On the Capitulation of Lord Cornwallis in America
O SAD , eventful day! O fatal hour!
When Britain's daring foes obtain'd such power;
When Albion's warlike sons were forc'd to yield,
To Gallic arms, the bloody hostile field!
What throbbing pangs must every Briton feel,
That loves his country, and the common weal;
What eye but must with gushing tears o'erflow?
What sympathetic heart but bleed with woe?
See those, with frantic grief distracted, run,
And mourn for fathers, brothers, husbands, sons!
Each dear relative, (now, perhaps, no more)
Stabb'd to the heart, lay weltring in their gore,
Till welcome death appeas'd the mortal strife,
And kindly clos'd the avenues of life:
Perhaps they live, but Oh, far worse than death!
Kept in inglorious bondage draw their breath,
Slaves in the proud insulting victors' power,
Whilst fortune's blackest storms around them lour.
Cutting reflection, thus to see each brave,
Each generous Briton haughty Bourbon's slave,
Each kind, each tender, noble, free born soul,
Beneath a tyrant monarch's proud controul!
Thou gallant leader too, who bravely fought,
And with thy blood to save thy country sought,
What various feelings must thy breast possess,
Both for thy own and country's deep distress!
Oh who can to thy fate refuse a tear?
Or who with fortitude that fate could bear?
Soon may'st thou throw aside thy galling chain,
And quickly thy lost liberty regain;
May many happy years reward thy toils,
Where plenty reigns, and peace triumphant smiles;
May distant ages celebrate thy name,
And mark Cornwallis in the rolls of fame!
Upon her ancient naval empire's seat,
The ocean's brink, where ruffian billows beat
With pensive, downcast looks, Britannia sat,
Reviving in her soul her gloomy fate;
Her looks no more bespoke th' imperial queen,
But wrinkled care sat pictur'd in her mein;
Her heaving sighs might seem the skies to reach,
Whilst floods of tears bedew'd the sandy beach;
At length her struggling words a passage broke,
In melancholy accents thus she spoke:
" What sierce and raging wounds, what fiery smart,
" What struggling passions rend my bleeding heart,
" The mighty parricide's at length compleat,
" And parent's blood now stains the children's feet:
" Curst be that fatal day which first began,
" In horrid war to found the bloody plan;
" Sure some internal phrenzy seiz'd my mind,
" And made me to the ties of nature blind!
" See all around what devastations rage,
" Brothers with brothers, fathers with sons engage;
" Invet'rate enemies the dearest friends,
" Whilst each his life in the contention ends.
" No more shall distant climes extoll my fame;
" Nor prattling infants lisp Britannia's name;
" No more shall round the globe my thunders roar,
" And Britain's terror spread from shore to shore,
" For Oh, too late, I find it to my cost,
" My wealth, my power, and ancient grandeur's lost;
" These dire events my hapless doom declare,
" 'Tis fixt, 'tis past, 'tis absolute despair. "
She ceas'd with words her suff'rings to proclaim,
For strong convulsions shook her feeble frame,
Her pallid cheek a lifeless languor shew'd,
And faintly thro' her veins the crimson current flow'd.
O heav'n assist her in this gloomy hour,
Her bleeding wounds with healing balsam cure;
Bid brazen-throated war and discord cease,
And fill her realms with universal peace;
Her bright, unsullied majesty restore,
And make her great and happy as before;
O'er distant lands extend her glorious reign,
And sway, unrivall'd, o'er the subject main!
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