To Thomas Hume, Esq., M. D.

A poem by Thomas Moore

FROM THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.


'Tis evening now; beneath the western star
Soft sighs the lover through his sweet cigar,
And fills the ears of some consenting she
With puffs and vows, with smoke and constancy.

The patriot, fresh from Freedom's councils come,
Now pleased retires to lash his slaves at home;
Or woo, perhaps, some black Aspasia's charms,
And dream of freedom in his bondsmaid's arms.

In fancy now, beneath the twilight gloom,
Come, let me lead thee o'er this "second Rome!"[1]
Where tribunes rule, where dusky Davi bow,
And what was Goose-Creek once is Tiber now:[2]--
This embryo capital, where Fancy sees
Squares in morasses, obelisks in trees;
Which second-sighted seers, even now, adorn
With shrines unbuilt and heroes yet unborn,
Though naught but woods[3] and Jefferson they see,
Where streets should run and sages ought to be.

And look, how calmly in yon radiant wave,
The dying sun prepares his golden grave.
Oh mighty river! oh ye banks of shade!
Ye matchless scenes, in nature's morning made,
While still, in all the exuberance of prime,
She poured her wonders, lavishly sublime,
Nor yet had learned to stoop, with humbler care,
From grand to soft, from wonderful to fair;--
Say, were your towering hills, your boundless floods,
Your rich savannas and majestic woods,
Where bards should meditate and heroes rove,
And woman charm, and man deserve her love,--
Oh say, was world so bright, but born to grace
Its own half-organized, half-minded race[4]
Of weak barbarians, swarming o'er its breast,
Like vermin gendered on the lion's crest?
Were none but brutes to call that soil their home,
Where none but demigods should dare to roam?
Or worse, thou wondrous world! oh! doubly worse,
Did heaven design thy lordly land to nurse
The motley dregs of every distant clime,
Each blast of anarchy and taint of crime
Which Europe shakes from her perturbed sphere,
In full malignity to rankle here?

But hold,--observe yon little mount of pines,
Where the breeze murmurs and the firefly shines.
There let thy fancy raise, in bold relief,
The sculptured image of that veteran chief[5]
Who lost the rebel's in the hero's name,
And climb'd o'er prostrate royalty to fame;
Beneath whose sword Columbia's patriot train
Cast off their monarch that their mob might reign.

How shall we rank thee upon glory's page?
Thou more than soldier and just less than sage!
Of peace too fond to act the conqueror's part,
Too long in camps to learn a statesman's art,
Nature designed thee for a hero's mould,
But, ere she cast thee, let the stuff grow cold.

While loftier souls command, nay, make their fate,
Thy fate made thee and forced thee to be great.
Yet Fortune, who so oft, so blindly sheds
Her brightest halo round the weakest heads,
Found thee undazzled, tranquil as before,
Proud to be useful, scorning to be more;
Less moved by glory's than by duty's claim,
Renown the meed, but self-applause the aim;
All that thou wert reflects less fame on thee,
Far less, than all thou didst forbear to be.
Nor yet the patriot of one land alone,--
For, thine's a name all nations claim their own;
And every shore, where breathed the good and brave,
Echoed the plaudits thy own country gave.

Now look, my friend, where faint the moonlight falls
On yonder dome, and, in those princely halls,--
If thou canst hate, as sure that soul must hate,
Which loves the virtuous, and reveres the great,
If thou canst loathe and execrate with me
The poisoning drug of French philosophy,
That nauseous slaver of these frantic times,
With which false liberty dilutes her crimes,
If thou has got, within thy free-born breast,
One pulse that beats more proudly than the rest,
With honest scorn for that inglorious soul,
Which creeps and whines beneath a mob's control,
Which courts the rabble's smile, the rabble's nod,
And makes, like Egypt, every beast its god,
There, in those walls--but, burning tongue forbear!
Rank must be reverenced, even the rank that's there:
So here I pause--and now, dear Hume, we part:
But oft again, in frank exchange of heart,
Thus let us meet, and mingle converse dear
By Thames at home, or by Potowmac here.
O'er lake and marsh, through fevers and through fogs,
'Midst bears and yankees, democrats and frogs,
Thy foot shall follow me, thy heart and eyes
With me shall wonder, and with me despise.
While I, as oft, in fancy's dream shall rove,
With thee conversing, through that land I love,
Where, like the air that fans her fields of green,
Her freedom spreads, unfevered and serene;
And sovereign man can condescend to see
The throne and laws more sovereign still than he.

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