ODE to a FRIEND wounded in a Duel.
1 HOW long shall tyrant Custom bind
2 In slavish chains the human mind?
3 How long shall false fantastic Honour draw
4 The vengeful sword, with fury fell,
5 And ranc'rous Malice dark as hell,
6 In spight of Reason's rule, and Nature's eldest law?
7 Too many gallant youths have bled;
8 Too much of British blood been shed
9 By Britons' swords, and that foul monster's laws:
10 Youths that might else have nobly dar'd;
11 More glorious wounds and dangers shar'd
12 For Britain's just defence, and virtue's injur'd cause.
13 So when the fierce Cadmean youth
14 Sprung from the dragon's venom'd tooth,
15 Each chief arose in shining armour drest:
16 With rage inspir'd, the furious band
17 Soon found a ready foe at hand,
18 And plung'd the pointed steel each in a brother's breast.
19 Has Britain then no other foes,
20 That thus her sons their lives expose
21 To private war, and feuds, and civil fray?
22 Does Spain insult her flag no more?
23 Does Lewis yet his thoughts give o'er
24 Of universal rule, and arbitrary sway?
25 'Tis Britons' to support the law;
26 'Tis theirs ambitious kings to awe,
27 And equal rights of empire to maintain.
28 For this our fathers, brave and stout,
29 At Agincourt and Cressy fought,
30 And heap'd fam'd Blenheim's field with mountains of the slain.
31 How will the Gallic monarch smile,
32 To see the sons of Albion's isle
33 Their country's blood with ruthless weapons drain!
34 Themselves avenge the glorious day
35 When Marlb'rough swept whole hosts away,
36 And sent the frighted Danube purple to the main!
37 O say, in this inglorious strife
38 Thy arm had robb'd thy friend of life,
39 What pangs, what anguish had thy bosom prov'd?
40 How hadst thou curs'd the cruel deed,
41 That caus'd the gallant youth to bleed,
42 Pierc'd by thy guilty sword, and slain by him he lov'd?
43 How did the fair Maria blame
44 Thy high-bred spirit's eager flame,
45 That courting danger slighted her soft love?
46 Far other wreaths for thee she twin'd;
47 Far other cares for thee design'd;
48 And for the laurel crown, the myrtle chaplet wove.
49 If not for her's, for Britain's sake,
50 Forbear thy precious life to stake;
51 Nor taint thy honour with so foul a deed.
52 One day thy country may require
53 Thy gallant arm and martial fire:
54 Then may'st thou bravely conquer, or as bravely bleed.