87 Spenserians in three cantos. Thomas Campbell sets his domestic tragedy in arcadian Pennsylvania during the French and Indian wars. It was originally published in an extremely expensive format (£1. 5s.), with advertisement, notes, and appendix. Gertrude of Wyoming was the most successful poem by an ambitious poet to be written in Spenserians after Robert Burns's Cotter's Saturday Night and before Byron's Childe Harold. While critics were divided over its merits, Gertrude of Wyoming was widely read and encouraged the use of the Spenserian stanza not only in sentimental tales, but in descriptive poetry, notably in Childe Harold, through which much of Campbell's broader influence was channeled.
In Gertrude of Wyoming Campbell develops the "last man" motif from Ossian and Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, developing it in a manner that also owes much to James Beattie's The Minstrel — the Indian invasion in the third canto recalls the unwritten third canto to Beattie's poem. American Indians figure in several earlier Spenserian poems (Timothy Dwight's Greenfield Hill (1794) may have been a source), though Campbell's stoic Outalissi, who speaks a studiously contrived heroic-pastoral diction, is the most memorable Indian of them all.
Cyrus Redding: "Campbell was, one day about this time , surprised by a call from the son of Brant, or Brandt, the Indian chief whom he had charged with such atrocities in his Gertrude.... A fiend of Campbell's first announced such an event, and that the young Indian had documents which would incontestably prove his father's innocence. Campbell stated that he had, as poets had done from time immemorial, drawn upon imagination for the larger part of the incidents in the poem, taking the name of Brant from history. He stated that he could not dream at the time he did so that an Indian chief would ever be affected by it, much less peruse its contents. It must be admitted that with the state of information in England even in 1808, it might as well have been imagined that the St. Lawrence should flow to London as that the people represented, and believed in England to be horrible savages, putting prisoners to unheard of tortures, and scarcely attaining beyond animal existence, should find an individual in their number who could be as sensitive as Brant was about his father's fair fame. Time and the march of information had in twenty years done wonders in England, as well as in America, and the son of the redoubted chief, whom Campbell represented as heading the slaughter at Wyoming, entered the poet's dwelling in London to ask that redress for his father's memory which the poet could not but be gratified in conceding. I think Campbell informed me afterwards, that young Brant had become Lieutenant-colonel Brant. Campbell was much taken with his gentlemanly manners and address. This incident was, upon the whole, a singular and touching event in the poet's life" "Reminiscences of Thomas Campbell" New Monthly Magazine 79 (April 1847) 424-25.
Scots Magazine: "The scene of this poem is laid in the woods of Pennsylvania. There the village of Wyoming formed a spot peculiarly peaceful and happy, till, by the junction of European with Indian arms, it was converted into a frightful waste. The picture of its original state, and afterwards of this fatal transition, forms the subject of the poem. Its principal inhabitant is the aged Albert, an emigrant from Britain, and his amiable daughter. The first incident is the arrival of an Oneyda warrior with a boy, whom, it appears, he had saved from the fury of a hostile band of Indians, who, after storming an English fort, were butchering all it contained. This child proves to be the son of Waldegrave, an intimate friend of Albert's. The latter, therefore, takes him under his protection. The poem then returns to the scenery and occupations of Wyoming, and a considerable time is understood to elapse, till another arrival breaks the uniformity of the scene. This proves to be Henry Waldegrave, the young man left by the Indian, and who, it appears, had long ago left the village, and been travelling through various parts, both of the old and new Continents. Gertrude and he, between whom a mutual passion had long subsisted, are then united. Three moons are then spent in mutual happiness, when the sad catastrophe arrives. — One evening, as they are sitting in their bower, an aged figure, bowed down by poverty and woe, makes his appearance. With some difficulty, they recognize the old Indian, the deliverer of Waldegrave. After the first welcome, he warns them of the near approach of Brandt, the leader of a numerous body of hostile Indians, that had already destroyed the whole of his own tribe, of whom himself only survived. Scarce had he finished, when the cries of the approaching enemy are heard. The party retreat for safety to a neighbouring British fort. Just, however, as they were about to enter, an Indian, who lay in ambush under the walls, fires, and mortally wounds, at once, Albert and his daughter. The lamentations over them conclude the poem" 71 (April 1809) 280-81.
Francis Jeffrey: "We rejoice to see once more a polished and pathetic poem in the old style of English pathos and poetry. This is of the pitch of the Castle of Indolence, and the finer parts of Spenser; with more feeling, in many places, than the first, and more condensation and diligent finishing than the latter. If the true tone of nature be not everywhere maintained, it gives place, at least, to art only, and not to affectation — and, least of all, to affectation of singularity or rudeness. Beautiful as the greater part of this volume is, the public taste, we are afraid, has of late been too much accustomed to beauties of a more obtrusive and glaring kind, to be fully sensible of its merit. Without supposing that this taste has been in any great degree vitiated, or even imposed upon, by the babyism or the antiquarianism which have lately been versified for its improvement, we may be allowed to suspect, that it has been somewhat dazzled by the splendour, and bustle, and variety of the most popular of our recent poems; and that the more modest colouring of truth, and nature may, at this moment, seem somewhat cold and feeble. We have endeavoured, on former occasions, to do justice to the force and originality of some of these brilliant productions, as well as to the genius (fitted for much higher things) of their authors — and have little doubt of being called upon for a renewed tribute of applause. But we cannot help saying, in the mean time, that the work before us belongs to a class which comes nearer to our conception of pure and perfect poetry. Such productions do not, indeed, strike so strong a blow as the vehement effusions of our modern Trouveurs; but they are calculated, we think, to please more deeply, and to call out more permanently, those trains of emotion, in which the delight of poetry will probably be found to consist. They may not be so loudly nor so universally applauded; but their fame will probably endure longer, and they will be oftener recalled to mingle with the reveries of solitary leisure, or the consolations of real sorrow" Edinburgh Review 14 (1809) 1.
Walter Scott: "We have gazed with delight on the savage witnessing the death of Wolfe with awe and sorrow acting upon habits of stubborn apathy: and we have perused the striking passage in Spenser whose Talus 'an iron man ymade in iron mould' is described as having nevertheless an inly feeling of sympathy with the anguish of Britomarte; yet neither the painter nor the poet has, in our apprehension, presented so perfect and powerful an image of sympathetic sorrow in a heart unwont to receive such a guest, as appears in the mute distress of the Oneyda warrior bending over his despairing foster-son" Quarterly Review 1 (May 1809) 252.
Robert Southey to Thomas Southey: "Campbell's poem has disappointed his friends, Ballantyne tells me. It is, however, better than I expected, except in story, which is meagre. This gentleman, also, who is one of Wordsworth's abusers, has been nibbling at imitation, and palpably borrowed from the two poems of Ruth and The Brothers. 'Tis amusing envy! to see how the race of borrowers upon all occasions abuse us who do not borrow" 22 May 1809; in Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 3:234.
Leigh Hunt to Marianne Kent (afterwards Mrs. Hunt): "I hope to have some little account in your next of the pictures you have seen at Carrington House, for I am going to send you a most charming collection of pictures — poetically speaking — in a book just published by Mr. Campbell: it is called Gertrude of Wyoming, and is full of fancy, of feeling, and of everything that's amiably poetical: the story is domestic, a romantic but at the same time a natural picture of love, for what people call romantic in love is generally what real love is, undegraded by worldly feelings, — only these worldly railers know nothing about it, I am sure you will be delighted with it, only pray don't fall in love with Mr. Campbell: it is true, he has got feeling and fame and every other qualification to excite your affection, but then he is married, and I am unmarried, and besides he is not the only poet upon earth, at least I hope he will not be the only poet of the present age" 30 May 1809; in Brewer, My Leigh Hunt Library ... Letters (1938) 42.
The Cabinet: "Swimming against the tide of a stanza which Mr. Campbell by no means knew how to manage, that of Spenser's Fairy Queen, disjointed and eked-out as the versification of the present poem is, Gertrude of Wyoming possesses beauties to which none but a true poet could have given birth, and is dashed with as many touches of the author's bold and original pencil as the Pleasures of Hope, however the superior versification of the latter poem may give it a greater popularity than the former" NS 1 (May 1809) 417-18.
The Satirist: "We do not venture, indeed, to assert that our account of the plot is perfectly correct, for Mr. Campbell has contrived with laudable ingenuity to involve the few incidents it contains in almost impenetrable obscurity. 'Something,' says Dr. Johnson, 'should be left to the imagination of the reader.' This, Mr. Campbell knew, and to this he has conformed. Of the marriage of Gertrude and Henry, for instance, we have no suspicion, till we find them, a few lines after the conclusion of Albert's speech of gratulation on Henry's return, in bed together, and knowing that this was a circumstance not likely to happen to a bashful boy, and modest maiden, without the sanction of a priest, we naturally supposed that they were married; but our inability to comprehend the plot does not so much proceed from Mr. C.'s perplexity of arrangement or confusion of idea, as from the palpable obscurity of his language" 4 (May 1809) 504.
Thomas Denman: "When our hopes of excellence are baffled, we are not in spirits to search for those inferior beauties of poetry, which we should otherwise deem worth the pains of inquiry; — when we have vainly looked for the picturesque enchantments of the Fairie Queene, or the voluptuous refinement that pervades the Castle of Indolence, we have not patience to hunt after such minuter graces as those which raised Dr. Beattie's Minstrel above the level of its contemporary poems. With the domestic part of this last-mentioned work, describing the rural habits of Edwin's father, and the happy life which he led with 'the blameless Phoebe,' the tale of Gertrude of Wyoming, where it is intelligible, may perhaps be fairly paralleled; and we hope to persuade that numerous class of readers, who have laid down the book with an undiscriminating sentiment of displeasure, that it contains some stanzas which are animated by noble emotion, some which are adorned with much elegance of description, and a few specimens of a style which has been laboured with felicity, and might have been rendered uniformly forcible, expressive, and perspicuous" Monthly Review NS 59 (July 1809) 240.
Poetical Register for 1808-09: "It is with sorrow that we see Mr. Campbell giving immortality to a tale, which reflects disgrace on his country. But there is nothing which we dislike in Gertrude of Wyoming except the choice of subject. The author of the Pleasures of Hope has added to his fame by this new work" (1812) 569.
Melesina Chenevix Trench: "There is a strong resemblance between St. Pierre's Paul et Virginie and Gertrude of Wyoming. Perhaps the one may have elicited the other. I am far from detracting from the merit of one of the most beautiful poems in the English language by this remark. It is not the resemblance of plagiarism, but a species of likeness independent of imitation, which the admirers of both will find pleasure in tracing; and it is not uninteresting to observe what a different character may be stamped on events and situations nearly similar" 9 July 1809; in Remains of Mrs. Richard Trench (1862) 233.
Edinburgh Magazine: Campbell's "Spenserian stanza has not the most distant resemblance to that of any other preceding author. There is more nice balancing, and more delicate inflections in its construction, and more care and assiduity about the mode of expression, than are to be found in the Castle of Indolence, the Minstrel, or Childe Harold, combined with a peculiar tone of delightful pathos and purity, which irresistibly, though with silken fetters, hurries us back to the days of patriarchal benevolence, pastoral innocence, and simplicity" 3 (August 1818) 145.
Richard Henry Dana: "Campbell's reputation does not rest on his Pleasures of Hope, nor on Gertrude of Wyoming. Both his friends and enemies are in the habit of calling the latter his best work. There are fewer faults in it, than in the former. There is a certain tender emotion produced in reading it, and here and there are rather beautiful descriptions, but it is thin and watery" in Review of Hazlitt's English Poets; North American Review [Boston] 8 (March 1819) 315.
The Champion: "Of his Gertrude of Wyoming (tho' praised to the skies by his countrymen of The Edinburgh Review — who quoted some of its worst passages in contemplation!) the only parts entitled to any exalted praise are the lyrical. The song of the Indian Warrior, breathes the genuine spirit and enthusiasm of the Ode, and has lines and passages that kindle the imagination and rivet themselves on the memory" "On Lyrical Poetry" (13 January 1821) 21.
Leigh Hunt: "The author here takes heart, and seems resolved to return to Spenser and the uncritical side of poetry; but his heart fails him. He only hampers himself with Spenser's stanza, and is worried the more with classical inversions and gentilities" The Examiner (12 August 1821) 507.
La Belle Assemblee: "we close this poem after an impartial perusal, with the impression of its being a weak and defective performance, and that had it preceded instead of following, the Pleasures of Hope, it would have been little known beyond the poet and his publisher" NS 26 (October 1822) 397.
William Hazlitt: "His Pleasures of Hope is too artificial and antithetical; but his Gertrude of Wyoming strikes at the heart of nature, and has passages of extreme interest, with an air of tenderness and sweetness over the whole, like the breath of flowers. Some of his shorter effusions have great force and animation, and a patriotic fire" Select British Poets (1824) in Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:243.
Edward Smedley: "Public expectation was accordingly much excited by the announcement of Gertrude of Wyoming, and if it was in some measure disappointed by its appearance, if Gertrude was not so universally popular as The Pleasures of Hope had been, we believe that it was more intensely admired: with less brilliancy, it had more delicacy and softness of colouring; its appeals were directed more closely to the heart, and the tenderness, with which its domestic pictures were drawn, atoned for the absence of more prominent and striking attractions. There was in it, too, a sweetness of diction and rhythm, carried perhaps to a faulty excess, and which in a longer poem might have become cloying, yet which added to the charm of Gertrude — if the expression be not fanciful, it — made it even physically pleasant to read. Some disappointment, however, there certainly was; and it arose, we think, not so much from positive demerit as from a want of increase in relative value. Time appeared to have added nothing to that promise which the poet had, exhibited before its lapse. His form and gestures still shewed adolescence, though his years sufficiently proclaimed the fullness of manhood. He had gained neither in strength nor in correctness; he had even lost in simplicity and clearness. The defects which had been, in great measure, concealed by the rambling and desultory nature of his didactic poem, were plainly developed in this, which was narrative. The plot was ill laid; the story feebly, obscurely, and imperfectly told; and deeply interesting as many separate passages most assuredly were, Gertrude of Wyoming was justly characterized rather as a beautiful assemblage of detached stanzas, than as the well compacted and highly finished work of a poetical mind of the first order" Quarterly Review 31 (March 1825) 343.
Cyrus Redding: "It occupied the poet but little more than a twelvemonth, and combines in itself the best characteristics of the classic and romantic styles, in that just medium which will be found perhaps to form the truest principle for modern poetry.... The Spenserian stanza, in a certain degree, hampered the poet's freedom in this beautiful Indian tale, full of nature, and redolent with fragrance from the richest bouquets of fancy. There is seen here, divested of drapery, that sensitiveness which belonged to the poet's own character, however concealed from general observation, and therefore by some perhaps not thought to attach to him, because not blazoned forth in every word and action.... This poem was published in quarto, in 1809; a second edition in 12mo, appearing the following year. It was kindly received by the public, and particularly by the Whig party, to all the leading men of which Campbell was personally known, and with most on terms of intimacy.... Though the poem was not damned in the Quarterly, as it ought to have been according to many of those who were arrayed under that flag, the praise of the Edinburgh and the declaration of the author's Whig principles were against its circulation. It has been subsequently reported that Scott reviewed the poem in the first number of the Quarterly, and that as this man never knew rancour in his literary dealings, he spared Campbell, the Whig poet, thus forgiving the politics for the sake of the poetry" "Life and Reminiscences of Campbell" New Monthly Magazine 78 (September 1846) 88-89.
William Howitt: "Campbell himself preferred Gertrude of Wyoming to the Pleasures of Hope. It is said that one cause of this preference was, that from hearing himself so exclusively called the author of the Pleasures of Hope, it became so hackneyed, that he felt towards it as the Athenian did, who as tired of hearing Aristides called the Just" Homes and Haunts (1847) 2:213.
David Macbeth Moir: "The greatest effort of Campbell's genius, however, was his Gertrude of Wyoming; nor is it every likely to be excelled in its own peculiar style of excellence. It is superior to the Pleasures of Hope in the only one thing in which that poem could be surpassed — purity of diction; while in pathos and in imaginative power it is no whit inferior. The beauties of Gertrude, however, are of that unobtrusive kind, that, for the most part, they must be sought for. Its imagery is so select as to afford only indices to trains of thought. It 'touches a spring, and lo! what myriads rise!' If we add to this, that, as a story, Gertrude is particularly defective, the circumstances will be made palpable which have operated against the popularity of a composition so thoroughly exquisite" Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1852) 148.
Cyrus Redding: "Another of the noted works of the day, a little subsequent to Scott's Marmion, was that of a poet whose fame was already fixed upon a durable foundation in Gertrude of Wyoming, the second edition of which appeared the same year as Scott's Lady of the Lake. Gertrude did not strike me with its tranquil and peculiar beauties, until I had read it more than once, as Reynolds observed of Raphael's cartoons, the excellence of which did not strike at the first glance. It was somewhat in this way that the first perusal of Gertrude affected me" in Fifty Years' Recollections (1858) 1:67.
W. J. Courthope: "Campbell had no gift for narrative. Gertrude of Wyoming in respect of its representation of action and character is third-rate, and, even in its descriptive passages, the author's preferance for classical generalization is reflected in the conventionality of his landscape" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 6:112.
Bernard Groom: "A late work of the Spenserian revival, and ... true to type in its blend of Spenserian phrases with local words drawn from a 'romantic' region. The poets were now compelled to range further afield: Beattie's local colour from Scotland; Byron's from the less known parts of Europe; Campbell's from North America" The Diction of Poetry from Spenser to Bridges (1955) 208.
See the long discussion of the poem and its North American influence by Robert Crawford: "Campbell embodied the ideal for which the teaching of Belles Lettres in Scotland and America was striving. Gertrude of Wyoming also helped consecrate the American landscape for literary use" Devolving English Literature (1992) 179.
See also Walter Scott's sympathetic though negative review, reprinted from the Quarterly Review in Miscellanies, vol. 1; also Leigh Hunt's remarks in the 1814 notes to Feast of the Poets, and Fitz-Greene Halleck's verses, "Wyoming," reprinted in his Alnwick Castle (1827). Mary Russell Mitford describes Gertrude of Wyoming as "that most exquisite of all human productions" in Life (1870) 1:79.
On Susquehana's side, fair Wyoming,
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall
And roofless homes a sad remembrance bring
Of what thy gentle people did befall,
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pensylvania's shore!
It was beneath thy skies that, but to prune
His Autumn fruits, or skim the light canoe,
Perchance, along thy river calm at noon
The happy shepherd swain had nought to do
From morn till evening's sweeter pastime grew,
Their timbrel, in the dance of forests brown
When lovely maidens prankt in flowret new;
And aye, those sunny mountains half way down
Would echo flagelet from some romantic town.
Then, where of Indian hills the daylight takes
His leave, how might you the flamingo see
Disporting like a meteor on the lakes—
And playful squirrel on his nut-grown tree:
And ev'ry sound of life was full of glee,
From merry mock-bird's song, or hum of men,
While heark'ning, fearing nought their revelry,
The wild deer arch'd his neck from glades, and then
Unhunted, sought his woods and wilderness again.
And scarce had Wyoming of war or crime
Heard but in transatlantic story rung,
For here the exile met from ev'ry clime,
And spoke in friendship ev'ry distant tongue:
Men from the blood of warring Europe sprung,
Were but divided by the running brook;
And happy where no Rhenish trumpet sung,
On plains no sieging mine's volcano shook,
The blue-ey'd German chang'd his sword to pruning-hook.
Nor far some Andalusian saraband
Would sound to many a native rondelay.
But who is he that yet a dearer land
Remembers, over hills and far away?
Green Albyn! what though he no more survey
Thy ships at anchor on the quiet shore,
Thy pellochs rolling from the mountain bay;
Thy lone sepulchral cairn upon the moor,
And distant isles that hear the loud Corbrechtan roar!
Alas! poor Caledonia's mountaineer,
That want's stern edict e'er, and feudal grief,
Had forced him from a home he loved so dear!
Yet found he here a home, and glad relief,
And plied the beverage from his own fair sheaf,
That fir'd his Highland blood with mickle glee;
And England sent her men, of men the chief,
Who taught those sires of Empire yet to be,
To plant the tree of life; to plant fair freedom's tree!
Here was not mingled in the city's pomp
Of life's extremes the grandeur and the gloom;
Judgment awoke not here her dismal tromp,
Nor seal'd in blood a fellow creature's doom,
Nor mourn'd the captive in a living tomb.
One venerable man, beloved of all,
Sufficed where innocence was yet in bloom,
To sway the strife, that seldom might befall,
And Albert was their judge in patriarchal hall.
How rev'rend was the look, serenely aged,
He bore, this gentle Pensylvanian sire,
Where all but kindly fervors were assuag'd,
Undimm'd by weakness' shade, or turbid ire:
And though amidst the calm of thought entire,
Some high and haughty features might betray
A soul impetuous once, 'twas earthly fire
That fled composure's intellectual ray,
As Aetna's fires grow dim before the rising day.
I boast no song in magic wonders rife,
But yet familiar, is there nought to prize,
Oh Nature! in thy bosom-scenes of life?
And dwells in daylight truth's salubrious skies
No form with which the soul may sympathise?
Young, innocent, on whose sweet forehead mild
The parted ringlet shone in simplest guise,
An inmate in the home of Albert smil'd,
Or blest his noonday walk — she was his only child.
The rose of England bloom'd on Gertrude's cheek—
What though these shades had seen her birth, her sire
A Briton's independence taught to seek
Far western worlds; and there his household fire
The light of social love did long inspire,
And many a halcyon day he liv'd to see
Unbroken, but by one misfortune dire,
When fate had reft his mutual heart — but she
Was gone — and Gertrude climb'd a widow'd father's knee.
A lov'd bequest and I may half impart—
To them that feel the strong paternal tie,
How like a new existence to his heart
Uprose that living flow'r beneath his eye,
Dear as she was, from cherub infancy,
From hours when she would round his garden play,
To time when as the rip'ning years went by,
Her lovely mind could culture well repay,
And more engaging grew from pleasing day to day.
I may not paint those thousand infant charms;
(Unconscious fascination, undesign'd!)
The orison repeated in his arms,
For God to bless her sire and all mankind;
The book, the bosom on his knee reclin'd,
Or how sweet fairy-lore he heard her con,
(The playmate ere the teacher of her mind):
All uncompanion'd else her years had gone
Till now in Gertrude's eyes their ninth blue summer shone.
And summer was the tide, and sweet the hour,
When sire and daughter saw, with fleet descent,
An Indian from his bark approach their bow'r,
Of buskin'd limb, and swarthy lineament;
The red wild feathers on his brow were blent,
And bracelets bound the arm that help'd to light
A boy, who seem'd, as he beside him went,
Of Christian vesture, and complexion bright,
Led by his dusky guide like morning brought by night.
Yet pensive seem'd the boy for one so young,
The dimple from his polish'd cheek had fled;
When, leaning on his forest-bow unstrung,
Th' Oneyda warrior to the planter said,
And laid his hand upon the stripling's head,
"Peace be to thee! my words this belt approve;
The paths of peace my steps have hither led:
This little nursling, take him to thy love,
And shield the bird unfledg'd, since gone the parent dove.
"Christian! I am the foeman of thy foe;
Our wampum league thy brethren did embrace
Upon the Michagan, three moons ago,
We launch'd our quivers for the bison chace;
And with the Hurons planted for a space,
With true and faithful hands, the olive-stalk;
But snakes are in the bosoms of their race,
And though they held with us a friendly talk,
The hollow peace-tree fell beneath their tomohawk!
"It was encamping on the lake's far port,
A cry of Areouski broke our sleep,
Where storm'd an ambush'd foe thy nation's fort,
And rapid rapid whoops came o'er the deep;
But long thy country's war-sign on the steep
Appear'd through ghastly intervals of light,
And deathfully their thunders seem'd to sweep,
Till utter darkness swallow'd up the sight,
As if a show'r of blood had quench'd the fiery fight!
"It slept — it rose again — on high their tow'r
Sprung upwards like a torch to light the skies,
Then down again it rain'd an ember show'r,
And louder lamentations heard we rise:
As when the evil Manitou that dries
Th' Ohio woods, consumes them in his ire,
In vain the desolated panther flies,
And howls, amidst his wilderness of fire:
Alas! too late, we reach'd and smote those Hurons dire!
"But as the fox beneath the nobler hound,
So died their warriors by our battle-brand;
And from the tree we with her child unbound
A lonely mother of the Christian land—
Her lord — the captain of the British band—
Amidst the slaughter of his soldiers lay;
Scarce knew the widow our deliv'ring hand;
Upon her child she sobb'd, and swoon'd away;
Or shriek'd unto the God to whom the Christians pray.—
Our virgins fed her with their kindly bowls
Of fever-balm, and sweet sagamite;
But she was journeying to the land of souls,
And lifted up her dying head to pray
That we should bid an ancient friend convey
Her orphan to his home of England's shore;
And take, she said, this token far away
To one that will remember us of yore,
When he beholds the ring that Waldegrave's Julia wore.—
"And I, the eagle of my tribe, have rush'd
With this lorn dove." — A sage's self-command
Had quell'd the tears from Albert's heart that gush'd;
But yet his cheek — his agitated hand—
That shower'd upon the stranger of the land
No common boon, in grief but ill beguil'd
A soul that was not wont to be unmann'd;
"And stay," he cried, "dear pilgrim of the wild!
Preserver of my old, my boon companion's child!—
"Child of a race whose name my bosom warms,
On earth's remotest bounds how welcome here!
Whose mother oft, a child, has fill'd these arms,
Young as thyself, and innocently dear:
Whose grandsire was my early life's compeer:
Ah happiest home of England's happy clime!
How beautiful ev'n now thy scenes appear,
As in the noon and sunshine of my prime!
How gone like yesterday these thrice ten years of time!
"And, Julia! when thou wert like Gertrude now
Can I forget thee, fav'rite child of yore?
Or thought I, in thy father's house when thou
Wert lightest hearted on his festive floor,
And first of all his hospitable door,
To meet and kiss me at my journey's end?
But where was I when Waldegrave was no more?
And thou didst pale thy gentle head extend,
In woes, that ev'n the tribe of deserts was thy friend!"
He said — and strain'd unto his heart the boy:
Far differently the mute Oneyda took
His calumet of peace, and cup of joy;
As monumental bronze unchanged his look:
A soul that pity touch'd, but never shook:
Train'd, from his tree-rock'd cradle to his bier,
The fierce extremes of good and ill to brook
Impassive — fearing but the shame of fear—
Stoic of the woods — a man without a tear.—
Yet deem not goodness on the savage stock
Of Outalissi's heart disdain'd to grow;
As lives the oak unwither'd on the rock
By storms above, and barrenness below:
He scorn'd his own, who felt another's woe:
And ere the wolf-skin on his back he flung,
Or laced his mocasins, in act to go,
A song of parting to the boy he sung,
Who slept on Albert's couch, nor heard his friendly tongue.
"Sleep, wearied one! and in the dreaming land
Shouldst thou the spirit of thy mother greet,
Oh! say, to-morrow, that the white man's hand
Hath pluck'd the thorns of sorrow from thy feet;
While I in lonely wilderness shall meet
Thy little foot prints — or by traces know
The fountain, where at noon I thought it sweet
To feed thee with the quarry of my bow,
And pour'd the lotus-horn, or slew the mountain roe.
"Adieu! sweet scion of the rising sun!
But should affliction's storms thy blossom mock,
Then come again — my own adopted one!
And I will graft thee on a noble stock:
The crocodile, the condor of the rock—
Shall be the pastime of thy sylvan wars;
And I will teach thee, in the battle's-shock,
To pay with Huron blood thy father's scars,
And gratulate his soul rejoicing in the stars!"—
So finish'd he the rhyme (howe'er uncouth)
That true to nature's fervid feelings ran;
(And song is but the eloquence of truth:)
Then forth uprose that lone way-faring man;
But dauntless he, nor chart, nor journey's plan
In woods required, whose trained eye was keen
As eagle of the wilderness, to scan
His path, by mountain, swamp, or deep ravine,
Or ken far friendly huts on good savannas green.
Old Albert saw him from the valley's side—
His pirogue launch'd — his pilgrimage begun—
Far, like the red-bird's wing, he seem'd to glide;—
Then div'd, and vanish'd in the woodlands dun.
Oft, to that spot by tender memory won,
Would Albert climb the promontory's height,
If but a dim sail glimmer'd in the sun;
But never more, to bless his longing sight,
Was Outalissi hail'd, his bark and plumage bright.
A Valley from the river shore withdrawn
Was Albert's home, two quiet woods between,
Whose lofty verdure overlook'd his lawn;
And waters to their resting place serene
Came fresh'ning, and reflecting all the scene:
(A mirror in the depth of flowery shelves;)
So sweet a spot of earth, you might, (I ween)
Have guess'd some congregation of the elves
To sport by summer moons, had shaped it for themselves.
Yet wanted not the eye far scope to muse,
Nor vistas open'd by the wand'ring stream;
Both where at evening Allegany views,
Through ridges burning in her western beam,
Lake after lake interminably gleam:
And past those settlers' haunts the eye might roam
Where earth's unliving silence all would seem;
Save where on rocks the beaver built his dome,
Or buffalo remote low'd far from human home.
But silent not that adverse eastern path
Which saw Aurora's hills th' horizon crown;
There was the river heard, in bed of wrath,
(A precipice of foam from mountains brown,)
Like tumults heard from some far distant town;
But soft'ning in approach he left his gloom,
And murmur'd pleasantly, and laid him down—
To kiss those easy curving banks of bloom,
That lent the windward air an exquisite perfume.—
It seem'd as if those scenes sweet influence had
On Gertrude's soul, and kindness like their own
Inspir'd those eyes affectionate and glad,
That seem'd to love whate'er they look'd upon;
Whether with Hebe's mirth her features shone,
Or if a shade more pleasing them o'ercast,
(As if for heav'nly musing meant alone;)
Yet so becomingly th' expression past,
That each succeeding look was lovelier than the last.—
Nor, guess I, was that Pensylvanian home,
With all its picturesque and balmy grace,
And fields that were a luxury to roam,
Lost on the soul that look'd from such a face!
Enthusiast of the woods! when years apace
Had bound thy lovely waist with woman's zone,
The sunrise path, at morn, I see thee trace
To hills with high magnolia overgrown;
And joy to breathe the groves, romantic and alone.—
The sunrise drew her thoughts to Europe forth,
That thus apostrophized its viewless scene;
"Land of my father's love, my mother's birth!
The home of kindred I have never seen!
We know not other — oceans are between;—
Yet say! far friendly hearts from whence we came,
Of us does oft remembrance intervene?
My mother sure — my sire a thought may claim;—
But Gertrude is to you an unregarded name.
"And yet, lov'd England! when thy name I trace
In many a pilgrim's tale and poet's song,
How can I choose but wish for one embrace
Of them, the dear unknown, to whom belong
My mother's looks, — perhaps her likeness strong?
Oh parent! with what reverential awe,
From features of shine own related throng,
An image of thy face my soul could draw!
And see thee once again whom I too shortly saw!"
Yet deem not Gertrude sigh'd for foreign joy;
To sooth a father's couch her only care,
And keep his rev'rend head from all annoy:
For this, methinks, her homeward steps repair,
Soon as the morning wreath had bound her hair;
While yet the wild deer trod in spangling dew,
While boatman caroll'd to the fresh-blown air,
And woods a horizontal shadow threw,
And early fox appear'd in momentary view.—
At times there was a deep untrodden grot,
Where oft the reading hours sweet Gertrude wore;
Tradition had not nam'd its lonely spot;
But here (methinks) might India's sons explore
Their father's dust, or lift, perchance of yore,
Their voice to the great Spirit: — rocks sublime
To human art a sportive semblance wore;
And yellow lichens colour'd all the clime,
Like moonlight battlements, and towers decay'd by time.
But high, in amphitheatre above,
His arms the everlasting aloes threw:
Breath'd but an air of heav'n, and all the grove
As if with instinct living spirit grew,
Rolling its verdant gulphs of every hue;
And now suspended was the pleasing din,
Now from a murmur faint it swell'd anew,
Like the first note of organ heard within
Cathedral aisles, — ere yet its symphony begin.
It was in this lone valley she would charm
The ling'ring noon, where flow'rs a couch had strewn;
Her cheek reclining, and her snowy arm
On hillock by the plam-tree half o'ergrown:
And aye that volume on her lap is thrown,
Which every heart of human mould endears;
With Shakespeare's self she speaks and smiles alone,
And no intruding visitation fears,
To shame th' unconscious laugh, or stop her sweetest tears.—
For, save her presence, scarce an ear had heard
The stock-dove plaining through its gloom profound,
Or winglet of the fairy humming bird,
Like atoms of the rainbow fluttering round;
Till chance had usher'd to its inmost ground
The stranger guest of many a distant clime;
He was, to weet, for eastern mountains bound;
But late th' equator suns his cheek had tann'd,
And California's gales his roving bosom fann'd.—
A steed, whose rein hung loosely o'er his arm,
He led dismounted; ere his leisure pace,
Amid the brown leaves, could her ear alarm,
Close he had come, and worshipp'd for a space
Those downcast features: — she her lovely face
Uplift on one whose lineaments and frame
Were youth and manhood's intermingled grace:
Iberian seem'd his boot — his robe the same,
And well the Spanish plume his lofty looks became.
For Albert's home he sought — her finger fair
Has pointed where the father's mansion stood.
Returning from the copse he soon was there;
And soon has Gertrude hied from dark green wood;
Nor joyless, by the converse, understood,
Between the man of age and pilgrim young,
That gay congeniality of mood,
And early liking from acquaintance sprung:
Full fluently convers'd their guest in England's tongue.
And well could he his pilgrimage of taste
Unfold, — and much they lov'd his fervid strain,—
While he each fair variety re-trac'd
Of climes, and manners, o'er the eastern main:—
Now happy Switzer's hills, — romantic Spain,—
Gay lilied fields of France, — or, more refin'd,
The soft Ausonia's monumental reign;
Nor less each rural image he design'd,
Than all the city's pomp and home of human kind.
Anon some wilder portraiture he draws;
Of Nature's savage glories he would speak,—
The loneliness of earth that overawes,—
Where, resting by some tomb of old Cacique,
The lame-driver on Peruvia's peak,
Nor voice nor living motion marks around;
But storks that to the boundless forest shriek;
Or wild-cane arch high flung o'er gulph profound,
That fluctuates when the storms of El Dorado sound.
Pleas'd with his guest, the good man still would ply
Each earnest question, and his converse court;
But Gertrude, as she ey'd him, knew not why
A strange and troubling wonder stops her short.
"In England thou hast been, — and, by report,
An orphan's name (quoth Albert) may'st have known:
Sad tale! — when latest fell our frontier fort,—
One innocent — one soldier's child — alone
Was spar'd, and brought to me, who lov'd him as my own.—
"Young Henry Waldegrave! three delightful years
These very walls his infant sports did see;
But most I lov'd him when his parting tears
Alternately bedew'd my child and me:
His sorest parting, Gertrude, was from thee;
Nor half its grief his little heart could hold:
By kindred he was sent for o'er the sea,
They tore him from us when but twelve years old,
And scarcely for his loss have I been yet consol'd."—
His face the wand'rer hid; — but could not hide
A tear, a smile, upon his cheek that dwell;—
"And speak, mysterious stranger!" (Gertrude cried)
"It is! — it is! — I knew! — I knew him well!
'Tis Waldegrave's self, of Waldegrave come to tell!"
A burst of joy the father's lips declare;
But Gertrude speechless on his bosom fell:
At once his open arms embrac'd the pair,
Was never group more blest, in this wide world of care,—
"And will ye pardon then (replied the youth)
Your Waldegrave's feigned name, and false attire?
I durst not in the neighbourhood, in truth,
The very fortunes of your house inquire;
Lest one that knew me might some tidings dire
Impart, and I my weakness all betray,
For had I lost my Gertrude, and my sire,
I meant but o'er your tombs to weep a day;
Unknown I meant to weep, unknown to pass away.
"But here ye live, — ye bloom, — in each dear face
The changing hand of time I may not blame;
For there, it hath but shed more reverend grace,
And here, of beauty perfected the frame;
And well I know your hearts are still the same,
They could not change — ye look the very way,
As when an orphan first to you I came.
And have ye heard of my poor guide, I pray?
Nay wherefore weep we, friends, on such a joyous day?—
"And art thou here? or is it but a dream?
And wilt thou, Waldegrave, wilt thou leave us more?
No, never! thou that yet dost lovelier seem
Than aught on earth — than ev'n thyself of yore—
I will not part thee from thy father's shore;
But we shall cherish him with mutual arms;
And hand in hand again the path explore,
Which every ray of young remembrance warms;
While thou shalt be my own with all thy truth and charms.—
At morn, as if beneath a galaxy
Of over-arching groves in blossoms white,
Where all was od'rous scent and harmony,
And gladness to the heart, nerve, ear, and sight:
There if, oh gentle love! I read aright,
The utterance that seal'd thy sacred bond,
'Twas list'ning to these accents of delight,
She hid upon his breast those eyes, beyond
Expression's pow'r to paint, all languishingly fond.
"Flow'r of my life, so lovely, and so lone!
Whom I would rather in this desert meet,
Scorning, and scorn'd by fortune's pow'r, than own
Her pomp and splendors lavish'd at my feet!
Turn not from me thy breath, more exquisite
Than odours cast on heav'n's own shrine — to please—
Give me thy love, than luxury more sweet,
And more than all the wealth that loads the breeze,
When Coromandel's ships return from Indian seas."—
Then would that home admit them — happier far
Than grandeur's most magnificent saloon—
While, here and there, a solitary star
Flush'd in the dark'ning firmament of June;
And silence brought the soul-felt hour, full soon,
Ineffable, which I may not pourtray;
For never did the Hymenean moon
A paradise of hearts more sacred sway,
In all that slept beneath her soft voluptuous ray.
O Love! in such a wilderness as this,
Where transport and security entwine,
Here is the empire of thy perfect bliss,
And here thou art a god indeed divine.
Here shall no forms abridge, no hours confine
The views, the walks, that boundless joy inspire!
Roll on, ye days of raptur'd influence, shine!
Nor blind with ecstasy's celestial fire,
Shall love behold the spark of earth-born time expire.
Three little moons, how short, amidst the grove,
And pastoral savannas they consume!
While she, beside her buskin'd youth to rove,
Delights, in fancifully wild costume,
Her lovely brow to shade with Indian plume;
And forth in hunter-seeming vest they fare;
But not to chase the deer in forest gloom;
'Tis but the breath of heav'n — the blessed air—
And interchange of hearts unknown, unseen to share.
What though the sportive dog oft round them note,
Or fawn, or wild bird bursting on the wing;
Yet who, in love's own presence, would devote
To death those gentle throats that wake the spring;
Or writhing from the brook its victim bring?
No! — nor let fear one little warbler rouse;
But, fed by Gertrude's hand, still let them sing,
Acquaintance of her path, amidst the boughs,
That shade ev'n now her love, and witness'd first her vows.
Now labyrinths, which but themselves can pierce,
Methinks, conduct them to some pleasant ground,
Where welcome hills shut out the universe,
And pines their lawny walk encompass round;
There, if a pause delicious converse found,
'Twas but when o'er each heart th' idea stole.
(Perchance awhile in joy's oblivion drown'd,)
That come what may, while life's glad pulses roll,
Indissolubly thus should soul be knit to soul.
And in the visions of romantic youth,
What years of endless bliss are yet to flow!
But mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth!
The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below!
And must I change my song? and must I shew,
Sweet Wyoming! the day, when thou wert doom'd,
Guiltless, to mourn thy loveliest bow'rs laid low!
When where of yesterday a garden bloom'd,
Death overspread his pall, and black'ning ashes gloom'd.—
Sad was the year, by proud oppression driv'n,
When Transatlantic Liberty arose,
Not in the sunshine, and the smile of heav'n,
But wrapt in whirlwinds, and begirt with woes:
Amidst the strife of fratricidal foes,
Her birth star was the light of burning plains;
Her baptism is the weight of blood that flows
From kindred hearts — the blood of British veins—
And famine tracks her steps, and pestilential pains.
Yet, ere the storm of death had rag'd remote,
Or siege unseen in heav'n reflects its beams,
Who now each dreadful circumstance shall note,
That fills pale Gertrude's thoughts, and nightly dreams:
Dismal to her the forge of battle gleams
Portentous light! and music's voice is dumb;
Save where the fife its shrill reveille screams,
Or midnight streets re-echo to the drum,
That speaks of mad'ning strife, and bloodstain'd fields to come.
It was in truth a momentary pang;
Yet how comprising myriad shapes of woe!
First when in Gertrude's ear the summons rang,
A husband to the battle doom'd to go!
"Nay meet not thou," (she cries), "thy kindred foe!
But peaceful let us seek fair England's strand!"
"Ah, Gertrude! thy beloved heart, I know,
Would feel, like mine, the stigmatizing brand,
Could I forsake the cause of freedom's holy band!
"But shame — but flight — a recreant's name to prove,
To hide in exile ignominious fears;
Say, ev'n if this I brook'd, the public love
Thy father's bosom to his home endears:
And how could I his few remaining years
My Gertrude sever from so dear a child?"
So, day by day, her boding heart he cheers;
At last that heart to hope is half beguil'd,—
And pale through tears suppress'd the mournful beauty smil'd.—
Night came, — and in their lighted bow'r, full late,
The joy of converse had endur'd, — when hark!
Abrupt and loud, a summons shook their gate;
And, heedless of the dog's obstrep'rous bark,
A form has rush'd amidst them from the dark,
And spread his arms, — and fell upon the floor:
Of aged strength his limbs retain'd the mark;
But desolate he look'd, and famish'd poor,
As ever shipwreck'd wretch lone left on desert shore.
Upris'n, each wond'ring brow is knit, and arch'd:
A spirit from the dead they deem him first:
To speak he tries; but quivering, pale, and parch'd
From lips, as by some pow'rless dream accurs'd,
Emotions unintelligible burst;
And long his filmed eye is red and dim;
At length the pity-proffer'd cup his thirst
Had half assuag'd, and nerv'd his shuddering limb,
When Albert's hand he grasp'd; — but Albert knew not him—
"And hast thou then forgot," (he cried forlorn,
And ey'd the group with half indignant air),
"Oh! hast thou, Christian chief, forgot the morn
When I with thee the cup of peace did share?
Then stately was this head, and dark this hair
That now is white as Appalachia's snow;
But, if the weight of fifteen years' despair,
And age hath bow'd me, and the tort'ring foe,
Bring me my boy and he will his deliverer know!"—
It was not long, with eyes and heart of flame,
Ere Henry to his lov'd Oneyda flew:
"Bless thee, my guide!" — but, backward, as he came,
The chief his old bewilder'd head withdrew,
And grasp'd his arm, and look'd and look'd him through.
'Twas strange — nor could the group a smile controul—
The long, the doubtful scrutiny to view:—
At last delight o'er all his features stole,
"It is — my own," he cried, and clasp'd him to his soul.—
"Yes! thou recall'st my pride of years, for then
The bowstring of my spirit was not slack,
When, spite of woods, and floods, and ambush'd men,
I bore thee like the quiver on my back,
Fleet as the whirlwind hurries on the rack;
Nor foeman then, nor cougar's crouch I fear'd,
For I was strong as mountain cataract:
And dost thou not remember how we cheer'd
Upon the last hill-top, when white men's huts appear'd?
"Then welcome be my death-song, and my death!
Since I have seen thee, and again embrac'd."
And longer had he spent his toil-worn breath;
But, with affectionate and eager haste,
Was every arm outstretch'd around their guest,
To welcome, and to bless his aged head.
Soon was the hospitable banquet plac'd;
And Gertrude's lovely hands a balsam shed
On wounds with fever'd joy that more profusely bled.
"But this is not a time," — he started up,
And smote his breast with woe-denouncing hand—
"This is no time to fill the joyous cup,
The Mammoth comes; — the foe, — the Monster Brandt,—
With all his howling desolating band;
These eyes have seen their blade, and burning pine
Awake at once, and silence half your land.
Red is the cup they drink; but not with wine:
Awake, and watch to-night! or see no morning shine!"
"Scorning to wield the hatchet for his bribe,
With Brandt himself I went to battle forth:
Accursed Brandt! he left of all my tribe
Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth:
No! not the dog, that watch'd my household hearth,
Escap'd, that night of blood, upon our plains!
All perish'd! — I alone am left on earth!
To whom nor relative nor blood remains,
No! — not a kindred drop that runs in human veins!
"But go! — and rouse your warriors; — for, if right
These old bewilder'd eyes could guess, by signs
Of strip'd and starred banners, on yon height
Of eastern cedars, o'er the creek of pines
Some fort embattled by your country shines:
Deep roars th' innavigable gulph below
Its squared rocks, and palisaded lines.
Go! seek the light its warlike beacons show;
Whilst I in ambush wait, for vengeance, and the foe!"
Scarce had he utter'd, — when Heav'n's verge extreme
Reverberates the bomb's descending star,—
And sounds that mingled laugh, — and shout, — and scream,
To freeze the blood, in one discordant jar,
Rung to the pealing thunderbolts of war.
Whoop after whoop with rack the ear assail'd;
As if unearthly fiends had burst their bar;
While rapidly the marksman's shot prevail'd;—
And aye, as if for death, some lonely trumpet wail'd.—
Then look'd they to the hills, where fire o'erhung
The bandit groupes, in one Vesuvian glare;
Or swept, far seen, the tow'r, whose clock unrung,
Told legible that midnight of despair.
She faints, — she falters not, — th' heroic fair,—
As he the sword and plume in haste array'd.
One short embrace — he clasp'd his dearest care—
But hark! what nearer war-drum shakes the glade?
Joy, joy! Columbia's friends are trampling through the shade!
Then came of every race the mingled swarm,
Far rung the groves, and gleam'd the midnight grass
With flambeau, javelin, and naked arm;
As warriors wheel'd their culverins of brass,
Sprung from the woods, a bold athletic mass,
Whom virtue fires, and liberty combines:
And first the wild Moravian yagers pass;
His plumed host the dark Iberian joins—
And Scotia's sword beneath the Highland thistle shines.
And in — the buskin'd hunters of the deer,
To Albert's home, with shout and cymbal throng:—
Rous'd by their warlike pomp, and mirth, and cheer,
Old Outalissi woke his battle song,
And, beating with his war-club cadence strong,
Tells how his deep-stung indignation smarts,
Of them that wrapt his house in flames, ere long,
To whet a dagger on their stony hearts,
And smile aveng'd ere yet his eagle spirit parts.—
Calm, opposite the Christian father rose,
Pale on his venerable brow its rays
Of martyr light the conflagration throws;
One hand upon his lovely child he lays,
And one th' uncover'd crowd to silence sways;
While, though the battle Hash is faster driv'n,—
Unaw'd, with eye unstartled by the blaze,
He for his bleeding country prays to Heav'n,—
Prays that the men of blood themselves may be forgiven.
Short time is now for gratulating speech;
And yet, beloved Gertrude, ere began
Thy country's flight, yon distant tow'rs to reach,
Look'd not on thee the rudest partizan
With brow relax'd to love? And murmurs ran,
As round and round their willing ranks they drew,
From beauty's sight to shield the hostile van.
Grateful, on them a placid look she threw,
Nor wept, but as she bade her mother's grave adieu!
Past was the flight, and welcome seem'd the tow'r,
That like a giant standard-bearer, frown'd
Defiance on the roving Indian pow'r.
Beneath, each bold and promontory mound
With embrasure emboss'd, and armour crown'd,
And arrowy frize, and wedged ravelin,
Wove like a diadem its tracery round
The lofty summit of that mountain green;
Here stood secure the group, and ey'd a distant scene.
A scene of death! where fires beneath the sun,
And blended arms, and white pavilions glow;
And for the business of destruction done,
Its requiem the war-horn seem'd to blow.
There, sad spectatress of her country's woe!
The lovely Gertrude, safe from present harm,
Had laid her cheek, and clasp'd her hands of snow
On Waldegrave's shoulder, half within his arm
Enclos'd, that felt her heart, and hush'd its wild alarm!
But short that contemplation — sad and short
The pause to bid each much-lov'd scene adieu!
Beneath the very shadow of the fort,
Where friendly swords were drawn, and banners flew.
Ah! who could deem that foot of Indian crew
Was near? — yet there, with lust of murd'rous deeds
Gleam'd like a basilisk, from woods in view,
The ambush'd foeman's eye — his volley speeds,
And Albert — Albert — falls! the dear old father bleeds!
And tranc'd in giddy horror Gertrude swoon'd;
Yet, while she clasps him lifeless to her zone,
Say, burst they, borrow'd from her father's wound,
These drops? Oh God! the life-blood is her own;
And falt'ring, on her Waldegrave's bosom thrown—
"Weep not, O Love!" she cries, "to see me bleed—
Thee, Gertrude's sad survivor, thee alone—
Heaven's peace commiserate; for scarce I heed
These wounds; — yet thee to leave is death, is death indeed.
"Clasp me a little longer, on the brink
Of fate! while I can feel thy drear caress;
And, when this heart hath ceas'd to beat — oh! think,
And let it mitigate thy woe's excess,
That thou hast been to me all tenderness,
And friend to more than human friendship just.
Oh! by that retrospect of happiness,
And by the hopes of an immortal trust,
God shall assuage thy pangs — when I am laid in dust!
"Go, Henry, go not back, when I depart,
The scene thy bursting tears too deep will move,
Where my dear father took thee to his heart,
And Gertrude thought it ecstasy to rove
With thee, as with an angel, through the grove
Of peace, — imagining her lot was cast
In heav'n; for ours was not like earthly love.
And must this parting be our very last?
No! I shall love thee still, when death itself is past.—
"Half could I bear, methinks, to leave this earth,—
And thee, more lov'd, than aught beneath the sun,
If I had liv'd to smile but on the birth
Of one dear pledge; — but shall there then be none,
In future times — no gentle little one,
To clasp thy neck, and look, resembling me!
Yet seems it, ev'n while life's last pulses run,
A sweetness in the cup of death to be,
Lord of my bosom's love! to die beholding thee!"
Hush'd were his Gertrude's lips! but still their bland
And beautiful expression seem'd to melt
With love that could not die! and still his hand
She presses to the heart no more that felt.
Ah heart! where once each fond affection dwelt,
And features yet that spoke a soul more fair.
Mute, gazing, agonizing as he knelt,—
Of them that stood encircling his despair,
He heard some friendly words; — but knew not what they were.
For now, to mourn their judge and child, arrives
A faithful band. With solemn rites between,
'Twas sung, how they were lovely in their lives,
And in their deaths had not divided been.
Touch'd by the music, and the melting scene,
Was scarce one tearless eye amidst the crowd:—
Stern warriors, resting on their swords, were seen
To veil their eyes, as pass'd each much-lov'd shroud—
While woman'd softer soul in woe dissolv'd aloud.
Then mournfully the parting bugle bid
Its farewell o'er the grave of worth and truth;
Prone to the dust, afflicted Waldegrave hid
His face on earth; — him watch'd in gloomy ruth,
His woodland guide; but words had none to sooth
The grief that knew not consolation's name:
Casting his Indian mantle o'er the youth,
He watch'd, beneath its folds, each burst that came
Convulsive, ague-like, across his shuddering frame!
"And I could weep;" th' Oneyda chief
His descant wildly thus began:
"But that I may not stain with grief
The death-song of my father's son!
Or bow this head in woe;
For by my wrongs, and by my wrath!
To-morrow Areouski's breath,
(That fires yon heav'n with storms of death),
Shall light us to the foe:
And we shall share, my Christian boy!
The foeman's blood, the avenger's joy!—
But thee, my flow'r, whose breath was giv'n
By milder genii o'er the deep,
The spirits of the white man's heav'n
Forbid not thee to weep:—
Nor will the Christian host,
Nor will thy father's spirit grieve
To see thee, on the battle's eve,
Lamenting take a mournful leave
Of her who lov'd thee most:
She was the rainbow to thy sight!
Thy sun — thy heav'n — of lost delight!—
"To-morrow let us do or die!
But when the bolt of death is hurl'd,
Ah! whither then with thee to fly,
Shall Outalissi roam the world?
Seek we thy once-lov'd home?—
The hand is gone that cropt its flowers!
Unheard their clock repeats its hours!—
Cold is the hearth within their bow'rs!—
And should we thither roam,
Its echoes, and its empty tread,
Would sound like voices from the dead!
"Or shall we cross yon mountains blue,
Whose streams my kindred nation quaff'd;
And by my side, in battle true,
A thousand warriors drew the shaft?
Ah! there in desolation cold,
The desert serpent dwells alone,
Where grass o'ergrows each mould'ring bone,
And stones themselves to ruin grown,
Like me, are death-like old.
Then seek we not their camp — for there—
The silence dwells of my despair!"
But hark, the trump! — tomorrow thou
In glory's fires shalt dry thy tears:
Ev'n from the land of shadows now
My father's awful ghost appears;
Amidst the clouds that round us roll,
He bids my soul or battle thirst—
He bids me dry the last — the first—
The only tears that ever burst—
From Outalissi's soul;—
Because I may not stain with grief
The death-song of an Indian chief."