Columbiad, The - Book 5

BOOK V.

Columbus hail'd them with a father's smile,
Fruit of his cares and children of his toil:
While still his eyes thro tears of joy descried
Their course adventurous on the distant tide.
Thus when o'er deluged earth her Numen stood,
The tost ark bounding on the shoreless flood,
The sacred treasure fixt his guardian view,
While climes unnoticed in the wave withdrew.
The hero saw them reach the rising strand,
Leap from their ships and share the joyous land;
Receding forests yield the laborers room,
And opening wilds with fields and gardens bloom.
Fill'd with the glance ecstatic, all his soul
Now seems unbounded with the scene to roll,
And now impatient, with retorted eye,
Perceives his station in another sky:
Waft me, indulgent Angel, waft me o'er
With those blest heroes to the happy shore;
There let me live and die. But all appears
A fleeting vision! these are future years.
Yet grant the illusion still may nearer spread
And my glad steps may seem their walks to tread;
While Europe wrapt in momentary night
Shall rise no more to intercept the sight.
Columbus thus; when Hesper's potent hand
Moves brightening o'er the visionary land;
The height that bore them still sublimer grew
And earth's whole circuit settled from their view.
A dusky deep serene as breathless even
Seem'd vaulting downward like another heaven;
The sun, rejoicing on his western way,
Stampt his fair image in the inverted day:
When now Hesperia's coast arose more nigh
And life and action fill'd the dancing eye.
Between the gulfs, where Laurence drains the world
And where Floridia's furthest floods are curl'd,
Where midlands broad their swelling mountains heave
And slope their champaigns to the Atlantic wave,
The sandy streambank and the woodgreen plain
Raise into sight the new made seats of man.
The placid ports that break the seaborn gales.
Rear their tall masts and stretch aloft their sails;
Full harvests wave, the groves with fruitage bend,
Gay villas smile, defensive towers ascend;
All the rich works of art their charms display
To court the planter and his cares repay:
Till war invades; when soon the dales disclose
Their meadows path'd with files of savage foes;
High tufted quills their painted foreheads press,
Dark spoils of beasts their shaggy shoulders dress,
The bow bent forward for the combat strung,
The ax, the quiver on the girdle hung;
The deep discordant yells convulse the air,
And earth resounds the war whoop's hideous blare.
The patriarch lookt; and every darken'd height
Pours down the swarthy nations to the fight.
Where Kennebec's high source forsakes the sky,
Where long Champlain's yet unkeel'd waters lie,
Where Hudson crowds his hill-dissundering tide,
Where Kaatskill heights the starry vault divide,
Where the dim Alleganies range sublime
And give their streams to every neighboring clime,
The swarms descended like an evening shade,
And wolves and vultures follow'd where they spread.
Thus when a storm on eastern pinions driven
Meets the firm Andes in the midst of heaven,
The clouds convulse, the torrents pour amain
And the black waters sweep the subject plain.
Thro harvest fields the bloody myriads tread,
Sack the lone village, strow the streets with dead;
The flames in spiry volumes round them rise,
And shrieks and shouts redoubling rend the skies.
Fair babes and matrons in their domes expire
Or bursting frantic thro the folding fire
They scream, fly, fall; promiscuous rave along
The yelling victors and the driven throng;
The streams run purple; all the peopled shore
Is wrapt in flames and trod with steps of gore.
Till colons, gathering from the shorelands far,
Stretch their new standards and oppose the war,
With muskets match the many-shafted bow,
With loud artillery stun the astonisht foe.
When like a broken wave the barbarous train
Lead back the flight and scatter from the plain,
Slay their weak captives, drop their shafts in haste,
Forget their spoils and scour the trackless waste;
From wood to wood in wild confusion hurl'd
They hurry o'er the hills far thro the savage world.
Now move secure the cheerful works of peace,
New temples rise and fruitful fields increase.
Where Delaware's wide waves behold with pride
Penn's beauteous town ascending on their side,
The crossing streets in just allinement run,
The walls and pavements sparkle to the sun.
Like that famed city rose the checker'd plan,
Whose spacious towers Semiramis began;
Long ages finisht what her hand design'd.
The pride of kings and wonder of mankind.
Newyork ascends o'er Hudson's seaward isles
And flings the sunbeams from her glittering tiles;
Albania, opening thro the distant wood,
Rolls her rich treasures on her parent flood;
Amid a thousand sails young Boston laves,
High looms majestic Newport o'er the waves,
Patapsco's bay contracts his yielding side,
As spreading Baltimore invades his tide;
Aspiring Richmond tops the bank of James,
And Charleston sways her two contending streams.
Thro each colonial realm, for wisdom great,
Elected sires assume the cares of state;
Nursed in equality, to freedom bred,
Firm is their step and strait the paths they tread;
Dispensing justice with paternal hand,
By laws of peace they rule the happy land;
While reason's page their statute codes unfold,
And rights and charters flame in figured gold.
All rights that Britons know they here transfuse,
Their sense invigorate and expand their views,
Dare every height of human soul to scan,
Find, fathom, scope the moral breadth of man,
Learn how his social powers may still dilate
And tone their tension to a stronger state.
Gaul's migrant sons explore the western day
Stretch over Canada their colon sway,
Plant sylvan Wabash with a watchful post,
O'er Missisippi spread a mantling host,
Bid Louisiana's lovely clime prepare
New arts to prove and infant states to rear;
While the bright lakes, that wide behind them spread.
Unfold their channels to the paths of trade,
Ohio's waves their destined honors claim
And smile as conscious of approaching fame.
But Gallic planters still their trammels wear,
Their feudal genius still attends them here;
Dependent feelings for a distant throne
Gyve the crampt soul that fears to think alone,
Demand their rulers from the parent land,
Laws ready made and generals to command.
Judge, priest and pedagogue and all the slaves
Of foreign masters crowding o'er the waves
Spread thick the shades of vassalage and sloth,
Absorb their labors and prevent their growth,
Damp every thought that might their tyrants brave,
And keep the vast domain a desert and a grave.
Too soon the mother states with jealous fear
Transport their feuds and homebred quarrels here.
Now Gallia's war-built barks ascend in sight,
White flags unfold and armies robed in white,
On all the frontier streams their forts prepare
And coop our cantons with surrounding war.
Quebec, as proud she rears her rocky seat,
Feeds their full camp and shades their anchor'd fleet;
Oswego's rampart frowns athwart his flood,
And wild Ontario swells beneath his load.
And now an equal host from Albion's strand
Arrives to aid her young colonial band.
They join their force and tow'rd the falling day
Impetuous Braddock leads their hasty way;
O'er Allegany heights, like streams of fire,
The red flags wave and glittering arms aspire
To meet the savage hordes, who there advance
Their skulking files to join the arms of France.
Where, old as earth, yet still unstain'd with blood,
Monongahela roll'd his careless flood,
Flankt with his mantling groves the fountful hills,
Drain'd the vast region thro his thousand rills,
Lured o'er his lawns the buffle herds, and spread
For all his fowls his piscatory glade;
But now perceives, with hostile flag unfurl'd,
A Gallic fortress awe the western world;
There Braddock bends his march; the troops within
Behold their danger and the fire begin.
Forth bursting from the gates they rush amain,
Front, flank and charge the fast approaching train;
The batteries blaze, the leaden vollies pour,
The vales, the streams, the solid mountains roar;
Clouds of convolving smoke the welkin spread,
The champaign shrouding in sulphureous shade.
Lost in the rocking thunder's loud career,
No shouts nor groans invade the Patriarch's ear,
Nor valorous feats are seen nor flight nor fall,
But one broad burst of darkness buries all.
Till chased by rising winds the smoke withdrew,
And the wide slaughter open'd on his view.
He saw the British leader borne afar
In dust and gore beyond the wings of war;
And while delirious panic seized his host,
Their flags, their arms in wild confusion tost,
Bold in the midst a youthful warrior strode
And tower'd undaunted o'er the field of blood;
He checks the shameful rout, with vengeance burns,
And the pale Britons brighten where he turns.
So when thick vapors veil the nightly sky
The starry hosts in half seen lustre fly
Till phosphor rises o'er the twinkling crowd
And gives new splendor thro his parting cloud.
Swift on a fiery steed the stripling rose,
Form'd the light files to pierce the line of foes;
Then waved his gleamy sword that flasht the day
And thro the Gallic legions hew'd his way:
His troops press forward like a loose-broke flood,
Sweep ranks away and smear their paths in blood;
The hovering foes pursue the combat far
And shower their balls along the flying war;
When the new leader turns his single force,
Points the flight forward, speeds his backward course;
The French recoiling half their victory yield,
And the glad Britons quit the fatal field.
These deathful deeds as great Columbus eyed,
With anxious tone he thus addrest the Guide:
Why combat here these transatlantie bands
And strow their corses thro thy pathless lands?
Can Europe's realms, the seat of endless strife,
Afford no trophies for the waste of life?
Can monarchs there no proud applauses gain,
No living laurel for their people slain?
Nor Belgia's plains, so fertile made with gore,
Hide heroes' bones nor feast the vultures more?
Will Rhine no longer cleanse the crimson stain,
Nor Danube bear their bodies to the main,
That infant empires here the shock must feel,
And these pure streams with foreign carnage swell?
But who that chief? his name, his nation say,
Whose lifeblood seems his follies to repay;
And who the youth that from the combat lost
Springs up and saves the remnant of his host?
The power replied: Each age successive brings
Their varying views to earth's contentious kings;
Here roll the years when Albion's parent hand,
In aid of thy brave children, guards the land;
That growing states their veteran force may train,
A nobler prize in later fields to gain;
In fields where Albion's self shall turn their foe,
Spread broader sails and aim a deadlier blow,
Recross in evil hour the astonisht wave,
Her own brave sons to ravage and enslave.
But here she combats with the powers of Gaul;
Here her bold Braddock finds his destined fall;
Thy Washington in that young martial frame
From yon lost field begins a life of fame.
Tis he, in future straits with loftier stride,
The colon states to sovereign rule shall guide;
When, prest by wrongs, their own full force they find,
To wield the sword for man and bulwark humankind.
The Seraph spoke; when thro the purpled air
The northern armies spread the flames of war.
Swift o'er the lake to Crownpoint's fortful strand
Rash Abercrombie leads his headlong band
To fierce unequal fight; the batteries roar,
Shield the strong foes and rake the banner'd shore;
Britannia's sons again the contest yield;
Again proud Gaul triumphant sweeps the field.
But Amberst quick renews the raging toil
And drives wide hosting o'er Acadia's isle;
Young Wolfe beside him points the lifted lance,
The boast of Britain and the scourge of France.
The tide of victory here the heroes turn
And Gallic navies in their harbors burn;
High flame the ships, the billows swell with gore,
And the red standard shades the conquer'd shore.
Wolfe, now detacht and bent on bolder deeds,
A sail-borne host up sealike Laurence leads,
Stems the long lessening tide; till Abraham's height
And famed Quebec rise frowning into sight,
Swift bounding on the bank, the foe they claim,
Climb the tall mountain, like a rolling flame,
Push wide their wings high bannering bright the air
And move to fight, as comets cope in war.
The smoke falls folding thro the downward sky
And shrouds the mountain from the patriarch's eye;
While on the towering top, in glare of day,
The flashing swords in fiery arches play.
As on a side-seen storm, a distance driven,
The flames fork round the semivault of heaven,
Thick thunders roll, descending torrents flow,
Dash down the clouds and whelm the hills below;
Or as on plains of light when Michael strove,
The swords of cherubim to combat move,
Ten thousand fiery forms together fray
And flash new lightning on empyreal day.
Long raged promiscuous combat, half conceal'd,
When sudden parle suspended all the field;
Then roar the shouts, the smoke forsakes the plain,
And the huge hill is topt with heaps of slain.
Stretcht high in air Britannia's standard waved
And good Columbus hail'd his country saved;
While calm and silent, where the ranks retire,
He saw brave Wolfe in victory's arms expire.
So the pale moon, when morning beams arise,
Veils her lone visage in her midway skies;
She needs no longer drive the shades away,
Nor waits to view the glories of the day.
Again the towns aspire; the cultured field
And crowded mart their copious treasures yield;
Back to his plow the colon soldier moves,
And songs of triumph fill the warbling groves,
The conscious flocks, returning joys that share.
Spread thro the grassland o'er the walks of war;
Streams freed of gore their crystal course regain,
Serener sunbeams gild the tentless plain;
A general jubilee o'er earth and heaven
Leads the gay morn and lights the lambent even.
Rejoicing, confident of long repose,
(Their friends triumphant, far retired their foes)
The British colonies now feel their sway
Span the whole north and crowd the western day.
Acadia, Canada, earth's total side,
From Slave's long lake to Pensacola's tide,
Enrich their soils for them; and here unfold
A range of highest hope, a promised age of gold.
But soon from eastern seas dark vapors rise,
Sweep the vast Occident and shroud the skies,
Snatch all the vision from the Hero's sight
And wrap the coast in sudden shades of night.
He turn'd and sorrowful besought the Power:
Why sinks the scene? or must I view no more?
Must here the fame of that young world descend?
Shall our brave children find so quick their end?
Where then the promised grace? " Thou soon shalt see
That half mankind shall owe their home to thee. "
The Saint replied: Ere long, beneath thy view
The scene shall brighten and thy joys renew.
Here march the troublous years when goaded sore
Thy sons shall rise to change the ruling power;
When Albion's prince, who sways the happy land,
To lawless rule extends his tyrant hand.
To bind in slavery's bands the peaceful host,
Their rights unguarded and their charters lost.
Now raise thine eye; from this delusive claim
What nations leap to life, what deeds adorn their fame!
Columbus look'd; and still around them spread
From south to north the immeasurable shade;
At last the central darkness burst away,
And rising regions open'd on the day,
Once more bright Delaware's commercial stream
And Penn's throng'd city cast a cheerful gleam;
The dome of state, as conscious of his eye,
Now seem'd to silver in a loftier sky,
Unfolding fair its gates; when lo, within
The assembled states in solemn Congress shine.
The sires elect from every province came,
Where wide Columbia bore the British name,
Where Freedom's sons their highborn lineage (33) trace,
And homebred bravery still exalts the race:
Her sons who plant each various vast domain
That Chesapeak's uncounted currents drain;
The race who Roanoke's clear stream bestride,
Who fell the pine on Apalachia's side,
To Albemarle's wide wave who trust their store,
Who dike proud Pamlico's unstable shore,
Whose groaning barks o'erload the long Santee,
Wind thro the realms and labor to the sea,
(Their cumbrous cargoes to the sail consign'd
Seek distant worlds and feed and clothe mankind;)
The race whose rice fields suck Savanna's urn,
Whose verdant vines Oconee's bank adorn;
Who freight the Delaware with golden grain,
Who tame their steeds on Monmouth's flowery plain,
From huge Toconnok hills who drag their ore
And sledge their corn to Hudson's quay-built shore,
Who keel Connecticut's long meadowy tide,
With patient plow his fallow plains divide,
Spread their white flocks o'er Narraganset's vale
Or chase to each chill pole the monstrous whale;
Whose venturous prows have borne their fame afar,
Tamed all the seas and steer'd by every star,
Dispensed to earth's whole habitants their store
And with their biting flukes have harrow'd every shore.
The virtuous delegates behold with pain
The hostile Britons hovering o'er the main,
Lament the strife that bids two worlds engage
And blot their annals with fraternal rage;
Two worlds in one broad state, whose bounds bestride,
Like heaven's blue arch, the vast Atlantic tide,
By language, laws and liberty combined,
Great nurse of thought, example to mankind.
Columbia rears her warning voice in vain,
Brothers to brothers call across the main;
Britannia's patriots lend a listening ear,
But kings and courtiers push their mad career;
Dissension raves, the sheathless falchions glare,
And earth and ocean tremble at the war.
Thus with stern brow, as worn by cares of state,
His bosom big with dark unfolding fate,
High o'er his lance the sacred Eagle spread,
And earth's whole crown still resting on his head,
Rome's hoary Genius rose and mournful stood
On roaring Rubicon's forbidden flood,
When Cesar's ensigns swept the Alpine air,
Led their long legions from the Gallic war,
Paused on the opposing bank with wings unfurl'd,
And waved portentous o'er the shuddering world.
The god, with outstretcht arm and awful look,
Call'd the proud victor and prophetic spoke:
Arrest, my son, thy parricidious hate,
Pass not the stream nor stab my filial state,
Stab not thyself, thy friends, thy total kind
And worlds and ages in one state combined.
The chief regardless of the warning god
Rein'd his rude steed and headlong past the flood,
Cried, farewel peace! took Fortune for his guide
And o'er his country pour'd the slaughtering tide.
High on the foremost seat in living light
Resplendent Randolph caught the world's full sight.
He opes the cause and points in prospect far
Thro all the toils that wait impending war:
But, reverend sage! thy race must soon be o'er
To lend thy lustre and to shine no more.
So the mild morning star from shades of even
Leads up the dawn and lights the front of heaven,
Points to the waking world the sun's broad way,
Then veils his own and vaults above the day.
And see bright Washington behind thee rise,
Thy following sun to gild our morning skies,
O'er shadowy climes to pour enlivening flame,
The charms of freedom and the fire of fame.
For him the patriot bay beheld with pride
The hero's laurel springing by its side;
His sword still sleeping rested on his thigh,
On Britain still he cast a filial eye;
But sovereign fortitude his visage bore,
To meet her legions on the invaded shore.
Sage Franklin next arose with cheerful mien
And smiled unruffled o'er the solemn scene;
His locks of age a various wreath embraced,
Palm of all arts that e'er a mortal graced;
Beneath him lay the sceptre kings had borne
And the tame thunder (34) from the tempest torn.
Wythe, Mason, Pendleton with Henry join'd,
Rush, Rodney, Langdon, friends of humankind,
Persuasive Dickinson the farmer's boast,
Recording Thomson pride of all the host,
Nash, Jay, the Livingstons, in council great,
Rutledge and Laurens held the rolls of fate,
O'er wide creation turn'd their ardent eyes
And bade the opprest to selfexistence rise;
All powers of state, in their extended plan,
Spring from consent to shield the rights of man.
Undaunted Wolcott urged the holy cause,
With steady hand the solemn scene he draws;
Stern thoughtful temperance with his ardor join'd,
Nor kings nor worlds could warp his stedfast mind.
With graceful ease but energetic tones
And eloquence that shook a thousand thrones,
Majestic Hosmer stood; the expanding soul
Darts from his eyebeams while his accents roll.
But lo, the shaft of death untimely flew
And fell'd the patriot from the Hero's view;
Wrapt in the funeral shroud he sees descend
The guide of nations and the Muse's friend.
Columbus dropt a tear; while Hesper's eye
Traced the freed spirit mounting thro the sky.
Each generous Adams, freedom's favorite pair,
And Hancock rose the tyrant's rage to dare,
Groupt with firm Jefferson, her steadiest hope,
Of modest mien but vast unclouded scope.
Like four strong pillars of her state they stand,
They clear from doubt her brave but wavering band;
Colonial charters in their hands they bore
And lawless acts of ministerial power.
Some injured right in every page appears,
A king in terrors and a land in tears;
From all his guileful plots the veil they drew,
With eye retortive lookt creation thro,
Traced moral nature thro her total plan,
Markt all the steps of liberty and man;
Crowds rose to reason while their accents rung,
And I NDEPENDENCE thunder'd from their tongue.
Columbus turn'd; when rolling to the shore
Swells o'er the seas an undulating roar;
Slow, dark, portentous, as the meteors sweep
And curtain black the illimitable deep,
High stalks from surge to surge a demon Form
That howls thro heaven and breathes a billowing storm.
His head is hung with clouds; his giant hand
Flings a blue flame far flickering to the land;
His blood-stain'd limbs drip carnage as he strides
And taint with gory grume the staggering tides;
Like two red suns his quivering eyeballs glare,
Engines of death behind him load the air,
Pikes, muskets, mortars, guns and globes of fire
And lighted bombs that fusing trails expire.
Percht on his helmet, two twin sisters rode,
The favorite offspring of the murderous god,
Fanrine and Pestilence; whom whilom bore
His wife, grim Discord, on Trinacria's shore;
When first their cyclop sons, from Etna's forge,
Fill'd his soul magazine, the mount's deep gorge:
Then earth convulsive groan'd, high shriekt the air,
And hell in gratulation call'd him War.
Behind the fiend, swift hovering for the coast,
Hangs o'er the wave Britannia's sail-wing'd host;
They crowd the main, they spread their sheets abroad
From the wide Laurence to the Georgian flood,
Point their black batteries to the peopled shore,
And spouting flames commence the hideous roar.
Where fortless Falmouth, looking o'er her bay,
In terror saw the approaching thunders play,
The fire begins; the shells o'er-arching fly
And shoot a thousand rainbows thro the sky;
On Charlestown spires, on Bedford roofs they light,
Groton and Fairfield kindle from the flight,
Norwalk expands the blaze; o'er Reading hills
High flaming Danbury the welkin fills;
Esopus burns, Newyork's delightful fanes
And sea-nursed Norfolk light the neighboring plains.
From realm to realm the smoky volumes bend,
Reach round the bays and up the streams extend;
Deep o'er the concave heavy wreaths are roll'd,
And midland towns and distant groves infold.
Thro solid curls of smoke the bursting fires
Climb in tall pyramids above the spires,
Concentring all the winds; whose forces, driven
With equal rage from every point of heaven,
Whirl into conflict, round the scantling pour
The twisting flames and thro the rafters roar,
Suck up the cinders, send them sailing far,
To warn the nations of the raging war,
Bend high the blazing vortex, swell'd and curl'd,
Careering, brightening o'er the lustred world,
Absorb the reddening clouds that round them run,
Lick the pale stars and mock their absent sun:
Seas catch the splendor, kindling skies resound,
And falling structures shake the smoldering ground.
Crowds of wild fugitives, with frantic tread,
Flit thro the flames that pierce the midnight shade,
Back on the burning domes revert their eyes,
Where some lost friend, some perisht infant lies,
Their maim'd, their sick, their age-enfeebled sires
Have sunk sad victims to the sateless fires;
They greet with one last look their tottering walls,
See the blaze thicken as the ruin falls,
Then o'er the country train their dumb despair
And far behind them leave the dancing glare;
Their own crusht roofs still lend a trembling light,
Point their long shadows and direct their flight.
Till wandering wide they seek some cottage door,
Ask the vile pittance due the vagrant poor;
Or faint and faltering on the devious road,
They sink at last and yield their mortal load.
But where the sheeted flames thro Charlestown roar,
And lashing waves hiss round the burning shore,
Thro the deep folding fires dread Bunker's height
Thunders o'er all and shows a field of fight.
Like nightly shadows thro a flaming grove,
To the dark fray the closing squadrons move;
They join, they break, they thicken thro the glare,
And blazing batteries burst along the war;
Now wrapt in reddening smoke, now dim in sight,
They rake the hill or wing the downward flight;
Here, wheel'd and wedged, Britannia's veterans turn
And the long lightnings from their muskets burn;
There scattering strive the thin colonial train,
Whose broken platoons still the field maintain;
Till Britain's fresh battalions rise the height
And with increasing vollies give the fight.
When, choked with dust, discolor'd deep in gore
And gall'd on all sides from the ships and shore,
Hesperia's host moves off the field afar
And saves, by slow retreat, the sad remains of war.
There strides bold Putnam and from all the plains
Calls the tired troops, the tardy rear sustains,
And, mid the whizzing balls that skim the lowe,
Waves back his sword, defies the following foe,
In this prime prelude of the toil that waits
The nascent glories of his infant states,
Columbus mourn'd the slain. A numerous crowd,
Half of each host, had bought their fame with blood;
From the whole hill he saw the lifestream pour
And sloping pathways trod with tracks of gore.
Here, glorious Warren, thy cold earth was seen,
Here spring thy laurels in immortal green;
Dearest of chiefs that ever prest the plain,
In freedom's cause with early honors slain;
Still dear in death, as when before our sight
You graced the senate or you led the fight.
The grateful Muse shall tell the world your fame,
And unborn realms resound the deathless name.
Now from all plains, as settling smokes decay,
The banded freemen rise in open day;
Tall thro the lessening shadows, half conceal'd,
They throng and gather in a central field;
In unskill'd ranks but ardent soul they stand,
Claim quick the foe and eager strife demand.
In front firm Washington superior shone,
His eye directed to the half-seen sun;
As thro the cloud the bursting splendors glow
And light the passage to the distant foe.
His waving steel returns the living day
And points, thro unfought fields, the warrior's way;
His valorous deeds to be confined no more,
Monongahela, to thy desert shore.
Matured with years, with nobler glory warm,
Fate in his eye and empire on his arm,
He feels his sword the strength of nations wield
And moves before them with a broader shield.
Greene rose beside him emulous in arms,
His genius brightening as the danger warms,
In counsel great, in every science skill'd,
Pride of the camp and terror of the field.
With eager look, conspicuous o'er the crowd
And port majestic, brave Montgomery strode,
Bared his tried blade, with honor's call elate,
Claim'd the first field and hasten'd to his fate.
Lincoln, with force unfolding as he rose,
Scoped the whole war and measured well the foes;
Calm, cautious, firm, for frugal counsels known,
Frugal of others' blood but liberal of his own,
Heath for impending toil his falchion draws
And fearless Wooster aids the sacred cause,
Mercer advanced an early death to prove,
Sinclair and Mifflin swift to combat move;
Here stood stern Putnam, scored with ancient scars,
The living records of his country's wars;
Wayne like a moving tower assumes his post,
Fires the whole field and is himself a host;
Undaunted Stirling, prompt to meet his foes,
And Gates and Sullivan for action rose;
Macdougal, Clinton, guardians of the state,
Stretch the nerved arm to pierce the depth of fate;
Marion with rapture seized the sword of fame,
Young Laurens graced a father's patriot name;
Moultrie and Sumter lead their banded powers,
Morgan in front of his bold riflers towers,
His host of keen-eyed marksmen skill'd to pour
Their slugs unerring from the twisted bore.
No sword, no bayonet they learn to wield,
They gall the flunk, they skirt the battling field,
Cull out the distant foe in full horse speed,
Couch the long tube and eye the silver bead,
Turn as he turns, dismiss the whizzing lead
And lodge the death-ball in his heedless head.
So toil'd the huntsman Tell. His quivering dart,
Prest by the bended bowstring, fears to part,
Dreads the tremendous task, to graze but shun
The tender temples of his infant son;
As the loved youth (the tyrant's victim led)
Bears the poised apple tottering on his head,
The sullen father, with reverted eye,
Now marks the satrap, now the bright-hair'd boy;
His second shaft impatient lies, athirst
To mend the expected error of the first,
To pierce the monster, mid the insulted crowd,
And steep the pangs of nature in his blood.
Deep doubling to his breast, well poised and slow
Curve the strain'd horns of his indignant bow;
His left arm straitens as the dexter bends,
And his nerved knuckle with the gripe distends;
Soft slides the reed back with the stiff drawn strand,
Till the steel point has reacht his steady hand;
Then to his keen fixt eye the shank he brings,
Twangs the loud cord, the feather'd arrow sings,
Picks off the pippin from the smiling boy,
And Uri's rocks resound with shouts of joy.
Soon by an equal dart the tyrant bleeds,
The cantons league, the work of fate proceeds;
Till Austria's titled hordes with their own gore
Fat the fair fields they lorded long before;
On Gothard's height while Freedom first unfurl'd
Her infant banner o'er the modern world.
Bland, Moylan, Sheldon the long lines enforce
With light arm'd scouts, with solid squares of horse;
And Knox from his full park to battle brings
His brazen tubes, the last resort of kings . (35)
The long black rows in sullen silence wait,
Their grim jaws gaping, soon to utter fate;
When at his word the carbon clouds shall rise
And well aim'd thunders rock the shores and skies.
Two foreign youths had caught the splendent flame,
To fame's hard school the warm disciples came;
To learn sage Liberty's unlesson'd lore,
To brave the tempest on her war-beat shore,
Prometheus like to snatch a beam of day
And homeward bear the unscintillating ray,
To pour new life on Europe's languid horde,
Where millions crouch beneath one stupid lord.
Tho Austria's keiser and the Russian czar
To dungeons doom them and with fetters mar,
Fayette o'er Gaul's vast realm some light shall spread,
Brave Kosciusco rear Sarmatia's head;
From Garonne's bank to Duna's wintry skies
The morn shall move and slumbering nations rise.
And tho their despots quake with wild alarms
And lash and agonize the world to arms,
Whelm for awhile the untutor'd race in blood
And turn against themselves the raging flood;
Yet shall the undying dawn with silent pace
Reach over earth and every land embrace;
Till Europe's well taught sons the boon shall share
And bless the labors of the imprison'd air.
So Leda's twins from Colchis raped the fleece
And brought the treasure to their native Greece.
She hail'd her heroes from their finisht wars,
Assign'd their place amid the cluster'd stars,
Bade round the eternal sky their trophies flame
And charged the zodiac with their deathless fame.
— Here move the strangers, here in freedom's cause
His untried blade each stripling hero draws,
On the great chief their eyes in transport roll,
And war and Washington renerve the soul.
Steuben advanced in veteran armor drest,
For Prussian lore distinguisht o'er the rest,
The tactic lore; to this he bends his care
And here transplants the discipline of war.
Other brave chieftains of illustrious name
Rise into sight and equal honors claim;
But who can tell the dew drops of the morn
Or count the rays that in the diamond burn?
— Grieve not, my valiant friends; the faithful song
Shall soon redress the momentary wrong;
Your own bright swords have cleaved your course to fame
And all her hundred tongues recognise every claim.
Now the broad field as untaught warriors shade,
The sun's glad beam their shining arms display'd;
High waved great Washington his glittering steel,
Bade the long train in circling order wheel;
And, while the banner'd youths around him prest,
With voice revered he thus the ranks addrest:
Ye generous bands, behold the task to save,
Or yield whole nations to an instant grave.
See hosted myriads crowding to your shore,
Hear from all ports their vollied thunders roar;
From Boston heights their bloody standards play,
O'er long Champlain they lead their northern way,
Virginian banks behold their streamers glide,
And hostile navies load each southern tide.
Beneath their steps your towns in ashes lie,
Your inland empires feast their greedy eye;
Soon shall your fields to lordly parks be turn'd,
Your children butcher'd and your villas burn'd;
While following millions, thro the reign of time,
Who claim their birth in this indulgent clime,
Bend the weak knee, to servile toils consign'd,
And sloth and slavery still degrade mankind.
Rise then to war, to timely vengeance rise,
Ere the gray sire, the hapless infant dies;
Look thro the world, see endless years descend,
What realms what ages on your arms depend!
Reverse the fate, avenge the insulted sky,
Move to the work; we conquer or we die.
So spoke Columbia's chief; his guiding hand
Points out their march to every ardent band,
Assigns to each brave leader, as they claim,
His test of valor and his task of fame.
With his young host Montgomery first moves forth
To crush the vast invasion of the north;
O'er streams and lakes his flags far onward play,
Navies and forts surrendering mark their way;
Rocks fens and deserts thwart the paths they go,
And hills before them lose their crags in snow.
Loud Laurence, clogg'd with ice, indignant feels
Their sleet-clad oars, choked helms and crusted keels;
They buffet long his tides; when rise in sight
Quebec's dread walls and Wolfe's unclouded height.
Already there a few brave patriots stood,
Worn down with toil, by famine half subdued;
Untrencht before the town they dare oppose
Their fielded cohorts to the forted foes.
Ah gallant troop! deprived of half the praise
That deeds like yours in other times repays,
Since your prime chief (the favorite erst of fame)
Hath sunk so deep his hateful hideous name,
That every honest Muse with horror flings
The name unsounded from her sacred strings;
Else what high tones of rapture must have told
The first great action (36) of a chief so bold!
Twas his, twas yours, to brave unusual storms,
To tame rude nature in her drearest forms;
Foodless and guideless, thro that waste of earth,
You marcht long months; and, sore reduced by dearth,
Reacht the proud capital, too feeble far
To tempt unaided such a task of war;
Till now Montgomery's host with hopes elate
Joins your scant powers, to try the test of fate.
With skilful glance he views the fortress round,
Bristled with pikes, with dark artillery crown'd;
Resolves with naked steel to scale the towers
And snatch a realm from Britain's hostile powers.
Now drear december's boreal blasts arise,
A roaring hailstorm sweeps the shuddering skies,
Night with condensing horror mantles all
And trembling watch-lights glimmer from the wall.
From bombs o'erarching, fusing, bursting high,
The glare scarce wanders thro the loaded sky;
And in the louder shock of meteors drown'd
The accustom'd ear in vain expects the sound.
He points the assault, and thro the howling air
O'er rocky ramparts leads audacious war.
Swift rise the rapid files, the walls are red
With flashing flames that show the piles of dead;
Till back recoiling from the ranks of slain,
They leave their leader with a feeble train,
Begirt with foes within the sounding wall
Who thick beneath his single sabre fall.
But short the conflict; others hemm'd him round,
And brave Montgomery prest the gory ground.
A second Wolfe Columbus here beheld,
In youthful charms, a soul undaunted yield;
Forlorn, o'erpower'd, his hardy host remains
Stretcht by his side or led in captive chains.
Macpherson, Cheesman share their general's doom;
Meigs, Morgan, Dearborn, planning deeds to come,
Resign impatient prisoners; soon to wield
Their happier falchions in a broader field,
Triumphant to Newyork's ill forted post
Britannia turns her vast amphibious host,
That seas and storms obedient to her hand
Heave and discharge on every distant land;
Fleets, floating batteries shake Manhattan's shore,
And Hellgate rocks reverberate the roar.
Swift o'er the shuddering isles that line the bay
The red flags wave and battering engines play;
Howe leads aland the interminable train,
While his bold brother still bestorms the main,
Great Albion's double pride, both famed afar
On each vext element, each world of war,
Where British rapine follows peaceful toil
And murders nations, but to seize their spoil.
Wide sweep the veteran myriads o'er the strand,
Outnumbering thrice the raw colonial band;
Flatbush and Harlem sink beneath their fires,
Brave Stirling yields and Sullivan retires.
In vain sage Washington from hill to hill
Plays round his foes with more than Fabian skill,
Retreats, advances, lures them to his snare,
To balance numbers by the shifts of war,
For not their swords alone, but fell disease
Thins his chill camp and chokes the sedgy seas.
The baleful malady from Sirius sent
Floats in each breeze, impesting every tent,
Strikes the young soldier with the morning ray
And lays him lifeless ere the close of day,
Far from his father's house, his mother's care
And all the charities that nursed him there.
Dampt is the native rage that first impell'd
The insulted colons to the battling field;
When first their high-soul'd sentiment of right
And full-vein'd vigor nerved their arm to fight.
For stript of health, benumb'd thy vital flood,
Thy muscles laxt and decomposed thy blood,
What is thy courage, man? a foodless flame,
A light unseen, a soul without a frame.
Each day the decimated ranks forego
Their dying comrades to repulse the foe,
And each damp night along the slippery trench
Breathe at their post the suffocating stench;
They sink by hundreds on the vapory soil,
Till a new fight relieves their deadlier toil.
At last from fruitless combat, sore defeat,
To Croton hills they lead a long retreat;
Pale, curbed, exanimate, in dull despair.
Train the scant relies of the twofold war:
The sword, the pestilence press hard behind;
The body both assail, and one beats down the mind.
Rate this poem: 

Reviews

No reviews yet.