The Columbiad: Book Ii
Natives of America appear in vision. Their manners and characters. Columbus demands the cause of the dissimilarity of men in different countries, Hesper replies, That the human body is composed of a due proportion of the elements suited to the place of its first formation; that these elements, differently proportioned, produce all the changes of health, sickness, growth and decay; and may likewise produce any other changes which occasion the diversity of men; that these elemental proportions are varied, not more by climate than temperature and other local circumstances; that the mind is likewise in a state of change, and will take its physical character from the body and from external objects: examples. Inquiry concerning the first peopling of America. View of Mexico. Its destruction by Cortez. View of Cusco and Quito, cities of Peru. Tradition of Capac and Oella, founders of the Peruvian empire. Columbus inquires into their real history. Hesper gives an account of their origin, and relates the stratagems they used in establishing that empire.
High o'er his world as thus Columbus gazed,
And Hesper still the changing scene emblazed,
Round all the realms increasing lustre flew,
And raised new wonders to the Patriarch'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,
Wide as their walks, a varying shadow cast.
As airy shapes, beneath the moon's pale eye,
People the clouds that sail the midnight sky,
Dance thro the grove and flit along the glade,
And cast their grisly phantoms on the shade;
So move the hordes, in thickets half conceal'd,
Or vagrant stalking thro the fenceless field,
Here tribes untamed, who scorn to fix their home,
O'er shadowy streams and trackless deserts roam;
While others there in settled hamlets rest,
And corn-clad vales a happier state attest.
The painted chiefs, in guise terrific drest,
Rise fierce to war, and beat their savage breast;
Dark round their steps collecting warriors pour,
Some fell revenge begins the hideous roar;
From hill to hill the startling war-song flies,
And tribes on tribes in dread disorder rise,
Track the mute foe and scour the howling wood,
Loud as a storm, ungovern'd as a flood;
Or deep in groves the silent ambush lay,
Lead the false flight, decoy and seize their prey,
Their captives torture, butcher and devour,
Drink the warm blood and paint their cheeks with gore.
Awhile he paused, with dubious thoughts opprest,
And thus to Hesper's ear his doubts addrest:
Say, to what class of nature's sons belong
The countless tribes of this untutor'd 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?
When first we found them in yon hapless isle,
They seem'd to know and seem'd to fear no guile;
A timorous herd, like harmless roes, they ran,
And call'd us Gods, from whom their tribes began.
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,
A frantic rage their changing bosoms swell'd;
They roused their bands from numerous hills afar,
To feast their souls on ruin, waste and war.
Nor plighted vows nor sure defeat control
The same indignant savageness of soul.
Tell then, my Seer, from what dire sons of earth
The brutal people drew their ancient birth;
If these forgotten shores and useless tides
Have form'd them different from the world besides,
Born to subjection, when in happier time
A nobler race should reach their fruitful clime;
Or, if a common source all nations claim,
Their lineage, form and faculties the same,
What sovereign secret cause, yet undisplay'd,
This wondrous change in nature's work has made;
Why various powers of soul and tints of face
In different lands diversify the race;
To whom the Guide: Unnumbered causes lie,
In earth and sea, in climate, soil and sky,
That fire the soul, or damp the genial flame,
And work their wonders on the human frame.
See beauty, form and color change with place;
Here charms of health the lively 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;
In each ascending stage the man sustain,
His breath, his food, his physic and his bane.
In due proportions where these atoms lie,
A certain form their equal aids supply;
And while unchanged the efficient causes reign,
Age following age the certain form maintain.
But where crude atoms disproportion'd rise,
And cast their sickening vapors round the skies,
Unlike that harmony of human frame,
That moulded first and reproduce the same,
The tribes ill form'd, attempering to the clime,
Still vary downward with the years of time;
More perfect some, and some less perfect yield
Their reproductions in this wondrous field;
Till fixt at last their characters abide,
And local likeness feeds their local pride.
The soul too, varying with the change of 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 the tint controls,
On every shore, by altitude of poles;
A different cast the glowing zone demands,
In Paria's groves, from Tombut's burning sands,
Unheeded agents, for the sense too fine,
With every pulse, with every thought combine,
Thro air and ocean, with their changes run,
Breathe from the ground, or circle with the sun.
Where these long continents their shores outspread,
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 or 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 rears a dread sublimity of soul.
Yet time and art shall other changes find,
And open still and vary still the mind.
The countless clans that tread these dank abodes,
Who glean spontaneous fruits and range the woods,
Fixt here for ages, in their swarthy face
Display the wild complexion of the place.
Yet when the hordes 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, old 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, on the plain.
While nature's grandeur lifts the eye abroad
O'er these last labors of the forming God,
Wing'd on a wider glance the venturous soul
Bids greater powers and bolder thoughts unrol;
The sage, the chief, the patriot unconfined,
Shield the weak world and meliorate mankind.
But think not thou, in all the range of man,
That different pairs each different cast began;
Or tribes distinct, by signal marks confest,
Were born to serve or subjugate the rest.
The Hero heard, and thus resumed the strain:
Who led these wanderers o'er the dreary main?
Could their weak sires, unskill'd in human lore,
Build the bold bark, to seek an unknown shore?
A shore so distant from the world beside,
So dark the tempests, and so wild the tide,
That Greece and Tyre, and all who tempt the sea,
Have shunn'd the task, and left the fame to me.
When first thy roving race, the Power replied,
Learn'd by the stars the devious sail to guide,
From stormy Hellespont explored the way,
And sought the limits of the Midland sea;
Before Alcides form'd his impious plan
To check the sail, and bound the steps of man,
This hand had led them to this rich abode,
And braved the wrath of that strong demigod.
Driven from the Calpian strait, a hapless train
Roll'd on the waves that sweep the western main;
Storms from the orient bhcken'd heaven with shade,
Nor sun nor stars could yield 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; far onward o'er the zone
The trade wind bears them with the circling sun;
Till wreck'd and stranded here, the sylvan coast
Receives to lonely seats the suffering host.
The fruitful vales 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 in the torrid tracts began their sway,
Whose cultured fields their growing arts display;
The northern tribes a later stock may boast,
A race descended from the Asian coast.
High in the Arctic, where Anadir glides,
A narrow strait the impinging worlds divides;
There Tartar fugitives from famine sail,
And migrant tribes these fruitful shorelands hail.
He spoke; when Behren's pass before them lay,
And moving nations on the margin stray,
Thick swarming, venturous; sail and oar they ply,
Climb on the surge and o'er the billows fly.
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 crowd along the skies:
Thus, to his eye, from bleak Tartaria's shore,
Thro isles and seas, the gathering people pour,
Change their cold regions for a happier strand,
Leap from the wave and tread the welcome land;
In growing tribes extend their southern sway,
And wander wide beneath a warmer day.
But why, the Chief replied, if ages past
Led the bold vagrants to so mild a waste;
If human souls, for social compact given,
Inform their nature with the stamp of heaven.
Why the wild woods for ever must they rove,
Nor arts nor social joys their passions move?
Long is the lapse of ages, since thy hand
Conducted here thy first adventurous band.
On other shores, in every eastern clime,
Since that unletter'd, distant tract of time,
What arts have sprung, imperial powers to grace!
What sceptres sway'd the many-master'd race!
Guilt, grandeur, glory from their seats been hurl'd,
And dire divulsions shook the changing world!
Ere Rome's first Eagle clave the frighted air,
Ere Sparta form'd her deathlike sons of war,
Ere Tyre and Ilion saw their towers arise,
Or Memphian pyramids usurp'd the skies,
These tribes have forester'd the fruitful zone,
Their seats unsettled, and their name unknown.
Hesper to this replied: A scanty train,
In that far age, approach'd the wide domain;
The wide domain, with game and fruitage crown'd,
Supplied their food uncultured from the ground.
By nature form'd to rove, the humankind,
Of freedom fond, will ramble unconfined,
Till all the region fills, and rival right
Restrains their steps, and bids their force unite;
When common safety builds a common cause,
Conforms their interest and inspires their laws;
By mutual checks their different manners blend,
Their fields bloom joyous, and their walls ascend.
Here to the vagrant tribes no bounds arose,
They form'd no union, as they fear'd no foes;
Wandering and wild, from sire to son they stray,
A thousand ages, scorning every sway.
And what a world their seatless nations led!
A total hemisphere around them spread;
See the lands lengthen, see the rivers roll,
To each far main, to each extended pole!
But lo, at last the destined course is run,
The realms are peopled and their arts begun.
Where yon mid region elevated lies,
A few famed cities glitter to the skies;
There move, in eastern pomp, the toils of state,
And temples heave, magnificently great.
The Hero turn'd to greet the novel sight;
When three far splendors, yet confusedly bright,
Rose like a constellation; till more near,
Distinctly mark'd their different sites appear;
Diverging still, beneath their roofs of gold,
Three cities gay their mural towers unfold.
So, led by visions of his guiding God,
The seer of Patmos o'er the welkin trod,
Saw the new heaven its flamy cope unbend,
And walls and gates and spiry domes descend;
His well known sacred city grows, and gains
Her new built towers, her renovated fanes;
With golden skies and suns and rainbows crown'd,
Jerusalem looks forth and lights the world around.
Bright on the north imperial Mexic rose;
A mimic morn her sparkling vanes disclose,
Her opening streets concentred hues display,
Give back the sun, and shed internal day;
The circling wall with guardian turrets frown'd,
And look'd defiance to the realms around;
A glimmering lake without the wall retires,
Inverts the towers, and seems a grove of spires.
Proud o'er the midst, on columns lifted high,
A giant 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 writhin.
There, deck'd in state robes, on his golden throne,
Mid suppliant kings, dread Montezuma shone;
Mild in his eye a temper'd grandeur sate,
High seem'd his soul, with conscious power elate;
In aspect open, social and serene,
Enclosed by favorites, and of friends unseen.
Round the rich throne, in various lustre dight,
Gems undistinguished cast a changing light;
Sapphire and emerald soften down the scene,
Cold azure mingling with the vernal green,
Pearl, amber, ruby warmer flames unfold,
And diamonds brighten from the burning gold;
Thro all the dome the living blazes blend,
And shoot their rainbows where the arches bend.
On every ceiling, painted light and gay,
Symbolic forms their graphic art display;
Recording, confident of endless fame,
Each feat of arms, each patriarchal name;
Like Memphian hieroglyphs, to stretch the span
Of memory frail in momentary man.
Pour'd thro the gates a hundred nations greet,
Throng the rich mart and line each ample street,
Ply different labors, walls and structures rear,
Or till the fields, or train the ranks of war.
Thro spreading states the skirts of empire bend,
New temples rise and other plains extend;
Thrice ten wide provinces, in culture gay,
Bless the same king, and daily firm the sway.
A smile benignant kindling in his eyes,
O happy realm! the glad Columbus cries,
Far in the midland, safe from every foe,
Thy arts shall flourish as thy virtues grow,
To endless years thy rising fame extend,
And sires of nations from thy sons descend.
May no gold-thirsty race thy temples tread,
Insult thy rites, nor heap thy plains with dead;
No Bovadilla seize the tempting spoil,
No dark Ovando, no religious Boyle,
In mimic priesthood grave, or robed in state,
Overwhelm thy glories in oblivious fate!
Vain are thy hopes, the sainted Power replied,
These rich abodes from Spanish hordes to hide,
Or teach hard guilt and cruelty to spare
The guardless prize of sacrilegious war.
Think not the vulture, mid the field of slain,
Where base and brave promiscuous strow the plain,
Where the young hero in the pride of charms
Pours brighter 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 blunt beak and hovers down the sky,
From countless corses picks the dainty food,
And screams and fattens in the purest blood.
So the vile hosts, that hither trace thy way,
On happiest tribes with fiercest fury prey.
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.
He gains the shore. Behold his fortress rise,
His fleet high flaming suffocates the skies.
The march begins; the nations in affright
Quake as he moves, and wage the fruitless fight;
Thro the rich provinces he bends his way,
Kings in his chain, and kingdoms for his prey;
Full on the imperial town infuriate falls,
And pours destruction o'er its batter'd walls.
In quest of peace great Montezuma stands,
A sovereign supplicant with lifted hands,
Brings all his treasure, yields the regal sway,
Bids vassal millions their new lord obey;
And plies the victor with incessant prayer,
Thro ravaged realms the harmless race to spare.
But treasures, tears and sceptres plead in vain,
Nor threats can move him, nor a world restrain;
While blind religion's prostituted name
And monkish fury guide the sacred flame.
O'er crowded fanes their fires unhallow'd bend,
Climb the wide roofs, the lofty towers ascend,
Pour thro the lowering skies the smoky flood,
And stain the fields, and quench the blaze in blood.
Columbus heard; and, with a heaving sigh,
Dropt the full tear that started in his eye:
O hapless day! his trembling voice replied,
That saw my wandering pennon mount the tide.
Had but the lamp of heaven to that bold sail
Ne'er mark'd the passage nor awoke the gale,
Taught foreign prows these peopled shores to find,
Nor led those tigers forth to fang mankind;
Then had the tribes beneath these bounteous skies
Seen their walls widen and their harvests rise;
Down the long tracts of time their glory shone,
Broad as the day and lasting as the sun.
The growing realms, behind thy shield that rest,
Paternal monarch, still thy power had blest,
Enjoy'd the pleasures that surround thy throne,
Survey'd thy virtues and improved their own.
Forgive me, prince; this luckless arm hath led
The storm unseen that hovers o'er thy head;
Taught the dark sons of slaughter where to roam,
To seize thy crown and seal the nation's doom.
Arm, sleeping empire, meet the murderous band,
Drive back the invaders, save the sinking land.-
But vain the call! behold the streaming blood!
Forgive me, Nature! and forgive me, God!
While sorrows thus his patriarch pride control,
Hesper reproving sooths 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 soar,
And raise to light that long-secluded shore.
For this my guardian care thy youth inspired,
To virtue rear'd thee, and with glory fired,
Bade in thy plan each distant world unite,
And wing'd thy vessel for the venturous flight.
Nor think the labors vain; to good they tend;
Tyrants like these shall ne'er defeat their end;
Their end that opens far beyond the scope
Of man's past efforts and his present hope.
Long has thy race, to narrow shores confined,
Trod the same round that fetter'd fast the mind;
Now, borne on bolder plumes, with happier flight,
The world's broad bounds unfolding to the sight,
The mind shall soar; the coming age expand
Their arts and lore to every barbarous land;
And buried gold, drawn copious from the mine,
Give wings to commerce and the world refine.
Now to yon southern cities turn thy view,
And mark the rival seats of rich Peru.
See Quito's airy plains, exalted high,
With loftier temples rise along the sky;
And elder Cusco's shining roofs unfold,
Flame on the day, and shed their suns of gold.
Another range, in these pacific climes,
Spreads a broad theatre for unborn crimes;
Another Cortez shall their treasures view,
His rage rekindle and his guilt renew;
His treason, fraud, and every fell design,
O curst Pizarro, shall revive in thine.
Here reigns a prince, whose heritage proclaims
A long bright lineage of imperial names;
Where the brave roll of Incas love to trace
The distant father of their realm and race,
Immortal Capac. He, in youthful pride,
With young Oella his illustrious bride,
Announced their birth divine; a race begun
From heaven, the children of their God the Sun;
By him sent forth a polish'd state to frame,
Crush the fiend Gods that human victims claim,
With cheerful rites their pure devotions pay
To the bright orb that gives the changing day.
On this great plan, as children of the skies,
They plied their arts and saw their hamlets rise.
First of their works, and sacred to their fame.
Yon proud metropolis received its name,
Cusco the seat of states, in peace design'd
To reach o'er earth, and civilize mankind.
Succeeding sovereigns spread their limits far,
Tamed every tribe, and sooth'd the rage of war;
Till Quito bow'd; and all the heliac zone
Felt the same sceptre, and confirm'd the throne.
Near Cusco's walls, where still their hallow'd isle
Bathes in its lake and wears its verdant smile,
Where these prime parents of the sceptred line
Their advent made, and spoke their birth divine,
Behold their temple stand; its glittering spires
Light the glad waves and aid their father's fires.
Arch'd in the walls of gold, its portal gleams
With various gems of intermingling beams;
And flaming from the front, with borrow'd ray,
A diamond circlet gives the rival day;
In whose bright face forever looks abroad
The labor'd image of the radiant God.
There dwells the royal priest, whose inner shrine
Conceals his lore; tis there his voice divine
Proclaims the laws; and there a cloister'd quire
Of holy virgins keep the sacred fire.
Columbus heard; and curious to be taught
What pious fraud such wondrous changes wrought,
Ask'd by what mystic charm, in that dark age,
They quell'd in savage souls the barbarous rage,
By leagues of peace combined a wide domain,
And taught the virtues in their laws to reign.
Long is the tale; but tho their labors rest
By years obscured, in flowery fiction drest,
My voice, said Hesper, shall revive their name,
And give their merits to immortal fame.
Led by his father's wars, in early prime
Young Capac left his native northern clime;
The clime where Quito since hath rear'd her fanes,
And now no more her barbarous rites maintains.
He saw these vales in richer blooms array'd,
And tribes more numerous haunt the woodland shade,
Saw rival clans their local 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 return'd with his victorious sire,
New charms of glory all his soul inspire;
To conquer nations on a different plan,
And build his greatness on the good of man.
By nature form'd for hardiest deeds of fame,
Tall, bold and full-proportion'd rose his 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 seem'd the semblance of his parent Sun.
But tho fame's airy visions lift his eyes,
And future empires from his labors rise;
Yet softer fires his daring views control,
And mixt emotions fill his changing soul.
Shall genius rare, that might the world improve,
Bend to the milder voice of careless love,
That bounds his glories, and forbids to part
From bowers that woo'd his fluctuating heart?
Or shall the toils imperial heroes claim
Fire his brave bosom with a patriot flame,
Bid sceptres wait him on Peruvia's shore,
And loved Oella meet his eyes no more?
Still unresolved he sought the lonely maid,
Who plied her labors in the silvan shade;
Her locks loose rolling mantle deep her breast,
And wave luxuriant round her slender waist,
Gay wreaths of flowers her pensive brows adorn,
And her white raiment mocks the light of morn.
Her busy hand sustains a bending bough,
Where cotton clusters spread their robes of snow,
From opening pods unbinds the fleecy store,
And culls her labors for the evening bower.
For she, the first in all Hesperia, fed
The turning spindle with the twisting thread;
The woof, the shuttle follow'd her command,
Till various garments grew beneath her hand.
And now, while all her thoughts with Capac rove
Thro former scenes of innocence and love,
In distant fight his fancied dangers share,
Or wait him glorious from the finish'd war;
Blest with the ardent hope, her sprightly mind
A vesture white had for the prince design'd;
And here she seeks the wool to web the fleece,
The sacred emblem of returning peace.
Sudden his near approach the maid alarms;
He flew enraptured to her yielding arms,
And lost, dissolving in a softer flame,
His distant empire and the fire of fame.
At length, retiring thro the homeward field,
Their glowing souls to cooler converse yield;
O'er various scenes of blissful life they ran,
When thus the warrior to the maid began:
Long have we mark'd the inauspicious reign
That waits our sceptre in this rough domain;
A soil ungrateful and a wayward race,
Their game but scanty, and confined their space.
Where late my steps the southern war pursued,
The fertile plains grew boundless as I view'd;
More numerous nations trod the grassy 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 King of day.
But while his orb, in ceaseless glory bright,
Rolls the rich day and fires his stars by night,
Unbounded fulness flows beneath his reign,
Seas yield their treasures, fruits adorn the plain;
His melting mountains spread their annual flood,
Night sheds her dews, the day-breeze fans the God.
Tis he inspires me with the vast design
To form those nations to a sway divine;
Destroy the rites of every demon Power,
Whose altars smoke with sacrilegious gore;
To laws and labor teach the tribes to yield,
And richer fruits to grace the cultured field.
But great, my charmer, is the task of fame,
Their faith to fashion and their lives to tame;
Full many a spacious wild these eyes must see
Spread dreary bounds between my love and me;
And yon bright Godhead circle thrice the 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 simple men may reverence and obey
The radiant offspring of the Power of day.
When these my deeds the faith of nations gain,
And happy millions bless thy Capac's reign,
Then shall he feign a journey to the Sun,
To bring the partner of his well-earn'd throne;
So shall descending kings the line sustain,
Till earth's whole regions join the vast domain.
Will then my fair, at my returning hour,
Forsake these wilds and hail a happier bower?
Will she consenting now resume her smiles,
Send forth her warrior to his glorious toils;
And, sweetly patient, wait the flight of days,
That crown our labors with immortal praise?
Silent the damsel heard; her moistening eye
Spoke the full soul, nor could her voice reply;
Till softer accents sooth'd her wounded ear,
Composed her tumult and allay'd her fear:
Think not, heroic maid, my steps would part
While silent sorrows heave that tender heart.
Oella's peace more dear shall prove to me
Than all the realms that bound the raging sea;
Nor thou, bright Sun, shalt bribe my soul to rest,
And leave one struggle in her lovely breast.
Yet think in tribes so vast, my gentle fair,
What millions merit our instructive care;
How age to age leads on their joyless gloom,
Habitual slaughter their poor piteous doom;
No social ties their wayward passions prove,
Nor peace nor pleasure treads the howling grove;
Mid thousand heroes and a thousand fair
No fond Oella meets her Capac there.
Yet, taught by thee domestic joys to prize,
With softer charms the virgin race shall rise,
Awake new virtues, every grace improve,
And form their minds for happiness and love.
Ah think, as future years thro time descend,
What wide creations on thy voice depend;
And, like the Sun, whose all-delighting ray
To those mild regions gives his purest day,
Diffuse thy bounties, let me instant fly;
In three short moons the generous task I'll try;
Then swift returning, I'll conduct my fair
Where realms submissive wait her fostering care.
And will my prince, my Capac, borne away,
Thro those dark wilds in quest of empire stray,
Where tigers fierce command the shuddering wood,
And men like tigers 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 hero there,
Nor his last groan could reach Oella's ear.
But no! nor death nor chains 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 chance of fate I'll dare,
Thy toils to lessen and thy dangers share.
Quick shall my ready hand two garments weave,
Whose sunny whiteness shall the tribes deceive;
Thus clad, their homage shall secure our sway.
And hail us children of the God of day.
The lovely counsel pleased. The smiling chief
Approved her courage and dispell'd her grief;
Then to their homely bower in haste they move.
Begin their labors and prepare to rove.
Soon grow the robes beneath her forming care,
And the fond parents wed the wondrous pair;
But whelm'd in grief beheld the following dawn,
Their joys all vanish'd and their children gone.
Nine days they march'd; the tenth effulgent morn
Saw their white forms that sacred isle adorn.
The work begins; they preach to every band
The well-form'd fiction, and their faith demand;
With various miracles their powers display,
To prove their lineage and confirm their sway.
They form to different arts the hand of toil,
To whirl the spindle and to spade the soil,
The Sun's bright march with pious finger trace,
And his pale sister with her changing face;
Show how their bounties clothe the labor'd plain,
The green maize shooting from its golden grain,
How the white cotton tree's expanding lobes
File into threads, and swell to fleecy robes;
While the tamed Llama aids the wondrous plan,
And lends his garment to the loins of man.
The astonish'd tribes believe, with glad surprise,
The Gods descended from the favoring skies,
Adore their persons robed in shining white.
Receive their laws and leave each horrid rite,
Build with assisting hands the golden throne,
And hail and bless the sceptre of the Sun.
The Columbiad: Book Vi
British cruelty to American prisoners. Prison Ship. Retreat of Washington with the relics of his army, pursued by Howe. Washington recrossing the Delaware in the night, to surprise the British van, is opposed by uncommon obstacles. His success in this audacious enterprise lays the foundation of the American empire. A monument to be ere on the bank of the Delaware. Approach of Burgoyne, sailing up the St. Laurence with an army of Britons and various other nations. Indignant energy of the colonies, compared to that of Greece in opposing the invasion of Xerxes. Formation of an army of citizens, under the command of Gates. Review of the American and British armies, and of the savage tribes who join the British standard. Battle of Saratoga. Story of Lucinda. Second battle, and capture of Burgoyne and his army.
But of all tales that war's black annals hold,
The darkest, foulest still remains untold;
New modes of torture wait the shameful strife,
And Britain wantons in the waste of life.
Cold-blooded Cruelty, first fiend of hell,
Ah think no more with savage hordes to dwell;
Quit the Caribian tribes who eat their slain,
Fly that grim gang, the Inquisitors of Spain,
Boast not thy deeds in Moloch's shrines of old,
Leave Barbary's pirates to their blood-bought gold,
Let Holland steal her victims, force them o'er
To toils and death on Java's morbid shore;
Some cloak, some color all these crimes may plead;
Tis avarice, passion, blind religion's deed;
But Britons here, in this fraternal broil,
Grave, cool, deliberate in thy service toil.
Far from the nation's eye, whose nobler soul
Their wars would humanize, their pride control,
They lose the lessons that her laws impart,
And change the British for the brutal heart.
Fired by no passion, madden'd by no zeal,
No priest, no Plutus bids them not to feel;
Unpaid, gratuitous, on torture bent,
Their sport is death, their pastime to torment;
All other gods they scorn, but bow the knee,
And curb, well pleased, O Cruelty, to thee.
Come then, curst goddess, where thy votaries reign,
Inhale their incense from the land and main;
Come to Newyork, their conquering arms to greet,
Brood o'er their camp and breathe along their fleet;
The brother chiefs of Howe's illustrious name
Demand thy labors to complete their fame.
What shrieks of agony thy praises sound!
What grateless dungeons groan beneath the ground!
See the black Prison Ship's expanding womb
Impested thousands, quick and dead, entomb.
Barks after barks the captured seamen bear,
Transboard and lodge thy silent victims there;
A hundred scows, from all the neighboring shore,
Spread the dull sail and ply the constant oar,
Waft wrecks of armies from the well fought field,
And famisht garrisons who bravely yield;
They mount the hulk, and, cramm'd within the cave,
Hail their last house, their living, floating grave.
She comes, the Fiend! her grinning jaws expand,
Her brazen eyes cast lightning o'er the strand,
Her wings like thunder-clouds the welkin sweep,
Brush the tall spires and shade the shuddering deep;
She gains the deck, displays her wonted store,
Her cords and scourges wet with prisoners' gore;
Gripes, pincers, thumb-screws spread beneath her feet,
Slow poisonous drugs and loads of putrid meat;
Disease hangs drizzling from her slimy locks,
And hot contagion issues from her box.
O'er the closed hatches ere she takes her place,
She moves the massy planks a little space,
Opes a small passage to the cries below,
That feast her soul on messages of woe;
There sits with gaping ear and changeless eye,
Drinks every groan and treasures every sigh,
Sustains the faint, their miseries to prolong,
Revives the dying and unnerves the strong.
But as the infected mass resign their breath.
She keeps with joy the register of death.
As tost thro portholes from the encumber'd cave,
Corpse after corpse fall dashing in the wave;
Corpse after corpse, for days and months and years,
The tide bears off, and still its current clears;
At last, o'erloaded with the putrid gore,
The slime-clad waters thicken round the shore.
Green Ocean's self, that oft his wave renews,
That drinks whole fleets with all their battling crews,
That laves, that purifies the earth and sky,
Yet ne'er before resign'd his natural dye,
Here purples, blushes for the race he bore
To rob and ravage this unconquer'd shore;
The scaly nations, as they travel by,
Catch the contagion, sicken, gasp and die.
Now Hesper turns the Hero's tearful eye
To other fields where other standards fly;
For here constrain'd new warfare to disclose,
And show the feats of more than mortal foes,
Where interposing with celestial might,
His own dread labors must decide the fight,
He bids the scene with pomp unusual rise,
To teach Columbus how to read the skies.
He marks the trace of Howe's triumphant course,
And wheels o'er Jersey plains his gathering force;
Where dauntless Washington, begirt with foes,
Still greater rises as the danger grows,
And wearied troops, o'er kindred warriors slain,
Attend his march thro many a sanguine plain.
From Hudson's bank to Trenton's wintry strand,
He guards in firm retreat his feeble band;
Britons by thousands on his flanks advance,
Bend o'er his rear and point the lifted lance.
Past Delaware's frozen stream, with scanty force,
He checks retreat; then turning back his course,
Remounts the wave, and thro the mingled roar
Of ice and storm reseeks the hostile shore,
Wrapt in the gloom of night. The offended Flood
Starts from his cave, assumes the indignant god,
Rears thro the parting tide his foamy form,
And with his fiery eyeballs lights the storm.
He stares around him on the host he heard,
Clears his choked urn and smooths his icy beard,
And thus: Audacious chief, this troubled wave
Tempt not; or tempting, here shall gape thy grave.
Is nothing sacred to thy venturous might?
The howling storm, the holy truce of night,
High tossing ice-isles crashing round thy side,
Insidious rocks that pierce the tumbling tide?
Fear then this forceful arm, and hear once more,
Death stands between thee and that shelvy shore.
The chief beholds the god, and notes his cry,
But onward drives, nor pauses to reply;
Calls to each bark, and spirits every host
To toil, gain, tempt the interdicted coast.
The crews, regardless of the doubling roar,
Breast the strong helm, and wrestle with the oar,
Stem with resurgent prow the struggling spray,
And with phosphoric lanterns shape their way.
The god perceived his warning words were vain,
And rose more furious to assert his reign,
Lash'd up a loftier surge, and heaved on high
A ridge of billows that obstruct the sky;
And, as the accumulated mass he rolls,
Bares the sharp rocks and lifts the gaping shoals.
Forward the fearless barges plunge and bound,
Top the curl'd wave, or grind the flinty ground,
Careen, whirl, right, and sidelong dasht and tost,
Now seem to reach and now to lose the coast.
Still unsubdued the sea-drench'd army toils,
Each buoyant skiff the flouncing godhead foils;
He raves and roars, and in delirious woe
Calls to his aid his ancient hoary foe,
Almighty Frost; when thus the vanquish'd Flood
Bespeaks in haste the great earth-rending god:
Father of storms! behold this mortal race
Confound my force and brave me to my face.
Not all my waves by all my tempests driven,
Nor black night brooding o'er the starless heaven,
Can check their course; they toss and plunge amain,
And lo, my guardian rocks project their points in vain.
Come to my help, and with thy stiffening breath
Clog their strain'd helms, distend their limbs indeath.
Tho ancient enmity our realms divide,
And oft thy chains arrest my laboring tide,
Let strong necessity our cause combine,
Thy own disgrace anticipate in mine;
Even now their oars thy sleet in vain congeals,
Thy crumbling ice-cakes crash beneath their keels;
Their impious arms already cope with ours,
And mortal man defies immortal Powers.
Roused at the call, the Monarch mounts the storm;
In muriat flakes he robes his nitrous form,
Glares thro the compound, all its blast inhales,
And seas turn crystal where he breathes his gales.
He comes careering o'er his bleak domain,
But comes untended by his usual train;
Hail, sleet and snow-rack far behind him fly,
Too weak to wade thro this petrific sky,
Whose air consolidates and cuts and stings,
And shakes hoar tinsel from its flickering wings.
Earth heaves and cracks beneath the alighting god;
He gains the pass, bestrides the roaring flood,
Shoots from his nostrils one wide withering sheet
Of treasured meteors on the struggling fleet;
The waves conglaciate instant, fix in air,
Stand like a ridge of rocks, and shiver there.
The barks, confounded in their headlong surge,
Or wedged in crystal, cease their oars to urge;
Some with prone prow, as plunging down the deep,
And some remounting o'er the slippery steep
Seem laboring still, but moveless, lifeless all;
And the chill'd army here awaits its fall.
But Hesper, guardian of Hesperia's right,
From his far heaven looks thro the rayless night;
And, stung to vengeance at the unequal strife,
To save her host, in jeopardy of life,
Starts from his throne, ascends his flamy car.
And turns tremendous to the field of war.
His wheels, resurging from the depth of even,
Roll back the night, streak wide the startled heaven,
Regain their easting with reverted gyres,
And stud their path with scintillating fires.
He cleaves the clouds; and, swift as beams of day,
O'er California sweeps his splendid way;
Missouri's mountains at his passage nod,
And now sad Delaware feels the present god,
And trembles at his tread. For here to fight
Rush two dread Powers of such unmeasured might,
As threats to annihilate his doubtful reign,
Convulse the heaven and mingle earth and main.
Frost views his brilliant foe with scornful eye,
And whirls a tenfold tempest thro the sky;
Where each fine atom of the immense of air,
Steel'd, pointed, barb'd for unexampled war,
Sings o'er the shuddering ground; when thus he broke
Contemptuous silence, and to Hesper spoke:
Thou comest in time to share their last disgrace,
To change to crystal with thy rebel race,
Stretch thy huge corse o'er Delaware's bank afar,
And learn the force of elemental war.
Or if undying life thy lamp inspire,
Take that one blast and to thy sky retire;
There, roll'd eternal round the heavens, proclaim
Thy own disaster and my deathless fame.
I come, said Hesper, not to insult the brave,
But break thy sceptre and let loose my wave,
Teach the proud Stream more peaceful tides to roll,
And send thee howling to thy stormy pole;
That drear dominion shall thy rage confine;
This land, these waters and those troops are mine.
He added not; and now the sable storm,
Pierced by strong splendor, burst before his form;
His visage stern an awful lustre shed,
His pearly planet play'd around his head.
He seized a lofty pine, whose roots of yore
Struck deep in earth, to guard the sandy shore
From hostile ravage of the mining tide,
That rakes with spoils of earth its crumbling side.
He wrencht it from the soil, and o'er the foe
Whirl'd the strong trunk, and aim'd a sweeping blow,
That sung thro air, but miss'd the moving god,
And fell wide crashing on the frozen flood.
For many a rood the shivering ice it tore,
Loosed every bark and shook the sounding shore;
Stroke after stroke with doubling force he plied,
Foil'd the hoar Fiend and pulverized the tide.
The baffled tyrant quits the desperate cause;
From Hesper's heat the river swells and thaws,
The fleet rolls gently to the Jersey coast,
And morning splendors greet the landing host.
Tis here dread Washington, when first the day
O'er Trenton beam'd to light his rapid way,
Pour'd the rude shock on Britain's vanguard train,
And led whole squadrons in his captive chain;
Where veteran troops to half their numbers yield,
Tread back their steps, or press the sanguine field,
To Princeton plains precipitate their flight,
Thro new disasters and unfinish'd fight,
Resign their conquests by one sad surprise,
Sink in their pride and see their rivals rise.
Here dawn'd the daystar of Hesperia's fame,
Here herald glory first emblazed her name;
On Delaware's bank her base of empire stands,
The work of Washington's immortal hands;
Prompt at his side while gallant Mercer trod,
And seal'd the firm foundation with his blood.
In future years, if right the Muse divine,
Some great memorial on this bank shall shine;
A column bold its granite shaft shall rear,
Swell o'er the strand and check the passing air,
Cast its broad image on the watery glade,
And Bristol greet the monumental shade;
Eternal emblem of that gloomy hour,
When the great general left her storm-beat shore,
To tempest, night and his own sword consign'd
His country's fates, the fortunes of mankind.
Where sealike Laurence, rolling in his pride,
With Ocean's self disputes the tossing tide,
From shore to shore, thro dim distending skies,
Beneath full sails imbanded nations rise.
Britain and Brunswick here their flags unfold,
Here Hessia's hordes, for toils of slaughter sold,
Anspach and Darmstadt swell the hireling train,
Proud Caledonia crowds the masted main,
Hibernian kerns and Hanoverian slaves
Move o'er the decks and darken wide the waves.
Tall on the boldest bark superior shone
A warrior ensign'd with a various crown;
Myrtles and laurels equal honors join'd,
Which arms had purchased and the Muses twined;
His sword waved forward, and his ardent eye
Seem'd sharing empires in the southern sky.
Beside him rose a herald to proclaim
His various honors, titles, feats and fame;
Who raised an opening scroll, where proudly shone
Burgoyne and vengeance from the British throne.
Champlain receives the congregated host,
And his husht waves beneath the sails are lost;
Ticonderoga rears his rocks in vain,
Nor Edward's walls the weighty shock sustain;
Deep George's loaded lake reluctant guides
Their bounding barges o'er his sacred tides.
State after state the splendid pomp appalls,
Each town surrenders, every fortress falls;
Sinclair retires; and with his feeble train,
In slow retreat o'er many a fatal plain,
Allures their march; wide moves their furious force,
And flaming hamlets mark their wasting course;
Thro fortless realms their spreading ranks are wheel'd,
On Mohawk's wrestern wave, on Bennington's dread field.
At last where Hudson, with majestic pace,
Swells at the sight, and checks his rapid race,
Thro dark Stillwater slow and silent moves,
And flying troops with sullen pause reproves,
A few firm bands their starry standard rear,
Wheel, front and face the desolating war.
Sudden the patriot flame each province warms,
Deep danger calls, the freemen quit their farms,
Seize their tried muskets, name their chiefs to lead,
Endorse their knapsacks and to vengeance speed.
O'er all the land the kindling ardor flies,
Troop follows troop, and flags on flags arise,
Concentred, train'd, their forming files unite,
Swell into squadrons and demand the fight.
When Xerxes, raving at his sire's disgrace,
Pour'd his dark millions on the coast of Thrace,
O'er groaning Hellespont his broad bridge hurl'd,
Hew'd ponderous Athos from the trembling world,
Still'd with his weight of ships the struggling main,
And bound the billows in his boasted chain,
Wide o'er proud Macedon he wheel'd his course,
Thrace, Thebes, Thessalia join'd his furious force.
Thro six torn states his hovering swarms increase,
And hang tremendous on the skirts of Greece;
Deep groan the shrines of all her guardian gods,
Sad Pelion shakes, divine Olympus nods,
Shock'd Ossa sheds his hundred hills of snow,
And Tempe swells her murmuring brook below;
Wild in her starts of rage the Pythian shrieks,
Dodona's Oak the pangs of nature speaks,
Eleusis quakes thro all her mystic caves,
And black Trophonius gapes a thousand graves.
But soon the freeborn Greeks to vengeance rise,
Brave Sparta springs where first the danger lies,
Her self-devoted Band, in one steel'd mass,
Plunge in the gorge of death, and choke the Pass,
Athenian youths, the unwieldy war to meet,
Couch the stiff lance, or mount the well arm'd fleet;
They sweep the incumber'd seas of their vast load,
And fat their fields with lakes of Asian blood.
So leapt our youths to meet the invading hordes,
Fame fired their courage, freedom edged their swords.
Gates in their van on high-hill'd Bemus rose,
Waved his blue steel and dared the headlong foes;
Undaunted Lincoln, laboring on his right,
Urged every arm, and gave them hearts to fight;
Starke, at the dexter flank, the onset claims,
Indignant Herkimer the left inflames;
He bounds exulting to commence the strife.
And buy the victory with his barter'd life.
And why, sweet Minstrel, from the harp of fame
Withhold so long that once resounding name?
The chief who, steering by the boreal star,
O'er wild Canadia led our infant war,
In desperate straits superior powers display'd,
Burgoyne's dread scourge, Montgomery's ablest aid;
Ridgefield and Compo saw his valorous might
With ill-arm'd swains put veteran troops to flight.
Tho treason foul hath since absorb'd his soul,
Bade waves of dark oblivion round him roll,
Sunk his proud heart abhorrent and abhorr'd,
Effaced his memory and defiled his sword;
Yet then untarnisht roll'd his conquering car;
Then famed and foremost in the ranks of war
Brave Arnold trod; high valor warm'd his breast,
And beams of glory play'd around his crest.
Here toils the chief; whole armies from his eye
Resume their souls, and swift to combat fly.
Camp'd on a hundred hills, and trench'd in form,
Burgoyne's long legions view the gathering storm;
Uncounted nations round their general stand,
And wait the signal from his guiding hand.
Canadia crowds her Gallic colons there,
Ontario's yelling tribes torment the air,
Wild Huron sends his lurking hordes from far,
Insidious Mohawk swells the woodland war;
Scalpers and ax-men rush from Erie's shore,
And Iroquois augments the war whoop roar;
While all his ancient troops his train supply,
Half Europe's banners waving thro the sky;
Deep squadron'd horse support his endless flanks,
And park'd artillery frowns behind the ranks.
Flush'd with the conquest of a thousand fields,
And rich with spoils that all the region yields,
They burn with zeal to close the long campaign,
And crush Columbia on this final plain.
His fellow chiefs inhale the hero's flame,
Nerves of his arm and partners in his fame:
Phillips, with treasured thunders poised and wheel'd
In brazen tubes, prepares to rake the field;
The trench-tops darken with the sable rows,
And, tipt with fire, the waving match-rope glows.
There gallant Reidesel in German guise,
And Specht and Breyman, prompt for action, rise;
His savage hordes the murderous Johnson leads,
Files thro the woods and treads the tangled weeds,
Shuns open combat, teaches where to run,
Skulk, couch the ambush, aim the hunter's gun,
Whirl the sly tomahawk, the war whoop sing,
Divide the spoils and pack the scalps they bring.
Frazer in quest of glory seeks the field;-
False glare of glory, what hast thou to yield?
How long, deluding phantom, wilt thou blind,
Mislead, debase, unhumanize mankind?
Bid the bold youth, his headlong sword who draws,
Heed not the object, nor inquire the cause;
But seek adventuring, like an errant knight,
Wars not his own, gratuitous in fight,
Greet the gored field, then plunging thro the fire,
Mow down his men, with stupid pride expire,
Shed from his closing eyes the finish'd flame,
And ask, for all his crimes, a deathless name?
And when shall solid glory, pure and bright,
Alone inspire us, and our deeds requite?
When shall the applause of men their chiefs pursue
In just proportion to the good they do,
On virtue's base erect the shrine of fame,
Define her empire, and her code proclaim?
Unhappy Frazer! little hast thou weigh'd
The crirneful cause thy valor comes to aid.
Far from thy native land, thy sire, thy wife,
Love's lisping race that cling about thy life,
Thy soul beats high, thy thoughts expanding roam
On battles past, and laurels yet to come:
Alas, what laurels? where the lasting gain?
A pompous funeral on a desert plain!
The cannon's roar, the muffled drums proclaim,
In one short blast, thy momentary fame,
And some war minister per-hazard reads
In what far field the tool of placemen bleeds.
Brave Heartly strode in youth's o'erweening pride;
Housed in the camp he left his blooming bride,
The sweet Lucinda; whom her sire from far,
On steeds high bounding o'er the waste of war,
Had guided thro the lines, and hither led,
That fateful morn, the plighted chief to wed.
He deem'd, deluded sire! the contest o'er,
That routed rebels dared the fight no more;
And came to mingle, as the tumult ceased,
The victor's triumph with the nuptial feast.
They reach'd his tent; when now with loud alarms
The morn burst forth and roused the camp to arms;
Conflicting passions seized the lover's breast,
Bright honor call'd, and bright Lucinda prest:-
And wilt thou leave me for that clangorous call?
Traced I these deserts but to see thee fall?
I know thy valorous heart, thy zeal that speeds
Where dangers press and boldest battle bleeds.
My father said blest Hymen here should join
With sacred Love to make Lucinda thine;
But other union these dire drums foredoom,
The dark dead union of the eternal tomb.
On yonder plain, soon sheeted o'er with blood,
Our nuptial couch shall prove a crimson clod;
For there this night thy livid corse must lie,
I'll seek it there, and on that bosom die.
Yet go; tis duty calls; but o'er thy head
Let this white plume its floating foliage spread;
That from the rampart, thro the troubled air,
These eyes may trace thee toiling in the war.
She fixt the feather on his crest above,
Bound with the mystic knot, the knot of love;
He parted silent, but in silent prayer
Bade Love and Hymen guard the timorous fair.
Where Saratoga show'd her champaign side,
That Hudson bathed with still untainted tide,
The opposing pickets push'd their scouting files,
Wheel'd skirmisht, halted, practised all their wiles;
Each to mislead, insnare, exhaust their foes,
And court the conquest ere the armies close.
Now roll like winged storms the solid lines,
The clarion thunders and the battle joins,
Thick flames in vollied flashes load the air,
And echoing mountains give the noise of war;
Sulphureous clouds rise reddening round the height,
And veil the skies, and wrap the sounding fight.
Soon from the skirts of smoke, where thousands toil,
Ranks roll away and into light recoil;
Starke pours upon them in a storm of lead;
His hosted swains bestrew the field with dead,
Pierce with strong bayonets the German reins,
Whelm two battalions in their captive chains,
Bid Baum, with wounds enfeebled, quit the field,
And Breyman next his gushing lifeblood yield.
This Frazer sees, and thither turns his course,
Bears down before them with Britannia's force,
Wheels a broad column on the victor flank,
And springs to vengeance thro the foremost rank.
Lincoln, to meet the hero, sweeps the plain;
His ready bands the laboring Starke sustain;
Host matching host, the doubtful battle burns,
And now the Britons, now their foes by turns
Regain the ground; till Frazer feels the force
Of a rude grapeshot in his flouncing horse;
Nor knew the chief, till struggling from the fall,
That his gored thigh had first received the ball.
He sinks expiring on the slippery soil;
Shock'd at the sight, his baffled troops recoil;
Where Lincoln, pressing with redoubled might,
Broke thro their squadrons and confirmed the flight;
When this brave leader met a stunning blow,
That stopt his progress and avenged the foe.
He left the field; but prodigal of life,
Unwearied Francis still prolong'd the strife;
Till a chance carabine attained his head,
And stretch'd the hero mid the vulgar dead.
His near companions rush with ardent gait,
Swift to revenge, but soon to share his fate;
Brown, Adams, Coburn, falling side by side,
Drench the chill sod with all their vital tide.
Firm on the west bold Herkimer sustains
The gather'd shock of all Canadia's trains;
Colons and wildmen post their skulkers there,
Outflank his pickets and assail his rear,
Drive in his distant scouts with hideous blare,
And press, on three sides close, the hovering war.
Johnson's own shrieks commence the deafening din,
Rouse every ambush and the storm begin.
A thousand thickets, thro each opening glen,
Pour forth their hunters to the chase of men;
Trunks of huge trees, and rocks and ravines lend
Unnumber'd batteries and their files defend;
They fire, they squat, they rise, advance and fly,
And yells and groans alternate rend the sky.
The well aim'd hatchet cleaves the helmless head,
Mute showers of arrows and loud storms of lead
Rain thick from hands unseen, and sudden fling
A deep confusion thro the laboring wing.
But Herkimer undaunted quits the stand,
Breaks in loose files his disencumbered band,
Wheels on the howling glens each light-arm'd troop,
And leads himself where Johnson tones his whoop,
Pours thro his copse a well directed fire;
The semisavage sees his tribes retire,
Then follows thro the brush in full horse speed,
And gains the hilltop where the Hurons lead;
Here turns his courser; when a grateful sight
Recals his stragglers, and restrains his flight.
For Herkimer no longer now sustains
The loss of blood that his faint vitals drains:
A ball had pierced him ere he changed his field;
The slow sure death his prudence had conceal'd,
Till dark derouted foes should yield to flight,
And his firm friends could finish well the fight.
Lopt from his horse the hero sinks at last;
The Hurons ken him, and with hallooing blast
Shake the vast wilderness; the tribes around
Drink with broad ears and swell the rending sound,
Rush back to vengeance with tempestuous might,
Sweep the long slopes from every neighboring height,
Full on their check'd pursuers; who regain,
From all their woods, the first contested plain.
Here open fight begins; and sure defeat
Had forced that column to a swift retreat,
But Arnold, toiling thro the distant smoke,
Beheld their plight, a small detachment took,
Bore down behind them with his field-park loud,
And hail'd his grapeshot thro the savage crowd;
Strow'd every copse with dead, and chased afar
The affrighted relics from the skirts of war.
But on the centre swells the heaviest charge,
The squares develop and the lines enlarge.
Here Kosciusko's mantling works conceal'd
His batteries mute, but soon to scour the field;
Morgan with all his marksmen flanks the foe,
Hull, Brooks and Courtlandt in the vanguard glow;
Here gallant Dearborn leads his light-arm'd train,
Here Scammel towers, here Silly shakes the plain.
Gates guides the onset with his waving brand,
Assigns their task to each unfolding band,
Sustains, inspirits, prompts the warrior's rage,
Now bids the flank and now the front engage,
Points the stern riflers where their slugs to pour,
And tells the unmasking batteries when to roar.
For here impetuous Powell wheels and veers
His royal guards, his British grenadiers;
His Highland broadswords cut their wasting course,
His horse-artillery whirls its furious force.
Here Specht and Reidesel to battle bring
Their scattering yagers from each folding wing;
And here, concentred in tremendous might,
Britain's whole park, descending to the fight,
Roars thro the ranks; tis Phillips leads the train,
And toils and thunders o'er the shuddering plain.
Burgoyne, secure of victory, from his height,
Eyes the whole field and orders all the fight,
Marks where his veterans plunge their fiercest fire,
And where his foes seem halting to retire,
Already sees the starry staff give way.
And British ensigns gaining on the day;
When from the western wing, in steely glare,
All-conquering Arnold surged the tide of war.
Columbia kindles as her hero comes;
Her trump's shrill clangor and her deafening drums
Redoubling sound the charge; they rage, they burn,
And hosted Europe trembles in her turn.
So when Pelides' absence check'd her fate,
All Ilion issued from her guardian gate;
Her huddling squadrons like a tempest pour'd,
Each man a hero and each dart a sword,
Full on retiring Greece tumultuous fall,
And Greece reluctant seeks her sheltering wall;
But Pelius' son rebounding o'er the plain,
Troy backward starts and seeks her towers again.
Arnold's dread falchion, with terrific sway,
Rolls on the ranks and rules the doubtful day,
Confounds with one wide sweep the astonish'd foes,
And bids at last the scene of slaughter close.
Pale rout begins, Britannia's broken train
Tread back their steps and scatter from the plain,
To their strong camp precipitate retire,
And wide behind them streams the roaring fire.
Meantime, the skirts of war as Johnson gored,
His kindred cannibals desert their lord;
They scour the waste for undistinguish'd prey,
Howl thro the night the horrors of the day,
Scalp every straggler from all parties stray'd,
Each wounded wanderer thro the moonlight glade;
And while the absent armies give them place,
Each camp they plunder and each world disgrace.
One deed shall tell what fame great Albion draws
From these auxiliars in her barbarous cause,
Lucinda's fate; the tale, ye nations, hear;
Eternal ages, trace it with a tear.
Long from the rampart, thro the imbattled field,
She spied her Heartly where his column wheel'd,
Traced him with steadfast eye and tortured breast,
That heaved in concert with his dancing crest;
And oft, with head advanced and hand outspread,
Seem'd from her Love to ward the flying lead;
Till, dimm'd by distance and the gathering cloud;
At last he vanish'd in the warrior crowd.
She thought he fell; and wild with fearless air,
She left the camp to brave the woodland war,
Made a long circuit, all her friends to shun,
And wander'd wide beneath the falling sun;
Then veering to the field, the pickets past,
To gain the hillock where she miss'd him last.
Fond maid, he rests not there; from finish'd fight
He sought the camp, and closed the rear of flight.
He hurries to his tent;-oh rage! despair!
No glimpse, no tidings of the frantic fair;
Save that some carmen, as acamp they drove,
Had seen her coursing for the western grove.
Faint with fatigue and choked with burning thirst,
Forth from his friends with bounding leap he burst,
Vaults o'er the palisade with eyes on flame,
And fills the welkin with Lucinda's name,
Swift thro the wild wood paths phrenetic springs,-
Lucind! Lucinda! thro the wild wood rings.
All night he wanders; barking wolves alone
And screaming night-birds answer to his moan;
For war had roused them from their savage den;
They scent the field, they snuff the walks of men.
The fair one too, of every aid forlorn,
Had raved and wander'd, till officipus morn
Awaked the Mohawks from their short repose,
To glean the plunder, ere their comrades rose.
Two Mohawks met the maid,-historian, hold!-
Poor Human Nature! must thy shame be told?
Where then that proud preeminence of birth,
Thy Moral Sense? the brightest boast of earth.
Had but the tiger changed his heart for thine,
Could rocks their bowels with that heart combine,
Thy tear had gusht, thy hand relieved her pain,
And led Lucinda to her lord again.
She starts, with eyes upturn'd and fleeting breath,
In their raised axes views her instant death,
Spreads her white hands to heaven in frantic prayer,
Then runs to grasp their knees, and crouches there.
Her hair, half lost along the shrubs she past,
Rolls in loose tangles round her lovely waist;
Her kerchief torn betrays the globes of snow
That heave responsive to her weight of woe.
Does all this eloquence suspend the knife?
Does no superior bribe contest her life?
There does: the scalps by British gold are paid;
A long-hair'd scalp adorns that heavenly head;
Arid comes the sacred spoil from friend or foe,
No marks distinguish, and no man can know.
With calculating pause and demon grin,
They seize her hands, and thro her face divine
Drive the descending ax; the shriek she sent
Attain'd her lover's ear; he thither bent
With all the speed his wearied limbs could yield,
Whirl'd his keen blade, and stretch'd upon the field
The yelling fiends; who there disputing stood
Her gory scalp, their horrid prize of blood.
He sunk delirious on her lifeless clay,
And past, in starts of sense, the dreadful day.
Are these thy trophies, Carleton! these the swords
Thy hand unsheath'd and gave the savage hordes,
Thy boasted friends, by treaties brought from far,
To aid thy master in his murderous war?
But now Britannia's chief, with proud disdain
Coop'd in his camp, demands the field again.
Back to their fate his splendid host he drew,
Swell'd high their rage, and led the charge anew;
Again the batteries roar, the lightnings play,
Again they fall, again they roll away;
For now Columbia, with rebounding might,
Foil'd quick their columns, but confined their flight.
Her wings, like fierce tornados, gyring ran,
Crusht their wide flanks and gain'd their flying van;
Here Arnold charged; the hero storm'd and pour'd
A thousand thunders where he turn'
No pause, no parley; onward far he fray'd,
Dispersed whole squadrons every bound he made,
Broke thro their rampart, seized theircampand stores
And pluck'd the standard from their broken towers.
Aghast, confounded in the midway field,
They drop their arms; the banded nations yield.
When sad Burgoyne, in one disastrous day,
Sees future crowns and former wreaths decay,
His banners furl'd, his long battalions wheel'd
To pile their muskets on the battle field;
While two pacific armies shade one plain,
The mighty victors and the captive train.