« AnteriorContinuar »
It is not to be thought of that the Flood
Of British freedom, which to the open
Of the world's praise from dark antiquity
Hath flowed, « with pomp of waters, unwithstood,»
Roused though it be full often to a mood
Which spurns the check of salutary bands,
That this most famous Stream in Bogs and Sands
Should perish; and to evil and to good
Be lost for ever. In our Halls is Hung
Armoury of the invincible Knights of old :
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakspeare spake; the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held.-In every thing we are sprung
Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.
WHEN I have borne in memory what has tamed
Great Nations, how ennobling thoughts depart
When men change Swords for Ledgers, and desert
The Student's bower for gold, some fears unnamed
I had, my Country!-am I to be blamed?
But when I think of Thee, and what Thou art,
Verily, in the bottom of my heart,
Of those unfilial fears I am ashamed.
But dearly must we prize thee; we who find
In thee a bulwark for the cause of men;
And I by my affection was beguiled.
What wonder if a Poet now and then,
Among the many movements of his mind,
Felt for thee as a Lover or a Child?
ONE might believe that natural miseries
Had blasted France, and made of it a land
Unfit for Men; and that in one great Band
Her Sons were bursting forth, to dwell at ease.
But 't is a chosen soil, where sun and breeze
Shed gentle favours; rural works are there;
And ordinary business without care ;
Spot rich in all things that can soothe and please!
ENGLAND! the time is come when thou shouldst wean
Thy heart from its emasculating food;
The truth should now be better understood;
Old things have been unsettled; we have seen
Fair seed-time, better harvest might have been
But for thy trespasses; and, at this day,
If for Greece, Egypt, India, Africa,
Aught good were destined, Thou wouldst step between,
England! all nations in this charge agree:
But worse, more ignorant in love and hate
Far, far more abject is thine Enemy:
Therefore the wise pray for thee, though the freight
Of thy offences be a heavy weight :
Oh grief! that Earth's best hopes rest all with Thee!
WHEN, looking on the present face of things,
I see one Man, of Men the meanest too!
Raised up to sway the World, to do, undo,
With Mighty Nations for his Underlings,
The great events with which old story rings
Seem vain and hollow; I find nothing great;
Nothing is left which I can venerate;
So that almost a doubt within me springs
Of Providence, such emptiness at length
Seems at the heart of all things. But, great God!
I measure back the steps which I have trod;
And tremble, seeing whence proceeds the strength
Of such poor Instruments, with thoughts sublime
I tremble at the sorrow of the time.
TO THE MEN OF KENT. OCTOBER, 1803. VANGUARD of Liberty, ye Men of Kent, Ye Children of a Soil that doth advance Her haughty brow against the coast of France, Now is the time to prove your hardiment! To France be words of invitation sent!
They from their Fields can see the countenance
Of your fierce war, may ken the glittering lance,
And hear you shouting forth your brave intent.
Left single, in bold parley, Ye, of yore,
Did from the Norman win a gallant wreath;
Confirmed the charters that were yours before;—
No parleying now! In Britain is one breath;
We all are with you now from Shore to Shore :
Ye Men of Kent, 't is Victory or Death!
ANTICIPATION. OCTOBER, 1803.
SHOUT, for a mighty Victory is won!
On British ground the Invaders are laid low:
The breath of Heaven has drifted them like snow,
And left them lying in the silent sun,
Never to rise again! the work is done.
Come forth, ye Old Men, now in peaceful show
And greet your Sons! drums beat and trumpets blow!
Make merry, Wives! ye little Children, stun
Your Grandames' ears with pleasure of your
Clap, Infants, clap your hands! Divine must be
That triumph, when the very worst, the pain,
And even the prospect of our Brethren slain,
Hath something in it which the heart enjoys :—
In glory will they sleep and endless sanctity.
ANOTHER year!-another deadly blow!
Another mighty Empire overthrown!
And We are left, or shall be left, alone;
The last that dare to struggle with the Foe.
"T is well! from this day forward we shall know
That in ourselves our safety must be sought;
That by our own right hands it must be wrought,
That we must stand unpropped, or be laid low.
( Dastard whom such foretaste doth not cheer!
We shall exult, if They who rule the land
Be Men who hold its many blessings dear,
Wise, upright, valiant; not a servile Band,
Who are to judge of danger which they fear,
And honour which they do not understand.
Wao rises on the banks of Seine, And binds her temples with the civic wreath?
What joy to read the promise of her mien!
How sweet to rest her wide-spread wings beneath!
But they are ever playing,
And twinkling in the light,
And if a breeze be straying,
That breeze she will invite;
And stands on tiptoe, conscious she is fair,
And calls a look of love into her face,
And spreads her arms-as if the general air
Alone could satisfy her wide embrace.
-Melt, Principalities, before her melt!
Her love hailed-her wrath have felt;
But She through many a change of form hath gone,
And stands amidst you now, an armed Creature,
Whose panoply is not a thing put on,
But the live scales of a portentous nature;
That, having wrought its way from birth to birth,
Stalks round-abhorred by Heaven, a terror to the Earth!
I marked the breathings of her dragon crest; My Soul, a sorrowful Interpreter, In many a midnight vision bowed Before the ominous aspect of her spear; Whether the mighty Beam, in scorn upheld, Threatened her foes,-or, pompously at rest, Seemed to bisect her orbed shield,
As stretches a blue bar of solid cloud
Across the setting Sun, and through the fiery West.
So did she daunt the earth, and God defy!
And, wheresoe'er she spread her sovereignty,
Pollution tainted all that was most pure.
-Have we not known-and live we not to tell-
That Justice seemed to hear her final knell ?
Faith buried deeper in her own deep breast
Her stores, and sighed to find them insecure!
And Hope was maddened by the drops that fell
From shades, her chosen place of short-lived rest :
Shame followed shame-and woe supplanted woe-
Is this the only change that time can show?
How long shall vengeance sleep? Ye patient Heavens, how long?
-Infirm ejaculation! from the tongue
Of Nations wanting virtue to be strong
Up to the measure of accorded might,
And daring not to feel the majesty of right.
Weak Spirits are there-who would ask,
Upon the pressure of a painful thing,
The Lion's sinews, or the Eagle's wing;
Or let their wishes loose, in forest glade,
Among the lurking powers
Of herbs and lowly flowers,
Or seek, from Saints above, miraculous aid;
That Man may be accomplished for a task
Which his own Nature hath enjoined—and why?
If, when that interference hath relieved him,
He must sink down to languish
In worse than former helplessness—and lie
Till the caves roar,—and, imbecility
Again engendering anguish,
The same weak wish returns, that had before deceived him.
But Thou, Supreme Disposer! mayst not speed The course of things, and change the creed,
Which hath been held aloft before Men's sight
Since the first framing of societies,
Whether, as Bards have told in ancient song,
Built up by soft seducing harmonies;
Or prest together by the appetite,
And by the power, of wrong!
ON A CELEBRATED EVENT IN ANCIENT
A ROMAN Master stands on Grecian ground,
And to the Concourse of the Isthmian Games
Hle, by his Herald's voice, aloud proclaims
THE LIBERTY OF GREECE:-the words rebound
Until all voices in one voice are drowned;
Glad acclamation by which air was rent!
And birds, high flying in the element,
Dropped to the earth, astonished at the sound!
-A melancholy Echo of that noise
Doth sometimes hang on musing Fancy's ear:
Ah! that a Conqueror's word should be so dear;
Ah! that a boon could shed such rapturous joys!
A gift of that which is not to be given
By all the blended powers of Earth and Heaven.
UPON THE SAME EVENT.
WHEN, far and wide, swift as the beams of morn
The tidings passed of servitude repealed,
And of that joy which shook the Isthmian Field,
The rough Etolians smiled with bitter scorn.
<<'T is known,» cried they, «that he, who would adorn
His envied temples with the Isthmian Crown,
Must either win, through effort of his own,
The prize, or be content to see it worn
By more deserving brows.-Yet so ye prop,
Sons of the Brave who fought at Marathon!
Your feeble Spirits. Greece her head hath bowed,
As if the wreath of Liberty thereon
Would fix itself as smoothly as a cloud,
Which, at Jove's will, descends on Pelion's top.>>
TO THOMAS CLARKSON,
ON THE FINAL PASSING OF THE BILL FOR THE ABOLI
TION OF THE SLAVE TRADE, MARCH, 1807.
CLARKSON! it was an obstinate Hill to climb:
How toilsome, nay, how dire it was, by Thee
Is known, by none, perhaps, so feelingly;
But Thou, who, starting in thy fervent prime,
Didst first lead forth this pilgrimage sublime,
Hast heard the constant Voice its charge repeat,
Which, out of thy young heart's oracular seat,
First roused thee.-O true yoke-fellow of Time
With unabating effort, see, the palm
Is won, and by all Nations shall be worn!
The bloody Writing is for ever torn,
And Thou henceforth shalt have a good Man's calm,
A great Man's happiness; thy zeal shall find
Repose at length, firm Friend of human kind!
A PROPHECY. FEBRUARY, 1807. HIGH deeds, O Germans, are to come from you! Thus in your Books the record shall be found,
«A Watchword was pronounced, a potent sound,
ARMINIUS!-all the people quaked like dew
Stirred by the breeze-they rose a Nation, true,
True to herself-the mighty Germany,
She of the Danube and the Northern sea,
She rose, and off at once the yoke she threw.
power was given her in the dreadful trance;
Those new-born Kings she withered like a flame.>>
-Woe to them all! but heaviest woe and shame
To that Bavarian who did first advance
His banner in accursed league with France,
First open Traitor to a sacred name!
CLOUDS, lingering yet, extend in solid bars
Through the grey west; and lo! these waters, steeled
By breezeless air to smoothest polish, yield
A vivid repetition of the stars;
Jove-Venus-and the ruddy crest of Mars,
Amid his fellows beauteously revealed
At happy distance from earth's groaning field,
Where ruthless mortals wage incessant wars.
Is it a mirror?-or the nether sphere
Opening to view the abyss in which it feeds
Its own calm fires?-But list! a voice is near;
Great Pan himself low-whispering through the reeds,
<< Be thankful, thou; for, if unholy deeds
Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!»>
Go back to antique Ages, if thine eyes
The genuine mien and character would trace
Of the rash Spirit that still holds her place,
Prompting the World's audacious vanities!
See, at her call, the Tower of Babel rise;
The Pyramid extend its monstrous base,
For some Aspirant of our short-lived race,
Anxious an airy name to immortalize.
There, too, ere wiles and politic dispute
Gave specious colouring to aim and act,
See the first mighty Hunter leave the brute
To chase mankind, with men in armies packed
For his field-pastime, high and absolute,
While, to dislodge his game, cities are sacked!
WHILE THE AUTHOR WAS ENGAGED IN WRITING A TRACT, OCCASIONED BY THE CONVENTION OF CINTRA, 1808.
Nor 'mid the World's vain objects! that enslave
The free-born Soul,-that World whose vaunted skill
In selfish interest perverts the will,
Whose factions lead astray the wise and brave;
Not there! but in dark wood and rocky cave,
And hollow vale which foaming torrents fill
With omnipresent murmur as they rave
Down their steep beds, that never shall be still:
Here, mighty Nature! in this school sublime
I weigh the hopes and fears of suffering Spain:
For her consult the auguries of time,
And through the human heart explore my way,
And look and listen-gathering, whence I may,
Triumph, and thoughts no bondage can restrain.
AT THE SAME TIME AND ON THE SAME OCCASION.
I DROPPED my pen;-and listened to the wind
That sang of trees up-torn and vessels tost;
A midnight harmony, and wholly lost
To the general sense of men by chains confined
Of business, care, or pleasure,—or resigned
To timely sleep. Thought I, the impassioned strain,
Which, without aid of numbers, I sustain,
Like acceptation from the World will find.
Yet some with apprehensive ear shall drink
A dirge devoutly breathed o'er sorrows past,
And to the attendant promise will give heed-
The prophecy,-like that of this wild blast,
Which, while it makes the heart with sadness shrink,
Tells also of bright calms that shall succeed.
Or mortal Parents is the Hero born
By whom the undaunted Tyrolese are led?
Or is it Tell's great Spirit, from the dead
Returned to animate an age forlorn?
He comes like Phoebus through the gates of morn
When dreary darkness is discomfited:
Yet mark his modest state! upon his head,
That simple crest, a heron's plume, is worn.
O Liberty! they stagger at the shock;
The Murderers are aghast; they strive to flee,
And half their Host is buried:-rock on rock
Descends:-beneath this godlike Warrior, see!
Bills, Torrents, Woods, embodied to bemock
The Tyrant, and confound his cruelty.
ADVANCE-Come forth from thy Tyrolean ground,
Dear Liberty! stern Nymph of soul untamed,
Sweet Nymph, O rightly of the mountains named!
Through the long chain of Alps from mound to mound
And o'er the eternal snows, like Echo, bound,-
Like Echo, when the Hunter-train at dawn
Have roused her from her sleep: and forest-lawn,
Cliffs, woods, and caves her viewless steps resound
And babble of her pastime!-On, dread Power!
With such invisible motion speed thy flight,
Through hanging clouds, from craggy height to height,
Through the Green vales and through the Herdsman's
That all the Alps may gladden in thy might, Here, there, and in all places at one hour.
FEELINGS OF THE TYROLESE.
| Tax Land we from our Fathers had in trust,
And to our Children will transmit, or die :
This is our maxim, this our piety;
And God and Nature say that it is just.
That which we would perform in arms-we must!
We read the dictate in the Infant's
In the Wife's smile; and in the placid sky;
And, at our feet, amid the silent dust
Of them that were before us.-Sing aloud
Old Songs, the precious music of the heart!
Give, Herds and Flocks, your voices to the wind!
While we go forth, a self-devoted crowd,
With weapons in the fearless hand, to assert
Our virtue, and to vindicate mankind.
ALAS! what boots the long, laborious quest
Of moral prudence, sought through good and ill;
Or pains abstruse-to elevate the will,
And lead us on to that transcendent rest
Where every passion shall the sway attest
Of reason, seated on her sovereign hill;
What is it but a vain and curious skill,
If sapient Germany must lie deprest,
Peneath the brutal sword? Her haughty Schools
Shall blush; and may not we with sorrow say,
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules,
Among the herdsmen of the Alps, have wrought
More for mankind at this unhappy day
Than all the pride of intellect and thought?
AND is it among rude untutored Dales,
There, and there only, that the heart is true?
And, rising to repel or to subdue,
Is it by rocks and woods that man prevails?
Ah, no! though Nature's dread protection fails,
There is a bulwark in the soul. This knew
Iberian Burghers when the sword they drew
In Zaragoza, naked to the gales
Of fiercely-breathing war. The truth was felt
By Palafox, and many a brave Compeer,
Like him of noble birth and noble mind;
By Ladies, meek-eyed Women without fear;
And Wanderers of the street, to whom is dealt
The bread which without industry they find.
O'ER the wide earth, on mountain and on plain,
Dwells in the affections and the soul of man
A Godhead, like the universal PAN,
But more exalted, with a brighter train.
And shall his bounty be dispensed in vain,
Showered equally on city and on field,
And neither hope nor steadfast promise yield
In these usurping times of fear and pain?
Such doom awaits us. Nay, forbid it Heaven!
We know the arduous strife, the eternal laws
To which the triumph of all good is given,
High sacrifice, and labour without pause,
Even to the death :-else wherefore should the eye
Of man converse with immortality?
We know that ye, beneath the stern control
Of awful prudence, keep the unvanquished soul.
And when, impatient of her guilt and woes,
Europe breaks forth; then, Shepherds! shall ye rise
For perfect triumph o'er your Enemies.
HAIL, Zaragoza! If with unwet eye
We can approach, thy sorrow to behold,
Yet is the heart not pitiless nor cold;
Such spectacle demands not tear or sigh.
These desolate Remains are trophies high
Of more than martial courage in the breast
Of peaceful civic virtue : they attest
Thy matchless worth to all posterity.
Blood flowed before thy sight without remorse;
Disease consumed thy vitals; War upheaved
The ground beneath thee with volcanic force;
Dread trials! yet encountered and sustained
Till not a wreck of help or hope remained,
And Law was from necessity received.
SAY, what is Honour?-'T is the finest sense
Of justice which the human mind can frame,
Intent each lurking frailty to disclaim,
And guard the way of life from all offence
Suffered or done. When lawless violence
A Kingdom doth assault, and in the scale
Of perilous war her weightiest Armies fail,
Honour is hopeful elevation-whence
Glory, and Triumph. Yet with politic skill
Endangered States may yield to terms unjust,
Stoop their proud heads, but not unto the dust,-
A Foe's most favourite purpose to fulfil :
Happy occasions oft by self-mistrust
Are forfeited; but infamy doth kill.
THE martial courage of a day is vain,
An empty noise of death the battle's roar,
If vital hope be wanting to restore,
Or fortitude be wanting to sustain,
Armies or Kingdoms. We have heard a strain
Of triumph, how the labouring Danube bore
A weight of hostile corses : drenched with gore
Were the wide fields, the hamlets heaped with slain.
Yet see, the mighty tumult overpast,
Austria a Daughter of her Throne hath sold!
And her Tyrolean Champion we behold
Murdered like one ashore by shipwreck cast,
Murdered without relief. Oh! blind as bold,
To think that such assurance can stand fast!
BRAVE Schill! by death delivered, take thy flight
From Prussia's timid region. Go, and rest
With heroes 'mid the Islands of the Blest,
Or in the Fields of empyrean light.
A meteor wert thou in a darksome night;
Yet shall thy name, conspicuous and sublime,
Stand in the spacious firmament of time,
Fixed as a star: such glory is thy right.
Alas! it may not be for earthly fame
Is Fortune's frail dependent; yet there lives
A judge, who, as man claims by merit, gives; To whose all-pondering mind a noble aim, Faithfully kept, is as a noble deed;
In whose pure sight all virtue doth succeed.
CALL not the royal Swede unfortunate,
Who never did to Fortune bend the knee;
Who slighted fear, rejected steadfastly
Temptation; and whose kingly name and state
Have « perished by his choice, and not his fate!»
Hence lives He, to his inner self endeared;
And hence, wherever virtue is revered, He sits a more exalted Potentate,
Throned in the hearts of men. Should Heaven ordain
That this great Servant of a righteous cause
Must still have sad or vexing thoughts to endure,
Yet may a sympathising spirit pause,
Admonished by these truths, and quench all pain
In thankful joy and gratulation pure. '
Look now on that Adventurer who hath paid
His vows to Fortune; who, in cruel slight
Of virtuous hope, of liberty, and right,
Hath followed wheresoe'er a way was made
By the blind Goddess;-ruthless, undismayed;
And so hath gained at length a prosperous Height,
Round which the Elements of worldly might
Beneath his haughty feet, like clouds, are laid.
O joyless power that stands by lawless force!
Curses are his dire portion, scorn, and hate,
Internal darkness and unquiet breath;
And, if old judgments keep their sacred course,
Him from that Height shall Heaven precipitate
By violent and ignominious death.
Is there a Power that can sustain and cheer
The captive Chieftain, by a Tyrant's doom,
Forced to descend alive into his tomb,
A dungeon dark! where he must waste the year,
And lie cut off from all his heart holds dear;
What time his injured Country is a stage
Whereon deliberate Valour and the Rage
Of righteous vengeance side by side appear,
Filling from morn to night the heroic scene
With deeds of hope and everlasting praise :
Say can he think of this with mind serene
And silent fetters? Yes, if visions bright
Shine on his soul, reflected from the days
When he himself was tried in open light.
An! where is Palafox? Nor tongue nor pen Reports of him, his dwelling or his grave!
In this and a former Sonnet, in honour of the same Sovereign, let me be understood as a Poet availing himself of the situation which the King of Sweden occupied, and of the principles avowed in his manifestoes; as laying hold of these advantages for the purpose of embodying moral truths. This remark might, perbaps, as well have been suppressed, for to those who may be in sympathy with the course of these Poems, it will be superfluous; and will, I fear, be thrown away upon that other class, whose besotted admiration of the intoxicated despot here placed in contrast with him, is the most melancholy evidence of degradation in British feeling and inteller: which the times have furnished.