1820
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas to the Queen.

Stanzas to the Queen, with other Verses. By the Rev. Lionel Thomas Berguer.

Rev. Lionel Thomas Berguer


24 Spenserian stanzas: the Rev. Lionel Thomas Berguer describes a chivalrous England rising up to defend its injured Queen Caroline: "Plough, spade, and flail were left — the field and grove— | The hind to meet thee, and to bless thee, flies: | From coast to capital the masses move | In one tumultuous throng of triumph, joy, and love" p. 10. The Tory press had been viciously abusing the Queen's reputation throughout the divorce proceedings. The Spenserian stanza is used to add feudal pomp to rhetoric derived from Edmund Burke's defense of Marie Antoinette. George IV is presented as a would-be Henry VIII, unable or unwilling to bring his bride to the block.

The volumes is dedicated to "The Marchioness of Tavistock, the Countess of Harrington, the Honourable Mrs. Damer" and all the ladies "superior to prejudice, and despising calumny."

Advertisement: "'It is you who have put me upon this,' said OLIVER CROMWELL to his astonished Parliament, when he offered them the last indignities, and embittered the very article of their annihilation with his ferocious insults. — 'It is you who have put us upon this,' cry the King's ministers to their defenceless QUEEN, when they rush into both Houses, with two Bags and two Messages against Her, calling for secret inquiries, and erecting inquisitorial tribunals! The Parliament, however, has not sympathized with the madness of Ministers, nor is it likely to make itself a party to proceedings, as anomalous in its own history, and derogatory from its dignity, as they are unconstitutional in their principle, and unjust in their application. So long as the Queen might remain abroad, these violences were to be refrained: but the instant that her Majesty, proscribed and hunted like a wild beast from foreign courts, and even private society, appears in this country, to protest against the extension of an iniquitous Home-System, which, like the 'Omnibus umbra locis adero' of the Mantuan, was rendering all residences equally intolerable — all places equally a hell — to her Majesty, that instant she must be sacrificed for her temerity. Her inalienable rights, her constitutional and imprescriptible privileges, as Queen, are to be surrendered without a murmur; she is not to be prayed for at home, nor acknowledged abroad; but to submit, unremonstrating, to the deprivation of all her honours, and keep silence under the ban of infamy. If an apology were necessary, for any incidental warmth of expression in the following Stanzas, the cruel circumstances of his Queen's situation will best excuse the poet. London, 28th June, 1820" pp. 7-8.

Literary Chronicle: "This gentleman expresses himself very strongly in the Queen's behalf, and lashes, with uncommon severity, the authors of the proceedings against her.... This poem ... though not displaying talents of a very high order, is by no means destitute of poetic merit, and will be read with interest by all who are attached to the cause which the author so cordially espouses" 2 (22 July 1820) 465.

Melesina Chenevix Trench: "What papers do you take at present? The Queen's trail was a wonderful harvest for the newspapers. I despair of giving you any idea of how much England is occupied and agitated by this trial. The feeling it excites beats like a pulse through the whole kingdom. I cannot help thinking it is possible the Lords may throw out the Bill. This supposition is contrary to all common calculations, founded on the usual march of self-interest. But these are no common times; and the extraordinarily strong expression of feeling out of doors, the character of the witnesses, so exceedingly low, the improbable nature of their evidence, some touch of the immutable principles of justice, the divisions in the Cabinet, and many other working causes, may possibly effect this" 10 September 1820; in Remains of Mrs. Richard Trench (1862) 436-37.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "George IV. was not particularly scrupulous respecting his wife, Queen Caroline, whom he first neglected and then persecuted. The employment of suborned spies on her actions, and of perjured witnesses on her trial, showed nothing like a sense of honor. When Sir Edmund Nagle waited on him, in May, 1821, to announce the death of Napoleon, he said, 'I have to acquaint you with the death of your worst enemy.' The king jumped up in his bed (as lightly as his vast corpulence would permit) and exclaimed, 'Eh! when did she die?'" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 2:88n.

Compare Peter Bayley's A Queen's Appeal (1820) and John Keats's comic poem on this subject, "The Cap and Bells," both in Spenserian stanzas.



"RIGHT WELCOME HOME, thou high and slandered one,
Long looked for, and in exile unforgot:
Thy term of bitter banishment is done—
Thy draught is drained — high Lady, linger not,
Right welcome home, for thou art pure from spot.
Oh! linger not, but free and fearless come
To front the miscreants who thy name would blot:
Nor heed the treacherous tongues which bid thee roam,
When thy whole island realm rings out RIGHT WELCOME HOME!"

So spoke — or meant to speak — on Dover's height,
Gathered from near and far, the countless bands:
And, as thy dancing banner hove in sight,
Myriads of moving lips and beckoning hands
Welcomed thy glad sails as they neared the sands.
On land and sea the deafening salvo-guns
Told royally their rightful QUEEN'S demands:
Like flame through Kent the startling tidings runs,
And villages and towns pour forth their crowding sons.

No paid applause, no hired huzzas were thine:
The warm, full heart ran over at the eyes,
Through that long, living, and unbroken line—
Where every age, and rank, and sex, and size,
Sent shout and sob alternate to the skies.
Plough, spade, and flail were left — the field and grove—
The hind to meet thee, and to bless thee, flies:
From coast to capital the masses move
In one tumultuous throng of triumph, joy, and love.

She comes, she comes — the QUEEN, too long estranged—
Abroad insulted, and at home belied:
She comes! — with features, as her fortunes changed—
Her blue eye flinging far on every side
The long, glad glance of gratitude and pride.
Open thy gates, thou, City of the Throne,
A partner comes, its splendors to divide:
Grace, favor, lenity, — she calls for none,
But all unchampioned comes, and seeks her rights alone.

Single, but strong in innocence! as erst,
The immaculate Hebrew — glory of her time—
Daring her false accusers to their worst,
Stood at the judgment-seat, in beauty's prime,
CHELCIAS' convicted daughter — clear from crime!
But her tears called to heaven — and thine shall call
Against the traitors who thy soul would lime:
Let not their dark divan thy heart appal,
Thou dost not friendless stand — thou shalt not helpless fall.

Kings cater not for headsmen — as erewhile,
When the axe wept with one continual flood,
And hate in daylight smote, nor needed guile:
That golden age, that carnival of blood—
High holiday for Moloch, and his brood—
When PEMBROKE pleased the monster-king, who fed
The scaffold with the delicate form he woo'd:
Bright in her throne, and stainless in her bed,
Wife, queen, and victim — all — to that dark man of dread!

He might have loathed her now, nor dare to touch her,
Though his wrath writhed him, impotent to kill:
The heart, but not the knife of BOLEYN'S butcher,
Inhuman, may revive — but harmless still;
Compelled to spare, though ever prompt to spill!
Yet would thy firm soul still disdain to fly,
Dear QUEEN, begirt with treachery and ill;
And scorn to live disgraced, and beg to die,
If honour might not shame, and truth confound a lie.

True, thou hast lost thy guardian: — HE is gone,
Who stayed thy footstep on life's slippery steep,
And let thee, trembling, lean against his throne:
Who wiped thy wetted cheek when thou wouldst weep,
And put the hiss of infamy to sleep.
Who — as his reeling reason went and came—
While the dim lamp could one faint glimmer keep,
Employed it still, regardless who should blame,
To vindicate his niece, and put her foes to shame.

Yes! HE is fallen — the column of thy trust—
Rock of thy hope, and buckler 'gainst the blow:
Peace to the dear and venerable dust:—
Fate's awful fixture, permanent in woe,
Silent he stood, and scarce was beard to go!
Like the dead oak, which falls not — drear and lone!
Mysterious monument of himself below,
He died before he dropped — GOD'S WILL BE DONE!
Blinded in sight and soul — eclipsed in sense and sun.

Yet, faint not Thou: — a Nation's love shall be
Thy shield and buckler, in the Sovereign's stead:
Uncle, and friend, and father still to thee,—
In vain shall slander's traitorous bolts be sped,
And hatred strike at thy protected head.
Well was it done, and boldly, to return,
Nor by thy Counsellors check'd, nor their's, misled;
Abjured — cajoled — and threatened, — well to spurn
Briber and bribe at once — and home indignant turn.

My heart and soul were with thee in the gale,
That bore thy brave bark bounding o'er the tide—
When thronging thousands lined the shores, to hail
The Mother of that lost and peerless bride,—
Thy young hope — thus twice severed from thy side.
Oh, thou wert far in that dark night of pain,
When the whole realm lay humbled in its pride,
And wept for Claremont's desolate domain,
Its loved and lovely bride — but wept her all in vain!

She, too, in gone. — It was a fearful strife,
That reft the promise of that bridal morn;
And sharp and long the fight of death and life,
When England's ROSE was by its roots uptorn—
The strife of nature, dying to be born.
"Sweets to the sweet." — O, let not grandeur stare,
Nor thou disdiain — though scutcheoned folly scorn—
If humbler grief to that proud place repair,
To mix his tears with thine, and hang one wild wreath there!

But where is He — the royalized and dowered—
Stalled, starred and gartered, patented, and plac'd;
On whom its gifts a lavish people showered,
And liberal in its love — with eager haste
Heaped all it could, nor ever deemed it waste?
Whom England saw before her peers enrolled—
No peer himself, with peers' precedence graced:
What state expedient, cowardly and cold,
Keeps from thy kindred side the thankless LEOPOLD?

I say not, if thou hadst but one more daughter,
The pensioned Prince perchance had shunned thee less;
Perchance in sympathy had crost the water,
To weep upon thy neck in dear distress,
And cheer thy solitude: — that were but guess.
All that a Sovereign's Heiress could confer,
Short of the Crown — She gave him to possess:
Yet — strange, how bane and antidote concur
Death saved the Crown from him, in robbing it of Her!—

Daughterless QUEEN, thou art not all deserted,
Small thanks to thy Child's widower — yet, not all:
Even now, thy guilty foes are disconcerted—
Shame hovers o'er the closeted cabal,
And malice fears her perjured proofs to call.
Where, who, what are they — whence, and how, and when?
Forsworn like her of old to work thy fall:
Bring forth, your corps of Douglases, dark men—
What credit shall be given to the paid perjuror's pen?

Bring out the scamp, OMPTEDA — bring him out,
Studded with Guelphic stars, thick strown and shining—
Ejected even from Italy with a shout:
Dirty diplomatist, no job declining,
Ambassador's and picklock's art combining:—
Light-fingered, and light-heeled to shift the scene—
Mercury of ministers — on his god refining—
Confront the scoundrel Baron with his QUEEN,
And give him the King's seal for his improved machine.

No, no: not all the poison slander breathes
One grace can tarnish, or one stain convey—
The prostituted Peachums and Macheaths,
Who lie, and larcenize, and swear for pay,
Tutored to thieve, and chartered to betray!—
They must be hounds of better breed and breath,
When such a lofty quarry stands at bay,
To dare the hazard of that dangerous death,
Or even one venomed fang in her proud flank to sheathe.

What! — when vice revels in the regal eye,
And courts, like hot-beds, with corruption steam—
When coroneted loose ones thunder by,
Lit by their own pollution's lurid gleam,
Like fish, that rot and glitter on the stream—
When toothless, pandering peeresses — grown grey
Malgre Macassar — flaunt in folly's beam—
Shall breasts impure, and viperous tongues as they,
Malign her better life, and hoot their QUEEN away?

Loud let them hoot: but hence thou dost not stir,
While yet one insult unatoned remains—
While yet one half-obliterated slur
Leaves thee to foreign mockeries and disdains,
And Justice still her awful scale maintains.
Yes, yes — a yacht is ready, sail and oar—
Melville to boot — the KING is back from Staines!—
They'd hoist thy flag on board a seventy-four,
And victual a whole fleet — to see thee from the shore.

Can this be SHE, who fled her subjects' gaze,
And passed the Cenis like a thief at night,
With scarce a courier to provide relays—
Mulcted of revenue, and robbed of right,
Her rank disowned — her journey but a flight:
Who — for her own Ambassador was there!
Dreading dishonor in a Rival's sight—
Turned from the mighty City with a tear,
And through its fauxbourg slunk, to tell her injuries here!

Can this be SHE, whom every office-jack
Vied to insult, from Rome to St. Omer:
On whom each Thing of tyrants turned its back—
From tools, entrusted with a charge d'affaires,
Down to the sniveling consul, and the mayor!
Who set by stealth her unsaluted sails,
And cast the royal standard to the air
On board a runner of forbidden bales—
HERSELF forbidden most, and smuggled thro' the gales!

Concede? — no, not an inch, by all that's dear—
Thou art returned to conquer, not concede!
Let thy foiled foes give in, who wince with fear:
God will not fail thy righteous cause to speed,
Nor leave thee lonely in thine hour of need.
What! dares the wretched junto of St. James
Unqueen thee first, by document and deed,
Then bargain with thee to renounce thy claims—
The rights they cannot sconce — and barter for thy blames?

Prayerless and palaceless — yet brief the date,
And thou'lt have prayer and palace: — that same hand,
Which razed thee from the liturgy so late,
And shamed thee through the churches of the land,
Shall write unblemished what it barred and banned.
Nay, more — thy queenly temples to entwine—
The self-convicted Prelate yet may stand,
Mitred and mute — before the imperial shrine,
To right thee with thy Crown, courageous CAROLINE!

Undaunted LADY! thus, o'er Alps and ocean
To force thy perilous and impeded way—
Thou art remembered yet in our devotion:
And wilt be — while the silent heart can pray,
Or seraphs catch the unaccented lay!
Thine high appeal shall not be made in vain,
Then welcome — oh! right welcome home to day:
This trial is thy triumph, not thy stain—
MY LIEGE and SOVEREIGN QUEEN, — RIGHT WELCOME HOME AGAIN!

[pp. 9-21]