1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Triumph of Freedom.

Poems. Consisting of Elegies, Sonnets, Odes, Canzonets, and the Pleasures of Solitude.

Peter L. Courtier


An allegorical ode in a peculiar ten-line stanza (aabccdedeB) bearing the hallmarks of a grammar-school composition exercise. No longer obscure, the odes of William Collins in the 1790s were frequent objects of imitation by the original Della Cruscans and their many imitators, among the Peter Lionel Courtier.

Advertisement: "The favourable opinion expressed concerning some poetical efforts of the Author, which have appeared in periodical Miscellanies, accompanied with wishes for the publication of a Volume of his Poems, have induced him to lay the subsequent pages before the Public; and he waits, with respectful anxiety, the decision of their Tribunal. Of himself he deems it sufficient to observe, that he has not attained his twentieth year; nor is this mentioned with a view to veil Defect: on the contrary, he is fully convinced, that if merit is wanting, apologies must prove ineffectual to prevent Oblivion. London, November 5, 1595."



Curs'd Superstition! hence, away!
Nor hope to veil meridian day;
Thy desolating schemes of blood are known;
Thy pincers red with human gore
Shall mock keen Misery no more!
No longer will deluded men
Thy foaming cup of Error drink,
For Reason's rays have pierc'd thy den;
Truth hurls thee on destruction's brink,
And Liberty shall pull thy time-shook empire down.

What glorious form attracts my sight!
Bursting the clouds of Reason's night,
While sick'ning Error sinks beneath the earth?
Weak Ignorance, with slavish eyes,
Amid the bright effulgence dies;
She looks of an immortal line,
Begirt with sacred majesty:
Strike the first string — 'tis Truth Divine!
The shades before her presence flee,
Her suff'ring sons revive, and nature hails her birth.

With her sweet Liberty appears,
To wipe stern Slavery's scalding tears,
And the bright reign of happiness restore:
Peace bids the raging furies calm,
Industry rears her fertile palm,
Great Commerce spreads the swelling sail,
Propitious winds accordant blow;
Bright Plenty smiles in ev'ry vale,
The Fruits in rich abundance grow,
Wafting their grateful gifts to Earth's remotest shore.

But see that fiend! — whose eye-balls glare
With dark distress and gnawing care!
Eager to blast the buds of joy — advance:
'Tis quick-consuming Anarchy,
From whose destructive nostrils fly
Etnas of unrelenting fire!
Lean Discontent with deathlike arm,
Nerv'd by Revenge and hell-born ire,
Bound in Despair's tempestuous charm;
He stalks in midnight storms, wielding the murd'rous lance!

Monster of misery unknown!
Justice shall raze thy bleeding throne,
And milder Reason bid thy horrors cease;
Mankind, convicted by her ray,
Will prosper 'neath her gentle sway
Thus shall thy great supporter — War,
To dark oblivion's shores be hurl'd;
Nor Murder, thron'd in Vict'ry's car,
Ride o'er the ruins of a world!
But universal man enjoy a lasting peace.

Philosophy, upheld by Truth,
Will stimulate the rising youth
Justly to estimate fair Freedom's cause;
With arduous unremitting zeal,
Ever to watch the gen'ral weal:
Self-int'rest then shall ne'er debase
The nobler talents of the mind;
But Friendship, wide as boundless space,
Flow thro' the souls of human kind,
Distribute equal rights, and equitable laws.

[pp. 50-53]