« AnteriorContinuar »
What though his name a wider empire found
Than his ambition, though with scarce a bound;
Though first in glory, deepest in reverse,
He tasted empire's blessings and its curse :
Though kings, rejoicing in their late escape
From chains, would gladly be their tyrant's ape;
How must he smile, and turn to yon lone grave !
The proudest sea-mark that o'ertops the wave!
What though his jailer, duteous to the last,
Scarce deemed the coffin's lead could keep him fast,
Refusing one poor line along the lid
To date the birth and death of all it hid,
That name shall hallow the ignoble shore,
A talisman to all save him who bore:
The fleets that sweep before the eastern blast
Shall hear their sea-boys hail it from the mast;
When Victory's Gallic column shall but rise,
Like Pompey's pillar, in a desert's skies,
The rocky isle that holds or held his dust
Shall crown the Atlantic like the hero's bust,
And mighty nature o'er his obsequies
Do more than niggard Envy still denies.
But what are these to him ? Can glory's lust
Touch the freed spirit or the fetter'd dust ?
Small care hath he of what his tomb consists
Nought if he sleeps_nor more if he exists :
Alike the better-seeing shade will smile
On the rude cavern of the rocky isle,
As if his ashes found their latest home
In Rome's pantheon, or Gaul's mimic dome.
He wants not this; but France shall feel the want
Of this last consolation, though so scant;
Her honour, fame, and faith, demands his bones,
To rear above a pyramid of thrones ;
Or carried onward in the battle's van
To form, like Guesclin's * dust, her talisman.
But be it as it is the time
His name shall beat the alarm like Ziska's drum.
Oh heaven! of which he was in power a feature; Oh earth! of which he was a noble creature; Thou isle! to be remembered long and well, That saw'st the unfledged eaglet chip his shell ! Ye Alps, which viewed him in his dawning flights Hover, the victor of a hundred fights ! Thou Rome, who saw'st thy Cæsar's deeds undone! Alas! why past he too the Rubicon, The Rubicon of man's awakened rights, To herd with vulgar kings and parasites ? Egypt! from whose all dateless tombs arose Forgotten Pharaohs from their long repose, And shook within their pyramids to hear A new Cambyses thundering in their ear; While the dark shades of forty ages stood Like startled giants by Nile's famous flood; Or from the pyramid's tall pinnacle Beheld the desert peopled, as from hell, With clashing hosts, who strewed the barren sand To re-manure the uncultivated land ! Spain! which, a moment mindless of the Cid, Beheld his banner flouting thy Madrid ! Austria! which saw thy twice-ta'en capital Twice spared, to be the traitress of his fall !
* Guesclin died during the siege of a city; it surrendered, and the keys were brought and laid upon his bier, so that the place might appear rendered to his ashes.
Ye race of Frederic !-Frederics but in name
And falsehood_heirs to all except his fame;
Who, crushed at Jena, crouched at Berlin, fell
First, and but rose to follow ! Ye who dwell
Where Kosciusko dwelt, remembering yet
The unpaid amount of Catharine's bloody debt!
Poland ! o'er which the avenging angel past,
But left thee, as he found thee, still a waste,
Forgetting all thy still-enduring claim,
Thy lotted people and extinguished name,
Thy sigh for freedom, thy long flowing tear,
That sound that crashes in the tyrant's ear-
Kosciusko! On-on-on-the thirst of war
Gasps for the gore of serfs and of their Czar.
The half barbaric Moscow's minarets
Gleam in the sun, but ’tis a sun that sets !
Moscow, thou limit of a long career,
For which rude Charles had wept his frozen tear
To see in vain he saw thee-how? with spire
And palace fuel to one common fire.
To this the soldier lent his kindling match,
To this the peasant lent his cottage thatch,
To this the merchant flung his hoarded store,
The prince his halland Moscow was no more!
Sublimest of volcanoes ! Etna's flame
Pales before thine, and quenchless Hecla’s tame;
Vesuvius shows his blaze, a usual sight
For gaping tourists, from his hacknied height:
Thou stand'st alone unrivalled, till the fire
To come, in which all empires shall expire.
Thou other element! as strong and stern
To teach a lesson conquerors will not learn,
Whose icy wing flapped o'er the faltering foe,
Till fell a hero with each flake of snow;
How did thy numbing beak and silent fang
Pierce, till hosts perished with a single pang !
In vain shall Seine look up along his banks
For the gay thousands of his dashing ranks ;
In vain shall France recall beneath her vines
Her youth; their blood flows faster than her wines ;
Or stagnant in their human ice remains
In frozen mummies on the Polar plains.
In vain will Italy's broad sun awaken
Her offspring chilled ; its beams are now forsaken.
Of all the trophies gathered from the war,
What shall return ? The conqueror's broken car!
The conqueror's yet unbroken heart! Again
The horn of Roland sounds, and not in vain.
Latzen, where fell the Swede of victory,
Beholds him conquer, but, alas ! not die:
Dresden surveys three despots fly once more
Before their sovereign,-sovereign as before ;
But there exhausted Fortune quits the field,
And Leipsic's treason bids the unvanquished yield;
The Saxon jackall leaves the lion's side
To turn the bear's, and wolf's, and fox's guide ;
And backward to the den of his despair
The forest monarch shrinks, but finds no lair !
Oh, ye! and each and all! Oh, France ! who found
Thy long fair fields plough'd up as hostile ground,
Disputed foot by foot, till treason, still
His only victor, from Montmartre's hill
Looked down o'er trampled Paris ; and thou Isle,
Which see'st Etruria from thy ramparts smile,
Thou momentary shelter of his pride,
Till wooed by danger, his yet-weeping bride :
Oh, France ! retaken by a single march,
Whose path was through one long triumphal arch!
Oh, bloody and most bootless Waterloo !
Which proves how fools may have their fortune too,
Won half by blunder, half by treachery :
Oh, dull Saint Helen! with thy jailer nigh
Hear! hear Prometheus from his rock appeal
To earth, air, ocean, all that felt or feel
His power and glory, all who yet shall hear
A name eternal as the rolling year ;
He teaches them the lesson taught so long,
So oft, so vainly-learn to do no wrong!
A single step into the right had made
This man the Washington of worlds betrayed ;
A single step into the wrong has given
His name a doubt to all the winds of heaven;
The reed of Fortune, and of thrones the rod,
Of Fame the Moloch or the demigod;
His country's Cæsar, Europe's Hannibal,
Without their decent dignity of fall.
Yet Vanity herself had better taught
A surer path even to the fame he sought,
By pointing out on history's fruitless page
Ten thousand conquerors for a single sage.
While Franklin's quiet memory climbs to heaven,
Calming the lightning which he thence had riven,
Or drawing from the no less kindled earth
Freedom and peace to that which boasts his birth ;
While Washington's a watch-word, such as ne'er
Shall sink while there's an echo left to air;
While, even the Spaniard's thirst of gold and war
Forgets Pizarro to shout Bolivar!
Alas ! why must the same Atlantic wave
Which wafted freedom gird a tyrant's grave,
The king of kings, and yet of slaves the slave,
Who bursts the chain of millions to renew