Retraction and Repentance


Yes: I was wrong, and very wrong,
In the eulogium of my lay, —
So I indite another song,
To clear my conscience while I may.
A year ago I thought him wise, —
I thought him virtuous of intent;
But time has purified my eyes,
And I repent me — I repent!

I thought and call'd him honest man ,
Unsway'd by dirty love of pelf:
Too great to crave — too wise to plan
A mean advantage for himself.
I thought his high sagacious mind
A star to guide the nations sent;
But I was hasty — I was blind,
And I repent me — I repent!

I thought he loved his native land,
And wish'd its ancient feuds to cease;
I thought his firm and temperate hand
A sacred guarantee of peace;
That he desired all earth to dwell
In friendship, freedom, and content,
But I was wrong — I see it well,
And I repent me — I repent!

I knew not that his fingers itch'd
For ducats tempting, but defiled;
That he could bear to be enrich'd
Upon the ruin of a child:
That lust of power had drain'd his mind
Of virtues, once its ornament, —
Of justice, honor, love of kind;
But I repent me — I repent!

I never thought him lost to shame,
Or that in lewd unmanly plot,
He could conspire to blast the fame
And life of one that harm'd him not;
That, to destroy a helpless girl,
He'd pander, bully, circumvent;
I could not think him such a churl;
And I repent me — I repent!

I did not think that pelFor power
Could make him play so foul a part;
That he could barter, for a dower,
A nation's weal — a sovereign's heart.
That he could peril France and Spain —
All Europe — sooner than relent;
But I was bias'd, it is plain,
And I repent me — I repent:

Nor I alone: — a murmur flies
O'er Europe — and men's bosoms glow
Indignant, as before their eyes
Is play'd this melodrame of woe.
Frenchmen that loved him, clench their hands,
And wait a time, now imminent,
To show to France and all the lands,
That they repent — that they repent!
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