Page images
PDF

Were England's native growth; and, throughout Spain,
Forests of such do at this day remain;
Then for that country let our hopes be bold;
For matched with these shall Policy prove vain,
Her arts, her strength, her iron, and her gold.

O'erweening statesmen have full long relied On fleets and armies, and external wealth : But from within proceeds a nation's health ; Which shall not fail, though poor men cleave with pride To the paternal floor; or turn aside, In the thronged city, from the walks of gain, As being all unworthy to detain A soul by contemplation sanctified. There are who cannot languish in this strife, Spaniards of every rank, by whom the good Of such high course was felt and understood; Who to their country's cause have bound a life, Erewhile by solemn consecration given To labour, and to prayer, to nature, and to heaven.

THE FRENCH AND THE SPANISH

GUERILLAS. HUNGER, and sultry heat, and nipping blast From bleak hill-top, and length of march by night Through heavy swamp, or over snow-clad height, These hardships ill sustained, these dangers past, The roving Spanish bands are reached at last, Charged, and dispersed like foam; but as a flight Of scattered quails by signs to re-unite, So these,-and, heard of once again, are chased With combinations of long-practised art And newly-kindled hope; but they are fled,

Gone are they, viewless as the buried dead ; Where now?-Their sword is at the foeman's heart! And thus from year to year his walk they thwart, And hang like dreams around his guilty bed.

They seek, are sought; to daily battle led, Shrink not, though far outnumbered by their foes : For they have learnt to open and to close The ridges of grim war; and at their head Are captains such as erst their country bred Or fostered, self-supported chiefs,-like those Whom hardy Rome was fearful to oppose, Whose desperate shock the Carthaginian fled. In one who lived unknown a shepherd's life Redoubted Viriatus breathes again; And Mina, nourished in the studious shade, With that great leader vies, who, sick of strife And bloodshed, longed in quiet to be laid In some green island of the western main.

The power of armies is a visible thing,
Formal and circumscribed in time and space;
But who the limits of that power shall trace
Which a brave people into light can bring
Or hide, at will,--for freedom combating,
By just revenge inflamed? No foot may chase,
Nor eye can follow to a fatal place
That power, that spirit, whether on the wing
Like the strong wind, or sleeping like the wind
Within its awful caves. From year to year
Springs this indigenous produce far and near;
No craft this subtle element can bind,
Rising like water from the soil, to find
In every nook a lip that it may cheer.

HOPE. Here pause: the poet claims at least this praise, That virtuous Liberty hath been the scope Of his pure song which did not shrink from hope In the worst moment of these evil days; From hope, the paramount duty that Heaven lays, For its own honour, on man's suffering heart. Never may from our souls one truth depart, That an accursed thing it is to gaze On prosperous tyrants with a dazzled eye; Nor, touched with due abhorrence of their guilt For whose dire ends tears flow, and blood is spilt, And justice labours in extremity, Forget thy weakness, upon which is built, O wretched man, the throne of tyranny !

THE FRENCH ARMY IN RUSSIA. 1812-13-
HUMANITY, delighting to behold
A fond reflection of her own decay,
Hath painted Winter like a traveller-old,
Propped on a staff-and, through the sullen day,
In hooded mantle, limping over the plain,
As though his weakness were disturbed by pain :
Or, if a juster fancy should allow
An undisputed symbol of command,
The chosen sceptre is a withered bough,
Infirmly grasped within a palsied hand.
These emblems suit the helpless and forlorn,
But mighty winter the device shall scorn.

For he it was-dread Winter! who beset,
Flinging round van and rear his ghastly net,
That host,—when from the regions of the pole
They shrunk, insane ambition's barren goal-

That host, as huge and strong as e'er defied
Their God, and placed their trust in human pride!
As fathers persecute rebellious sons,
He smote the blossoms of their warrior youth;
He called on frost's inexorable tooth
Life to consume in manhood's firmest hold;
Nor spared the reverend blood that feebly runs ;
For why, unless for Liberty enrolled
And sacred home, ah! why should hoary age be bold?

Fleet the Tartar's reinless steed,
But fleeter far the pinions of the wind,
Which from Siberian caves the monarch freed,
And sent him forth, with squadrons of his kind,
And bade the snow their ample backs bestride,

And to the battle ride.
No pitying voice commands a halt,
No courage can repel the dire assault;
Distracted, spiritless, benumbed, and blind,
Whole legions sink-and, in one instant, find
Burial and death: look for them-and descry,
When morn returns, beneath the clear blue sky,
A soundless waste, a trackless vacancy!

Ye storms, resound the praises of your king!
And ye mild seasons-in a sunny clime,
Midway on some high hill, while father Time
Looks on delighted-meet in festal ring,
And loud and long of Winter's triumph sing!
Sing ye, with blossoms crowned, and fruits, and flowers,
Of Winter's breath surcharged with sleety showers,
And the dire flapping of his hoary wing!
Knit the blithe dance upon the soft green grass ;
With feet, hands, eyes, looks, lips, report your gain;
"Whisper it to the billows of the main,
And to the aërial zephyrs as they pass,

That old decrepit Winter-He hath slain,'
That host which rendered all your bounties vain !

By Moscow self-devoted to a blaze
Of dreadful sacrifice ; by Russian blood
Lavished in fight with desperate hardihood;
The unfeeling elements no claim shall raise
To rob our human nature of just praise
For what she did and suffered. Pledges sure
Of a deliverance absolute and pure
She gave, if faith might tread the beaten ways
Of Providence. But now did the Most High
Exalt his still small voice to quell that host
Gathered his power, a manifest ally;
He whose heaped waves confounded the proud boast
Of Pharaoh, said to Famine, Snow, and Frost,
“ Finish the strife by deadliest victory!”

THE GERMANS ON THE HEIGHTS OF

HOCKHEIM. ABRUPTLY paused the strife ;-the field throughout Resting upon his arms each warrior stood, Checked in the very act and deed of blood, With breath suspended, like a listening scout. O Silence! thou wert mother of a shout That through the texture of yon azure dome Cleaves its glad way, a cry of harvest-home Uttered to heaven in ecstasy devout! The barrier Rhine hath flashed, through battle-smoke, On men who gaze heart-smitten by the view, As if all Germany had felt the shock! Fly, wretched Gauls! ere they the charge renew Who have seen (themselves delivered from the yoke) The unconquerable stream his course pursue.

« PreviousContinue »