Once more Britannia sheathes her conqu'ring sword,
And Peace returns, by Victory restored;
Peace, that erewhile estranged, 'midst long alarms,
Scarce welcomed home, was ravish'd from our arms;
What time, fierce bounding from his broken chain,
Gaul's banish'd Despot re-aspired to reign;
Whilst at his call, prompt minions of his breath,
Round his dire throne rush'd Havoc, Spoil, and Death;
With wonted pomp his baleful ensign blazed,
And Europe shrunk, and shudder'd as she gazed.
Insulted Liberty her tocsin rung;
Again Britannia to the combat sprung:
Star of the Nations! her auspicious form
Led on their march, and foremost braved the storm.
Pent-in its clouds, ere yet the tempest flash'd,
Ere peal on peal the mingling thunder crash'd;
While Fate hung dubious o'er the marshall'd powers,
What anxious fears, what trembling hopes, were ours!
For never yet from Gallia's confines came
War's fell eruption with so fierce a flame:
She sent a Chief, matur'd in martial strife,
Who fought for fame, for empire, and for life;
Whose Host had sworn, deep-stung with recent shame,
To satiate vengeance, and retrieve their fame!
Each furious impulse, each hot throb, was there,
That spurs Ambition, or inflames Despair.
Then Britain fix'd on her Unconquer'd Son,
Her eye, her hope--immortal WELLINGTON!
He, skill'd to crash, with one collective blow
Sustain'd sedate the fierce assaulting foe.
How stood his squadrons like the steadfast rock,
Frowning on Ocean's ineffectual shock!
Till forward summon'd to the fierce attack,
They give to Gaul his furious onset back;
Swift on its prey each fiery legion springs,
As when Heaven's ire the vollied lightning wings!
Then Gallia's blood in expiation stream'd,
Then trembling Europe saw her fate redeem'd;
And England, radiant in her triumph past,
Beheld them all transcended in the last:
Yes, raptured Britons blest the gale that blew
The tidings home--the tale of Waterloo!
But, oh! while joy tumultuous hail'd the day,
Cold on the plain what gallant victims lay!
Deaf to the triumph of their sacred cause,
Deaf to their country's shout, the world's applause!
Rear high the column, bid the marble breathe,
Pour soft the verse, and twine the laureate wreath;
From year to year let musing Memory shed
Her tenderest tears, to grace the glorious dead.
'Tis ours with grateful ardour to sustain
The wounded veteran on his bed of pain;
To soothe the widow, sunk in anguish deep,
Whose orphan weeps to see its mother weep.
Oh! when, outstretch'd on that triumphant field,
The prostrate Warrior felt his labours seal'd;
Felt, 'midst the shout of Victory pealing round,
Life's eddying stream fast welling from his wound;
Perchance Affection bade her visions rise--
Wife, children, floated o'er his closing eyes:
For them alone he heaved the bitter sigh;
Yet for his country glorying thus to die!
To her bequeath'd them with his parting breath,
And sunk serene in unregretted death.--
To no cold ear was that appeal prefer'd;
With glowing bosom grateful England heard;
With liberal hand she pours the prompt relief,
Soothes the sick head, and wipes the tear of grief.
Our humble efforts consecrate, to-night,
To this great cause, our small but willing mite.
Bright are the wreaths the warrior's urn which grace,
And bless'd the bounty that protects his race!
Thus warm'd, thus waken'd, with congenial fire,
Each hero's son shall emulate his sire;
From age to age prolong the glorious line,
And guard their country with a shield divine!