"Return!"--no, never, while the withering hand
Of bigot power is on that hapless land;
While, for the faith my fathers held to God,
Even in the fields where free those fathers trod,
I am proscribed, and--like the spot left bare
In Israel's halls, to tell the proud and fair
Amidst their mirth, that Slavery had been there--
On all I love, home, parents, friends, I trace
The mournful mark of bondage and disgrace!
No!--let them stay, who in their country's pangs
See naught but food for factions and harangues;
Who yearly kneel before their masters' doors
And hawk their wrongs, as beggars do their sores:
Still let your . . . .
. . . . .
Still hope and suffer, all who can!--but I,
Who durst not hope, and cannot bear, must fly.
But whither?--every where the scourge pursues--
Turn where he will, the wretched wanderer views,
In the bright, broken hopes of all his race,
Countless reflections of the Oppressor's face.
Every where gallant hearts and spirits true,
Are served up victims to the vile and few;
While England, every where--the general foe
Of Truth and Freedom, wheresoe'er they glow--
Is first, when tyrants strike, to aid the blow.
Oh, England! could such poor revenge atone
For wrongs, that well might claim the deadliest one;
Were it a vengeance, sweet enough to sate
The wretch who flies from thy intolerant hate,
To hear his curses on such barbarous sway
Echoed, where'er he bends his cheerless way;--
Could this content him, every lip he meets
Teems for his vengeance with such poisonous sweets;
Were this his luxury, never is thy name
Pronounced, but he doth banquet on thy shame;
Hears maledictions ring from every side
Upon that grasping power, that selfish pride,
Which vaunts its own and scorns all rights beside;
That low and desperate envy which to blast
A neighbor's blessings risks the few thou hast;--
That monster, Self, too gross to be concealed,
Which ever lurks behind thy proffered shield;--
That faithless craft, which, in thy hour of need,
Can court the slave, can swear he shall be freed,
Yet basely spurns him, when thy point is gained,
Back to his masters, ready gagged and chained!
Worthy associate of that band of Kings,
That royal, ravening flock, whose vampire wings
O'er sleeping Europe treacherously brood,
And fan her into dreams of promist good,
Of hope, of freedom--but to drain her blood!
If thus to hear thee branded be a bliss
That Vengeance loves, there's yet more sweet than this,
That 'twas an Irish head, an Irish heart,
Made thee the fallen and tarnisht thing thou art;
That, as the centaur gave the infected vest
In which he died, to rack his conqueror's breast,
We sent thee CASTLEREAGH:--as heaps of dead
Have slain their slayers by the pest they spread,
So hath our land breathed out, thy fame to dim,
Thy strength to waste and rot thee soul and limb,
Her worst infections all condensed in him!
* * * * *
When will the world shake off such yokes? oh, when
Will that redeeming day shine out on men,
That shall behold them rise, erect and free
As Heaven and Nature meant mankind should be!
When Reason shall no longer blindly bow
To the vile pagod things, that o'er her brow,
Like him of Jaghernaut, drive trampling now;
Nor Conquest dare to desolate God's earth;
Nor drunken Victory, with a NERO'S mirth,
Strike her lewd harp amidst a people's groans;--
But, built on love, the world's exalted thrones
Shall to the virtuous and the wise be given--
Those bright, those sole Legitimates of Heaven!
When will this be?--or, oh! is it, in truth,
But one of those sweet, day-break dreams of youth,
In which the Soul, as round her morning springs,
'Twixt sleep and waking, see such dazzling things!
And must the hope, as vain as it is bright,
Be all resigned?--and are they only right,
Who say this world of thinking souls was made
To be by Kings partitioned, truckt and weighed
In scales that, ever since the world begun,
Have counted millions but as dust to one?
Are they the only wise, who laugh to scorn
The rights, the freedom to which man was born?
Who . . . . .
. . . . .
Who, proud to kiss each separate rod of power,
Bless, while he reigns, the minion of the hour;
Worship each would-be god, that o'er them moves,
And take the thundering of his brass for JOVE'S!
If this be wisdom, then farewell, my books,
Farewell, ye shrines of old, ye classic brooks.
Which fed my soul with currents, pure and fair,
Of living Truth that now must stagnate there!--
Instead of themes that touch the lyre with light,
Instead of Greece and her immortal fight
For Liberty which once awaked my strings,
Welcome the Grand Conspiracy of Kings,
The High Legitimates, the Holy Band,
Who, bolder' even than He of Sparta's land,
Against whole millions, panting to be free,
Would guard the pass of right line tyranny.
Instead of him, the Athenian bard whose blade
Had stood the onset which his pen portrayed,
Welcome . . . .
. . . . .
And, ‘stead of ARISTIDES--woe the day
Such names should mingle!--welcome Castlereagh!
Here break we off, at this unhallowed name.
Like priests of old, when words ill-omened came.
My next shall tell thee, bitterly shall tell.
Thoughts that . . . .
. . . . .
Thoughts that--could patience hold--'twere wiser far
To leave still hid and burning where they are.