1808
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Democracy.

Monthly Anthology and Boston Review 5 (September 1808) 495-97.

Anonymous


A splendidly bitter attack on Napoleon's France, in Milton's manner and Gray's measure; burlesque poetry had seldom risen to such sublimity since the days of Pope. The Tory attitudes adopted by the Monthly Anthology are not the sort of thing one ordinarily finds in Boston periodicals. In H. W. Starr's bibliography of Gray (1953), the poem is attributed to John Sylvester John Gardiner (1765-1830), Episcopal minister of Trinity Church, Boston, and president of the Anthology Club.

Headnote: "When a man resolves to believe, says Junius, the very absurdity of the creed confirms him in the faith. This appears to be the situation of those, who admire the lyrick poetry of Gray. Like the new lights in religion, they are impenetrable equally to ridicule, and to reason. The following ode is written in imitation of the Bard, but it is, in my opinion, a much better poem, as it contains more energy, more sense, and more simplicity. The worst parts of it are those, which resemble this Whitfield of poetry. As an imitation, it is not generally happy, since the only points of resemblance are the abruptness of the exordium, and the third stanza of the first division. The rest of the poem, with the exception of a few epithets, bears no likeness to the original" p. 495.

Monthly Register and Review [Charleston]: "Another work, of the periodical kind, which we think highly deserving of the consideration and encouragement of men of letters, is the Monthly Anthology, printed at Boston, composed and compiled by a society of gentlemen, to whom, though their modesty forbid their own adopting it, we feel no hesitation in bestowing the addition of 'learned.' The selections in this work indicate that the pursuits of those gentlemen are directed to the higher orders of literature and critical science; the original pieces it contains, are strongly tinctured with the essential acquisitions of such pursuits, and bespeak lively genius and vigorous judgment. Most heartily do we wish it success; and we also wish that a work of equal value and utility were published, and well supported, in every capital city and considerable town in the union. We speak merely as literary critics" 1 (April 1806) 98.

In a similar spirit, see another parody, "The Fatal Brothers" printed in The New Times (6 November 1819).



I. 1.
Hag-seed of hell, I hate thy sight!
Of social man the direst foe;
Avaunt! nor sully heaven's pure light,
But plunge in sulphurous gulphs below.
Fierce as thy gorgon eye-balls roll,
The icy fangs of terror seize my soul,
The ruby stream of palsied life congeal,
And stiffen every nerve to steel.
When erst the arch fiend from blest obedience fell,
And the whole rebel rout to ruin ran,
Thee he engendered in the caves of hell,
The inexorable foe of envied man.
The Furies hymned thy birth with baleful breath,
Offspring of Stygian sin, and twinned with ruthless death.

I. 2.
When from murky depths to air
Thy curst ambition winged the way,
Thy presence scattered fell despair,
Infuriate rage, and wild dismay.
Where thy sanguine footsteps turn,
With fatal fury kindling nations burn,
Of civil discord spread the dire alarms,
And rush with maddening zeal to arms.
Hark! how triumphant shouts, and dying cries
Through ravaged fields and flaming cities ring!
From rifted tombs funereal groans arise,
And boding screech-owls flap the fateful wing.
With thee thy terrour spreading train appear;
Grim murder leads the van, keen rapine seals the rear.

I. 3.
Where famed Ilyssus rolls
His silver-streaming wave
Through daisied banks, and incense-breathing meads,
Nor marshalled, firm, nor brave,
Spelled by Cecropian souls,
The purple pride of baffled Persia bleeds.
Her gaily-vested offspring lay
Heaped along the crimson shore;
Whilst hungry vultures bathe their beaks in gore,
And screaming, batten on the gaudy prey.
Infatuate tyrant! who, in hapless hour,
Or urged by demons, or by fiends inspired,
Could'st fondly hope to exterminate the power,
Which glory prompted, and Minerva fired.
Haste, shun thy fate, cross, cross the strait,
Yon skiff shall waft thee o'er the flood;
Away, away, 'tis death to stay,
Avenging Freedom snuffs thy blood.
With hurried speed the Prince outstripped the wind,
Soul-galling Shame before, Fear's shivering form behind.

II. 1.
Athens fair-plum'd conquest crowned
With glory's ever verdant bay;
And still had flourished fair the ground
Unhallowed by a tyrant's sway.
But, foul fiend! thy presence sought
The blissful land, and direful mischiefs wrought;
The blast, thy trumpet blew, transformed the race,
And bleached with fear fair Freedom's face.
With headlong haste the affrighted Goddess springs,
And cleaves with rapid flight the viewless air;
To Albion's cliffs she glides on silver wings,
And joyful finds a blest asylum there,
Pleased, on her shores the illustrious exile smiles,
Dread empress of the main, and peerless queen of isles.

II. 2.
Victim of thy vengeful power,
The Roman eagle writhing lies,
No longer doomed sublime to tower,
And pounce with lightning's speed the prize.
Sovereign Lord of feathered life,
Resistless victor in the winged strife,
His strong curved talons, and his beak no more
Shall revel in a rival's gore.
His pinion's dread expanse no more shall loom;
The lynx-eyed terrours of his piercing sight,
That erst unnerved the marshalled foes of Rome,
Fade now extinguished in oblivious night.
The fluttering people fearless spread the wing,
And mid the tissued clouds their joyful paeans sing.

II. 3.
The furious Gracchi, see,
Thy horrid rites prepare,
To sate thee, monster, with patrician blood;
With seeming patriot care,
They hurl, inspired by thee,
Plebeian vengeance on the great and good
From lips, polluted by thy breath,
The treacherous stream of rhetorick flows,
To whelm in sanguine tide thy virtuous foes,
And laws and order drown in endless death.
When Marcus doomed immortal Tully dead,
Who, by thy aid, the wreath of empire won,
As the sad rostra bore his bleeding head,
Its matchless glory and unrivalled son.
Through rueful Rome, funereal gloom,
With horrour-shedding footsteps strayed,
But checked by fear, the grateful tear,
Flowed not to soothe his sacred shade.
Whilst childless virtue shriek'd with anguish wild,
Joy, such as fiends can feel, in thy harsh features smiled.

III. 1.
Gallia next thy triumphs own;
Lo! there thy proudest banners wave;
Whilst Albion guards her sea-girt throne,
And free-born millions arm to save.
Blameless Bourbon, virtuous king,
Thy wrongs the breast of soft-eyed Pity wring;
Hemmed round by harpies in the civil strife,
Rebellion's dagger drinks thy life.
Hoar time can ne'er efface the guilty stain;
The horrid tale shall vengeful history tell;
By the coarse hands of vulgar villains slain,
The prince, the martyr, and the christian fell.
But awful Justice raised her sword sublime,
And scarce a wretch survived the sacrilegious crime.

III. 2.
Tell Napoleon, nursed by thee,
Where Cyrno's cloud-encircled head
Tremendous threats the subject sea,
Was at thy baleful bosom fed.
Thy fostering fondness taught the boy,
Predoomed each social blessing to destroy;
To seize, unchecked by Virtue's awful frown,
Through seas of blood, the imperial crown.
The little monster, on thy lap carest,
Learned every human feeling to deride,
Whilst dire ambition kindled in his breast,
Deep guile, remorseless cruelty, and pride;
No scene of sorrow drew the pitying tear,
But shrieks and dying groans were musick to his ear.

III. 3.
Lo! roused Iberia pours
Her patriot legions, warm
To vindicate her captive monarch's cause,
And point the battle's storm
'Gainst the proud spurner of her injured laws.
With zeal the rising nation glows,
Vengeance nerving every soul,
Resolved the tide of ceaseless war to roll
On the curst author of their country's woes.
See Austria's eagle, vigorous from his wound,
Prune the strong wing, and lead the embattled van;
United Europe rouses at the sound,
Conspired to crush the foe of God and man.
The tyrant flies, he bleeds, he dies,
Victorious Freedom views his fall,
The nations free, exulting see,
Triumphant Justice rule the ball
Whilst thou grim monster, as thy favourite fell,
Curst the rejoicing world, and murmuring plunged to hell.

[pp. 495-97]