Page images
PDF
EPUB

POEMS DEDICATED TO NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE AND

LIBERTY.

PART I.

I.

III.

COMPOSED BY THE SEA-SIDE, NEAR CALAIS,

Composed near Calais, on the road leading to Ardres, August 7, 1802.
AUGUST, 1802.

Jones! as from Calais southward you and I
Fair Star of evening, Splendour of the west, Went pacing side by side, this public Way
Star of my Country !-on the horizon's brink

Streamed with the pomp of a too-credulous day,
Thou hangest, stooping, as might seem, to sink When faith was pledged to new-born Liberty:
On England's bosom; yet well pleased to rest, A homeless sound of joy was in the sky:
Meanwhile, and be to her a glorious crest

From hour to hour the antiquated Earth,
Conspicuous to the Nations. Thou, I think, Beat like the heart of Man: songs, garlands, mirth,
Should'st be my Country's emblem; and should'st Banners, and happy faces, far and nigh!
wink,

And now, sole register that these things were,
Bright Star! with laughter on her banners, drest

Two solitary greetings have I heard,
In thy fresh beauty. There! that dusky spot * Good morrow, Citizen l' a hollow word,
Beneath thee, that is England; there she lies. As if a dead man spake it! Yet despair
Blessings be on you both ! one hope, one lot, Touches me not, though pensive as a bird
One life, one glory!-1, with many a fear

Whose vernal coverts winter hath laid bare t.
For my dear Country, many heartfelt sighs,
Among men who do not love her, linger here.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

CALAIS, AUGUST, 1802.
Is it a reed that's shaken by the wind,
Or what is it that ye go forth to see?
Lords, lawyers, statesmen, squires of low degree,
Men known, and men unknown, sick, lame, and

blind,
Post forward all, like creatures of one kind,
With first-fruit offerings crowd to bend the knee
In France, before the new-born Majesty.
'Tis ever thus. Ye men of prostrate mind,
A seemly reverence may be paid to power ;
But that's a loyal virtue, never sown
In haste, nor springing with a transient shower:
When truth, when sense, when liberty were flown,
What hardship had it been to wait an hour?
Shame on you, feeble Heads, to slavery prone !

I GRIEVED for Buonaparté, with a vain
And an unthinking grief! The tenderest mood
Of that Man's mind—what can it be? what food
Fed his first hopes ? what knowledge could he gain?
"Tis not in battles that from youth we train
The Governor who must be wise and good,
And temper with the sternness of the brain
Thoughts motherly, and meek as womanhood.
Wisdom doth live with children round her knees :
Books, leisure, perfect freedom, and the talk
Man holds with week-day man in the hourly walk
Of the mind's business : these are the degrees
By which true Sway doth mount; this is the stalk
True Power doth grow on; and her rights are

these.

* 14th July, 1790.

+ See Note.

[ocr errors][merged small]

CALAIS, AUGUST 15, 1802. FESTIVALS have I seen that were not names : This is young Buonaparté's natal day, And his is henceforth an established swayConsul for life. With worship France proclaims Her approbation, and with pomps and games. Heaven grant that other Cities may be gay! Calais is not : and I have bent my way To the sea-coast, noting that each man frames His business as he likes. Far other show My youth here witnessed, in a prouder time; The senselessness of joy was then sublime ! Happy is he, who, caring not for Pope, Consul, or King, can sound himself to know The destiny of Man, and live in hope.

TO TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE. Toussaint, the most unhappy man of men ! Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough Within thy hearing, or thy head be now Pillowed in some deep dungeon's earless den ;O miserable Chieftain! where and when Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow: Though fallen thyself, never to rise again, Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies; There's not a breathing of the common wind That will forget thee; thou hast great allies; Thy friends are exultations, agonies, And love, and man's unconquerable mind.

[blocks in formation]

ON THE EXTINCTION OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC

Once did She hold the gorgeous east in fee ;
And was the safeguard of the west: the worth
Of Venice did not fall below her birth,
Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
She was a maiden City, bright and free;
No guile seduced, no force could violate;
And, when she took unto herself a Mate,
She must espouse the everlasting Sea.
And what if she had seen those glories fade,
Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;
Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid
When her long life hath reached its final day :
Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade
Of that which once was great, is passed away.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1802. Among the capricious acts of tyranny that disgraced those times, was

the chasing of all Negroes from France by decree of the govern

ment: we had a Fellow-passenger who was one of the expelled. We had a female Passenger who came From Calais with us, spotless in array, A white-robed Negro, like a lady gay, Yet downcast as a woman fearing blame; Meek, destitute, as seemed, of hope or aim She sate, from notice turning not away, But on all proffered intercourse did lay A weight of languid speech, or to the same No sign of answer made by word or face : Yet still her eyes retained their tropic fire, That, burning independent of the mind, Joined with the lustre of her rich attire To mock the Outcast—0 ye Heavens, be kind ! And feel, thou Earth, for this afflicted Race !

[blocks in formation]

The Voice of song from distant lands shall call
To that great King; shall hail the crowned Youth
Who, taking counsel of unbending Truth,
By one example hath set forth to all
How they with dignity may stand; or fall,
If fall they must. Now, whither doth it tend?
And what to him and his shall be the end ?
That thought is one which neither can appal
Nor cheer him ; for the illustrious Swede hath done
The thing which ought to be ; is raised above
All consequences : work he bath begun
Of fortitude, and piety, and love,
Which all his glorious ancestors approve :
The heroes bless him, him their rightful son

COMPOSED IN THE VALLEY NEAR DOVER, ON THE

DAY OF LANDING. HERE, on our native soil, we breathe once more. The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound Of bells ;—those boys who in yon meadow-ground In white-sleeved shirts are playing ; and the roar Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore ;All, all are English. Oft have I looked round With joy in Kent's green vales ; but never found Myself so satisfied in heart before. Europe is yet in bonds; but let that pass, Thought for another moment. Thou art free, My Country! and ’tis joy enough and pride For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass Of England once again, and hear and see, With such a dear Companion at my side.

* See note.

[blocks in formation]

NEAR DOVER.

SEPTEMBER, 1802.

LONDON, 1802. INLAND, within a hollow vale, I stood;

Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour : And saw, while sea was calm and air was clear, England hath need of thee: she is a fen The coast of France the coast of France how near! Of stagnant waters : altar, sword, and pen, Drawn almost into frightful neighbourhood. Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, I shrunk; for verily the barrier flood

Have forfeited their ancient English dower Was like a lake, or river bright and fair,

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; A

span of waters; yet what power is there! Oh! raise us up, return to us again; What mightiness for evil and for good!

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. Even so doth God protect us if we be

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: Virtuous and wise. Winds blow, and waters roll, Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea : Strength to the brave, and Power, and Deity; Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, Yet in themselves are nothing! One decree

So didst thou travel on life's common way, Spake laws to them, and said that by the soul In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart Only, the Nations shall be great and free.

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

XII.

XV.

THOUGHT OF A BRITON ON THE SUBJUGATION OF

SWITZERLAND.

GREAT men have been among us ; hands that penned Two Voices are there; one is of the sea,

And tongues that uttered wisdom--better none: One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice : The later Sidney, Marvel, Harrington, In both from age to age thou didst rejoice, Young Vane, and others who called Milton friend. They were thy chosen music, Liberty !

These moralists could act and comprehend: There came a Tyrant, and with holy glee

They knew how genuine glory was put on; Thou fought'st against him; but hast vainly striven : | Taught us how rightfully a nation shone Thou from thy Alpine holds at length art driven, In splendour : what strength was, that would not Where not a torrent murmurs heard by thee.

bend Of one deep bliss thine ear hath been bereft: But in magnanimous meekness. France, 'tis strange, Then cleave, O cleave to that which still is left; Hath brought forth no such souls as we had then. For, high-souled Maid, what sorrow would it be Perpetual emptiness ! unceasing change! That Mountain floods should thunder as before,

No single volume paramount, no code, And Ocean bellow from his rocky shore,

No master spirit, no determined road; And neither awful Voice be heard by thee ! But equally a want of books and men !

XIII.

XVI.

WRITTEN IN LONDON, SEPTEMBER, 1802.
O FRIEND! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,
To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook,
Or groom !—We must run glittering like a brook
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest :
The wealthiest man among us is the best :
No grandeur now in nature or in book
Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,
This is idolatry; and these we adore :
Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone ; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws.

It is not to be thought of that the Flood
Of British freedom, which, to the open sea
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.

[blocks in formation]

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 ?
Now, when I think of thee, and what thou art,
Verily, in the bottom of my heart,
Of those unfilial fears I am ashamed.
For 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 !

OCTOBER, 1803.
THESE times strike monied worldlings with dismay:
Even rich men, brave by nature, taint the air
With words of apprehension and despair :
While tens of thousands, thinking on the affray,
Men unto whom sufficient for the day
And minds not stinted or untilled are given,
Sound, healthy, children of the God of heaven,
Are cheerful as the rising sun in May.
What do we gather hence but firmer faith
That every gift of noble origin
Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath ;
That virtue and the faculties within
Are vital,—and that riches are akin
To fear, to change, to cowardice, and death?

[blocks in formation]

wean

OCTOBER, 1803.

ENGLAND ! the time is come when thou should'st One might believe that natural miseries

Thy heart from its emasculating food ; Had blasted France, and made of it a land

The truth should now be better understood ; Unfit for men ; and that in one great band

Old things have been unsettled; we have seen Her sons were bursting forth, to dwell at ease.

Fair seed-time, better harvest might have been But 'tis a chosen soil, where sun and breeze

But for thy trespasses ; and, at this day, Shed gentle favours : rural works are there,

If for Greece, Egypt, India, Africa, And ordinary business without care ; Spot rich in all things that can soothe and please ! Aught good were destined, thou would'st step

between. How piteous then that there should be such dearth

England ! all nations in this charge agree : Of knowledge ; that whole myriads should unite

But worse, more ignorant in love and hate, To work against themselves such fell despite :

Far-far more abject, is thine Enemy : Should come in phrensy and in drunken mirth,

Therefore the wise pray for thee, though the freight Impatient to put out the only light

Of thy offences be a heavy weight : Of Liberty that yet remains on earth !

Oh grief that Earth's best hopes rest all with Thee !

XXII.

XIX.

OCTOBER, 1803. THERE is a bondage worse, far worse, to bear When, looking on the present face of things, Than his who breathes, by roof, and floor, and wall, I see one Man, of men the meanest too ! Pent in, a Tyrant's solitary Thrall :

Raised up to sway the world, to do, undo, 'Tis his who walks about in the open air,

With mighty Nations for his underlings, One of a Nation who, henceforth, must wear The great events with which old story rings Their fetters in their souls. For who could be, Seem vain and hollow ; I find nothing great : Who, even the best, in such condition, free Nothing is left which I can venerate ; From self-reproach, reproach that he must share So that a doubt almost within me springs With Human-nature? Never be it ours

Of Providence, such emptiness at length To see the sun how brightly it will shine,

Seems at the heart of all things. But, great God! And know that noble feelings, manly powers, I measure back the steps which I have trod; Instead of gathering strength, must droop and pine; And tremble, seeing whence proceeds the strength And earth with all her pleasant fruits and flowers Of such poor Instruments, with thoughts sublime Fade, and participate in man's decline.

I tremble at the sorrow of the time.

XXIII.

TO THE MEN OF KENT.

XXVI.

ANTICIPATION.

XXIV.

Come ye—whate'er your creed—0 waken all,

Whate'er your temper, at your country's call; OCTOBER, 1803.

Resolving (this a free-born Nation can) VANGUARD of Liberty, ye men of Kent,

To have one Soul, and perish to a man, Ye children of a Soil that doth advance

Or save this honoured Land from every Lord Her haughty brow against the coast of France,

But British reason and the British sword.
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,

OCTOBER, 1803.
And hear you shouting forth your brave intent.
Left single, in bold parley, ye, of yore,

Shout, for a mighty Victory is won !
Did from the Norman win a gallant wreath ;

On British ground the Invaders are laid low;

The breath of Heaven has drifted them like snow, Confirmed the charters that were yours before ;No parleying now ! In Britain is one breath ;

And left them lying in the silent sun, We all are with you now from shore to shore :

Never to rise again !--the work is done.
Ye men of Kent, 'tis victory or death!

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 grandame's ears with pleasure of your noise ! What if our numbers barely could defy

Clap, infants, clap your hands ! Divine must be The arithmetic of babes, must foreign hordes,

That triumph, when the very worst, the pain,

And even the prospect of our brethren slain, Slaves, vile as ever were befooled by words,

Hath something in it which the heart enjoys :Striking through English breasts the anarchy

In glory will they sleep and endless sanctity. Of Terror, bear us to the ground, and tie Our hands behind our backs with felon cords? Yields every thing to discipline of swords? Is man as good as man, none low, none high ?Nor discipline nor valour can withstand

NOVEMBER, 1806. The shock, nor quell the inevitable rout,

ANOTHER year !—another deadly blow! When in some great extremity breaks out Another mighty Empire overthrown ! A people, on their own beloved Land

And We are left, or shall be left, alone ;
Risen, like one man, to combat in the sight The last that dare to struggle with the Foe.
Of a just God for liberty and right.

'Tis 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.

O dastard whom such foretaste doth not cheer! LINES ON THE EXPECTED INVASION.

We shall exult, if they who rule the land

Be men who hold its many blessings dear,
COME ye—who, if (which Heaven avert !) the Land Wise, upright, valiant; not a servile band,
Were with herself at strife, would take your stand, Who are to judge of danger which they fear,
Like gallant Falkland, by the Monarch's side, And honour which they do not understand.
And, like Montrose, make Loyalty your pride
Come ye—who, not less zealous, might display
Banners at enmity with regal sway,
And, like the Pyms and Miltons of that day,

XXVIII.
Think that a State would live in sounder health
If Kingship bowed its head to Commonwealth --

ODE.
Ye too—whom no discreditable fear
Would keep, perhaps with many a fruitless tear, Who rises on the banks of Seine,
Uncertain what to choose and how to steer- And binds her temples with the civic wreath?
And ye—who might mistake for sober sense What joy to read the promise of her mien !
And wise reserve the plea of indolence-

How sweet to rest her wide-spread wings beneath !

XXVII.

XXV.

1803.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »