SCENE, on the Cliffs to the Eastward of the Town of Brighthelmstone in Sussex.
TIME, a Morning in November, 1792.
1 SLOW in the Wintry Morn, the struggling light
2 Throws a faint gleam upon the troubled waves;
3 Their foaming tops, as they approach the shore
4 And the broad surf that never ceasing breaks
5 On the innumerous pebbles, catch the beams
6 Of the pale Sun, that with reluctance gives
7 To this cold northern Isle, its shorten'd day.
8 Alas! how few the morning wakes to joy!
9 How many murmur at oblivious night
10 For leaving them so soon; for bearing thus
[Page 2]
11 Their fancied bliss (the only bliss they taste!),
12 On her black wings away! Changing the dreams
13 That sooth'd their sorrows, for calamities
14 (And every day brings its own sad proportion)
15 For doubts, diseases, abject dread of Death,
16 And faithless friends, and fame and fortune lost;
17 Fancied or real wants; and wounded pride,
18 That views the day star, but to curse his beams.
19 Yet He, whose Spirit into being call'd
20 This wond'rous World of Waters; He who bids
21 The wild wind lift them till they dash the clouds,
22 And speaks to them in thunder; or whose breath,
23 Low murmuring o'er the gently heaving tides,
24 When the fair Moon, in summer night serene,
25 Irradiates with long trembling lines of light
26 Their undulating surface; that great Power,
[Page 3]
27 Who, governing the Planets, also knows
28 If but a Sea-Mew falls, whose nest is hid
29 In these incumbent cliffs; He surely means
30 To us, his reasoning Creatures, whom He bids
31 Acknowledge and revere his awful hand,
32 Nothing but good: Yet Man, misguided Man,
33 Mars the fair work that he was bid enjoy,
34 And makes himself the evil he deplores.
35 How often, when my weary soul recoils
36 From proud oppression, and from legal crimes
37 (For such are in this Land, where the vain boast
38 Of equal Law is mockery, while the cost
39 Of seeking for redress is sure to plunge
40 Th' already injur'd to more certain ruin
41 And the wretch starves, before his Counsel pleads)
42 How often do I half abjure Society,
[Page 4]
43 And sigh for some lone Cottage, deep embower'd
44 In the green woods, that these steep chalky Hills
45 Guard from the strong South West; where round their base
46 The Beach wide flourishes, and the light Ash
47 With slender leaf half hides the thymy turf!
48 There do I wish to hide me; well content
49 If on the short grass, strewn with fairy flowers,
50 I might repose thus shelter'd; or when Eve
51 In Orient crimson lingers in the west,
52 Gain the high mound, and mark these waves remote
53 (Lucid tho' distant), blushing with the rays
54 Of the far-flaming Orb, that sinks beneath them;
55 For I have thought, that I should then behold
56 The beauteous works of God, unspoil'd by Man
57 And less affected then, by human woes
58 I witness'd not; might better learn to bear
[Page 5]
59 Those that injustice, and duplicity
60 And faithlessness and folly, fix on me:
61 For never yet could I derive relief,
62 When my swol'n heart was bursting with its sorrows,
63 From the sad thought, that others like myself
64 Live but to swell affliction's countless tribes!
65 Tranquil seclusion I have vainly sought;
66 Peace, who delights in solitary shade,
67 No more will spread for me her downy wings,
68 But, like the fabled Danaids or the wretch,
69 Who ceaseless, up the steep acclivity,
70 Was doom'd to heave the still rebounding rock,
71 Onward I labour; as the baffled wave,
72 Which you rough beach repulses, that returns
73 With the next breath of wind, to fail again.
74 Ah! Mourner cease these wailings: cease and learn,
[Page 6]
75 That not the Cot sequester'd, where the briar
76 And wood-bine wild, embrace the mossy thatch,
77 (Scarce seen amid the forest gloom obscure!)
78 Or more substantial farm, well fenced and warm,
79 Where the full barn, and cattle fodder'd round
80 Speak rustic plenty; nor the statelier dome
81 By dark firs shaded, or the aspiring pine,
82 Close by the village Church (with care conceal'd
83 By verdant foliage, lest the poor man's grave
84 Should mar the smiling prospect of his Lord),
85 Where offices well rang'd, or dove-cote stock'd,
86 Declare manorial residence; not these
87 Or any of the buildings, new and trim
88 With windows circling towards the restless Sea,
89 Which ranged in rows, now terminate my walk,
90 Can shut out for an hour the spectre Care,
[Page 7]
91 That from the dawn of reason, follows still
92 Unhappy Mortals, 'till the friendly grave
93 (Our sole secure asylum) "ends the chace

"ENDS the chace. "] I have a confused notion, that this expression, with nearly the same application, is to be found in Young: but I cannot refer to it.

. "
94 Behold, in witness of this mournful truth,
95 A group approach me, whose dejected looks,
96 Sad Heralds of distress! proclaim them Men
97 Banish'd for ever and for conscience sake
98 From their distracted Country, whence the name
99 Of Freedom misapplied, and much abus'd
100 By lawless Anarchy, has driven them far
101 To wander; with the prejudice they learn'd
102 From Bigotry (the Tut'ress of the blind),
103 Thro' the wide World unshelter'd; their sole hope,
104 That German spoilers, thro' that pleasant land
105 May carry wide the desolating scourge
106 Of War and Vengeance; yet unhappy Men,
[Page 8]
107 Whate'er your errors, I lament your fate:
108 And, as disconsolate and sad ye hang
109 Upon the barrier of the rock, and seem
110 To murmur your despondence, waiting long
111 Some fortunate reverse that never comes;
112 Methinks in each expressive face, I see
113 Discriminated anguish; there droops one,
114 Who in a moping cloister long consum'd
115 This life inactive, to obtain a better,
116 And thought that meagre abstinence, to wake
117 From his hard pallet with the midnight bell,
118 To live on eleemosynary bread,
119 And to renounce God's works, would please that God.
120 And now the poor pale wretch receives, amaz'd,
121 The pity, strangers give to his distress,
122 Because these strangers are, by his dark creed,
[Page 17]
123 Condemn'd as Heretics and with sick heart
124 Regrets

"Regrets his pious prison and his beads. "] Lest the same attempts at misrepresentation should now be made, as have been made on former occasions, it is necessary to repeat, that nothing is farther from my thoughts, than to reflect invidiously on the Emigrant Clergy, whose steadiness of principle excites veneration, as much as their sufferings compassion. Adversity has now taught them the charity and humility they perhaps wanted, when they made it a part of their faith, that salvation could be obtained in no other religion than their own.

his pious prison, and his beads.
125 Another, of more haughty port, declines
126 The aid he needs not; while in mute despair
127 His high indignant thoughts go back to France,
128 Dwelling on all he lost the Gothic dome,
129 That vied with splendid palaces

"The splendid palaces. "] Let it not be considered as an insult to men in fallen fortune, if these luxuries (undoubtedly inconsistent with their profession) be here enumerated France is not the only country, where the splendour and indulgences of the higher, and the poverty and depression of the inferior Clergy, have alike proved injurious to the cause of Religion.

; the beds
130 Of silk and down, the silver chalices,
131 Vestments with gold enwrought for blazing altars;
132 Where, amid clouds of incense, he held forth
133 To kneeling crowds the imaginary bones
134 Of Saints suppos'd, in pearl and gold enchas'd,
135 And still with more than living Monarchs' pomp
136 Surrounded; was believ'd by mumbling bigots
137 To hold the keys of Heaven, and to admit
138 Whom he thought good to share it Now alas!
[Page 18]
139 He, to whose daring soul and high ambition
140 The World seem'd circumscrib'd; who, wont to dream
141 Of Fleuri, Richelieu, Alberoni, men
142 Who trod on Empire, and whose politics
143 Were not beyond the grasp of his vast mind,
144 Is, in a Land once hostile, still prophan'd
145 By disbelief, and rites un-orthodox,
146 The object of compassion At his side,
147 Lighter of heart than these, but heavier far
148 Than he was wont, another victim comes,
149 An Abbé who with less contracted brow
150 Still smiles and flatters, and still talks of Hope;
151 Which, sanguine as he is, he does not feel,
152 And so he cheats the sad and weighty pressure
153 Of evils present; Still, as Men misled
154 By early prejudice (so hard to break),
[Page 19]
155 I mourn your sorrows; for I too have known
156 Involuntary exile; and while yet
157 England had charms for me, have felt how sad
158 It is to look across the dim cold sea,
159 That melancholy rolls its refluent tides
160 Between us and the dear regretted land
161 We call our own as now ye pensive wait
162 On this bleak morning, gazing on the waves
163 That seem to leave your shore; from whence the wind
164 Is loaded to your ears, with the deep groans
165 Of martyr'd Saints and suffering Royalty,
166 While to your eyes the avenging power of Heaven
167 Appears in aweful anger to prepare
168 The storm of vengeance, fraught with plagues and death.
169 Even he of milder heart, who was indeed
170 The simple shepherd in a rustic scene,
[Page 20]
171 And, 'mid the vine-clad hills of Languedoc,
172 Taught to the bare-foot peasant, whose hard hands
173 Produc'd

See the finely descriptive Verses written at Montauban in France in 1750, by Dr. Joseph Warton. Printed in Dodsley's Miscellanies, Vol. IV. page 203.

the nectar he could seldom taste,
174 Submission to the Lord for whom he toil'd;
175 He, or his brethren, who to Neustria's sons
176 Enforc'd religious patience, when, at times,
177 On their indignant hearts Power's iron hand
178 Too strongly struck; eliciting some sparks
179 Of the bold spirit of their native North;
180 Even these Parochial Priests, these humbled men,
181 Whose lowly undistinguish'd cottages
182 Witness'd a life of purest piety,
183 While the meek tenants were, perhaps, unknown
184 Each to the haughty Lord of his domain,
185 Who mark'd them not; the Noble scorning still
186 The poor and pious Priest, as with slow pace
[Page 21]
187 He glided thro' the dim arch'd avenue
188 Which to the Castle led; hoping to cheer
189 The last sad hour of some laborious life
190 That hasten'd to its close even such a Man
191 Becomes an exile; staying not to try
192 By temperate zeal to check his madd'ning flock,
193 Who, at the novel sound of Liberty
194 (Ah! most intoxicating sound to slaves!),
195 Start into licence Lo! dejected now,
196 The wandering Pastor mourns, with bleeding heart,
197 His erring people, weeps and prays for them,
198 And trembles for the account that he must give
199 To Heaven for souls entrusted to his care.
200 Where the cliff, hollow'd by the wintry storm,
201 Affords a seat with matted sea-weed strewn,
202 A softer form reclines; around her run,
[Page 22]
203 On the rough shingles, or the chalky bourn,
204 Her gay unconscious children, soon amus'd;
205 Who pick the fretted stone, or glossy shell,
206 Or crimson plant marine: or they contrive
207 The fairy vessel, with its ribband sail
208 And gilded paper pennant: in the pool,
209 Left by the salt wave on the yielding sands,
210 They launch the mimic navy Happy age!
211 Unmindful of the miseries of Man!
212 Alas! too long a victim to distress,
213 Their Mother, lost in melancholy thought,
214 Lull'd for a moment by the murmurs low
215 Of sullen billows, wearied by the task
216 Of having here, with swol'n and aching eyes
217 Fix'd on the grey horizon, since the dawn
218 Solicitously watch'd the weekly sail
[Page 23]
219 From her dear native land, now yields awhile
220 To kind forgetfulness, while Fancy brings,
221 In waking dreams, that native land again!
222 Versailles appears its painted galleries,
223 And rooms of regal splendour; rich with gold,
224 Where, by long mirrors multiply'd, the crowd
225 Paid willing homage and, united there,
226 Beauty gave charms to empire Ah! too soon
227 From the gay visionary pageant rous'd,
228 See the sad mourner start! and, drooping, look
229 With tearful eyes and heaving bosom round
230 On drear reality where dark'ning waves,
231 Urg'd by the rising wind, unheeded foam
232 Near her cold rugged seat: To call her thence
233 A fellow-sufferer comes: dejection deep
234 Checks, but conceals not quite, the martial air,
[Page 24]
235 And that high consciousness of noble blood,
236 Which he has learn'd from infancy to think
237 Exalts him o'er the race of common men:
238 Nurs'd in the velvet lap of luxury,
239 And fed by adulation could he learn,
240 That worth alone is true Nobility?
241 And that the peasant who, "amid
"Who amid the sons
" Of Reason, Valour, Liberty, and Virtue,
[Page 36]
"Displays distinguished merit, is a Noble
" Of Nature's own creation. "]

These lines are Thomson's, and are among those sentiments which are now called (when used by living writers), not common-place declamation, but sentiments of dangerous tendency.

the sons
242 "Of Reason, Valour, Liberty, and Virtue,
243 " Displays distinguish'd merit, is a Noble
244 "Of Nature's own creation!" If even here,
245 If in this land of highly vaunted Freedom,
246 Even Britons controvert the unwelcome truth,
247 Can it be relish'd by the sons of France?
248 Men, who derive their boasted ancestry
249 From the fierce leaders of religious wars,
250 The first in Chivalry's emblazon'd page;
[Page 25]
251 Who reckon Gueslin, Bayard, or De Foix,
252 Among their brave Progenitors? Their eyes,
253 Accustom'd to regard the splendid trophies
254 Of Heraldry (that with fantastic hand
255 Mingles, like images in feverish dreams,
256 "Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimeras dire,"
257 With painted puns, and visionary shapes;),
258 See not the simple dignity of Virtue,
259 But hold all base, whom honours such as these
260 Exalt not from the crowd

"Exalt not from the crowd. "] It has been said, and with great appearance of truth, that the contempt in which the Nobility of France held the common people, was remembered, and with all that vindictive asperity which long endurance of oppression naturally excites, when, by a wonderful concurrence of circumstances, the people acquired the power of retaliation. Yet let me here add, what seems to be in some degree inconsistent with the former charge, that the French are good masters to their servants, and that in their treatment of their Negro slaves, they are allowed to be more mild and merciful than other Europeans.

As one, who long
261 Has dwelt amid the artificial scenes
262 Of populous City, deems that splendid shows,
263 The Theatre, and pageant pomp of Courts,
264 Are only worth regard; forgets all taste
265 For Nature's genuine beauty; in the lapse
266 Of gushing waters hears no soothing sound,
[Page 26]
267 Nor listens with delight to sighing winds,
268 That, on their fragrant pinions, waft the notes
269 Of birds rejoicing in the trangled copse;
270 Nor gazes pleas'd on Ocean's silver breast,
271 While lightly o'er it sails the summer clouds
272 Reflected in the wave, that, hardly heard,
273 Flows on the yellow sands: so to his mind,
274 That long has liv'd where Despotism hides
275 His features harsh, beneath the diadem
276 Of worldly grandeur, abject Slavery seems,
277 If by that power impos'd, slavery no more:
278 For luxury wreathes with silk the iron bonds,
279 And hides the ugly rivets with her flowers,
280 Till the degenerate triflers, while they love
281 The glitter of the chains, forget their weight.
282 But more the Men

"But more the Men. "] The Financiers and Fermiers Generaux are here intended. In the present moment of clamour against all those who have spoken or written in favour of the first Revolution of France, the declaimers seem to have forgotten, that under the reign of a mild and easy tempered Monarch, in the most voluptuous Court in the world, the abuses by which men of this description were enriched, had arisen to such height, that their prodigality exhausted the immense resources of France: and, unable to supply the exigencies of Government, the Ministry were compelled to call Le Tiers Etat; a meeting that gave birth to the Revolution, which has since been so ruinously conducted.

, whose ill acquir'd wealth
[Page 27]
283 Was wrung from plunder'd myriads, by the means
284 Too often legaliz'd by power abus'd,
285 Feel all the horrors of the fatal change,
286 When their ephemeral greatness, marr'd at once
287 (As a vain toy that Fortune's childish hand
288 Equally joy'd to fashion or to crush),
289 Leaves them expos'd to universal scorn
290 For having nothing else; not even the claim
291 To honour, which respect for Heroes past
292 Allows to ancient titles; Men, like these,
293 Sink even beneath the level, whence base arts
294 Alone had rais'd them; unlamented sink,
295 And know that they deserve the woes they feel.
296 Poor wand'ring wretches! whosoe'er ye are,
297 That hopeless, houseless, friendless, travel wide
298 O'er these bleak russet downs; where, dimly seen,
[Page 28]
299 The solitary Shepherd shiv'ring tends
300 His dun discolour'd flock (Shepherd, unlike
301 Him, whom in song the Poet's fancy crowns
302 With garlands, and his crook with vi'lets binds);
303 Poor vagrant wretches! outcasts of the world!
304 Whom no abode receives, no parish owns;
305 Roving, like Nature's commoners, the land
306 That boasts such general plenty: if the sight
307 Of wide-extended misery softens yours
308 A while, suspend your murmurs! here behold
309 The strange vicissitudes of fate while thus
310 The exil'd Nobles, from their country driven,
311 Whose richest luxuries were their's, must feel
312 More poignant anguish, than the lowest poor,
313 Who, born to indigence, have learn'd to brave
314 Rigid Adversity's depressing breath!
[Page 29]
315 Ah! rather Fortune's worthless favourites!
316 Who feed on England's vitals Pensioners
317 Of base corruption, who, in quick ascent
318 To opulence unmerited, become
319 Giddy with pride, and as ye rise, forgetting
320 The dust ye lately left, with scorn look down
321 On those beneath ye (tho' your equals once
322 In fortune, and in worth superior still,
323 They view the eminence, on which ye stand,
324 With wonder, not with envy; for they know
325 The means, by which ye reach'd it, have been such
326 As, in all honest eyes, degrade ye far
327 Beneath the poor dependent, whose sad heart
328 Reluctant pleads for what your pride denies);
329 Ye venal, worthless hirelings of a Court!
330 Ye pamper'd Parasites! whom Britons pay
[Page 30]
331 For forging fetters for them; rather here
332 Study a lesson that concerns ye much;
333 And, trembling, learn, that if oppress'd too long,
334 The raging multitude, to madness stung,
335 Will turn on their oppressors; and, no more
336 By sounding titles and parading forms
337 Bound like tame victims, will redress themselves!
338 Then swept away by the resistlefs torrent,
339 Not only all your pomp may disappear,
340 But, in the tempest lost, fair Order sink
341 Her decent head, and lawless Anarchy
342 O'erturn celestial Freedom's radiant throne;
343 As now in Gallia; where Confusion, born
344 Of party rage and selfish love of rule,
345 Sully the noblest cause that ever warm'd
346 The heart of Patriot Virtue

"The breast of Patriot Virtue. "] This sentiment will probably renew against me the indignation of those, who have an interest in asserting that no such virtue any where exists.

There arise
[Page 31]
347 The infernal passions; Vengeance, seeking blood,
348 And Avarice; and Envy's harpy fangs
349 Pollute the immortal shrine of Liberty,
350 Dismay her votaries, and disgrace her name.
351 Respect is due to principle; and they,
352 Who suffer for their conscience, have a claim,
353 Whate'er that principle may be, to praise.
354 These ill-starr'd Exiles then, who, bound by ties,
355 To them the bonds of honour; who resign'd
356 Their country to preserve them, and now seek
357 In England an asylum well deserve
358 To find that (every prejudice forgot,
359 Which pride and ignorance teaches), we for them
360 Feel as our brethren; and that English hearts,
361 Of just compassion ever own the sway,
362 As truly as our element, the deep,
[Page 32]
363 Obeys the mild dominion of the Moon
364 This they have found; and may they find it still!
365 Thus may'st thou, Britain, triumph! May thy foes,
366 By Reason's gen'rous potency subdued,
367 Learn, that the God thou worshippest, delights
368 In acts of pure humanity! May thine
369 Be still such bloodless laurels! nobler far
370 Than those acquir'd at Cressy or Poictiers,
371 Or of more recent growth, those well bestow'd
372 On him who stood on Calpe's blazing height
373 Amid the thunder of a warring world,
374 Illustrious rather from the crowds he sav'd
375 From flood and fire, than from the ranks who fell
376 Beneath his valour! Actions such as these,
377 Like incense rising to the Throne of Heaven,
378 Far better justify the pride, that swells
[Page 33]
379 In British bosoms, than the deafening roar
380 Of Victory from a thousand brazen throats,
381 That tell with what success wide-wasting War
382 Has by our brave Compatriots thinned the world.

[ed.] [Notes have been moved inline.] (AH)




Quippe ubi fas versum atque nefas: tot bella per orbem
Tam multae scelerum facies; non ullus aratro
Dignus honos: squalent abductis arva colonis,
Et curva rigidum falces conflantur in ensem
Hinc movet Euphrates, illinc Germania bellum
Vicinae ruptis inter se legibus urbes
Arma ferunt: saevit toto Mars impius orbe.
GEOR. lib. i.


SCENE, on an Eminence on one of those Downs, which afford to the South a View of the Sea; to the North of the Weald of Sussex.
TIME, an Afternoon in April, 1793.
1 LONG wintry months are past; the Moon that now
2 Lights her pale crescent even at noon, has made
3 Four times her revolution; since with step,
4 Mournful and slow, along the wave-worn cliff,
5 Pensive I took my solitary way,
6 Lost in despondence, while contemplating
7 Not my own wayward destiny alone,
8 (Hard as it is, and difficult to bear!)
9 But in beholding the unhappy lot
[Page 40]
10 Of the lorn Exiles; who, amid the storms
11 Of wild disastrous Anarchy, are thrown,
12 Like shipwreck'd sufferers, on England's coast,
13 To see, perhaps, no more their native land,
14 Where Desolation riots: They, like me,
15 From fairer hopes and happier prospects driven,
16 Shrink from the future, and regret the past.
17 But on this Upland scene, while April comes,
18 With fragrant airs, to fan my throbbing breast,
19 Fain would I snatch an interval from Care,
20 That weighs my wearied spirit down to earth;
21 Courting, once more, the influence of Hope
22 (For "Hope" still waits upon the flowery prime)
23 As here I mark Spring's humid hand unfold
24 The early leaves that fear capricious winds,
25 While, even on shelter'd banks, the timid flowers
[Page 41]
26 Give, half reluctantly, their warmer hues
27 To mingle with the primroses' pale stars.
28 No shade the leafless copses yet afford,
29 Nor hide the mossy labours of the Thrush,
30 That, startled, darts across the narrow path;
31 But quickly re-assur'd, resumes his task,
32 Or adds his louder notes to those that rise
33 From yonder tufted brake; where the white buds
34 Of the first thorn are mingled with the leaves
35 Of that which blossoms on the brow of May.
36 Ah! 'twill not be: So many years have pass'd,
37 Since, on my native hills, I learn'd to gaze
38 On these delightful landscapes; and those years
39 Have taught me so much sorrow, that my soul
40 Feels not the joy reviving Nature brings;
41 But, in dark retrospect, dejected dwells
[Page 42]
42 On human follies, and on human woes.
43 What is the promise of the infant year,
44 The lively verdure, or the bursting blooms,
45 To those, who shrink from horrors such as War
46 Spreads o'er the affrighted world? With swimming eye,
47 Back on the past they throw their mournful looks,
48 And see the Temple, which they fondly hop'd
49 Reason would raise to Liberty, destroy'd
50 By ruffian hands; while, on the ruin'd mass,
51 Flush'd with hot blood, the Fiend of Discord sits
52 In savage triumph; mocking every plea
53 Of policy and justice, as she shews
54 The headless corse of one, whose only crime
55 Was being born a Monarch Mercy turns,
56 From spectacle so dire, her swol'n eyes;
57 And Liberty, with calm, unruffled brow
[Page 43]
58 Magnanimous, as conscious of her strength
59 In Reason's panoply, scorns to distain
60 Her righteous cause with carnage, and resigns
61 To Fraud and Anarchy the infuriate crowd.
62 What is the promise of the infant year
63 To those, who (while the poor but peaceful hind
64 Pens, unmolested, the encreasing flock
65 Of his rich master in this sea-fenc'd isle)
66 Survey, in neighbouring countries, scenes that make
67 The sick heart shudder; and the Man, who thinks,
68 Blush for his species? There the trumpet's voice
69 Drowns the soft warbling of the woodland choir;
70 And violets, lurking in their turfy beds
71 Beneath the flow'ring thorn, are stain'd with blood.
72 There fall, at once, the spoiler and the spoil'd;
73 While War, wide-ravaging, annihilates
[Page 44]
74 The hope of cultivation; gives to Fiends,
75 The meagre, ghastly Fiends of Want and Woe,
76 The blasted land There, taunting in the van
77 Of vengeance-breathing armies, Insult stalks;
78 And, in the ranks, "
"HOPE waits upon the flowery prime .."]
"Famine, and Sword, and Fire, crouch for employment. "]
Famine, and Sword, and Fire,
79 "Crouch for employment. " Lo! the suffering world,
80 Torn by the fearful conflict, shrinks, amaz'd,
81 From Freedom's name, usurp'd and misapplied,
82 And, cow'ring to the purple Tyrant's rod,
83 Deems that the lesser ill Deluded Men!
84 Ere ye prophane her ever-glorious name,
85 Or catalogue the thousands that have bled
86 Resisting her; or those, who greatly died
87 Martyrs to Liberty revert awhile
88 To the black scroll, that tells of regal crimes
89 Committed to destroy her; rather count
[Page 45]
90 The hecatombs of victims, who have fallen
91 Beneath a single despot; or who gave
92 Their wasted lives for some disputed claim
93 Between anointed robbers:

"Monsters both!"] Such was the cause of quarrel between the Houses of York and Lancaster; and of too many others, with which the page of History reproaches the reason of man.

Monsters both!
94 "
"Oh! polish'd perturbation! golden care!"]
Oh! Polish'd perturbation golden care! "
95 So strangely coveted by feeble Man
96 To lift him o'er his fellows; Toy, for which
97 Such showers of blood have drench'd th' affrighted earth
98 Unfortunate his lot, whose luckless head
99 Thy jewel'd circlet, lin'd with thorns, has bound;
100 And who, by custom's laws, obtains from thee
101 Hereditary right to rule, uncheck'd,
102 Submissive myriads: for untemper'd power,
103 Like steel ill form'd, injures the hand
104 It promis'd to protect Unhappy France!
105 If e'er thy lilies, trampled now in dust,
[Page 46]
106 And blood-bespotted, shall again revive
107 In silver splendour, may the wreath be wov'n
108 By voluntary hands; and Freemen, such
109 As England's self might boast, unite to place
110 The guarded diadem on his fair brow,
111 Where Loyalty may join with Liberty
112 To fix it firmly. In the rugged school
113 Of stern Adversity so early train'd,
114 His future life, perchance, may emulate
115 That of the brave Bernois

"The brave Bernois. "] Henry the Fourth of France. It may be said of this monarch, that had all the French sovereigns resembled him, despotism would have lost its horrors; yet he had considerable failings, and his greatest virtues may be chiefly imputed to his education in the School of Adversity.

, so justly call'd
116 The darling of his people; who rever'd
117 The Warrior less, than they ador'd the Man!
118 But ne'er may Party Rage, perverse and blind,
119 And base Venality, prevail to raise
120 To public trust, a wretch, whose private vice
121 Makes even the wildest profligate recoil;
[Page 47]
122 And who, with hireling ruffians leagu'd, has burst
123 The laws of Nature and Humanity!
124 Wading, beneath the Patriot's specious mask,
125 And in Equality's illusive name,
126 To empire thro' a stream of kindred blood
127 Innocent prisoner! most unhappy heir
128 Of fatal greatness, who art suffering now
129 For all the crimes and follies of thy race;
130 Better for thee, if o'er thy baby brow
131 The regal mischief never had been held:
132 Then, in an humble sphere, perhaps content,
133 Thou hadst been free and joyous on the heights
134 Of Pyrennean mountains, shagg'd with woods
135 Of chesnut, pine, and oak: as on these hills
136 Is yonder little thoughtless shepherd lad,
137 Who, on the slope abrupt of downy turf
[Page 48]
138 Reclin'd in playful indolence, sends off
139 The chalky ball, quick bounding far below;
140 While, half forgetful of his simple task,
141 Hardly his length'ning shadow, or the bells'
142 Slow tinkling of his flock, that supping tend
143 To the brown fallows in the vale beneath,
144 Where nightly it is folded, from his sport
145 Recal the happy idler. While I gaze
146 On his gay vacant countenance, my thoughts
147 Compare with his obscure, laborious lot,
148 Thine, most unfortunate, imperial Boy!
149 Who round thy sullen prison daily hear'st
150 The savage howl of Murder, as it seeks
151 Thy unoffending life: while sad within
152 Thy wretched Mother, petrified with grief,
153 Views thee with stony eyes, and cannot weep!
[Page 49]
154 Ah! much I mourn thy sorrows, hapless Queen!
155 And deem thy expiation made to Heaven
156 For every fault, to which Prosperity
157 Betray'd thee, when it plac'd thee on a throne
158 Where boundless power was thine, and thou wert rais'd
159 High (as it seem'd) above the envious reach
160 Of destiny! Whate'er thy errors were,
161 Be they no more remember'd; tho' the rage
162 Of Party swell'd them to such crimes, as bade
163 Compassion stifle every sigh that rose
164 For thy disastrous lot More than enough
165 Thou hast endur'd; and every English heart,
166 Ev'n those, that highest beat in Freedom's cause,
167 Disclaim as base, and of that cause unworthy,
168 The Vengeance, or the Fear, that makes thee still
169 A miserable prisoner! Ah! who knows,
[Page 50]
170 From sad experience, more than I, to feel
171 For thy desponding spirit, as it sinks
172 Beneath procrastinated fears for those
173 More dear to thee than life! But eminence
174 Of misery is thine, as once of joy;
175 And, as we view the strange vicissitude,
176 We ask anew, where happiness is found?
177 Alas! in rural life, where youthful dreams
178 See the Arcadia that Romance describes,
179 Not even Content resides! In yon low hut
180 Of clay and thatch, where rises the grey smoke
181 Of smold'ring turf, cut from the adjoining moor,
182 The labourer, its inhabitant, who toils
183 From the first dawn of twilight, till the Sun
184 Sinks in the rosy waters of the West,
185 Finds that with poverty it cannot dwell;
[Page 51]
186 For bread, and scanty bread, is all he earns
187 For him and for his household Should Disease,
188 Born of chill wintry rains, arrest his arm,
189 Then, thro' his patch'd and straw-stuff'd casement, peeps
190 The squalid figure of extremest Want;
191 And from the Parish the reluctant dole,
192 Dealt by th' unfeeling farmer, hardly saves
193 The ling'ring spark of life from cold extinction:
194 Then the bright Sun of Spring, that smiling bids
195 All other animals rejoice, beholds,
196 Crept from his pallet, the emaciate wretch
197 Attempt, with feeble effort, to resume
198 Some heavy task, above his wasted strength,
199 Turning his wistful looks (how much in vain!)
200 To the deserted mansion, where no more
201 The owner (gone to gayer scenes) resides,
[Page 52]
202 Who made even luxury, Virtue; while he gave
203 The scatter'd crumbs to honest Poverty.
204 But, tho' the landscape be too oft deform'd
205 By figures such as these, yet Peace is here,
206 And o'er our vallies, cloath'd with springing corn,
207 No hostile hoof shall trample, nor fierce flames
208 Wither the wood's young verdure, ere it form
209 Gradual the laughing May's luxuriant shade;
210 For, by the rude sea guarded, we are safe,
211 And feel not evils such as with deep sighs
212 The Emigrants deplore, as they recal
213 The Summer past, when Nature seem'd to lose
214 Her course in wild distemperature, and aid,
215 With seasons all revers'd, destructive War.
216 Shuddering, I view the pictures they have drawn
217 Of desolated countries, where the ground,
[Page 53]
218 Stripp'd of its unripe produce, was thick strewn
219 With various Death the war-horse falling there
220 By famine, and his rider by the sword.
221 The moping clouds sail'd heavy charg'd with rain,
222 And bursting o'er the mountains misty brow,
223 Deluged, as with an inland sea, the vales

"Delug'd, as with an inland sea, the vales. "] From the heavy and incessant rains during the last campaign, the armies were often compelled to march for many miles through marshes overflowed; suffering the extremities of cold and fatigue. The peasants frequently misled them; and, after having passed these inundations at the hazard of their lives, they were sometimes under the necessity of crossing them a second and a third time; their evening quarters after such a day of exertion were often in a wood without shelter; and their repast, instead of bread, unripe corn, without any other preparation than being mashed into a sort of paste.

224 Where, thro' the sullen evening's lurid gloom,
225 Rising, like columns of volcanic fire,
226 The flames of burning villages illum'd
227 The waste of water; and the wind, that howl'd
228 Along its troubled surface, brought the groans
229 Of plunder'd peasants, and the frantic shrieks
230 Of mothers for their children; while the brave,
231 To pity still alive, listen'd aghast
232 To these dire echoes, hopeless to prevent
233 The evils they beheld, or check the rage,
[Page 54]
234 Which ever, as the people of one land
235 Meet in contention, fires the human heart
236 With savage thirst of kindred blood, and makes
237 Man lose his nature; rendering him more fierce
238 Than the gaunt monsters of the howling waste.
239 Oft have I heard the melancholy tale,
240 Which, all their native gaiety forgot,
241 These Exiles tell How Hope impell'd them on,
242 Reckless of tempest, hunger, or the sword,
243 Till order'd to retreat, they knew not why,
244 From all their flattering prospects, they became
245 The prey of dark suspicion and regret
6 [Page 68]

"The prey of dark suspicion and regret. "] It is remarkable, that notwithstanding the excessive hardships to which the army of the Emigrants was exposed, very few in it suffered from disease till they began to retreat; then it was that despondence consigned to the most miserable death many brave men who deserved a better fate; and then despair impelled some to suicide, while others fell by mutual wounds, unable to survive disappointment and humiliation.

246 Then, in despondence, sunk the unnerv'd arm
247 Of gallant Loyalty At every turn
248 Shame and disgrace appear'd, and seem'd to mock
249 Their scatter'd squadrons; which the warlike youth,
[Page 55]
250 Unable to endure
"Right onward. "]
MILTON, Sonnet 22d.
, often implor'd,
251 As the last act of friendship, from the hand
252 Of some brave comrade, to receive the blow
253 That freed the indignant spirit from its pain.
254 To a wild mountain, whose bare summit hides
255 Its broken eminence in clouds; whose steeps
256 Are dark with woods; where the receding rocks
257 Are worn by torrents of dissolving snow,
258 A wretched Woman, pale and breathless, flies!
259 And, gazing round her, listens to the sound
260 Of hostile footsteps No! it dies away:
261 Nor noise remains, but of the cataract,
262 Or surly breeze of night, that mutters low
263 Among the thickets, where she trembling seeks
264 A temporary shelter clasping close
265 To her hard-heaving heart her sleeping child,
[Page 56]
266 All she could rescue of the innocent groupe
267 That yesterday surrounded her Escap'd
268 Almost by miracle! Fear, frantic Fear,
269 Wing'd her weak feet: yet, half repentant now
270 Her headlong haste, she wishes she had staid
271 To die with those affrighted Fancy paints
272 The lawless soldier's victims Hark! again
273 The driving tempest bears the cry of Death,
274 And, with deep sullen thunder, the dread sound
275 Of cannon vibrates on the tremulous earth;
276 While, bursting in the air, the murderous bomb
277 Glares o'er her mansion. Where the splinters fall,
278 Like scatter'd comets, its destructive path
279 Is mark'd by wreaths of flame! Then, overwhelm'd
280 Beneath accumulated horror, sinks
281 The desolate mourner; yet, in Death itself,
[Page 57]
282 True to maternal tenderness, she tries
283 To save the unconscious infant from the storm
284 In which she perishes; and to protect
285 This last dear object of her ruin'd hopes
286 From prowling monsters, that from other hills,
287 More inaccessible, and wilder wastes,
288 Lur'd by the scent of slaughter, follow fierce
289 Contending hosts, and to polluted fields
290 Add dire increase of horrors But alas!
291 The Mother and the Infant perish both!
292 The feudal Chief, whose Gothic battlements
293 Frown on the plain beneath, returning home
294 From distant lands, alone and in disguise,
295 Gains at the fall of night his Castle walls,
296 But, at the vacant gate, no Porter sits
297 To wait his Lord's admittance! In the courts
[Page 58]
298 All is drear silence! Guessing but too well
299 The fatal truth, he shudders as he goes
300 Thro' the mute hall; where, by the blunted light
301 That the dim moon thro' painted casements lends,
302 He sees that devastation has been there:
303 Then, while each hideous image to his mind
304 Rises terrific, o'er a bleeding corse
305 Stumbling he falls; another interrupts
306 His staggering feet all, all who us'd to rush
307 With joy to meet him all his family
308 Lie murder'd in his way! And the day dawns
309 On a wild raving Maniac, whom a fate
310 So sudden and calamitous has robb'd
311 Of reason; and who round his vacant walls
312 Screams unregarded, and reproaches Heaven!
313 Such are thy dreadful trophies, savage War!
[Page 59]
314 And evils such as these, or yet more dire,
315 Which the pain'd mind recoils from, all are thine
316 The purple Pestilence, that to the grave
317 Sends whom the sword has spar'd, is thine; and thine
318 The Widow's anguish and the Orphan's tears!
319 Woes such as these does Man inflict on Man;
320 And by the closet murderers, whom we style
321 Wise Politicians, are the schemes prepar'd,
322 Which, to keep Europe's wavering balance even,
323 Depopulate her kingdoms, and consign
324 To tears and anguish half a bleeding world!
325 Oh! could the time return, when thoughts like these
326 Spoil'd not that gay delight, which vernal Suns,
327 Illuminating hills, and woods, and fields,
328 Gave to my infant spirits Memory come!
329 And from distracting cares, that now deprive
[Page 60]
330 Such scenes of all their beauty, kindly bear
331 My fancy to those hours of simple joy,
332 When, on the banks of Arun, which I see
333 Make its irriguous course thro' yonder meads,
334 I play'd; unconscious then of future ill!
335 There (where, from hollows fring'd with yellow broom,
336 The birch with silver rind, and fairy leaf,
337 Aslant the low stream trembles) I have stood,
338 And meditated how to venture best
339 Into the shallow current, to procure
340 The willow herb of glowing purple spikes,
341 Or flags, whose sword-like leaves conceal'd the tide,
342 Startling the timid reed-bird from her nest,
343 As with aquatic flowers I wove the wreath,
344 Such as, collected by the shepherd girls,
345 Deck in the villages the turfy shrine,
[Page 61]
346 And mark the arrival of propitious May.
347 How little dream'd I then the time would come,
348 When the bright Sun of that delicious month
349 Should, from disturb'd and artificial sleep,
350 Awaken me to never-ending toil,
351 To terror and to tears! Attempting still,
352 With feeble hands and cold desponding heart,
353 To save my children from the o'erwhelming wrongs,
354 That have for ten long years been heap'd on me!
355 The fearful spectres of chicane and fraud
356 Have, Proteus like, still chang'd their hideous forms
357 (As the Law lent its plausible disguise),
358 Pursuing my faint steps; and I have seen
359 Friendship's sweet bonds (which were so early form'd,)
360 And once I fondly thought of amaranth
361 Inwove with silver seven times tried) give way,
[Page 62]
362 And fail; as these green fan-like leaves of fern
363 Will wither at the touch of Autumn's frost.
364 Yet there are those, whose patient pity still
365 Hears my long murmurs; who, unwearied, try
366 With lenient hands to bind up every wound
367 My wearied spirit feels, and bid me go
368 "Right onward" a calm votary of the Nymph,
369 Who, from her adamantine rock, points out
370 To conscious rectitude the rugged path,
371 That leads at length to Peace! Ah! yes, my friends
372 Peace will at last be mine; for in the Grave
373 Is Peace and pass a few short years, perchance
374 A few short months, and all the various pain
375 I now endure shall be forgotten there,
376 And no memorial shall remain of me,
377 Save in your bosoms; while even your regret
[Page 63]
378 Shall lose its poignancy, as ye reflect
379 What complicated woes that grave conceals!
380 But, if the little praise, that may await
381 The Mother's efforts, should provoke the spleen
382 Of Priest or Levite; and they then arraign
383 The dust that cannot hear them; be it yours
384 To vindicate my humble fame; to say,
385 That, not in selfish sufferings absorb'd,
386 "I gave to misery all I had, my tears
"I gave to misery all I had, my tears. "]
. "
387 And if, where regulated sanctity
388 Pours her long orisons to Heaven, my voice
389 Was seldom heard, that yet my prayer was made
390 To him who hears even silence; not in domes
391 Of human architecture, fill'd with crowds,
392 But on these hills, where boundless, yet distinct,
393 Even as a map, beneath are spread the fields
394 His bounty cloaths; divided here by woods,
[Page 64]
395 And there by commons rude, or winding brooks,
396 While I might breathe the air perfum'd with flowers,
397 Or the fresh odours of the mountain turf;
398 And gaze on clouds above me, as they sail'd
399 Majestic: or remark the reddening north,
400 When bickering arrows of electric fire
401 Flash on the evening sky I made my prayer
402 In unison with murmuring waves that now
403 Swell with dark tempests, now are mild and blue,
404 As the bright arch above; for all to me
405 Declare omniscient goodness; nor need I
406 Declamatory essays to incite
407 My wonder or my praise, when every leaf
408 That Spring unfolds, and every simple bud,
409 More forcibly impresses on my heart
410 His power and wisdom Ah! while I adore
411 That goodness, which design'd to all that lives
[Page 65]
412 Some taste of happiness, my soul is pain'd
413 By the variety of woes that Man
414 For Man creates his blessings often turn'd
415 To plagues and curses: Saint-like Piety,
416 Misled by Superstition, has destroy'd
417 More than Ambition; and the sacred flame
418 Of Liberty becomes a raging fire,
419 When Licence and Confusion bid it blaze.
420 From thy high throne, above yon radiant stars,
421 O Power Omnipotent! with mercy view
422 This suffering globe, and cause thy creatures cease,
423 With savage fangs, to tear her bleeding breast:
424 Restrain that rage for power, that bids a Man,
425 Himself a worm, desire unbounded rule
426 O'er beings like himself: Teach the hard hearts
427 Of rulers, that the poorest hind, who dies
428 For their unrighteous quarrels, in thy sight
[Page 66]
429 Is equal to the imperious Lord, that leads
430 His disciplin'd destroyers to the field.
431 May lovely Freedom, in her genuine charms,
432 Aided by stern but equal Justice, drive
433 From the ensanguin'd earth the hell-born fiends
434 Of Pride, Oppression, Avarice, and Revenge,
435 That ruin what thy mercy made so fair!
436 Then shall these ill-starr'd wanderers, whose sad fate
437 These desultory lines lament, regain
438 Their native country; private vengeance then
439 To public virtue yield; and the fierce feuds,
440 That long have torn their desolated land,
441 May (even as storms, that agitate the air,
442 Drive noxious vapours from the blighted earth)
443 Serve, all tremendous as they are, to fix
444 The reign of Reason, Liberty, and Peace!

[ed.] [Notes have been moved inline.] (AH)


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): [THE EMIGRANTS.]
Genres: blank verse

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Source edition

Smith, Charlotte Turner, 1749-1806. The emigrants, a poem, in two books. By Charlotte Smith. London: printed for T. Cadell, 1793. ix,[3],68[i.e. 60]p.; 4⁰. (ESTC T32633; OTA K035639.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, 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.

Secondary literature

  • Bernstein, Stephen. 'Nature seem'd to lose her course': crisis historiography and historiographic crisis in Charlotte Smith's The Emigrants. Felber, Lynette, ed. Clio's daughters: British women writing history, 1790-1899. Newark, NJ: Delaware UP, 2007. 29-42. Print.
  • Garnai, Amy. Politics, exile, and authorship: Charlotte Smith's The Emigrants. Eighteenth-Century Women 3 (2003): 225-245. Print.
  • Labbe, Jacqueline M. The Exiled Self: Images of War in Charlotte Smith's The Emigrants. Shaw, Philip, ed. Romantic Wars: Studies in Culture and Conflict, 1793-1822. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2000. 37-56. Print.
  • Wiley, Michael. The geography of displacement and replacement in Charlotte Smith's The Emigrants. European Romantic Review 17(1) (2006): 55-68. Print.
  • Wolfson, Susan J. Charlotte Smith's Emigrants: Forging Connections at the Borders of a Female Tradition. Huntington Library Quarterly: Studies in English and American History and Literature 63(4) (2000): 509-546. Print.

Other works by Charlotte Smith (née Turner)