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Hark, how the church-bells, with redoubling peals,
Stun the glad ear! Tidings of joy have come,
Good tidings of great joy! Two gallant ships
Met on the element, -- they met, they fought
A desperate fight. Good tidings of great joy!
Old England triumphed! Yet another day
Of glory for the ruler of the waves !
For those who fell ('twas in their country's cause), —
They have their passing paragraphs of praise,
And are forgotten.
There was one, who died
In that day's glory, whose obscurer name
No proud historian's page will chronicle.
Peace to his honest soul! I read his name,
”Twas in the list of slaughter, - and thanked God
The sound was not familiar to mine ear.
But it was told me after, that this man
Was one whom lawful violence had forced
From his own home and wife and little ones,
Who by his labor lived ; that he was one
Whose uncorrupted heart could keenly feel
A husband's love, a father's anxiousness;
That from the wages of his toil he fed
The distant dear ones, and would talk of them
At midnight when he trod the silent deck
With him he valued, — talk of them, of joys
Which he had known, - O God! and of the hour
When they should meet again, till his full heart,
His manly heart, at times would overflow,
Even like a child's, with very
Peace to his honest spirit ! suddenly
It came, and merciful the ball of death
That it came suddenly, and shattered him,
Nor left a moment's agonizing thought
On those he loved so well.
Now lies at rest. Be Thou her comforter,
Who art the widow's friend! Man does not know
What a cold sickness made her blood run back,
When first she heard the tidings of the fight;
Man does not know with what a dreadful hope
She listened to the names of those who died ;
Man does not know, or, knowing, will not heed,
With what an agony of tenderness
She gazed upon her children, and beheld
His image who was gone.
O God! be thou, Who art the widow's friend, her comforter!
Thou chronicle of crimes! I'll read no more ;
For I am one who willingly would love
His fellow-kind. O gentle Poesy!
Receive me from the court's polluted scenes,
From dungeon horrors, from the fields of war,
Receive me to your haunts, that I may nurse
My nature's better feelings; for my soul
Sickens at man's misdeeds.
I spake, when, lo!
There stood before me, in her majesty,
Clio, the strong-eyed Muse. Upon her brow
Sate a calm anger.
“Go, young man!” she cried,
Sigh ainong myrtle bowers, and let thy soul
Effuse itself in strains so sorrowful sweet
That love-sick maids may weep upon thy page,
Soothed with delicious sorrow. Oh, shame, shame!
Was it for this I wakened thy young mind ?
Was it for this I made thy swelling heart
Throb at the deeds of Greece, and thy boy's eye
So kindle when that glorious Spartan died ?
Boy, boy, deceive me not ! What if the tale
Of murdered millions strike a chilling pang ;
What if Tiberius in his island stews,
And Philip at his beads, alike inspire
Strong anger and contempt, hast thou not risen
With nobler feelings, with a deeper love
For freedom ? Yes: if righteously thy soul
Loathes the black history of human crimes
And human misery, let that spirit fill
Thy song, and it shall teach thee, boy! to raise
Strains such as Cato might have deigned to hear,
As Sidney in his hall of bliss
love.” WESTBURY, 1798.
WRITTEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER READING
THE SPEECH OF ROBERT EMMET,
ON HIS TRIAL AND CONVICTION FOR HIGH TREASON,
“Let no man write my epitaph ; let my grave
Be uninscribed ; and let my memory rest
Till other times are come, and other men,
Who then may do me justice.” *
No withering curse hath dried my spirit up,
That I should now be silent, that my soul
Should from the stirring inspiration shrink,
Now when it shakes her, and withhold her voice,
Of that divinest impulse never more
Worthy, if impious I withheld it now,
Hardening my heart. Here, here, in this free Isle,
To which in thy young virtue's erring zeal
Thou wert so perilous an enemy,
Here in free England shall an English hand
Build thy imperishable monument ;
Oh! to thine own misfortune and to ours,
By thine own deadly error so beguiled,
Here in free England shall an English voice
Raise up thy mourning-song. For thou hast paid
The bitter penalty of that misdeed;
Justice hath done her unrelenting part,
If she in truth be Justice who drives on,
Bloody and blind, the chariot wheels of Death.
So young, so glowing for the general good, Oh, what a lovely manhood had been thine, When all the violent workings of thy youth Had passed away, hadst thou been wisely spared, Left to the slow and certain influences Of silent feeling and maturing thought ! How had that heart, that noble heart, of thine, Which even now had snapped one spell, which
beat With such brave indignation at the shame And guilt of France, and of her miscreant lord, How had it clung to England! With what love, What
pure and perfect love, returned to her, Now worthy of thy love, the champion now For freedom, — yea, the only champion now, And soon to be the avenger! But the blow Hath fallen, the indiscriminating blow, That for its portion to the grave consigned Youth, Genius, generous Virtue. Oh, grief, grief!