What altars hecatomb'd with Christian gore!
Her sire's best friends, the wise, the brave, the good,
Roll in the flames or fly the land of blood.

To Gallia's plains the maddening phrensy turns.
Religion raves and civil discord burns;
Leaguers and Huguenots their vengeance pour,
They swell Bartholemy's wide feast of gore,
Alternate victors bid their gibbets rise,
And the foul stench of victims chokes the skies.

Now cease the factions with the Valois line,
And Bourbon's virtues every voice combine.
Quell'd by his fame, the furious sects accord,
Europe respires beneath his guardian sword;
Batavia's states to independence soar,
And curb the cohorts of Iberian power.
From Albion's ports her infant navies heave,
Stretch forth and thunder on the Flandrian wave;
Her Howard there first foils the force of Spain,
And there begins her mastery of the main.

The Seraph spoke; when full beneath their eye
A new-form'd squadron rose along the sky.
High on the tallest deck majestic shone
Sage Raleigh, pointing to the western sun;
His eye, bent forward, ardent and sublime,
Seem'd piercing nature and evolving time;
Beside him stood a globe, whose figures traced
A future empire in each present waste;
All former works of men behind him shone
Graved by his hand in ever-during stone;
On his calm brow a various crown displays
The hero's laurel and the scholar's bays;
His graceful limbs in steely mail were drest,
The bright star burning on his lofty breast;
His sword, high waving, flash'd the solar ray.
Illumed the shrouds and rainbow'd far the spray;
The smiling crew rose resolute and brave,
And the glad sails hung bounding o'er the wave.

Storms of wild Hatteras, suspend your roar,
Ye tumbling billows, cease to shake the shore;
Look thro the doubling clouds, thou lamp of day,
Teach the bold Argonauts their chartless way;
Your viewless capes, broad Chesapeak, unfold,
And show your promised Colchis fleeced with gold.
No plundering squadron your new Jason brings;
No pirate demigods nor hordes of kings
From shore to shore a faithless miscreant steers,
To steal a maid and leave a sire in tears.
But yon wise chief conducts with careful ken
The queen of colonies, the best of men,
To wake to fruitful life your slumbering soil,
And rear an empire with the hand of toil.
Your fond Medea too, whose dauntless breast
All danger braves to screen her hunted guest.
Shall quit her native tribe, but never share
The crimes and sufferings of the Colchian fair.
Blest Pocahontas! fear no lurking guile;
Thy hero's love shall well reward thy smile.
Ah sooth the wanderer in his desperate plight,
Hide him by day and calm his cares by night;
Tho savage nations with thy vengeful sire
Pursue their victim with unceasing ire,
And tho their threats thy startled ear assail,
Let virtue's voice o'er filial fears prevail.
Fly with the faithful youth, his steps to guide,
Pierce the known thicket, breast the fordless tide,
Illude the scout, avoid the ambush'd line,
And lead him safely to his friends and thine;
For thine shall be his friends, his heart, his name;
His camp shall shout, his nation boast thy fame.

But now the Bay unfolds a passage wide,
And leads the squadron up the freshening tide;
Where Pohatan spreads deep her sylvan soil,
And grassy lawns allure the steps of toil.
Here, lodged in peace, they tread the welcome land.
An instant harvest waves beneath their hand,
Spontaneous fruits their easy cares beguile,
And opening fields in living culture smile.

With joy Columbus view'd; when thus his voice:
Ye grove-clad shores, ye generous hosts, rejoice!
Exchange your benefits, your gifts combine;
What nature fashions, let her sons refine.

Be thou, my Seer, the people's guardian friend,
Protect their virtues and their lives defend;
May wealth and wisdom with their arts unfold,
Yet save, oh, save them from the thirst of gold!
Let the poor guardless natives never feel
The flamen's fraud, the soldier's fateful steel;
But learn the blessings that alone attend
On civil rights where social virtues blend,
In these brave leaders find a welcome guide,
And rear their fanes and empires by their side.
Smile, great Hesperia, smile; the star of morn
Illumes thy heavens and bids thy day be born;
Thy opening forests show the work begun,
Thy plains unshaded drink a purer sun;
Yield now thy bounties, load the laboring main,
Give birth to nations, and begin thy reign.

The Hero spoke; when thus the Saint rejoin'd,
Approved his joy, and feasted still his mind:
Well may thy voice, with patriarch pride elate,
Burst forth triumphant at a scene so great;
Here springs indeed the day, since time began,
The brightest, broadest, happiest morn of man.
In these prime settlements thy raptures trace
The germ, the genius of a sapient race,
Predestined here to methodise and mould
New codes of empire to reform the old.

A work so vast a second world required,
By oceans bourn'd, from elder states retired;
Where, uncontaminated, unconfined,
Free contemplation might expand the mind,
To form, fix, prove the well-adjusted plan,
And base and build the commonwealth of man.

This arm, that leads the stellar host of even,
That stretch'd o'er yon rude ridge the western heaven,
That heal'd the wounded earth, when from her side
The moon burst forth, and left the South Sea tide,
That calm'd these elements, and taught them where
To mould their mass and rib the crusted sphere,
Line the closed continent with wrecks of life,
And recommence their generating strife,
That rear'd the mountain, spread the subject plain,
Led the long stream and roll'd the billowy main,
Stole from retiring tides the growing strand,
Heaved the green banks, the shadowy inlets plann'd,
Strow'd the wild fruitage, gave the beast his place,
And form'd the region for thy filial race,-
This arm prepared their future seats of state,
Design'd their limits and prescribed their date.

When first the staggering globe its breach repair'd,
And this bold hemisphere its shoulders rear'd,
Back to those heights, whose hovering vapor shrouds
My rock-raised world in Alleganian clouds,
The Atlantic waste its coral kingdom spread,
And scaly nations here their gambols led;
Till by degrees, thro following tracts of time,
From laboring ocean rose the sedgy clime,
As from unloaded waves the rising sand
Swell'd into light and gently drew to land.
For, moved by trade winds o'er the flaming zone,
The waves roll westward with the constant sun,
Meet my firm isthmus, scoop that gulphy bed,
Wheel to the north, and here their current spread.
Those ravaged banks, that move beneath their force,
Borne on the tide and lost along their course,
Create the shore, consolidate the soil.
And hither lead the enlighten'd steps of toil.

Think not the lust of gold shall here annoy,
Enslave the nation and its nerve destroy.
No useles mine these northern hills enclose,
No ruby ripens and no diamond glows;
But richer stores and rocks of useful mould
Repay in wealth the penury of gold.
Freedom's unconquer'd race, with healthy toil,
Shall lop the grove and warm the furrow'd soil,
From iron ridges break the rugged ore,
And plant with men the man-ennobling shore;
Sails, villas, towers and temples round them heave,
Shine o'er the realms and light the distant wave.
Nor think the native tribes shall rue the day
That leads our heroes o'er the watery way.
A cause like theirs no mean device can mar,
Nor bigot rage nor sacerdotal war.
From eastern tyrants driven, resolved and brave,
To build new states or seek a distant grave,
Our sons shall try a new colonial plan,
To tame the soil, but spare their kindred man.

Thro Europe's wilds when feudal nations spread.
The pride of conquest every legion led.
Each fur-clad chief, by servile crowds adored,
O'er conquer'd realms assumed the name of lord,
Built the proud castle, ranged the savage wood,
Fired his grim host to frequent fields of blood,
With new-made honors lured his subject bands,
Price of their lives, and purchase of their lands;
For names and titles bade the world resign
Their faith, their freedom and their rights divine.

Contending baronies their terrors spread,
And slavery follow'd where the standard led;
Till, little tyrants by the great o'erthrown,
The spoils of nobles build the regal crown;
Wealth, wisdom, virtue, every claim of man
Unguarded fall to consummate the plan.
Ambitious cares, that nature never gave,
Torment alike the monarch and the slave,
Thro all degrees in gradual pomp ascend,
Honor the name, but tyranny the end.

Far different honors here the heart shall claim,
Sublimer objects, deeds of happier fame;
A new creation waits the western shore,
And moral triumphs o'er monarchic power.
Thy freeborn sons, with genius unconfined,
Nor sloth can slacken nor a tyrant bind;
With self-wrought fame and worth internal blest,
No venal star shall brighten on their breast,
Nor king-created name nor courtly art
Damp the bold thought or desiccate the heart.
Above all fraud, beyond all titles great,
Truth in their voice and sceptres at their feet,
Like sires of unborn states they move sublime,
Look empires thro and span the breadth of time,
Hold o'er the world, that men may choose from far,
The palm of peace, or scourge of barbarous war;
Till their example every nation charms,
Commands its friendship and its rage disarms.

Here social man a second birth shall find,
And a new range of reason lift his mind,
Feed his strong intellect with purer light,
A nobler sense of duty and of right,
The sense of liberty; whose holy fire
His life shall temper and his laws inspire,
Purge from all shades the world-embracing scope
That prompts his genius and expands his hope.

When first his form arose erect on earth,
Parturient nature hail'd the wondrous birth,
With fairest limbs and finest fibres wrought,
And framed for vast and various toils of thought.
To aid his promised powers with loftier flight,
And stretch his views beyond corporeal sight,
Prometheus came, and from the floods of day
Sunn'd his clear soul with heaven's internal ray,
The expanding spark divine; that round him springs,
And leads and lights him thro the immense of things,
Probes the dense earth, explores the soundless main,
Remoulds their mass thro all its threefold reign,
O'er great, o'er small extends his physic laws,
Empalms the empyrean or dissects a gaz,
Weighs the vast orbs of heaven, bestrides the sky,
Walks on the windows of an insect's eye;
Turns then to self, more curious still to trace
The whirls of passion that involve the race,
That cloud with mist the visual lamp of God,
And plunge the poniard in fraternal blood.
Here fails his light. The proud Titanian ray
O'er physic nature sheds indeed its day;
Yet leaves the moral in chaotic jars,
The spoil of violence, the sport of wars,
Presents contrasted parts of one great plan,
Earth, heaven subdued, but man at swords with man;
His wars, his errors into science grown,
And the great cause of all his ills unknown.

But when he steps on these regenerate shores,
His mind unfolding for superior powers,
FREEDOM, his new Prometheus, here shall rise,
Light her new torch in my refulgent skies,
Touch with a stronger life his opening soul,
Of moral systems fix the central goal,
Her own resplendent essence. Thence expand
The rays of reason that illume the land;
Thence equal rights proceed, and equal laws,
Thence holy Justice all her reverence draws;
Truth with untarnish'd beam descending thence,
Strikes every eye, and quickens every sense,
Bids bright Instruction spread her ample page,
To drive dark dogmas from the inquiring age,
Ope the true treasures of the earth and skies,
And teach the student where his object lies.

Sun of the moral world! effulgent source
Of man's best wisdom and his steadiest force,
Soul-searching Freedom! here assume thy stand,
And radiate hence to every distant land;
Point out and prove how all the scenes of strife,
The shock of states, the impassion'd broils of life,
Spring from unequal sway; and how they fly
Before the splendor of thy peaceful eye;
Unfold at last the genuine social plan,
The mind's full scope, the dignity of man,
Bold nature bursting thro her long disguise,
And nations daring to be just and wise.

Yes! righteous Freedom, heaven and earth and sea
Yield or withold their various gifts for thee;
Protected Industry beneath thy reign
Leads all the virtues in her filial train;
Courageous Probity with brow serene,
And Temperance calm presents her placid mien
Contentment, Moderation, Labor, Art,
Mould the new man and humanize his heart;
To public plenty private ease dilates,
Domestic peace to harmony of states.
Protected Industry, careering far,
Detects the cause and cures the rage of war,
And sweeps, with forceful arm, to their last graves,
Kings from the earth and pirates from the waves.

But slow proceeds the work. Long toils, my son,
Must base the fabric of so vast a throne;
Where Freedom founds her everlasting reign,
And earth's whole empires form the fair domain.
That great coloniarch, whose exalted soul
Pervades all scenes that future years unrol,
Must yield the palm, and at a courtier's shrine
His plans relinquish and his life resign;
His life that brightens, as his death shall stain,
The fair, foul annals of his master's reign.

That feeble band, the lonely wilds who tread,
Their sire, their genius in their Raleigh dead,
Shall pine and perish in the savage gloom,
Or mount the wave and seek their ancient home.
Others in vain the generous task pursue,
The dangers tempt and all the strife renew;
While kings and ministers obstruct the plan,
Unfaithful guardians of the weal of man.

At last brave Delaware, with his blithe host,
Sails in full triumph to the well-known coast,
Aids with a liberal hand the patriot cause,
Reforms their policy, designs their laws;
Till o'er Virginia's plains they spread their sway,
And push their hamlets tow'rd the setting day.
He comes, my Delaware! how mild and bland
My zephyrs greet him from the long-sought land!
From fluvial glades that thro my cantons run,
From those rich mounds that mask the falling sun.

Borne up my Chesapeak, as first he hails
The flowery banks that scent his slackening sails,
Descending twilight mellows down the gleam
That spreads far forward on the broad blue stream;
The moonbeam dancing, as the pendants glide,
Silvers with trembling tints the ripply tide;
The sand-sown beach, the rocky bluff repays
The faint effulgence with their amber'd rays;
O'er greenwood glens a browner lustre flies,
And bright-hair'd hills walk shadowy round the skies.

Profound solicitude and strong delight
Absorb the chief, as thro the waste of night
He walks the lonely deck, and skirts the lands
That wait their nations from his guiding hands.
Tall thro the tide the river Sires by turns
Rise round the bark and blend their social urns;
Majestic brotherhood! each feels the power
To feed an empire from his future store.
They stand stupendous, flooding full the bay,
And pointing each thro different climes the way.

Resplendent o'er the rest, the regent god
Potowmak towers, and sways the swelling flood;
Vines clothe his arms, wild fruits o'erfill his horn,
Wreaths of green maize his reverend brows adorn,
His silver beard reflects the lunar day,
And round his loins the scaly nations play.
The breeze falls calm, the sails in silence rest,
While thus his greetings cheer the stranger guest:

Blest be the bark that seized the promised hour
To waft thee welcome to this friendly shore!
Long have we learnt the fame that here awaits
The future sires of our unplanted states;
We all salute thee with our mingling tides,
Our high-fenced havens and our fruitful sides.
The hundred realms our myriad fountains drain
Shall lose their limits in the vast domain;
But my bold banks with proud impatience wait
The palm of glory in a work so great;
On me thy sons their central seat shall raise,
And crown my labors with distinguish'd praise.
For this, from rock-ribb'd lakes I forced my birth,
And climb'd and sunder'd many a mound of earth,
Rent the huge hills that yonder heave on high
And with their tenfold ridges rake the sky,
Removed whole mountains in my headlong way,
Strow'd a strong soil around this branching Bay,
Scoop'd wide his basins to the distant main,
And hung with headlands every marsh they drain.

Haste then, my heroes, tempt the fearless toil,
Enrich your nations with the nurturing spoil;
O'er my vast vales let yellow harvests wave,
Quay the calm ports and dike the lawns I lave.
Win from the waters every stagnant fen,
Where truant rills escape my conscious ken;
And break those remnant rocks that still impede
My current crowding thro the gaps I made.

So shall your barks pursue my branching bed,
Slope after slope, to every fountain's head,
Seat your contiguous towns on all my shores,
And charge my channel with their seaward stores.
Freedom and Peace shall well reward your care,
My guardian mounds protect the friendly pair;
Or if delirious War shall dare draw nigh,
And eastern storms o'ercast the western sky,
My soil shall rear the chief to guide your host,
And drive the demon cringing from the coast;
Yon verdant hill his sylvan seat shall claim,
And grow immortal from his deathless fame.

Then shall your federal towers my bank adorn,
And hail with me the great millennial morn
That gilds your capitol. Thence earth shall draw
Her first clear codes of liberty and law;
There public right a settled form shall find,
Truth trim her lamp to lighten humankind,
Old Afric's sons their shameful fetters cast,
Our wild Hesperians humanize at last,
All men participate, all time expand
The source of good my liberal sages plann'd.

This said, he plunges in the sacred flood;
That closes calm and lulls the cradled god.
Exulting at his words, the gallant crew
Brace the broad canvass and their course pursue:
For now the breathing airs, from ocean born,
Breeze up the bay, and lead the lively morn
That lights them to their port. Tis here they join
Their bold precursors in the work divine;
And here their followers, yet a numerous train,
Wind o'er the wave and swell the new domain.
For impious Laud, on England's wasted shore,
Renews the flames that Mary fed before;
Contristed sects his sullen fury fly,
To seek new seats beneath a safer sky;
Where faith and freedom yield a forceful charm,
And toils and dangers every bosom warm.

Amid the tried unconquerable train,
Whom tyrants press and seas oppose in vain,
See Plymouth colons stretch their standards o'er,
Face the dark wildmen and the wintry shore;
See virtuous Baltimore ascend the wave,
See peaceful Penn its unknown terrors brave;
Swedes, Belgians, Gauls their various flags display,
Full pinions crowding on the watery way;
All from their different ports, their sails unfurl'd,
Point their glad streamers to the western world.

Vision Of Columbus – Book 2

High o'er the changing scene, as thus he gazed,
The indulgent Power his arm sublimely raised;
When round the realms superior lustre flew,
And call'd new wonders to the hero's view.
He saw, at once, as far as eye could rove,
Like scattering herds, the swarthy people move,
In tribes innumerable; all the waste,
Beneath their steps, a varying shadow cast.
As airy shapes, beneath the moon's pale eye,
When broken clouds sail o'er the curtain'd sky,
Spread thro' the grove and flit along the glade,
And cast their grisly phantoms thro' the shade;
So move the hordes, in thickers half conceal'd,
Or vagrant stalking o'er the open field.
Here ever-restless tribes, despising home,
O'er shadowy streams and trackless deserts roam;
While others there, thro' downs and hamlets stray,
And rising domes a happier state display.
The painted chiefs, in death's grim terrors drest,
Rise fierce to war, and beat the savage breast;
Dark round their steps collecting warriors pour,
And dire revenge begins the hideous roar;
While to the realms around the signal flies,
And tribes on tribes, in dread disorder, rise,
Track the mute foe and scour the distant wood,
Wide as a storm, and dreadful as a flood;
Now deep in groves the silent ambush lay,
Or wing the flight or sweep the prize away,
Unconscious babes and reverend sires devour,
Drink the warm blood and paint their cheeks with gore.
While all their mazy movements fill the view.
Where'er they turn his eager eyes pursue;
He saw the same dire visage thro' the whole,
And mark'd the same fierce savageness of soul:
In doubt he stood, with anxious thoughts oppress'd,
And thus his wavering mind the Power address'd.
Say, from what source, O Voice of wisdom, sprung
The countless tribes of this amazing throng?
Where human frames and brutal souls combine,
No force can tame them and no arts refine.
Can these be fashion'd on the social plan?
Or boast a lineage with the race of man?
In yon fair isle, when first my wandering view
Ranged the glad coast and met the savage crew;
A timorous herd, like harmless roes, they ran,
Hail'd us as Gods from whom their race began,
Supply'd our various wants, relieved our toil,
And oped the unbounded treasures of their isle.
But when, their fears allay'd, in us they trace
The well-known image of a mortal race;
When Spanish blood their wondering eyes beheld,
Returning rage their changing bosoms swell'd;
Their jaws the crimson dainty long'd to taste,
And spread, with foreign flesh, the rich repast.
My homeward sail, far distant on the main,
Incautious left a small unguarded train,
When, in their horrid power, bereft of aid,
That train with thee, O lost Arada, bled.
No faith no treaty calms their maddening flame,
Rage all their joy, and slaughter all their aim;
How the dread savage bands with fury burn'd,
When o'er the wave our growing host return'd!
Now, mild with joy, a friendly smile they show'd,
And now their dark-red visage frown'd in blood;
Till, call'd afar, from all the circling shore,
Swift thro' the groves the yelling squadrons pour,
The wide wings stretching sweep the unbounded plain,
That groans beneath the innumerable train.
Our scanty files, ascending o'er the strand,
Tread the bold champaign and the fight demand;
With steeds and hounds the dreadful onset moves,
And thundering batteries rend the distant groves;
Swift fly the scattering foes, like shades of night,
When orient splendors urge their rapid flight.
Our proffer'd friendship bade the discord cease,
Spared the grim host and gave the terms of peace.
The arts of civil life we strove to lend,
Their lands to culture and their joys extend,
Sublime their views, fair virtue's charms display,
And point their passage to eternal day.
Still proud to rove, our offers they disdain,
Insult our friendship and our rites prophane.
In that blest island, still the myriads rest,
Bask in the sunshine, wander with the beast,
Feed on the foe, or from the victor fly,
Rise into life, exhaust their rage, and die.
Tell then, my Seer, from what dire sons of earth
The brutal people drew their ancient birth?
Whether in realms, the western heavens that close,
A tribe distinct from other nations rose,
Born to subjection; when, in happier time,
A nobler race should hail their fruitful clime.
Or, if a common source all nations claim,
Their lineage, form, and reasoning powers the same,
What sovereign cause, in secret wisdom laid,
This wonderous change in God's own work has made?
Why various powers of soul and tints of face
In different climes diversify the race?
To whom the Guide; Unnumber'd causes lie
In earth and sea and round the varying sky,
That fire the soul, or damp the genial flame,
And work their wonders on the human frame.
See beauty, form and colour change with place–
Here charms of health the blooming visage grace;
There pale diseases float in every wind,
Deform the figure, and degrade the mind.
From earth's own elements, thy race at first
Rose into life, the children of the dust;
These kindred elements, by various use,
Nourish the growth and every change produce;
Pervade the pores, awake the infant bloom,
Lead life along, and ope the certain tomb;
In each ascending stage the man sustain,
His breath, his food, his physic and his bane.
In due proportions, where these virtues lie,
A perfect form their equal aids supply;
And, while unchanged the efficient causes reign,
Age following age the unvaried race maintain.
But where crude elements distemper'd rise,
And cast their sickening vapours round the skies,
Unlike that harmony of human frame,
Where God's first works and nature's were the same,
The unconscious tribes, attempering to the clime,
Still vary downward with the years of time;
Till fix'd, at last, their characters abide,
And local likeness feeds their local pride.
The soul too varying with the changing clime,
Feeble or fierce, or groveling or sublime,
Forms with the body to a kindred plan,
And lives the same, a nation or a man.
Yet think not clime alone, or height of poles,
On every shore, the springs of life controuls;
A different cast the glowing zone demands,
In Paria's blooms, from Tombut's burning sands.
Internal causes, thro' the earth and skies,
Blow in the breeze or on the mountain rise,
Thro' air and ocean, with their changes run,
Breathe from the ground or circle with the fun.
Where these long shores their boundless regions spread
See the same form all different tribes pervade;
Thro' all, alike, the fertile forests bloom,
And all, uncultured, shed a solemn gloom;
Thro' all great nature's boldest features rise,
Sink into vales and tower amid the skies;
Streams, darkly-winding, stretch a broader sway,
The groves and mountains bolder walks display:
A dread sublimity informs the whole,
And wakes a dread sublimity of soul.
Yet time and art shall other changes find,
And open still and vary still the mind;
The countless swarms that tread these dank abodes,
Who glean spontaneous fruits and range the woods,
Fix'd here for ages, in their swarthy face,
Display the wild complexion of the place.
Yet when their tribes to happy nations rise,
And earth by culture warms the genial skies,
A fairer tint and more majestic grace
Shall flush their features and exalt the race;
While milder arts, with social joys refined,
Inspire new beauties in the growing mind.
Thy followers too, fair Europe's noblest pride,
When future gales shall wing them o'er the tide,
A ruddier hue and deeper shade shall gain,
And stalk, in statelier figures, o'er the plain.
While nature's grandeur lifts the eye abroad
O'er these dread footsteps of the forming God;
Wing'd on a wider glance the venturous soul
Bids greater powers and bolder thoughts unroll;
The sage, the chief, the patriot, unconfined,
Shield the weak world and counsel for mankind.
But think not thou, in all the race of man,
That different pairs, in different climes, began;
Or tribes distinct, by signal marks confest,
Were born to serve or subjugate the rest.
The hero heard; But say, celestial Guide,
Who led the wanderers o'er the billowy tide?
Could these dark bands, unskill'd the paths to gain,
To build the bark, or cross the extended main,
Descry the coast, or tread the blest abode,
Unled, unguided by the hand of God?
When first thy roving race, the Power reply'd,
Learn'd by the stars the devious sail to guide,
From stormy Hellespont explored the way,
And sought the bound'ries of the midland sea;
Ere great Alcides form'd the impious plan,
To bound the sail and fix the range of man,
Driven from those rocky straits, a hapless train
Roll'd on the waves that sweep the western main,
While eastern storms the billowing skies o'ershade,
Nor sun nor stars afford their wonted aid.
For many a darksome day, o'erwhelm'd and tost,
Their sails, their oars in swallowing surges lost;
At length, the clouds withdrawn, they sad descry
Their course directing from their native sky;
No hope remains; while, o'er the flaming zone,
The winds still bear them with the circling sun;
Till the wild walks of this delightful coast
Receive to lonely seats the suffering host.
The fruitful plains invite their steps to roam,
Renounce their sorrows and forget their home;
Revolving years their ceaseless wanderings led,
And from their sons descending nations spread.
These round the south and middle regions stray,
Where cultured fields their growing arts display;
While northern tribes a later source demand,
And snow their wanderers from the Asian strand.
Far tow'rd the distant pole thy view extend;
See isles and shores and seas Pacific blend;
And that blue coast, where Amur's currents glide,
From thy own world a narrow frith divide;
There Tartar hosts for countless years, have sail'd,
And changing tribes the alternate regions hail'd.
He look'd: the opening shores beneath him spread,
And moving nations on the margin tread.
As, when autumnal storms awake their force,
The storks foreboding tempt their southern course;
From all the fields collecting throngs arise,
Mount on the wing and croud along the skies;
Thus, to his eye, from far Siberia's shore,
O'er isles and seas, the gathering people pour;
From those cold regions hail a happier strand,
Leap from the wave and tread the welcome land;
The growing tribes extend their southern sway,
And widely wander to a milder day.
But why; the chief return'd, if ages past
Have led these vagrants o'er the wilder'd waste–
If human souls, for social compact given,
Inform their nature with the stamp of heaven,
Why the dread glooms forever must they rove?
And no mild joys their temper'd passions move?
Ages remote and dark thou bring'st to light,
When the first leaders dared the western flight;
On other shores, in every eastern clime,
Since that unletter'd, distant tract of time,
What arts have shone! what empires found their place,
What golden sceptres sway'd the human race!
What guilt and grandeur from their seats been hurl'd,
And dire divulsions shook the changing world.
Ere Rome's bold eagle clave the affrighted air,
Ere Sparta form'd her death-like sons of war,
Ere proud Chaldea saw her greatness rise,
Or Memphian columns heaved against the skies;
These tribes have stray'd beneath the fruitful zone,
Their souls unpolish'd and their name unknown.
The Voice of heaven reply'd; A scanty band,
In that far age, approach'd the untrodden land.
Prolific wilds, with game and fruitage crown'd,
Supply'd their wishes from the uncultured ground.
By nature form'd to rove, the restless mind,
Of freedom fond, will ramble unconfined,
Till all the realm is fill'd, and rival right
Restrains their steps, and bids their force unite;
When common safety builds a common cause,
Conforms their interests and inspires their laws;
By mutual checks their different manners blend,
Their fields bloom joyous and their walls ascend.
Here, to their growing hosts, no bounds arose,
They claim'd no safeguard, as they fear'd no foes;
Round all the land their scattering sons must stray,
Ere arts could rise, or power extend the sway.
And what a world their mazy wanderings led!
What streams and wilds in boundless order spread!
See the shores lengthen, see the waters roll,
To each far main and each extended pole!
Yet circling years the destined course have run,
The realms are peopled and their arts begun.
Behold, where that mid region strikes the eyes,
A few fair cities glitter to the skies;
There move, in eastern pomp, the scenes of state,
And temples heave, magnificently great.
The hero look'd; when from the varying height,
Three growing splendors, rising on the sight,
Flamed like a constellation: high in view,
Ascending near, their opening glories drew;
In equal pomp, beneath their roofs of gold,
Three spiry towns, in blazing pride, unfold.
So, led by visions of the guiding God,
The sacred Seer, in Patmos' waste who trod,
Saw the dim vault of heaven its folds unbend,
And gates and spires and streets and domes descend;
With golden skies, and suns and rainbows crown'd,
The new-form'd city lights the world around.
Fair on the north, bright Mexico, arose,
A mimic morn her sparkling towers disclose,
An ample range the opening streets display,
Give back the sun and shed internal day;
The circling wall with sky-built turrets frown'd,
And look'd defiance to the realms around;
A glimmering lake, without the walls, retires,
Inverts the trembling towers and seems a grove of spires.
Bright, o'er the midst, on columns lifted high,
A rising structure claims a loftier sky;
O'er the tall gates sublimer arches bend,
Courts larger lengthen, bolder walks ascend,
Starr'd with superior gems, the porches shine,
And speak the royal residence within.
There, robed in state, high on a golden throne,
Mid suppliant kings, dread Montezuma shone:
Mild in his eye a temper'd grandeur sate,
Great seem'd his soul, with conscious power elate;
In aspect open, haughty and sincere,
Untamed by crosses and unknown to fear,
Of fraud incautious, credulous and vain,
Enclosed with favourites and of friends unseen.
Round the rich throne, with various lustre bright,
Gems undistinguish'd, cast a changing light;
Sapphires and emeralds deck the splendent scene,
Sky-tinctures mingling with the vernal green;
The ruby's blush, the amber's flames unfold,
And diamonds brighten from the burning gold;
Through all the dome the living blazes blend,
And cast their rainbows where the arches bend.
Wide round the walls, with mimic action gay,
In order ranged, historic figures stray,
And show, in Memphian style, with rival grace,
Their boasted chiefs and all their regal race.
Thro' the full gates, and round each ample street,
Unnumber'd throngs, in various concourse, meet,
Ply different toils, new walls and structures rear,
Or till the fields, or train the ranks of war.
Thro' spreading realms the skirts of empire bend,
New temples rise and other plains extend;
Thrice ten fair provinces, in culture gay,
Bless the same monarch and enlarge his sway.
A smile benignant kindling in his eyes,
Oh happy clime! the exulting hero cries;
Far in the midland, safe from foreign foes,
Thy joys shall ripen as thy grandeur grows,
To future years thy rising fame extend,
And sires of nations from thy sons descend.
May no gold-thirsty race thy temples tread,
Nor stain thy streams nor heap thy plains with dead;
No Bovadilla sieze the tempting spoil,
Ovando dark, or sacrilegious Boyle,
In mimic priesthood grave, or robed in state,
O'erwhelm thy glories in oblivious fate.
Vain are thy fondest hopes, the Power reply'd,
These rich abodes from ravening hosts to hide;
Teach harden'd guilt and cruelty to spare
The guardless prize, and check the waste of war.
Think not the vulture, o'er the field of slain,
Where base and brave promiscuous strow the plain,
Where the young hero, in the pride of charms,
Pours deeper crimson o'er his spotless arms,
Will pass the tempting prey, and glut his rage
On harder flesh, and carnage black with age;
O'er all alike he darts his eager eye,
Whets the dire beak and hovers down the sky,
From countless corses picks the dainty food,
And screams and fattens in the purest blood.
So the dire hosts, that trace thy daring way,
By gold allured to sail the unfathom'd sea,
Power all their aim and avarice all their joy,
Seize brightest realms and happiest tribes destroy.
Thine the dread task, O Cortez, here to show
What unknown crimes can heighten human woe,
On these fair fields the blood of realms to pour,
Tread sceptres down and print thy steps in gore,
With gold and carnage swell thy sateless mind,
And live and die the blackest of mankind.
Now see, from yon fair isle, his murdering band
Stream o'er the wave and mount the sated strand;
On the wild shore behold his fortress rise,
The fleet in flames ascends the darken'd skies.
The march begins; the nations, from afar,
Quake in his sight, and wage the fruitless war;
O'er the rich provinces he bends his way,
Kings in his chain, and kingdoms for his prey;
While, robed in peace, great Montezuma stands,
And crowns and treasures sparkle in his hands,
Proffers the empire, yields the sceptred sway,
Bids vassal'd millions tremble and obey;
And plies the victor, with incessant prayer,
Thro' ravaged realms the harmless race to spare.
But prayers and tears and sceptres plead in vain,
Nor threats can move him, nor a world restrain;
While blest religion's prostituted name,
And monkish fury guides the sacred flame:
O'er fanes and altars, fires unhallow'd bend,
Climb o'er the walls and up the towers ascend,
Pour, round the lowering skies, the smoky flood,
And whelm the fields, and quench their rage in blood.
The hero heard; and, with a heaving sigh,
Dropp'd the full tear that started in his eye,
Oh hapless day! his trembling voice reply'd,
That saw my wandering streamer mount the tide!
Oh! had the lamp of heaven, to that bold fail,
Ne'er mark'd the passage nor awaked the gale,
Taught eastern worlds these beauteous climes to find,
Nor led those tygers forth to curse mankind.
Then had the tribes, beneath these bounteous skies,
Seen their walls widen and their spires arise;
Down the long tracts of time their glory shone,
Broad as the day and lasting as the sun:
The growing realms, beneath thy shield that rest,
O hapless monarch, still thy power had blest,
Enjoy'd the pleasures that surround thy throne,
Survey'd thy virtues and sublimed their own.
Forgive me, prince; this impious arm hath led
The unseen storm that blackens o'er thy head;
Taught the dark sons of slaughter where to roam,
To seize thy crown and seal thy nation's doom.
Arm, sleeping empire, meet the daring band,
Drive back the terrors, save the sinking land–
Yet vain the strife! behold the sweeping flood!
Forgive me nature, and forgive me God.
Thus, from his heart, while speaking sorrows roll,
The Power, reproving, sooth'd his tender soul.
Father of this new world, thy tears give o'er,
Let virtue grieve and Heaven be blamed no more.
Enough for man, with persevering mind,
To act his part and strive to bless his kind;
Enough for thee, o'er thy dark age to rise,
With genius warm'd, and favour'd of the skies.
For this my guardian care thy youth inspired,
To virtue raised thee, and with glory fired,
Bade in thy plan each distant world unite,
And wing'd thy streamer for the adventurous flight.
Nor think no blessings shall thy toils attend,
Or these fell tyrants can defeat their end.
Such impious deeds, in Heaven's all-ruling plan,
Lead in disguise the noblest bliss of man.
Long have thy race, to narrow shores confined,
Trod the same round that cramp'd the roving mind;
Now, borne on bolder wings, with happier flight,
The world's broad bounds unfolding to the sight,
The mind shall soar; the nations catch the flame,
Enlarge their counsels and extend their fame;
While mutualities the social joys enhance,
And the last stage of civil rule advance.
Tho' impious ruffians spread their crimes abroad,
And o'er these empires pour the purple flood;
Tis thus religious rage, its own dire bane,
Shall fall at last, with all its millions slain,
And buried gold, drawn bounteous from the mine,
Give wings to commerce and the world refine.
Now to yon southern walls extend thy view,
And mark the rival seats of rich Peru.
There Quito's airy plains, exalted high,
With loftier temples rise along the sky;
And elder Cusco's richer roofs unfold,
Flame on the day and shed their suns of gold.
Another range, in these delightful climes,
Spreads a broad theatre for unborn crimes.
Another Cortez shall the treasures view,
The rage rekindle and the guilt renew;
His treason, fraud, and every dire decree,
O curst Pizarro, shall revive in thee.
There reigns a prince, whose hand the sceptre claims,
Thro' a long lineage of imperial names;
Where the brave roll of following Incas trace
The distant father of their realm and race,
Immortal Capac. He in youthful pride,
With fair Oella, his illustrious bride,
In virtuous guile, proclaim'd their birth begun,
From the pure splendors of their God, the sun;
With power and dignity a throne to found,
Fix the mild sway and spread their arts around;
Crush the dire Gods that human victims claim,
And point all worship to a nobler name;
With cheerful rites, the due devotions pay
To the bright beam, that gives the changing day.
On this fair plan, the children of the skies
Bade, in the wild, a growing empire rise;
Beneath their hand, and sacred to their fame,
Rose yon fair walls, that meet the solar flame.
Succeeding sovereigns spread their bounds afar,
By arts of peace and temper'd force of war;
Till these surrounding realms the sceptre own,
And grateful millions hail the genial sun.
Behold, in yon fair lake, a beauteous isle,
Where fruits and flowers, in rich profusion smile;
High in the midst a sacred temple rise,
Seat of the sun, and pillar of the skies.
The roofs of burnish'd gold, the blazing spires
Light the glad heavens and lose their upward fires;
Fix'd in the flaming front, with living ray,
A diamond circlet gives the rival day;
In whose bright face forever looks abroad
The radiant image of the beaming God.
Round the wide courts, and in the solemn dome,
A white-robed train of holy virgins bloom;
Their pious hands the sacred rites require,
To grace the offerings, and preserve the fire.
On this blest isle, with flowery garlands crown'd,
That ancient pair, in charms of youth, were found,
Whose union'd souls the mighty plan design'd,
To bless the nations and reform mankind.
The hero heard, and thus the Power besought;
What arts unknown the wonderous blessings wrought?
What human skill, in that benighted age,
In savage souls could quell the barbarous rage?
With leagues of peace combine the wide domain?
And teach the virtues in their laws to reign?
Long is their story, said the Power divine,
The labours great and glorious the design;
And tho' to earthly minds, their actions rest,
By years obscured, in flowery fiction drest,
Yet my glad voice shall wake their honour'd name,
And give their virtues to immortal fame.
Led by his father's wars, in early prime,
Young Capac wander'd from a northern clime;
Along these shores, with livelier verdure gay,
Thro' fertile vales, the adventurous armies stray.
He saw the tribes unnumber'd range the plain,
And rival chiefs, by rage and slaughter, reign;
He saw the sires their dreadful Gods adore,
Their altars staining with their children's gore;
Yet mark'd their reverence for the Sun, whose beam
Proclaims his bounties and his power supreme;
Who sails in happier skies, diffusing good,
Demands no victim and receives no blood.
In peace returning with his conquering sire,
Fair glory's charms his youthful soul inspire;
With virtue warm'd, he fix'd the generous plan,
To build his greatness on the bliss of man.
By nature formed to daring deeds of fame,
Tall, bold and beauteous rose his stately frame;
Strong moved his limbs, a mild majestic grace
Beam'd from his eyes and open'd in his face;
O'er the dark world his mind superior shone,
And, soaring, seem'd the semblance of the sun.
Now fame's prophetic visions lift his eyes,
And future empires from his labours rise;
Yet softer fires his daring views controul,
Sway the warm wish and fill the changing soul.
Shall the bright genius, kindled from above,
Bend to the milder, gentler voice of love;
That bounds his glories, and forbids to part
From that calm bower, that held his glowing heart?
Or shall the toils, imperial heroes claim,
Fire his bold bosom with a patriot flame?
Bid sceptres wait him on the distant shore?
And blest Oella meet his eyes no more?
Retiring pensive, near the wonted shade,
His unseen steps approach the beauteous maid.
Her raven-locks roll on her heaving breast,
And wave luxuriant round her slender waist,
Gay wreaths of flowers her lovely brows adorn,
And her white raiment mocks the pride of morn.
Her busy hand sustains a bending bough,
Where woolly clusters spread their robes of snow,
From opening pods, unbinds the fleecy store,
And culls her labours for the evening bower.
Her sprightly soul, by deep invention led,
Had found the skill to turn the twisting thread,
To spread the woof, the shuttle to command,
Till various garments graced her forming hand.
Here, while her thoughts with her own Capac rove,
O'er former scenes of innocence and love,
Through many a field his fancied dangers share,
And wait him glorious from the distant war;
Blest with the ardent wish, her glowing mind
A snowy vesture for the prince design'd;
She seeks the purest wool, to web the fleece,
The sacred emblem of returning peace.
Sudden his near approach her breast alarms;
He flew enraptured to her yielding arms,
And lost, dissolving in a softer name,
The distant empire and the fire of fame.
At length, retiring o'er the homeward field,
Their mutual minds to happy converse yield,
O'er various scenes of blissful life they ran,
When thus the warrior to the fair began.
Joy of my life, thou know'st my roving mind,
With these grim tribes, in dark abodes, confined,
With grief hath mark'd what vengeful passions sway
The bickering bands, and sweep the race away.
Where late my distant steps the war pursued,
The fertile plains grew boundless as I view'd;
Increasing nations trod the waving wild,
And joyous nature more delightful smiled.
No changing seasons there the flowers deform,
No dread volcano, and no mountain storm;
Rains ne'er invade, nor livid lightnings play,
Nor clouds obscure the radiant Power of day.
But, while the God, in ceaseless glory bright,
Rolls o'er the day and fires his stars by night,
Unbounded fulness flows beneath his reign,
Seas yield their treasures, fruits adorn the plain;
Warm'd by his beam, their mountains pour the flood,
And the cool breezes wake beneath the God.
My anxious thoughts indulge the great design,
To form those nations to a sway divine;
Destroy the rights of every dreadful Power,
Whose crimson altars glow with human gore;
To laws and mildness teach the realms to yield,
And nobler fruits to grace the cultured field.
But great, my charmer, is the task of fame,
The countless tribes to temper and to tame.
Full many a spacious wild my soul must see,
Spread dreary bounds between my joys and me;
And yon bright Godhead circle many a year;
Each lonely evening number'd with a tear.
Long robes of white my shoulders must embrace,.
To speak my lineage of ethereal race;
That wondering tribes may tremble, and obey
The radiant offspring of the Power of day.
And when thro' cultured fields their bowers encrease,
And streams and plains survey the works of peace,
When these glad hands the rod of nations claim,
And happy millions bless thy Capac's name,
Then shall he feign a journey to the Sun,
To bring the partner of the peaceful throne;
So shall descending kings the line sustain,
And unborn ages bloom beneath their reign.
Will then my fair, in that delightful hour,
Forsake these wilds and hail a happier bower?
And now consenting, with approving smiles,
Bid the young warrior tempt the daring toils?
And, sweetly patient, wait the flight of days,
That crown our labours with immortal praise?
Silent the fair one heard; her moistening eye
Spoke the full soul, nor could her voice reply;
Till softer accents sooth'd her listening ear,
Composed her tumult and allay'd her fear.
Think not, enchanting maid, my steps would part,
While silent sorrows heave that tender heart:
More dear to me are blest Oella's joys,
Than all the lands that bound the bending skies;
Nor thou, bright Sun, should'st bribe my soul to rest,
And leave one struggle in her lovely breast.
Yet think in those vast climes, my gentle fair,
What hapless millions claim our guardian care;
How age to age leads on the dreadful gloom,
And rage and slaughter croud the untimely tomb;
No social joys their wayward passions prove,
Nor peace nor pleasure treads the savage grove;
Mid thousand heroes and a thousand fair,
No fond Oella meets her Capac there.
Yet, taught by thee each nobler joy to prize,
With softer charms the virgin race shall rise,
Awake new virtues, every grace improve,
And form their minds for happiness and love.
Behold, where future years, in pomp, descend,
How worlds and ages on thy voice depend!
And, like the Sun, whose all-delighting ray
O'er those mild borders sheds serenest day,
Diffuse thy bounties, give my steps to rove,
A few short months the noble task to prove,
And, swift return'd from glorious toils, declare
What realms submissive wait our fostering care.
And will my prince, my Capac, borne away,
Thro' those dark wilds, in quest of empire, stray?
Where tygers fierce command the howling wood,
And men like tygers thirst for human blood.
Think'st thou no dangerous deed the course attends?
Alone, unaided by thy sire and friends?
Even chains and death may meet my rover there,
Nor his last groan could reach Oella's ear.
But chains, nor death, nor groans shall Capac prove,
Unknown to her, while she has power to rove.
Close by thy side where'er thy wanderings stray,
My equal steps shall measure all the way;
With borrow'd soul each dire event I'll dare,
Thy toils to lessen and thy dangers share.
Command, blest chief, since virtue bids thee go
To rule the realms and banish human woe,
Command these hands two snowy robes to weave,
The Sun to mimic and the tribes deceive;
Then let us range, and spread the peaceful sway,
The radiant children of the Power of day.
The lovely counsel pleased. The smiling chief
Approved her courage and dispel'd her grief;
Then to the distant bower in haste they move,
Begin their labours and prepare to rove.
Soon grow the robes beneath her forming care,
And the fond parents wed the noble pair;
But, whelm'd in grief, beheld, the approaching dawn,
Their joys all vanish'd, and their children gone.
Nine changing days, thro' southern wilds, they stray'd,
Now wrapp'd in glooms, now gleaming thro' the glade,
Till the tenth morning, with an orient smile,
Beheld them blooming in the happy isle.
The toil begins; to every neighbouring band,
They speak the message and their faith demand;
With various art superior powers display,
To prove their lineage and confirm their sway.
The astonish'd tribes behold with glad surprize,
The Gods descended from the favouring skies;
Adore their persons, robed in shining white,
Receive their laws and leave each horrid rite;
Build with assisting toil, the golden throne,
And hail and bless the sceptre of the Sun.

The Columbiad: Book Ix

The Argument


Vision suspended. Night scene, as contemplated from the mount of vision. Columbus inquires the reason of the slow progress of science, and its frequent interruptions. Hesper answers, that all things in the physical as well as the moral and intellectual world are progressive in like manner. He traces their progress from the birth of the universe to the present state of the earth and its inhabitants; asserts the future advancement of society, till perpetual peace shall be established. Columbus proposes his doubts; alleges in support of them the successive rise and downfal of ancient nations; and infers future and periodical convulsions. Hesper, in answer, exhibits the great distinction between the ancient and modern state of the arts and of society. Crusades. Commerce. Hanseatic League. Copernicus. Kepler. Newton, Galileo. Herschel. Descartes. Bacon. Printing Press. Magnetic Needle. Geographical discoveries. Federal system in America. A similar system to be extended over the whole earth. Columbus desires a view of this.


But now had Hesper from the Hero's sight
Veil'd the vast world with sudden shades of night.
Earth, sea and heaven, where'er he turns his eye,
Arch out immense, like one surrounding sky
Lamp'd with reverberant fires. The starry train
Paint their fresh forms beneath the placid main;
Fair Cynthia here her face reflected laves,
Bright Venus gilds again her natal waves,
The Bear redoubling foams with fiery joles,
And two dire dragons twine two arctic poles.
Lights o'er the land, from cities lost in shade,
New constellations, new galaxies spread,
And each high pharos double flames provides,
One from its fires, one fainter from the tides.

Centred sublime in this bivaulted sphere,
On all sides void, unbounded, calm and clear,
Soft o'er the Pair a lambent lustre plays,
Their seat still cheering with concentred rays;
To converse grave the soothing shades invite.
And on his Guide Columbus fixt his sight:
Kind messenger of heaven, he thus began,
Why this progressive laboring search of man?
If men by slow degrees have power to reach
These opening truths that long dim ages teach,
If, school'd in woes and tortured on to thought,
Passion absorbing what experience taught,
Still thro the devious painful paths they wind,
And to sound wisdom lead at last the mind,
Why did not bounteous nature, at their birth,
Give all their science to these sons of earth,
Pour on their reasoning powers pellucid day,
Their arts, their interests clear as light display?
That error, madness and sectarian strife
Might find no place to havock human life.

To whom the guardian Power: To thee is given
To hold high converse and inquire of heaven,
To mark untraversed ages, and to trace
Whate'er improves and what impedes thy race.
Know then, progressive are the paths we go
In worlds above thee, as in thine below
Nature herself (whose grasp of time and place
Deals out duration and impalms all space)
Moves in progressive march; but where to tend,
What course to compass, how the march must end,
Her sons decide not; yet her works we greet
Imperfect in their parts, but in their whole complete.

When erst her hand the crust of Chaos thirl'd,
And forced from his black breast the bursting world,
High swell'd the huge existence crude and crass,
A formless dark impermeated mass;
No light nor heat nor cold nor moist nor dry,
But all concocting in their causes lie.
Millions of periods, such as these her spheres
Learn since to measure and to call their years,
She broods the mass; then into motion brings
And seeks and sorts the principles of things,
Pours in the attractive and repulsive force,
Whirls forth her globes in cosmogyral course,
By myriads and by millions, scaled sublime,
To scoop their skies, and curve the rounds of time.

She groups their systems, lots to each his place,
Strow'd thro immensity, and drown'd in space,
All yet unseen; till light at last begun,
And every system found a centred sun,
Call'd to his neighbor and exchanged from far
His infant gleams with every social star;
Rays thwarting rays and skies o'erarching skies
Robed their dim planets with commingling dyes,
Hung o'er each heaven their living lamps serene,
And tinged with blue the frore expanse between:
Then joyous Nature hail'd the golden morn,
Drank the young beam, beheld her empire born.

Lo the majestic movement! there they trace
Their blank infinitudes of time and space,
Vault with careering curves her central goal,
Pour forth her day and stud her evening stole,
Heedless of count; their numbers still unknown,
Unmeasured still their progress round her throne;
For none of all her firstborn sons, endow'd
With heavenly sapience and pretensions proud,
No seraph bright, whose keen considering eye
And sunbeam speed ascend from sky to sky,
Has yet explored or counted all their spheres,
Or fixt or found their past record of years.
Nor can a ray from her remotest sun,
Shot forth when first their splendid morn begun,
Borne straight, continuous thro the void of space,
Doubling each thousand years its rapid pace
And hither posting, yet have reach'd this earth,
To bring the tidings of its master's birth.

And mark thy native orb! tho later born,
Tho still unstored with light her silver horn,
As seen from sister planets, who repay
Far more than she their borrow'd streams of day,
Yet what an age her shell-rock ribs attest!
Her sparry spines, her coal-encumber'd breast!
Millions of generations toil'd and died
To crust with coral and to salt her tide,
And millions more, ere yet her soil began,
Ere yet she form'd or could have nursed her man.

Then rose the proud phenomenon, the birth
Most richly wrought, the favorite child of earth;
But frail at first his frame, with nerves ill strung,
Unform'd his footsteps, long untoned his tongue,
Unhappy, unassociate, unrefined,
Unfledged the pinions of his lofty mind,
He wander'd wild, to every beast a prey,
More prest with wrants, and feebler far than they;
For countless ages forced from place to place,
Just reproduced but scarce preserved his race.
At last, a soil more fixt and streams more sweet
Inform the wretched migrant where to seat;
Euphrates' flowery banks begin to smile,
Fruits fringe the Ganges, gardens grace the Nile;
Nile, ribb'd with dikes, a length of coast creates,
And giant Thebes begins her hundred gates,
Mammoth of human works! her grandeur known
These thousand lustres by its wrecks alone;
Wrecks that humiliate still all modern states,
Press the poized earth with their enormous weights,
Refuse to quit their place, dissolve their frame
And trust, like Ilion, to the bards their fame.
Memphis amass'd her piles, that still o'erclimb
The clouds of heaven, and task the tooth of time;
Belus and Brama tame their vagrant throngs,
And Homer, with his monumental songs,
Builds far more durable his splendid throne
Than all the Pharaohs with their hills of stone.

High roll'd the round of years that hung sublime
These wondrous beacons in the night of time;
Studs of renown! that to thine eyes attest
The waste of ages that beyond them rest;
Ages how fill'd with toils! how gloom'd with woes!
Trod with all steps that man's long march compose,
Dim drear disastrous; ere his foot could gain
A height so brilliant o'er the bestial train.

In those blank periods, where no man can trace
The gleams of thought that first illumed his race,
His errors, twined with science, took their birth,
And forged their fetters for this child of earth.
And when, as oft, he dared expand his view,
And work with nature on the line she drew,
Some monster, gender'd in his fears, unmann'd
His opening soul, and marr'd the works he plann'd.
Fear, the first passion of his helpless state,
Redoubles all the woes that round him wait,
Blocks nature's path and sends him wandering wide,
Without a guardian and without a guide.

Beat by the storm, refresht by gentle rain,
By sunbeams cheer'd or founder'd in the main,
He bows to every force he can't control,
Indows them all with intellect and soul,
With passions various, turbulent and strong,
Rewarding virtue and avenging wrong,
Gives heaven and earth to their supernal doom,
And swells their sway beyond the closing tomb.
Hence rose his gods, that mystic monstrous lore
Of blood-stain'd altars and of priestly power,
Hence blind credulity on all dark things,
False morals hence, and hence the yoke of kings.

Yon starry vault that round him rolls the spheres,
And gives to earth her seasons, days and years,
The source designates and the clue imparts
Of all his errors and of all his arts.
There spreads the system that his ardent thought
First into emblems, then to spirits wrought;
Spirits that ruled all matter and all mind,
Nourish'd or famish'd, kill'd or cured mankind,
Bade him neglect the soil whereon he fed,
Work with hard hand for that which was not bread,
Erect the temple, darken deep the shrine,
Yield the full hecatomb with awe divine,
Despise this earth, and claim with lifted eyes
His health and harvest from the meteor'd skies.

Accustom'd thus to bow the suppliant head,
And reverence powers that shake his heart with dread,
His pliant faith extends with easy ken
From heavenly hosts to heaven-anointed men;
The sword, the tripod join their mutual aids,
To film his eyes with more impervious shades,
Create a sceptred idol, and enshrine
The Robber Chief in attributes divine,
Arm the new phantom with the nation's rod,
And hail the dreadful delegate of God.
Two settled slaveries thus the race control,
Engross their labors and debase their soul;
Till creeds and crimes and feuds and fears compose
The seeds of war and all its kindred woes.

Unfold, thou Memphian dungeon! there began
The lore of Mystery, the mask of man;
There Fraud with Science leagued, in early times,
Plann'd a resplendent course of holy crimes,
Stalk'd o'er the nations with gigantic pace,
With sacred symbols charm'd the cheated race,
Taught them new grades of ignorance to gain,
And punish truth with more than mortal pain,-
Unfold at last thy cope! that man may see
The mines of mischief he has drawn from thee.
-Wide gapes the porch with hieroglyphics hung,
And mimic zodiacs o'er its arches flung;
Close labyrinth'd here the feign'd Omniscient dwells,
Dupes from all nations seek the sacred cells;
Inquiring strangers, with astonish'd eyes,
Dive deep to read these subterranean skies,
To taste that holiness which faith bestows,
And fear promulgates thro its world of woes.
The bold Initiate takes his awful stand,
A thin pale taper trembling in his hand;
Thro hells of howling monsters lies the road,
To season souls and teach the ways of God.

Down the crampt corridor, far sunk from day,
On hands and bended knees he gropes his way,
Swims roaring streams, thro dens of serpents crawls,
Descends deep wells and clambers flaming walls;
Now thwart his lane a lake of sulphur gleams,
With fiery waves and suffocating steams;
He dares not shun the ford; for full in view
Fierce lions rush behind and force him thro.
Long ladders heaved on end, with banded eyes
He mounts, and mounts, and seems to gain the skies;
Then backward falling, tranced with deadly fright,
Finds his own feet and stands restored to light.
Here all dread sights of torture round him rise;
Lash'd on a wheel, a whirling felon flies;
A wretch, with members chain'd and liver bare,
Writhes and disturbs the vulture feasting there:
One strains to roll his rock, recoiling still;
One, stretch'd recumbent o'er a limpid rill,
Burns with devouring thirst; his starting eyes,
Swell'd veins and frothy lips and piercing cries
Accuse the faithless eddies, as they shrink
And keep him panting still, still bending o'er the brink.

At last Elysium to his ravisht eyes
Spreads flowery fields and opens golden skies;
Breathes Orphean music thro the dancing groves,
Trains the gay troops of Beauties, Graces, Loves,
Lures his delirious sense with sweet decoys,
Fine fancied foretaste of eternal joys,
Fastidious pomp or proud imperial state,-
Illusions all, that pass the Ivory Gate!

Various and vast the fraudful drama grows,
Feign'd are the pleasures, as unfelt the woes;
Where sainted hierophants, with well taught mimes,
Play'd first the role for all succeeding times;
Which, vamp'd and varied as the clime required,
More trist or splendid, open or retired,
Forms local creeds, with multifarious lore,
Creates the God and bids the world adore.

Lo at the Lama's feet, as lord of all,
Age following age in dumb devotion fall;
The youthful god, mid suppliant kings enshrined,
Dispensing fate and ruling half mankind,
Sits with contorted limbs, a silent slave,
An early victim of a secret grave;
His priests by myriads famish every clime
And sell salvation in the tones they chime.

See India's Triad frame their blood-penn'd codes,
Old Ganges change his gardens for his gods,
Ask his own waves from their celestial hands,
And choke his channel with their sainted sands.
Mad with the mandates of their scriptured word,
And prompt to snatch from hell her dear dead lord,
The wife, still blooming, decks her sacred urns,
Mounts the gay pyre, and with his body burns.

Shrined in his golden fane the Delphian stands,
Shakes distant thrones and taxes unknown lands.
Kings, consuls, khans from earth's whole regions come,
Pour in their wealth, and then inquire their doom;
Furious and wild the priestess rends her veil,
Sucks, thro the sacred stool, the maddening gale,
Starts reddens foams and screams and mutters loud,
Like a fell fiend, her oracles of God.
The dark enigma, by the pontiff scroll'd
In broken phrase, and close in parchment roll'd,
From his proud pulpit to the suppliant hurl'd,
Shall rive an empire and distract the world.

And where the mosque's dim arches bend on high,
Mecca's dead prophet mounts the mimic sky;
Pilgrims, imbanded strong for mutual aid,
Thro dangerous deserts that their faith has made,
Train their long caravans, and famish'd come
To kiss the shrine and trembling touch the tomb,
By fire and sword the same fell faith extend,
And howl their homilies to earth's far end.

Phenician altars reek with human gore,
Gods hiss from caverns or in cages roar,
Nile pours from heaven a tutelary flood,
And gardens grow the vegetable god.
Two rival powers the magian faith inspire,
Primeval Darkness and immortal Fire;
Evil and good in these contending rise,
And each by turns the sovereign of the skies.
Sun, stars and planets round the earth behold
Their fanes of marble and their shrines of gold;
The sea, the grove, the harvest and the vine
Spring from their gods and claim a birth divine;
While heroes, kings and sages of their times,
Those gods on earth, are gods in happier climes;
Minos in judgment sits, and Jove in power,
And Odin's friends are feasted there with gore.

Man is an infant still; and slow and late
Must form and fix his adolescent state,
Mature his manhood, and at last behold
His reason ripen and his force unfold.
From that bright eminence he then shall cast
A look of wonder on his wanderings past,
Congratulate himself, and o'er the earth
Firm the full reign of peace predestined at his birth.

So Hesper taught; and farther had pursued
A theme so grateful as a world renew'd;
But dubious thoughts disturb'd the Hero's breast,
Who thus with modest mien the Seer addrest:
Say, friend of man, in this unbounded range,
Where error vagrates and illusions change,
What hopes to see his baleful blunders cease,
And earth commence that promised age of peace?
Like a loose pendulum his mind is hung,
From wrong to wrong by ponderous passion swung,
It vibrates wide, and with unceasing flight
Sweeps all extremes and scorns the mean of right.
Tho in the times you trace he seems to gain
A steadier movement and a path more plain,
And tho experience will have taught him then
To mark some dangers, some delusions ken,
Yet who can tell what future shocks may spread
New shades of darkness round his lofty head,
Plunge him again in some broad gulph of woes,
Where long and oft he struggled, wreck'd and rose?

What strides he took in those gigantic times
That sow'd with cities all his orient climes!
When earth's proud floods he tamed, made many a shore,
And talk'd with heaven from Babel's glittering tower!
Did not his Babylon exulting say,
I sit a queen, for ever stands my sway?
Thebes, Memphis, Nineveh, a countless throng,
Caught the same splendor and return'd the song;
Each boasted, promised o'er the world to rise,
Spouse of the sun, eternal as the skies.
Where shall we find them now? the very shore
Where Ninus rear'd his empire is no more:
The dikes decay'd, a putrid marsh regains
The sunken walls, the tomb-encumber'd plains,
Pursues the dwindling nations where they shrink,
And skirts with slime its deleterious brink.
The fox himself has fled his gilded den,
Nor holds the heritage he won from men;
Lapwing and reptile shun the curst abode,
And the foul dragon, now no more a god,
Trails off his train; the sickly raven flies;
A wide strong-stencht Avernus chokes the skies.
So pride and ignorance fall a certain prey
To the stanch bloodhound of despotic sway.

Then past a long drear night, with here and there
A doubtful glimmering from a single star;
Tyre, Carthage, Syracuse the gleam increase,
Till dawns at last the effulgent morn of Greece,
Here all his Muses meet, all arts combine
To nerve his genius and his works refine;
Morals and laws and arms, and every grace
That e'er adorn'd or could exalt the race,
Wrought into science and arranged in rules,
Swell the proud splendor of her cluster'd schools,
Build and sustain the state with loud acclaim,
And work those deathless miracles of fame
That stand unrivall'd still; for who shall dare
Another field with Marathon compare?
Who speaks of eloquence or sacred song,
But calls on Greece to modulate his tongue?
And where has man's fine form so perfect shone
In tint or mould, in canvass or in stone?

Yet from that splendid height o'erturn'd once more,
He dasht in dust the living lamp he bore.
Dazzled with her own glare, decoy'd and sold
For homebred faction and barbaric gold,
Greece treads on Greece, subduing and subdued,
New crimes inventing, all the old renew'd,
Canton o'er canton climbs; till, crush'd and broke,
All yield the sceptre and resume the yoke.

Where shall we trace him next, the migrant man,
To try once more his meliorating plan?
Shall not the Macedonian, where he strides
O'er Asian worlds and Nile's neglected tides,
Prepare new seats of glory, to repay
The transient shadows with perpetual day?
His heirs erect their empires, and expand
The beams of Greece thro each benighted land;
Seleucia spreads o'er ten broad realms her sway,
And turns on eastern climes the western ray;
Palmyra brightens earth's commercial zone,
And sits an emblem of her god the sun;
While fond returning to that favorite shore
Where Ammon ruled and Hermes taught of yore,
All arts concentrate, force and grace combine
To rear and blend the useful with the fine,
Restore the Egyptian glories, and retain,
Where science dawn'd, her great resurgent reign.

From Egypt chased again, he seeks his home,
More firmly fixt in sage considerate Rome.
Here all the virtues long resplendent shone
All that was Greek, barbarian and her own;
She school'd him sound, and boasted to extend
Thro time's long course and earth's remotest end
His glorious reign of reason; soon to cease
The clang of arms, and rule the world in peace.
Great was the sense he gain'd, and well defined
The various functions of his tutor'd mind;
Could but his sober sense have proved his guide,
And kind experience pruned the shoots of pride.

A field magnificent before him lay;
Land after land received the spreading ray;
Franchise and friendship travell'd in his train,
Bandits of earth and pirates of the main
Rose into citizens, their rage resign'd.
And hail'd the great republic of mankind.
If ever then state slaughter was to pause,
And man from nature learn to frame his laws.
This was the moment; here the sunbeam rose
To hush the human storm and let the world repose.

But drunk with pomp and sickening at the light,
He stagger d wild on this delirious height;
Forgot the plainest truths he learnt before,
And barter'd moral for material power.
From Calpe's rock to India's ardent skies,
O'er shuddering earth his talon'd Eagle flies,
To justice blind, and heedless where she drove,
As when she bore the brandisht bolt of Jove.

Rome loads herself with chains, seals fast her eyes,
And tells the insulted nations when to rise;
And rise they do, like sweeping tempests driven,
Swarm following swarm, o'ershading earth and heaven,
Roll back her outrage, and indignant shed
The world's wide vengeance on her sevenfold head.
Then dwindling back to littleness and shade
Man soon forgets the gorgeous glare he made,
Sinks to a savage serf or monkish drone,
Roves in rude hordes or counts his beads alone,
Wars with his arts, obliterates his lore,
And burns the books that rear'd his race before.

Shrouded in deeper darkness now he veers
The vast gyration of a thousand years,
Strikes out each lamp that would illume his way,
Disputes his food with every beast of prey;
Imbands his force to fence his trist abodes,
A wretched robber with his feudal codes.

At length, it seems, some parsimonious rays
Collect from each far heaven a feeble blaze,
Dance o'er his Europe, and again excite
His numerous nations to receive the light.
But faint and slow the niggard dawn expands,
Diffused o'er various far dissunder'd lands,
Dreading, as well it may, to prove once more
The same sad chance so often proved before.

And why not lapse again? Celestial Seer,
Forgive my doubts, and ah remove my fear!
Man is my brother; strong I feel the ties,
From strong solicitude my doubts arise;
My heart, while opening with the boundless scope
That swells before him and expands his hope,
Forebodes another fall; and tho at last
Thy world is planted and with light o'ercast,
Tho two broad continents their beams combine
Round his whole globe to stream his day divine,
Perchance some folly, yet uncured, may spread
A storm proportion'd to the lights they shed,
Veil both his continents, and leave again
Between them stretch'd the impermeable main;
All science buried, sails and cities lost,
Their lands uncultured, as their seas uncrost.
Till on thy coast, some thousand ages hence,
New pilots rise, bold enterprise commence,
Some new Columbus (happier let him be,
More wise and great and virtuous far than me)
Launch on the wave, and tow'rd the rising day
Like a strong eaglet steer his untaught way,
Gird half the globe, and to his age unfold
A strange new world, the world we call the old.
From Finland's glade to Calpe's storm-beat head
He'll find some tribes of scattering wildmen spread;
But one vast wilderness will shade the soil,
No wreck of art, no sign of ancient toil
Tell where a city stood; nor leave one trace
Of all that honors now, and all that shames the race.

If such the round we run, what hope, my friend,
To see our madness and our miseries end?-
Here paused the Patriarch: mild the Saint return'd,
And as he spoke, fresh glories round him burn'd:
My son, I blame not but applaud thy grief;
Inquiries deep should lead to slow belief.
So small the portion of the range of man
His written stories reach or views can span,
That wild confusion seems to clog his march,
And the dull progress made illudes thy search.
But broad beyond compare, with steadier hand
Traced o'er his earth, his present paths expand.
In sober majesty and matron grace
Sage Science now conducts her filial race;
And if, while all their arts around them shine,
They culture more the solid than the fine,
Tis to correct their fatal faults of old,
When, caught by tinsel, they forgot the gold;
When their strong brilliant imitative lines
Traced nature only in her gay designs,
Rear'd the proud column, toned her chanting lyre,
Warm'd the full senate with her words of fire,
Pour'd on the canvass every pulse of life,
And bade the marble rage with human strife.

These were the arts that nursed unequal sway,
That priests would pamper and that kings would pay,
That spoke to vulgar sense, and often stole
The sense of right and freedom from the soul.
While, circumscribed in some concentred clime,
They reach'd but one small nation at a time,
Dazzled that nation, pufft her local pride,
Proclaim'd her hatred to the world beside,
Drew back returning hatred from afar,
And sunk themselves beneath the storms of war.

As, when the sun moves o'er the flaming zone,
Collecting clouds attend his fervid throne,
Superior splendors, in his morn display'd,
Prepare for noontide but a heavier shade;
Thus where the brilliant arts alone prevail'd,
Their shining course succeeding storms assail'd;
Pride, wrong and insult hemm'd their scanty reign,
A Nile their stream, a Hellespont their main,
Content with Tiber's narrow shores to wind,
They fledged their Eagle but to fang mankind;
Ere great inventions found a tardy birth,
And with their new creations blest the earth.

Now sober'd man a steadier gait assumes,
Broad is the beam that breaks the Gothic glooms.
At once consenting nations lift their eyes,
And hail the holy dawn that streaks the skies;
Arabian caliphs rear the spires of Spain,
The Lombards keel their Adriatic main,
Great Charles, invading and reviving all,
Plants o'er with schools his numerous states of Gaul;
And Alfred opes the mines whence Albion draws
The ore of all her wealth,-her liberty and laws.

Ausonian cities interchange and spread
The lights of learning on the wings of trade;
Bologna's student walls arise to fame,
Germania, thine their rival honors claim;
Halle, Gottinge, Upsal, Kiel and Leyden smile,
Oxonia, Cambridge cheer Britannia's isle;
Where, like her lark, gay Chaucer leads the lay,
The matin carol of his country's day.

Blind War himself, that erst opposed all good,
And whelm'd meek Science in her votaries' blood,
Now smooths, by means unseen, her modest way,
Extends her limits and secures her sway.
From Europe's world his mad crusaders pour
Their banded myriads on the Asian shore;
The mystic Cross, thro famine toil and blood,
Leads their long marches to the tomb of God.
Thro realms of industry their passage lies,
And labor'd affluence feasts their curious eyes;
Till fields of slaughter whelm the broken host,
Their pride appall'd, their warmest zealots lost,
The wise remains to their own shores return,
Transplant all arts that Hagar's race adorn,
Learn from long intercourse their mutual ties,
And find in commerce where their interest lies.

From Drave's long course to Biscay's bending shores,
Where Adria sleeps, to where the Bothnian roars,
In one great Hanse, for earth's whole trafic known,
Free cities rise, and in their golden zone
Bind all the interior states; nor princes dare
Infringe their franchise with voracious war.
All shield them safe, and joy to share the gain
That spreads o'er land from each surrounding main,
Makes Indian stuffs, Arabian gums their own,
Plants Persian gems on every Celtic crown,
Pours thro their opening woodlands milder day,
And gives to genius his expansive play.

This blessed moment, from the towers of Thorn
New splendor rises; there the sage is born!
The sage who starts these planetary spheres,
Deals out their task to wind their own bright years,
Restores his station to the parent Sun,
And leads his duteous daughters round his throne.
Each mounts obedient on her wheels of fire,
Whirls round her sisters, and salutes the sire,
Guides her new car, her youthful coursers tries,
Curves careful paths along her alter'd skies,
Learns all her mazes thro the host of even,
And hails and joins the harmony of heaven.
-Fear not, Copernicus! let loose the rein,
Launch from their goals, and mark the moving train;
Fix at their sun thy calculating eye,
Compare and count their courses round their sky.
Fear no disaster from the slanting force
That warps them staggering in elliptic course;
Thy sons with steadier ken shall aid the search,
And firm and fashion their majestic march,
Kepler prescribe the laws no stars can shun,
And Newton tie them to the eternal sun.

By thee inspired, his tube the Tuscan plies,
And sends new colonies to stock the skies,
Gives Jove his satellites, and first adorns
Effulgent Phosphor with his silver horns.
Herschel ascends himself with venturous wain,
And joins and flanks thy planetary train,
Perceives his distance from their elder spheres,
And guards with numerous moons the lonely round he steers.

Yes, bright Copernicus, thy beams, far hurl'd,
Shall startle well this intellectual world,
Break the delusive dreams of ancient lore,
New floods of light on every subject pour,
Thro Physic Nature many a winding trace,
And seat the Moral on her sister's base.
Descartes with force gigantic toils alone,
Unshrines old errors and propounds his own;
Like a blind Samson, gropes their strong abodes,
Whelms deep in dust their temples and their gods,
Buries himself with those false codes they drew,
And makes his followers frame and fix the true.

Bacon, with every power of genius fraught,
Spreads over worlds his mantling wings of thought,
Draws in firm lines, and tells in nervous tone
All that is yet and all that shall be known,
Withes Proteus Matter in his arms of might,
And drags her tortuous secrets forth to light,
Bids men their unproved systems all forgo,
Informs them what to learn, and how to know,
Waves the first flambeau thro the night that veils
Egyptian fables and Phenician tales,
Strips from all-plundering Greece the cloak she wore,
And shows the blunders of her borrow'd lore.

One vast creation, lately borne abroad,
Cheers the young nations like a nurturing God,
Breathes thro them all the same wide-searching soul.
Forms, feeds, refines and animates the whole,
Guards every ground they gain, and forward brings
Glad Science soaring on cerulean wings,
Trims her gay plumes, directs her upward course,
Props her light pinions and sustains her force,
Instructs all men her golden gifts to prize,
And catch new glories from her beamful eyes,-
Tis the prolific Press; whose tablet, fraught
By graphic Genius with his painted thought,
Flings forth by millions the prodigious birth,
And in a moment stocks the astonish'd earth.

Genius, enamor'd of his fruitful bride,
Assumes new force and elevates his pride.
No more, recumbent o'er his finger'd style,
He plods whole years each copy to compile,
Leaves to ludibrious winds the priceless page,
Or to chance fires the treasure of an age;
But bold and buoyant, with his sister Fame,
He strides o'er earth, holds high his ardent flame,
Calls up Discovery with her tube and scroll,
And points the trembling magnet to the pole.
Hence the brave Lusitanians stretch the sail,
Scorn guiding stars, and tame the midsea gale;
And hence thy prow deprest the boreal wain,
Rear'd adverse heavens, a second earth to gain,
Ran down old Night, her western curtain thirl'd,
And snatch'd from swaddling shades an infant world.

Rome, Athens, Memphis, Tyre! had you butknown
This glorious triad, now familiar grown,
The Press, the Magnet faithful to its pole,
And earth's own Movement round her steadfast goal,
Ne'er had your science, from that splendid height,
Sunk in her strength, nor seen succeeding night.
Her own utility had forced her sway,
All nations caught the fast-extending ray,
Nature thro all her kingdoms oped the road,
Resign'd her secrets and her wealth bestow'd;
Her moral codes a like dominion rear'd,
Freedom been born and folly disappear'd,
War and his monsters sunk beneath her ban,
And left the world to reason and to man.

But now behold him bend his broader way,
Lift keener eyes and drink diviner day,
All systems scrutinize, their truths unfold,
Prove well the recent, well revise the old,
Reject all mystery, and define with force
The point he aims at in his laboring course,-
To know these elements, learn how they wind
Their wondrous webs of matter and of mind,
What springs, what guides organic life requires,
To move, rule, rein its ever-changing gyres,
Improve and utilise each opening birth,
And aid the labors of this nurturing earth.

But chief their moral soul he learns to trace,
That stronger chain which links and leads the race;
Which forms and sanctions every social tie,
And blinds or clears their intellectual eye.
He strips that soul from every filmy shade
That schools had caught, that oracles had made,
Relumes her visual nerve, develops strong
The rules of right, the subtle shifts of wrong;
Of civil power draws clear the sacred line,
Gives to just government its right divine,
Forms, varies, fashions, as his lights increase,
Till earth is fill'd with happiness and peace.

Already taught, thou know'st the fame that waits
His rising seat in thy confederate states.
There stands the model, thence he long shall draw
His forms of policy, his traits of law;
Each land shall imitate, each nation join
The well-based brotherhood, the league divine,
Extend its empire with the circling sun,
And band the peopled globe beneath its federal zone.

As thus he spoke, returning tears of joy
Suffused the Hero's cheek and pearl'd his eye:
Unveil, said he, my friend, and stretch once more
Beneath my view that heaven-illumined shore;
Let me behold her silver beams expand,
To lead all nations, lighten every land,
Instruct the total race, and teach at last
Their toils to lessen and their chains to cast,
Trace and attain the purpose of their birth,
And hold in peace this heritage of earth.
The Seraph smiled consent, the Hero's eye
Watch'd for the daybeam round the changing sky.

The Columbiad: Book Vii

The Argument


Coast of France rises in vision. Louis, to humble the British power, forms an alliance with the American states. This brings France, Spain and Holland into the war, and rouses Hyder Ally to attack the English in India. The vision returns to America, where the military operations continue with various success. Battle of Monmouth. Storming of Stonypoint by Wayne. Actions of Lincoln, and surrender of Charleston. Movements of Cornwallis. Actions of Greene, and battle of Eutaw. French army arrives, and joins the American. They march to besiege the English army of Cornwallis in York and Gloster. Naval battle of Degrasse and Graves. Two of their ships grappled and blown up. Progress of the siege. A citadel mined and blown up. Capture of Cornwallis and his army. Their banners furled and muskets piled on the field of battle.


Thus view'd the Pair; when lo, in eastern skies,
From glooms unfolding, Gallia's coasts arise.
Bright o'er the scenes of state a golden throne,
Instarr'd with gems and hung with purple, shone;
Young Bourbon there in royal splendor sat,
And fleets and moving armies round him wait.
For now the contest, with increased alarms,
Fill'd every court and roused the world to arms;
As Hesper's hand, that light from darkness brings,
And good to nations from the scourge of kings,
In this dread hour bade broader beams unfold,
And the new world illuminate the old.

In Europe's realms a school of sages trace
The expanding dawn that waits the Reasoning Race;
On the bright Occident they fix their eyes,
Thro glorious toils where struggling nations rise;
Where each firm deed, each new illustrious name
Calls into light a field of nobler fame:
A field that feeds their hope, confirms the plan
Of well poized freedom and the weal of man.
They scheme, they theorize, expand their scope,
Glance o'er Hesperia to her utmost cope;
Where streams unknown for other oceans stray,
Where suns unseen their waste of beams display,
Where sires of unborn nations claim their birth,
And ask their empires in those wilds of earth.
While round all eastern climes, with painful eye,
In slavery sunk they see the kingdoms lie,
Whole states exhausted to enrich a throne,
Their fruits untasted and their rights unknown;
Thro tears of grief that speak the well taught mind,
They hail the æra that relieves mankind.

Of these the first, the Gallic sages stand,
And urge their king to lift an aiding hand.
The cause of humankind their souls inspired,
Columbia's wrongs their indignation fired;
To share her fateful deeds their counsel moved,
To base in practice what in theme they proved:
That no proud privilege from birth can spring,
No right divine, nor compact form a king;
That in the people dwells the sovereign sway,
Who rule by proxy, by themselves obey;
That virtues, talents are the test of awe,
And Equal Rights the only source of law.
Surrounding heroes wait the monarch's word,
In foreign fields to draw the patriot sword,
Prepared with joy to join those infant powers,
Who build republics on the western shores.

By honest guile the royal ear they bend,
And lure him on, blest Freedom to defend;
That, once recognised, once establisht there,
The world might learn her profer'd boon to share.
But artful arguments their plan disguise,
Garb'd in the gloss that suits a monarch's eyes.
By arms to humble Britain's haughty power,
From her to sever that extended shore,
Contents his utmost wish. For this he lends
His powerful aid, and calls the opprest his friends.
The league proposed, he lifts his arm to save,
And speaks the borrow'd language of the brave:

Ye states of France, and ye of rising name
Who work those distant miracles of fame,
Hear and attend; let heaven the witness bear,
We wed the cause, we join the righteous war.
Let leagues eternal bind each friendly land,
Given by our voice, and stablisht by our hand;
Let that brave people fix their infant sway,
And spread their blessings with the bounds of day.
Yet know, ye nations; hear, ye Powers above,
Our purposed aid no views of conquest move;
In that young world revives no ancient claim
Of regions peopled by the Gallic name;
Our envied bounds, already stretch'd afar,
Nor ask the sword, nor fear encroaching war;
But virtue, coping with the tyrant power
That drenches earth in her best children's gore,
With nature's foes bids former compact cease;
We war reluctant, and our wish is peace;
For man's whole race the sword of France we draw;
Such is our will, and let our will be law.

He spoke; his moving armies veil'd the plain,
His fleets rode bounding on the western main;
O'er lands and seas the loud applauses rung,
And war and union dwelt on every tongue.

The other Bourbon caught the splendid strain,
To Gallia's arms he joins the powers of Spain;
Their sails assemble; Crillon lifts the sword,
Minorca bows and owns her ancient lord.
But while dread Elliott shakes the Midland wave,
They strive in vain the Calpian rock to brave.
Batavia's states with equal speed prepare
Thro western isles to meet the naval war;
For Albion there rakes rude the tortured main,
And foils the force of Holland, France and Spain.

Where old Indostan still perfumes the skies,
To furious strife his ardent myriads rise;
Fierce Hyder there, unconquerably bold,
Bids a new flag its horned moons unfold,
Spreads o'er Carnatic kings his splendid force,
And checks the Britons in their waiting course.

Europe's pacific powers their counsels join,
The laws of trade to settle and define.
The imperial Moscovite around him draws
Each Baltic state to join the righteous cause;
Whose arm'd Neutrality the way prepares
To check the ravages of future wars;
Till by degrees the wasting sword shall cease,
And commerce lead to universal peace.

Thus all the ancient world with anxious eyes
Enjoy the lights that gild Atlantic skies,
Wake to new life, assume a borrow'd flame,
Enlarge the lustre and partake the fame.
So mounts of ice, that polar heavens invade,
Tho piled unseen thro night's long wintry shade.
When morn at last illumes their glaring throne,
Give back the day and imitate the sun.

But still Columbus, on his war-beat shore,
Sees Albion's fleets her new battalions pour;
The states unconquer'd still their terrors wield,
And stain with mingled gore the embattled field.
On Pennsylvania's various plains they move,
And adverse armies equal slaughter prove;
Columbia mourns her Nash in combat slain,
Britons around him press the gory plain;
Skirmish and cannonade and distant fire
Each power diminish and each nation tire.
Till Howe from fruitless toil demands repose,
And leaves despairing in a land of foes
His wearied host; who now, to reach their fleet,
O'er Jersey hills commence their long retreat,
Tread back the steps their chief had led before,
And ask in vain the late abandon'd shore,
Where Hudson meets, the main; for on their rear
Columbia moves; and checks their swift career.

But where green Monmouth lifts his grassy height,
They halt, they face, they dare the coming fight.
Howe's proud successor, Clinton, hosting there,
To tempt once more the desperate chance of war,
Towers at their head, in hopes to work relief,
And mend the errors of his former chief.
Here shines his day; and here with loud acclaim
Begins and ends his little task of fame.
He vaults before them with his balanced blade,
Wheels the bright van, and forms the long parade;
Where Britons, Hessians crowd the glittering field,
And all their powers for ready combat wield.
As the dim sun, beneath the skirts of even,
Crimsons the clouds that sail the western heaven;
So, in red wavy rows, where spread the train
Of men and standards, shone the fateful plain.

They shone, till Washington obscured their light,
And his long ranks roll'd forward to the fight.
He points the charge; the mounted thunders roar,
And rake the champaign to the distant shore.
Above the folds of smoke that veil the war,
His guiding sword illumes the fields of air;
And vollied flames, bright bursting o'er the plain,
Break the brown clouds, discovering far the slain:
Till flight begins; the smoke is roll'd away,
And the red standards open into day.
Britons and Germans hurry from the field,
Now wrapt in dust, and now to sight reveal'd;
Behind, swift Washington his falchion drives,
Thins the pale ranks, but saves submissive lives.
Hosts captive bow and move behind his arm,
And hosts before him wing the sounding storm;
When the glad sea salutes their fainting sight,
And Albion's fleet wide thundering aids their flight;
They steer to sad Newyork their hasty way,
And rue the toils of Monmouth's mournful day.

But Hudson still, with his interior tide,
Laves a rude rock that bears Britannia's pride,
Swells round the headland with indignant roar,
And mocks her thunders from his murmuring shore;
When a firm cohort starts from Peekskill plain,
To crush the invaders and the post regain.
Here, gallant Hull, again thy sword is tried,
Meigs, Fleury, Butler, laboring side by side,
Wayne takes the guidance, culls the vigorous band,
Strikes out the flint, and bids the nervous hand
Trust the mute bayonet and midnight skies,
To stretch o'er craggy walls the dark surprise.
With axes, handspikes on the shoulder hung,
And the sly watchword whisper'd from the tongue,
Thro different paths the silent march they take,
Plunge, climb the ditch, the palisado break,
Secure each sentinel, each picket shun,
Grope the dim postern where the byways run.
Soon the roused garrison perceives its plight;
Small time to rally and no means of flight,
They spring confused to every post they know,
Point their poized cannon where they hear the foe,
Streak the dark welkin with the flames they pour,
And rock the mountain with convulsive roar.

The swift assailants still no fire return,
But, tow'rd the batteries that above them burn,
Climb hard from crag to crag; and scaling higher
They pierce the long dense canopy of fire
That sheeted all the sky; then rush amain,
Storm every outwork, each dread summit gain,
Hew timber'd gates, the sullen drawbridge fall,
File thro and form within the sounding wall.
The Britons strike their flag, the fort forgo,
Descend sad prisoners to the plain below.
A thousand veterans, ere the morning rose,
Received their handcuffs from five hundred foes;
And Stonypoint beheld, with dawning day,
His own starr'd standard on his rampart play.

From sack'd Savanna, whelm'd in hostile fires,
A few raw troops brave Lincoln now retires; 2l
With rapid march to suffering Charleston goes,
To meet the myriads of concentring foes,
Who shade the pointed strand. Each fluvial flood
Their gathering fleets and floating batteries load,
Close their black sails, debark the amphibious host,
And with their moony anchors fang the coast.

The bold beleaguer'd post the hero gains,
And the hard siege with various fate sustains.
Cornwallis, towering at the British van,
In these fierce toils his wild career began;
He mounts the forky streams, and soon bestrides
The narrow neck that parts converging tides,
Sinks the deep trench, erects the mantling tower,
Lines with strong forts the desolated shore,
Hems on all sides the long unsuccour'd place,
With mines and parallels contracts the space;
Then bids the battering floats his labors crown,
And pour their bombard on the shuddering town.

High from the decks the mortar's bursting fires
Sweep the full streets, and splinter down the spires.
Blaze-trailing fuses vault the night's dim round,
And shells and langrage lacerate the ground;
Till all the tented plain, where heroes tread,
Is torn with crags and cover'd with the dead.
Each shower of flames renews the townsmen's woe,
They wail the fight, they dread the cruel foe.
Matrons in crowds, while tears bedew their charms,
Babes at their sides and infants in their arms,
Press round their Lincoln and his hand implore,
To save them trembling from the tyrant's power.
He shares their anguish with a moistening eye,
And bids the balls rain thicker thro the sky;
Tries every aid that art and valor yield,
The sap, the countermine, the battling field,
The bold sortie, by famine urged afar,
That dreadful daughter of earth-wasting War.
But vain the conflict now; on all the shore
The foes in fresh brigades around him pour;
He yields at last the well contested prize,
And freedom's banners quit the southern skies.

The victor Britons soon the champaign tread,
And far anorth their fire and slaughter spread;
Thro fortless realms, where unarm'd peasants fly,
Cornwallis bears his bloody standard high;
O'er Carolina rolls his growing force,
And thousands fall and thousands aid his course;
While in his march athwart the wide domain,
Colonial dastards join his splendid train.
So mountain streams thro slopes of melting snow
Swell their foul waves and flood the world below.

Awhile the Patriarch saw, with heaving sighs,
These crimson flags insult the saddening skies,
Saw desolation whelm his favorite coast,
His children scattered and their vigor lost,
Dekalb in furious combat press the plain,
Morgan and Smallwood every shock sustain,
Gates, now no more triumphant, quit the field,
Indignant Davidson his lifeblood yield,
Blount, Gregory, Williamson, with souls of fire
But slender force, from hill to hill retire;
When Greene in lonely greatness takes the ground,
And bids at last the trump of vengeance sound.

A few firm patriots to the chief repair,
Raise the star standard and demand the war.
But o'er the regions as he turns his eyes,
What foes develop! and what forts arise!
Rawdon with rapid marches leads their course,
From state to state Cornwallis whirls their force,
Impetuous Tarleton like a torrent pours,
And fresh battalions land along the shores;
Where, now resurgent from his captive chain,
Phillips wide storming shakes the field again;
And traitor Arnold, lured by plunder o'er,
Joins the proud powers his valor foil'd before.

Greene views the tempest with collected soul,
Arid fates of empires in his bosom roll;
So small his force, where shall he lift the steel?
(Superior hosts o'er every canton wheel)
Or how behold their wanton carnage spread,
Himself stand idle and his country bleed?
Fixt in a moment's pause the general stood,
And held his warriors from the field of blood;
Then points the British legions where to steer,
Marks to their chief a rapid wild career,
Wide o'er Virginia lets him foeless roam,
To search for pillage and to find his doom,
With short-lived glory feeds his sateless flame,
But leaves the victory to a nobler name,
Gives to great Washington to meet his way,
Nor claims the honors of so bright a day.

Now to the conquer'd south he turns his force,
Renerves the nation by his rapid course;
Forts fall around him, hosts before him fly,
And captive bands his growing train supply;
A hundred leagues of coast, in one campaign,
Return reconquer'd to their lords again.
At last Britannia's vanguard, near the strand,
Veers on her foe to make one vigorous stand.
Her gallant Stuart here amass'd from far
The veteran legions of the Georgian war,
To aid her hard-pusht powers, and quick restore
The British name to that extended shore.
He checks their flight, and chooses well their field,
Flank'd with a marsh, by lofty woods concealed;
Where Eutaw's fountains, tinged of old with gore,
Still murmuring swell'd amid the bones they bore,
Destined again to foul their pebbly stream,
The mournful monuments of human fame;
There Albion's columns, ranged in order bright,
Stand like a fiery wall and wait the shock of fight.

Swift on the neighboring hill as Greene arose,
He view'd, with rapid glance, the glittering foes,
Disposed for combat all his ardent train,
To charge, change front, each echelon sustain;
Roused well their rage, superior force to prove,
Waved his bright blade and bade the onset move.
As hovering clouds, when morning beams arise,
Hang their red curtains round our eastern skies,
Unfold a space to hail the promised sun,
And catch their splendors from his rising throne;
Thus glow'd the opposing fronts, whose steely glare
Glanced o'er the shuddering interval of war.

From Albion's left the cannonade began,
And pour'd thick thunders on Hesperia's van,
Forced in her dexter guards, that skirmisht wide
To prove what powers the forest hills might hide;
They break, fall back, with measured quickstep tread,
Form close, and flank the solid squares they led.
Now roll, with kindling haste, the long stark lines,
From wing to wing the sounding battle joins;
Batteries and field-parks and platoons of fire,
In mingled shocks their roaring blasts exspire.
Each front approaching fast, with equal pace,
Devours undaunted their dividing space;
Till, dark beneath the smoke, the meeting ranks
Slope their strong bayonets, with short firm shanks
Protruded from their tubes; each bristling van,
Steel fronting steel, and man encountering man,
In dreadful silence tread. As, wrapt from sight,
The nightly ambush moves to secret fight;
So rush the raging files, and sightless close
In plunging thrust with fierce conflicting foes.
They reach, they strike, they stagger o'er the slain,
Deal doubtful blows, or closing clench their man,
Intwine their twisting limbs, the gun forgo,
Wrench off the bayonet and dirk the foe;
Then struggling back, reseize the musket bare,
Club the broad breech, and headlong whirl to war
Ranks crush on ranks with equal slaughter gored;
Warm dripping streams from every lifted sword
Stain the thin carnaged corps who still maintain,
With mutual shocks, the vengeance of the plain.
At last where Williams fought and Campbell fell,
Unwonted strokes the British line repel.
The rout begins; the shattered wings afar
Roll back in haste and scatter from the war;
They drop their arms, they scour the marshy field,
Whole squadrons fall and faint battalions yield.

The great Observer, fixt in his midsky,
View'd the whole combat, saw them fall and fly:
He mark'd where Greene with every onset drove,
Saw death and victory with his presence move,
Beneath his arm saw Marion, Sumter, Gaine,
Pickens and Sumner shake the astonish'd plain;
He saw young Washington, the child of fame,
Preserve in fight the honors of his name.
Lee, Jackson, Hampton, Pinckney, matcht in might,
Roll'd on the storm and hurried fast the flight:
While numerous chiefs, that equal trophies raise,
Wrought, not unseen, the deeds of deathless praise.

As Europe now the newborn states beheld
The shock sustain of many a hard-fought field;
Swift o'er the main, with high-spread sails, advance
Our brave auxiliars from the coast of France.
On the tall decks their curious chiefs explore,
With optic tube, our camp-encumber'd shore;
And, as the lessening wave behind them flies,
Wide scenes of conflict open on their eyes.
Rochambeau foremost with his gleamy brand
Points to each field and singles every band,
Sees Washington the power of nations guide,
And longs to toil and conquer by his side.
Two brother chiefs, Viominil the name,
Brothers in birth but twins in generous fame,
Behold with steadfast eye the plains disclose,
Uncase their arms and claim the promised foes.
Biron, beneath his sail, in armor bright,
Frown'd o'er the wave impatient for the fight;
A fiery steed beside the hero stood,
And his blue blade waved forward o'er the crowd.

With eager haste descending on the coast,
Thro the glad states they march their veteran host,
From sea-nursed Newport file o'er western roads,
Pitch many a camp, and bridge a hundred floods,
Pass the full towns, where joyful crowds admire
Their foreign speech, gay mien and gilt attire,
Applaud their generous deeds, the zeal that draws
Their swords untried in freedom's doubtful cause.
Thro Hartford plains, on Litchfield hills they gleam,
Wave their white flags o'er Hudson's loaded stream,
Band after band with Delaware's current pour,
Shade Schuylkill's wave and Elk's indented shore,
Join their new friends, where allied banners lead,
Demand the foe and bid the war proceed.

Again Columbus turn'd his anxious eye
Where Britain's banner waved along the sky;
And, graced with spoils of many fields of blood,
Cornwallis boastful on a bulwark stood.
Where York and Gloster's rocky towers bestride
Their parent stream, Virginia's midmost tide,
He camp'd his hundred nations, to regain
Their force, exhausted in the long campaign;
Paused for a moment on a scene so vast,
To plan the future and review the past.
Thro vanquisht provinces and towns in flame
He mark'd his recent monuments of fame,
His checker'd marches, long and various toils,
And camp well stored with wide collected spoils.

High glittering to the sun his hands unfold
A map new drafted on a sheet of gold;
There in delusive haste his burin graved
A country conquer'd and a race enslaved.
Its middle realm, by fairer figures known
And rich with fruits, lay bounded for his own;
Deep thro the centre spreads a branching bay,
Full sails ascend and golden rivers stray;
Bright palaces arise relieved in gold,
And gates and streets the crossing lines unfold.
James furrows o'er the plate with turgid tide,
Young Richmond roughens on his masted side;
Reviving Norfolk from her ashes springs,
A golden phoenix on refulgent wings;
Potowmak's yellow waves reluctant spread,
And Vernon rears his rich and radiant head,
Tis here the chief his pointed graver stays,
The bank to burnish with a purer blaze,
Gives all his art, on this bright hill to trace
His future seat and glory of his race;
Deems his long line of lords the realm shall own,
The kings predestined to Columbia's throne.

But while his mind thus quafft its airy food,
And gazing thousands round the rampart stood,
Whom future ease and golden dreams employ,
The songs of triumph and the feast of joy;
Sudden great Washington arose in view,
And allied flags his stately steps pursue;
Gaul's veteran host and young Hesperia's pride
Bend the long march concentring at his side,
Stream over Chesapeak, like sheets of flame,
And drive tempestuous to the field of fame.

Far on the wild expanse, where ocean lies,
And scorns all confines but incumbent skies,
Scorns to retain the imprinted paths of men
To guide their wanderings or direct their ken;
Where warring vagrants, raging as they go,
Ask of the stars their way to find the foe,
Columbus saw two hovering fleets advance,
And rival ensigns o'er their pinions dance.
Graves, on the north, with Albion's flag unfurl'd,
Waves proud defiance to the watery world;
Degrasse, from southern isles, conducts his train,
And shades with Gallic sheets the moving main.

Now Morn, unconscious of the coming fray
That soon shall storm the crystal cope of day,
Glows o'er the heavens, and with her orient breeze
Fans her fair face and curls the summer seas.
The swelling sails, as far as eye can sweep,
Look thro the skies and awe the shadowy deep,
Lead their long bending lines; and, ere they close,
To count, recognise, circumvent their foes,
Each hauls his wind, the weathergage to gain
And master all the movements of the plain;
Or bears before the breeze with loftier gait,
And, beam to beam, begins the work of fate.

As when the warring winds, from each far pole,
Their adverse storms across the concave roll,
Thin fleecy vapors thro the expansion run,
Veil the blue vault and tremble o'er the sun,
Till the dark folding wings together drive,
And, ridged with fire and rock'd with thunder, strive;
So, hazing thro the void, at first appear
White clouds of canvass floating on the air,
Then frown the broad black decks, the sails are stay'd,
The gaping portholes cast a frightful shade,
Flames, triple tier'd, and tides of smoke, arise.
And fulminations rock the seas and skies.

From van to rear the roaring deluge runs,
The storm disgorging from a thousand guns,
Each like a vast volcano, spouting wide
His hissing hell-dogs o'er the shuddering tide,
Whirls high his chainshot, cleaves the mast and strews
The shiver'd fragments on the staggering foes;
Whose gunwale sides with iron globes are gored,
And a wild storm of splinters sweeps the board.
Husht are the winds of heaven; no more the gale
Breaks the red rolls of smoke nor flaps the sail;
A dark dead calm continuous cloaks the glare,
And holds the clouds of sulphur on the war,
Convolving o'er the space that yawns and shines,
With frequent flash, between the laboring lines.
Nor sun nor sea nor skyborn lightning gleams,
But flaming Phlegethon's asphaltic steams
Streak the long gaping gulph; where varying glow
Carbonic curls above, blue flakes of fire below.

Hither two hostile ships to contact run,
Both grappling, board to board and gun to gun;
Each thro the adverse ports their contents pour,
Rake the lower decks, the interior timbers bore,
Drive into chinks the illumined wads unseen,
Whose flames approach the unguarded magazine.
Above, with shrouds afoul and gunwales mann'd,
Thick halberds clash; and, closing hand to hand,
The huddling troops, infuriate from despair,
Tug at the toils of death, and perish there;
Grenados, carcasses their fragments spread,
And pikes and pistols strow the decks with dead.
Now on the Gallic board the Britons rush,
The intrepid Gauls the rash adventurers crush;
And now, to vengeance Stung, with frantic air,
Back on the British maindeck roll the war.
There swells the carnage; all the tar-beat floor
Is clogg'd with spatter'd brains and glued with gore;
And down the ship's black waist fresh brooks of blood
Course o'er their clots, and tinge the sable flood.
Till War, impatient of the lingering strife
That tires and slackens with the waste of life,
Opes with engulphing gape the astonish'd wave,
And whelms the combat whole, in one vast grave.
For now the imprison'd powder caught the flames,
And into atoms whirl'd the monstrous frames
Of both the entangled ships; the vortex wide
Roars like an Ætna thro the belching tide,
And blazing into heaven, and bursting high,
Shells, carriages and guns obstruct the sky;
Cords, timbers, trunks of men the welkin sweep,
And fall on distant ships, or shower along the deep.

The matcht armadas still the fight maintain,
But cautious, distant; lest the staggering main
Drive their whole lines afoul, and one dark day
Glut the proud ocean with too rich a prey.
At last, where scattering fires the cloud disclose,
Hulls heave in sight and blood the decks o'erflows;
Here from the field tost navies rise to view,
Drive hack to vengeance and the roar renew,
There shatter'd ships commence their flight afar,
Tow'd thro the smoke, hard struggling from the war;
And some, half seen amid the gaping wave,
Plunge in the whirl they make, and gorge their grave.

Soon the dark smoky volumes roll'd away,
And a long line ascended into day;
The pinions swell'd, Britannia's cross arose
And flew the terrors of triumphing foes;
When to Virginia's bay, new shocks to brave,
The Gallic powers their conquering banners wave.
Glad Chesapeak unfolds his bosom wide,
And leads their prows to York's contracting tide;
Where still dread Washington directs his way,
And seas and continents his voice obey;
While brave Cornwallis, mid the gathering host,
Perceives his glories gone, his promised empire lost.

Columbus here with silent joy beheld
His favorite sons the fates of nations wield.
Here joyous Lincoln rose in arms again,
Nelson and Knox moved ardent o'er the plain;
Scammel alert with force unusual trod,
Prepared to seal their victory with his blood;
Cobb, Dearborn, Laurens, Tilghman, green in years
But ripe in glory, tower'd amid their peers;
Death-daring Hamilton with splendor shone,
And claim'd each post of danger for his own,
Skill'd every arm in war's whole hell to wield,
An Ithacus in camp, an Ajax in the field.

Their Gallic friends an equal ardor fires;
Brisk emulation every troop inspires:
Where Tarleton turns, with hopes of flight elate,
Brave Biron moves and drives him back to fate,
Hems in his host, to wait, on Gloster plains,
Their finish'd labors and their destined chains.

Two British forts the growing siege outflank,
Rake its wide works and awe the tide-beat bank;
Swift from the lines two chosen bands advance,
Our light-arm'd scouts, the grenadiers of France;
These young Viominil conducts to fame,
And those Fayette's unerring guidance claim.
No cramm'd cartouch their belted back attires,
No grains of sleeping thunder wait their fires;
The flint, the ramrod spurn'd, away they cast;
The strong bright bayonet, imbeaded fast,
Stands beaming from the bore; with this they tread,
Nor heed from high-wall'd foes their showers of lead.
Each rival band, tho wide and distant far,
Springs simultaneous to this task of war;
For here a twofold force each hero draws,
His own proud country and the general cause;
And each with twofold energy contends,
His foes to vanquish and outstrip his friends.
They summon all their zeal, and wild and warm
O'er flaming ramparts pour the maddening storm,
The mounted cannons crush, and lead the foe
Two trains of captives to the plain below;
An equal prize each gallant troop ameeds,
Alike their numbers and alike their deeds.

A strong high citadel still thundering stood,
And stream'd her standard o'er the field of blood,
Check'd long the siege with fulminating blare,
Scorn'd all the steel and every globe of war,
Defied fell famine, heapt her growing store,
And housed in bombproof all the host she bore.
No rude assault can stretch the scale so high,
In vain the battering siege-guns round her ply;
Mortars well poized their deafening deluge rain,
Load the red skies and shake the shores in vain;
Her huge rock battlements rebound the blow,
And roll their loose crags on the men below.

But while the fusing fireballs scorch the sky,
Their mining arts the staunch besiegers ply,
Delve from the bank of York, and gallery far,
Deep subterranean, to the mount of war;
Beneath the ditch, thro rocks and fens they go,
Scoop the dark chamber plumb beneath the foe;
There lodge their tons of powder and retire,
Mure the dread passage, wave the fatal fire,
Send a swift messenger to warn the foe
To seek his safety and the post forgo.
A taunting answer comes; he dares defy
To spring the mine and all its Ætnas try;
When a black miner seized the sulphur'd brand,
Shriek'd high for joy, and with untrembling hand
Touch'd quick the insidious train; lest here the chief
Should change his counsel and afford relief:
For hard the general's task, to speak the doom
That sends a thousand heroes to the tomb;
Heroes who know no wrong; who thoughtless speed
Where kings command or where their captains lead,
-Burst with the blast, the reeling mountain roars,
Heaves, labors, boils, and thro the concave pours
His flaming contents high; he chokes the air
With all his warriors and their works of war;
Guns, bastions, magazines confounded fly,
Vault wide their fresh explosions o'er the sky,
Encumber each far camp, and plough profound
With their rude fragments every neighboring ground.

Britain's brave leader, where he sought repose,
And deem'd his hill-fort still repulsed the foes,
Starts at the astounding earthquake, and descries
His chosen veterans whirling down the skies.
Their mangled members round his balcon fall,
Scorch'd in the flames, and dasht on every wall:
Sad field of contemplation! Here, ye great,
Kings, priests of God, and ministers of state,
Review your system here! behold and scan
Your own fair deeds, your benefits to man!
You will not leave him to his natural toil,
To tame these elements and till the soil.
To reap, share, tithe you what his hand has sown,
Enjoy his treasures and increase your own,
Build up his virtues on the base design'd,
The well-toned harmonies of humankind.
You choose to check his toil, and band his eyes
To all that's honest and to all that's wise;
Lure with false fame, false morals and false lore,
To barter fields of corn for fields of gore,
To take by bands what single thieves would spare,
And methodise his murders into war.

Now the prest garrison fresh danger warms;
They rush impetuous to each post of arms,
Man the long trench, each embrasure sustain,
And pour their langrage on the allied train;
Whose swift approaches, crowding on the line,
Each wing envelop and each front confine.
O'er all sage Washington his arm extends,
Points every movement, every work defends,
Bids closer quarters, bloodier strokes proceed,
New batteries blaze and heavier squadrons bleed.
Line within line fresh parallels enclose;
Here runs a zigzag, there a mantlet grows,
Round the pent foe approaching breastworks rise,
And bombs, like meteors, vault the flaming skies.
Night, with her hovering wings, asserts in vain
The shades, the silence of her rightful reign;
High roars her canopy with fiery flakes,
And War stalks wilder thro the glare he makes.

With dire dismay the British chief beheld
The foe advance, his veterans shun the field,
Despair and slaughter where he turns his eye,
No hope in combat and no power to fly;
Degrasse victorious shakes the shadowy tide,
Imbodied nations all the champaign hide,
Fosses and batteries, growing on the sight,
Still pour new thunders and increase the fight;
Shells rain before him, rending every mound,
Crags, gunstones, balls o'erturn the tented ground,
From post to post his driven ranks retire,
The earth in crimson and the skies on fire.

Death wantons proud in this decisive round,
For here his hand its favorite victim found;
Brave Scammel perisht here. Ah! short, my friend,
Thy bright career, but glorious to its end.
Go join thy Warren's ghost, your fates compare,
His that commenced, with thine that closed the war;
Freedom, with laurel'd brow but tearful eyes,
Bewails her first and last, her twinlike sacrifice.

Now grateful truce suspends the burning war,
And groans and shouts promiscuous load the air;
When the tired Britons, where the smokes decay,
Quit their strong station and resign the day.
Slow files along the immeasurable train,
Thousands on thousands redden all the plain,
Furl their torn bandrols, all their plunder yield.
And pile their muskets on the battle field.
Their wide auxiliar nations swell the crowd,
And the coop'd navies, from the neighboring flood,
Repeat surrendering signals, and obey
The landmen's fate on this concluding day.

Cornwallis first, their late all-conquering lord,
Bears to the victor chief his conquer'd sword,
Presents the burnisht hilt, and yields with pain
The gift of kings, here brandisht long in vain.
Then bow their hundred banners, trailing far
Their wearied wings from all the skirts of war.
Battalion'd infantry and squadron'd horse
Dash the silk tassel and the golden torse;
Flags from the forts and ensigns from the fleet
Roll in the dust, and at Columbia's feet
Prostrate the pride of thrones; they firm the base
Of Freedom's temple, while her arms they grace.
Here Albion's crimson Cross the soil o'erspreads,
Her Lion crouches and her Thistle fades;
Indignant Erin rues her trampled Lyre,
Brunswick's pale Steed forgets his foamy fire,
Proud Hessia's Castle lies in dust o'erthrown,
And venal Anspach quits her broken Crown.

Long trains of wheel'd artillery shade the shore,
Quench their blue matches and forget to roar;
Along the encumber'd plain, thick planted rise
High stacks of muskets glittering to the skies,
Numerous and vast. As when the toiling swains
Heap their whole harvest on the stubbly plains,
Gerb after gerb the bearded shock expands,
Shocks, ranged in rows, hill high the burden'd lands;
The joyous master numbers all the piles,
And o'er his well-earn'd crop complacent smiles:
Such growing heaps this iron harvest yield,
So tread the victors this their final field.

Triumphant Washington, with brow serene,
Regards unmoved the exhilarating scene,
Weighs in his balanced thought the silent grief
That sinks the bosom of the fallen chief.
With all the joy that laurel crowns bestow,
A world reconquer'd and a vanquished foe.
Thus thro extremes of life, in every state,
Shines the clear soul, beyond all fortune great;
While smaller minds, the dupes of fickle chance,
Slight woes o'erwhelm and sudden joys entrance.
So the full sun, thro all the changing sky,
Nor blasts nor overpowers the naked eye;
Tho transient splendors, borrowed from his light,
Glance on the mirror and destroy the sight.

He bids brave Lincoln guide with modest air
The last glad triumph of the finish'd war;
Who sees, once more, two armies shade one plain,
The mighty victors and the captive train.

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