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A POEM, WITH NOTES.
An Emerald in the silver wave,
By Nature set.
— ISLE OF WIGHT.
INSCRIBED TO MRS. ELIZABETH CARTER, BY HER MOST OBLIGED, AND AFFECTIONATE FRIEND AND SERVANT, THE AUTHOR. Jan. 6, 1802.
1 QUEEN of inventive thought, thy dreams
2 Have mark'd the colour of my fate;
3 Still lend thy lightly quivering beams,
4 Guide me through wilds untrodden yet;
5 Lead me where dim the days of old
6 Their dark historic page unfold,
7 Thy power alone can time subdue,
8 Retrace his pathless way, and bring the past to view.
9 On the gigantic phantom flies,
10 His waving pinions bright appear,
11 But o'er his track deep shadows rise,
12 And darkness closes on his rear.
13 Imperial realms, the world's proud boast,
14 In the oblivious shade are lost;
15 Pomp, wealth, and pow'r he sweeps away,
16 The muse alone withstands his arbitrary sway.
17 As through the deep uncertain gloom
18 I watch the ruins of the past,
19 Search the pale records of the tomb,
20 And mark faint traces while they last;
21 In pensive musing oft I stray,
22 When ev'ning spreads her mantle gray,
23 And floating in her train appear
24 The shades of many a long departed year.
25 Methinks I pass the foaming deep,
26 Where Victus rears his verdanta.
a. [p. 49] Where Victus rears his verdant head. "VICTUS, a latin name for the Isle of Wight. The word signifies a bar, or bolt, perhaps from the steep and projecting rocks with which the coast of this island in many places is barred and defended." Vide the first note in Sir Richard Worsley's History of the Isle of Wight.head;
27 Be still, ye winds, ye waters, sleep,
28 Again those favour'd shores I tread,
29 Again his fertile fields behold,
30 Waving in vegetable gold;
31 Again my eager steps are bent
32 To view the ruin'd tow'r and mould'ring battlement.
33 Nor shall thy charms my thoughts detain,
34 Medina, on thy tuftedb.
b. [p. 49] Medina, on thy tufted side "Medina, the name of the river which divides the island, rising at the bottom of St. Catherine's Down, runs northward, and discharges itself into the channel between East and West Cowes. " — Vide Sir R. W.side,
35 Thou green-hair'd daughter of the main,
36 Whose urn receives the rushing tide;[Page 41]
37 O'er heath and hill, through winding dale,
38 I seek the stream, I seek the vale,
39 Where o'er the hamlet's humble bowers,
40 Lone Carisbrook, appear thy long-unguarded towers. c.
c. [p. 49] Lone, Carisbrook, appear thy long unguarded towers. "Carisbrook Castle, an ancient fortress in the centre of the Isle of Wight. The etymology of the name, as far as I have been able to find, is derived from Caer, an ancient word, signifying a fortress or stronghold: the brook which runs below explains the rest. A ruined tower, which stands on a hill in Cornwall, is called Cairnbré, and Caermarthen, Carlisle, Carysfort, &c. have all the same original."
41 Slow up the hill, my footsteps trace
42 The peaceful bastion's silent way,
43 While on the ruin's awful face
44 Still faintly gleams departing day.
45 Methinks I pause, a secret dread
46 Howls in the blast around my head,
47 And fearful I my path pursue,
48 Till nightfall's gloomy shade obscures my aching view.
49 Beneath the ramparts broken side,
50 Hark, melancholy night-birds call!
51 While distant echoes faintly chide,
52 And darkness drops her sable pall.
53 Now in the portal way I stand,
54 Where fancy waves her potent wand,
55 Till forms unknown, unnumber'd rise,
56 And ages long forgotten swim before my eyes.
57 Hark! sure I heard the loud rebound
58 As open flew the iron gate,
59 Yon towers return the sullen sound,
60 Where high they frown in idle state;
61 Behold with haughty mien advance,
62 High waves his plume, bright beams his lance,
63 An armed knight, of royal race,
64 From Withgar's ancient line the genius of the place. d.
d. [p. 50] From Withgar's ancient line, the genius of the place. "In the year 495 Cerdic, a Saxon chief, with his son Henric, invaded Britain, and, after various successes, established the kingdom of West-Sex. He also conquered the Isle of Wight, and slew most of the inhabitants; these he replaced with a great number of Tutes and Saxons, whom he invited over, bestowing the island on his two nephews, Stuff and Withgar. " — Vide Saxon Chronicle (Brompton's).
65 Through his dim form yon trembling star
66 Gleams, as I see the spectre stand;
67 Pale shadow of the sons of war,
68 Why dost thou wave thy nerveless hand?
69 Again he beckons; I obey,
70 And follow where he leads the way;
71 Up time-worn steps with briars o'ergrown,
72 I mount the lofty keep with force till now unknown.
73 "Behold (he cried) those rising forms
74 Of Britain's ancient sons appear,
75 'Mid ages rude, and threat'ning storms,
76 They rais'd a savage bulwark here,[Page 43]
77 When bold to wage unequal war,e.
e. [p. 50] When bold to wage unequal war. "The Isle of Wight, according to Suetonius, was first conquered by the Romans during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, about the year of our Lord 43; when Vespasian, his general, in the course of that expedition, fought thirty pitched battles, subdued two very powerful nations, and took more than twenty towns. It seems as if the Romans were not under any great apprehensions from the islanders, or else that they staid here but a short time, and then resided chiefly in the towns, since there are not the least traces of any of their fortifications to be found in the island, which is the more wonderful, as it is well known to have been a general maxim with that people to fortify their camps, though formed but for one night. " — Vide Sir R. W.
78 The Roman eagle came from far,
79 And from his piercing eye-ball throws
80 A light before unknown amidst his vanquish'd foes.
81 "'Tis past with time, new powers prevail,
82 The walls in form embattled rise;
83 Behold the Saxon cas'd in mail,f.
f. [p. 51] Behold the Saxon cas'd in mail. "Withgar, one of the nephews of Cerdic (before mentioned). He is said to have rebuilt the fortress, and to have given it the name of Withgara-burg. " – Vide Brompton's Chron. 798.
84 His sinewy arm, his giant size;
85 A royal chief, he pants for fame,
86 And gives the fort his mighty name.
87 Vain was the warrior's haughty boast,
88 His towers are fall'n to dust, and e'en their name is lost.
89 "A sudden radiance beams around,
90 New works arise 'midst war's alarms,
91 Earl Baldwin bravely keeps his ground,g.
g. [p. 51] Earl Baldwin bravely keeps his ground. "Baldwin the First, earl of Devon, and lord of the Isle of Wight, who in the contest for the throne was a zealous partizan for the Empress Maud, and fortified his castle, and also the Isle of Wight both which were taken by Stephen, whereupon Baldwin fled out of the kingdom. " — Vide Sir R. W.
92 A female cause his courage arms;
93 While hope remains he courts the fight,
94 And proves a bold and loyal knight;[Page 44]
95 The tyrant's power at length prevails,
96 Nor Maud's imperial rights, nor valour aught avails.
97 "No more the pond'rous feudal yoke
98 The crouching vassal shall sustain;
99 Now and for ever crush'd and broke
100 The petty tyrant's galling chain;
101 But ere the sun of freedom's day
102 Darts forth its bright meridian ray,
103 Dark storms his genial powers controul,
104 And willingly I close the deep ensanguin'd scroll.
105 "Years follow years, slow rolling on,
106 Like fleecy clouds before the wind,
107 No daring deeds of valour done,
108 No record meets the searching mind,
109 Till on this spot a monarch's fateh.
h. [p. 51] Till on this spot a monarch's fate. "Colonel Robert Hammond was governor of the island when King Charles the First took refuge there, and had the custody of that unfortunate prince, who was induced to hope for protection from him on account of his being nephew to his chaplain, Dr. Henry Hammond: but his connexions with, and expectations from, the other party, gave him an insuperable bias in their favour: he was entirely dependant on Cromwell, through whose interest he had married the daughter of the famous Hambden, and had also lately obtained the government of the Isle of Wight. " — Vide Sir R. W.
110 Stain'd with disgrace Britannia's state;
111 When civil discord shakes her brand
112 Dark treason wields the ax, and faction fires the land.
113 "Unhappy man, ill-fated prince!
114 What star malignant mark'd thy birth?
115 The virtues of thy soul evince
116 Worth to improve and grace the earth;
117 But by mistaken maxims led,
118 Thy faults were of opinion bred,
119 And form'd by links unseen the chain
120 Of sad disastrous chance that clos'd in blood thy reign.
121 "Why didst thou seek this luckless strand,
122 Where for thy life the toils were spread?
123 Hypocrisy rul'd o'er the land,
124 Good faith and gratitude were fled;
125 Yet still a loyal few remain'd,i.
i. [p. 52] Yet still a loyal few remain'd. "Messrs. Firebrace, Worsley, Osborne, and Newland. Two letters to Mr. Worsley are still extant from the King, the one written in a small neat hand, the other in cypher. They had planned his escape, but the design miscarried. " — Vide Sir R. W.
126 Whose hearts allegiance true maintain'd:
127 But fate forbad their hope to save,
128 And led thee through a maze of sorrow to the grave.
129 "Here melancholy mark'd the day,k.
k. [p. 52] Here melancholy mark'd the day. "So solitary were his hours during a great part of his confinement, that, as he was one day standing near the gate of the castle with sir Philip Warwick, he pointed to an old decrepit man walking across one of the courts, and said, 'That man is sent every morning to light my fire, and is the best companion I have had for many months. "'— Vide Gilpin's Tour.
130 And solitude with care combin'd,
131 To give each sad reflection way
132 That preys upon a feeling mind:[Page 46]
133 Flattery no more, in courtly guise,
134 Bade vain self-love's illusions rise,
135 Known to himself, the man remain'd,
136 Religious hope alone his sinking soul sustain'd. l.
l. [p. 52] Religious hope alone his sinking soul sustain'd. "Devotion, meditation, and reading the scriptures, were his great consolation. The few books he had brought with him into the castle were chiefly on religious subjects, or of a serious cast. " — Vide Gilpin.
137 "When the fell ruffian band appear'd,
138 To bear him o'er the briny wave,
139 Alas! no tempest interfer'd,
140 No pitying power arose to save;
141 But yet he felt the kindly powerm.
m. [p. 52] But yet he felt the kindly power Of friendship, in that trying hour, &c. "After the treaty of Newport, Charles was seized by the army, and carried a prisoner to Hurst Castle: in his [p. 53] way thither he met Mr. Worsley, of Chale (one of the gentlemen who risked his life for him at the time of his intended escape from Carisbrook); Charles wrung his hand with affection, and hastily taking his watch out of his pocket, gave it to him, saying, 'That is all my gratitude has to give.' This watch is still preserved in the family; it is of silver, large and clumsy in its form, the case neatly ornamented with filligree, but the movements of very ordinary workmanship, and wound up with catgut. " — Vide Gilpin.
142 Of friendship in that trying hour;
143 And with a faithful subject left
144 A pledge of gratitude, of all things else bereft.
145 "Within these walls hard-hearted pride
146 Spurn'd at the monarch's fallen state,
147 And tyranny the shaft would guide,
148 That aggravates the ills of fate.
149 A princess, in life's early bloom,n.
n. [p. 53] A Princess in life's early bloom. "On the King's death Carisbrook was made a prison for his children, wherein died the Princess Elizabeth; she was buried at Newport, privately in the church. In 1793 an arched vault was discovered there, and near it a stone with the initials E. S. upon it, which marked the place of her interment. The leaden coffin in which her remains were deposited was found in the vault, which was perfectly dry when opened, and the coffin in a state of perfect preservation, with the following inscription on the lid: "ELIZABETH," Second Daughter of the late King Charles, "Deceased Sept. the 8th," M. DCL. " Vide Albin.The Princess Elizabeth lived a prisoner twenty months after the death of her father in Carisbrook Castle: she was 16 when she died.
150 Descends a captive to the tomb;
151 With thorns her couch of death is strewn,
152 Denied a parent's care, unpitied, and alone.
153 "Fair blossom of a hapless race!
154 Doom'd in a prison's gloom to fall,
155 Death sav'd thee from more foul disgrace,o.
o. [p. 54] Death sav'd thee from more foul disgrace. "It was the intention of the levelling rulers of the time, had she lived, to have bound her apprentice to some low mechanic employment."
156 Beneath his dark and sacred pall;
157 In innocence and blameless youth,
158 Unsullied by the rancorous tooth
159 Of fiendlike malice, thy last hour
160 Was peace and heav'n to his who thus abus'd his power. p.
p. [p. 54] ........................ Thy last hour Was peace and heav'n to his who thus abus'd his pow'r. "If we may credit history, the last moments of the usurper were such as might be pitied even by those who held his cruelty, ambition, and hypocrisy in the greatest abhorrence."
161 "Sad monument of ruthless deeds,
162 A ruin shall these walls remain;
163 No hero hence his phalanx leads,
164 To guard the hills or scour the plain:
165 But while the world is wrap'd in sleep,
166 My visionary watch I keep,
167 Or guide some poet's wand'ring eye
168 In time's forgotten way thro' dim obscurity."
169 He ceas'd; while quick I drew my breath
170 The gloomy spectre by me swept;
171 I shudder'd at the scenes of death,
172 And with indignant sorrow wept.[Page 48]
173 Sure dastard fear must have supprest
174 The groan which heav'd a nation's breast:
175 'Tis ours in happier times to prove
176 The monarch's safety in his people's love. q.
q. [p. 54] The Monarch's safety in his people's love. Witness the associations and volunteer corps who have, in the moment of danger, rallied round the throne of George the Third, and vied with the regular troops in discipline and good order, in fidelity and affection.
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About this text
Author: Anne Hunter (née Home)
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Hunter, Anne Home (Mrs. John), 1742-1821. Poems, by Mrs. John Hunter. London: Printed for T. Payne, Mews Gate, by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, 1802, pp. -54. (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [280 e.4058].)
Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
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