165 anonymous Spenserians by Peter Bayley, the editor of The Museum, a minor literary periodical. As the time for the coronation approached, George IV's estranged with returned to England with the expressed intention of being crowned with him, and was refused. In the first part of the "Appeal" Queen Caroline turns the charge of infidelity on her husband, and addresses the British people: "And I was gay, as fits the innocent, | Malignant looks upon my steps were bent; | Unseen on every side was placed a snare" p. 38. The second part of the poem is mostly given over to a description of the Queen's travels around the Mediterranean after her separation: "'Bear me,' I cried, 'ye waters! undeceived | Of many a joy; and you, free blowing gales! | If such on earth there be, to scenes where peace prevails!'" p. 49. It is in this portion of the poem that Peter Bayley's intention for using the Spenserian stanza becomes clear: the Queen is Byron, and the poem is an imitation of Childe Harold! The "Appeal" concludes with an address to the King.
The scandalous affair became a party matter, the opposition, including Leigh Hunt, taking the side of the Queen, while the Tory interest, which included Scott and Southey, supported the King. The Morning Post had been running a series of particularly vulgar and abusive attacks on the Queen's reputation. Bayley's support of the liberal interest is apparent throughout the poem, which makes passing references to Napoleon and the Elgin Marbles. There were also riots at Cambridge, as reported by Thomas Babington Macaulay to his father in a letter of 21 November 1820; Letters, ed. Pinney (1974) 1:150.
Literary Gazette: "This poem takes a very poetical, i.e. imaginary view of the affair which now unfortunately occupies so much attention. It is written as if by the Queen, and gives and account of her various travels, adventures, &c. in a very sentimental way, interspersed with sundry discursive flights, and appeals to Britain, to the King, to the present age, and to posterity. Not addicted to politics, even when pressed upon us, our readers will not expect that we should take up this text for an essay upon so disagreeable a topic" (17 June 1820) 385.
Literary Chronicle: "It is written in the character of her Majesty, and mixing up some incidents of her life with much imagination, gives an account of her travels in foreign countries, and her feelings on her arrival in England. It is written with much elegance, and displays talents of no ordinary description" 2 (22 July 1820) 465.
Monthly Review: "We have heard it positively asserted that to a celebrated, and now titled, northern poet we are indebted for this composition; and that it was even written under the sanction of another illustrious personage, the last in the kingdom, perhaps, whom the public would suppose to have been in the privy council of the author. True it is that considerable management has been exerted, by which, in parts, such a circumstance does not appear an improbable conjecture: but in others, we think, such an hypothesis still wears that semblance. We have not the opportunity of actually deciding the matter, but shall leave it to the reader to form some judgment respecting it by the quotation of a few passages" NS 92 (June 1820) 203.
New Monthly Magazine: "This is a poem written in the Spenserian stanza, in the character of her Majesty, giving a sort of sketch of her journeyings, and expressing her feelings, in a mild and gentle strain, on her arrival in England. Its fault is, that it is neither a piece of pure imagination unconnected with political occurrences, nor yet is it any political argument; — it is a mere exposition of feelings chiefly connected with the scenery through which the Queen has passed, but which it is a mere gratuitous assumption that she ever felt. As an Appeal on behalf of her Majesty, it is very poor; as a poem, it has the merit of uniform elegance, and a degree of resemblance to Lord Byron's Childe Harold. The author has certainly powers, and evidently much facility of composition, which we shall be happy to see employed on subjects fitter for the uses of poetry" 14 (July 1820) 92.
Monthly Review: "The author has not dealt fairly with us in his preface [to Sketches from Saint George's Fields, second series] p. viii. We did not attribute his Queen's Appeal to Sir W. Scott, but merely stated the report which we had heard to that effect; and at the end of the article we subjoined our perfect conviction that it was an untrue filiation" NS 95 (July 1821) 269.
Walter Scott to Thomas Scott: "The Queen is making an awful bustle, and though by all accounts her conduct has been most abandoned and beastly, she has got the whole mob for her partisans, who call her injured innocence, and what not. She has courage enough to dare the worst, and a most decided desire to be revenged of him, which, by the way, can scarce be wondered at. If she had as many followers of high as of low degree (in proportion), and funds to equip them, I should not be surprised to see her fat bottom in a pair of buskins, and at the head of an army" 23 July 1820; in Lockhart, Life of Scott (1837-38; 1902) 3:464-65.
William Jerdan: "There was an anecdote of Queen Caroline, which I forgot in its proper place. When her bitterness against her husband was at its height, she exclaimed, 'Je suis la fille d'un Hero; la femme d'un Zero'" in William Jerdan, Autobiography (1852-53) 4:171.
Blackwood's discusses the affair in "The Queen's Trial" 8 (November 1820) 209-20.
Also in Spenserians, compare Stanzas to the Queen (1820) by Lionel Thomas Berguer and John Keats's comic poem on this subject, "The Cap and Bells."
Blame not the righteous boldness of the plea
With which I stand before our common throne:
Let guilt, that bends to power a trembling knee,
The boon of Mercy crave with faltering tone.
The prayers I breathe no selfish object own,
Tho' life before their mighty scope be mean;
Fame, peace, security — not mine alone—
Tho' mine may well be dear to England's Queen—
The motives to my free but just appeal have been.
Therefore — and since assured by innocence,
My soul in this her trying hour relies
Much on the King — more, on Omnipotence—
Unfearing I may speak; and dearly prize
The right I yet would gently exercise.
And haply in that bosom if a thought,
Called up by me, of power to wound should rise,
O yet forgive! nor think I can have sought
One word with purposed pain or hidden malice fraught.
Yet, should my speech ne'er falter; should my mind
Hold undisturbed the tenor of its way;
Should no one word, in passion undesigned
Shot forth with haste, impatient grief display;
In me the world a portent might survey.
Some tears are natural; with a righteous cause
Some warmth is not ungraceful of display:
And shame were mine, if only such applause
I won, as from the meek a timid spirit draws.
Something that cunning gladly would disclaim
Perchance to my unguarded lips may spring;
Grief, or the fervor of indignant shame,
Their apt expressions from my heart may wring:
Yet, whatsoe'er hath been my suffering,
Whate'er the form of my complaint may be,
The sacred names of Husband and of King
Bid me from angry thoughts my bosom free,
Or pour them on the foes that sever me from thee.
May Heaven's red wrath — O no — on Sion's hill,
On which my feet have rested, since the gale
From Albion breathed, my parting sail to fill—
I did not learn to frame a prayer for bale
On those that life, or peace, or fame assail:
Against the feelings on that holy ground
First well imbibed, not lastingly avail
The thirst of vengeance, and the heart's wild bound,
That follow fast the sense of an unworthy wound.
Tho' keen of smart of undeserved ill,
A clear and noble mind may well forego
The fierce delights that meaner bosoms thrill,
When Retribution strikes a guilty foe.
And I had striven to school my nature so
That generous thoughts, and worthy of a heart
That would be right, o'er sterner Will might grow.
But oft from her recess with sudden start
Burst Passion forth, and bade each gentle thought depart.
It could not be that I should cease to feel
Both what I am, and what a perjured band
Would make me seem. Nor could I wholly steel
My heart with pride; nor yet my tears command,
By thinking on my station in the land.
How has my bosom swelled, as I have known
Directed at my fame the pitchy brand
That sullies where it burns not! O what throne
On earth, for all my wrongs and sorrows can atone?
But she who treads on Sion's holy soil,
Or from the brow of lofty Olivet,
Above the scenes of her Redeemer's toil,
Looks to the stones on which his feet were set,
Or walks the path with tears divine once wet,
When o'er Jerusalem with boundless love
He stood to mourn — O she may well forget
All wishes that the soul of Vengeance move,
And learn at least to prize the meekness of the Dove.
Though the clear eye of Faith throughout all space
May feel the presence of a light divine,
And Mercy's precepts read in every place,
In towns or deserts, or before the shrine;
This is the fruit of constant discipline.
But thro' the senses with such powerful sway
Some feelings seize the soul, that we recline
On these unchanging still; and one brief day
Or fleeting hour affords our life's determined stay.
The influence of place who would not meet?
And I — upon the mount of sacrifice,
With Hinnom's vale of graves beneath my feet—
What could I less? — when fell each prejudice
That self-approval flings before our eyes—
What could I less, than strive my soul to close
Against each thought vindictive rage supplies,
Where He, the Holy One, even in the throes
Of bitterest death implored forgiveness for his foes?
Then let me every vengeful wish recal;
And may no punishment invoked by me
Upon the heads of the conspirers fall:
Nor let one stripe profane the jubilee
Of that blest day, when from all stain set free,
My name through all thy realms may be preferred,
Clear as the name of England's Queen should be.
Enough their hearts will suffer, as each word
That tells their victim's joy and innocence is heard.
But now must I step forth, and from my lip,
Impatient of its cheek, remove the seal
That held me silent, while the censorship
Of cruel tongues went on with eager zeal.
Nor can I now defer my just appeal,
Now, when events we both may well deplore
Place me in sight of millions. Well I feel
That I must try an arduous flight, and soar
In pure unsullied light, or fall to rise no more.
Above the humbler paths of life who mount,
The higher rising, still the more are scanned;
But History, as Rumour's tongues recount
The deeds and thoughts of Sovereigns, in her hand
Her iron pen high raising takes her stand
Before the adamantine rocks that bear
The mightiest names of many an age and land;
And deeply stamps what thence the noontide glare
And idly babbling winds of ages may declare.
And thou! the monarch of a realm whose bound
On every side o'er many a clime extends,
Will not with thine upon those rocks be found
The name that with a husband's aptly blends?
My name of right to after-days descends:
But ere for them irrevocably graved,
While History that iron pen suspends,
By me what peril were not gladly braved,
So from unworthy stain the record may be saved.
And, could all else forget me, can I bear
To live debased and vile in Britain's eyes,
While aught of diligence or seemly prayer
Can fix the high esteem I dearly prize?
What fire, however fierce, that truly tries
And proves the purity of doubted gold,
Reluctant to the test would see me rise,
So the integrity that makes me bold,
The sharp ordeal known, all Albion might behold?
O glorious people! matchless race of men!
O'er whom who rules may well be proud to reign;
When even your country's lowest denizen
Enjoys the rights no monarch dares profane;
Not that your dauntless warriors proved how vain
The false loquacious Gaul's insulting boast—
That only great upon the practised main,
Your bands would fly before his country's host—
No, Britons! not for this your Queen would praise you most.
Not that in that great day in which the world,
As, to the fight of eagles in the sun,
Upturned to the vast war its gaze, you hurled
The selfish tyrant from his throne, and won
Sway for the Lilies, that nor toiled nor spun,
Right glad that any hands for them would toil,
Content that rivers of true blood should run,
So they the Corsican's keen scythe might foil,
And once more strike their roots in abdicated soil.
Not that when Spain's romantic vassals rose,
Deserted by their treacherous chiefs, to meet
Death, rather than the yoke of foreign foes,
For them you fought, and turned to flight the feet,
That on the trampled vine and olive beat—
Not most for this I prize you; tho' you gave
Such opportunity, that, if discreet
And cautious your allies as fondly brave,
Not one from thence had groaned a thankless tyrant's slave.
No — nor that wealth, and power, and art, to crown
The dwellers of the famous isle, unite.
Well may your Queen exult in your renown,
And glory in your banded warriors' might.
Yet must she love and view with more delight
What best a nation's dearest fame may raise,
The social Virtues, and the sense of right,
True Loyalty that well the Law obeys,
And hearts that truly feel Religion's purest rays.
Far is the hand of Britain stretched to give
To want and woe in many a foreign land;
She first pronounced the just imperative,
That dashed the gyves from the poor Negro's hand.
Nor freedom only gives she: from her strand,
Far as her utmost empire's bound extends—
Let this the foremost of her honours stand—
To every tongue on winged keels she sends
The Word that shall be felt in earth's remotest ends.
If Instinct rightly prompts us, or we learn,
Taught by slow Reason, to recoil from shame,
What woman's cheek should lose the power to burn,
When Malice hangs dishonour on her name?
And I, when shrinking from unrighteous blame—
Of England's sons if rightfully I deem—
What must I bear, till fully I disclaim
All that would rob me of their just esteem,
'Till from envenom'd breath mine honour I redeem?
Yet one there is, one heart that I would touch
With feelings ne'er intended for the rest;
And changed that heart must be, and O how much!
If nobler ever beat in British breast.
And tho' base Calumny with toil unblest
Has laboured there my dearest hopes to kill,
I will not think it wholly prepossest,
And credulous of all invented ill.
No — I will fly to that — invoke its justice still.
For, howsoe'er its candour was abused
By wretches worthless of its meanest trust,
That in their treasonous brewage had infused
Whate'er might tend to warp, estrange, disgust;
Can they so triumph o'er a mind august?
So have their devilish machinations wrought,
That only what such baseness wills is just?
Can all the principles of right be brought
To change by such as these, and Honour's self untaught?
O sadly I must echo then the sage,
Who nothing firm in life proclaimed! if he
The mirror once esteemed, to which the age
Turned fondly its admiring eyes to see,
The form of what a perfect Prince should be,
Should now the proud Autocracy assume
Which sets o'er Right and Truth its own decree,
Or by repulsive silence coldly doom
A Queen untried, to shame — that stops not at the tomb.
Still lives the memory of the fond belief
With which my youth its prime illusion fed,
Surviving 'mid the arrowy stings of grief,
That fist and frequent to my heart have sped:
Still o'er that heart it blooms, as o'er the dead
Fair blossoms have their nurture, and but show
The fairer for the dust o'er which they spread:
O do not thou the cherished sweetness mow,
And mingle with the mass that mouldering lies below.
Well I remember, to my Father's court
As Europe's worth, and rank, and talents came,
Whoe'er of Kings and Princes made report,
Would England's Prince the pride of all proclaim.
How dear to me then seemed a Cousin's name,
Or aught that spoke me of a kindred race,
As I have mark'd the stranger pause to frame
His speech with words, that worthily might trace
That high and generous mind, clear wit, and manly grace!
But O, when came — what ne'er my heart had scanned
E'en in its dreams — that most momentous day,
When in my Mother's lay my trembling hand,
When — o'er her face while streaming tears had way,
E'en tho' it shone with joy — she made essay
To paint the destiny that bade me part,
To share the glories of imperial sway—
The joy that then most touched my beating heart,
E'en to the promised throne refused its meanest part.
Not that my sanguine bosom feigned to spurn
The pomp and pageantry that courts display:
Not that the thoughts were mine by which we learn
Rightly the worth of sovereign rule to weigh.
I saw the splendours that before me lay;
And knew, tho' faintly then I knew, the worth
Of that great nation, better known this day,
O'er whom my promised consort from his birth
Was called to reign, and fill the proudest throne of Earth.
But my young heart — I will not blush to own
The thoughts that shame not me, if now confest—
Dwelt most with him that might adorn a throne,
Him that imagination long had drest
With all that may embellish nature best:
Lavish'd on whom alone I looked to find,
All that hath given immortal praise to rest
On those, the brightest names of human kind,
For whom her greenest palms the historic muse hath twin'd.
But all in vain might Poesy pretend,
Tho' bodying forth her soul's divinest views,
My glowing mind's fair picture to transcend;
Or o'er her favourite work more glorious hues
Of many coloured light to circumfuse,
Than shone round him, whom now most happy fate
The partner of my days appeared to chuse:
Near whom the accidents of power and state
Seemed but as satellites that round their planet wait.
The common lot of those that sit on thrones
Seemed to pass by me, and remit the pain
For which what Greatness gives but ill atones:
In them how oft doth Policy profane
The marriage bonds! and make the golden chain,
That two consenting hearts should gently bind,
A yoke that galls to madness, while in vain
They envy humbler ranks, that seeking find
The bliss most wisely sought with some congenial mind.
I was, not sent, alliance to conclude,
The bond-seal of some high-contracting power,
The forced peace-offering of some deadly feud;
No void exchequer asked with me a dower,
No frontier claimed one solitary tower;
The band that gave me added no domain;
Nor for the fleets, whose countless keels devour
The waters of the tributary main,
The freedom of one bay or harbour could obtain.
I will not boast that woman well subdues
The thoughts that self-approval must endear;
At least not always can her ear refuse
To bend to lips that seem in praise sincere:
And had been beyond my youth austere,
If the choice that called my star to shine,
Among the first of either hemisphere,
Had wak'd in this heart of mine,
That vainly struggles now some feelings to resign.
Yet if the destiny that fix'd on me,
Pained but one daughter of a royal house,
'Mid Europe's many worthy well to be
The happy consort of a sovereign spouse;
If one of these e'er envied me the vows,
Then soon to be enroll'd — or to her own
Would shape the diadem that sought my brows;
How swiftly — could some warning hand have shown
The picture of my fate — her wishes would have flown.
But all was bright of promise: 'mid the tears
That from loved eyes o'er my departure fell,
No apprehensive whisper spoke of fears;
And even in my mother's fond farewell
Her gratulations with the rest would swell:
Still thro' her tears contentedly she smil'd;
And long upon the mercy would she dwell
That so had blessed her happy, happy child,
And to her loss so well her heart had reconcil'd,
For me — my soul's delicious dream to paint—
'Twas youth that dreamed — what language may avail?
E'en now, as I remember, words are faint,
And all the glowing hues of speech are pale:
Heaven seemed to rain felicities: the gale,
Well seconding the British sailors' zeal,
To fill for me with blessings the proud sail;
And as the murmuring waters kissed the keel,
Seemed o'er the enchanted deep seraphic sounds to steal.
What followed when I touched that happy shore,
Where peace I fondly thought must ever dwell;
The joy that every face I looked on wore—
And most sincerely wore — I need not tell:
That, and much more that happily befel,
Who better knows than he, to mine whose hand
Was plighted in the loud redundant swell
Of acclamations from a loyal land,
That honours well the tie of wedlock's holy band?
Hard is the heart, indeed, as stubborn steel,
That, when the hearts of millions sympathise
With all its joys, no gratitude can feel.
That sympathy they love and justly prize,
Of princes who are found the truly wise.
He who returns it may inscribe his name
Among the few that nations idolise;
May win that dearer than the conqueror's fame,
Which thankful subjects give, nor Reason's self can blame.
It is the key-stone of that mighty arch,
Thrown o'er society's tumultuous tide
For kings, o'er which in surest power they march,
Nor need the guards that wait on Fear or Pride.
Man joys when kings confess themselves allied
To human kind; and cheerfully repays
The feelings better use has sanctified;
And still he lifts his voice the prince to praise
Who seeks his happiness in Nature's purest ways.
O generous Nation! never may my heart
The cordial welcome that you gave forget.
Your sympathy in sorrow's frequent smart
Has been my balm: and, cruelly beset
By treacherous foes, no other amulet,
Save mine integrity, I sought to wear.
And who may rightly censure me, if yet,
Appealing to a husband's heart, I dare
Pronounce his subjects' love an object of my care?
Need I relate how soon was overcast
The sun, whose beam to every joy of mine
Its life and very essence gave? — how pass'd
Those rainbow hues, that make our day so fine,
When youth's fond eyes run o'er the sapphirine,
Peopling with painted clouds Heaven's lofty cope?
How I was forced reluctant, to resign
Those brilliant ever-changing hues, which Hope
Held to my raptured sight in her kaleidoscope?
O much confiding youth! O balmy gales
Rich with unearthly odours! O ye flowers
Worthy to grow amid the lovely vales
Of paradise, round Amaranthine bowers!
O promise of my heart! O few brief hours
Of transient bliss, that I secure believed
For ever from the reach of evil powers!
O when was heart of woman so deceived
With phantoms of delight? — so cruelly bereaved?
I thought not — therefore too severe a blame
From candid spirits I shall never find—
I thought not — fear nor sad suspicion came—
Whence should it come to my confiding mind?
That he to whom my parents had consigned
A daughter's peace, but by a sire's command,
Or forced by hard conditions, was inclined
To share the rites that in most holy bands
If not our mutual hearts, at least have joined our hands.
If marriage vows were hateful to that soul;
If all a nation's prayers were poured in vain;
If a fond father's provident controul
Seemed but employed to forge for thee a chain,
Tho' borne, yet only borne in high disdain;
I joined no plot against thy liberty;
But rather of the fortune may complain,
That gave my days a partner, who in me
The instrument or cause of forced restraint will see.
In all that happened, I could only prove
The child of circumstance — a passive thing,
That, far away admiring, durst not move
My loftiest thoughts to England's future King.
I know not, even if the mystic ring
That joined us might by me have been declined;
Or — tho' my present weight of suffering
My soul in days of calmness had divined—
What desperate escape I might have hoped to find.
Oft had I heard, and well believed it true,
And oft in prose and rhyme, believing, read;
But ne'er, till taught by sad experience, knew
The maxim's full extent — that those who wed
Unsympathising, for themselves but spread
A couch of thorns, discomfort, and unrest.
That Love and Peace, with rapid wings, have fled
The pair that will not live, as if one breast
Their twin congenial hearts together might invest.
I thought, and, looking back, still think it much,
That I, a heart, which I might justly deem
Unparagon'd on earth, should hope to touch.
But I was young; and woman loves to dream
Of what is fair, tho' difficult it seem.
And woman's pride forbade me to despair
Of winning from a husband that esteem.
Which I must win, or on my forehead bear,
Even in a rightful crown, a sign of deeper care.
I knew, and well the brightest fair that lives,
Unless by self-approval blinded, knows
That oft the proudest triumph she receives
To some peculiar taste her beauty owes;
That seeming trifles oft may indispose
The wavering heart, and all the avenues
That lead to love and soft affections close;
That some, the flower that others gladly chuse
Even as the garden queen indignantly refuse.
I knew my heart's integrity: the high
And ardent temper of my soul I knew:
And dare confess that an applauding eye
Upon some qualities, my own, I threw;
That, were the picture I had drawn but true,
The heart I now might seek were mine indeed.
Still, to my aid some little arts I drew—
Yet arts they were not — from that source proceed
The woes that fell on me — more fitly treason's meed.
All that I heard compelled me to believe
That every female eye on thine was turned.
What of thy taste was known I would receive:
And best I thought from woman might be learned
What best by woman's eye is aye discerned.
Some questions I proposed; nor in them thought
One woman's heart, save mine, could be concerned;
Nor knew that woman's heart could e'er be fraught
With wickedness like that which all my griefs hath wrought.
She had — I mean the source of all my woe—
The soft persuasive voice, the manners bland,
The insinuating smile, that those who know,
Tho' false they know them, scarcely can withstand.
Even I, her victim — tho' the withering brand
She lighted first, hath left within my heart
Some fires, to tell me of her treacherous hand—
Even I must own, that more accomplished art,
Or fairer in display, ne'er acted fiendish part.
Well could she read the human heart, and well
Had studied that, on whose approval hung
The dearest hopes that e'er in mine might dwell.
She knew if bitter thoughts in secret stung
The breast, whose cold consent perchance was wrung
By hard necessity, to bear the yoke,
Against whose weight the indignant spirit sprung:
And hers were all the arts that might provoke
The pride of such a breast, and skill those arts to cloke.
And all the nicest shades of taste she knew,
Important but to a fastidious mind;
The little discrepancies, marked by few,
To which but fewer still have e'er assigned
Their influence on the lot of womankind;
The slight varieties of tone, that jar
Most harshly, where the sense is most refined;
Even as a chord's least imperfections war
On ears most delicate, and all their pleasure mar.
To me she seemed the soul of gentleness:
Yet well her manners her high rank became.
But deeper interest seemed they to express,
Than that from station I might justly claim.
My happiness appeared her only aim:
And with such exquisite address she decked
The foulest purpose treacherous heart may frame,
That I believed her sense of due respect
A free and full display of ardent friendship checked.
It seemed as tho' she held the master-key
That opened every thought and wish of mine;
Yet Pride itself could never call too free
The use of all her talent to divine;
So softly ever did she intertwine
Her thoughts with what was passing in my breast;
It seemed some happy chance, and not design,
By which we both were swayed, when we addressed
Ourselves to speak of him, who all my thoughts possessed.
Who would have thought that her most wicked heart
With fell and stedfast aim, by night and day
My ruin sought? — that no compunctious start
Broke forth, a restless conscience to betray?
That still her smiles their usual soft array,
Unchanged amid the boundless confidence
Shown by her purposed victim, could display?
And how should I suspect? — Can innocence
Even dream of wickedness so hideous, so immense?
I was a woman — and would fain believe
That woman falls not oft by woman's hand:
I was a stranger — and might well receive
All aid and comfort in a generous land:
A friend — I might have pleaded friendship's band:
I was a princess — and perhaps her Queen—
And justly loyal service might command.
Yet none of these dissuasives came between
Her malice and its aim, my hapless heart to screen.
And as some child, unheeding, when the smile
Of summer's sunny season gilds the flowers,
Disports him in their sweets, nor sees the while,
The close-coiled adder in the leaves that cowers;
So I, by that bad woman's matchless powers
Of pleasing fascinated, in the reach
Of all her venom passed delicious hours;
And drank with eager ears the honied speech,
That seemed my surest way of happiness to teach.
In all she said and did there was a spell:
Yet not the charge of weakness should I bear,
If on my judgment she could pass so well
The smooth hypocrisy that hid her snare.
And who can blame the ever anxious care
With which I sought, her knowledge of the mind
By which I most would be approved, to share?
My faith to long experience I resigned—
Not rashly confident, nor desperately blind.
If not most wisely, innocently still,
Some things I might intrust to such a guide,
And counsel ask on points, to which the skill
And taste of woman is so well applied,
That men are ruled by that they oft deride.
And well this truth should every woman know,
That love, from all alloy most purified,
Something to dress and ornament may owe;
That none their powerful aid discreetly may forego.
Tho' abject was the baseness that could stoop
From all in rank that bids us noble be,
With vilest arts, a trusting mind to dupe;
The unutterable woes they wrought for me
Forbid me only with contempt to see
The littleness that I might well disdain,
If just contempt my heart might haply free
From all that past and present give of pain,
And peace, with Lethe's gift, for future years obtain.
She should have sought me with the soul that nerves
Greatly itself, in even bad emprize,
And wins for guilt a fame it ill deserves.
The eagle that on royal quarry flies,
Where leads the gallant chase amid the skies
Should boldly soar, and pierce the realms of light;
Nor imitate the coward bird that plies
His stealthy pinion in the eve of night,
And seeks a lowly prey in his inglorious flight.
I will not now inquire what farther scope
Stood in the horizon of her dark design,
Beyond the ruin of my peace; and hope,
That evermore a bosom true as mine
May lack the skill such riddles to divine.
The counsel ever may my soul reject,
That would to slanderous breath my faith incline.
No, ne'er Suspicion's venom shall infect
My thoughts of him who vowed mine honour to protect.
'Tis true the boldest words I know are faint,
When I my swelling feelings would express;
That feebly, if attempting, I should paint
My strong conception of her wickedness.
But, hadst thou known the terrible excess
Of bad, that in that heart so bad prevailed,
Her confidence, however measureless,
Before my Husband's virtuous frown had failed;
And plaudits from the court her banishment had hailed.
Had truth informed the whispers that around
Were breathed, to rouse my soul to jealous hate,
Access to me she never would have found;
Thou ne'er hadst given me such associate:
Thou art not one that so could violate
All laws of decency — whate'er thy, power—
As near an injured consort to instate
The worn out play-thing of a wanton hour.
No — England with the wife ne'er sees the paramour.
Peace to her dust! — and pardon to her soul!
Low in the inevitable tomb she lies.
Death has no ear that flatteries cajole.
But sculptured marble o'er her grave may rise;
And the recording chisel, that supplies
The golden words, that constitute the fame
Of what we noble call, and good, and wise,
Even now, perchance, hath placed around her name
All titles that become a high and virtuous dame.
So let her sleep in peace; and be forgot
Whatever an encomiast's fondest care
From the true record of her life would blot.
My page refuses even her name to bear.
Whate'er my wrongs, my hand shall never tear
The veil that shrouds the ashes of the dead.
I would not shame her noble house; and spare
One word to utter, that, when on the bed
Of Death I fainting lie, my soul would wish unsaid.
O Death! most hardly hast thou dealt with me;
One foe, when all her shafts had reached my breast,
Swept by thy summons to the grave I see:
But most unequally thy fell arrest
Hath fallen on all in life that loved me best.
O thou insatiate! — What canst thou do more?
Yes; for more evil is thy power confest.
Touch thou not him whose justice I implore;
Spare me, 'till to my fame its lustre I restore.
It is the misery that Princes feel—
Not so — they suffer it, and do not know—
That on their every purpose waits a zeal
Not even in the worst of service slow,
That oft their purpose loves to go.
If this were all, the Prince that — his own will
By wicked servants working — falls on woe,
But rightly suffers: self-inflicted ill
Seems then the perfect law of justice to fulfil.
But in, the vestibules of Kings are found—
O fatal truth! by sad experience known—
Even baser sycophants, that dare expound
The mind of him who sits upon a throne,
Collating even his feelings with their own.
Such to the prototypes their breasts afford
Would shape that heart to honour ever prone;
And dare impute to my insulted Lord
Thoughts that his generous soul will ever hold abhorred.
These are the wretches that with eager eye,
Made sharp and wakeful by malignant will,
Into the looks of great ones hourly pry,
To catch some meaning, that perverted skill
Misjudges first, then hastens to fulfil.
And so to evil thoughts are these inclined,
That instinct seems to guide them on to ill;
Which on the surface if they fail to find,
It rises from the depths of their own teeming mind.
Of all remorse bereft, they disregard
Peace, happiness, and life alike, and fame:
Care for what man holds sacred never barred
Such heaven-abandoned miscreants from their aim.
Whatever in domestic life we claim
To cover from the free loquacious air,
They search audaciously; and do not shame
From secrets wedded hearts alone should share,
The veil that all the wise and good respect, to tear.
Whate'er they speak of suffers in report.
Abuse each organ warps. The line most trite
Some eyes' indulged obliquities distort.
And some each object they behold imbue
With one dark tint, their medium's proper hue.
And these the little light their eyes enjoy
Use not for work that hallowed hands might woo;
But darkly what they darkly yet employ—
Night-gathered weeds and dews, that in the night destroy.
These saw — or else, instructed, feigned to see
On royal brows the gloom of discontent;
And from suspicion while my heart was free,
And I was gay, as fits the innocent,
Malignant looks upon my steps were bent;
Unseen on every side was placed a snare;
And jealous observation was intent
To mark the manners and the very air
A voice I thought sincere had counselled me to wear.
But treasonous slander — such as works its way
Against the sense and feeling of mankind—
Preludes before its perilous essay
With doubtful whispers artfully combined;
And hints are darkly thrown abroad, that find
Scorn from the virtuous, and awhile awake
Just indignation in the common mind:
Yet, even no impression when they make,
Much horror from their sound thick repetitions take.
And even Virtue much to rank may owe.
Well might it seem a work with danger fraught,
To strike with an irrevocable blow
At one secure in lofty station thought.
For, 'mid the base ones, that occasion sought
To raise their fortunes, with whatever fame,
Not one as yet his crooked mind had taught,
That he whose favour was their constant aim
Would cease to frown on all that honour's breast might shame.
And tho' the dream, that once so sweetly field,
In blissful thoughts suspended, my young mind,
The hand of sad experience had dispelled;
Tho' the fair blossoms Hope had intertwined,
My temples with a wreath how brief! to bind,
Had withered all — I might have dashed away,
As dew, that fresher leaves the flower behind,
My grief's chief cause; had not a fatal day
One treacherous woman more misplanted it in my way.
And her I need not name. Yet did I so,
I should not yield my voice to passion's swell.
No thoughts of her, since what she is I know,
Arise, but such as fitly I can quell.
And yet I need not name her: thou full well,
With all thy realm of England knowest the name.
Of her whose perfect lineaments will dwell
Embalmed in all the odours of her fame,
Where loathly chambers line the pyramids of shame.
On the deep Soros, where in spice and gum
All incorruptible her image lies,
Let neither hieroglyph nor letter sum
The character herself best certifies;
But stamp the record her own hand supplies,
With ink that time may never disengage
From the sure leaf that best his power defies—
Asbestine scroll or Amaranthine page—
The judgment to secure of many a future age.
And strict and faithful let the copy be,
A perfect transcript, to the letter true:
The record England's sons this day may see
Let long long lines of their descendants view:
Their eyes may then in their own proper hue
Behold the very thoughts of her whose hand,
Essaying to distort another's, drew
Her own true lineaments: and let them stand
Uncurtained to the world, that never fouler scanned.
Truth and the love of justice bear us on
Serene and unimpassioned to the end:
They are not moved to rage: in unison
With hate or malice never can they blend.
The votaries of justice cannot bend
The facile breath of prejudice to use,
Much less to raise: what fairly they intend
They fairly do. To those they must accuse
No injury they wish, no generous aid refuse.
So would I deal with her whose treason sought
At once to rob me of my life and fame;
Who held me forth to public scorn, as fraught
With all the baser attributes of shame.
Justice alone I seek — nor would inflame
The passions of one heart 'gainst her that strove
Throughout the world to couple with my name
All that to loathing and contempt might move,
And teach all loyal hearts my sentence to approve.
But heaven permits that Malice should defeat
Her own bad purpose, blinded by the zeal
Of hate, and mastered by intemperate heat.
The caution that all rancour should conceal,
Her furious gusts destroy: and oft appeal
She makes to things and names that nothing more
Than her own deep depravity reveal.
And so she falls, as scorpions, that deplore
Too late the frantic use of their own venom's store.
Read once again — read oft — tho' once may serve
The temper of that record to display—
Read once again — the judgment cannot swerve,
That coolly all its branches will survey.
Plain is her aim, her victim to betray
To worse than death; to turn from my defence
Each royal arm, that best had been my stay;
Self-love against my cause to influence;
To slander those whose truth might prove mine innocence.
Tho' clearly that atrocious charge which aimed
To take my life, disproved, refuted, fell;
And it might now suffice, that I disclaimed
All falsehoods else of one exposed so well;
I feel it some dishonour to repel
Whate'er so vile a nature could intend.
I would be calm: yet some proud thoughts will swell;
Some shame will rise, that she could e'er commend
Her service to my heart, and find in me a friend.
Still this is my defence. She did not seem
The thing she was. But from acknowledged shame
No plea like this her bosom can redeem.
She knew me, whom she holds to public fame
Such as might sully virtuous lips to name;
Whom coarse she paints, and profligate, and low.
Had I been such, what must we her proclaim,
Who all the baseness she describes could know,
Yet friendship's closest cares on such for years bestow?
Even had the evidence of blameless link,
That proved her false, been wanting to my aid,
The sense of man must change ere I could think
A tale so wild and monstrous could persuade.
Who can believe that in her hands I laid
My life, and what than life is far more dear,
By no conjecturable motive swayed;
Then dared insult and madly persevere
To gall the heart whose rage, if guilty, I must fear?
Belief would war with all of man we know,
With all the motives that his actions guide.
Well were it could we deem of treason so.
But old experience doth not so decide.
My fame is not the first condemned to bide
Awhile the rancour of calumnious hate:
And long ere she was born even by the side
Of unsuspecting Queens have traitors sate,
'Till came the expected hour their work to perpetrate.
Absolved — that treacherous woman's falsehood known—
What I had lost should now have been restored;
And one there is, that fitly might have shown,
That not my full acquittal he deplored.
Dear to my heart as was the glad accord
That hailed me when my guiltlessness was seen,
One little word, to tell my bosom's lord
Partook my triumph, dearer far had been.
"Wife" in my widowed heart is deeper writ than "QUEEN."
That word was not vouchsafed: and some, such looks
Turned coldly on me, as appeared to say,
"Ill must the triumph serve thee that rebukes
All those that failed thee in thy trying day."
And soon I found that ever in my way
Restraints were laid; that I the sacred force
Of nature's dearest feelings now must stay,
'Till the proud stamp of office from their source
Sent them permitted forth upon their licensed course.
O England! England! ever deemed by me,
In this most happy, that in thee expand
The virtues that the charm of home we see!
By what dire change art thou become the land
In which maternal love is contraband?
Down, my full heart! Death freed thee from the awe,
The hatred rather, of that stern command,
That withering ice-bolt shot beyond the law,
Which even a mother's tears had not the power to thaw.
I own, that smarting with the sense of ill
Unmerited, my spirit proudly rose
Against unnatural restraint: and still,
Perchance, I had continued to oppose
The cruelty that 'gainst me strove to close
The heart whose love the wounds of mine might heal;
But that, apart unless I bore my woes,
She whom I wished most happy, in her zeal
Too much for her own peace a Mother's wrongs might feel.
Therefore, at length, I tore myself away.
Ah! little thought the Mother then her eyes
Should never more, behold from that sad day
The features they were wont to idolise.
Even as I saw it then the sacrifice
With too much misery for me was fraught.
O had my soul in her dark prophecies
One awful boding of the future caught,
She never had her strength to its performance wrought.
Heaven knows our weakness. Man's aye-restless mind
Would pierce futurity; but strives in vain.
And so we live. — For who of human kind
Could look upon the fated cup of pain
Which drop by drop his lips endure to drain?
Some, singly as we take them, mortal seem:
And even if they kill not, we retain
From them the taint of bitterness extreme,
That poisons all our thoughts, infecting even their stream.
Such had I tasted mourning: and that life
Could bring to me no heavier grief believed.
I went, tho' sorrowing, as one from strife
And vain contention for awhile reprieved:
And as around the keel the billows heaved,
And the blithe mariners unfurled the sails,
"Bear me," I cried, "ye waters! undeceived
Of many a joy; and you, free blowing gales!
If such on earth there be, to scenes where peace prevails!"
My native land could give my heart no rest:
Thoughts of the sacred authors of my days
Upon my mind with sad reverses pressed.
Then, led by Hope, I turned me to the ways
Explored by those who most delight to gaze
On Nature's loveliest face, and haunt the soil
Where Memory the mighty names arrays,
The immortals, that defy Time's envious toil,
Even when their marble tombs are his forgotten spoil.
Is there on earth a region that invites
To part from grief, it must be found near thee,
Thou bright abode of ever fair delights,
Thou, fairest city of the midland sea,
Unrivalled and divine Parthenope!
To thee, as to a refuge from despair,
I fled; by thy enchantments sought to free
My bosom from, its long-corroding care,
And in thy soft repose my weary wind repair.
It is a glorious sight on which the eye
Looks from the city down, when o'er the bay
Soft in the azure of the clear blue sky,
Rides in his cloudless path the Orb of day,
And the white sails are glancing in his ray;
While o'er the domes along the shore that sweep
Rises Posilipo for ever gay;
And Capri's cliffs stretch forth, as if to keep
The calm of such a scene, and cheek the ruder deep.
And sweetly the delicious atmosphere
O'er the magnificent and varied scene
Its charm diffuses: soft at once and clear
Villas, and forts, and palaces are seen,
With gentle swell or precipice between
And piney steeps, and rugged cliffs with grove
And forest graced, and slopes in winter green:
Below, the waves with beauteous isles; above,
Vesuvio's blackened brows, that but the whole improve.
Tho' Pleasure o'er the region may preside,
Yet holy seems earth, air, and sea around,
With names that well the thoughtless mind divide,
And lift beyond whate'er the eye may bound.
Here rests the Mantuan swan, whose genius found
Fit inspiration in this genial clime;
Here Sannazario taught his lyre to sound;
And Tasso near essayed the son sublime,
That with the Mantuan strain shall live to latest time.
What lovely features crowd upon the view!
And near to these the scenes may be survey'd
Whence Homer, Virgil, Pindar, Milton drew
The living pictures that shall never fade.
O wondrous clime! the mighty minds to aid
That sketched their vast Cimmerian vaults from thee,
Their plains of burning marl, Elysian shade
And all the terrors that Inarime
Felt when Typhaeus strove his labouring breast to free.
Sublime and awful even in repose
Art thou, Vesuvio! and in pleasing dread
Before thy slumbering wrath the spirit bows,
When first we look up to thy furrowed head,
And see the vapour from thy summit spread;
Sure warning of the fires of thy abyss
Unquenchable, with endless fuel fed,
That wait perchance some hour secure as this,
In horror to come down upon the bowers of bliss.
And Portici sits laughing at thy feet,
Even on the long accumulated flow
Of Lava fixing in disdain her seat,
Reckless of that tremendous overthrow
Of Herculaneum bedded deep below.
So rests the traveller, near the bones of men
Who sits unheeding, nor appears to know
From the sad relics spread before his ken,
He tastes his last repose before the lion's den.
Man builds, and Time destroys. Man labours on,
As if that slow consuming power to mock.
And the dire throes that ever and anon
Shake the great frame, of Nature, and unlock
Her solid joints with unexpected shock,
Deter him not. His labour he renews,
Even o'er the force that lifts the fluid rock
In molten streams a moment may diffuse
O'er all that with an eye of pride or love he views.
Yet who but fools above all feeling wise
The ever useful instinct can deride,
That binds us to our native soil with ties,
Even tho' our birth's condition, yet our pride?
Still in her plundered dome the bee will bide;
And oft the careful ant repairs her mole,
When dashed by some unpitying foot aside.
Shall man confess less strong his home's controul,
'Till even an insect shames the weakness of his soul?
And largely compensates the clime what ill
The plaining breast to murmur might incline.
Here swell the glowing clusters that distil
Such tears as ripen to the costliest wine;
Here jasmine, rose, and myrtle intertwine
Their fragrant boughs; and bounteous nature showers
All that is fair, refreshing, and divine,
And gladdening to the heart, of fruits and flowers;
And clearest, coolest rills are heard in greenest bowers.
But, Naples! with thy court I thought to mix,
And mark the manners such a clime displays;
Nor once reflected that on me would fix
With deep intent the universal gaze.
Nor had I thought how soon the heart betrays
Its want of sympathy with aught around,
'Till I had felt as wandering in a maze,
'Mid shapes unknown, on unaccustomed ground,
In which, that was not strange and wild, I nothing found.
In England only I had fondly deemed
That I should find it hard a smile to wear,
Or smooth the furrows that my brow had seamed—
The vestiges of heart-consuming care.
I strove indeed; and on my face might glare
The forced contortions of affected ease;
But hollow smiles all faces seemed to wear,
Even of those that most essayed to please,
All hollow as my own, worn in my soul's disease.
How much have they escaped who have not found
A croud the vastest, dreariest solitude!
How much that I have felt! I that — around
When swept the throng that eagerly pursued
The phantom pleasure — could not once delude
My soul with hope the fugitive to find.
Yes, they are blest who have not known the mood
That makes a smile the torment of the mind;
That have not worn mirth's guise, the prying world to blind.
Ye verdant bills that rise o'er Como's towers,
And in the Larian lake's expanse so clear
Glass your high brows! with you more tranquil hours
I hoped to pass, where nothing insincere,
Constrained, or courtly hollow might appear.
I sought you with such keen impatient haste
As speeds the thirsty traveller, when near
He thinks the pool upon the burning waste,
And presses panting on, the cooling wave to taste.
He presses panting on — the Siraub feeds,
Spread forth illusively, his eager eyes;
Still farther 'mid the desart's horrors leads;
And when attained it seems, for ever flies;
And the hot sand stretched out around him lies
Immeasurably wide. So fled from me
The phantoms in the desart heart that rise
And rise they will, upon the dreariest sea
Of the soul's waste, the heart's Mirage to be.
But, howsoever dead the mind within,
When roves the sight 'mid objects ever new,
Each may its moment for oblivion win,
And not in vain the soothed attention woo.
Thus felt I; and resolved upon my view
To pour incessant change; and to confound
The sense of pain I could not quite subdue,
Dazzling the mind with a perpetual round
Of scenes sublime or fair, or linked with deeds renowned.
And as I look on the recorded file
Of names that tell me where my feet have been,
Elba! awhile I pause about thine isle,
And him who round his movements the most mean
The eyes and thoughts of sovereigns could convene—
The comet of our skies. Too much his power
Hath harmed my house, that I should now malign
His worst of acts, and join the herd that shower
Abuse on him they feared, while his the ruling hour.
They flattered, worshipped him, even as a God,
Whom now as fortune's fool they basely mock:
And once again would crouch before his nod,
If Fortune, oft his friend, should now unlock
The guarded barriers of Saint Helen's rock.
How would strange rumours shake the heart of king!
How would wild spirits round his standard flock!
How would the lilies stoop, as on the wing,
His bees came high in air, like locusts mustering!
Yet clears him not the baseness others wore.
Such as he was, the portent of our age,
I yet can view him: such as with the gore
Of nations write them in the historic page,
Who think the world their spirit's heritage,
And passing sternly on to their emprize
Tread down the earth in one vast vassalage
Steeling their hearts, and closing up their eyes,
And making deaf their ears to suffering Nature's cries.
Powerful he was; not great: and mighty power
That is his chiefest glory — threw him down
From the vast height from which, as from a tower,
He traced his sallies on each neighbouring crown.
Nor is it now the least of his renown
That some who placed him whence he never more
Shall burst, they trust, to scare them with his frown,
Know all that infants feel, who pass before
The captive lion's cage, and tremble at his roar.
Powerful he was; not great: had he been such
He would have known that selfish will to tame,
Stubborn and fierce alike when bent to clutch
The reins of universal sway, or claim
Some petty end: he would have thought foul shame
The brave D'Enghien's noble blood to shed,
So worthy to redeem the Bourbon name;
Spain had not felt the faithless robber's tread;
Nor lorn Italia's spoils the crime-filled Louvre fed.
He should have owned — and more — he should have fell
(Tho' these are traits of goodness) what that band
Endured for him; He should have taught to melt
That iron heart, as he beheld them stand
Before the scythe of Death at his command,
Devoted, firm, unyielding to the last,
While came the columned foe, thick as the sand
That heaves its solid phalanx in the blast,
And leaves no living thing behind where it hath passed.
And some have thought that on the crimson soil
Of Waterloo his foot he should have set,
And, to the last, opposing to the toil
Of fate his front, a glorious death have met.
But better, as he is, he pays the debt
Immense that to humanity he owes.
A splendid death had taught us to forget,
In admiration, by what arts he rose.
But now his history a perfect moral shows.
Be it thy boast, fallen Despot! that thy skill
The countless legions that thy battles fought
Moulded, and as one individual will
The hearts of millions to thy purpose wrought.
A nation's foible, by thy genius taught,
Shook with tremendous energy the world:
From thee new frenzy Glory's madmen caught;
And even as bacchanals, where'er unfurled
Thy standard showed thy name, thy madding followers whirled.
What now are thy reflections? — Dost thou still
New wars and march to empire meditate?
Unchanged of heart and obstinate of will,
Yet dost thou hope for days of royal state,
Assured that over thee protecting Fate
Suspends a spell, and marks for thee a time
When once again thy star shall renovate
Its faded beams, and in the heavens sublime
Above the paler fires of Europe's monarchs climb?
No — not for this didst thou escape the rage
Of wintry tempest, sweeping at thy heel,
When seemed the very elements to wage
War for the Scythian, and thy fate to seal;
When from thy frozen followers, as from steel,
The Muscovitish sword was known to glance;
And, like a felon, thou wast fain to steal
Back to thy stoves; and shivering bless the chance
That brought thee, tho' alone, to the soft clime of France.
No, not for this — thy day of power is past,
Or Europe's sons must largely retrograde:
The work that now is thriving well and fast
Can never flourish with a despot's aid.
But thou art saved, and on thy rock displayed
More than they meant, a warning to each throne
That saw thee by thy violence betrayed,
To teach that brutal Force ne'er stands alone,
But falls by its own rush, to ruin ever prone.
Hast thou a heart of flesh? Then dost thou feel
All that on earth of vengeance thou canst know?
Hast thou affections? These with thee will deal
More ruthlessly than could thy dearest foe,
Exacting in full measure rigorous woe.
What must thy torture be I feel, if rent
Perforce with thee each tie that binds below.
Death had been mercy: life is punishment.
E'en its best use were lost: for thou canst not repent.
Some moments thou hast ta'en me from my grief.
What subject brings it not to me again?
Elba, farewell! and thou, strange-fated chief!
That frettest against the victor's law in vain.
New regions wait me, where the sting of pain
Awhile the change of balmy climes may lull;
And I, by chance that rarely Queens attain,
(Tho' sad the cause) in many a scene may cull
With my own hands the prime of grand or beautiful.
Thee, Aetna! I beheld; whose piercing snow
Is white for ages in the unmelting ray.
From whose deep caves with unapproached glow
Break forth the purest founts of fire. By day
Rolls the hot smoke, and fills the empyreal way;
By night the molten rocks revolving pour
Their broadly blazing torrent. In dismay
The seaman bears the invaded billows roar
Before the burning tide, and seeks a safer shore.
And I have drank of "fountain Arethuse,"
Seen the grape glow, and golden harvest wave
O'er long-forgotten streets of Syracuse;
Catania rising from her burning grave;
And Agrigentum, where the tyrant gave
Perillus, bound, to his own brazen bull;
And Acis, issuing icy from his cave;
And Hybla's bees have heard, that, as they cull
The sweets of many a flower, the ears of Idless lull.
On Byrsa's summit have I stood, and thrown
My eye on all of Carthage that remains;
'Mid thorns and thistles shattered columns prone,
Luxuriant umbels green above the veins
Of marbles glowing with a thousand stains;
And vaulted aqueducts, that yet defy
The wasting power of Time, where Silence reigns,
Deep as when Marius measured with stern eye
The wreck that to his fall sad solace might supply.
But more than History's surer page, the Muse
Oft-time asserts to human hearts her claim:
The fate of Regulus the soul reviews,
And grants to his deliberate death its fame.
Still in the records of the world the name
Of Annibal is great; and Zama's fight
The heart of some new Scipio may inflame
And still with Carthage aptly we unite
Some story that describes the gloomy Vandal's might.
But o'er the laughing champain, tufted o'er
With carob, fig, and olive shade, I threw
My eyes; and many a village of the Moor
I saw, and minarets, and waters blue,
And mountains dipped in heaven's aethereal hue:
And oft they rested on the watery plain
Searched by Sidonian Dido's eye, as flew
The false Aeneas o'er the billowy main,
Sated with easy love, o'er Latian lands to reign.
Well Woman's fate a Woman's soul may move.
The mighty warriors faded from my mind
Full of the victim of disastrous love;
And wandered oft my sight, as if to find
Her funeral flame thick rolling down the wind;
And turned my ear, as if to catch the cry
Of loud lament with sounding hands combined;
Tho' all was silent, save where thro' the sky
The bright Flamingo waked faint Echo to reply.
Fresh is the breeze; and o'er the rippling wave,
That sings in gladness to the keel's advance,
Speeds merrily my bark, by many a cave
And shadowy bay, the seat of old romance;
By many a rock, round which were wont to dance,
If antient song be true, the Nereids fair,
When fell the moon-beam on the clear expanse;
By lovely isles, whose blossoms thro' the air
Far off their fragrance send: — but these my verse may spare.
But who, sublime Athena! ever trod
Thy soil, but strove to link with thine a name?
O wondrous city! which the Despot's rod
Or Robbers' hand can ne'er deprive of fame.
Beneath Anchesmus' brow I see the same
Eternal path that led to Marathon.
No ruthless Gael that monument may claim;
Tho' from the spoiled metropolis be gone
The life that Phidias breathed on thy Pentelic stone.
O sons of Albion! as each glorious work,
Each day more dearly cherished, you behold,
O yet remember that the dreaming Turk
These trophies of a wondrous people sold—
How they were bought it shames ye should be told.
But let them still a sure memorial be,
And fast the moral of the purchase hold;
So never Thames upon his banks shall see
A banner wave to tell that Britons are not free.
Again I sail — The paradise of isles
Bursts on me in the fair Aegean deep
Where, as I pass, the sky serenely smiles,
And all but soft and favouring breezes sleep.
But only thou, whose story Time shall keep
In the great verse that dies but with his reign,
Thou only, as the glassy wave I sweep,
Scamandrian stream! thou only shalt detain
My keel, while I explore the glorious Trojan plain.
And let me pause to look on shore, and sea,
And isle, and mountain, famous in the song
That seems of spirit most divine to be,
Even thro' the medium of another tongue,
My woman's help; since but to man belong,
So he hath willed, the keys that open throw
The gates that sever from the unlearned throng
Those sounds in which the golden numbers flow,
The records of great deeds, whose words I thirst to know.
Lo, bright as with the presence of a God,
Far off o'er Imbrus rises high the snow
Of Samothrace. Even so, when Neptune trod
Its icy summit did the mountain glow
While all its deep foundations shook below,
As fell his footstep. Highest in the chain
Of Ida rises Gargarus, to throw
O'er the dark shadows of his mountain reign
His white and glittering beams, a beacon to the main.
And thou, deep-whirling and impetuous Water!
Still rushing worthy of Homeric song,
Fierce and resounding as when red with slaughter—
Thou, like the mighty master's verse, along
In thunder passest: from thy crags among
Forth leaping at the first a mighty tide,
A lion from his cave, that on the throng
Of shepherds bursts at once in all his pride
O worthy thou to spring from Ida's sacred side.
What can detain me, when my soul has felt
The stirring influence of this wondrous scene?
That bids the power of meaner places melt,
So that I pass them as they had not been.
Tho' Sappho's spirit call from Mitylene,
And yet old legends of Methymna, tell
That oft, when moonbeams thro' the soft serene
Of night upon the billows fall, the shell
That erst Arion tuned pours forth its tremulous swell.
Even tho' the memory of Stamboul's fountains,
Her domes, and villas, from my mind should fade;
Her terraces, her waters, hills, and mountains,
And cemeteries crowned with cypress shade;
Tho' Scio, in eternal charms arrayed,
And Samos, lifting upright from the sea
The brows stupendous that the clouds invade,
For ever blotted from my mind may be:
Ida! thine Homer's strain shall bid me think of thee.
But now ye storied shores of Greece farewell!
I seek the regions of the chosen race,
In which the King of kings once deigned to dwell;
Where Jacob, once again restored to grace,
Shall humbly seek his known Redeemer's face.
How fails the force of fable, as the way
Of wandering Israel thro' the land I trace;
And sea, plain, mountain, all that I survey,
Is holy with the deeds that Heaven's own might display.
Is this the Land of Promise? How the curse
Of old recited lingers with the soil!
What tho' the genial seasons still might nurse
The fig, pomegranate, melon, wine, and oil;
Tho' limpid springs should aid the labourer's toil;
Who reaps the fatness of the earth? The hand
Of robbers shares with locust clouds the spoil:
And Israel's remnant in the afflicted land
In misery awaits a tyrant's harsh command.
The wandering Arab on the savage shore
Looks to the horizon for the labouring sail;
And when the sky is black, and the waves roar
Beneath the fury of the howling gale,
His prophet prays that never winds may fail
To strew with wrecks the fruitful strand, and bless
The ears of Moslems with the captive's wail.
On hill, in vale, in the plain's sultriness,
The wild Bedouin hordes around the pilgrim press.
O Zion! Mount of Holiness! once known
Joy of the earth, and refuge of the just,
How are thine honours lost! how overthrown
Thy palaces! how levelled with the dust
Thy bulwarks, once so lofty and august!
And o'er thee domineers a power that views
Alike the Jew and Christian with disgust,
Cursing "the infidels" that dare refuse
To bless the law whose sway or Jew or Christian rues.
Lost and rejected people! in whose aid
Such miracles were wrought by Heaven's own hand,
The Misraim's bond to loose; and as ye strayed
Thro' the long wilderness; and as the Land
Of Promise owned a conqueror's command:
Now to the world, by your example taught,
Thro' many an age a miracle ye stand—
And where hath Heaven a clearer wonder wrought,
Or more its prophecies to full completion brought?
Why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Turn once again, ye stubborn, from your ways:
Turn to the Power that keeps his promise well,
Faithful, and Just, and True, and sworn to raise
Your glories past the shine of ancient days,
When true repentance humbly on the ground
The scattered tribes of mourning Salem lays.
O turn, and let the earth's remotest bound
With universal songs of Zion's peace resound.
Still Sharon, undeserted by the rose,
Her wonted fragrance to the breeze exhales:
Still swelling with delicious nectar glows
The blushing cluster of Engaddi's vales
And still the dew of Hermon never fails.
Let these to scattered Jacob hope afford
That over anger mercy still prevails;
That tho' o'er Zion's guilt a curse was poured,
Thro' ages she is kept, again to he restored.
And thou, my country, England! (Yes, the home
To which I ever will assert my right;
Tho' some throughout the world would see me roam
Forgetting England, and forgotten quite,
And shut for ever from her people's sight.)
England! mayest thou, when Heaven their cry shall hear,
In thy winged castles Zion's tribes unite,
Aid them once more their Temple's state to rear,
And pass with them in peace the long Sabbatic year.
But I must turn me from each foreign clime,
From scenes of wonder and delight: for now
To my own England points the hand of Time,
Where I a crown of empire for my brow
Wait from my Consort's hand — or shall I bow
My head at once to undeserved shame,
And free uninterrupted course, allow
To all the poisonous breath of evil fame
That sycophantish tongues would level at my name?
O days of ancient chivalry! when forth
Leaped from the scabbard many a shining sword.
To vindicate insulted woman's worth;
When valour ne'er to brighter honours soared,
Than when to injured woman it restored
All pure the lustre Slander loves to stain
How are ye fled! But not by me deplored.
She who is innocent may well disdain
By force or chance of arms a righteous cause to gain.
Why linger my accusers? Them I cite
Before a court extended as the pale
Of social order that disclaims not right,
Free as the sky that's traversed by each gale,
And public as the sun, when from the veil
Of clouds he issues in the noontide heat.
Let awful Justice in her righteous scale
The accused and accusers poise, and mete
To all their guerdon due from her impartial seat,
I ask no law but such as well is known,
And well defends the meanest subject's right,
Adapted to the cottage as the throne,
And hallowed by Religion's sacred light.
Am I a thing guilt-spotted? — With the blight
Of shame o'er-run? — Then let me meet the fate
That well may reach me, even on the site
Of loftiest rank. At once precipitate
Down let me fall from life, from honor, fame, and state.
But in this heavy and afflicting hour,
Ye virtuous English! — with your knees commend
A suffering Princess to the righteous Power
That will not fail as fails an earthly friend.
Hark! thro' the long and lofty aisle ascend
The prayers of dignities. A Seraph's wing
To every soul the pealing organs lend:
And plumed with ecstasy united spring
To Heaven a nation's prayers — "Preserve our gracious King."
And may no voice exclaim, "God save the Queen?"
And doth the Faith's Defender so ordain?
Is it too much my name should now be seen
Joined with our holy ritual? — Should I gain
Too much respect if shut not from the train
Of things the people love and venerate?
Must they look on me as a thing profane,
Unworthy of their prayers, and reprobate,
Cast from the sacred pale, and excommunicate?
At morn or evening still the form is seen,
(The yet green relict of a former reign)
That England used, when praying for her Queen
Not useless — since I trust that not in vain
That well-known form will many an eye detain.
And if my name before the page should rise,
Sure am I, loyal breasts will not disdain
The fervent heart-breathed prayer I well may prize
Beyond the solemn forms Authority denies.
O gracious Sovereign! and my liefest Lord!
Hear me in singleness of heart declare
My genuine thoughts: full liberty accord
To this my latest and unvarying prayer.
Believe my bosom moved by no mean care.
A nobler aim is mine than power, and state,
And lavish wealth, and gorgeous pomp to share.
These are but accessories, that may wait,
Or not, upon the fame I come to vindicate.
The meanest subjects in your royal heart
Justice and mercy, grace, and honor find.
May I not claim at least a subject's part
In all your noble qualities of mind?
O think what ties, howe'er we wear them, bind
At least our names: to these — so heaven ordains—
By guilt alone a severance is assigned.
Whoe'er for slighter cause the marriage chains,
However irksome, breaks, a holy rite profanes.
The parents, friends, and kindred, that were mine
When first you plighted me your faith are gone
Before me to the dust; and of my line
Surviving sadly I am left alone.
Something too much of woe my heart hath known,
Even tho' my days should henceforth glide in peace.
But what is there so lulling near a throne,
That may my bosom from its cares release,
Or bid the busy toil of wakeful memory cease?
Has earth Nepenthe? — Has the world a balm?
O no — that sorrow must thro' life remain:
And my tired spirit, vexed by long uncalm
And agitation, seeks for rest in vain.
And can the mother now her grief restrain,
By musing on the wickedness that drove
Far from that sad and fruitless bed of pain
Her watchful care, nor suffered her to prove
The last sad interchange of unavailing love.
When sorrow struck on every heart, and turned
Each face to sadness — as when thro' the land
Of Egypt, every house at midnight mourned
Its first horn smitten by the angel's hand—
When in the public grief all seemed to stand
O'erpowered and stupified — O then what eye
The miserable mother's sorrow scanned;
What living heart a measure could supply,
To tell the full extent of all her agony?
How fell the tears or nations o'er that grave!
How many millions in that bitter hour
An uncontrolled loose to sorrow gave!
When savage Death did thy remorseless power
O'er mortal hopes in prouder triumph tower?
All rank was levelled in the common woe:
And all alike bewailed the lovely flower
That seemed o'er all alike its charm to throw,
The pride of hall and bower, the joy of high and low.
But she was all to me — all — all — her love,
Warm, active, and unalterably mine,
Beyond the power of artifice to move,
Foiled many a deep and treacherous design.
And in my worst afflictions a divine
And spirit-healing influence it bestowed.
O how her smile had power to medicine
All ills with which my bitter cup o'erflowed,
And reconcile to me life's heavy wearying load!
Even in our griefs ourselves we idolize.
O my dear daughter! selfish are the tears
That fall so fast from thy poor mother's eyes.
Why should we weep for thee, that o'er the spheres
In perfect glory mounting, some few years
Too soon for us hast left this world of pain?
I weep to think what comfort disappears
With thy blest smile — our loss is but thy gain.
O selfish! that from bliss thy spirit would detain!
O thou, the father of that blessed one
That was my only comfort here below—
And by what name mayest thou be sooner won
The powers of prejudice to overthrow?
By her — and by the venerated snow
Of the loved head that late in peace was laid—
And by the vows pronounced long years ago—
Let not the course of justice be delayed;
But let me as I am to England be displayed.
So, 'mid the pomp of that auspicious day,
When all the glories of the realm around
Are gathered in magnificent array,
And thine anointed head is fitly crowned;
Tho' at thy side I may not then be found,
While thro' the sky loud acclamations ring,
And the glad trumpets their triumphant sound
Up to heaven's gates in jocund concord fling—
I will not less be moved to cry "God save the King!"