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Title: The Poems of Philip Freneau, Volume II (of III)

Author: Philip Freneau

Editor: Fred Lewis Pattee

Release Date: January 8, 2012 [EBook #38529]

Language: English

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POEMS OF PHILIP FRENEAU

Volume II


THE

POEMS OF PHILIP FRENEAU

POET OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

EDITED FOR
The Princeton Historical Association

BY
FRED LEWIS PATTEE
OF THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE COLLEGE, AUTHOR OF "A HISTORY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE"
"THE FOUNDATIONS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE" ETC.

Volume II

Princeton, N. J.
The University Library
1903


Copyright 1902 by
The Princeton University Library

C. S. Robinson & Co. University Press
Princeton N. J.


[Pg v]

CONTENTS

VOLUME II
PAGE
PART II Continued
The First Poetic Period.       1775-1781
George the Third's Soliloquy3
Sir Harry's Invitation7
Dialogue between his Britannic Majesty and Mr. Fox9
The British Prison Ship18
The Spy39
PART III
Era of the Freeman's Journal.       1781-1790
On the Memorable Victory of Paul Jones75
An Address81
A New-York Tory84
To Lord Cornwallis86
A London Dialogue87
Lord Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton89
The Vanity of Existence91
[Pg vi]On the Fall of General Earl Cornwallis92
To the Memory of the Brave Americans101
Arnold's Departure103
Plato to Theon104
Prologue to a Theatrical Entertainment108
Ruins of a Country Inn110
The Royal Adventurer112
Lord Dunmore's Petition114
Epigram116
A Speech by the King of Britain117
Rivington's Last Will and Testament120
Lines Occasioned by Mr. Rivington's New Titular Types124
Lines on Mr. Rivington's New Engraved King's Arms125
A Prophecy, Written 1782126
The Argonaut or Lost Adventurer128
The Political Balance130
Dialogue at Hyde Park Corner140
On the Late Royal Sloop of War General Monk142
Truth Anticipated143
Barney's Invitation147
Song on Captain Barney's Victory149
On Sir Henry Clinton's Recall153
Sir Guy Carleton's Address156
Scandanavian War Song159
[Pg vii]The Projectors160
On General Robertson's Proclamation162
A Picture of the Times165
Prince William Henry's Soliloquy167
Satan's Remonstrance169
The Refugees' Petition to Sir Guy Carleton172
Sir Guy's Answer173
To a Concealed Royalist174
To the Concealed Royalist, in Answer to a Second Attack177
To the Concealed Royalist on his Farewell179
To the Royalist Unveiled181
To Shylock Ap-Shenkin185
The Prophecy of King Tammany187
Rivington's Reflections190
New Year's Verses, January 1, 1783197
New Year's Verses, January 8, 1783198
Hugh Gaine's Life201
Stanzas Occasioned by the Departure of the British from Charleston, December 14, 1782214
On the British King's Speech217
A New-York Tory's Epistle219
Manhattan City223
Verses Occasioned by General Washington's Arrival in Philadelphia225
[Pg viii]Rivington's Confessions229
A News-Man's Address238
New Year's Verses, January 7, 1784240
The Happy Prospect242
The Dying Indian, Tomo-Chequi243
Lines Intended for Mr. Peale's Exhibition246
The Hurricane250
To the Keeper of the King's Water Works252
Lines Written at Port Royal253
To Sir Toby, a Sugar Planter258
Elegy on Mr. Robert Bell260
On the First American Ship that Explored the Rout to India261
The Newsmonger263
Sketches of American History269
The Progress of Balloons276
On the Emigration to America280
The Seasons Moralized282
On the Death of Colonel Laurens283
On the Vicissitudes of Things284
Pewter-Platter Alley in Philadelphia287
On the Death of General Joseph Reed288
A Renegado Epistle290
The American Siberia293
Epistle to Sylvius295
[Pg ix]The Departure, 1785298
A Newsman's Address301
Literary Importation303
The Englishman's Complaint305
The Wild Honey Suckle306
On a Book Called Unitarian Theology307
To Zoilus309
On the Legislature of Great-Britain Prohibiting the Sale of Dr. Ramsay's History312
The Death Song of a Cherokee Indian313
Stanzas Written at the Foot of Monte Souffriere314
On the Crew of a Certain Vessel317
The Bermuda Islands318
Florio to Amanda319
Philander: or The Emigrant321
The Fair Solitary325
Amanda in a Consumption326
Elegiac Lines328
The Insolvent's Release329
May to April331
To an Author332
To Misfortune335
To Cracovius Putridus336
Slender's Journey338
The Hermit of Saba359
[Pg x]The Indian Burying Ground369
The Indian Student371
The Man of Ninety374
Alcina's Enchanted Island376
Horace, Lib. I. Ode 15377
A Subscription Prayer379
Epistle to the Patriotic Farmer380
Palemon to Lavinia381
A Newsman's Address383
On the Prospect of a Revolution in France385
To a Dog387
To Lydia387
To Cynthia391
Amanda's Complaint392
Hatteras394
St. Catharine's397
To Mr. Churchman398
The Procession to Sylvania399
The Pilgrim's Progress401
Sangrado's Expedition to Sylvania402
The Distrest Theatre404
To Memmius406

[Pg 1]

PART II (Continued)

THE FIRST POETIC PERIOD

1775—1781

[Pg 2]


[Pg 3]

THE

POEMS OF PHILIP FRENEAU


GEORGE THE THIRD'S SOLILOQUY[1]

What mean these dreams, and hideous forms that rise
Night after night, tormenting to my eyes—
No real foes these horrid shapes can be,
But thrice as much they vex and torture me.
How cursed is he—how doubly cursed am I—5
Who lives in pain, and yet who dares not die;
To him no joy this world of Nature brings,
In vain the wild rose blooms, the daisy springs.
Is this a prelude to some new disgrace,
Some baleful omen to my name and race!—10
It may be so—ere mighty Cæsar died
Presaging Nature felt his doom, and sighed;[Pg 4]
A bellowing voice through midnight groves was heard,
And threatening ghosts at dusk of eve appeared—
Ere Brutus fell, to adverse fates a prey,15
His evil genius met him on the way,
And so may mine!—but who would yield so soon
A prize, some luckier hour may make my own?
Shame seize my crown ere such a deed be mine—
No—to the last my squadrons shall combine,20
And slay my foes, while foes remain to slay,
Or heaven shall grant me one successful day.
Is there a robber close in Newgate hemmed,
Is there a cut-throat, fettered and condemned?
Haste, loyal slaves, to George's standard come,25
Attend his lectures when you hear the drum;
Your chains I break—for better days prepare,
Come out, my friends, from prison and from care,
Far to the west I plan your desperate sway,
There 'tis no sin to ravage, burn, and slay,30
There, without fear, your bloody aims pursue,
And shew mankind what English thieves can do.
That day, when first I mounted to the throne,
I swore to let all foreign foes alone.[Pg 5]
Through love of peace to terms did I advance,35
And made, they say, a shameful league with France.[2]
But different scenes rise horrid to my view,
I charged my hosts to plunder and subdue—
At first, indeed, I thought short wars to wage
And sent some jail-birds to be led by Gage,[3]40
For 'twas but right, that those we marked for slaves
Should be reduced by cowards, fools, and knaves;
Awhile directed by his feeble hand,
Whose troops were kicked and pelted through the land,
Or starved in Boston, cursed the unlucky hour45
They left their dungeons for that fatal shore.
France aids them now, a desperate game I play,
And hostile Spain will do the same, they say;
My armies vanquished, and my heroes fled,
My people murmuring, and my commerce dead,50
My shattered navy pelted, bruised, and clubbed,
By Dutchmen bullied, and by Frenchmen drubbed,
My name abhorred, my nation in disgrace,
How should I act in such a mournful case!
My hopes and joys are vanished with my coin,55
My ruined army, and my lost Burgoyne!
What shall I do—confess my labours vain,
Or whet my tusks, and to the charge again![Pg 6]
But where's my force—my choicest troops are fled,
Some thousands crippled, and a myriad dead—60
If I were owned the boldest of mankind,
And hell with all her flames inspired my mind,
Could I at once with Spain and France contend,
And fight the rebels on the world's green end?—
The pangs of parting I can ne'er endure,65
Yet part we must, and part to meet no more!
Oh, blast this Congress, blast each upstart State,
On whose commands ten thousand captains wait;
From various climes that dire Assembly came,
True to their trust, as hostile to my fame,70
'Tis these, ah these, have ruined half my sway,
Disgraced my arms, and led my slaves astray—
Cursed be the day when first I saw the sun,
Cursed be the hour when I these wars begun:
The fiends of darkness then possessed my mind,75
And powers unfriendly to the human kind.
To wasting grief, and sullen rage a prey,
To Scotland's utmost verge I'll take my way,
There with eternal storms due concert keep
And while the billows rage, as fiercely weep—80
Ye highland lads, my rugged fate bemoan,
Assist me with one sympathizing groan,[4]
For late I find the nations are my foes,
I must submit, and that with bloody nose,
Or, like our James, fly basely from the state,85
Or share, what still is worse—old Charles's fate.

[1] From the edition of 1809. The poem was first published in the May number of the United States Magazine, 1779, and much revised and enlarged for the edition of 1786, where it bore the title, "George III. His Soliloquy for 1779." This earliest version, which began with the startling line,

"O Damn this Congress, damn each upstart state,"

was made up as follows, the numbering referring to the above version:

Lines 68-72, 47-64, followed by

"Yet rogues and savage tribes I must employ,
And what I cannot conquer will destroy."

Lines 23-32, followed by

"Ye daring hosts that croud Columbia's shore,
Tremble ye traitors, and exult no more;
Flames I shall hurl with an unceasing hand,
Till fires eternal blaze throughout your land,
And every dome and every town expires,
And traitors perish in the unfeeling fires;
But hold—though this be all my soul's desire,
Will my own towns be proof to rebel fire.
If in revenge my raging foes should come,
And burn my London—it would strike me dumb,
To see my children and my queen in tears,
And these tall piles come tumbling round my ears,
Would to its inmost caverns fright my mind,
And stun ourself, the boldest of mankind."

Lines 73-76, followed by

"My future years I consecrate to woe,
For this great loss my soul in tears shall flow."

Ending with lines 77-82.

[2] Alluding to the peace of 1761 and the forced retirement of Pitt.

[3] "And sent a scoundrel by the name of Gage."—Ed. 1786.

[4]

"O let the earth my rugged fate bemoan,
And give at least one sympathizing groan."
—United States Magazine, 1779.

[Pg 7]

SIR HARRY'S INVITATION[5]

Come, gentlemen Tories, firm, loyal, and true,
Here are axes and shovels, and something to do!
For the sake of our king,
Come, labour and sing;
You left all you had for his honour and glory,
And he will remember the suffering Tory:
We have, it is true,
Some small work to do;
But here's for your pay
Twelve coppers a day,
And never regard what the rebels may say,
But throw off your jerkins and labour away.
To raise up the rampart, and pile up the wall,
To pull down old houses and dig the canal,
To build and destroy—
Be this your employ,
In the day time to work at our fortifications,
And steal in the night from the rebels your rations:
The king wants your aid,
Not empty parade;
Advance to your places
Ye men of long faces,
Nor ponder too much on your former disgraces,
This year, I presume, will quite alter your cases.
[Pg 8]
Attend at the call of the fifer and drummer,
The French and the Rebels are coming next summer,
And forts we must build
Though Tories are kill'd—
Then courage, my jockies, and work for your king,
For if you are taken no doubt you will swing—
If York we can hold
I'll have you enroll'd;
And after you're dead
Your names shall be read
As who for their monarch both labour'd and bled,
And ventur'd their necks for their beef and their bread.
'Tis an honour to serve the bravest of nations,
And be left to be hang'd in their capitulations—
Then scour up your mortars
And stand to your quarters,
'Tis nonsense for Tories in battle to run,
They never need fear sword, halberd, or gun;
Their hearts should not fail 'em,
No balls will assail 'em,
Forget your disgraces
And shorten your faces,
For 'tis true as the gospel, believe it or not,
Who are born to be hang'd, will never be shot.

[5] According to Frank Moore's Songs and Ballads of the Revolution, this poem was first issued as a ballad-sheet in 1779. It was reprinted in the Freeman's Journal, April 17, 1782, and was published in the author's three editions. The text follows the edition of 1795.

Sir Henry Clinton was left in command of New York City, July 5, 1777, when Howe started on his expedition for the capture of Philadelphia. Freneau's poem indicates his treatment of the Tory refugees.


[Pg 9]

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN HIS BRITANNIC
MAJESTY AND MR. FOX[6]

Supposed to have passed about the time of the approach of the combined fleets of France and Spain to the British coasts, August, 1779.

King G.
Good master Fox,[7] your counsel I implore,
Still George the third, but potent George no more.
By North conducted to the brink of fate,
I mourn my folly and my pride too late:
The promises he made, when once we met
In Kew's gay shades,[A] I never shall forget,
That at my feet the western world should fall,
And bow to me the potent lord of all—
Curse on his hopes, his councils and his schemes,
His plans of conquest, and his golden dreams,
[Pg 10]These have allur'd me to the jaws of hell,
By Satan tempted thus Iscariot fell:
Divested of majestic pomp I come,
My royal robes and airs I've left at home,
Speak freely, friend, whate'er you choose to say,
Suppose me equal with yourself to-day:
How shall I shun the mischiefs that impend?
How shall I make Columbia[B] yet my friend?
I dread the power of each revolted State,
The convex East hangs balanc'd with their weight.
How shall I dare the rage of France and Spain,
And lost dominion o'er the waves regain?
Advise me quick, for doubtful while we stand,
Destruction gathers o'er this wretched land:
These hostile squadrons to my ruin led,
These Gallic thunders fill my soul with dread,
If these should conquer—Britain, thou must fall
And bend, a province, to the haughty Gaul:
If this must be—thou earth, expanding wide,
Unlucky George in thy dark entrails hide—
Ye oceans, wrap me in your dark embrace—
Ye mountains, shroud me to your lowest base—
Fall on my head, ye everlasting rocks—
But why so pensive, my good master Fox?[8]

[A] The royal gardens at Kew.—Freneau's note.

[B] America, so called, by poetical liberty, from its discoverer.—Freneau's note.

Fox
While in the arms of power and peace you lay,
Ambition led your restless soul astray.
Possest of lands extending far and wide,
And more than Rome could boast in all her pride,
[Pg 11]Yet, not contented with that mighty store,
Like a true miser, still you sought for more;
And, all in raptures for a tyrant's reign,
You strove your subjects dearest rights to chain:
Those ruffian hosts beyond the ocean sent,
By your commands on blood and murder bent,
With cruel hand the form of man defac'd,
And laid the toils of art and nature waste.
(For crimes like these imperial Britain bends,
For crimes like these her ancient glory ends)
These lands, once truest to your name and race,
Whom the wide ocean's utmost waves embrace,
Your just protection basely you deny'd,
Their towns you plunder'd, and you burnt beside.
Virginia's slaves, without one blush of shame,
Against their lords[9] you arm'd with sword and flame;
At every port your ships of war you laid,
And strove to ruin and distress their trade,
Yet here, ev'n here, your mighty projects fail'd;
For then from creeks their hardy seamen sail'd,
In slender barques they cross'd a stormy main,
And traffick'd for the wealth of France and Spain;
O'er either tropic and the line they pass'd,
And, deeply laden, safe return'd at last:
Nor think they yet had bow'd to Britain's sway,
Though distant nations had not join'd the fray,
Alone they fought your armies and your fleet,
And made your Clintons and your Howes retreat,
And yet while France stood doubting if to join,
Your ships they captur'd, and they took Burgoyne!
How vain is Briton's strength, her armies now
Before Columbia's bolder veterans bow;
[Pg 12]Her gallant veterans all our force despise,
Though late from ruin[C] we beheld them rise;
Before their arms our strongest bulwarks fall,
They storm the rampart and they scale the wall;[D]
With equal dread, on either service sent,
They seize a fortress, or they strike a tent.
But should we bow beneath a foreign yoke,
And potent France atchieve the humbling stroke,
Yet every power, and even ourselves, must say,
"Just is the vengeance of the skies to-day:"
For crimes like ours dire vengeance[10] must atone;
Forbear your fasts, and let the skies[11] alone—
By cruel kings, in fierce Britannia bred,
Such seas of blood have first and last been shed,
That now, distrest for each inhuman deed,
Our turn has come—our turn has come to bleed:
Forbear your groans; for war and death array,
March to the foe, and give the fates their way.
Can you[12] behold, without one hearty groan,
The fleets of France superior to your own?
Can you behold, without one poignant pang,
The foreign conquests of the brave D'Estaing?[E]
North is your friend, and now destruction knocks,
Still take his counsel, and regard not Fox.

[C] The Year 1776.—Freneau's note.

[D] Stoney Point, Powles Hook, &c.—Ib.

[E] Grenada, &c.—Ib.

King G.
Ah! speak not thus—your words will break my heart,
Some softer counsel to my ears impart,
How can I march to meet the insulting foe,
Who never yet to hostile plains did go?
[Pg 13]When was I vers'd in battles or in blood?
When have I fought upon the faithless flood?
Much better could I at my palace door
Recline and hear the distant cannons roar.
Generals and admirals Britain yet can boast,
Some fight on land, and some defend the coast;
The fame of these throughout the globe resounds,
To these I leave the glory and the wounds;
But since this honour for no blood atones,
I must and will be careful of my bones.
What pleasure to your monarch would it be,
If Lords and Commons could at last agree;
Could North with Fox in firm alliance stand,
And Burke with Sandwich shake the social hand,
Then should we bring the rebels to our feet,
And France and Spain ingloriously retreat,
Her ancient glories to this isle return,
And we no more for lost Columbia mourn.
Fox
Alliance!—what![F]—Your Highness must be mad:
Say, what alliance can with these be had?
Can lambs and wolves in social bands ally?
When these prove friendly, then will North and I.
Alliance! no—I curse the horrid thought;
Ally with those their country's ruin sought!
Who to perdition sold their native land,
Leagu'd with the foe, a close connected band—
Ally with these!—I speak it to your face—
Alliance here is ruin and disgrace.
Angels and devils in such bonds unite,
So hell is ally'd to the realms of light—
[Pg 14]Let North or Germaine[13] still my prayers deride,
Let turn-coat Johnston[G] take the courtly side,
Even Pitt, if living, might with these agree;
But no alliance shall they have with me.
But since no shame forbids your tongue to own
A royal coward fills Britannia's throne;
Since our best chiefs must fight your mad campaigns,
And be disgrac'd at last by him who reigns,[H]
No wonder, heaven! such ill success attends!
No wonder North and Mansfield are your friends!
Take my advice, with these to battle go,
These book-learned heroes may confront the foe—
Those first who led us tow'rds the brink of fate,
Should still be foremost when at Pluto's gate;
Let them, grown desperate by our run of woes,
Collect new fury from this host of foes,
And, ally'd with themselves, to ruin steer,
The just conclusion of their mad career.

[F] Alliance!—what, &c. See his speech in the House of Commons, June 22, 1779, in answer to Lord Nugent.—Freneau's note.

[G] Let turn-coat Johnston, &c. The worthy British commissioner, of bribing memory, who, for the sake of a few guineas, belied his own conscience, and sided with the majority.—Freneau's note.

[H] And be disgrac'd at last by him who reigns. As Gage, the Howes, Burgoyne, &c., for not doing impossibilities.—Ib.

King G.
No comfort in these cruel words I find—
Ungrateful words to my tormented mind!
With me alone both France and Spain contend,
And not one nation will be call'd my friend:
Unpitying now the Dutchman sees me fall,
The Russian leaves me to the haughty[14] Gaul,
The German, grown as brutish[15] as the Dane,
Consigns my carcase to the jaws of Spain.
[Pg 15]Where are the hosts they promis'd me of yore,
When rich and great they heard my thunders roar,
While yet confess'd the master of the sea,
The Germans drain'd their wide domain for me,
And aiding Britain with a friendly hand,
Helpt to subdue the rebels and their land?[I]
Ah! rebels, rebels! insolent and mad;
My Scottish rebels were not half so bad,[J]
They soon submitted to superior sway;[K]
But these grow stronger as my hosts decay:
What hosts have perish'd on their hostile shore!
They went for conquest, but return'd no more.
Columbia, thou a friend in better times!
Lost are to me thy pleasurable climes.
You wish me buried in eternal night,
You curse the day when first I saw the light—
Thy[16] commerce vanish'd, hostile nations share,
And thus you leave me[17] naked, poor, and bare;
Despised by those who should my[18] cause defend,
And helpless left without one pitying friend.
These dire afflictions shake my changeful throne,
And turn my brain—a very idiot grown:
Of all the isles, the realms with which I part,
Columbia sits the heaviest at my heart,
She, she provokes the deepest, heaviest sigh,
And makes me doubly wretched ere I die.
Some dreary convent's unfrequented gloom
(Like Charles of Spain)[L] had better be my doom:
[Pg 16]There while in absence from my crown I sigh,
The[19] Prince of Wales these ills may rectify;
A happier fortune may his crown await,
He yet perhaps may save this sinking state.
I'll to my prayers, my bishops and my beads,[M]
And beg God's pardon for my heinous deeds;
Those streams of blood, that, spilt by my command,
Call out for vengeance on this guilty land.

[I] The Hessians, Waldeckers, Anspachers, &c.—Freneau's note.

[J] The Year 1745.—Ib.

[K] Culloden.—Ib.

[L] Like Charles of Spain, &c. Charles V. who, in 1556, resigning the crown to his son Philip II., shut himself up in the monastery of St. Just, in Spain, where he died two years after.—Ib.

[M] I'll to my prayers, my bishops, and my beads. This is not said without foundation, as he established the Roman Catholic religion in Canada, in 1775.—Freneau's note.

Fox
You ask for mercy—can you cry to God,[20]
Who had no mercy on poor parson Dodd?[N]
No inward image of the power divine,
No gentle feelings warm that soul of thine;
Convents you have—no need to look for new,
Your convents are the brothel and the stew.
One horrid act[O] disgrac'd old Jesse's son,
And that one blemish have you hit upon;
You seiz'd an English Quaker's tempting wife,[P]
And push'd him off to lose his sneaking life;
[Pg 17]Even to that coast where freedom sent to quell,
All in their pride the flower of Britain fell.
But ruin'd was your scheme, the plan was vain,
For when were Quakers in a battle slain?
As well might Whales by closing waves expire,
Or Salamanders perish in the fire.
When France and Spain are thund'ring at your doors,
Is this a time for kings to lodge with whores?
In one short sentence take my whole advice,
(It is no time to flatter and be nice)
With all your soul for instant peace contend,
Thus shall you be your country's truest friend—
Peace, heavenly[21] peace, may stay your tottering throne,
But wars and death and blood can profit none.
To Russia[22] send, in humblest guise array'd,
And beg her intercession, not her aid:
Withdraw your armies from th' Americ' shore,
And vex Columbia[23] with your fleets no more;
Vain are their conquests, past experience shews,
For what this hour they gain, the next they lose.
Implore the friendship of these injur'd States;
No longer strive against the stubborn fates.
Since heav'n has doom'd Columbia to be free,
What is her commerce and her wealth to thee?
Since heav'n that land of promise has denied,
Regain by prudence[24] what you lost by pride:
Immediate ruin each delay attends,
Imperial Britain scarce her coast defends;
Hibernia sees the threat'ning foes advance,
And feels an ague at the thoughts of France;
Jamaica mourns her half-protected state,
Barbadoes soon may share Grenada's fate,
And every isle that owns your reign to-day,
May bow to-morrow to great Louis'[25] sway.
Yes—while I speak, your empire, great before,
Contracts its limits, and is great no more.
Unhappy prince! what madness has possest,
What worse than madness seiz'd thy vengeful breast,
When white-rob'd peace before thy portal stood,
To drive her hence, and stain the world with blood?
For this destruction threatens from the skies;
See hostile navies to our ruin rise;
Our fleets inglorious shun the force of Spain,
And France triumphant stems the subject main.

[N] Dr. William Dodd, whose history is well known.—Ib.

[O] In the case of Uriah.—Ib.

[P] "The connection between vice and meanness is a fit object for satire; but when the satire is a fact, it cuts with the irresistible power of a diamond. If a Quaker, in defence of his just rights, his property, and the chastity of his house, takes up a musket, he is expelled the meeting; but the present king of England, who seduced and took into keeping a sister of their society, is reverenced and supported with repeated testimonies, while the friendly noodle from whom she was taken, (and who is now in this city) continues a drudge in the service of his rival, as if proud of being cuckolded by a creature called a king."—American Crisis, No. 3, Printed at Philadelphia, 1777.—Ib.

[6] First published in the United States Magazine, December, 1779. The test follows the edition of 1786.

"Early in June, the French fleet of thirty-one ships of the line, yielding to Spanish importunities, put to sea from Brest; and yet they were obliged to wait off the coast of Spain for the Spaniards. After a loss of two months in the best season of the year, a junction was effected with more than twenty ships of war under the command of ... Count Gaston; and the combined fleet, the largest force that had ever been afloat, sailed for the British Channel.... The united fleet rode unmolested by the British.... On the 16th of August they appeared off Plymouth, but did not attack the town. After two idle days a strong wind drove them to the west; when the gale had abated, the allies rallied, returned up the channel, and the British retreated before them. No harmony existed between the French and Spanish officers. A deadly malady ravaged the French ships and infected the Spanish. The combined fleet never had one chief. The French returned to port and remained there; the Spaniards sailed for Cadiz, execrating their allies."—Bancroft.

[7] "Charly Fox."—Ed. 1795.

[8] Fox's opposition to the American war is too well known to need comment.

[9] "Their cause."—Ed. 1795.

[10] "Sufferings."—Ed. 1809.

[11] "Gods."—Ed. 1795.

[12] "We."—Ib.

[13] "Sackville."—Ed. 1795.

[14] "Thundering."—Ib.

[15] "Careless."—Ib.

[16] "Our."—Ed. 1795.

[17] "Us."—Ib.

[18] "Our."—Ib.

[19] "George."—Ed. 1795.

[20] This and the following seventeen lines omitted from the edition of 1795.

[21] "Instant."—Ed. 1795.

[22] "Catharine."—Ib.

[23] "Her oceans."—Ib.

[24] "Cunning."—Ed. 1809.

[25] "The Frenchman's."—Ed. 1795.


[Pg 18]

THE BRITISH PRISON SHIP[26]

Written 1780

Canto I.—The Capture

Amid these ills no tyrant dared refuse
My right to pen the dictates of the muse,
To paint the terrors of the infernal place,
And fiends from Europe, insolent as base.
Assist me, Clio! while in verse I tell
The dire misfortunes that a ship befell,
Which outward bound, to St. Eustatia's shore,
Death and disaster through the billows bore.
From Philadelphia's crowded port she came;
For there the builder plann'd her lofty frame,[Pg 19]
With wond'rous skill, and excellence of art
He form'd, dispos'd, and order'd every part,
With joy beheld the stately fabric rise
To a stout bulwark of stupendous size,
'Till launch'd at last, capacious of the freight,
He left her to the Pilots, and her fate.
First from her depths the tapering masts ascend,
On whose firm bulk the transverse yards depend,
By shrouds and stays secur'd from side to side
Trees grew on trees, suspended o'er the tide,
Firm to the yards extended, broad and vast
They hung the sails susceptive of the blast,
Far o'er the prow the lengthy bowsprit lay,
Supporting on the extreme the taught Gib-stay,
Twice ten six pounders at their port holes plac'd
And rang'd in rows, stood hostile in the waist:
Thus all prepar'd, impatient for the seas,
She left her station with an adverse breeze,
This her first outset from her native shore,
To seas a stranger, and untry'd before.
From the bright radiance that his glories spread
Ere from the east gay Phœbus lifts his head,
From the sweet morn, a kindred name she won,
Aurora call'd, the offspring of the sun,
Whose form projecting, the broad prow displays,
Far glittering o'er the wave, a mimic blaze.
The gay ship now, in all her pomp and pride,
With sails expanded, flew along the tide;[Pg 20]
'Twas thy deep stream, O Delaware, that bore
This pile intended for a southern shore,
Bound to those isles where endless summer reigns,
Fair fruits, gay blossoms, and enamell'd plains;
Where sloping lawns the roving swain invite,
And the cool morn succeeds the breezy night,
Where each glad day a heaven unclouded brings
And sky-topt mountains teem with golden springs.
From Cape Henlopen, urg'd by favouring gales,
When morn emerg'd, we sea-ward spread our sails,
Then east-south-east explor'd the briny way,
Close to the wind, departing from the bay;
No longer seen the hoarse resounding strand,
With hearts elate we hurried from the land,
Escap'd the dangers of that shelvy ground,
To sailors fatal, and for wrecks renown'd.—
The gale increases as we stem the main,
Now scarce the hills their sky-blue mist retain,
At last they sink beneath the rolling wave
That seems their summits, as they sink, to lave;
Abaft the beam the freshening breezes play,
No mists advancing to deform the day,
No tempests rising o'er the splendid scene,
A sea unruffled, and a heaven serene.
Now Sol's bright lamp, the heav'n born source of light,
Had pass'd the line of his meridian height,
And westward hung—retreating from the view
Shores disappear'd, and every hill withdrew,
When, still suspicious of some neighbouring foe,
Aloft the Master bade a Seaman go,
To mark if, from the mast's aspiring height
Through all the round a vessel came in sight.
Too soon the Seaman's glance, extending wide,
Far distant in the east a ship espy'd,[Pg 21]
Her lofty masts stood bending to the gale,
Close to the wind was brac'd each shivering sail;
Next from the deck we saw the approaching foe,
Her spangled bottom seem'd in flames to glow
When to the winds she bow'd in dreadful haste
And her lee-guns lay delug'd in the waste:
From her top-gallant flow'd an English Jack;
With all her might she strove to gain our track,
Nor strove in vain—with pride and power elate,
Wing'd on by hell, she drove us to our fate;
No stop no stay her bloody crew intends,
(So flies a comet with its host of fiends)
Nor oaths, nor prayers arrest her swift career,
Death in her front, and ruin in her rear.
Struck at the sight, the Master gave command
To change our course, and steer toward the land—
Swift to the task the ready sailors run,
And while the word was utter'd, half was done:
As from the south the fiercer breezes rise
Swift from her foe alarm'd Aurora flies,
With every sail extended to the wind
She fled the unequal foe that chac'd behind;
Along her decks dispos'd in close array
Each at its port, the grim artillery lay,
Soon on the foe with brazen throat to roar;
But, small their size, and narrow was their bore;
Yet faithful they their destin'd station keep
To guard the barque that wafts them o'er the deep,
Who now must bend to steer a homeward course
And trust her swiftness rather than her force,
Unfit to combat with a powerful foe;
Her decks too open, and her waist too low.
While o'er the wave with foaming prow she flies,
Once more emerging, distant landscapes rise;[Pg 22]
High in the air the starry streamer plays,
And every sail its various tribute pays:
To gain the land we bore the weighty blast;
And now the wish'd for cape appear'd at last;
But the vext foe, impatient of delay,
Prepar'd for ruin, press'd upon her prey;
Near, and more near, in aweful grandeur came
The frigate Iris, not unknown to fame;
Iris her name, but Hancock once she bore,
Fram'd and completed on New Albion's shore,
By Manly lost, the swiftest of the train
That fly with wings of canvas o'er the main.
Now, while for combat some with zeal prepare,
Thus to the heavens the Boatswain sent his prayer:
"List, all ye powers that rule the skies and seas!
"Shower down perdition on such thieves as these,
"Fate, strike their hearts with terror and dismay,
"And sprinkle on their powder salt-sea spray!
"May bursting cannon, while his aim he tries,
"Destroy the Gunner, and be-damn his eyes—
"The chief who awes the quarter-deck, may he,
"Tripp'd from his stand, be tumbled in the sea.
"May they who rule the round-top's giddy height
"Be canted headlong to perpetual night;
"May fiends torment them on a leeward coast,
"And help forsake them when they want it most—
"From their wheel'd engines torn be every gun—
"And now, to sum up every curse in one,
"May latent flames, to save us, intervene,
"And hell-ward drive them from their magazine!"—
The Frigate now had every sail unfurl'd,
And rush'd tremendous o'er the wat'ry world;
Thus fierce Pelides, eager to destroy,
Chac'd the proud Trojan to the gates of Troy—
[Pg 23]Swift o'er the waves while hostile they pursue
As swiftly from their fangs Aurora flew,
At length Henlopen's cape we gain'd once more,
And vainly strove to force the ship ashore;
Stern fate forbade the barren shore to gain,
Denial sad, and source of future pain!
For then the inspiring breezes ceas'd to blow,
Lost were they all, and smooth the seas below;
By the broad cape becalm'd, our lifeless sails
No longer swell'd their bosoms to the gales;
The ship, unable to pursue her way,
Tumbling about, at her own guidance lay,
No more the helm its wonted influence lends,
No oars assist us, and no breeze befriends;
Meantime the foe, advancing from the sea,
Rang'd her black cannon, pointed on our lee,
Then up she luff'd, and blaz'd her entrails dire,
Bearing destruction, terror, death and fire.
Vext at our fate, we prim'd a piece, and then
Return'd the shot, to shew them we were men.
Dull night at length her dusky pinions spread,
And every hope to 'scape the foe was fled;
Close to thy cape, Henlopen, though we press'd,
We could not gain thy desert, dreary breast;
Though ruin'd trees beshroud thy barren shore
With mounds of sand half hid, or cover'd o'er,
Though ruffian winds disturb thy summit bare,
Yet every hope and every wish was there;
In vain we sought to reach the joyless strand,
Fate stood between, and barr'd us from the land.
All dead becalm'd, and helpless as we lay,
The ebbing current forc'd us back to sea,
While vengeful Iris, thirsting for our blood,
Flash'd her red lightnings o'er the trembling flood,[Pg 24]
At every flash a storm of ruin came
'Till our shock'd vessel shook through all her frame—
Mad for revenge, our breasts with fury glow
To wreak returns of vengeance on the foe;
Full at his hull our pointed guns we rais'd,
His hull resounded as the cannon blaz'd;
Through his main top-sail one a passage tore,
His sides re-echo'd to the dreadful roar,
Alternate fires dispell'd the shades of night—
But how unequal was this daring fight!
Our stoutest guns threw but a six-pound ball,
Twelve pounders from the foe our sides did maul,
And, while no power to save him intervenes,
A bullet struck our captain of Marines;
Fierce, though he bid defiance to the foe
He felt his death and ruin in the blow,
Headlong he fell, distracted with the wound,
The deck distain'd, and heart blood streaming round.
Another blast, as fatal in its aim,
Wing'd by destruction, through our rigging came,
And, whistling tunes from hell upon its way,
Shrouds, stays, and braces tore at once away,
Sails, blocks, and oars in scatter'd fragments fly—
Their softest language was—submit, or die!
Repeated cries throughout the ship resound;
Now every bullet brought a different wound;
'Twixt wind and water, one assail'd the side,
Through this aperture rush'd the briny tide—
'Twas then the Master trembled for his crew,
And bade thy shores, O Delaware, adieu!—
And must we yield to yon' destructive ball,
And must our colours to these ruffians fall!—
They fall!—his thunders forc'd our pride to bend,
The lofty topsails with their yards descend,[Pg 25]
And the proud foe, such leagues of ocean pass'd,
His wish completed in our woe at last.
Convey'd to York, we found, at length, too late,
That Death was better than the prisoner's fate;
There doom'd to famine, shackles and despair,
Condemn'd to breathe a foul, infected air
In sickly hulks, devoted while we lay,
Successive funerals gloom'd each dismal day—
But what on captives British rage can do,
Another Canto, friend, shall let you know.

Canto II.—The Prison Ship

The various horrors of these hulks to tell,
These Prison Ships where pain and horror dwell,
Where death in tenfold vengeance holds his reign,
And injur'd ghosts, yet unaveng'd, complain;
This be my task—ungenerous Britons, you
Conspire to murder those you can't subdue.—
Weak as I am, I'll try my strength to-day
And my best arrows at these hell-hounds play,
To future years one scene of death prolong,
And hang them up to infamy, in song.
That Britain's rage should dye our plains with gore,
And desolation spread through every shore,
None e'er could doubt, that her ambition knew,
This was to rage and disappointment due;
But that those monsters whom our soil maintain'd,
Who first drew breath in this devoted land,
Like famish'd wolves, should on their country prey,
Assist its foes, and wrest our lives away,
This shocks belief—and bids our soil disown
Such friends, subservient to a bankrupt crown,
By them the widow mourns her partner dead,
Her mangled sons to darksome prisons led,[Pg 26]
By them—and hence my keenest sorrows rise,
My friend, my guardian, my Orestes dies;
Still for that loss must wretched I complain,
And sad Ophelia mourn her favourite swain.
Ah! come the day when from this bloody shore
Fate shall remove them to return no more—
To scorch'd Bahama shall the traitors go
With grief and rage, and unremitting woe,
On burning sands to walk their painful round,
And sigh through all the solitary ground,
Where no gay flower their haggard eyes shall see,
And find no shade but from the cypress tree.
So much we suffer'd from the tribe I hate,
So near they shov'd me to the brink of fate,
When two long months in these dark hulks we lay,[27]
Barr'd down by night, and fainting all the day
In the fierce fervours of the solar beam,
Cool'd by no breeze on Hudson's mountain-stream;
That not unsung these threescore days shall fall
To black oblivion that would cover all!—
No masts or sails these crowded ships adorn,
Dismal to view, neglected and forlorn!
Here, mighty ills oppress the imprison'd throng,
Dull were our slumbers, and our nights too long—
From morn to eve along the decks we lay
Scorch'd into fevers by the solar ray;
No friendly awning cast a welcome shade,
Once was it promis'd, and was never made;
No favours could these sons of death bestow,
'Twas endless cursing, and continual woe:
Immortal hatred doth their breasts engage,
And this lost empire swells their souls with rage.[Pg 27]
Two hulks on Hudson's stormy bosom lie,
Two, farther south, affront the pitying eye—
There, the black Scorpion at her mooring rides,
There, Strombolo swings, yielding to the tides;
Here, bulky Jersey fills a larger space,
And Hunter, to all hospitals disgrace—
Thou, Scorpion, fatal to thy crowded throng,
Dire theme of horror and Plutonian song,
Requir'st my lay—thy sultry decks I know,
And all the torments that exist below!
The briny wave that Hudson's bosom fills
Drain'd through her bottom in a thousand rills,
Rotten and old, replete with sighs and groans,
Scarce on the waters she sustain'd her bones;
Here, doom'd to toil, or founder in the tide,
At the moist pumps incessantly we ply'd,[28]
Here, doom'd to starve, like famish'd dogs we tore
The scant allowance, that our tyrants bore.
Remembrance shudders at this scene of fears—
Still in my view some English brute appears,
Some base-born Hessian slave walks threat'ning by,
Some servile Scot with murder in his eye[Pg 28]
Still haunts my sight, as vainly they bemoan
Rebellions manag'd so unlike their own!
O may I never feel the poignant pain
To live subjected to such fiends again,
Stewards and Mates that hostile Britain bore,
Cut from the gallows on their native shore;[29]
Their ghastly looks and vengeance-beaming eyes
Still to my view in dismal colours rise—
O may I ne'er review these dire abodes,
These piles for slaughter, floating on the floods,—
And you, that o'er the troubled ocean go,
Strike not your standards to this miscreant foe,
Better the greedy wave should swallow all,
Better to meet the death-conducted ball,
Better to sleep on ocean's deepest bed,
At once destroy'd and number'd with the dead,
Than thus to perish in the face of day
Where twice ten thousand deaths one death delay.
When to the ocean dives the western sun,
And the scorch'd Tories fire their evening gun,
"Down, rebels, down!" the angry Scotchmen cry,
"Damn'd dogs, descend, or by our broad swords die!"
Hail, dark abode! what can with thee compare—
Heat, sickness, famine, death, and stagnant air—
Pandora's box, from whence all mischief flew,
Here real found, torments mankind anew!—
Swift from the guarded decks we rush'd along,
And vainly sought repose, so vast our throng:[Pg 29]
Three hundred wretches here, denied all light,
In crowded mansions pass the infernal night,
Some for a bed their tatter'd vestments join,
And some on chests, and some on floors recline;[30]
Shut from the blessings of the evening air,
Pensive we lay with mingled corpses there,
Meagre and wan, and scorch'd with heat below,
We loom'd like ghosts, ere death had made us so—
How could we else, where heat and hunger join'd
Thus to debase the body and the mind,
Where cruel thirst the parching throat invades,
Dries up the man, and fits him for the shades.
No waters laded from the bubbling spring
To these dire ships the British monsters bring—
By planks and ponderous beams completely wall'd
In vain for water, and in vain, I call'd—
No drop was granted to the midnight prayer,
To Dives in these regions of despair!—
The loathsome cask a deadly dose contains,
Its poison circling through the languid veins;
"Here, generous Britain, generous, as you say,
"To my parch'd tongue one cooling drop convey,
"Hell has no mischief like a thirsty throat,
"Nor one tormentor like your David Sproat."[A]
Dull flew the hours, till, from the East display'd,
Sweet morn dispells the horrors of the shade;
On every side dire objects meet the sight,
And pallid forms, and murders of the night,[Pg 30]
The dead were past their pain, the living groan,
Nor dare to hope another morn their own;
But what to them is morn's delightful ray,
Sad and distressful as the close of day,
O'er distant streams appears the dewy green,
And leafy trees on mountain tops are seen,
But they no groves nor grassy mountains tread,
Mark'd for a longer journey to the dead.
Black as the clouds that shade St. Kilda's shore,
Wild as the winds that round her mountains roar,
At every post some surly vagrant stands,
Pick'd from the British or the Irish bands,
Some slave from Hesse, some hangman's son at least
Sold and transported, like his brother beast—
Some miscreant Tory, puff'd with upstart pride,
Led on by hell to take the royal side;
Dispensing death triumphantly they stand,
Their musquets ready to obey command;
Wounds are their sport, as ruin is their aim;
On their dark souls compassion has no claim,
And discord only can their spirits please:
Such were our tyrants here, and such were these.
Ingratitude! no curse like thee is found
Throughout this jarring world's extended round,
Their hearts with malice to our country swell
Because in former days we us'd them well!—
This pierces deep, too deeply wounds the breast;
We help'd them naked, friendless, and distrest,
Receiv'd their vagrants with an open hand,
Bestow'd them buildings, privilege, and land—
Behold the change!—when angry Britain rose,
These thankless tribes became our fiercest foes,
By them devoted, plunder'd, and accurst,
Stung by the serpents whom ourselves had nurs'd.[Pg 31]
But such a train of endless woes abound,
So many mischiefs in these hulks are found,
That on them all a poem to prolong
Would swell too high the horrors of my song—
Hunger and thirst to work our woe combine,
And mouldy bread, and flesh of rotten swine,
The mangled carcase, and the batter'd brain,
The doctor's poison, and the captain's cane,
The soldier's musquet, and the steward's debt,
The evening shackle, and the noon-day threat.
That juice destructive to the pangs of care
Which Rome of old, nor Athens could prepare,
Which gains the day for many a modern chief
When cool reflection yields a faint relief,
That charm, whose virtue warms the world beside,
Was by these tyrants to our use denied,
While yet they deign'd that healthy juice to lade
The putrid water felt its powerful aid;
But when refus'd—to aggravate our pains—
Then fevers rag'd and revel'd through our veins;
Throughout my frame I felt its deadly heat,
I felt my pulse with quicker motions beat:
A pallid hue o'er every face was spread,
Unusual pains attack'd the fainting head,
No physic here, no doctor to assist,
My name was enter'd on the sick man's list;
Twelve wretches more the same dark symptoms took,
And these were enter'd on the doctor's book;
The loathsome Hunter was our destin'd place,
The Hunter, to all hospitals disgrace;
With soldiers sent to guard us on our road,
Joyful we left the Scorpion's dire abode;
Some tears we shed for the remaining crew,
Then curs'd the hulk, and from her sides withdrew.

[A] Commissary of Prisoners at New-York.—Freneau's note.

[Pg 32]

Canto III.—The Hospital Prison Ship

Now tow'rd the Hunter's gloomy sides we came,
A slaughter-house, yet hospital in name;[31]
For none came there (to pass through all degrees)
'Till half consum'd, and dying with disease;—
But when too near with labouring oars we ply'd,
The Mate with curses drove us from the side;
That wretch who, banish'd from the navy crew,
Grown old in blood, did here his trade renew;
His serpent's tongue, when on his charge let loose,
Utter'd reproaches, scandal, and abuse,
Gave all to hell who dar'd his king disown,
And swore mankind were made for George alone:
Ten thousand times, to irritate our woe,
He wish'd us founder'd in the gulph below;
Ten thousand times he brandish'd high his stick,
And swore as often that we were not sick—
And yet so pale!—that we were thought by some
A freight of ghosts from Death's dominions come—
But calm'd at length—for who can always rage,
Or the fierce war of endless passion wage,
He pointed to the stairs that led below
To damps, disease, and varied shapes of woe—
[Pg 33]Down to the gloom I took my pensive way,
Along the decks the dying captives lay;
Some struck with madness, some with scurvy pain'd,
But still of putrid fevers most complain'd!
On the hard floors these wasted objects laid,
There toss'd and tumbled in the dismal shade,
There no soft voice their bitter fate bemoan'd,
And Death strode stately, while the victims groan'd;
Of leaky decks I heard them long complain,
Drown'd as they were in deluges of rain,
Deny'd the comforts of a dying bed,
And not a pillow to support the head—
How could they else but pine, and grieve, and sigh,
Detest a wretched life—and wish to die?
Scarce had I mingled with this dismal band
When a thin spectre seiz'd me by the hand—
"And art thou come, (death heavy on his eyes)
"And art thou come to these abodes," he cries;
"Why didst thou leave the Scorpion's dark retreat,
"And hither haste a surer death to meet?
"Why didst thou leave thy damp infected cell?
"If that was purgatory, this is hell—
"We, too, grown weary of that horrid shade,
"Petitioned early for the doctor's aid;
"His aid denied, more deadly symptoms came,
"Weak, and yet weaker, glow'd the vital flame;
"And when disease had worn us down so low
"That few could tell if we were ghosts or no,
"And all asserted, death would be our fate—
"Then to the doctor we were sent—too late.
"Here wastes away Autolycus the brave,
"Here young Orestes finds a wat'ry grave,
"Here gay Alcander, gay, alas! no more,
"Dies far sequester'd from his native shore;
[Pg 34]"He late, perhaps, too eager for the fray,
"Chac'd the vile Briton o'er the wat'ry way
"'Till fortune jealous, bade her clouds appear,
"Turn'd hostile to his fame, and brought him here.
"Thus do our warriors, thus our heroes fall,
"Imprison'd here, base ruin meets them all,
"Or, sent afar to Britain's barbarous shore,
"There die neglected, and return no more:
"Ah! rest in peace, poor, injur'd, parted shade,
"By cruel hands in death's dark weeds array'd,
"But happier climes, where suns unclouded shine,
"Light undisturb'd, and endless peace are thine."—
From Brookland groves a Hessian doctor came,
Not great his skill, nor greater much his fame;
Fair Science never call'd the wretch her son,
And Art disdain'd the stupid man to own;—
Can you admire that Science was so coy,
Or Art refus'd his genius to employ!—
Do men with brutes an equal dullness share,
Or cuts yon' grovelling mole the midway air?
In polar worlds can Eden's blossoms blow?
Do trees of God in barren desarts grow?
Are loaded vines to Etna's summit known,
Or swells the peach beneath the torrid zone?—
Yet still he doom'd his genius to the rack,
And, as you may suppose, was own'd a quack.
He on his charge the healing work begun
With antimonial mixtures, by the tun,
Ten minutes was the time he deign'd to stay,
The time of grace allotted once a day—
He drencht us well with bitter draughts, 'tis true,
Nostrums from hell, and cortex from Peru—
Some with his pills he sent to Pluto's reign,
And some he blister'd with his flies of Spain;
[Pg 35]His cream of Tartar walk'd its deadly round,
Till the lean patient at the potion frown'd,
And swore that hemlock, death, or what you will,
Were nonsense to the drugs that stuff'd his bill.—
On those refusing he bestow'd a kick,
Or menac'd vengeance with his walking stick;
Here uncontroul'd he exercis'd his trade,
And grew experienced by the deaths he made;
By frequent blows we from his cane endur'd
He kill'd at least as many as he cur'd;
On our lost comrades built his future fame,
And scatter'd fate, where'er his footsteps came.
Some did not seem obedient to his will,
And swore he mingled poison with his pill,
But I acquit him by a fair confession,
He was no Englishman—he was a Hessian,[32]
Although a dunce, he had some sense of sin,
Or else the Lord knows where we now had been;
Perhaps in that far country sent to range
Where never prisoner meets with an exchange—
Then had we all been banish'd out of time
Nor I return'd to plague the world with rhyme.
Fool though he was, yet candour must confess
Not chief Physician was this dog of Hesse—
One master o'er the murdering tribe was plac'd,
By him the rest were honour'd or disgrac'd;—
[Pg 36]Once, and but once, by some strange fortune led
He came to see the dying and the dead—
He came—but anger so deform'd his eye,
And such a faulchion glitter'd on his thigh,
And such a gloom his visage darken'd o'er,
And two such pistols in his hands he bore!
That, by the gods!—with such a load of steel
He came, we thought, to murder, not to heal—
Hell in his heart, and mischief in his head,
He gloom'd destruction, and had smote us dead,
Had he so dar'd—but fate with-held his hand—
He came—blasphem'd—and turn'd again to land.
From this poor vessel, and her sickly crew
An English ruffian all his titles drew,
Captain, esquire, commander, too, in chief,
And hence he gain'd his bread, and hence his beef,
But, sir, you might have search'd creation round
Ere such another miscreant could be found—
Though unprovok'd, an angry face he bore,
We stood astonish'd at the oaths he swore;
He swore, till every prisoner stood aghast,
And thought him Satan in a brimstone blast;
He wish'd us banish'd from the public light,
He wish'd us shrouded in perpetual night!
That were he king, no mercy would he show,
But drive all rebels to the world below;
That if we scoundrels did not scrub the decks
His staff should break our damn'd rebellious necks;
He swore, besides, that if the ship took fire
We too should in the pitchy flame expire;
And meant it so—this tyrant, I engage,
Had lost his breath to gratify his rage.—
If where he walk'd a captive carcase lay,
Still dreadful was the language of the day—
[Pg 37]He call'd us dogs, and would have us'd us so,
But vengeance check'd the meditated blow,
The vengeance from our injur'd nation due
To him, and all the base, unmanly crew.
Such food they sent, to make complete our woes,
It look'd like carrion torn from hungry crows,
Such vermin vile on every joint were seen,
So black, corrupted, mortified, and lean
That once we try'd to move our flinty chief,
And thus address'd him, holding up the beef:
"See, captain, see! what rotten bones we pick,
"What kills the healthy cannot cure the sick:
"Not dogs on such by Christian men are fed,
"And see, good master, see, what lousy bread!"
"Your meat or bread (this man of flint replied)
"Is not my care to manage or provide—
"But this, damn'd rebel dogs, I'd have you know,
"That better than you merit we bestow;
"Out of my sight!"——nor more he deign'd to say,
But whisk'd about, and frowning, strode away.
Each day, at least three carcases we bore,
And scratch'd them graves along the sandy shore;
By feeble hands the shallow graves were made,
No stone memorial o'er the corpses laid;
In barren sands, and far from home, they lie,
No friend to shed a tear, when passing by;
O'er the mean tombs insulting Britons tread,
Spurn at the sand, and curse the rebel dead.
When to your arms these fatal islands fall,
(For first or last they must be conquer'd all)
Americans! to rites sepulchral just,
With gentlest footstep press this kindred dust,
And o'er the tombs, if tombs can then be found,
Place the green turf, and plant the myrtle round.[Pg 38]
Americans! a just resentment shew,
And glut revenge on this detested foe;
While the warm blood exults the glowing vein
Still shall resentment in your bosoms reign,
Can you forget the greedy Briton's ire,
Your fields in ruin, and your domes on fire,
No age, no sex from lust and murder free,
And, black as night, the hell born refugee!
Must York forever your best blood entomb,
And these gorg'd monsters triumph in their doom,
Who leave no art of cruelty untry'd;
Such heavy vengeance, and such hellish pride!
Death has no charms—his realms dejected lie
In the dull climate of a clouded sky;
Death has no charms, except in British eyes,
See, arm'd for death, the infernal miscreants rise;
See how they pant to stain the world with gore,
And millions murder'd, still would murder more;
This selfish race, from all the world disjoin'd,
Perpetual discord spread throughout mankind,
Aim to extend their empire o'er the ball,
Subject, destroy, absorb, and conquer all,
As if the power that form'd us did condemn
All other nations to be slaves to them—
Rouse from your sleep, and crush the thievish band,
Defeat, destroy, and sweep them from the land,
Ally'd like you, what madness to despair,
Attack the ruffians while they linger there;
There Tryon sits, a monster all complete,
See Clinton there with vile Knyphausen meet,
And every wretch whom honour should detest
There finds a home—and Arnold with the rest.
Ah! traitors, lost to every sense of shame,
Unjust supporters of a tyrant's claim;
Foes to the rights of freedom and of men,
Flush'd with the blood of thousands you have slain,
To the just doom the righteous skies decree
We leave you, toiling still in cruelty,
Or on dark plans in future herds to meet,
Plans form'd in hell, and projects half complete:
The years approach that shall to ruin bring
Your lords, your chiefs, your miscreant of a king,
Whose murderous acts shall stamp his name accurs'd,
And his last triumphs more than damn the first.

[26] First published in Philadelphia, by Francis Bailey, in 1781. Freneau wrote the poem during the summer of 1780, immediately after his exchange. The original manuscript is in the possession of Miss Adele M. Sweeney, a great-granddaughter of the poet. The text follows the edition of 1786.

On May 25, 1780, Freneau, in the ship Aurora, started from Philadelphia as a passenger for Santa Cruz. The next day, while off Cape Henlopen, the ship was captured by the British frigate Iris, Capt. Hawkes, and the crew and passengers sent to New York as prisoners. For Freneau's account of his capture and captivity, see Some Account of the Capture of the Ship Aurora, 1899.

[27] Freneau was placed on board the Scorpion, June 1, and was exchanged July 12, 1780.

[28] "The weather was very stormy and the river uncommonly rough. The ship rolled considerably, and the water gushed into some of the lower ports, which made some of the landsmen who slept in the cable tier imagine she was sinking. In a moment the alarm became general. 'The ship is sinking! the ship is sinking!' was echoed fore and aft. I expected every moment to feel myself afloat in the berth where I lay; but at the same time considering it would be a folly to drown between decks when I perhaps might get on shore somehow, I jumped up and hurried toward the main hatchway, where a multitude was endeavouring to get out; the sentries at the same time beating on their heads with their drawn swords and marquets without mercy.... Some lamented that they should never see their wives and children again; others begged by the love of God to be let upon deck and they would bind themselves slaves forever on board a man-of-war, or any other service.... After some trouble we got a light, and examining the pump-well, found the ship dry and tight."—Freneau's Journal.

[29] "One, Gauzoo, was steward of the ship—one of the most brutal of mankind, who abused us continually. It is impossible for words to give his character; it seemed as though he could not give any of us a civil word upon the most indifferent occasion. When he was not cursing us, he kept in his cabin in gloomy reserve, the most vile and detestable of mortals."—Freneau's Journal.

[30] "At sundown we were ordered down between the decks, to the number of nearly three hundred of us. The best lodgings I could procure this night was on a chest, almost suffocated with the heat and stench. I expected to die before morning, but human nature can bear more than one would at first suppose."—Freneau's Journal.

[31] "The Hunter had been very newly put to the use of a hospital-ship. She was miserably dirty and cluttered. Her decks leaked to such a degree that the sick were deluged with every shower of rain. Between decks they lay along struggling in the agonies of death; dying with putrid and bilious fevers; lamenting their hard fate to die at such a fatal distance from their friends; others totally insensible, and yielding their last breath in all the horrors of light-headed frenzy.... Our allowance in the Hunter, to those upon full diet, was one pound of bread and one pound of fresh beef per diem; to those upon half diet, one pound of bread and one-half pound of beef or mutton per diem. Every other day we had a cask of spruce beer sent on board. Our fresh meat was generally heads or shanks, and would just answer to make soup."—Freneau's Journal.

[32] "A German doctor attended every morning at eight o'clock and administered such remedies as were thought proper. Thus things went on, two or three dying every day, who were carried on shore and buried in the bank, till three of our crew, who had got pretty hearty, stole the boat one night and made their escape. This occasioned new trouble. The doctor refused to come on board, and as he rowed past us next morning to see somebody in the Jersey, which lay near us, some of the sick calling to him for blisters, he told them to put tar on their backs, which would serve as well as anything, and so rowed away. However, after two or three days his wrath was appeased, and he deigned to come on board again."—Freneau's Journal.


[Pg 39]

THE SPY[33]

Sir Henry Clinton, Major André, Lucinda, Amelia, Arnold, Gen. Green,
Servants to Arnold, Peasants, Knyphausen, Gen. Robertson.

Scene I.West Point Fort. Jeffery and Pasquin, servants to Arnold, working in a garden.

Pasq. (Throwing down his spade) Faith, Jeffery, I am weary of toiling among these rocks and precipices. I must e'en give o'er. Our master should have fetched his soil along with him to these savage retreats. We may work till we are gray-headed ere we can produce a turnip or a cabbage for him on these barren, unthrifty rocks.

Jeff. Be not discouraged, Pasquin, we shall have better soil to work in ere long.

Pasq. How know you that?[Pg 40]

Jeff. I overheard my master t'other day telling a friend of his, whom, by the by, the people of this country call a Tory, that he had planned matters so that in a little time the war would be over, and then he would purchase one of the most fertile tracts of land in America and entitle it a Manor; that he would settle the same goodly possession with tenants and vassals, and so being master among them, spend the remainder of his days in quiet.

Pasq. I pray for the speedy fulfilling of this design. Our master, I know, is an able general. Why, I suppose he intends to rout the enemy out of New York, retake Charleston, conquer the warships of Britain, kill the king, and so force the English nation to make peace with the Americans.

Jeff. Heaven only knows in what manner he intends to act or what his plan may be, but this I am sure of, he keeps it very secret, and I believe there are not above one or two of his friends that know anything of it.

Pasq. Well, the sooner he gets a new garden for us the better. I have worn out a dozen mattocks and as many spades on these cursed craggy rocks. One's tools to work here should be made of adamant. But, Jeffery, do you not observe how gracious and intimate our master has been for these several months past with some who are called disaffected?

Jeff. I have had it in my mind to make the same observation to you, and do you not perceive that their intimacy daily increases?

Pasq. And then, when our master is at table with some of these chosen favorites, how he sneers and hints ludicrous things against the American officers and army. One would think he heartily despised them, by his behaviour.[Pg 41]

Jeff. And what was it he said of the French the other day? Did he not say they were a perfidious nation of knaves, a herd of needy scoundrels who were endeavoring to conquer this country from the king of Britain, that they might add it to their own dominions and make the people here slaves?

Pasq. And when the general gives a dance or an entertainment or a ball, we see none of the true-heart Americans invited. His guests are a lukewarm, half-disaffected sort of people, who say more than for their own sakes I would choose to mention to everybody.

Jeff. Well, this may all be true, and yet I cannot help thinking our master is a hearty friend to his country. He does these things for a feint, under a mask, as it were, to find out secrets from the enemy. In good faith, I am of opinion he will shortly drive every British soldier off the continent and then become possessed of his Lordship or Manor, or what-so you call it.

Pasq. Amen, I say, and so let us work on in hopes of better times.

Scene II.Scene changes to New York. Sir Henry Clinton and Major André in a private apartment.

Sir Henry.     André, my friend and faithful confidant,
Since Fortune now vouchsafes to smile again,
And stubborn Charlestown bends to Britain's yoke,
What shall we next attempt or next achieve?
I have transmitted home a full account
Of that great capture, that important city
Which long has bid defiance to our arms,
With all particulars and circumstances
Attending on the siege, and in the list
Of British officers with honour mentioned,
You, sir, are not forgot. I must confess,[Pg 42]
By your advice I planned that expedition,
Which now shall set me high in royal favor,
By your unconquered spirit and perseverance,
A mind that laughs at toils and difficulties,
I carried on the siege with fire and vigour
Against a foe with hearts of adamant,
And found them to submit—but princely favor
Is like a fire that only burns as long
As you afford it fuel. Before this conquest
Of Charlestown wears away, and hardly leaves
A faint impression on the royal mind,
Let's hatch some great exploit, some daring action
That strikes into the heart of this rebellion,
That one deed, treading on the heels of t'other,
May make us great indeed.
Maj. André. I have been thinking
Some time, Sir Henry, what we should be doing.
'Tis yet but early in the active season;
The summer scarce has finished her career,
And in this mild, this pleasing temperate climate
Three months as yet are open for campaigns;
But then our worn-out, dying, wounded soldiers
Demand our pity. Those who came from Charlestown
Have brought with them a lingering hectic fever
Which hardly one survives. Our soldiers here
Who do the duty of the garrison,
With constant watching, unremitted labor,
Cannot be spared from hence. Were we sufficient
In horse and foot to combat with the foe,
I forthwith would advise your Excellency
Once more to try the force of Washington,
That so, by killing and by captivating
Him and his troops, we totally might ruin
This only stay, this bulwark of rebellion.[Pg 43]
But since our circumstances don't allow
With open force t' attack the hostile lines,
Let's try the witching power of bribery.
We read the Prince of Macedon declared
That those strong gates his javelins could not pierce
Nor battering ram effect a breach upon,
Were open still to gold. [Pauses
Sir Henry. Speak on, my friend,
For I approve the motion to my soul
If any project likely to succeed,
Or well-planned scheme thou canst impart to me,
Gold shall not be deficient. Millions lie
Appropriated to this very purpose,
And often have I sent to sound some chiefs
Whose qualities and influence are great
In yonder hostile camp, but their stern souls
Are so well armed with more than Spartan virtue
That there corruption seems to have no power,
And all my schemes and plans are come to nothing.
Maj. André. I know a man
Who, wouldst thou think it, by his chieftain trusted,
And even this moment placed in high command,
And honoured to profusion by his country—
The Americans in truth almost adore him—
That I do correspond with daily. O Britain, Britain,
That one descended from thy true-born sons
Should plot against the soil that gave him birth,
And for the value of a little gold
Betray its dearest rights.
But traitors are the growth of every country
And Arnold is our own!
Sir Henry. What say you? Arnold?
Can Arnold then be bought? I greet you now!
Arnold, in chief command at West Point fort?[Pg 44]
Arnold, who galled our sides in Canada?
Arnold, who took and plundered Montreal?
Gold shall not here be scarce if gold can buy him;
Ten thousand sterling pounds are at his service,
And twice ten thousand more if he deliver
This West Point fort with its dependencies
Into the hand of Clinton.
Maj. André.   If we can gain the fort we all things gain,
The country round must at our mercy lie;
Then may our shipping sail to Albany,
Disbark the troops that march for Saratoga,
Who, taking thence the route to Lake Champlain,
May soon reduce the forts, and in a month
Open a new acquaintance with the north,
Communicated free to Canada.—
Another great advantage we shall gain:
By being masters then of Hudson's river,
We shall cut off all intercourse and passage
Between the eastern and the southern states,
Which I conceive will be of consequence
Toward the speedy ending of the war.
Sir Henry.   And so you say that we can buy the fort;
Then happy I—my fame and fortune sure;
This service will be of such eminence
That Britain never can requite Sir Henry.
Maj. André.   I do report that you can buy the fort,
For well I know the man I have to deal with;
For just ten thousand guineas
The troops, the fort, and Arnold are your own.
And to this man, altho' he be a rascal,
You must consider we are obligated.
He quits his friends, his honour, and his country,
The fame of all his great and brilliant actions,[Pg 45]
And the encomiums both of France and Spain,
Perhaps all Europe, Britain not excepted,
Sold for ten thousand guineas and to serve us.
Sir Henry.   And obligated we confess ourselves.
This West Point fort—for this a long campaign
I spent along the shores of Hudson's river,
And failed at last with loss of Stony Point,
The works, the stores, and twice three hundred soldiers,
The prime of all my pack;—yes, powerful gold,
I own thy aid in this extremity.
Tho' Britain be the greatest in the world
In ships and men with genius for the sea,
Yet cannot her stout navy take this fort
By open force with all its weight of cannon.
It stands upon a craggy eminence,
All fenced around with towers and battlements,
The works of mighty nature.
To these subjoined the nicest aids of art—
Glacis and bastions, flanks and counter scarps,
Horn works and moat, half moons and covert way,
Trenches and mines, tenaille and battery,
With guns of every size and every bore,
And such a host of desperadoes there,
Who to the last drop of their blood would hold it,
That none but devils, I presume, can take it.
Beside, in sailing up the Hudson river,
When from this fort you're yet a full mile distant,
You turn a point at whose extremity
So high the mountains swell above the flood
That in a moment all your sails are lifeless;
The southern breezes die that blew with vigor,
And there you lie at mercy of the fort,
Your ships raked fore and aft and ruin around you.
But all these difficulties cease if Arnold[Pg 46]
Betray the place, as you would fain assure me.
Now tell me, friend, the manner, how and when
You did entice this champion from his duty.
Maj. André.   From some connection I have had with him,
I found the leading feature of his soul
Was avarice. He could feign and counterfeit,
Persuade you black was white or white was black,
And swear, as interest prompted, false or true.
This known, I reasoned thus: If his base soul
Can toil and fret and browbeat death itself,
Endure the summer suns and winter snows
In tedious route through hyperborean wilds,
And sordid wealth alone incites him to it,
Why may not British gold have some effect
On such a slavish soul? I wrote him straight
(Your pardon, sir, it was without your leave)
And by a trusty lad I sent the letter,
Sewed in a jacket, to the following import:
That if he would forego his present station,
Betray the fortress and the garrison,
And he himself come over to our interest,
He should be recompensed in such a manner
That he might sit him down at ease in England,
Up to the eyes in wealth and laugh at rebels.
Sir Henry.   And, pray, what answer did he send to this?
Maj. André.   One that almost outdid my expectation.
He wrote me back that if I would adventure
To trust myself within the Americ lines,
He would, by means of secret friends and passports,
Gain me admittance to his residence;
Or meeting close in personal interview
In some lone place hereafter to be fixed on,[Pg 47]
Confer with me upon the fittest means
Of rendering up his charge. He further added
That he was weary of this damned rebellion,
For ten thousand guineas would be yours,
That doing thus he meant his country's good,
And would pursue it to his utmost power.
Sir Henry.   Upon a lucky hour you thought of Arnold.
But, friend, I charge you, if this scheme succeed,
Take not the merit of it to yourself;
But let the world imagine it was Clinton
Who schemed, who plotted, and seduced the villain;
That by this deed more honour I may gain
Than if I had defeated Washington
By dint of blows on yonder Jersey plain.
Your recompense shall not be wanting, André;
My trusty friend, go make haste toward the highlands.
A frigate shall be ready to convey you.
Accept the proffered conference, and bring
Plans of the fort and all its avenues,
The number of the soldiers that defend it,
And whate'er else may be of service to us;
That tho' if by chance his treason be discovered,
And his designments lose their consummation,
We may have somewhat to facilitate—
Some bold attack that may hereafter be
Upon this proud and self-sufficient fortress.
Maj. André.   But, sir, consider. If I undertake
So bold a stroke as this, I risk my life,
Perhaps may meet an ignominious death.
When once I pass the British lines, that instant
Do I become a spy. That character
Ever belongs to common, vulgar men,
To suttlers and to pedlars, desperate wretches,[Pg 48]
The rubbish and the scourings of the world;
Can I descend to so desperate an office?
Sir Henry.   But, then, your country!—
Consider what it is you owe your country.
Distressed she combats with revolted nations,
And can't by force reduce them to subjection;
Assist her while you can, and take my word,
You need not fear an apprehension.
I charge you, be not found within their lines;
Remember still to keep on neutral ground,
Unless a flag of truce be sent from Arnold
That will secure your person and the plot.
But if by chance you should be questioned
By any scouting parties of militia,
A purse of shillings scattered to the wretches
Will soon procure a passage unmolested.
I long to hear the upshot of this meeting,
The Vulture man-of-war is at your service,
And shall to-morrow take you up the river
As far as she with safety may adventure.
Maj. André.   Then for the sake of Britain and of you
Will I to Arnold haste away, Sir Harry.
If things succeed, as I expect they shall,
Within three days will I be back to tell you
The means we fall upon to gain the fort.

Act II.

Scene I.Enter an aide-de-camp from General Washington to Arnold. Scene, West Point Fort. Time, midnight.

Aide D. C.   Sir, I am sent by our renowned general
To let you know that in his best opinion
Five hundred men in reason are too few
To man the works of this important post.[Pg 49]
Three thousand, he informs, are at your service,
Lying at camp, with stores and baggage ready,
Whene'er you send a requisition for them.
Arnold.   Five hundred are too few! Why, sir, what means he?
I do assert, and do insist upon it,
That with the aid of scant two hundred men
I could defend this fort and all its outworks
(Its strength is so prodigious in defence)
Against ten legions of the boldest Britons,
With Clinton at the head to lead them on,
Whether he choose to come by sea or land.
Aide D. C.   Well be it so. I have discharged my duty
In bringing you our noble general's message.
Pray, sir, have you commands to send from hence?
My time to stay is short; I must be going.
Arnold.   Tho' I am steady to my sentiment,
That these five hundred men are full sufficient,
Yet, to comply with the spirit of his meaning,
You may inform the general, two hours' warning
Will bring me in four thousand of militia.
They are as rugged and as hardy fellows,
As bold and desperate in the works of war,
As skilled to hit the mark or push the bagnet,
As any of the choicest continentals.
Pray tell the general this, and I am sure,
I'm satisfied, he'll be of my opinion. [Exit Aide D. C.
Arnold (solus).   This is the time for dark and dangerous action;
This is the time that thieves and murderers choose
To execute their desperate designs.
But art thou, Arnold, less than murderer,
Who thus prepare to stab thy bleeding country?[Pg 50]
And can I then descend to be a traitor!
By honest toils a name have I acquired,
Great and unequalled in the rolls of fame;
And shall that name to infamy be doomed
By one base act that mars and cankers all?
For this have I in winter's joyless reign
Explored the naked wilds of northern clime,
When mid the snows and frosts and chilling winds
Cold earth has been my bed. Ambition, rise
And fire my soul to nobler purposes.
To-morrow Major André comes to meet me,
And I am to consult on ways and means
To give this fort up to my country's foes.
Shall I repent of my unjust proceedings,
Admit this daring Briton to my portal,
And say I did thus to entrap the man
Who is grand vizar to Sir Henry Clinton?
Whose scheming head doth hurt our country more
Than all their host beside?
But that would be ungenerous—more than that,
Ten thousand guineas are the offered price
Of my desertion—more than that, perhaps
I shall henceforward be caressed by kings
And bear a generalship that may reduce
These states revolted back to Britain's sway.
*   *   *   *   *   For now I do imagine
They have no rights, no claims to independence.
Born were we all, subjected to a king,
And that subjection must return again.
The people are not dull republicans,
By nature they incline to monarchy.
How glorious should I be to have a share
In bringing back my country to allegiance.
Can France uphold them in their proud demand,[Pg 51]
That race of puny, base, perfidious dogs?
Sooner shall all the house of Bourbon sink
Their Rochambault, D'Estang and La Fayette,
And Spain confederate cease to be a nation,
And all their allies dwindle into atoms,
Ere Britain will withdraw her righteous claim
Or yield a jot of her dominion here
To any people living. Then, André, come,
The sooner Britain gains this fort the better.

Scene II.—Major André, Lucinda. Parlor.

Maj. André. I cannot leave this city, sweet Lucinda, without imparting to you that I am going a little way toward the American lines, at the request of his Excellency, upon some business of importance. I am come to chat a little with you ere I go. It may be some days before you see me again.

Lucinda. If it be not too great a presumption in me, my dear Major, I would beg to know whether you depart on a peaceable or hostile errand. You must pardon a woman's curiosity. I had a frightful dream about you a few nights ago, which I cannot banish from my mind ever since.

Maj. André. I am happy, madam, in being the subject of your dreams. But dreams are delusions of the mind, mere vagaries and whimsies not to be attended to. You may remember that, prior to our Charlestown expedition, you discouraged me a good deal with a vision you had of a vessel shipwrecked, and myself with the other passengers drowned, and yet little or nothing was intimated thereby. We made our passage safe, conquered the place, and returned with victory and honor.[Pg 52]

Lucinda. True. But your fleet endured a terrible hurricane, in which many perished.

Maj. André. O Lucinda, thou art a dreamer of dreams, thou thinkest, love.

Lucinda. This last was represented to my mind in quite a different manner, in such lively colours that I cannot help thinking some evil is foreboded to you.

Maj. André. Poh! Let's hear the extraordinary dream, then, that we may laugh a little at it.

Lucinda. I imagined myself in a country where the skies were forever cloudy and gloomy, with frequent bursts of thunder and flashes of lightning. Among many other objects, all of which seemed disconsolate and melancholy, I saw you endeavouring to reach the summit of a sharp, craggy precipice. You leaped with surprising agility over dark gulfs and apertures therein, which no other man would have thought of passing. The spectators admired your activity and daring spirit. The continual obstacles in your way seemed nothing to you, and at length you bid fair to gain the summit, when, catching hold of a shrub, which was but slightly rooted in one of the crevices of the rock, it instantly gave way, and you tumbled to the bottom, dashed to pieces on the pointed crags and torn in a shocking manner. I shrieked out and waked.

Maj. André. Your dream was frightful indeed; but still it was nothing but a dream. Why, I have imagined before now in my sleep that I have tumbled down ten thousand fathoms in a perpendicular line; but all this was owing to mere mechanical causes, the motion of the animal spirits or the veins being rather too replete with blood.

Lucinda. Well, be it so. I hope my dream may be the forerunner of no mischief. But are you going[Pg 53] out on a fighting expedition, sir, if I may be so bold to ask the question?

Maj. André. My dearest love, I will conceal nothing from you. I know you are the girl of a thousand for keeping a secret. It must not take air. I have corrupted General Arnold. He is to sell West Point fort to me, and this evening I am to set out and consult with him upon the fittest means to blind the eyes of the Samson and deliver up the place to Sir Henry without danger of failure.

Lucinda. But could not some person be deputized for this purpose whose life is not of such value to Britain as yours? You are a proud soul to Sir Henry Clinton. He enterprises nothing without first having your advice and direction. If you should be intercepted in your way by the Americans, would it not endanger your life, my dear André, to be found without some mission or any plausible excuse for being within an enemy's lines?

Maj. André. You are too timorous, Lucinda. I shall go and come by water in an armed ship. I may perhaps just venture on shore in a ——[34] of time, but shall take care not to expose myself to any danger. I well know how far to venture, but if the worst come to the worst, I can tell them I have deserted from the British. Then I shall be caressed among them till such times as I can find an opportunity to escape and join my countrymen.

Lucinda. You venture all this, you say, at the request of Sir Henry?

Maj. André. Yes; but chiefly to serve my country. Had I a thousand lives, I would lay them all down for Britain and my king. But I must go. You deject my[Pg 54] spirits, my girl. A woman is destructive to the spirit of enterprise in a man. Poh! I am growing melancholy too. You must cheer my drooping soul, Lucinda. I heard you humming a little song the other day. Do let's have it. I think it begins thus: "My native shades delight no more."

Lucinda. Although I am in no humour for music, you shall hear it, my love. I suppose it was made by some British officer on his setting out for America, who was as great an idolater to his king and country as most English gentlemen.

[Sings

My native shades delight no more,[35]
I haste to meet the ocean's roar,
I seek a wild inclement shore
Beyond the Atlantic main:
'Tis virtue calls!—I must away!—
Nor care nor pleasure tempts my stay,
Nor all that love himself can say,
A moment shall detain.
[Pg 55]
To meet those hosts who dare disown
Allegiance to Britannia's throne,
I draw the sword that pities none,
I draw their rebel blood;
Amazement shall their troops confound,
When hackt and prostrate on the ground;
My blade shall drink from every wound
A life-restoring flood!
The swarthy Indian, yet unbroke,
Shall bind his neck to Britain's yoke,
Or flee from her avenging stroke
To deserts all unknown;
The southern isles shall own her sway,
Peru and Mexico obey,
And those who yet to Satan pray
Beyond the southern zone.
For George the Third I dare to fall,
Since he to me is all in all;
May he subdue this earthly ball
And nations tribute bring.
Yon western states shall wear his chain,
Where traitors now with tyrants reign,
And subject shall be all the main
To George, our potent king.
When honour calls to guard his throne,
My life I dare not call my own;
My life I yield without a groan
For him whom I adore.
In lasting glory shall he reign,
'Tis he shall conquer France and Spain,
Tho' I perhaps may ne'er again
Behold my native shore.
[Pg 56]

Maj. André. You sing charmingly, Lucinda. The poor fellow's resolution pleases me. He engages to give his life, if necessary, for his king and country, and yet perhaps he feels the ingratitude of both every hour in the day. It must, however, be so. Nature has formed us with a principle of love to our native land. What say you, Lucinda?

Lucinda. It may be so, sir; and yet that love need not carry us to such an idolatrous extravagance as is manifested in the little stanzas I had the pleasure of singing to you.

Maj. André. Indeed you are in the right, but we are slaves to custom.

Lucinda. I have sung to please you, my love; now, if you have leisure, I would beg your attention a moment to a little ditty that pleases myself.

Maj. André. Most gladly, my angel; I can prolong half an hour yet in your agreeable company.

[Looking at his watch

Lucinda sings[36]

You chide me and tell me I must not complain
To part a few days from my favourite swain.
He is gone to the battle and leaves me to mourn,
And say what you please, he will never return.
When he left me he kissed me, and said, my sweet dear,
In less than a month I again will be here;
With anguish and sorrow my bosom did burn,
And I wept, being sure he would never return.
I said, my dear creature, I beg you would stay,
But he with his soldiers went strutting away.
[Pg 57]Then why should I longer my sorrows adjourn,
For I know in my heart he will never return.
Whenever there's danger he loves to be there,
He fights like a hero when others despair.
In this expedition he goes to his urn;
You call me a fool if he ever return.

Maj. André. The application of this I must take to myself, I suppose. Fie upon you, lady; you need to divert me with merry jokes and a strain of wit peculiar to yourself. You now are pensive, demure, and melancholy. You make me so, too.

Lucinda. Yonder comes Sir Henry. I suppose he has some private business with you. I must retire.

[Exit Lucinda. Enter Sir Henry and others

Maj. André. How do your Excellencies? Will you please to sit?

Sir Henry.   Till you return from this important errand
I am a slave to impatience, Major André.
I beg you would this night equip with speed,
And on an eagle's wings to Arnold haste.
The frigate lies at single anchor ready,
And winds propitious to our purpose blow.
But hark ye, friend, and tell the general then
That if he can by any means at all,
On any artful, plausible pretence,
So manage matters and with such address
As to entice the great Americ chief,
At that same hour the fort is yielded to us,
There to be present on some feigned business,
That so we may be master of his person,
Tell him if he does this his pay is double.
Besides ten thousand guineas we have promised,[Pg 58]
Ten thousand more with gratitude I'll pay,
And think him cheaply bought. He is the soul,
The great upholder of this long contention.
I dread his prudence and his courage more
Than all the armies that the Congress raise,
Than all the troops or all the ships of France.
Maj. André.   Well thought! I shall obey your Excellency.
It is a bold and dangerous undertaking,
'Tis hazardous, but not impossible.
To win on this great chief—'tis a bright thought.
He'll think himself as safe at West Point Fort
As in the bosom of his spacious camp,
And therefore will not hesitate to come
Only attended by a score of guards.
The same attempt may seize the fort and him.
Sir Henry.   And be precise to fix the time, when we
Must take possession of the citadel.
Against the hour that I expect you back
Five thousand troops shall be embarked and ready
To execute whatever plan you fix on.

[Exit Sir Henry. Reënter Lucinda with a handkerchief to her eyes

Maj. André. The time is come that is appointed for my departure. It is impossible that even beauty or wit or tears can now withhold me from my purpose. I have promised his Excellency and now to hesitate would prove me to be a coward, one altogether unworthy to be trusted with any business that requires wit and dexterity.

Lucinda. Your resolution is fixed, and I do not desire you to fall from it; only if heaven should so order that any fatal accident befall you, remember the unfortunate Lucinda. She sends her good wishes along[Pg 59] with you, and prays for all imaginable prosperity on every undertaking in which Major André bears a part.

Maj. André. My thanks to you, my dearest. If a heart so good as thine petition heaven for my safety, I have nothing to fear. Thy prayers are my guardian angels, and will protect me in every danger. My honour calls me and I must go. Give me a parting kiss, my dear. Adieu, adieu.

[He leaves her

Now native courage warm my wavering breast,
And fires of resolution blaze within me,
For I must on a dangerous errand go,
With secret cunning to deceive the foe,
Whose active souls in dire connections meet,
Where one false step my ruin makes complete.
Ye guardian powers that still protect the brave,
Some pity on distressed Britain have.
By me she seeks some portion to regain
Of her lost empire, tried so oft in vain.
But dreadful scenes before my eyes appear,
And dangers thicken as they draw more near.
But soft—no dangers can my heart appal,
I have a soul that can despise them all.
More than an equal chance for life I see,
But life and death must be the same to me. [Exit

Act III.

Scene I.Robinson's house. A stormy night. Arnold. Pasquin.

Arnold. How looks the weather?

Pasquin. Stormy, sir; very stormy; it blows terrifically and there is heavy rain.

Arnold. Pasquin!

Pasquin. Sir.[Pg 60]

Arnold. Tell the sentries upon duty to-night that I expect a gentleman of my acquaintance here about ten o'clock. When he comes to the outer gate, bid one of them conduct him to my apartment.

Pasquin. Your honour shall be obeyed.

[Exit

Arnold (solus).   Peace to this gloomy grove that sees me acting
What open daylight would disdain to own.
Ye wood, be witness of my dark designs,
And shade me o'er, ye lofty eminences;
Tremendous gloom, encompass me around
In clouds that wing from Greenland's foggy caves,
Plutonian darkness on your pinions bring,
Conceal my base intent from human view,
And be the daylight still a stranger to it.
Storm on, ye wind, the tempest that ye make
In the broad regions of the troubled ether
Is quiet to the tumult of my soul!
Departing honour,—take thy last adieu,
'Tis this night's deed that stamps me for a villain.
Who comes there?

[Enter Pasquin

Pasquin. Sir, there is a traveller just alighted at Sergeant Jones's quarters, who desires to know whether he can have a little private conference with you, and asked me whether you were alone or no.

Arnold. A traveller? How is he dressed?

Pasquin. He has on a plain suit of blue clothes, a cocked beaver hat and draw boots. He rides a common bay horse, and by his general appearance one would suppose him to be a commissary, or perhaps a quarter-master.

Arnold. How came you to know all these particulars; the night being so dark and stormy?

Pasquin. I had a glimpse of him by means of a[Pg 61] lanthorn we carried out when he got off his horse. Over all, I forgot to mention, he had a fear-naught riding coat.

Arnold. A plain blue suit, you say?

Pasquin. Yes.

Arnold. And draw boots?

Pasquin. Yes.

Arnold. And wore he sword?

Pasquin. No; he had no sword, that I saw.

Arnold. And what aspect is he? Is he a well-looking man?

Pasquin. As handsome a man, please your honour, as ever the sun shone upon. It did me good to look upon him.

Arnold (aside). This must be him. [To Pasquin] Bid the sergeant show him the way to me immediately, and put up his horse in my own stable. He is from Philadelphia, a friend and relative of mine.

[Exit Pasquin

Arnold (solus). This is Major André, indeed. We have agreed in our correspondence that he shall pass here under the name of Captain Ashton, to prevent suspicion.

[Sergeant introduces Major André

Arnold. Captain Ashton, my friend, how are you? Please to draw near the fire and sit. How do our friends at Philadelphia? [Exit sergeant] The booby is now gone, and we may talk freely without suspicion.

Maj. André. I am happy at length to see General Arnold, with whom I have corresponded so long at a distance. I hope, my dear general, you are ready to perform your promise.

Arnold. Undoubtedly the fort shall be yours within three days, upon the conditions I mentioned to you in[Pg 62] my last letter. I hope you have apprised Sir Henry of them.

Maj. André. Yes, sir. He is satisfied, and thinks your demand really moderate; but now let us to the point. We must fall upon some plan by which we must act without much danger of miscarriage. Would it not be best that our troops should seem to take the fort by surprise, and thus prevent the world from having any suspicion of treachery in the case?

Arnold. I have had the same thought, my dear sir. Besides, if we can make this pass, I shall become a prisoner of war to you in appearance, be exchanged after a little time, and so be in a capacity to serve you again; or, pretending the fort not tenable, I may make my escape during your attack, and all this without any suspicion on the part of the Americans.

Maj. André. God grant your scheme may be successful.

Arnold. Now hear what I have to propose further. When you are embarked with your army, suppose one or two thousand men or more sail up the river as far as you safely can, short of the fort, and endeavour to make the country believe you are on a plundering expedition. I shall have companies out who will give me notice of all your movements. Then land your men, march up to the fort, demand a surrender, which I will absolutely refuse. Upon which hang out your bloody flag and fire against the walls point blank, without mercy. In that part of the fortress where I shall be, you will see a small white flag flying. Do not fire to that quarter. The garrison shall discharge the artillery three times over your heads, after which I will surrender and open the gates to you. Then, by not putting one of the garrison to death, which would be your right, you[Pg 63] having stormed it, you will have an excellent opportunity of giving the world a new instance of British humanity. Then you may pour your troops into the fort, take possession of it, and hoist the British flag. The prisoners may immediately be sent to the shipping and ordered to New York before the Continental forces will have a chance of hindering the embarkation. What say you?

Maj. André. Excellently well imagined. I hope it may succeed. The money shall be paid you on your arrival at York; but there is another service Sir Henry would fain hope you could indulge him in, and your reward shall be double.

Arnold. What may it be?

Maj. André. He is eager to be possessed of your Commander-in-Chief. Could you contrive no way to get him into our hands? He is the soul of this obstinate rebellion. Were he a prisoner to us, America would soon be ours again.

Arnold (pausing). Why, true, it would greatly facilitate the recovery of the colonies. Let me see. I will endeavour to prevail upon him to spend a day or two at Robinson's home. Nay, I am sure he will be here next Monday, and the garrison. There are a number of disaffected people not far from hence, whom I can engage to secure his person and convey him on board the Vulture ship of war.

Maj. André. If we become by your means possessed of these two jewels, General Washington and this important fort, we shall never think the obligation sufficiently acknowledged. You will become the greatest man in the world. Britain will adore you. She will kiss the very ground you tread upon, besides lavishing wealth upon you by millions.[Pg 64]

Arnold. She is heartily welcome to such poor services as I can render her. What I do is from principle, from the consciousness of a rectitude of heart and love to my country.

Maj. André. Sir, you were born to be a great man. Now, if you will be pleased to deliver me the plan of the fort, signals of recognizance and other papers of consequence in this affair, I will be going. I do not think myself safe till such times as I get within the British lines again.

Arnold. The danger is trifling. With a passport from me, you may go anywhere in these colonies.

Maj. André. Sir, I thank you. It may be of service indeed.

Arnold. I will write it immediately. There, sir; and here is the packet. I will not detain you, because I know the business requires dispatch. You will, however, sup with me, and take a glass of wine before you go.

Maj. André. I shall hardly have time; however, I will wait half an hour.

Arnold. Walk with me into this other apartment; we soldiers do not stand upon ceremony. But how do you carry these papers so as to conceal them in case you meet with any over-curious persons?

Maj. André. I have an expedient. I can carry them in the foot of my boot. Do you see how snug they lie?

[Putting them on

Arnold. Aye, faith, that was well thought of; but do not put the passport in your boot.

Maj. André. No, no. That goes into my pocket.

[Pg 65]

Scene II.An ancient stone building in the Dutch taste. Three officers, Vincent, Ambrose, Asmith. Vincent and Asmith entering.

Am.   Well are we met in these sequestered wilds;
Whence come ye, brothers, at so late an hour?
Vin.   From scouring all the country up and down,
To seize, if fortune please, illicit traders,
Who are so bold and unscrupulous grown
That oft in open day, as well as night,
They bear large cargoes of provision down
To yonder ships that still infest our river.
How I detest these underhanded scoundrels,
Who, hungry as the grave for British gold,
Feed the vile foe that lurks within our harbours.
Am.   Gods! Can they be so base,—but there are they
Who sell their country for a mess of pottage,—
A servile, scheming race whose god is gain,
Who for a little gold would stab their fathers
And plunder life from her who gave them life.
These are not true Americans. They are
A spurious race—scum, dregs, and bastards all.
They are not true Americans, I say.
As.   They cannot be, they help toward our ruin.
But, gentlemen, I'll tell you what I think;
We have so many lurking foes within,
And such a potent enemy without,
That I almost despair, I must confess,
That ever we shall rend these thirteen States
From persevering Britain, and compel
Acknowledgment of independence here.
Vin.   Say not so.
The rights of humanity, 'tis these we fight for,[Pg 66]
And not to carry ruin round the globe.
Appearances are so much in our favour
That he who doubts that this event shall be,
Must be as blind as he whose useless orbs
Have never drank the radiated light.
Nay, he who doubts of this, who dares to doubt
(If nature be not ——[37] to miracles
And devils rule with delegated sway)
Deserves not nor is worthy to enjoy
The paradise we look for.
Amb. Be it so.
But let us leave the great event to fate,
Who soon or late will bring to light its purpose;
Our duty to our country must be done,
And in so doing we its freedom hasten.
But, friends, why stay we here? By yonder stars
That still revolving point toward the pole,
I find it must be midnight.
Vin.   I do expect a score of peasants here,
A set of hardy, bold, and faithful fellows,
Whom I can trust in all emergencies.
In different parties I shall these despatch
Toward the hostile lines, for I suspect
That intercourse too often doth subsist
Between our disaffected and the foe.
Amb.   And are these peasants armed?
Vin.   Armed with a musquet and a bayonet;
A true and desperate soldier wants no more.
As.   And thirty cartridges to every man,
With three days' victuals in their knapsacks stored.
Amb.   It is enough. I hope they will not tarry.

[Pg 67]

Scene III.A number of armed peasants in an outhouse.

1st P. Do you know what we are sent for, brother Harry?

2nd P. To go on some secret expedition, I suppose.

1st P. And which way shall we bend, think ye?

2nd P. God bless you. Why do you ask such a question? It is not for us to know where we are going. We shall know bye and bye, I warrant you, after we have marched two or three score of miles.

1st P. And where are our officers?

2nd P. They are in the adjoining house. They will be with us presently.

3rd P. And how shall we pass the time till they come?

2nd P. O, merrily enough. We can dance and sing.

1st P. Harry, you can sing. Give us a song.

2nd P.

[Sings

Ours not to sleep in shady bowers,[38]
When frosts are chilling all the plain,
And nights are cold and long the hours
To check the ardor of the swain,
Who parting from his cheerful fire
All comforts doth forego,
And here and there
And everywhere
Pursues the prowling foe.

2nd P. How like you that?[Pg 68]

3rd P. O, very well. I love to hear anything that touches upon the hardships of a soldier's life.

4th P. Give us the rest; give us the rest. I love that song, Harry.

2nd P.

But we must sleep in frost and snows,
No season shuts up our campaign;
Hard as the oaks, we dare oppose
The autumn's or the winter's reign.
Alike to us the winds that blow
In summer's season gay,
Or those that rave
On Hudson's wave
And drift his ice away.
For Liberty, celestial maid,
With joy all hardships we endure.
In her blest smiles we are repaid,
In her protection are secure.
Then rise superior to the foe,
Ye freeborn souls of fire;
Respect these arms,
'Tis freedom warms,
To noble deeds aspire.
Winter and death may change the scene,
The cold may freeze, the ball may kill,
And dire misfortunes intervene;
But freedom shall be potent still
To drive these Britons from our shore,
Who, cruel and unkind,
With slavish chain
Attempt in vain
Our freeborn limbs to bind.
[Pg 69]

Pasq. O, excellent—"Our freeborn limbs to bind"—by my soul, they never shall bind mine. Harry, give us another song on our affairs and then we'll be ready.

All. Ay, ay; another, another.

2nd P. I have not many by heart. I do recollect one at present, but it was made at the beginning of the war.

All. No matter, no matter; let's hear it.

2nd P.

[Sings

The cohorts of Britain are now all complete,
She has brushed up her soldiers and manned out her fleet;
The lion has roared whose trade is to kill,
And we are the victims whose blood he must spill.
But ere I am slaughtered and wrapped in a shroud
I must tell you the motive that makes him so proud.
The monkeys and puppies that bow to his rule
Have told him a lie and deceived the old fool.
They say we are cowards, not dressed in red coats,
That he without danger may cut all our throats;
If we see but a Briton, confounded with fear,
We'll throw down our muskets and run like a deer.
That one thousand men with a captain would dare
To march from New Hampshire to Georgia, they swear.
But here lies the trick of these wonderful men,
They tell us they'll do it, but do not say when.
Such a motive to fight would you ever conceive,
Yet such is the motive that makes him so brave.[Pg 70]
On such a presumption, in hopes of applause,
He whets up his grinders and sharpens his claws.
But hark, Mr. Lion, and be not so stout,
In fancy alone you have put us to rout.
To show you how little your threat'nings avail,
Here's a kick at your breech and a clip at your tail.[39]
*     *     *     *     *     *     *
But everything seems poisoned where I tread,
And I am tortured to perfection.

[Exit. Enter an officer of the guard

Scene IV.Another apartment in said house. Enter Aide to Gen. Arnold.

Aide.   General Arnold here?
Jeff.   Two hours have hardly yet elapsed since he
Across the river to the garrison
On some important business went in haste,
So as I told to his attendant here.
For since the general parted I arrived.
Is he, then, at the garrison? by heaven,
We'll have him in a trice.
Aide.   You'll have him in a trice. Pray, what means that?
Jeff.   I see your ignorance, my honest friend.
Why such a damned, unnatural plot has happened
That when I mention it, if you have feeling,
At the first word your blood must chill with horror
And admiration shake your very soul.
This traitor Arnold, this vile, abandoned traitor,
This monster of ingratitude unequalled,[Pg 71]
Has been conspiring with an English spy
To render tip the fort to General Clinton.
Aide.   What fort? the fort at West Point, mean you?
Jeff.   The fort at West Point, on my sacred honour,
The garrison, dependencies, and stores,
And, what is more, the person of our leader.
Five thousand troops at York are now embarked,
And even wait this night to take possession.
Aide.   Is this reality; sure you are jesting.
And yet you serious seem to be of countenance.
Lips that quiver, eyes that glow with passion,
Tempt me to think your story may be true.
And yet I doubt it. Came you here to seize him?
Jeff.   Nay, doubt it not. I have the papers with me
That at a glance betray this horrid treason.
Aide.   For what could he do this?
Was it Resentment, Avarice, Ambition
That prompted him to act the traitor's part?
And yet I'm sure it never could be avarice.
His country lavishes her wealth upon him;
He has the income of a little king,
And perquisites that by a hundred ways
Not only the base wants of life supply,
But deck him out in elegance and grandeur.
Perhaps, indeed, he has ambitious views:
He aims to make his court to Britain's king,
And rise upon the ruins of his country.
Perhaps it is resentment and disgust,
For many hate him, and have often said
He fattens on the plunder of the public.
Jeff.   'Tis avarice, sir, that base, unmanly motive.
The glare of British gold has captivated
This hero, as we thought him. What a curse,[Pg 72]
That human souls can of such stuff be moulded,
That they, foregoing fame and character,
E'en for the sake of what is despicable,
Be foe to virtue and to virtue's friend.
But such are to be found, and every age has seen 'em,
Who, for the sake of mere external show,
Some qualities that seemed to them attractive——[40]

[33] This fragment of a drama, as far as I can find, was never published. Freneau, judging from indications, wrote it shortly after his "Prison Ship," in the autumn of 1780, only a few weeks after the events took place which it records. It exists, as far as I know, only in Freneau's fragmentary and much-revised autograph manuscript now in the possession of Miss Adele M. Sweeney of Jersey City. The arrest of André took place September 23, 1780.

[34] Here occurs an illegible word in Freneau's manuscript.

[35] This poem was first published in the edition of 1786 under the title, "The English Quixote of 1778; or, Modern Idolatry." In the 1809 edition Freneau added the following:

Epilogue

'Tis so well known 'tis hardly worth relating
That men have worshipped gods, though of their own creating:
Art's handy work they thought they might adore,
And bowed to gods that were but logs before.
Idols, of old, were made of clay or wood,
And, in themselves, did neither harm nor good,
Acted as though they knew the good old rule,
"Friend, hold thy peace, and you'll be thought no fool."
Britons! their case is yours—and linked in fate,
You, like your Indian allies—good and great—
Bow to some frowning block yourselves did rear,
And worship wooden monarchs—out of fear.

[36] This lyric has been used by Freneau in his poem, "Mars and Hymen," q. v.

[37] An illegible word.

[38] This poem had also been used in "Mars and Hymen." In later editions it was printed as a distinct lyric, with the title "The Northern Soldier." The present version, reprinted from Freneau's manuscript, will be seen to differ considerably from the others.

[39] A part of the manuscript is missing at this point.

[40] Here the manuscript ends abruptly.


[Pg 73]

PART III

ERA OF THE FREEMAN'S JOURNAL

1781—1790

[Pg 74]


[Pg 75]

ERA OF THE FREEMAN'S JOURNAL

1781—1790[41]

[41] This period began in August, 1781, when Freneau became connected with Mr. Francis Bailey's Freeman's Journal, in Philadelphia. In June, 1784, he left Philadelphia for a wandering career upon the ocean, which continued until 1790, when his assumption of the editorship of the New York Advertiser and his marriage put an end for a time to his wanderings. The greater part of the poems written during this period appeared originally in the Freeman's Journal.


ON THE MEMORABLE VICTORY[42]

Obtained by the gallant Captain Paul Jones, of the Good Man Richard, over the Seraphis, etc., under the command of Captain Pearson.

Written August, 1781

1
O'er the rough main with flowing sheet
The guardian of a numerous fleet,
Seraphis from the Baltic came;
A ship of less tremendous force
Sail'd by her side the self-same course,
Countess of Scarb'ro' was her name.
[Pg 76]
2
And now their native coasts appear,
Britannia's hills their summits rear
Above the German main;
Fond to suppose their dangers o'er,
They southward coast along the shore,
Thy waters, gentle Thames, to gain.
3
Full forty guns Seraphis bore,
And Scarb'ro's Countess twenty-four,
Mann'd with Old England's boldest tars—
What flag that rides the Gallic seas
Shall dare attack such piles as these,
Design'd for tumults and for wars!
4
Now from the top-mast's giddy height
A seaman cry'd—"Four sail in sight
"Approach with favouring gales;"
Pearson, resolv'd to save the fleet,
Stood off to sea these ships to meet,
And closely brac'd his shivering sails.
5
With him advanc'd the Countess bold,
Like a black tar in wars grown old:
And now these floating piles drew nigh;
But, muse, unfold what chief of fame
In th' other warlike squadron came,
Whose standards at his mast head fly.
6
'Twas Jones, brave Jones, to battle led
As bold a crew as ever bled
Upon the sky surrounded main;[Pg 77]
The standards of the Western World
Were to the willing winds unfurl'd,
Denying Britain's tyrant reign.
7
The Good Man Richard led the line;
The Alliance next: with these combine
The Gallic ship they Pallas call:
The Vengeance, arm'd with sword and flame,
These to attack the Britons came—
But two accomplish'd all.
8
Now Phœbus sought his pearly bed:
But who can tell the scenes of dread,
The horrors of that fatal night!
Close up these floating castles came;
The Good Man Richard bursts in flame;
Seraphis trembled at the sight.
9
She felt the fury of her ball,
Down, prostrate down, the Britons fall;
The decks were strew'd with slain:
Jones to the foe his vessel lash'd;
And, while the black artillery flash'd,
Loud thunders shook the main.
10
Alas! that mortals should employ
Such murdering engines, to destroy
That frame by heav'n so nicely join'd;
Alas! that e'er the god decreed
That brother should by brother bleed,
And pour'd such madness in the mind.
[Pg 78]
11
But thou, brave Jones, no blame shalt bear;
The rights of men demand thy care:
For these you dare the greedy waves—
No tyrant on destruction bent
Has planned thy conquests—thou art sent
To humble tyrants and their slaves.
12
See!—dread Seraphis flames again—
And art thou, Jones, among the slain,
And sunk to Neptune's caves below—
He lives—though crowds around him fall,
Still he, unhurt, survives them all;
Almost alone he fights the foe.
13
And can thy ship these strokes sustain?
Behold thy brave companions slain,
All clasp'd in ocean's dark embrace.
"Strike, or be sunk!"—the Briton cries—
"Sink, if you can!"—the chief replies,
Fierce lightnings blazing in his face.
14
Then to the side three guns he drew,
(Almost deserted by his crew)
And charg'd them deep with woe:
By Pearson's flash he aim'd the balls;
His main-mast totters—down it falls—
Tremendous was the blow.[43]
[Pg 79]
15
Pearson as yet disdain'd to yield,
But scarce his secret fears conceal'd,
And thus was heard to cry—
"With hell, not mortals, I contend;
"What art thou—human, or a fiend,
"That dost my force defy?
16
"Return, my lads, the fight renew!"
So call'd bold Pearson to his crew;
But call'd, alas! in vain;
Some on the decks lay maim'd and dead;
Some to their deep recesses fled,
And more were bury'd in the main.[44]
17
Distress'd, forsaken, and alone,
He haul'd his tatter'd standard down,
And yielded to his gallant foe;
Bold Pallas soon the Countess took,
Thus both their haughty colours struck,
Confessing what the brave can do.
18
But, Jones, too dearly didst thou buy
These ships possest so gloriously,
Too many deaths disgrac'd the fray:
Thy barque that bore the conquering flame,
That the proud Briton overcame,
Even she forsook thee on thy way;
[Pg 80]
19
For when the morn began to shine,
Fatal to her, the ocean brine
Pour'd through each spacious wound;
Quick in the deep she disappear'd,
But Jones to friendly Belgia steer'd,
With conquest and with glory crown'd.
20
Go on, great man, to daunt the foe,
And bid the haughty Britons know
They to our Thirteen Stars shall bend;
The Stars that veil'd in dark attire,
Long glimmer'd with a feeble fire,
But radiant now ascend;
21
Bend to the Stars that flaming rise
In western, not in eastern, skies,
Fair Freedom's reign restor'd.
So when the Magi, come from far,
Beheld the God-attending Star,
They trembled and ador'd.

[42] This was the first poem contributed by Freneau to the Freeman's Journal. It appeared August 8, 1781. The exploit of Jones is too well known to need further comment; it took place September 23, 1779. The text follows the edition of 1786.

[43] "Overwhelming half below."—Ed. 1795.

[44] "And hosts were shrouded in the main."—Ed. 1795.


[Pg 81]

AN ADDRESS[45]

To the Commander-in-Chief, Officers, and Soldiers of the American Army

Accept, great men, that share of honest praise
A grateful nation to your merit pays:
Verse is too mean your merit to display,
And words too weak our praises to convey.
When first proud Britain raised her hostile hand
With claims unjust to bind our native land,
Transported armies, and her millions spent
To enforce the mandate that a tyrant sent;
"Resist! resist!" was heard through every state,
You heard the call, and feared your country's fate;
Then rising fierce in arms, for war arrayed,
You taught to vanquish those who dared invade.
Those British chiefs whom former wars had crowned
With conquest—and in every clime renowned;
Who forced new realms to own their monarch's law,
And whom even George beheld with secret awe—
Those mighty chiefs, compelled to fly or yield,
Scarce dared to meet you on the embattled field;
To Boston's port you chased the trembling crew,
Quick, even from thence the British veterans flew—
[Pg 82]Through wintry waves they fled, and thought each wave
Their last, best safety from a foe so brave![46]
What men, like you, our warfare could command,
And bring us safely to the promised land?—
Not swoln with pride,[47] with victory elate—
'Tis in misfortune you are doubly great:
When Howe victorious our weak armies chased,
And, sure of conquest, laid Cesarea waste,
When prostrate, bleeding, at his feet she lay,
And the proud victor tore her wreathes away,
Each gallant chief[48] put forth his warlike hand
And raised the drooping genius of the land,
Repelled the foe, their choicest warriors slain,
And drove them howling to their ships again.
While others kindle into martial rage
Whom fierce ambition urges to engage,
An iron race, by angry heaven designed
To conquer first and then enslave mankind;
Here chiefs and heroes[49] more humane we see,
They venture life, that others may be free.
O! may you live to hail that glorious day
When Britain homeward shall pursue her way—
That race subdued, who filled the world with slain
And rode tyrannic o'er the subject main!—
What few presumed, you boldly have atchieved,
A tyrant humbled, and a world relieved.
O Washington, who leadst this glorious train,[50]
Still may the fates thy valued life maintain.—
[Pg 83]Rome's boasted chiefs, who, to their own disgrace,
Proved the worst scourges of the human race,
Pierced by whose darts a thousand nations bled,
Who captive princes at their chariots led;
Born to enslave, to ravage, and subdue—
Return to nothing when compared to you;
Throughout the world your growing fame has spread,
In every country are your virtues read;
Remotest India hears your deeds of fame,
The hardy Scythian stammers at your name;
The haughty Turk, now longing to be free,
Neglects his Sultan to enquire of thee;
The barbarous Briton hails you to his shores,
And calls him Rebel, whom his heart adores.
Still may the heavens prolong your vital date,
And still may conquest on your banners wait:
Whether afar to ravaged lands you go,
Where wild Potowmac's rapid waters flow,
Or where Saluda laves the fertile plain
And, swoln by torrents, rushes to the main;
Or if again to Hudson you repair
To smite the cruel foe that lingers there—
Revenge their cause, whose virtue was their crime,
The exiled hosts from Carolina's clime.
Late from the world in quiet mayest thou rise
And, mourned by millions, reach your native skies—
With patriot kings and generous chiefs to shine,
Whose virtues raised them to be deemed divine:
May Vasa[A] only equal honours claim,
Alike in merits—not the first in fame!

[A] Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, the deliverer of his country.—Freneau's note. In the earlier editions this read Louis. First changed for the edition of 1795.

[45] First published in the Freeman's Journal, September 5, 1781, under the title "To his Excellency General Washington," and reprinted without change in the edition of 1786. The same paper contained the following news item: "On Thursday, the 30th of August, at one o'clock in the afternoon, his excellency General Washington, Commander-in-chief of the American Armies, accompanied by the Generals Rochambeau and Chattelux, with their respective suites, arrived in this city." The early version was addressed wholly to Washington, the opening line reading, "Accept, great chief," etc. For the edition of 1795 it was changed to include officers and soldiers.

[46]

"*   *   *   they fled, and thought the sea
With all its storms less terrible than thee!"—Ed. 1786.

[47] "Not Clinton-like."—Ib.

[48] "You undismay'd."—-Ib.

[49] "In him a hero."—Ib.

[50] This and the line following not in the original version.


[Pg 84]

A NEW-YORK TORY[51]

To His Friend in Philadelphia

Dear Sir, I'm so anxious to hear of your health,
I beg you would send me a letter by stealth:
I hope a few months will quite alter the case,
When the wars are concluded, we'll meet and embrace.
For I'm led to believe from our brilliant success,
And, what is as clear, your amazing distress,
That the cause of rebellion has met with a check
That will bring all its patrons to hang by the neck.
Cornwallis has managed so well in the South,
Those rebels want victuals to put in their mouth;
And Arnold has stript them, we hear, to the buff[52]
Has burnt their tobacco, and left them—the snuff.
Dear Thomas, I wish you would move from that town
Where meet all the rebels of fame and renown;
When our armies, victorious, shall clear that vile nest
You may chance, though a Tory, to swing with the rest.
But again—on reflection—I beg you would stay—
You may serve us yet better than if moved away—
Give advice to Sir Harry of all that is passing,
What vessels are building, what cargoes amassing;
[Pg 85]
Inform, to a day, when those vessels will sail,
That our cruisers may capture them all, without fail—
By proceedings like these, your peace will be made,
The rebellious shall swing, but be you ne'er afraid.
I cannot conceive how you do to subsist—
The rebels are starving, except those who 'list;
And as you reside in the land of Gomorrah,
You must fare as the rest do, I think, to your sorrow.
Poor souls! if ye knew what a doom is decreed,
(I mean not for you, but for rebels indeed),
You would tremble to think of the vengeance in store,
The halters and gibbets—I mention no more.
The rebels must surely conclude they're undone,
Their navy is ruined, their armies have run;
It is time they should now from delusion awaken—
The rebellion is done—for the Trumbull[53] is taken!

[51] Freeman's Journal, September 5, 1781.

[52] Cornwallis, in command of the British army in the South, was in the early part of 1781 working his way steadily northward from South Carolina. Benedict Arnold arrived in the Chesapeake, January 2, 1781, and, supported by the British navy there, committed extensive ravages on the rivers and unprotected coasts of Virginia. Arnold offered to spare Richmond if he were given its stores of tobacco. The offer being rejected, the city with its tobacco was burned.

[53] The American frigate Trumbull, 20, Captain James Nicholson, was chased off the capes of the Delaware, August 8th, 1781, by three British cruisers. As it was blowing heavily towards night, the fore-topmast of the Trumbull was carried away by a squall, bringing down with it, on deck, the main-topgallant mast. About ten o'clock at night, one of the British vessels, the Iris, 32, came up and closed with her while still encumbered with the wreck. "In the midst of rain and squalls, in a tempestuous night, with most of the forward hamper of the ship over her bows, or lying on the forecastle, with one of the arms of the fore-topsail yard run through her fore-sail, and the other jammed on deck, and with a disorganized crew, Captain Nicholson found himself compelled to go to quarters, or to strike without resistance. He preferred the first; but the English volunteers, instead of obeying orders, went below, extinguished the lights, and secreted themselves. Near half of the remainder of the people imitated this example, and Captain Nicholson could not muster fifty of even the diminished crew he had, at the guns. The battle that followed might almost be said to have been fought by the officers. These brave men, sustained by a party of the petty officers and seamen, managed a few of the guns for more than an hour, when the General Monk, 18, coming up and joining in the fire of the Iris, the Trumbull submitted."—Cooper's Naval History.—[Duyckinck's note, ed. of 1865.]


[Pg 86]

TO LORD CORNWALLIS[54]

At York, Virginia

Hail, great destroyer (equalled yet by none)
Of countries not your master's, nor your own;
Hatched by some demon on a stormy day,
Satan's best substitute to burn and slay;
Confined at last, hemmed in by land and sea,
Burgoyne himself was but a type of thee!
Like his, to freedom was your deadly hate,
Like his your baseness, and be his your fate:
To you, like him, no prospect Nature yields,
But ruined wastes and desolated fields[55]
In vain you raise the interposing wall,
And hoist those standards that, like you, must fall,
In you conclude the glories of your race,
Complete your monarch's and your own disgrace.
What has your lordship's pilfering arms attained?—
Vast stores of plunder, but no State regained—
That may return, though you perhaps may groan,
Restore it, Charley,[56] for 'tis not your own—
Then, lord and soldier, headlong to the brine
Rush down at once—the devil and the swine.
Wouldst thou at last with Washington engage,
Sad object of his pity, not his rage?
[Pg 87]See, round thy posts how terribly advance
The chiefs, the armies, and the fleets of France;[57]
Fight while you can, for warlike Rochambeau
Aims at your head his last decisive blow,
Unnumbered ghosts from earth untimely sped,
Can take no rest till you, like them, are dead—
Then die, my Lord; that only chance remains
To wipe away dishonourable stains,
For small advantage would your capture bring,
The plundering servant of a bankrupt king.

[54] This did not appear in the Freeman's Journal. In the edition of 1786 it bore the title, "To Lord Cornwallis, at York, Virginia, October 8, 1781."

[55] Cornwallis arrived in Virginia from his Southern campaign early in the summer of 1781, and immediately began with extreme vigor to subjugate that State. His cruelty and severity were exceptional, even in the annals of war. "The Americans of that day," says Bancroft, "computed that Cornwallis, in his midsummer marchings up and down Virginia, destroyed property to the value of three million pounds sterling."

[56] "Ruffian."—Ed. 1786.

[57] On October 8th, Cornwallis, at York, was surrounded by the American army, who had just completed the first line of trenches. The redoubts were so far enough completed on the 9th that the Americans and French felt ready to begin the bombardment of the British works.


A LONDON DIALOGUE[58]

Between My Lords, Dunmore and Germaine

Dunmore
Ever since I return'd to my dear native shore,
No poet in Grubstreet was ever dunned more—
I'm dunned by my barber, my taylor, my groom;
How can I do else than to fret and to fume?
They join to attack me with one good accord,
From morning till night 'tis "my lord, and my lord."
And there comes the cobler, so often denied—
If I had him in private, I'd thresh his tough hide.
[Pg 88]
Germaine
Would you worry the man that has found you in shoes?
Come, courage, my lord, I can tell you good news—
Virginia is conquered, the rebels are banged,[59]
You are now to go over and see them safe hanged:
I hope it is not to your nature abhorrent
To sign for these wretches a handsome death warrant—
Were I but in your place, I'm sure it would suit
To sign their death warrants, and hang them to boot.
Dunmore
My lord!—I'm amazed—have we routed the foe?—
I shall govern again then, if matters be so—
And as to the hanging, in short, to be plain,
I'll hang them so well, they'll ne'er want it again.
With regard to the wretches who thump at my gates,
I'll discharge all their dues with the rebel estates;
In less than three months I may send a polacca
As deep as she'll swim, sir, with corn and tobacco.
Germaine
And send us some rebels—a dozen or so—
They'll serve here in London by way of a show;
And as to the Tories, believe me, dear cousin,
We can spare you some hundreds to pay for the dozen.

[58] Freeman's Journal, September 19, 1781. The original title, the one used in the 1786 edition, was "Dialogue between the Lords Dunmore and Mansfield." Lord Dunmore was Governor of Virginia at the beginning of the war, in 1775, and was driven from that State by the outraged colonists. He continued in America, in various capacities, until near the close of the war. Lord George Germaine was Colonial Secretary under George III., and so had charge of the American War.

[59] Alluding to the vigorous campaign of Cornwallis. In June, Germaine had written to Cornwallis: "The rapidity of your movements is justly matter of astonishment to all Europe." On August 2nd he wrote: "I see nothing to prevent the recovery of the whole country to the King's obedience."


[Pg 89]

LORD CORNWALLIS TO SIR HENRY
CLINTON[60]

[From York, Virginia]

From clouds of smoke, and flames that round me glow,
To you, dear Clinton, I disclose my woe:
Here cannons flash, bombs glance, and bullets fly;
Not Arnold's[61] self endures such misery.
Was I foredoomed in tortures[62] to expire,
Hurled to perdition in a blaze of fire?
With these blue flames can mortal man contend—
What arms can aid me, or what walls defend?
Even to these gates last night a phantom strode,
And hailed me trembling to his dark abode:
Aghast I stood, struck motionless and dumb,
Seized with the horrors of the world to come.
Were but my power as mighty as my rage,
Far different battles would Cornwallis wage;
Beneath his sword yon' threat'ning hosts should groan,
The earth would quake with thunders all his own.
O crocodile! had I thy flinty hide,
Swords to defy, and glance the balls aside,
By my own prowess would I rout the foe,
With my own javelin would I work their woe—
But fates averse, by heaven's supreme decree,
Nile's serpent formed more excellent than me.
[Pg 90]Has heaven, in secret, for some crime decreed
That I should suffer, and my soldiers bleed?
Or is it by the jealous powers concealed,
That I must bend, and they ignobly yield?
Ah! no—the thought o'erwhelms my soul with grief:
Come, bold Sir Harry, come to my relief;
Come, thou brave man, whom rebels Tombstone call,
But Britons, Graves[63]—come Digby, devil and all;
Come, princely William, with thy potent aid,
Can George's blood by Frenchmen be dismayed?
From a king's uncle once Scotch rebels run,
And shall not these be routed by a son?
Come with your ships to this disastrous shore,
Come—or I sink—and sink to rise no more;
By every motive that can sway the brave
Haste, and my feeble, fainting army save;
Come, and lost empire o'er the deep regain,
Chastise these upstarts that usurp the main;
I see their first rates to the charge advance,
I see lost Iris wear the flags of France;
There a strict rule the wakeful Frenchman keeps;
There, on no bed of down, Lord Rawdon sleeps!
Tired with long acting on this bloody stage,
Sick of the follies of a wrangling age,
Come with your fleet, and help me to retire
To Britain's coast, the land of my desire—
For, me the foe their certain captive deem,
And every trifler[64] takes me for his theme—
Long, much too long in this hard service tried,
Bespattered still, be-deviled, and belied;
[Pg 91]With the first chance that favouring fortune sends
I fly, converted, from this land of fiends;
Convinced, for me, she has no gems in store,
Nor leaves one triumph, even to hope for more.

[60] First published in the Freeman's Journal, October 17, 1781, two days before the final surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. "On the seventeenth [of September] Cornwallis reported to Clinton: 'This place is in no state of defence. If you cannot relieve me very soon, you must be prepared to hear the worst.'"—Bancroft.

[61] "Satan's self."—Ed. 1786.

[62] "Like Korah."—Ib.

[63] "Lord Sandwich, after the retirement of Howe, gave the naval command at New York to officers without ability; and the aged Arbuthnot was succeeded by Graves, a coarse and vulgar man of mean ability, and without skill in his profession."—Bancroft.

[64] "School-boy."—Ed. 1786.


THE VANITY OF EXISTENCE[65]

To Thyrsis

In youth, gay scenes attract our eyes,
And not suspecting their decay
Life's flowery fields before us rise,
Regardless of its winter day.
But vain pursuits and joys as vain,
Convince us life is but a dream.
Death is to wake, to rise again
To that true life you best esteem.
So nightly on some shallow tide,
Oft have I seen a splendid show;
Reflected stars on either side,
And glittering moons were seen below.
But when the tide had ebbed away,
The scene fantastic with it fled,
A bank of mud around me lay,
And sea-weed on the river's bed.

[65] Published in the Freeman's Journal, October 24, 1781, under the title "A Moral Thought," and reprinted without change in the edition of 1786.


[Pg 92]

ON THE FALL OF GENERAL EARL CORNWALLIS

Who, with above seven thousand Men, surrendered themselves prisoners of war to the renowned and illustrious General George Washington, Commander-in-chief of the allied armies of France and America, on the memorable 19th of October, 1781.[66]

"Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
"That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile
"Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh,
"Before this earthly prison of their bones;
"That so the shadows be not unappeas'd,
"Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth."
Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene II.
A Chieftain join'd with[67] Howe, Burgoyne, and Gage,
Once more, nor this the last, provokes my rage—
Who saw these Nimrods first for conquest burn!
Who has not seen them to the dust return?
This ruffian[68] next, who scour'd our ravag'd fields,
Foe to the human race,[69] Cornwallis yields!—
None e'er before essay'd such desperate crimes,
Alone he stood, arch-butcher of the times,[Pg 93]
Rov'd uncontroul'd this wasted country o'er,
Strew'd plains with dead, and bath'd his jaws with gore?[70]
'Twas thus the wolf, who sought by night his prey,
And plunder'd all he met with on his way,
Stole what he could, and murder'd as he pass'd,
Chanc'd on a trap, and lost his head at last.
What pen can write, what human tongue can tell
The endless murders of this man of hell![71]
Nature in him disgrac'd the form divine;
Nature mistook, she meant him for a—swine:
That eye his forehead to her shame adorns;
Blush! nature, blush—bestow him tail and horns!—
By him the orphans mourn—the widow'd dame
Saw ruin spreading in the wasteful flame;
Gash'd o'er with wounds beheld with streaming eye
A son, a brother, or a consort, die![Pg 94]
Through ruin'd realms bones lie without a tomb,
And souls he sped to their eternal doom,
Who else had liv'd, and seen their toils again
Bless'd by the genius of the rural reign.
But turn your eyes, and see the murderer fall,[72]
Then say—"Cornwallis has atchiev'd it all."—
Yet he preserves the honour and the fame
That vanquish'd heroes only ought to claim—
Is he a hero!—Read, and you will find
Heroes are beings of a different kind:—
Compassion to the worst of men is due,
And mercy heaven's first attribute, 'tis true;
Yet most presume it was too nobly done
To grant mild terms to Satan's first-born son.
Convinc'd we are, no foreign spot on earth
But Britain only, gave this reptile[73] birth.
That white-cliff'd isle, the vengeful dragon's[74] den,
Has sent us monsters where we look'd for men.
When memory paints their horrid deeds anew,
And brings these murdering miscreants to your view,
Then ask the leaders of these bloody bands,
Can they expect compassion at our hands?—
But may this year, the glorious eighty-one,
Conclude successful, as it first begun;[75]
This brilliant year their total downfall see,
And what Cornwallis is, may Clinton be.[76]
O come the time, nor distant be the day,
When our bold navy shall its wings display;
Mann'd by our sons, to seek that barbarous shore,[77]
The wrongs revenging that their fathers bore:[Pg 95]
As Samuel hew'd the tyrant Agag down,[78]
So hew the wearer of the British crown;
Unpitying, next his hated offspring slay,
Or into foreign lands the fiends convey:[79]
Give them their turn to pine and die in chains,
'Till not one monster[80] of the race remains.
Thou, who resid'st on those thrice happy shores,
Where white rob'd peace her envied blessings pours,
Stay, and enjoy the pleasures that she yields;
But come not, stranger, to our wasted fields,
For warlike hosts on every plain appear,
War damps the beauties of the rising year:
In vain the groves their bloomy sweets display;
War's clouded winter chills the charms of May:
Here human blood the trampled harvest stains;
Here bones of men yet whiten all the plains;
Seas teem with dead; and our unhappy shore
Forever blushes with its children's gore.
But turn your eyes—behold the tyrant fall,
And think[81]—Cornwallis has atchiev'd it all.—
All mean revenge Americans disdain,
Oft have they prov'd it, and now prove again;
With nobler fires their generous bosoms glow;
Still in the captive they forget the foe:—
But when a nation takes a wrongful cause,
And hostile turns to heaven's and nature's laws;
When, sacrificing at ambition's shrine,
Kings slight the mandates of the power divine,
And devastation spread on every side,
To gratify their malice or their pride,[Pg 96]
And send their slaves their projects to fulfil,
To wrest our freedom, or our blood to spill:—
Such to forgive, is virtue too sublime;
For even compassion has been found a crime.
A prophet once, for miracles renown'd,
Bade Joash smite the arrows on the ground—
Taking the mystic shafts, the prince obey'd,
Thrice smote them on the earth—and then he stay'd—
Griev'd when he saw full victory deny'd,
"Six times you should have smote," the prophet cry'd,
"Then had proud Syria sunk beneath thy power,
"Now thrice you smite her—but shall smite no more."
Cornwallis! thou art rank'd among the great;
Such was the will of all-controuling fate.
As mighty men, who liv'd in days of yore,
Were figur'd out some centuries before;
So you with them in equal honour join,
Your great precursor's name was Jack Burgoyne!
Like you was he, a man in arms renown'd,
Who, hot for conquest, sail'd the ocean round;
This, this was he, who scour'd the woods for praise,
And burnt down cities[A] to describe the blaze!
So, while on fire, his harp Rome's tyrant strung,
And as the buildings flam'd, old Nero sung.
Who would have guess'd the purpose of the fates,
When that proud boaster bow'd to conquering Gates!—
Then sung the sisters[B] as the wheel went round,
(Could we have heard the invigorating sound)
Thus surely did the fatal sisters sing—
"When just four years do this same season bring,[Pg 97]
"And in his annual journey, when the sun
"Four times completely shall his circuit run,
"An angel then shall rid you of your fears,
"By binding Satan for a thousand years,
"Shall lash the serpent[82] to the infernal shore,
"To waste the nations and deceive no more,
"Make wars and blood, and tyranny to cease,
"And hush the fiends of Britain[83] into peace."
Joy to your lordship, and your high descent,
You are the Satan that the sisters meant.
Too soon you found your race of ruin run,
Your conquests ended, and your battles done!
But that to live is better than to die,
And life you chose, though life with infamy,
You should have climb'd your loftiest vessel's deck,[84]
And hung a millstone round your halter'd neck—[85]
Then plung'd forever to the wat'ry bed,
Hell in your heart, and vengeance on your head.[86]
All must confess, that in regard to you,[87]
'Twas wrong to rob the devil of his due—
For Hayne, for Hayne![88] no death but thine atones;
For thee, Cornwallis, how the gallows groans!
That injur'd man's, and all the blood you've shed,
That blood shall rest on your devoted head;[Pg 98]
Asham'd to live, and yet afraid to die,
Your courage slacken'd as the foe drew nigh—
Ungrateful wretch, to yield your favourite band
To chains and prisons in a hostile land:
To the wide world your Negro friends to cast,
And leave your Tories to be hang'd at last!—
You should have fought with horror and amaze,
'Till scorch'd to cinders in the cannon blaze,
'Till all your host of Beelzebubs[89] was slain,
Doom'd to disgrace no human shape again—
As if from hell this horned host he drew,[90]
Swift from the South the embodied ruffians[91] flew;
Destruction follow'd at their cloven feet,
'Till you, Fayette, constrain'd them to retreat,
And held them close, 'till thy fam'd squadron came,
De Grasse, completing their eternal shame.
When the loud cannon's unremitting glare
And red hot balls compell'd you to despair,
How could you stand to meet your generous foe?
Did not the sight confound your soul with woe?—
In thy great soul what god-like virtues shine,
What inborn greatness, Washington, is thine!—
Else had no prisoner trod these lands to-day,
All, with his lordship, had been swept away,
All doom'd alike death's vermin to regale,
Nor one been left to tell the dreadful tale!
But his own terms the vanquish'd murderer[92] nam'd—
He nobly gave the miscreant[93] all he claim'd,
And bade Cornwallis, conquer'd and distress'd,
Bear all his torments in his tortur'd breast.[Pg 99]
Now curs'd with life, a foe to man and God,
Like Cain, I drive you to the land of Nod.
He with a brother's blood his hands did stain,
One brother he, you have a thousand slain.
And, O! may heaven affix some public mark[94]
To know Cornwallis—may he howl and bark!—
On eagle's wings explore your downward flight[95]
To the deep horrors of the darkest night,[96]
Where, rapt in shade on ocean's utmost bound,[97]
No longer sun, nor moon, nor stars are found;
Where never light her kindling radiance shed,
But the dark comets rove with all their dead,[C]
Doom'd through the tracks of endless space to run
No more revolving to confound the sun.
Such horrid deeds your spotted soul[98] defame
We grieve to think your shape and ours the same!
Enjoy what comfort in this life you can,[99]
The form you have, not feelings of a man;
Haste to the rocks, thou curse to human kind,
There thou may'st wolves and brother tygers find;
Eternal exile be your righteous doom
And gnash your dragon's teeth in some sequester'd gloom;
Such be the end of each relentless foe
Who feels no pity for another's woe;
So may they fall[100]—even you, though much too late,[Pg 100]
Shall curse the day you languished to be great;
Haste from the torments of the present life,[101]
Quick, let the halter end thee or the knife;
So may destruction rush with speedy wing,
Low as yourself, to drag your cruel king;[102]
His head torn off, his hands, his feet, and all,[103]
Deep in the dust may Dagon's image fall;
His stump alone escape the vengeful steel,
Sav'd but to grace the gibbet or the wheel.

[A] Charlestown, near Boston. See his letter on that occasion.—Freneau's note. The poet has satirized Burgoyne's literary pretentions in the "Voyage to Boston," q. v.

[B] The Parcæ, or Fates, who, according to the Heathen mythology, were three in number.—Ib.

[C] See Whiston's Hypothesis.—Freneau's note.

[66] This title was changed for the edition of 1795 by leaving out the words "the renowned and illustrious General George Washington, Commander-in-chief of," and also the quotation from Shakespeare. The same title was used in 1809, with the added quotation:

"One brilliant game our arms have won to-day,
Another, Princes, yet remains to play,
Another mark our arrows must attain—
Gallia assist!—nor be our efforts vain."
Hom. Odyssey, Book XXII.

In the issue of the Freeman's Journal of October 24, 1781, the editor voiced his joy by printing the following in huge letters, that covered more than half of the first page of the paper:

BE IT REMEMBERED

That on the 17th day of October, 1781, Lieut. General Charles Earl Cornwallis with above 5000 British troops surrendered themselves prisoners of war to his excellency Gen. George Washington, commander in chief of the allied forces of France and America.

LAUS DEO!—

Two weeks later, in the issue of November 7th, Freneau printed the above poem. It was so mutilated and changed for the edition of 1795 that I have reproduced the test of the 1786 edition, which was printed verbatim from the newspaper, and have indicated in the footnotes the most significant changes.

[67] "Formed on."—Ed. 1795.

[68] "Conqueror."—Ib.

[69] "Foe to the rights of man."—Ib.

[70] This does not overdo the contemporary estimate of Cornwallis. Attempting to crush at once the American rebellion by the use of the harshest measures, he inaugurated a veritable reign of terror. "Cruel measures seek and find cruel agents; officers whose delight was in blood patrolled the country, burned houses, ravaged estates, and put to death whom they would.... For two years cold-blooded assassinations, often in the house of the victim and in the presence of his wife and little children, were perpetrated by men holding the king's commission."—Bancroft.

[71] "Lord of war."—Ed. 1795.

[72] This line and the nine following lines were omitted from the edition of 1795.

[73] "Warrior."—Ed. 1795.

[74] "Tyrant's."—Ib.

[75] "And all wars be done."—Ib.

[76] "Sir Henry be."—Ib.

[77] "Manned by brave souls, to see the British shore."—Ib.

[78] "As earthquakes shook the huge Colossus down."—Ed. 1795.

[79] "By force convey."—Ib.

[80] "Tyrant."—Ib.

[81] "Nor say."—Ib.

[82] "His godship."—Ed. 1795.

[83] "The rage of Europe."—Ib.

[84] "Mast."—Ib.

[85] "Took one sad survey of your wanton waste."—Ib.

[86] "Lost all your honours—even your memory dead."—Ib.

[87] This and the five following lines omitted in edition of 1795.

[88] An allusion to the brutal execution of the patriot, Isaac Hayne, of Charlestown, by General Rawdon, in the summer of 1781. The guilt of this crime rests almost wholly upon Rawdon. Yet "his first excuse for the execution was in the order of Cornwallis which had filled the woods of Carolina with assassins."—Bancroft.

[89] "Gog-magogs."—Ed. 1795.

[90] "From depth of woods this hornet host he drew."—Ib.

[91] "Envenom'd ruffians."—Ib.

[92] "The mean invader."—Ib.

[93] "The prisoner."—Ib.

[94] This line and the next omitted from later editions.

[95] "Homeward flight."—Ed. 1795.

[96] "Plan future conquests and new battles fight."—Ib.

[97] This and the following five lines omitted from later editions.

[98] "Your murdering host."—Ed. 1795.

[99] This and the following seven lines omitted from later editions.

[100] "Remorse be theirs."—Ed. 1809.

[101] This line and the following omitted from later editions.

[102] "Each tyrant king."—Ed. 1809.

[103] The later editions end at this point as follows:

"Swept from this stage, the race that vex our ball,
Deep in the dust may every monarch fall,
To wasted nations bid a long adieu,
Shrink from an injured world—and fare like you."

[Pg 101]

TO THE MEMORY OF THE BRAVE
AMERICANS[104]

Under General Greene, in South Carolina, who fell in the action of September 8, 1781

At Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er—
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more![105]
If in this wreck of ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!
Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sigh for the shepherds, sunk to rest!
[Pg 102]
Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear.—
They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear—but left the shield.[106]
Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly;
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved, in such a cause to die—
But, like the Parthian, famed of old.
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.[107]
Now rest in peace, our patriot band;
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A brighter sunshine of their own.

[104] First published in the Freeman's Journal, November 21, 1781. The patriot army under Greene spent the summer of 1781 in the High Hills of Santee, in South Carolina. "On the 22d of August, Greene broke up his camp very quietly and started out on the last of his sagacious campaigns.... By vigilant scouting parties, he so completely cut off the enemy's means of information that Stuart remained ignorant of his approach until he was close at hand. The British commander then fell back on Eutaw Springs, about fifty miles from Charleston, where he waited in a strong position. The battle of Eutaw Springs may be resolved into two brief actions between sunrise and noon of the 8th of September, 1781. In the first action the British line was broken and driven from the field. In the second, Stuart succeeded in forming a new line, supported by a brick house and palisaded garden, and from this position Greene was unable to drive him. It has therefore been set down as a British victory. If so, it was a victory followed the next evening by the hasty retreat of the victors, who were hotly pursued by Marion and Lee."—Fiske.

[105] "In the two engagements the Americans lost in killed, wounded, and missing, five hundred and fifty-four men."—Bancroft.

[106] Scott borrowed this line in the introduction to the third canto of Marmion, in the apostrophe to the Duke of Brunswick, which reads thus:

"Lamented Chief!—not thine the power
To save in that presumptuous hour,
When Prussia hurried to the field
And snatched the spear but left the shield."

[107] After the first engagement the British fled in confusion. Greene, in his eagerness, pursued them too closely, and sheltered by the brick house, they inflicted upon the advancing Americans the greater part of the loss of life incurred during the battle.


[Pg 103]

ARNOLD'S DEPARTURE[108]

Imitated from Horace

"Mala soluta navis exit alite
Ferens olentem Mævium," &c.
With evil omens from the harbour sails
The ill-fated barque that worthless Arnold bears,—
God of the southern winds, call up the gales,
And whistle in rude fury round his ears.
With horrid waves insult his vessel's sides,
And may the east wind on a leeward shore
Her cables part while she in tumult rides,
And shatter into shivers every oar.
And let the north wind to her ruin haste,
With such a rage, as when from mountains high
He rends the tall oak with his weighty blast,
And ruin spreads where'er his forces fly.
May not one friendly star that night be seen;
No moon, attendant, dart one glimmering ray,
Nor may she ride on oceans more serene
Than Greece, triumphant, found that stormy day,
[Pg 104]
When angry Pallas spent her rage no more
On vanquished Ilium, then in ashes laid,
But turned it on the barque that Ajax[A] bore,
Avenging thus her temple and the maid.
When tossed upon the vast Atlantic main
Your groaning ship the southern gales shall tear,
How will your sailors sweat, and you complain
And meanly howl to Jove, that will not hear!
But if, at last, upon some winding shore
A prey to hungry cormorants you lie,
A wanton goat to every stormy power,[B]
And a fat lamb, in sacrifice, shall die.

[A] Ajax the younger, son of Oileus, king of the Locrians. He debauched Cassandra in the temple of Pallas, which was the cause of his misfortune on his return from the siege of Troy.—Freneau's note.

[B] The Tempests were Goddesses amongst the Romans.—Ib.

[108] First published in the July 10, 1782, issue of the Freeman's Journal, under the title "The 10th Ode Horace's Book of Epodes Imitated. Written in December, 1781, upon the departure of General Arnold from New-York." The poem was reprinted verbatim in the 1786 edition.

"The capitulation at Yorktown having virtually put an end to the war, and Arnold, finding himself neither respected by the British officers nor likely to be further employed in the service, obtained permission from Sir Henry Clinton to go to England. He sailed from New York with his family in December, 1781."—Sparks' Life of Arnold.


PLATO, THE PHILOSOPHER, TO HIS FRIEND THEON[109]

Semel omnibus calcanda via Lethi.—Hor.

Why, Theon, wouldst thou longer groan
Beneath a weight of years and woe,
Thy youth is lost, thy pleasures flown,
And time proclaims, "'Tis time to go."
To willows sad and weeping yews
With me a while, dear friend, repair,[110]
Nor to the vault thy steps refuse,
Thy constant home shall soon be there.
[Pg 105]
To summer suns and winter moons
Prepare to bid a long adieu,
Autumnal seasons shall return
And spring shall bloom, but not for you.
Why so perplext with cares and toil
To rest upon this darksome road,
'Tis but a thin, a thirsty soil,
A barren and a bleak abode.
Constrain'd to dwell with pain and care,
These dregs of life are bought too dear,
'Tis better far to die than bear
The torments of another year.[111]
Subjected to perpetual ills
A thousand deaths around us grow,
The frost the tender blossom kills,
And roses wither as they blow.
Cold nipping winds thy fruits assail,
The infant[112] apple seeks the ground,
The peaches fall, the cherries fail,
The grape receives a fatal wound.
The breeze that gently ought to blow
Swells to a storm and rends the main,
The sun that charm'd the grass to grow
Turns hostile and consumes the plain;
The mountains waste, the shores decay,
Once purling streams are dead and dry—
'Twas nature's work—'tis nature's play,
And nature says that all must die.
[Pg 106]
Yon' flaming lamp, the source of light,
In chaos dark shall shroud his beam
And leave the world to mother night,
A farce, a phantom, or a dream.
What now is young must soon be old,
Whate'er we love, we soon must leave,
'Tis now too hot, 'tis now too cold—
To live is nothing but to grieve.
How bright the morn her course begun,
No mists bedimm'd the solar sphere—
The clouds arise—they shade the sun,
For nothing can be constant here.
Now hope the longing soul employs,
In expectation we are blest;
But soon the airy phantom flies,
For, lo! the treasure is possest.
Those monarchs proud that havoc spread,
(While pensive nature[113] dropt a tear)
Those monarchs have to darkness fled
And ruin bounds their mad career.
The grandeur of this earthly round,
Where Theon[114] would forever be,
Is but a name, is but a sound—
Mere emptiness and vanity.
Give me the stars, give me the skies,
Give me the heaven's remotest sphere,
Above these gloomy scenes to rise
Of desolation and despair.
[Pg 107]
Those native fires that warmed the mind
Now languid grown too dimly glow,
Joy has to grief the heart resigned
And love itself is changed to woe.
The joys of wine are all you boast,
These for a moment damp thy pain;
The gleam is o'er, the charm is lost—
And darkness clouds the soul again.
Then seek no more for bliss below,
Where real bliss can ne'er be found,
Aspire where sweeter blossoms blow
And fairer flowers bedeck the ground.
Where plants of life the plains invest
And green eternal crowns the year,
The little god within thy breast[115]
Is weary of his mansion here.
Like Phosphor clad in bright array[116]
His height meridian to regain,
He can, nor will no longer stay[117]
To shiver on a frozen plain.
Life's journey past, for death[118] prepare,
'Tis but the freedom of the mind,
Jove made us mortal—his we are,
To Jove, dear Theon,[119] be resigned.

[109] Freeman's Journal, January 2, 1782. In the editions of 1795 and 1809, the title is "To an Old Man."

[110] "With me a while, old man, repair."—Ed. 1795.

[111] "The torments of life's closing year."—Ed. 1795.

[112] "Blasted."—Ib.

[113] "Reason."—Ed. 1795.

[114] "Folly."—Ib.

[115] "That swells the breast."—Ed. 1795.

[116] "Sent before the day."—Ib.

[117] "The dawn arrives—he must not stay."—Ib.

[118] "Fate."—Ib.

[119] "Be all our cares."—Ib.


[Pg 108]

PROLOGUE[120]

To a Theatrical Entertainment in Philadelphia

Wars, cruel wars, and hostile Britain's rage
Have banished long the pleasures of the stage;
From the gay painted scene compelled to part,
(Forgot the melting language of the heart)
Constrained to shun the bold theatric show,
To act long tragedies of real woe,
Heroes, once more attend the comic muse;
Forget our failings, and our faults excuse.
In that fine language is our fable drest
Which still unrivalled, reigns o'er all the rest;
Of foreign courts the study and the pride,
Who to know this abandon all beside;[Pg 109]
Bold, though polite, and ever sure to please;
Correct with grace, and elegant with ease;
Soft from the lips its easy accents roll,
Formed to delight and captivate the soul:
In this Eugenia tells her easy lay,
The brilliant work of courtly Beaumarchais:
In this Racine, Voltaire, and Boileau sung,
The noblest poets in the noblest tongue.
If the soft story in our play expressed
Can give a moment's pleasure to your breast,
To you, Great Men,[121] we must be proud to say
That moment's pleasure shall our pains repay:
Returned from conquest and from glorious toils,
From armies captured and unnumbered spoils;
Ere yet again, with generous France allied,
You rush to battle, humbling British pride;
While arts of peace your kind protection share,
O let the Muses claim an equal care.
You bade us first our future greatness see,
Inspired by you, we languished to be free;
Even here where Freedom lately sat distrest,
See, a new Athens rising in the west!
Fair science blooms, where tyrants reigned before,
Red war, reluctant, leaves our ravaged shore—
Illustrious heroes, may you live to see
These new Republics powerful, great, and free;
Peace, heaven born peace, o'er spacious regions spread,
While discord, sinking, veils her ghastly head.

[120] First published in the Freeman's Journal, January 9, 1782, with the following introduction: "On Wednesday evening, the 2d instant [January 2, 1782] Alex. Quesnay, Esq., exhibited a most elegant entertainment at the playhouse, where were present his excellency Gen. Washington, the Minister of France, the President of the State, a number of officers of the army, and a brilliant assemblage of ladies and gentlemen of the city who were invited. After a prologue suitable to the occasion, Eugenie, an elegant French comedy, was first presented (written by the celebrated M. Beaumarchais), and in the opinion of several good judges was extremely well acted by the young gentlemen students in that polite language. After the comedy was acted the Lying Varlet, a farce; to this succeeded several curious dances, followed by a brilliant illumination, consisting of thirteen pyramidal pillars, representing the thirteen States,—on the middle column was seen a cupid, supporting a laurel crown over the motto, 'Washington, the pride of his Country and terror of Britain.' On the summit was the word Virginia, on the right Connecticut, with the names Greene and La Fayette, on the left the word Pennsylvania, with the names Wayne and Steuben, and so on according to the birthplace and State proper to each general. The spectacle ended with an artificial illumination of the thirteen columns."

The prologue, written at the request of Mr. Quesnay, is as above.

[121] In the 1786 version, which was reprinted verbatim from the newspaper, this read "Great Sir," with the foot-note, "Addressed to His Excellency General Washington," and the rest of the poem was made to refer solely to him. In the later versions this was changed so as to read, "Addressed to the Commander in Chief and several of the officers of the American army then present at the theatre in Southwark."


[Pg 110]

STANZAS[122]

Occasioned by the Ruins of a Country Inn, unroofed and blown down in a storm

Where now these mingled ruins lie
A temple once to Bacchus rose,
Beneath whose roof, aspiring high,
Full many a guest forgot his woes:
No more this dome, by tempests torn,
Affords a social safe retreat;
But ravens here, with eye forlorn,
And clustering bats henceforth will meet.
The Priestess of this ruined shrine,
Unable to survive the stroke,
Presents no more the ruddy wine,
Her glasses gone, her china broke.
The friendly Host, whose social hand
Accosted strangers at the door,
Has left at length his wonted stand,
And greets the weary guest no more.
Old creeping Time, that brings decay,
Might yet have spared these mouldering walls,
Alike beneath whose potent sway
A temple or a tavern falls.
Is this the place where mirth and joy,
Coy nymphs and sprightly lads were found?
Indeed! no more the nymphs are coy,
No more the flowing bowls go round.
[Pg 111]
Is this the place where festive song
Deceived the wintry hours away?
No more the swains the tune prolong,
No more the maidens join the lay:
Is this the place where Nancy slept
In downy beds of blue and green?—
Dame Nature here no vigils kept,
No cold unfeeling guards were seen.
'Tis gone!—and Nancy tempts no more,
Deep, unrelenting silence reigns;
Of all that pleased, that charmed before,
The tottering chimney scarce remains!
Ye tyrant winds, whose ruffian blast
Through doors and windows blew too strong,
And all the roof to ruin cast,
The roof that sheltered us so long.
Your wrath appeased, I pray be kind
If Mopsus should the dome renew;
That we again may quaff his wine,
Again collect our jovial crew.

[122] Published in the Freeman's Journal, January 23, 1782.


[Pg 112]

THE ROYAL ADVENTURER[123]

Prince William of the Brunswick race,
To witness George's sad disgrace
The Royal Lad came over
Rebels to kill by Right Divine—
Deriv'd from that illustrious line
The beggars of Hanover.
So many chiefs got broken pates
In vanquishing the rebel States,
So many nobles fell,
That George the Third in passion cry'd,
"Our royal blood must now be try'd;
"'Tis that must break the spell:
"To you (the fat pot-valiant Swine
To Digby said) dear friend of mine,
"To you I trust my boy.
"The rebel tribes shall quake with fears,
"Rebellion die when he appears;
"My Tories leap with joy."
[Pg 113]
So said, so done—the boy was sent,
But never reach'd the continent,
An Island held him fast—
Yet there his friends danc'd rigadoons,
The Hessians sung in High Dutch tunes,
"Prince William's come at last."
"Prince William comes!"—the Briton cry'd—
"The glory of our empire wide
"Shall now be soon restor'd—
"Our monarch is in William seen,
"He is the image of our queen,
"Let William be ador'd!"
The Tories came with long address,
With poems groan'd the Royal press,
And all in William's praise—
The boy astonish'd look'd about
To find their vast dominions out,
Then answer'd in amaze,
"Where all your empire wide can be,
"Friends, for my soul I cannot see:
"'Tis but an empty name;
"Three wasted islands and a town
"In rubbish bury'd—half burnt down,
"Is all that we can claim:
[Pg 114]
"I am of royal birth, 'tis true,
"But what, alas! can princes do,
"No armies to command?
"Cornwallis conquer'd and distrest,
"Sir Henry Clinton grown a jest,
"I curse and leave the land."

[123] Published in the Freeman's Journal, January 30, 1782. "Prince William Henry, third son of George III, afterwards William IV, entered the navy as midshipman at the age of fourteen in 1779. He sailed in the Prince George of 98 guns to Gibralter, in the course of which cruise he saw some service under Rodney in conflict with the Spanish fleet; and it was in this ship, accompanied by Admiral Digby, that he arrived at New York in September, 1781."—Duyckinck. He was received with great enthusiasm and ceremony. In the Freeman's Journal of January 25, 1782, was the following, doubtless from the pen of Freneau: "It is observable that the arrival of Prince William Henry in New York filled the British with 'joy ineffable and universal.' The very chimney sweeps, smitten with the poetic flame, composed odes in his praise, some of which were inserted in The Royal Gazette." The 1809 edition was given a long French motto from Mirabeau, which Freneau translates as follows: "The favourites of a throne bask in its sunshine, like butterflies in a fine day. Their very slaves at the foot of royalty partake of the delusion. They keep a nation under their feet, and their every folly influences and is followed by the multitude. They care not if their fathers and their nearest relatives are trampled into the dust, provided they can figure away in the circles of a court, etc."


LORD DUNMORE'S PETITION TO THE
LEGISLATURE OF VIRGINIA[124]

Humbly Sheweth—
That a silly old fellow, much noted of yore,
And known by the name of John, earl of Dunmore,
Has again ventured over to visit your shore.
The reason of this he begs leave to explain—
In England they said you were conquered and slain,
(But the devil take him who believes them again)—
So, hearing that most of you rebels were dead,
That some had submitted, and others had fled,
I mustered my Tories, myself at their head,
And over we scudded, our hearts full of glee,
As merry as ever poor devils could be,
Our ancient dominion, Virginia, to see;
Our shoe-boys, and tars, and the very cook's mate
Already conceived he possessed an estate,
And the Tories no longer were cursing their fate.
[Pg 115]
Myself, (the don Quixote) and each of the crew,
Like Sancho, had islands and empires in view—
They were captains, and kings, and the devil knows who:
But now, to our sorrow, disgrace, and surprise,
No longer deceived by the Father of Lies,[A]
We hear with our ears, and we see with our eyes:—

[A] The printer of the Royal Gazette.—Freneau's note, ed. of 1786.

I have therefore to make you a modest request,
(And I'm sure, in my mind, it will be for the best)
Admit me again to your mansions of rest.
There are Eden, and Martin, and Franklin, and Tryon,[125]
All waiting to see you submit to the Lion,
And may wait till the devil is king of Mount Sion:—
Though a brute and a dunce, like the rest of the clan,
I can govern as well as most Englishmen can;
And if I'm a drunkard, I still am a man:
I missed it some how in comparing my notes,
Or six years ago I had joined with your votes;
Not aided the negroes in cutting your throats.[126]
Although with so many hard names I was branded,
I hope you'll believe, (as you will if you're candid)
That I only performed what my master commanded.
[Pg 116]
Give me lands, whores and dice, and you still may be free;
Let who will be master, we sha'nt disagree;
If king or if Congress—no matter to me;—
I hope you will send me an answer straitway,
For 'tis plain that at Charleston we cannot long stay—
And your humble petitioner ever shall pray.
Dunmore.
Charleston, Jan. 6, 1782.

[124] First published in the Freeman's Journal, February 13, 1782, and printed almost without change in the various editions. Lord Dunmore was appointed Royal Governor of Virginia in 1770, but, after a stormy career was forced to flee from the colony after the news of Lexington had reached the Southern patriots.

[125] "The last Royal Governors: Robert Eden of Maryland; Joseph Martin of North Carolina; William Franklin of New Jersey; William Tryon of New York."—Duyckinck.

[126] After the second patriot convention assembled in Richmond, Va., in March, 1775, to take measures toward putting the colony in a state of defence, Dunmore, "To intimidate the Virginians, issued proclamations and circulated a rumor that he would incite an insurrection of their slaves.... 'The whole country,' said he, 'can easily be made a solitude; and by the living God! if any insult is offered to me or to those who have obeyed my orders, I will declare freedom to the slaves and lay the town in ashes.'"—Bancroft.


EPIGRAM[127]

Occasioned by the title of Mr. Rivington's[A] New York Royal Gazette being scarcely legible

[A] Royal printer to his Britannic majesty while his forces held the city of New York, from 1776 to November 25, 1783.—Freneau's note.

Says Satan to Jemmy, "I hold you a bet
"That you mean to abandon our Royal Gazette,
"Or, between you and me, you would manage things better
"Than the Title to print on so sneaking a letter.
"Now being connected so long in the art
"It would not be prudent at present to part;
"And people, perhaps, would be frightened, and fret
"If the devil alone carried on the Gazette."
Says Jemmy to Satan (by the way of a wipe),
"Who gives me the matter should furnish the type;
"And why you find fault, I can scarcely divine,
"For the types, like the printer, are certainly thine.
[Pg 117]
"'Tis yours to deceive with the semblance of truth,
"Thou friend of my age, and thou guide of my youth!
"But, to prosper, pray send me some further supplies,
"A sett of new types, and a sett of new lies."

[127] Published in the Freeman's Journal, February 13, 1782.


A SPEECH[128]

That should have been spoken by the King of the Island of Britain to his Parliament

My lords, I can hardly from weeping refrain,
When I think of this year and its cursed campaign;[129]
But still it is folly to whine and to grieve,
For things will yet alter, I hope and believe.
Of the four southern States we again are bereav'd,
They were just in our grasp (or I'm sadly deceiv'd):
There are wizards and witches that dwell in those lands,
For the moment we gain them, they slip from our hands.
Our prospects at present most gloomy appear;
Cornwallis returns with a flea in his ear,
Sir Henry is sick of his station we know—
And Amherst, though press'd, is unwilling to go.
The Hero[130] that steer'd for the cape of Good Hope
With Monsieur Suffrein was unable to cope—
[Pg 118]Many months are elaps'd, yet his task is to do—
To conquer the cape, and to conquer Peru:
When his squadron at Portsmouth he went to equip
He promis'd great things from his fifty-gun ship;
But let him alone—while he knows which is which,
He'll not be so ready "to die in a ditch."
This session, I thought to have told you thus much,
"A treaty concluded, and peace with the Dutch"—
But as stubborn as ever, they vapour and brag,
And sail by my nose with the Prussian flag.
The empress refuses to join on our side,
As yet with the Indians we're only ally'd:
(Though such an alliance is rather improper,
For we English are white, but their colour is copper.)
The Irish, I fear, have some mischief in view;
They ever have been a most troublesome crew—
If a truce or a treaty hereafter be made,
They shall pay very dear for their present free trade.
Dame Fortune, I think, has our standards forsaken,
For Tobago, they say, by Frenchmen is taken;
Minorca's besieg'd—and as for Gibraltar,
By Jove, if it's taken I'll take to the halter.
It makes me so wroth, I could scold like Xantippe
When I think of our losses along Mississippi—
And see in the Indies that horrible Hyder,
His conquests extending still wider and wider.
'Twixt Washington, Hyder, Don Galvez, De Grasse,
By my soul we are brought to a very fine pass—
When we've reason to hope new battles are won,
A packet arrives—and an army's undone!—
[Pg 119]
In the midst of this scene of dismay and distress,
What is best to be done, is not easy to guess,
For things may go wrong though we plan them aright,
And blows they must look for, whose trade is to fight.
In regard to the rebels, it is my decree
That dependent on Britain they ever shall be;
Or I've captains and hosts that will fly at my nod
And slaughter them all—by the blessing of God.
But if they succeed, as they're likely to do,
Our neighbours must part with their colonies too:
Let them laugh and be merry, and make us their jest,
When La Plata revolts, we shall laugh with the rest—
'Tis true that the journey to castle St. Juan
Was a project that brought the projectors to ruin;
But still, my dear lords, I would have you reflect,
Who nothing do venture can nothing expect.
If the Commons agree to afford me new treasures,
My sentence once more is for vigorous measures:
Accustom'd so long to head winds and bad weather,
Let us conquer or go to the devil together.

[128] In the Freeman's Journal of February 2, 1782, is given his Majesty's speech of November 27, 1781, in full, followed by the speech he should have given. The first tidings of the surrender of Cornwallis reached England November 25. The king's speech to Parliament was confused and aimless.

[129] Alluding to the last campaign of the war, which culminated in the surrender of Cornwallis.

[130] "Commodore George Johnstone, commanding the British East India fleet, was attacked by the French fleet under M. de Suffrein at St. Jago, one of the Cape de Verd Islands, in 1781. Johnstone's flag-ship was the Rodney, 50."—Duyckinck.


[Pg 120]

RIVINGTON'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT[131]

[A True Copy from the Records][132]

Since life is uncertain, and no one can say,
How soon we may go, or how long we shall stay,
Methinks he is wisest who soonest prepares,
And settles in season his worldly affairs:
Some folks are so weak they can scarce avoid crying,
And think when they're making their wills they are dying;
'Tis surely a serious employment—but still,
Who e'er died the sooner for making his will?
Let others be sad when their lives they review,
But I know whom I've serv'd—and him faithfully too;
And though it may seem a fanatical story,
He often has show'd me a glimpse of his glory.
[Pg 121]
Imprimis, my carcase I give and devise
To be made into cakes of a moderate size,
To nourish those tories whose spirits may droop,
And serve the king's army with Portable Soup.
Unless I mistake, in the scriptures we read
That "worms on the dead shall deliciously feed,"
The scripture stands true—and that I am firm in,
For what are our tories and soldiers but vermin?—
This soup of soups can't be call'd that of beef,
And this may to some be a matter of grief:
But I'm certain the Bull would occasion a laugh,
That beef Portable Soup should be made of a Calf.
To the king, my dear master, I give a full sett
(In volumes bound up) of the Royal Gazette,
In which he will find the vast record contain'd
Of provinces conquer'd and victories gain'd.
As to Arnold the traitor and Satan his brother,
I beg they will also accept of another;
And this shall be bound in Morocco red leather,
Provided they'll read it like brothers together.
But if Arnold should die, 'tis another affair,
Then Satan surviving shall be the sole heir;
He often has told me he thought it quite clever,
So to him and his heirs I bequeath it forever.
I know there are some (that would fain be thought wise)
Who say my Gazette is the record of lies;
In answer to this, I shall only reply—
All the choice that I had was to starve or to lie.
[Pg 122]
My fiddles, my flutes, French horns and guittars[A]
I leave to our heroes now weary of wars—
To the wars of the stage they more boldly advance,
The captains shall play and the soldiers shall dance.[B]

[A] The articles of bequest in this poem were incessantly advertised in the Royal Gazette, and puffed off with a dexterity peculiar to the editor of that paper.—Freneau's note in ed. of 1809.

[B] It became fashionable at this period with the British officers to assume the business of the Drama, to the no small mortification of those who had been holding them up as the undoubted conquerors of North America.—Ib.

To Sir Henry Clinton, his use and behoof,
I leave my French brandy of very high proof;
It will give him fresh spirits for battle and slaughter
And make him feel bolder by land and by water:
Yet I caution the knight, for fear he do wrong,
'Tis avant la viande et apres le poisson[C]
It will strengthen his stomach, prevent it from turning,
And digest the affront of his effigy burning.

[C] Before flesh and after fish.—See the Royal Gazette.—Ib.

To Baron Knyphausen,[133] his heirs and assigns,
I bequeath my old hock, and my Burgundy wines,
To a true Hessian drunkard no liquors are sweeter,
And I know the old man is no foe to the creature.
To a general, my namesake,[D] I give and dispose
Of a purse full of clipp'd, light, sweated half joes;
I hereby desire him to take back his trash,
And return me my Hannay's infallible Wash.[E]

[D] General James Robertson.—Ib.

[E] Used in the venereal disease.—Ib.

[Pg 123]My chessmen and tables, and other such chattels
I give to Cornwallis renowned in battles:
By moving of these (not tracing the map)
He'll explain to the king how he got in the trap.
To good David Mathews[135] (among other slops)
I give my whole cargo of Maredant's drops,
If they cannot do all, they may cure him in part,
And scatter the poison that cankers his heart:
Provided, however, and nevertheless,
That what other estate I enjoy and possess
At the time of my death (if it be not then sold)
Shall remain to the Tories to have and to hold.
As I thus have bequeath'd them both carcase and fleece,
The least they can do is to wait my decease;
But to give them what substance I have, ere I die,
And be eat up with vermin, while living—not I—
In Witness whereof (though no ailment I feel)
Hereunto I set both my hand and my seal;
(As the law says) in presence of witnesses twain,
'Squire John Coghill Knap,[F] and brother Hugh Gaine.

[F] A Notary Public in New-York.—Freneau's note. "'Knapp,' says Dawson, in a note to New York City During the Revolution, was 'a notorious pettifogger, a convict who had fled from England for his own benefit.'"—Duyckinck.

James Rivington, (L.S.)
New-York, Feb. 20, 1782.

[131] Published in the Freeman's Journal, February 27, 1782. One week earlier it was advertised for sale as a broadside. I have followed the 1786 version.

James Rivington, an Englishman, was a bookseller and printer in New York from 1761 until the close of the Revolution. In 1773 he published the first number of The New York Gazetteer, or the Connecticut, New Jersey, Hudson's River and Quebec Weekly Advertiser. At the opening of the war he became a violent British partisan. His office was destroyed by the Whigs in 1775. Two years later he established Rivington's New York Loyal Gazette, which became the official British newspaper in America. On December 13 of the same year, he changed the name to the Royal Gazette. In the last years of the Revolution, when British success seemed more and more uncertain, Rivington began to lean toward the Whig side, but he was never trusted by the patriots, and he passed his last years in loneliness and poverty.

[132] Omitted in later editions.

[133] Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen, in command of the Hessian troops.

[134] "Tremendous."—Ed. 1809.

[135] David Mathews, Mayor of New York during the British occupancy.


[Pg 124]

LINES

Occasioned by Mr. Rivington's new Titular Types to his Royal Gazette, of February 27, 1782[136]

Well—now (said the devil) it looks something better!
Your title is struck on a charming new Letter:
Last night in the dark, as I gave it a squint,
I saw my dear partner had taken the hint.
I ever surmised (though 'twas doubted by some)
That the old types were shadows of substance to come:
But if the new Letter is pregnant with charms,
It grieves me to think of those cursed King's Arms!
The Dieu et mon droit (his God and his right)
Is so dim, that I hardly know what is meant by't;
The paws of the Lion can scarcely be seen,
And the Unicorn's guts are most shamefully lean!
The Crown is so worn of your master the Despot,
That I hardly know whether 'tis a crown or a pisspot:
When I rub up my day-lights, and look very sharp
I just can distinguish the Irishman's Harp:
Another device appears rather silly,
Alas! it is only the shade of the Lilly!
For the honour of George, and the fame of our nation,
Pray give his escutcheons a rectification—
Or I know what I know, (and I'm a queer shaver)
Of Him and his Arms I'll be the In-grave-r.

[136] Published in the Freeman's Journal, March 13, 1782.


[Pg 125]

LINES

On Mr. Rivington's new engraved King's Arms to his Royal Gazette[137]

From the regions of night, with his head in a sack,
Ascended a person accoutred in black,
And upward directing his circular eye whites;
(Like the Jure-divino political Levites)
And leaning his elbow on Rivington's shelf,
While the printer was busy, thus mus'd with himself:
"My mandates are fully complied with at last,
"New arms are engrav'd, and new letters are cast:
"I therefore determine and freely accord,
"This servant of mine shall receive his reward."
Then turning about, to the printer he said,
"Who late was my servant shall now be my Aid;
"Since under my banners so bravely you fight,
"Kneel down!—for your merits I dubb you a knight,
"From a passive subaltern I bid you to rise
"The Inventor as well as the Printer of lies."

[137] Freeman's Journal, March 27, 1782. The Gazette, among the Whigs at least, was the synonym for falsity and unfairness. It was generally alluded to as the Lying Gazette.


[Pg 126]

A PROPHECY[138]

Written 1782

When a certain great king, whose initial is G,
Shall force stamps upon paper, and folks to drink tea;
When these folks burn his tea, and stampt paper, like stubble,
You may guess that this king is then coming to trouble.
But when a petition he treads under his feet,
And sends over the ocean an army and fleet;[Pg 127]
When that army, half-starved, and frantic with rage,
Shall be coop'd up with a leader whose name rhymes to cage,
When that leader goes home, dejected and sad,
You may then be assur'd the king's prospects are bad:
But when B and C with their armies are taken,
This king will do well if he saves his own bacon.
In the year seventeen hundred and eighty and two,
A stroke he shall get that will make him look blue;
In the years eighty-three, eighty-four, eighty-five,
You hardly shall know that the king is alive;[139]
In the year eighty-six[140] the affair will be over,
And he shall eat turnips that grow in Hanover.
The face of the lion then shall become pale,
He shall yield fifteen teeth, and be sheer'd of his tail.
O king, my dear king, you shall be very sore,
The Stars and the Lilly shall run you on shore,
And your lion shall growl, but never bite more.

[138] Published in the Freeman's Journal, March 27, 1782, with the following introduction:

"Mr. Printer: The people of England at this time seem persuaded or rather deluded into the opinion that the American revolt will be quashed in the year 1786, and under that idea it is likely will prosecute the war with vigour for some time to come. This infatuation chiefly owes its birth to a prophecy of one John Cosins, who lived in the reign of the Second Charles, importing that a certain transatlantic insurrection, and the Kirk of Scotland, will both fall to the ground in the year above mentioned. Cosins's predictions are as follows, taken from the Royal Gazette of the 18th ult.:

'When a branch of the thistle gets over the Atlantic,
And in a new world the root shall be planted,
And when it doth arrive at a degree of perfection
It surely will breed a great insurrection.
In the year seventy and four the root will be polished,
And in eighty and six it will be quite abolished.
The lily and the thistle in that year will unite,
But the lion and the dun cow will put them to flight.
The eagle will eagerly join in the fray,
But luna will clip both their wings in a day.
O thistle, O thistle, thy wounds will be sore.
Kirk and kirk government will be no more,
And you'll be abridg'd of all civil power.'

To show that America has not been wholly destitute of oracular sages in past times, I send you the following choice words or prophetical hints of an illiterate fisherman, who died about thirty years ago at his habitation, a few miles above the mouth of the Susquehanna. I discovered the paper containing them by mere accident in tumbling over the leaves of an old book at an inn near that place. If you think the lines worth inserting in your paper, they are at your service."

Reprinted without change in the edition of 1786, the text of which I have followed above. In later editions the prophecy was changed somewhat to conform to historical facts.

[139] In the later editions these two lines are made to read:

"And soon, very soon, shall the season arrive
When Nebuchadnezzar to pasture shall drive."

[140] "In the year eighty-three."—Ed. 1795.


[Pg 128]

THE ARGONAUT

OR, LOST ADVENTURER[141]

True to his trade—the slave of fortune still—
In a sweet isle, where never winter reigns,
I found him at the foot of a tall hill,
Mending old sails, and chewing sugar canes:
Pale ivy round him grew, and mingled vines,
Plaintains, bananas ripe, and yellow pines.
And flowering night-shade, with its dismal green,
Ash-coloured iris, painted by the sun,
And fair-haired hyacinth was near him seen,
And China pinks by marygolds o'er-run:—
"But what (said he) have men that sail the seas,
"Ah, what have they to do with things like these!
"I did not wish to leave those shades, not I,
"Where Amoranda turns her spinning-wheel;
"Charmed with the shallow stream, that murmured by,
"I felt as blest as any swain could feel,
"Who, seeking nothing that the world admires,
"On one poor valley fixed his whole desires.
"With masts so trim, and sails as white as snow,
"The painted barque deceived me from the land,
"Pleased, on her sea-beat decks I wished to go,
"Mingling my labours with her hardy band;
"To reef the sail, to guide the foaming prow
"As far as winds can waft, or oceans flow.
[Pg 129]
"To combat with the waves who first essayed,
"Had these gay groves his lightsome heart beguiled,
"His heart, attracted by the charming shade,
"Had changed the deep sea for the woody wild;
"And slighted all the gain that Neptune yields
"For Damon's cottage, or Palemon's fields.
"His barque, the bearer of a feeble crew,
"How could he trust when none had been to prove her;
"Courage might sink when lands and shores withdrew,
"And feeble hearts a thousand deaths discover:
"But Fortitude, tho' woes and death await,
"Still views bright skies, and leaves the dark to fate.
"From monkey climes where limes and lemons grow,
"And the sweet orange swells her fruit so fair,
"To wintry worlds, with heavy heart, I go
"To face the cold glance of the northern bear,
"Where lonely waves, far distant from the sun,
"And gulphs, of mighty strength, their circuits run.
"But how disheartening is the wanderer's fate!
"When conquered by the loud tempestuous main,
"On him, no mourners in procession wait,
"Nor do the sisters of the harp complain.—
"On coral beds and deluged sands they sleep,
"Who sink in storms, and mingle with the deep.
"'Tis folly all—and who can truly tell
"What storms disturb the bosom of that main,
"What ravenous fish in those dark climates dwell
"That feast on men—then stay, my gentle swain!
"Bred in yon' happy shades, be happy there,
"And let these quiet groves claim all your care."
[Pg 130]
So spoke poor Ralph, and with a smooth sea gale
Fled from the magic of the enchanting shore,
But whether winds or waters did prevail,
I saw the black ship ne'er returning more,
Though long I walked the margin of the main,
And long have looked—and still must look in vain!

[141] From the edition of 1809. In 1788 this was entitled "The Lost Sailor;" in 1795, "Argonauta."


THE POLITICAL BALANCE[142]

Or, The Fates of Britain and America Compared

A Tale

Deciding Fates, in Homer's stile, we shew,
And bring contending gods once more to view.
As Jove the Olympian (who both I and you know,
Was brother to Neptune, and husband to Juno)
Was lately reviewing his papers of state,
He happened to light on the records of Fate:
In Alphabet order this volume was written—
So he opened at B, for the article Britain—
She struggles so well, said the god, I will see
What the sisters in Pluto's dominions decree.
And first, on the top of a column he read
"Of a king with a mighty soft place in his head,
"Who should join in his temper the ass and the mule,
"The third of his name, and by far the worst fool:
[Pg 131]
"His reign shall be famous for multiplication,
"The sire and the king of a whelp generation:
"But such is the will and the purpose of fate,
"For each child he begets he shall forfeit a State:
"In the course of events, he shall find to his cost
"That he cannot regain what he foolishly lost;
"Of the nations around he shall be the derision,
"And know by experience the rule of Division."
So Jupiter read—a god of first rank—
And still had read on—but he came to a blank:
For the Fates had neglected the rest to reveal—
They either forgot it, or chose to conceal:
When a leaf is torn out, or a blot on a page
That pleases our fancy, we fly in a rage—
So, curious to know what the Fates would say next,
No wonder if Jove, disappointed, was vext.
But still as true genius not frequently fails,
He glanced at the Virgin, and thought of the Scales;
And said, "To determine the will of the Fates,
"One scale shall weigh Britain, the other the States."
Then turning to Vulcan, his maker of thunder,
Said he, "My dear Vulcan, I pray you look yonder,
"Those creatures are tearing each other to pieces,
"And, instead of abating, the carnage increases.
"Now, as you are a blacksmith, and lusty stout ham-eater,
"You must make me a globe of a shorter diameter;
"The world in abridgment, and just as it stands
"With all its proportions of waters and lands;
[Pg 132]
"But its various divisions must so be designed,
"That I can unhinge it whene'er I've a mind—
"How else should I know what the portions will weigh,
"Or which of the combatants carry the day?"
Old Vulcan complied, (we've no reason to doubt it)
So he put on his apron and strait went about it—
Made center, and circles as round as a pancake,
And here the Pacific, and there the Atlantic.
An axis he hammered, whose ends were the poles,
(On which the whole body perpetually rolls)
A brazen meridian he added to these,
Where four times repeated were[143] ninety degrees.
I am sure you had laughed to have seen his droll attitude,
When he bent round the surface the circles of latitude,
The zones and the tropics, meridians, equator,
And other fine things that are drawn on salt water.
Away to the southward (instructed by Pallas)
He placed in the ocean the Terra Australis,
New Holland, New Guinea, and so of the rest—
America lay by herself in the west:
From the regions where winter eternally reigns,
To the climes of Peru he extended her plains;
Dark groves, and the zones did her bosom adorn,
And the Crosiers,[A] new burnished, he hung at Cape Horn.

[A] Stars, in the form of a cross, which mark the South Pole in Southern latitudes.—Freneau's note.

The weight of two oceans she bore on her sides,[Pg 133]
With all their convulsions of tempests and tides;
Vast lakes on her surface did fearfully roll,
And the ice from her rivers surrounded the pole.
Then Europe and Asia he northward extended,
Where under the Arctic with Zembla they ended;
(The length of these regions he took with his garters,
Including Siberia, the land of the Tartars.)
In the African clime (where the cocoa-nut tree grows)
He laid down the desarts, and even the negroes,
The shores by the waves of four oceans embraced,
And elephants strolling about in the waste.
In forming East India, he had a wide scope,
Beginning his work at the cape of Good Hope;
Then eastward of that he continued his plan,
'Till he came to the empire and isles of Japan.
Adjacent to Europe he struck up an island,
(One part of it low, but the other was high land)
With many a comical creature upon it,
And one wore a hat, and another a bonnet.
Like emmits or ants in a fine summer's day,
They ever were marching in battle array,
Or skipping about on the face of the brine,
Like witches in egg-shells (their ships of the line).
These poor little creatures were all in a flame,
To the lands of America urging their claim,
Still biting, or stinging, or spreading their sails;
(For Vulcan had formed them with stings in their tails).
[Pg 134]

[B] Their national debt being now above l. 200,000,000 sterling.—Freneau's note.

So poor and so lean, you might count all their ribs,[B]
Yet were so enraptured with crackers and squibs,
That Vulcan with laughter almost split asunder,
"Because they imagined their crackers were thunder."
Due westward from these, with a channel between,
A servant to slaves, Hibernia was seen,
Once crowded with monarchs, and high in renown,
But all she retained was the Harp and the Crown!
Insulted forever by nobles and priests,[144]
And managed by bullies, and governed by beasts,
She looked!—to describe her I hardly know how—
Such an image of death in the scowl on her brow.
For scaffolds and halters were full in her view,
And the fiends of perdition their cutlasses drew:
And axes and gibbets around her were placed,
And the demons of murder her honours defaced.
With the blood of the worthy her mantle was stained,
And hardly a trace of her beauty remained.
Her genius, a female, reclined in the shade,
And, sick of oppression,[145] so mournfully played,
That Jove was uneasy to hear her complain,
And ordered his blacksmith to loosen her chain:
Then tipt her a wink, saying, "Now is your time,
"(To rebel is the sin, to revolt is no crime)
"When your fetters are off, if you dare not be free
"Be a slave and be damned,[146] but complain not to me."
[Pg 135]
But finding her timid, he cried in a rage—
"Though the doors are flung open, she stays in the cage!
"Subservient to Britain then let her remain,
"And her freedom shall be, but the choice[147] of her chain,"
At length, to discourage all stupid pretensions,
Jove looked at the globe, and approved its dimensions,
And cried in a transport—"Why what have we here!
"Friend Vulcan, it is a most beautiful sphere!
"Now while I am busy in taking apart
"This globe that is formed with such exquisite art,
"Go, Hermes, to Libra, (you're one of her gallants)
"And ask, in my name, for the loan of her balance."
Away posted Hermes, as swift as the gales,
And as swiftly returned with the ponderous scales,
And hung them aloft to a beam in the air,
So equally poised, they had turned with a hair.
Now Jove to Columbia his shoulders applied,
But aiming to lift her, his strength she defied—
Then, turning about to their godships, he says—
"A body so vast is not easy to raise;
"But if you assist me, I still have a notion
"Our forces, united, can put her in motion,
"And swing her aloft, (though alone I might fail)
"And place her, in spite of her bulk, in our scale;
"If six years together the Congress have strove,
"And more than divided the empire with Jove;
"With a Jove like myself, who am nine times as great,
"You can join, like their soldiers, to heave up this weight."
[Pg 136]
So to it they went, with handspikes and levers,
And upward she sprung, with her mountains and rivers!
Rocks, cities, and islands, deep waters and shallows,
Ships, armies, and forests, high heads and fine fellows:
"Stick to it!" cries Jove, "now heave one and all!
"At least we are lifting 'one-eighth of the ball!'
"If backward she tumbles—then trouble begins,
"And then have a care, my dear boys, of your shins!"
When gods are determined what project can fail?
So they gave a hard shove, and she mounted the scale;
Suspended aloft, Jove viewed her with awe—
And the gods,[C] for their pay, had a hearty—huzza!

[C] American soldiers.—Freneau's note.

But Neptune bawled out—"Why Jove you're a noddy,
"Is Britain sufficient to poise that vast body?
"'Tis nonsense such castles to build in the air—
"As well might an oyster with Britain compare."
"Away to your waters, you blustering bully,"
Said Jove, "or I'll make you repent of your folly,
"Is Jupiter, Sir, to be tutored by you?—
"Get out of my sight, for I know what to do!"
Then searching about with his fingers for Britain,
Thought he, "this same island I cannot well hit on;
"The devil take him who first called her the Great:
"If she was—she is vastly diminished of late!"
Like a man that is searching his thigh for a flea.
He peeped and he fumbled, but nothing could see;
At last he exclaimed—"I am surely upon it—
"I think I have hold of a Highlander's bonnet."
[Pg 137]
But finding his error, he said with a sigh,
"This bonnet is only the island of Skie!"[D]
So away to his namesake the planet he goes,
And borrowed two moons to hang on his nose.

[D] An Island on the north-west of Scotland.—Freneau's note.

Through these, as through glasses, he saw her quite clear,
And in raptures cried out—"I have found her—she's here!
"If this be not Britain, then call me an ass—
"She looks like a gem in an ocean of glass.
"But, faith, she's so small I must mind how I shake her;
"In a box I'll inclose her, for fear I should break her:
"Though a god, I might suffer for being aggressor,
"Since scorpions, and vipers, and hornets possess her;
"The white cliffs of Albion I think I descry—
"And the hills of Plinlimmon appear rather nigh—
"But, Vulcan, inform me what creatures are these,
"That smell so of onions, and garlick, and cheese?"
Old Vulcan replied—"Odds splutter a nails!
"Why, these are the Welch, and the country is Wales!
"When Taffy is vext, no devil is ruder—
"Take care how you trouble the offspring of Tudor!
"On the crags of the mountains hur living hur seeks,
"Hur country is planted with garlick and leeks;
"So great is hur choler, beware how you teaze hur,
"For these are the Britons—unconquered by Cæsar."[148]
[Pg 138]
"But now, my dear Juno, pray give me my mittens,
"(These insects I am going to handle are Britons)
"I'll draw up their isle with a finger and thumb,
"As the doctor extracts an old tooth from the gum."
Then he raised her aloft—but to shorten our tale,
She looked like a clod in the opposite scale—
Britannia so small, and Columbia so large—
A ship of first rate, and a ferryman's barge!
Cried Pallas to Vulcan, "Why, Jove's in a dream—
"Observe how he watches the turn of the beam!
"Was ever a mountain outweighed by a grain?
"Or what is a drop when compared to the main?"
But Momus alledged—"In my humble opinion,
"You should add to Great-Britain her foreign dominion,
"When this is appended, perhaps she will rise,
"And equal her rival in weight and in size."
"Alas! (said the monarch), your project is vain,
"But little is left of her foreign domain;
"And, scattered about in the liquid expanse,
"That little is left to the mercy of France;
"However, we'll lift them, and give her fair play"—
And soon in the scale with their mistress they lay;
But the gods were confounded and struck with surprise,
And Vulcan could hardly believe his own eyes!
For (such was the purpose and guidance of fate)
Her foreign dominions diminished her weight—
By which it appeared, to Britain's disaster,
Her foreign possessions were changing their master.
[Pg 139]
Then, as he replaced them, said Jove with a smile—
"Columbia shall never be ruled by an isle—
"But vapours and darkness around her may rise,
"And tempests conceal her awhile from our eyes;
"So locusts in Egypt their squadrons display,
"And rising, disfigure the face of the day;
"So the moon, at her full, has a frequent eclipse,
"And the sun in the ocean diurnally dips.
"Then cease your endeavours, ye vermin of Britain—
(And here, in derision, their island he spit on)
"'Tis madness to seek what you never can find,
"Or to think of uniting what nature disjoined;
"But still you may flutter awhile with your wings,
"And spit out your venom and brandish your stings:
"Your hearts are as black, and as bitter as gall,
"A curse to mankind—and a blot on the Ball."[E]

[E] It is hoped that such a sentiment may not be deemed wholly illiberal—Every candid person will certainly draw a line between a brave and magnanimous people, and a most vicious and vitiating government. Perhaps the following extract from a pamphlet lately published in London and republished at Baltimore (June, 1809) by Mr. Bernard Dornin, will place the preceding sentiment in a fair point of view:

"A better spirit than exists in the English people, never existed in any people in the world; it has been misdirected, and squandered upon party purposes in the most degrading and scandalous manner; they have been led to believe that they were benefiting the commerce of England by destroying the commerce of America, that they were defending their sovereign by perpetuating the bigoted oppression of their fellow subjects; their rulers and their guides have told them that they would equal the vigour of France by equalling her atrocity, and they have gone on, wasting that opulence, patience and courage, which if husbanded by prudent, and moderate counsels, might have proved the salvation of mankind. The same policy of turning the good qualities of Englishmen to their own destruction, which made Mr. Pitt omnipotent, continues his power to those who resemble him only in his vices; advantage is taken of the loyalty of Englishmen, to make them meanly submissive; their piety is turned into persecution; their courage into useless and obstinate contention; they are plundered because they are ready to pay, and soothed into assinine stupidity because they are full of virtuous patience. If England must perish at last, so let it be: that event is in the hands of God; we must dry up our tears, and submit. But that England should perish swindling and stealing; that it should perish waging war against lazar-houses and hospitals; that it should perish persecuting with monastic bigotry; that it should calmly give itself up to be ruined by the flashy arrogance of one man, and the narrow fanaticism of another: these events are within the power of human beings, but I did not think that the magnanimity of Englishmen would ever stoop to such degradations."—Freneau's note.

[142] This poem appeared in the April 3, 1782, issue of the Freeman's Journal, filling the entire first page of the paper. I have followed the text of the 1809 edition.

[143] "On which were engraven twice."—Ed. 1786.

[144] This and the nine following lines were written for the edition of 1809.

[145] "Merely for music."—Ed. 1786.

[146] "If you will,"—Ib.

[147] "Length."—Ed. 1786.

[148] In the 1786 edition there was inserted at this point the following stanza omitted in the later versions:

"Jove peep'd thro' his moons, and examin'd their features,
And said, 'By my truth, they are wonderful creatures,
'The beards are so long that encircle their throats,
'That (unless they are Welchmen) I swear they are goats.'"

[Pg 140]

DIALOGUE AT HYDE-PARK CORNER[149]

(London)

Burgoyne
Let those who will, be proud and sneer
And call you an unwelcome peer,
But I am glad to see you here:
The prince that fills the British throne,
Unless successful, honours none;
Poor Jack Burgoyne!—you're not alone.
Cornwallis
Thy ships, De Grasse, have caused my grief—
To rebel shores and their relief
There never came a luckier chief:
In fame's black page it shall be read,
By Gallic arms my soldiers bled—
The rebels thine in triumph led.
[Pg 141]
Burgoyne
Our fortunes different forms assume,
I called and called for elbow-room,[150]
Till Gates discharged me to my doom;[151]
But you, that conquered far and wide,
In little York thought fit to hide,
The subject ocean at your side.
Cornwallis
And yet no force had gained that post—
Not Washington, his country's boast,
Nor Rochambeau, with all his host,
Nor all the Gallic fleet's parade—
Had Clinton hurried to my aid,
And Sammy Graves been not afraid.
Burgoyne
For head knocked off, or broken bones,
Or mangled corpse, no price atones;
Nor all that prattling rumour says,
Nor all the piles that art can raise,
The poet's or the parson's praise.
Cornwallis
Though I am brave, as well as you,
Yet still I think your notion true;
Dear brother Jack, our toils are o'er—
With foreign conquests plagued no more,
We'll stay and guard our native shore.

[149] Text from the edition of 1809. The poem first appeared in the Freeman's Journal, April 24, 1782.

[150] See Vol. I, page 166, note.

[151]

"Had I been blest with elbow-room,
I might have found a different doom."—Ed. 1786.

[Pg 142]

ON THE LATE ROYAL SLOOP OF WAR
GENERAL MONK[152]

(Formerly the Washington)

Mounting Six Quarter Deck Wooden Guns

When the Washington ship by the English was beat,
They sent her to England to shew their great feat,
And Sandwich straitway, as a proof of his spunk,
Dashed out her old name, and called her the Monk.
"This Monk hated Rebels (said Sandy)—'od rot 'em—
"So heave her down quickly, and copper her bottom;
"With the sloops of our navy we'll have her enrolled,
"And manned with picked sailors to make her feel bold;
[Pg 143]
"To shew that our king is both valiant and good,
"Some guns shall be iron, and others be wood,
"And, in truth, (though I wish not the secret to spread)
"All her guns should be wooden—to suit with his head."

[152] First published in the Freeman's Journal, April 24, 1782. On April 10, the Journal contained the following account of the battle:

"Yesterday the Hyder Ally, a vessel fitted out for the protection of this river and its trade, returned to Chester after a severe conflict with a vessel of superior force, which with great gallantry and good conduct on the part of Capt. Barney and his crew, has been captured and brought into port. The particulars of the action, as far as we have been able to collect them, are that a fleet of merchantmen, having proceeded down the bay, were met by an enemy's frigate of forty guns, with the General Monk, Sloop of War, and Fair American, privateer; the General Monk having eighteen nine pounders and one hundred and fifty men. The fleet endeavored to return, but were pursued by the frigate, sloop, and privateer. The Fair American being engaged with one of the fleet, and the frigate being at a considerable distance, gave the Hyder Ally an opportunity to attack the General Monk singly, which Capt. Barney embraced, and after a very close and brave attack of about thirty minutes, the General Monk surrendered to her inferior adversary. The General Monk had fifty-three men killed and wounded, among whom are most of the officers; on board the Hyder Ally there were fifteen killed and wounded. A brig, one of the fleet, was taken, and the General Greene left engaged with the Fair American. The conduct of Capt. Barney has given the greatest satisfaction and shows him truly worthy of the trust committed to him."


TRUTH ANTICIPATED[153][A]

A Rivingtonian Dialogue

[A] "Occasioned by the naval victory gained by Admiral Rodney and Capt. Cornwallis, of the British fleet in the West Indies, over the squadron of Count De Grasse."—Freneau's note to 1809 edition.

On June 5, 1782, Freneau printed the following in the Journal:

"Formidable, between Guadaloupe and Monpenat,
April 14, 1782.        

"Sir: I am this moment favoured with your excellency's letter, and have the happiness to acquaint you that after having had a partial engagement with the enemy on the 9th, wherein 16 of my rear were prevented by calms from joining in the action, on the 12th I had the good fortune to bring them to a general action, which lasted from seven o'clock in the morning until half-past six in the afternoon, without a moment's intermission. Count de Grasse, with the Ville de Paris and four other ships of the line and one sunk, graced the victory. The remainder of their fleet was so miserably shattered and their loss of men so very great from their having their whole army consisting of 5,500 men on board the ships of war, that I am convinced it will be almost impossible to put them in a condition for service for some considerable time.

I am hastening with my whole fleet, etc.                
G. B. Rodney."

Freneau's early doubts as to this victory, which was loudly proclaimed in the Royal Gazette, is evidenced not only by the poem, but by the following comment on Rodney's letter:

"The unskilful forger of Sir George Rodney's letter, which is pretended to have been wafted from Jamaica to Savannah and thence to Charleston, exhibits Sir George not as a British admiral, but as a saucy upstart.... To comment on this absurd forgery would be nugatory."

What brilliant events have of late come to pass,
No less than the capture of Monsieur de Grasse!
His majesty's printer has told it for true,
As we had it from him, so we give it to you.
[Pg 144]
Many folks of discernment the story believed,
And the devil himself it at first had deceived,
Had it not been that Satan imported the stuff,
And signed it George Rodney, by way of high proof.[154]
Said Satan to Jemmy, "Let's give them the whappers—
"Some news I have got that will bring in the coppers,
"And truth it shall be, though I pass it for lies,
"And making a page of your newspaper size.
"A wide field is open to favour my plan,
"And the rebels may prove that I lie—if they can;
"Since they jested and laughed at our lying before,
"Let it pass for a lie, to torment them the more.
"My wings are yet wet with the West-India dew,
"And Rodney I left, to come hither to you,
"I left him bedeviled with brimstone and smoke,
"The French in distress, and their armament broke.
"For news so delightful, with heart and with voice
"The Tories of every degree may rejoice;
"With charcoal and sulphur shall utter their joy
"'Till they all get as black as they paint the old Boy."
Thus, pleased with the motion, each cutting a caper,
Down they sat at the table, with pen, ink, and paper;
In less than five minutes the matter was stated,
And Jemmy turned scribe, while Satan dictated.
[Pg 145]
"Begin (said the devil) in the form of a Letter,
"(If you call it true copy, 'tis so much the better)
"Make Rodney assert he met the French fleet,
"Engaged it, and gave 'em a total defeat.
"But the better to vamp up a show of reality,
"The tale must be told with circumstantiality,
"What vessels were conquered by Britain's bold sons,
"Their quotas of men, and their number of guns.
"There's the Villa de Paris—one hundred and ten—
"Write down that George Rodney has killed half her men—
"That her hull and her rigging are shattered and shaken,
"Her flag humbled down, and her admiral taken.
"Le Cesar, 'tis true, is a seventy-four,
"But the Villa de Paris was thirty-six more;
"With a grey goose's quill if that ship we did seize on,
"Le Cesar must fall, or I'll know what's the reason.
"The next that I fix on to take is the Hector,
"(Her name may be Trojan, but shall not protect her)
"Don't faulter, dear comrade, and look like a goose,
"If we've taken these three, we can take Glorieuse.
"The last mentioned ship runs their loss up to four,
"Le Diadem sunk, shall make it one more;
"And now, for the sake of round numbers, dear cousin,
"Write Ardent, and then we have just half-a-dozen!"
Jemmy smiled at the notion, and whispered "O fy!
"Indeed 'tis a shame to persuade one to lie"—
But Satan replied—"Consider, my son,
"I am a prince of the winds, and have seen what is done:
[Pg 146]
"With a conquest like this, how bright we shall shine!
"That Rodney has taken six ships of the line,
"Will be in your paper a brilliant affair;
"How the Tories will laugh, and the rebels will swear.
"But farther, dear Jemmy, make Rodney to say,
"If the sun two hours longer had held out the day,
"The rest were so beaten, so baisted, so tore,
"He had taken them all, and he knew not but more."
So the partners broke up, as good friends as they met,
And soon it was all in the Royal Gazette;
The Tories rejoiced at the very good news,
And said, There's no fear we shall die in our shoes.
Now let us give credit to Jemmy, forsooth,
Since once in a way he has hit on the truth:
If again he returns to his practice of lies,
He hardly reflects where he'll go when he dies.
But still, when he dies, let it never be said
That he rests in his grave with no verse at his head;
But furnish, ye poets, some short epitaph,
And something like this, that readers may laugh:
Here lies a King's Printer, we needn't say who:
There is reason to think that he tells what is true:
But if he lies here, 'tis not over-strange,
His present position is but a small change,
So, reader, pass on—'tis a folly to sigh,
For all his life long he did little but lie.

[153] The first trace that I can find of this poem is in the 1786 edition, where it is signed, "Written April, 1782."

[154] "For that was enough."—Ed. 1786.


[Pg 147]

BARNEY'S INVITATION[155]

Come all ye lads who know no fear,
To wealth and honor with me steer
In the Hyder Ali privateer,
Commanded by brave Barney.
She's new and true, and tight and sound,
Well rigged aloft, and all well found—
Come away and be with laurel crowned,
Away—and leave your lasses.
Accept our terms without delay,
And make your fortunes while you may,
Such offers are not every day
In the power of the jolly sailor.
Success and fame attend the brave,
But death the coward and the slave,
Who fears to plow the Atlantic wave,
To seek the bold invaders.
Come, then, and take a cruising bout,
Our ship sails well, there is no doubt,
She has been tried both in and out,
And answers expectation.
[Pg 148]
Let no proud foes whom Europe bore,
Distress our trade, insult our shore—
Teach them to know their reign is o'er,
Bold Philadelphia sailors!
We'll teach them how to sail so near,
Or to venture on the Delaware,
When we in warlike trim appear
And cruise without Henlopen.
Who cannot wounds and battle dare
Shall never clasp the blooming fair;
The brave alone their charms should share,
The brave are their protectors.
With hand and heart united all,
Prepared to conquer or to fall,
Attend, my lads, to honour's call,
Embark in our Hyder Ali.
From an Eastern prince[156] she takes her name,
Who, smit with Freedom's sacred flame,
Usurping Britons brought to shame,
His country's wrongs avenging;
See, on her stern the waving stars—
Inured to blood, inured to wars,
Come, enter quick, my jolly tars,
To scourge these warlike Britons.
[Pg 149]
Here's grog enough—then drink a bout,
I know your hearts are firm and stout;
American blood will never give out,
And often we have proved it.
Though stormy oceans round us roll,
We'll keep a firm undaunted soul,
Befriended by the cheering bowl,
Sworn foes to melancholy:
While timorous landsmen lurk on shore,
'Tis ours to go where cannons roar—
On a coasting cruise we'll go once more,
Despisers of all danger;
And Fortune still, who crowns the brave,
Shall guard us over the gloomy wave
A fearful heart betrays a knave—
Success to the Hyder Ali.

[155] "A number of gentlemen having met in the evening [about April 1, 1782] at Crawford and Donaldson's insurance office in High street and, conversing on the subject of the captures making in the bay by the General Monk, just then arrived, it was resolved to raise a loan of money by which to fit out a vessel which might succeed to capture her. The money was obtained of the Bank of North America upon the responsibility of sundry individuals; the Hyder Ali was purchased of John W. Stanley and the command given to Capt. Barney; a crew of volunteers, chiefly from the regular service, was engaged, and a commission of a letter of marque procured. In a week the vessel was ready and sailed."—Watson's Annals of Philadelphia. The poem was included in the editions of 1786 and 1809. Why Freneau omitted this spirited lyric and also 'Barney's Victory over the Monk' from his edition of 1795 has never been explained.

[156] Hyder Ali, a prince of Mysore, India, who defeated in 1767 the British troops and forced them to sue for peace. In 1780, assisted by the French, he invaded Carnatic, but was defeated the following year by Sir Eyre Coote. From his hostility to the English and his alliance with the French he was hailed with enthusiasm by the American patriots.


SONG[157]

On Captain Barney's Victory over the Ship General Monk

O'er the waste of waters cruising,
Long the General Monk had reigned;
All subduing, all reducing,
None her lawless rage restrained:
[Pg 150]Many a brave and hearty fellow
Yielding to this warlike foe,
When her guns began to bellow
Struck his humbled colours low.
But grown bold with long successes,
Leaving the wide watery way,
She, a stranger to distresses,
Came to cruise within Cape May:
"Now we soon (said captain Rogers)
"Shall their men of commerce meet;
"In our hold we'll have them lodgers,
"We shall capture half their fleet.
"Lo! I see their van appearing—
"Back our topsails to the mast—
"They toward us full are steering
"With a gentle western blast:
"I've a list of all their cargoes,
"All their guns, and all their men:
"I am sure these modern Argos
"Cant escape us one in ten:
"Yonder comes the Charming Sally
"Sailing with the General Greene
"First we'll fight the Hyder Ali,
"Taking her is taking them:
[Pg 151]"She intends to give us battle,
"Bearing down with all her sail—
"Now, boys, let our cannon rattle!
"To take her we cannot fail.
"Our eighteen guns, each a nine pounder,
"Soon shall terrify this foe;
"We shall maul her, we shall wound her,
"Bringing rebel colours low."—
While he thus anticipated
Conquests that he could not gain,
He in the Cape May channel waited
For the ship that caused his pain.
Captain Barney then preparing,
Thus addressed his gallant crew—
"Now, brave lads, be bold and daring,
"Let your hearts be firm and true;
"This is a proud English cruiser,
"Roving up and down the main,
"We must fight her—must reduce her,
"Though our decks be strewed with slain.
"Let who will be the survivor,
"We must conquer or must die,
"We must take her up the river,
"Whate'er comes of you or I:
"Though she shews most formidable
"With her eighteen pointed nines,
"And her quarters clad in sable,
"Let us baulk her proud designs.
"With four nine pounders, and twelve sixes
"We will face that daring band;
"Let no dangers damp your courage,
"Nothing can the brave withstand.
[Pg 152]"Fighting for your country's honour,
"Now to gallant deeds aspire;
"Helmsman, bear us down upon her,
"Gunner, give the word to fire!"
Then yard arm and yard arm meeting,
Strait began the dismal fray,
Cannon mouths, each other greeting,
Belched their smoky flames away:
Soon the langrage, grape and chain shot,
That from Barney's cannons flew,
Swept the Monk, and cleared each round top,
Killed and wounded half her crew.
Captain Rogers strove to rally
But they from their quarters fled,
While the roaring Hyder Ali
Covered o'er his decks with dead.
When from their tops their dead men tumbled,
And the streams of blood did flow,
Then their proudest hopes were humbled
By their brave inferior foe.
All aghast, and all confounded,
They beheld their champions fall,
And their captain, sorely wounded,
Bade them quick for quarters call.
Then the Monk's proud flag descended,
And her cannon ceased to roar;
By her crew no more defended,
She confessed the contest o'er.
Come, brave boys, and fill your glasses,
You have humbled one proud foe,
No brave action this surpasses,
Fame shall tell the nations so—
[Pg 153]Thus be Britain's woes completed,
Thus abridged her cruel reign,
'Till she ever, thus defeated,
Yields the sceptre of the main.

[157] First published in the Freeman's Journal May 8, 1782, with the following introduction:

"Mr. Bailey:

"Reading Capt. Barney's late gallant exploit in your and other newspapers, I could not restrain myself from scribbling the few following stanzas relative to that affair and descriptive not of what was really said or done in the most minute particulars but of what might be supposed to have passed in similar circumstances.

Yours,              
Rusticus.

"Dover, April 26, 1782.
     "To the Tune of the Tempest or Hosier's Ghost."

The omission of this stirring lyric from the edition of 1795 I can ascribe only to accident.


ON SIR HENRY CLINTON'S RECALL[158]

The dog that is beat has a right to complain—
Sir Harry returns a disconsolate man,
To the face of his master, the Lord's[159] oil-anointed,
To the country provided for thieves disappointed.
Our freedom, he thought, to a tyrant must fall,
He concluded the weakest must go to the wall;
The more he was flattered, the bolder he grew—
He quitted the old world to conquer the new.
But in spite of the deeds he has done in his garrison,
(And they have been curious beyond all comparison)
He now must go home, at the call of his king,
To answer the charges that Arnold may bring.
But what are the acts that this chief has atchieved?—
If good, it is hard he should now be aggrieved,
And the more, as he fought for his national glory,
Nor valued, a farthing, the right of the story.
This famous great man, and two birds[A] of his feather,
In the Cerberus frigate came over together;
But of all the bold chiefs that re-measure the trip,
Not two have been known to return in one ship.[160]
[Pg 154]

[A] Generals Howe and Burgoyne.—Freneau's note.

Like children that wrestle and scuffle in sport,
They are very well pleased as long as unhurt,
But a thump on the nose, or a blow in the eye,
Ends the fray—and they go to their daddy and cry.
Sir Clinton, thy deeds have been mighty and many,
You said all our paper was not worth a penny,
('Tis nothing but rags,[B] quoth honest Will Tryon,
Are rags to discourage the Sons of the Lion?)

[B] See his Letters to Gen. Parsons.—Freneau's note.

But Clinton thought thus—"It is folly to fight,
"When things may by easier methods come right,
"There is such an art as counterfeit-ation—
"And I'll do my utmost to honour our nation;
"I'll shew this damned country that I can enslave her,
"And that by the help of a skilful engraver,
"And then let the rebels take care of their bacon,
"We'll play them a trick, or I'm vastly mistaken."
But the project succeeded not quite to your liking,
So you paid off your artist and gave up bill striking;
But 'tis an affair I am glad you are quit on,
You had surely been hanged had you tried it in Britain.
At the taking of Charleston you cut a great figure,
The terms you propounded were terms full of rigour,
Yet could not foresee poor Charley's[C] disgrace,
Nor how soon your own colours would go to the case.
[Pg 155]

[C] Cornwallis.—Ib.

When the town had surrendered, the more to disgrace ye,
(Like another true Briton that did it at 'Statia)
You broke all the terms yourself had extended,
Because you supposed the rebellion was ended;
Whoever the Tories marked out as a Whig,
If gentle, or simple, or little, or big,
No matter to you—to kill 'em and spite 'em,
You soon had 'em up where the dogs couldn't bite 'em.
Then thinking these rebels were snug and secure,
You left them to Rawdon and Nesbit Balfour:
(The face of the latter a mask should be drawed on,
And to fish for the devil my bait should be Rawdon.)
Returning to York with your ships and your plunder,
And boasting that rebels must shortly knock under,
The first thing that struck you, as soon as you landed,
Was the fortress at West-Point, where Arnold commanded.
Thought you, "If friend Arnold this fort will deliver,
"We then shall be masters of all Hudson's river,
"The east and the south losing communication,
"The Yankies will die by the act of starvation."
So off you sent André (not guided by Pallas)
Who soon purchased Arnold, and with him the gallows;
Your loss I conceive than your gain was far greater,
You lost a good fellow, and got a vile[161] traitor.
Now Carleton comes over to give you relief,
A knight like yourself, and commander in chief,
But the chief he will get, you may tell the dear honey,
Will be a black eye, hard knocks, and no money.
[Pg 156]
Now with—"Britons, strike home!" your sorrows dispel,
Away to your master, and honestly tell,
That his arms and his artists can nothing avail,
His men are too few, and his tricks are too stale.
Advise him at length to be just and sincere;
Of which not a sympton as yet doth appear,
As we plainly perceive from his sending Sir Guy
The Treaty to break with our Gallic Ally.[162]

[158] First published in the Freeman's Journal, May 22, 1782. Sir Henry Clinton was superseded as Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in America by Sir Guy Carleton, who took command May 5, 1782.

[159] "Devil's."—Ed. 1786.

[160] In 1775 Lord Howe was appointed Admiral of the British fleet in North America and leader of the commission to effect if possible a reconciliation with the colonists. With him were sent two major-generals, Clinton and Burgoyne, to conduct the war with vigor if war were found to be inevitable. The three leaders arrived in Boston May 25, 1775.

[161] "Damn'd."—Ed. 1786.

[162] "Commission'd to steal, and commission'd to lie."—Ed. 1786.


SIR GUY CARLETON'S ADDRESS TO THE
AMERICANS[163]

From Britain's famed island once more I come over,
(No island on earth is in prowess above her)
With powers and commissions your hearts to recover!
Our king, I must tell you, is plagued with a phantom
(Independence they call it) that hourly doth haunt him,
And relief, my dear rebels, you only can grant him.
Tom Gage and Sir Harry, Sir William, (our boast)
Lord Howe, and the rest that have travelled the coast,
All failed in their projects of laying this ghost:
So unless the damned spectre myself can expel
It will yet kill our monarch, I know very well,
And gallop him off on his lion to hell.
[Pg 157]
But I heartily wish, that, instead of Sir Guy,
They had sent out a seer from the island of Skie,
Who rebels, and devils, and ghosts could defy:
So great is our prospect of failing at last,
When I look at the present, and think of the past,
I wish with our heroes I had not been classed;
For though, to a man, we are bullies and bruisers,
And covered with laurels, we still are the losers,
'Till each is recalled with his Tory accusers:
But the war now is altered, and on a new plan;
By negociation we'll do what we can—
And I am an honest, well-meaning old man;
Too proud to retreat, and too weak to advance,
We must stay where we are, at the mercy of chance,
'Till Fortune shall help us to lead you a dance.
Then lay down your arms, dear rebels—O hone!
Our king is the best man that ever was known,
And the greatest that ever was stuck on a throne:
His love and affection by all ranks are sought;
Here take him, my honies, and each pay a groat—
Was ever a monarch more easily bought?
In pretty good case and very well found,
By night and by day we carry him round:
He must go for a groat, if we can't get a pound.
Break the treaties you made with Louis Bourbon;
Abandon the Congress, no matter how soon,
And then, all together, we'll play a new tune.
[Pg 158]
'Tis strange that they always would manage the roast,
And force you their healths and the Dauphin's to toast;
Repent, my dear fellows, and each get a post:
Or, if you object that one post is too few,
We generous Britons will help you to two,
With a beam laid across—that will certainly do.
The folks that rebelled in the year forty-five,
We used them so well that we left few alive,
But sent them to heaven in swarms from their hive.
Your noble resistance we cannot forget,
'Tis nothing but right we should honour you yet;
If you are not rewarded, we die in your debt.
So, quickly submit and our mercy implore,
Be as loyal to George as you once were before,
Or I'll slaughter you all—and probably more.
What puzzled Sir Harry, Sir Will, and his brother,
Perhaps may be done by the son of my mother,
With the Sword in one hand and a Branch in the other.
My bold predecessors (as fitting their station)
At their first coming out, all spoke Proclamation;
'Tis the custom with us, and the way of our nation.
Then Kil-al-la-loo!—Shelaly, I say;—
If we cannot all fight, we can all run away—
And further at present I choose not to say.

[163] First published in the Freeman's Journal, June 5, 1782 and dated May 30, 1782. Carleton was not only empowered to take command of the army in America, but he was also sent as "Commissioner for making peace in North America." He remained in the city until November 25, 1783, when he departed with the army.


[Pg 159]

SCANDANAVIAN WAR SONG[164]

Balderi patris scamna
Parata scio in aula:
Bibemus Cerevisiam
Ex concavis crateribus craniorum.
Non gemit vir fortis contra mortem
Magnifici in Odini domibus, &c.

Translation

Brave deeds atchieved, at death's approach I smile,
In Balder's hall I see the table spread,
The enlivening ale shall now reward my toil,
Quaffed from their sculls, that by my faulchion bled.
Heroes no more at death's approach shall groan:
In lofty Odin's dome all sighs forbear—
Conscious of bloody deeds, my fearless soul
Mounts to great Odin's hall, and revels there.

[164] First printed June 19, 1782, in number 16 of the series of papers contributed to the first volume of the Freeman's Journal under the title The Pilgrim, and reprinted to some extent in the edition of 1788 under the title The Philosopher of the Forest. The essay, which might be entitled "On the Irrationality of War," contained the following passage:

"They [the Scandinavians] imagined the chief pleasure of this immortality would be to drink beer out of bowls made of the skulls of the enemies they had slain in battle, according to the number of which every one was to be esteemed and honored in the mansions of another world. Their war songs were particularly horrible to the imagination, and full of those savage notions of valor and romantic heroism that is to this day observable in the North American Indians.... Is it possible that a being illuminated by the rays of that spiritual sun could in his senses write the following lines: they were composed (with a great deal more) by one of the warrior chiefs of the Scandinavians more than 800 years since, a few hours before he expired?"


[Pg 160]

THE PROJECTORS[165]

Before the brazen age began,
And things were yet on Saturn's plan,
None knew what sovereign bliss there lay
In ruling, were it but a day.
Each with spontaneous food content,
His life in Nature's affluence spent;
The sun was mild, serene and clear,
And walked in Libra all the year;
No tempests did the heaven deform,
'Twas not too cold nor yet too warm;
People were then at small expence,
They dug no ditch, and made no fence,
No patentees by sleight or chance
For Indian lands got double grants,
Not for their wants, but just to say,
"If you come here, expect to pay."
Base grasping souls, your pride repress;
Beyond your wants must you possess?
If ten poor acres will supply
A rustic and his family,
Why, Jobbers, would you have ten score,
Ten thousand and ten thousand more?
It is a truth well understood,
"All would be tyrants if they could."
The love of sway has been confessed
The ruling passion of the breast:
Those who aspire to govern states,
If baulked by disapproving fates,[Pg 161]
Resolve their purpose to fulfil,
And scheme for tenants at their will.
Ten thousand acres, fit for toil,
In Indiana's fertile soil—
Ten thousand acres! come, agree—
Timon is named[166] the patentee,
And, as the longing stomach craves,
He'll honour fools and flatter knaves.
If Rome, of old, to greatness rose
Triumphant over all her foes,
None need believe that people then
Were more in strength than modern men;
If o'er the world their eagles waved,
'Twas property their freedom saved;[167]
From lands, not shared amongst the few,
An independent spirit grew:
Each on a small and scanty spot,
With much ado his living got,
Inured to labour from his birth,[168]
Each Roman soldier tilled the earth,
Great as a monarch on the throne
By having something of his own.

[165] First published in the Freeman's Journal, July 3, 1782, under the signature "Cassibilan." I have followed the 1809 text.

[166] "Let me become."—Ed. 1786.

[167] "'Twas policy the world enslav'd."—Ib.

[168] This line and the following not in the 1786 version.


[Pg 162]

ON GENERAL ROBERTSON'S PROCLAMATION[169]

Old Judas the traitor (nor need we much wonder)
Falling down from the gallows, his paunch split asunder,
Affording, 'tis likely, a horrible scent
Rather worse than the sulphur of hell, where he went.
So now this bra' chieftain, who long has suspended
And kept out of view what his master intended,
Bursts out all at once, and an inside discloses,
Disgusting the Tories, who stop up their noses.
The short of the matter is this, as I take it—
New-York of true Britons is plainly left naked,
And their conduct amounts to an honest confession,
That they cannot depend on the run-a-way Hessian.
[Pg 163]
In such a dilemma pray what should they do?
Hearts loyal, to whom should they look but to You?—
You know pretty well how to handle the spade,
To dig their canals and to make a parade;
The city is left to your valiant defence,
And of course it will be but of little expence,
Since there is an old fellow that looks somewhat sooty
Who, gratis, will help you in doing your duty—
"In doing our duty!—'tis duty indeed
"(Says a Tory) if this be the way that we speed;
"We never loved fighting, the matter is clear—
"If we had, I am sure we had never come here.
"George we owned for our king, as his true loyal sons,
"But why will he force us to manage his guns?—
"Who 'list in the army or cruise on the wave,
"Let them do as they will—'tis their trade to be brave.
"Guns, mortars and bullets,[170] we easily face,
"But when they're in motion—it alters the case;
"To skirmish with Huddies[A] is all our desire
"For though we can murder, we cannot stand fire.
[Pg 164]

[A] Capt. Huddy, an American Captain, who, after capitulating in a block-house, was hanged by refugees, called new levies.—Freneau's note.

"To the standards of Britain we fled for protection,
"And there we are gathered, a goodly collection;
"And most of us think it is rather too hard
"For refusing to arm to be put under guard;
"Who knows under guard what ills we may feel!—
"It is an expression that means a great deal—
"'Mongst the rebels they fine 'em who will not turn out,
"But here we are left in a sorrowful doubt;—
"These Britons were always so sharp and so shifty—
"The rebels excuse you from serving when fifty,
"But here we are counted such wonderful men
"We are kept in the ranks, till we are four score and ten.
"Kicked, cuffed and ill treated from morning till night
"We have room to conjecture that all is not right,
"For Freedom we fled from our country's defence
"And freedom we'll get—when death sends us hence.[171]
"If matters go thus, it is easy to see
"That as idiots we've been, so slaves we shall be;
"And what will become of that peaceable train
"Whose tenets enjoin them from war to abstain?
"Our city commandant must be an odd shaver,
"Not a single exception to make in their favour!—
"Come let us turn round and rebelliously sing,
"Huzza for the Congress!—the de'il take the king."

[169] First published in the Freeman's Journal, June 10, 1782, prefaced by the following reprint of the proclamation taken from Rivington's Royal Gazette of the 26th of June:

"By His Excellency Lieutenant-General James Robertson, Governor of New York, &c., &c. The Commander-in-chief having shown the great confidence he reposes in the Citizens of New York by trusting his Majesty's interest there, to their Zeal, Loyalty, and Gallantry, I persuade myself that every citizen will with alacrity claim his title to a share of the Militia duty; that none may be deprived of this, and that those whose zeal would lead them to appear whenever called for, may not be called for too often, I think proper to declare:

"That all persons are to perform the Militia duty, excepting the Ministers of God's Word, his Majesty's Counsellors and principal servants whose avocations to religious and civil, necessarily prevents their attendance on Military duties.

"All persons who from age or infirmity are unable to act, may do duty by substitutes, providing those they offer are judged sufficient by the Colonel of the regiment, or commanding officer of the corps to which they belong.

"If any of the Gentlemen of the learned professions find themselves so usefully employed as to be induced to avoid the honour of appearing in person, they are supposed to be judges of the importance of their own time, and may act by proper substitutes.

"As no person deserves protection in a place of which he refuses to contribute to the defence; every person who refuses to appear when summoned to his Militia duty is to be confined in the Main-Guard by the Colonel or commanding Officer of the corps to which he belongs, where he is to be kept till further orders.

James Robertson.

New York, June 22, 1782."

[170] "Gun bullets in boxes."—Ed. 1786.

[171] In place of this stanza, the edition of 1786 had the following:

"Provided the clergy but preach non-resistance
"And passive obedience—they wave their assistance;
"But we—tho' we're sick and have death in our faces,
"Must purchase a proxy to serve in our places."

[Pg 165]

A PICTURE OF THE TIMES[172]

With Occasional Reflections

Still round the world triumphant Discord flies,
Still angry kings to bloody contest rise;
Hosts bright with steel, in dreadful order plac'd,
And ships contending on the watery waste;
Distracting demons every breast engage,
Unwearied nations glow with mutual rage;
Still to the charge the routed Briton turns,
The war still rages and the battle burns;
See, man with man in deadly combat join,
See, the black navy form the flaming line;
Death smiles alike at battles lost or won—
Art does for him what Nature would have done.
Can scenes like these delight the human breast?—
Who sees with joy humanity distrest;
Such tragic scenes fierce passion might prolong,
But slighted Reason says, they must be wrong.
Curs'd be the day, how bright soe'er it shin'd,
That first made kings the masters of mankind;
And curs'd the wretch who first with regal pride
Their equal rights to equal men deny'd.
But curs'd o'er all, who first to slav'ry broke
Submissive bow'd and own'd a monarch's yoke,
Their servile souls his arrogance ador'd
And basely own'd a brother for a lord;
Hence wrath and blood, and feuds and wars began,
And man turned monster to his fellow man.
[Pg 166]Not so that age of innocence and ease
When men, yet social, knew no ills like these;
Then dormant yet, ambition (half unknown)
No rival murder'd to possess a throne;
No seas to guard, no empires to defend—
Of some small tribe the father and the friend.
The hoary sage beneath his sylvan shade
Impos'd no laws but those which reason made;
On peace not war, on good not ill intent,
He judg'd his brethren by their own consent;
Untaught to spurn those brethren to the dust;
In virtue firm, and obstinately just,
For him no navies rov'd from shore to shore.
No slaves were doom'd to dig the glitt'ring ore;
Remote from all the vain parade of state,
No slaves in diamonds saunter'd at his gate,
Nor did his breast the guilty passions tear,
He knew no murder and he felt no fear.
Was this the patriarch sage?—Then turn thine eyes
And view the contrast that our age supplies;
Touch'd from the life, I trace no ages fled,
I draw no curtain that conceals the dead;
To distant Britain let thy view be cast,
And say the present far exceeds the past;
Of all the plagues that e'er the world have curs'd,
Name George the tyrant, and you name the worst!
What demon, hostile to the human kind,
Planted these fierce disorders in the mind?
All urg'd alike, one phantom we pursue,
But what has war with happiness to do?
In death's black shroud this gem can ne'er be found;
Who deals for that the life-destroying wound,
Or pines with grief to see a brother live,
That life dissolving which we cannot give?[Pg 167]
'Tis thine, Ambition!—Thee these horrors suit:
Lost to the human, she assumes the brute;
She proudly vain or insolently bold,
Her heart revenge, her eye intent on gold,
Sway'd by the madness of the present hour
Mistakes for happiness extent of power;
That shining bait which dropt in folly's way
Tempts the weak mind, and leads the heart astray!
Thou happiness! still sought but never found,
We, in a circle, chase thy shadow round;
Meant all mankind in different forms to bless,
Which yet possessing, we no more possess:—
Thus far remov'd and painted on the eye
Smooth verdant fields seem blended with the sky,
But where they both in fancied contact join
In vain we trace the visionary line;
Still as we chase, the empty circle flies,
Emerge new mountains or new oceans rise.

[172] Contributed to the July 19, 1782, issue of the Freeman's Journal over the signature "Philomeides." The title in the 1786 edition was "Philosophical Reflections." I have used the original text.


PRINCE WILLIAM HENRY'S SOLILOQUY[173]

Occasioned by Public Rejoicings in Philadelphia for the birth of the Dauphin of France, son to Louis XVI

People are mad thus to adore the Dauphin—
Heaven grant the brat may soon be in his coffin—[174]
The honours here to this young Frenchman shown,
Of right should be Prince George's, or my own;
And all those wreathes that bloom on Louis now,
Should hang, unfading, on my father's brow.[Pg 168]
To these far shores with longing hopes I came,
(By birth a Briton, not unknown to fame)
Pleasures to share that loyalty imparts,
Subdue the rebels, and regain their hearts.
Weak, stupid expectation—all is done!
Few are the prayers that rise for George's son;
Nought through the waste of these wide realms I trace,
But rage, contempt, and curses on our race,
Hosts with their chiefs by bold usurpers won,
And not a blessing left for George's son!
Here on these isles[A] (my terrors not a few)
I walk attended by the Tory crew:
These from the first have done their best to please,
But who would herd with sycophants like these?
This exiled race, who their lost shores bemoan,
Would bow to Satan, if he held our throne—
Rul'd by their fears—and what is meaner far,
Have worshipp'd William only for his star!
To touch my hand their thronging thousands strove,
And tir'd my patience with unceasing love—
In fame's fair annals told me I should live,
But they, poor creatures, had no fame to give:
Must Digby's royal pupil walk the streets,
And smile on every ruffian that he meets;
Or teach them, as he has done—he knows when—
That kings and princes are no more than men?
Must I alas disclose, to our disgrace,
That Britain is too small for George's race?
Here in the west, where all did once obey,
Three islands only, now, confess our sway;
And in the east we have not much to boast,
For Hyder Ali drives us from the coast:[Pg 169]
Yield, rebels, yield—or I must go once more
Back to the white cliffs of my native shore;
(Where, in process of time, shall go sir Guy,
And where sir Harry has returned to sigh,
Whose hands grew weak when things began to cross,
Nor made one effort to retrieve our loss)
Oatmeal and Scottish kale pots round me rise,
And Hanoverian turnips greet mine eyes;—
Welch goats and naked rocks my bosom swell,
And Teague! dear Teague!—to thee I bid farewell—
Curse on the Dauphin and his friends, I say,
He steals our honours and our rights away.
Digby—our anchors!—weigh them to the bow,
And eastward through the wild waves let us plow:
Such dire resentments in my bosom burn,
That to these shores I never will return,
'Till fruits and flowers on Zembla's coast are known,
And seas congeal beneath the torrid zone.

[A] New York and the neighbouring islands.—Freneau's note.

[173] Freeman's Journal, July 24, 1782. Text from edition of 1786.

[174] The prayer of the prince was soon answered.


SATAN'S REMONSTRANCE[175]

[Occasioned by Mr. Rivington's Late Apology for Lying]

Your golden dreams, your flattering schemes,
Alas! where are they fled, Sir?
Your plans derang'd, your prospects chang'd,
You now may go to bed, Sir.—
[Pg 170]
How could you thus, my partner dear,
Give up the hopes of many a year?—
Your fame retriev'd, and soaring high,
In Truth's resemblance seem'd to fly;
But now you grow so wondrous wise,
You turn, and own that all is lies.
A fabric that from hell we rais'd,
On which astonish'd rebels gaz'd,
And which the world shall ne'er forget,
No less than Rivington's Gazette,
Demolish'd at a single stroke—
The angel Gabriel might provoke.
"That all was lies," might well be true,
But why must this be told by you?
Great master of the wooden head,
Where is thy wonted cunning fled?
It was a folly to engage
That truth henceforth should fill your page,
When you must know, as well as I,
Your only mission is to lie.
Such are the plans which folly draws—
We now, like bears, may suck our paws;—
[Pg 171]Brought up in lying from your youth,
You should have dy'd a foe to truth,
Since none but fools in this accord,
That Virtue is its own reward.[176]
Your fortune was as good as made,
Great artist in the lying trade!
But now I see with grief and pain
Your credit cannot rise again:
No more the favourite of my heart,
No more will I my gifts impart.
Yet something shall you gain at last
For lies contriv'd in seasons past—
When pressing to the narrow gate
I'll show the portal mark'd by Fate,
Where all mankind (as parsons say)
Are apt to take the wider way,
And, though the Royal Printer swear,
Will bolt him in, and keep him there!

[175] First published in the Freeman's Journal, August 7, 1782, with the note, "See the Royal Gazette of the 10th ult. and our last." The article in the Royal Gazette is as follows:

"To the Public:

"The Publisher of this paper, sensible that his zeal for the success of his Majesty's arms, his sanguine wishes for the good of his country and his friendship for individuals, have at times led him to credit and circulate paragraphs without investigating the facts so closely as his duty to the public demanded, trusting to their feelings and depending on their generosity, he begs them to look over past errors and depend on future correctness, for henceforth he will neither desire nor expect nor solicit their favors longer than his endeavors shall stamp the same degree of authenticity and credit on the Royal Gazette (of N. Y.) as all Europe allow to the Royal Gazette of London."

The Freeman's Journal reprinted this on July 31, with the comment: "From hence it is to be presumed that Satan, Rivington & Co. have thoughts of breaking up partnership." The text follows the edition of 1786.

[176] This stanza, printed in the edition of 1786, was omitted from the later editions.


[Pg 172]

THE REFUGEES' PETITION TO SIR GUY
CARLETON[177]

Humbly Sheweth—
That your Honour's petitioners,[178] Tories by trade,
From the first of the war have lent Britain their aid,
And done all they could, both in country and town,
In support of the king and the rights of his crown;
But now, to their grief and confusion, they find
"The de'il may take them who are farthest behind."
In the rear of all rascals they still have been placed
And Rebels and Frenchmen[179] full often have faced,
Have been in the midst of distresses and doubt
Whene'er they came in or whene'er they went out;
Have supported the king and defended his church
And now, in the end, must be left in the lurch.
Though often, too often, his arms were disgraced,
We still were in hopes he would conquer at last,
And restore us again to our sweethearts and wives
The pride of our hearts and the joy of our lives—
But he promised too far, and we trusted too much,
And who could have looked for a war with the Dutch?
Our board broken up, and discharged from our stations,
Sir Guy! it is cruel to cut off our rations;
[Pg 173]Of a project like that, whoe'er was the mover,
It is, we must tell you, a hellish manœuvre,
A plan to destroy us—the basest of tricks
By means of starvation, a stigma to fix.[180]
If a peace be intended, as people surmise,
(Though we hope from our souls these are nothing but lies)
Inform us at once what we have to expect,
Nor treat us, as usual, with surly neglect;
Or else, while you Britons are shipping your freights[181]
We'll go to the Rebels, and get our estates.

[177] First published in the Freeman's Journal, August 28, 1782. Sir Guy Carleton's generous and humane nature was in marked contrast with the cruelty of his predecessors. Text is from the edition of 1809.

[178] The anxiety of the Tories during the closing months of the war was exceedingly great. Sir Guy Carleton, the commander-in-chief, was, during all his stay in America, delayed with petitions, complaints, and remonstrances.

[179] "Halters and gibbets."—Ed. 1786.

[180] "To get us away to the shallows of Styx."—Ed. 1786.

[181] "By the mass and the will of the fates."—Ib.


SIR GUY'S ANSWER

We have reason to think there will soon be a peace,
And that war with the Rebels will certainly cease;
But, be that as it will, I would have you to know
That as matters are changing, we soon may change too;
In short, I would say, (since I have it at heart)
Though the war should continue, yet we may depart.
Four offers in season I therefore propose,
(As much as I can do in reason, God knows)
In which, though there be not too plentiful carving,
There still is sufficient to keep you from starving.
And, first of the first, it would mightily charm me
To see you, my children, enlist in the army,
Or enter the navy, and get for your pay,
A farthing an hour, which is sixpence per day—
There's Hector Clackmanan, and Arthur O'Gregor
And Donald M'Donald shall rule you with vigour:
[Pg 174]
If these do not suit you, then take your new plan,
Make your peace with the rebels, (march off to a man):[182]
There rank and distinction perhaps you may find
And rise into offices fit to your mind—
But if still you object—I advise you to take a
Farewell to New-York—and away to Jamaica.[183]

[182] "That is, if you can."—Ed. 1786.

[183]

"But if still you object—to be all on a level,
Burn up your red coats and go off to the Devil."
Ib.

TO A CONCEALED ROYALIST[184]

On a Virulent Attack

"We have force to crumble you into dust, although you were as hard as rocks, adamant, or jasper."

Kien-Lhi, alias John Tuck, Viceroy of Canton.[185]

When round the bark the howling tempest raves
Tossed in the conflict of a thousand waves,
The lubber landsmen weep, complain, and sigh,
And on the pilot's skill, or heaven, rely;
Lurk in their holes, astonished and aghast,
Dreading the moment that must be their last.
The tempest done—their terror also ceases,
And up they come, and shew their shameless faces,
[Pg 175]At once feel bold, and tell the pilot, too,
He did no more than they—themselves—could do!
A Foe to Tyrants! one your pen restores:—
There is a Tyrant whom your soul adores:
And every line you write too plainly shows,
Your heart is hostile to that tyrant's foes.
What, worse than folly, urged this genius dull
With Churchill's[186] wreathes to shade his leaden scull:
So, midnight darkness union claims with light:
So, oil and water in one mass unite:—
[Pg 176]No more your rage in plundered verse repeat,
Sink into prose—even there no safe retreat.[187]
Reed's[188] patriot fame to distant years may last,
When rancorous reptiles to the dogs are cast,
Or, where oblivion spreads her weary wings,
Lost in the lumber of forgotten things;
And none shall ask, nor wish to know, nor care,
Who—what their names—or when they lived—or where.[189]

[184] During the summer of 1782 the Freeman's Journal waged a bitter warfare with the Independent Gazetteer, a paper which had been established in Philadelphia on April 13, 1782, by Eleazer Oswald. To such extremes did this quarrel go that Oswald, defeated by the more nimble pen of his adversary, at length challenged him to a duel. The above poem marks the beginning of the poetical phase of the battle. It appeared in the Journal on the 28th of August and was a reply to the following effusion published in the Gazetteer four days previously:

"Mr. Oswald: The following lines are addressed to a most infamous Tyrant, ... and to a noted speculator when high in office. Yours, &c.,

A Foe to Tyrants.

"Be wicked as you will, do all that's base,
Proclaim yourselves the monsters of your race,
Let vice and folly your dark souls divide,
Be proud with meanness and be mean with pride,
Deaf to the voice of faith and honour, fall
From side to side, yet be of none at all:
Spurn all those charities, those sacred ties,
Which nature, in her bounty, good as wise,
To work our safety and ensure her plan,
Contriv'd to bind and rivet man to man:
Lift against Virtue pow'r's oppressive rod,
Betray your country, and deny your God."
But candour in some future day will scan
The actions of pale Joe and brazen Sam,
Who're lost to virtue and all sense of shame,
They've barter'd honour for some villain's name:
Yet may they pass unnotic'd in the throng
And, free from envy, safely sneak along;
Let Clarkson tell how Joe is in disgrace
And honest Jack will follow up the chase."

[185] This title first appeared in the 1809 edition. In the edition of 1795 the title was "To Shylock Ap-Shenkin, an abusive court writer."

[186] The twelve lines in quotation points in the poem by "The Foe to Tyrants" were taken, with little change, from Churchill's "Epistle to William Hogarth."

[187] "Sneak into prose—the dunce's last retreat."—Ed. 1786.

[188] The attack of "The Foe to Tyrants" was directed mainly against General Joseph Reed, the "pale Joe" of the poem. So bitter and persistent were the attacks of "Oswald's Scribblers" that Reed, in the Journal of Sept. 11, published a protest against the "set of men in this city [who] uninjured and unprovoked by me are weekly pouring forth some abuse under anonymous signatures." And early in 1783 he put forth a pamphlet entitled "Remarks on a late publication in the Independent Gazetteer, with a short address to the people of Pennsylvania on the many libels and slanders which have lately appeared against the author." A second edition was called for several weeks after the first issue of this pamphlet.

[189] Freneau signed these lines as they appeared in the Journal "A Foe to Malice."


[Pg 177]

TO THE CONCEALED ROYALIST[190]

In Answer to a Second Attack[191]

Quid immerentes hospites vexas, canis
Ignavus adversum lupos?
Quin huc inanes, si potes, vertis minas,
Et me remorsurum petis?—
—Hor. Epod. 10.
Base as they are, this rancorous royal crew[192]
Seem baser still, when they are praised by you.
By you adorned in regal garb they shine,
Sweat through your verse, and stink in every line.
True child of folly—eldest of her tribe—
How could you dream that you were worth a bribe.—
[Pg 178]Ill-fated scribbler, with a pointless quill,
Retract the threat you dare not to fulfil:
Round your own neck the wythe or halter twine,
And be the science of a hangman thine:—[193]
Have we from you purloined one shred of wit,
Or did we imitate one line you writ?
Peace to your verse!—we do not rob the dead,
The clay-cold offspring of a brazen head.
Doctor! retire! what madness would it be
To point artillery at a mite like thee?—
Such noxious vermin clambering from their shell,
By squibs and crackers might be killed as well.
[Pg 179]But, if you must torment the world with rhymes,
(Perhaps you came to curse us for our crimes)
In sleepy odes indulge your smoky wit,
Pindarics would your happy genius fit—
With your coarse white-wash daub some miscreant's face,
Puppies advanced, or traitors in disgrace:[194]
To gain immense renown we leave you free,
Go, scratch and scribble, uncontrouled by me:—
Haste to the realms of nonsense and despair—
The ghosts of murdered rhymes will meet you there;
Like rattling chains provoke unceasing fears,
And with eternal jinglings—stun your ears.

[190] This poem appeared in the Journal, September 4, 1782, in answer to the following, which had been published in the Gazetteer, August 31, 1782:

"Mr. Oswald: Please give the following Lines, addressed to the Foe to Malice, a Place in your useful Paper; in order to convince this great Poet (who never borrowed a Line in his Life) how easy it is to take his Battery, and turn it against himself.

A Foe to Tyrants.

"When in the Bark, the unskilful Pilot raves,
And lets her drive amidst conflicting waves;
The free-born Landsmen rous'd, complain, and cry.
What Pilot's this, on whom we can't rely?
We're wreck'd, undone, and driven on the shore,
Unless you quit the helm, and steer no more.
The Pilot, conscious of the mischief done,
Not knowing what to do, or where to run,
Lurks to his hole, astonish'd and aghast,
Dreading the moment that must be his last.
The tempest o'er—his terrors also fled,
Once more upon the deck he shews his head,
At once grown brave, he tells the people too,
He did for them, whatever man could do.
But cease thy boasting—Freemen all will think,
A Bark thus manag'd, in the deep must sink.
"A Foe to Tyrants—ne'er receiv'd a Bribe,
Nor Gold ador'd, nor stuck to Johnston's side;
With malice stupid, ev'ry line must show,
The man that's Johnston's friend is not thy foe.
What wond'rous fancy urg'd thy genius bright,
To speak of Churchill—as if thou coud'st write;
To shine in borrow'd plumes, with base design,
And to oblivion worthy men consign.
Reptiles and Dogs, and all those dreary things,
Bespeak the mind from whence such slander springs;
Dirt thou may'st throw—the dunce's last retreat,
For none but dunces will thy lines repeat.
Not Churchill's wreathes, but hick'ry withes will do,
To twine thy brows, and lace thy jacket too;
Leave thy friend R——, we've had enough of him,
For abler Pilots live the Bark to trim.
What! if a thousand Joes should wince and bawl,
One honest Jack would make amends for all."

[191] The title in the edition of 1786 was "To the Foe to Tyrants," and in 1795 "To Shylock Ap-Shenkin." Freneau translates the stanza from Horace as follows: "A dog, cowardly against wolves, yet molests strangers that have no quarrel with him—approach, whelp, and attack us, who are able to dash your teeth down your throat."

[192] "Vile as they are, this lukewarm Tory crew."—Ed. 1786.

[193]

"And round your neck the wythe or halter twine,
And be the office of the hangman mine."—Ed. 1786.

[194] "Blockheads in power or traitors in disgrace."—Ed. 1786.


TO THE CONCEALED ROYALIST[195]

On His Farewell

"I will meet you, Brutus, at Philippi."—Roman History.

Since ink, thank heaven! is all the blood you spill,
Health to the driver of the grey goose quill:
Such war shall leave no widow in despair,
Nor curse one orphan with the public care.
[Pg 180]'Tis the worst wound the heart of man can feel,
When touched, or worried, by an ass's heel—
With generous satire give your foes their due,
Nay, give them more, and prove them scoundrels too:
Make them as black as hell's remotest gloom,
But still to genius let them owe their doom:—
By Jove's red lightnings 'tis no shame to bleed,
But by a grovelling swine—is death indeed!—
Now, by the laurels of your royal crew,
I knew no shame, till I engaged with you:—
But such an odour atmosphered your song,
I held my nose, and quickly passed along,
Grieved for the wretch who could such filth display,
His maw disgorging in the public way.
Armed though we are, unusual tumults rise;—
But all resentment in my bosom dies.
We deem, that in the skirmish of a day,
This bard must perish, and his verse decay:
This day he goes to black oblivion's clime;
Turned, chased, and routed by the "power of rhyme."
We wished him still unhandled and unhurt—
We wished no evils to this man of dirt;
We thought to leave him sweltering in his den,
Not with such rotten trash to tinge the pen:
But his mean labours wrought his present woe,
And his own scribblings, now, have laid him low!
Before his eyes the sexton's spade appears,
And muffled bells disorganize his ears:
Already is his mean existence fled,
Sense, wit, and reason—all proclaim him dead:
In his own lines he tolled his funeral bell,
And when he could not sing—he stunk—farewell!

[195] In the Journal of September 11, 1782, in answer to the effusion of the "Foe to Tyrants" in the Gazetteer of September 7, entitled, "To the Foe to Malice. The Farewell." This farewell began as follows:

"When men will prostitute the power of rhime,
Their dirt and malice jingling out of time;
When men the sacred shrine of truth forsake,
And deal in slander, just for slander's sake,
'Tis time to quit plain reason, common sense,
And in their stile Correction to dispense.
"Our Theme first pointed to your pale-fac'd friend
Whom you forsook—unable to defend;
To save his fame, you thought it best to fly
To vile abuse, and low scurrility;
Then feel the Weapons you yourself have us'd
And blame not those you've dirtily abus'd."

The rest of the poem is too vile to reproduce.


[Pg 181]

TO THE ROYALIST UNVEILED[196]

(And addressed to all whom it may concern)

The sage who took the wrong sow by the ears,
And more than kingdoms claimed for Vermonteers;
Who, from twelve wigwams down to eight decreased,
Is now your prophet, and may serve for priest—
Ye, who embraced the democratic plan,
Yet with false tears beheld the wrongs of man—
[Pg 182]To him apply—go—soothe him in distress,[197]
To him fall prostrate—and to him confess.
When first that slave of slaves began to write,
Truth cursed his pen, and Reason took her flight:
Dullness on him her choicest opiates shed,
Black as his heart, and sleepy as his head.
Him on her soil Hibernia could not bear;
The viper sickened in that wholesome air,—
Then rushed abroad, a Jesuit, in disguise,
Flush, on the wings of malice, rage, and lies;
[Pg 183]To this new world a nuisance and a pest,
To curse the worthy, and abuse the best.
Thou base born mass of insolence and dirt,
With all the will, but not the power to hurt;
Whose shallow brain each empty line reveals—
Art thou worth draggling at our chariot wheels?
Who, on the surface of a rugged ground,
Would stoop to trail your carcass round and round?—
No—like a Felon, hanged to after time,
Be one more victim to the "force of rhyme."
[Pg 184]Waft us, ye powers, to some sequestered place,
Where never malice shewed its hateful face—
Remove us far from all the ruffian kind
(Baseness with insolence forever joined)
To some retreat of solitude and rest—
Nor shall another pang disturb the breast—
When thought returns—and one regrets to know,
He had to combat with a two-faced foe.

[196] This poem appeared September 25, 1782. The laureate of the Independent Gazetteer, after his farewell on September 7, was silent until October 15, when he produced the following:

"Stanzas addressed to little Fr—n—u, Poetaster to the Skunk-scented association, and successful imitator of Sternhold and Hopkins, of poetical memory; in humble imitation of his own doggerel.

"Fr—n—u, great man! 'tis thee I sing,
And to thy shrine just incense bring
The attribute of praise;
To thee, who scorn'd all common rules,
Supreme of dunces, chief of fools,
I dedicate my lays.
"Sternhold is dead! What though he be?
Another Sternhold now in thee
Beotia's sons explore;
Like this, thy mind is clear and bright,
Transparent as the darkest night,
When angry tempests roar.
"Thy verse, but ah! my powers are vain,
To tell the wonders of thy brain
Where mists of dullness sit;
Cimmerian darkness round thy head,
It's sable mantle long hath spread,
To veil thy wooden wit.
"Thy satire, mystic type of lead,
Keen as a dart without a head,
And vigorous as age;
'Twould almost make a mill-stone cry
To have thy muse its enemy,
When cloathed in her rage.
"Thy bold, heroic numbers swell,
As lofty as the deepest well
Where noxious vapours rise;
Thy song as sweet as Bellman's note,
When spun through Mitchell's[a] brazen throat,
Or midnight Watchmen's cries.
"Thy eyes, the index of the soul,
With mad, poetic fury roll,
In eager search of fame;
Thy face, ye gods! ah! what a face!
Thy air, thy port, thy quaint grimmace,
Add honor to thy name.
"When, late, sleep's Goddess, clos'd my eyes,
And dreams in sweet gradation rise,
Soul-soothing guests of night,
Methought the cloud-invelop'd Queen[b]
Display'd her dull, somnific mien,
In majesty and might.
"Thick, opiate dews she did dispense,
Whilst poppies, foes to wit and sense,
Hung pendant from her head;
Safe in her hand, by love, impell'd.
Great Fr—n—u's sacred form she held,
Impress'd on genuine lead.
"With blinking, am'rous, rush-light eyes
She view'd her blest Saturnine prize,
As conscious of his worth;
Then smooth'd the wrinkles of her frown,
And shook her poppy-teeming crown,
With unaffected mirth.
"'Go on (she cry'd), with fervent zeal,
Thou glory of that common-weal,
Where dullness bears the sway!
E'en L—e to thee shall yield the chair,
His rhimes shall vanish into air,
Before thy duller lay.
"'Corcoran,[c] long ago, hath fled,
And roving Jem,[d] 'tis said, is dead,
Those foes to common sense;
Now Fr—n—u thou, their son and heir.
More stupid than a stupid mare,
Steps forth in my defence.
"'Thee shall no wisdom e'er molest,
No wit shall perforate thy breast,
Nor humour shew her face;
Thy drowsy verse shall prove a balm,
Specific as the hundredth psalm,
When W—ch—r sings base.
"'Each flow'r of Billingsgate I'll cull,
To render thee, my son, more dull,
If duller thou canst be,
Thy works with Sternhold's shall be bound,
While Hopkins, from the dark profound,
Shall yield the palm to thee.'
"She ceas'd, and all that own'd her cause,
In one loud transport of applause,
Burst like a sudden gale;
All hail, great man! was Bailey's cry,
Hail! Joe, and Skunk, and Tom, reply,
Dullness and Fr—n—u, hail!"

[a] Cryer of Philadelphia.

[b] The Queen of Dullness.

[c] Dr. Corcoran, a poetaster, well known.

[d] Jemmy, the rover, a sonnetter of the Pennsylvania line.

[197] "To him apply, dear Oswald, in distress."—Independent Gazetteer.


[Pg 185]

TO SHYLOCK AP-SHENKIN[198]

Long have I sate on this disastrous shore,
And, sighing, sought to gain a passage o'er
To Europe's courts, where, as our travellers say,
Poets may flourish, or—perhaps—they may;
But such abuse has from your coarse pen fell
Perhaps I may defer my voyage as well,
Why should I far in search of patrons roam,
And Shylock leave to triumph here at home?
[Pg 186]Should Shylock's poems[199] style you all that's base,
Abuse your stature, and malign[200] your face,
Make you the worst and vilest of your kind,
With not one spark of virtue[201] in your mind;
Would you to Shylock's[202] rancorous page reply,
So fam'd for scandal, and so prone to lie?
Still may those bag-pipes of sedition play,
(For fools may write[203] and knaves must have their day)
Still from that page let clamorous bards[204] defame,
And madness rave, and malice take her aim:
May scribes on scribes in verse and prose combine,
And fiend-like Sawney roar[205] through every line;
Long may they write, unquestion'd and unhurt,
And all their rage discharge, and all their dirt:
Night-owls must screech, by heaven's supreme decree,
And wolves must howl, or wolves they would not be.
From empty froth these scribbling insects rose;
What honest man but counts them for his foes?
When they are lash'd, may dunce with dunce condole,
And bellow nonsense from the tortured soul;
[Pg 187]When they are dead and in some dungeon cramm'd,
(For die they will, and all their works be damn'd)
When they have belch'd their last departing groans,
May dogs and doctors barbecue[206] their bones,
And, the last horrors of their souls to calm,
Shylock, their bard,[207] console them with—a psalm!

[198] The first eight lines of this poem appeared first as the opening stanza of MacSwiggin, published in 1775; the rest of the poem was first published in the Freeman's Journal of Dec. 18, 1782, and republished in the 1786 edition under the title "To Whom it may Concern." The above version was made for the edition of 1795, but was not reprinted in 1809.

The Gazetteer of the following week (Dec. 21) contained several parodies of Freneau's poem, one of which was as follows:

"Mr. Oswald:—Whereas a copy of verses of my composition appeared in Bailey's paper, of whom I should have expected more circumspection, I have sent you a genuine copy as they ought to have been printed, the justice of which I hope everybody acquainted with the persons will acknowledge.

The Author.

"Should Oswald's painters all my features trace,
And shew me as I am in soul and face;
Among the vile and worthless of mankind,
Without a spark of virtue in my mind,
And write my name beneath, I would reply,
The portrait, though a true one, told a lie.
"Still shall my bagpipes of sedition play,
And I, like other dogs, shall have my day;
My hoarse-mouth'd cry shall war with sense proclaim,
And madly howl at ev'ry virtuous name;
Our hungry scribes in verse and prose shall join,
Though Chaos glooms through ev'ry stupid line;
In spite of sense we'll write, by shame unhurt,
And all our rage discharge, and all our dirt,
Night-owls will screech, since Heav'n has left them free,
And wolves will howl, or wolves they would not be.
"Although from dirt, we like musquetoes rose,
And quiet people count us still their foes;
When we are crush'd, or chas'd from hole to hole,
We'll strive to tease and torture ev'ry soul.
When we are dead and in some ditch are cram'd
(For die we must, and with our works be damn'd),
When we shall howl our last departing groans,
And brother dogs regale upon our bones;
The horrors of our souls awhile to calm,
Let me compose, and Duffield sing a psalm."

[199] "Oswald's scribblers."—Freeman's Journal.

[200] "Blaspheme."—Ed. 1786.

[201] "Reason."—Ib.

[202] "Who would to Oswald's."—Freeman's Journal.

[203] "Must prate and dogs."—Ed. 1786.

[204] "Hoarse-mouth'd whelps."—Ib.

[205] "And one dark chaos gloom."—Ib.

[206] "Canonize."—Freeman's Journal.

[207] "Fallon, the priest."—Ed. 1786.


THE PROPHECY OF KING TAMMANY[208]

The Indian chief who, famed of yore,
Saw Europe's sons adventuring here,
Looked, sorrowing, to the crowded shore,
And sighing dropt a tear!
He saw them half his world explore,
He saw them draw the shining blade,
He saw their hostile ranks displayed,
And cannons blazing through that shade
Where only peace was known before.
"Ah, what unequal arms!" he cried,
"How art thou fallen, my country's pride,
"The rural, sylvan reign!
"Far from our pleasing shores to go
"To western rivers, winding slow,
"Is this the boon the gods bestow!
[Pg 188]"What have we done, great patrons, say,
"That strangers seize our woods away,
"And drive us naked from our native plain?
"Rage and revenge inspire my soul,
"And passion burns without controul;
"Hence, strangers, to your native shore!
"Far from our Indian shades retire,
"Remove these gods that vomit fire,
"And stain with blood these ravaged glades no more;
"In vain I weep, in vain I sigh,
"These strangers all our arms defy,
"As they advance our chieftains die!—
"What can their hosts oppose!
"The bow has lost its wonted spring,
"The arrow faulters on the wing,
"Nor carries ruin from the string
"To end their being and our woes.
"Yes, yes,—I see our nation bends;
"The gods no longer are our friends;—
"But why these weak complaints and sighs?
"Are there not gardens in the west,
"Where all our far-famed Sachems rest?—
"I'll go, an unexpected guest,
"And the dark horrors of the way despise.
"Even now the thundering peals draw nigh,
"'Tis theirs to triumph, ours to die!
"But mark me, Christian, ere I go—
"Thou, too, shalt have thy share of woe;
"The time rolls on, not moving slow,
"When hostile squadrons for your blood shall come,
[Pg 189]"And ravage all your shore!
"Your warriors and your children slay,
"And some in dismal dungeons lay,
"Or lead them captive far away
"To climes unknown, through seas untried before.
"When struggling long, at last with pain
"You break a cruel tyrant's chain,
"That never shall be joined again,
"When half your foes are homeward fled,
"And hosts on hosts in triumph led,
"And hundreds maimed and thousands dead,
"A sordid race will then succeed,
"To slight the virtues of the firmer race,
"That brought your tyrant to disgrace,
"Shall give your honours to an odious train,
"Who shunned all conflicts on the main
"And dared no battles on the bloody plain,
"Whose little souls sunk in the gloomy day
"When virtue only could support the fray
"And sunshine friends kept off—or ran away."
So spoke the chief, and raised his funeral pyre—
Around him soon the crackling flames ascend;
He smiled amid the fervours of the fire
To think his troubles were so near their end,
'Till the freed soul, her debt to nature paid,
Rose from the ashes that her prison made,
And sought the world unknown, and dark oblivion's shade.

[208] Published in the Freeman's Journal, December 11, 1782.

Tammany was an Indian chieftain of the Lenni Lennape Confederacy of New York and Pennsylvania during the early colonial era. There is a tradition that he was the first Indian to welcome William Penn to America. Some traditions locate his lodge near the present site of Princeton College and others make him end his long life near a spring in Bucks county, Pa. He figures in Cooper's novel, "The Last of the Mohicans."


[Pg 190]

RIVINGTON'S REFLECTIONS[209]

I.

The more I reflect, the more plain it appears,
If I stay, I must stay at the risque of my ears,
I have so be-peppered the foes of our throne,
Be-rebelled, be-deviled, and told them their own,
That if we give up to these rebels at last,[210]
'Tis a chance if my ears will atone for the past.
'Tis always the best to provide for the worst—
So evacuation I'll mention the first:
If Carleton should sail for our dear native shore
(As Clinton, Cornwallis, and Howe did before)
And take off the soldiers that serve for our guard,
(A step that the Tories would think rather hard)
Yet still I surmise, for aught I can see,
No Congress or Senates would meddle with me.
For what have I done, when we come to consider,
But sold my commodities to the best bidder?
[Pg 191]If I offered to lie for the sake of a post,
Was I to be blamed if the king offered most?
The King's Royal Printer!—Five hundred a year!
Between you and me, 'twas a handsome affair:
Who would not for that give matters a stretch,
And lie back and forward, and carry and fetch,
May have some pretensions to honour and fame—
But what are they both but the sound of a name,
Mere words to deceive us, as I have found long since,
Live on them a week, and you'll find them but nonsense.
The late news from Charleston my mind has perplext,
If that is abandoned,—I know what goes next:
This city of York is a place of great note,
And that we should hold it I now give my vote;
But what are our votes against Shelburne's[211] decrees?
These people at helm steer us just where they please,
So often they've had us all hands on the brink,
They'll steer us at last to the devil, I think:
And though in the danger themselves have a share,
It will do us small good that they also go there.
It is true that the Tories, their children, and wives
Have offered to stay at the risque of their lives,
And gain to themselves an immortal renown
By all turning soldiers, and keeping the town:
Whoe'er was the Tory that struck out the plan,
In my humble conceit, was a very good man;
But our words on this subject need be very few—
Already I see that it never will do:
[Pg 192]For, suppose a few ships should be left us by Britain,
With Tories to man them, and other things fitting,
In truth we should be in a very fine box,
As well they might guard us with ships on the stocks,
And when I beheld them aboard and afloat,
I am sure I should think of the bear in the boat.[A]
On the faith of a printer, things look very black—
And what shall we do, alas! and alack!
Shall we quit our young princes and full blooded peers,
And bow down to viscounts and French chevaliers?
Perhaps you may say, "As the very last shift
"We'll go to New-Scotland, and take the king's gift."
Good folks, do your will—but I vow and I swear,
I'll be boil'd into soup before I'll live there:
Is it thus that our monarch his subjects degrades?—
Let him go and be damned, with his axes and spades,
Of all the vile countries that ever were known
In the frigid, or torrid, or temperate zone,
(From accounts that I've had) there is not such another;
It neither belongs to this world or the other:
A favor they think to send us there gratis
To sing like the Jews at the river Euphrates,
And, after surmounting the rage of the billows,
Hang ourselves up at last with our harps on the willows;
Ere I sail for that shore, may I take my last nap—
Why, it gives me the palsy to look on its map!
And he that goes there (though I mean to be civil)
May fairly be said to have gone to the devil.
Shall I push for Old England, and whine at the throne?
Indeed! they have Jemmies enough of their own!
Besides, such a name I have got from my trade,
They would think I was lying, whatever I said;
[Pg 193]Thus scheme as I will, or contrive as I may,
Continual difficulties rise in the way:
In short, if they let me remain in this realm,
What is it to Jemmy who stands at the helm?
I'll petition the rebels (if York is forsaken)
For a place in their Zion which ne'er shall be shaken
I am sure they'll be clever: it seems their whole study:
They hung not young Asgill for old captain Huddy,[212]
And it must be a truth that admits no denying,
If they spare us for Murder they'll spare us for Lying.

[A] See Gay's Fables.—Freneau's note, Ed. 1786.

II.

Folks may think as they please, but to me it would seem,
That our great men at home have done nothing but dream:
Such trimming and twisting and shifting about,
And some getting in, and others turned out;
And yet, with their bragging and looking so big,
All they did was to dance a theatrical jig.
Seven years now, and more, we have tried every plan,
And are just as near conquering as when we began,
[Pg 194]Great things were expected from Clinton and Howe,
But what have they done, or where are they now?
Sir Guy was sent over to kick up a dust,
Who already prepares to return in disgust—
The object delusive we wish to attain
Has been in our reach, and may be so again—
But so oddly does heaven its bounties dispense,
And has granted our king such a small share of sense
That, let Fortune favour or smile as she will,
We are doomed to drive on, like a horse in a mill,
And though we may seem to advance on our rout,
'Tis but to return to where we sate out.
From hence I infer (by way of improvement)
That nothing is got by this circular movement;
And I plainly perceive, from this fatal delay,
We are going to ruin the round-about way!
Some nations, like ships, give up to the gale,
And are hurried ashore with a full flowing sail;
So Sweden submitted to absolute power,
And freemen were changed to be slaves in an hour;
Thus Theodore soon from his grandeur came down,
Forsaking his subjects and Corsican crown;
But we—'tis our fate, without ally or friend,
To go to perdition, close hauled to the wind.
[Pg 195]The case is too plain, that if I stay here
I have something to hope and something to fear:
In regard to my carcase, I shouldn't mind that—
I can say "I have lived," and have grown very fat;
Have been in my day remarkable shifty,
And soon, very soon, will be verging on fifty.
'Tis time for the state of the dead to prepare,
'Tis time to consider how things will go there;
Some few are admitted to Jupiter's hall,
But the dungeons of Pluto are open to all—
The day is approaching as fast as it can
When Jemmy will be a mere moderate man,
Will sleep under ground both summer and winter,
The hulk of a man, and the shell of a printer,
And care not a farthing for George, or his line,
What empires start up, or what kingdoms decline.
Our parson last Sunday brought tears from my eyes,
When he told us of heaven, I thought of my lies—
To his flock he described it, and laid it before 'em,
(As if he had been in its Sanctum Sanctorum)
Recounted its beauties that never shall fade,
And quoted John Bunyan to prove what he said;
Debarred from the gate who the Truth should deny,
Or "whosoe'er loveth or maketh a lie."
Through the course of my life it has still been my lot
In spite of myself, to say "things that are not."
And therefore suspect that upon my decease
Not a poet will leave me to slumber in peace,
But at least once a week be-scribble the stone
Where Jemmy, poor Jemmy, lies sleeping alone!
Howe'er in the long run these matters may be,
If the scripture is true, it has bad news for me—
And yet, when I come to examine the text,
And the learned annotations that Poole has annexed,
[Pg 196]Throughout the black list of the people that sin
I cannot once find that I'm mention'd therein;
Whoremongers, idolators, all are left out,
And wizards and dogs (which is proper, no doubt)
But he who says, I'm there, mistakes or forgets—
It mentions no Printers of Royal Gazettes!
In truth, I have need of a mansion of rest,
And here to remain might suit me the best—
Philadelphia in some things would answer as well,
(Some Tories are there, and my papers might sell)
But then I should live amongst wrangling and strife,
And be forced to say credo the rest of my life:
For their sudden conversion I'm much at a loss—
I am told that they bow to the wood of the cross,
And worship the reliques transported from Rome,
St. Peter's toe-nails, and St. Anthony's comb.—
If thus the true faith they no longer defend
I scarcely can think where the madness will end—
If the greatest among them submit to the Pope,
What reason have I for indulgence to hope?
If the Congress themselves to the Chapel did pass,[B]
Ye may swear that poor Jemmy would have to sing mass.

[B] "On the 4th of November last, the clergy and select men of Boston paraded through the streets after a crucifix, and joined in a procession in praying for a departed soul out of Purgatory; and for this they gave the example of Congress, and other American leaders, on a former occasion at Philadelphia, some of whom, in the height of their zeal, even went so far as to sprinkle themselves with what they call Holy water."—Royal Gazette, of December 11 inst.—Freneau's note.

[209] Published in the Freeman's Journal, December, 1782, in two installments and inserted without change in the edition of 1786. The first installment bore the motto "Inclusus pœnam expectat.—Virg.," and the second the motto "Incertus quo fata ferant, quo sistere detur.—Virg." Almost no change was made in the text for the later editions. Rivington bore this attack with coolness; he calmly inserted the first installment of the poem in his Royal Gazette for December 14, and gave to it the following introduction: "Mr. Rivington, having been applied to by many gentlemen for a pleasant publication respecting himself, exhibited in the Philadelphia Freeman's Journal, of December 4th, takes leave to copy it into this Day's Gazette, and assures the Author that a Column shall at any time be most cheerfully reserved to convey that Gentleman's lively Lucubrations to the Public."

[210] "Rivington, in his Gazette, fought the Rebels, a term of which he made very frequent use while he entertained the opinion that the Americans would be subjected by the British arms."—Thomas's History of Printing.

[211] Shelburne was at the head of the British ministry but seven months, yet in that time, by his firmness and zeal, he accomplished a final settlement of the quarrel with the colonies. "The treaty," says Bancroft, "which ruled the fate of a hemisphere was mainly due to Lord Shelburne."

[212] The Freeman's Journal of April 24 and May 1, 1782, gives full details of the Huddy affair. I can do no better than to quote Freneau's own version of the episode contributed to the Journal for June 12:

"Capt. Huddy, of the Jersey militia, was attacked in a small fort on Tom's river, by a party of refugees in the British pay and service, was made prisoner, together with his company, carried to New York, and lodged in the provost of that city; about three weeks after which, he was taken out of the provost down to the water side, put into a boat and brought again to the Jersey shore, and there, contrary to the practice of all nations but savages, was hung up on a tree [April 8, 1782] and left hanging until found by our people, who took him down and buried him.

"The inhabitants of that part of the country where the murder was committed, sent a deputation to general Washington, with a full and certified state of the fact. Struck as every human breast must be, with such outrage, and determined both to punish and prevent it for the future, the general represented the case to general Clinton, who then commanded, and demanded that the refugee officer who ordered and attended the execution, and whose name is Lippencut, should be delivered up as a murderer, and in case of refusal that the person of some British officer should suffer in his stead. The demand, though not refused, has not been complied with, and the melancholy lot (not by selection, but by casting lots) has fallen upon captain Asgil of the guards, who, as I have already mentioned, is on his way from Lancaster to camp, a martyr to the general wickedness of the cause he engaged in, and the ingratitude of those he has served."

Asgill was finally released.


[Pg 197]

NEW YEAR'S VERSES

Addressed to those Gentlemen who have been pleased to favour
Francis Wrigley, News Carrier, with their custom

January 1, 1783

According to custom, once more I appear
With the verse you expect at the dawn of the year:
For at length we have got into Eighty and Three;
And in spite of proud Britain, are happy and free.
If the times have been hard, and our commerce gone wrong,
We still have been able to struggle along.
If some, through misfortunes, are slack in the purse,
It is not so bad but it might have been worse.
Great things, the year past, were reveal'd to our eyes:
The Dutch have confess'd us their friends and allies;
And humbled the pride of our haughty invaders,
By fighting their fleets and destroying their traders,
If the English succeeded in taking the Count,
To what, in the end, did their conquest amount?
With their boasts, and their brags, and their shouts of applause,
It but sav'd them from ruin—not ruin'd our cause.
But leaving the weight of political cares
To those, who are plac'd at the helm of affairs,
To the humours of fortune in all things resign'd,
I mean by my visit to put you in mind,
That, as true as a clock, both early and late,
With the news of the day I have knock'd at your gate,
And gave you to know what the world was a doing,
What Louis intended, or George was a brewing.[Pg 198]
If sometimes the papers were trifling and flat,
And the news went against us,—I cou'dn't help that;
If parties were angry, and vented their spite,
I bro't you their wranglings—not help'd them to write.
I therefore presume (and not without reason)
You'll remember your Newsman, and think of the season;
The markets are high, and the weather is cold;
No party I serve, and no pension I hold.
We Hawkers are men, and have children and wives
To comfort our hearts, and to solace our lives:
But if I say more, you'll think it is stuff;
And a word to the wise is, in reason, enough.

NEW YEAR'S VERSES[213]

Addressed to the Customers of the Freeman's Journal, by the Lad who carries it

January 8, 1783

Let those who will, in hackney'd rhyme
And common cant, take up your time,
And even the muse's aid implore
To tell you what you knew before,
The days are short and nights are long,
The weather cold and hunger strong,
The markets high—and such like stuff—
I'm sure you know it well enough;—
Untaught by us, I dare to say,
You hit, exactly, New Year's day,[Pg 199]
And knew at least as well as we
The present year is eighty-three;—
(Such simple things as these to tell
A mere drum head would do as well—)
All this I knew you knew before,
And therefore knock'd not at your door
Upon the individual day
When eighty-three came into play,
With verses for the purpose plann'd
Bidding you gravely watch your sand,
Since death is always near at hand;
All this I left to those whose trade is
To threaten beaus and frighten ladies,
And brought my papers, (swiftly speeding)
The Freeman's Journal, for your reading.
Unhappy Journal, doom'd by fate
To meet with unrelenting hate,
From those who can their venom spit,
Yet condescend to steal your wit;
While Timon, with malicious spirit,
Allows you not a grain of merit,
While he an idle pomp assumes
Let him return his borrow'd plumes,
And you will find the insect creeping
With not a feather worth the keeping.
But this is neither here nor there,
May quarrels past dissolve in air;
In Stygian waves of sable hue
Be all absorb'd with Eighty-Two,
Or, lost on Lethe's silent shore,
Disgrace our rising State no more.
Another word I meant to say,
(Kind customers, have patience, pray,
My subject is the New Year's Day)[Pg 200]
How came it that mistaken man
Has thus inverted nature's plan,
And contradicted common reason
By making this the mirthful season,
When all is dreary, dull, and dead,
The sun to southern climates fled
To dart his fierce and downright beams
Intensely on Brazilian streams;
No daisies on the frozen plain,
No daffodils to please the swain,
The limpid wave compell'd to freeze,
And not a leaf upon the trees!—
'Tis wrong—the very birds will say,
Their New Year is the bloom of May;
Then nature calls to soft delights,
And they obey as she invites.
And yet this happiness below,
Which all would gain but few know how,
Is not to time or place confin'd,
'Tis seated only in the mind;
Let seasons vary as they will,
Contentment leaves us happy still,
Makes life itself pass smooth away,
Makes every hour a New Year's day.

[213] Text of this and the preceding poem from the edition of 1786. The last twenty-four lines of the above were republished in the edition of 1795, under the title "On the New-Year's Festival."


[Pg 201]

POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY[214]

HUGH GAINE'S LIFE[A]

City of New-York, Jan. 1, 1783.[B]

To the Senate[C] of York, with all due submission,
Of honest Hugh Gaine the humble Petition;[215]
An account of his Life he will also prefix,
And some trifles that happened in seventy-six;
He hopes that your Honours will take no offence,
If he sends you some groans of contrition from hence,
And, further, to prove that he's truly sincere,
He wishes you all a happy New Year.

[A] A character well remembered in New York, and the adjacent States,—now deceased.—Freneau's note. Gaine died April 25, 1807.

[B] The British army evacuated New York the November following.—Ib.

[C] The Legislature of the State were at this time in session at Fishkill.—Ib.

And, first, he informs, in his representation,
That he once was a printer of good reputation,
And dwelt in the street called Hanover Square,
(You'll know where it is, if you ever was there)
Next door to the dwelling[216] of doctor Brownjohn,
(Who now to the drug-shop[217] of Pluto is gone)
But what do I say—who e'er came to town,
And knew not Hugh Gaine at the Bible and Crown.[Pg 202]
Now, if I was ever so given to lie,
My dear native country I wouldn't deny;
(I know you love Teagues) and I shall not conceal
That I came from the kingdom where Phelim O'Neale
And other brave worthies ate butter and cheese,
And walk'd in the clover-fields up to their knees;
Full early in youth, without basket or burden,
With a staff in my hand, I passed over Jordan,
(I remember my comrade was doctor Magraw,[D]
And many strange things on the waters we saw,
Sharks, dolphins, and sea-dogs, bonettas, and whales,
And birds at the tropic, with quills in their tails)
And came to your city and government seat,
And found it was true you had something to eat;
When thus I wrote home—"The country is good,
"They have plenty of victuals and plenty of wood:
"The people are kind, and, whatever they think,
"I shall make it appear, I can swim where they'll sink;
"Dear me! they're so brisk, and so full of good cheer,
"By my soul, I suspect they have always new year,
"And therefore conceive it is good to be here."
So said, and so acted—I put up a press,
And printed away with amazing success;
Neglected my person, and looked like a fright,
Was bothered all day, and was busy all night,[Pg 203]
Saw money come in, as the papers went out,
While Parker and Weyman[E] were driving about,
And cursing and swearing, and chewing their cuds,
And wishing Hugh Gaine and his press in the suds:
Ned Weyman was printer, you know to the king,
And thought he had got all the world in a string,
(Though riches not always attend on a throne)
So he swore I had found the philosopher's stone,
And called me a rogue, and a son of a bitch,
Because I knew better than him to get rich.
To malice like that 'twas in vain to reply—
You had known by his looks he was telling a lie.
Thus life ran away, so smooth and serene—
Ah! these were the happiest days I had seen!
But the saying of Jacob I found to be true,
"The days of thy servant are evil and few!"
The days that to me were joyous and glad,
Are nothing to those which are dreary and sad!
The feuds of the Stamp Act foreboded foul weather,
And war and vexation all coming together:
Those days were the days of riots and mobs,
Tar, feathers, and tories, and troublesome jobs—
Priests preaching up war for the good of our souls,
And libels, and lying, and Liberty poles,
From which, when some whimsical colours you waved,
We had nothing to do, but look up and be saved—
(You thought, by resolving, to terrify Britain—
Indeed, if you did, you were damnably bitten)
I knew it would bring an eternal reproach,
When I saw you a-burning Cadwallader's[F] coach;[Pg 204]
I knew you would suffer for what you had done,
When I saw you lampooning poor Sawney his son,
And bringing him down to so wretched a level,
As to ride him about in a cart with the devil.

[D] A cynical and very eccentric Physician.—Freneau's note.

[E] New York Printers, many years before the Revolution.—Freneau's note. Parker and Weyman were in partnership in the printing business between the years 1753 and 1759, during which time they were the leading printers of New York.

[F] Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden.—Ib.


Well, as I predicted that matters would be—
To the stamp-act succeeded a tax upon Tea:
What chest-fulls were scattered, and trampled, and drowned,
And yet the whole tax was but threepence per pound!
May the hammer of Death on my noddle descend,
And Satan torment me to time without end,
If this was a reason to fly into quarrels,
And feuds that have ruined our manners and morals;
A parson himself might have sworn round the compass,
That folks for a trifle should make such a rumpus,
Such a rout as to set half the world in a rage,
Make France, Spain, and Holland with Britain engage,
While the Emperor, the Swede, the Russ, and the Dane,
All pity John Bull—and run off with his gain.
But this was the season that I must lament—
I first was a whig with an honest intent;
Not a Yankee[218] among them talked louder or bolder,
With his sword by his side, or his gun on his shoulder;
Yes, I was a whig, and a whig from my heart,
But still was unwilling with Britain to part—
I thought to oppose her was foolish and vain,
I thought she would turn and embrace us again,
And make us as happy as happy could be,
By renewing the æra of mild Sixty-Three:
And yet, like a cruel, undutiful son,
Who evil returns for the good to be done,[Pg 205]
Unmerited odium on Britain to throw,[219]
I printed some treason for Philip Freneau,
Some damnable poems reflecting on Gage,[220]
The King and his Council, and writ with such rage,
So full of invective, and loaded with spleen,
So sneeringly smart, and so hellishly keen,
That, at least in the judgment of half our wise men,
Alecto herself put the nib to his pen.

At this time arose a certain king Sears,[221]
Who made it his study to banish our fears:
He was, without doubt, a person of merit,
Great knowledge, some wit, and abundance of spirit;
Could talk like a lawyer, and that without fee,
And threatened perdition to all that drank tea.
Long sermons did he against Scotchmen prepare,[222]
And drank like a German, and drove away care;
Ah! don't you remember what a vigorous hand he put
To drag off the great guns, and plague captain Vandeput.[G]
That night[H] when the Hero (his patience worn out)
Put fire to the cannons and folks to the rout,[Pg 206]
And drew up his ship with a spring on her cable,
And gave us a second confusion of Babel,
And (what was more solid than scurrilous language)
Poured on us a tempest of round shot and langrage;
Scarce a broadside was ended 'till another began again
—By Jove! it was nothing but Fire away Flanagan![I]
Some thought him saluting his Sally's and Nancy's,[223]
'Till he drove a huge ball through the roof of Sam Francis;[J]
The town by his flashes was fairly enlightened,
The women miscarried, the beaux were all frighten'd;
For my part, I hid in a cellar (as sages
And Christians were wont in the primitive ages:
Thus the Prophet of old that was wrapt to the sky,
Lay snug in a cave 'till the tempest went by,
But, as soon as the comforting spirit had spoke,
He rose and came out with his mystical cloak)
Yet I hardly could boast of a moment of rest,
The dogs were a-howling, the town was distrest!
But our terrors soon vanished, for suddenly Sears
Renewed our lost courage and dried up our tears.
Our memories, indeed, must have strangely decayed
If we cannot remember what speeches he made,
What handsome harangues upon every occasion,
How he laughed at the whim of a British invasion!
"P—x take 'em (said he) do ye think they will come?
"If they should—we have only to beat on our drum,
"And run up the flag of American freedom,
"And people will muster by millions to bleed 'em!
"What freeman need value such blackguards as these!
"Let us sink in our channel some Chevaux de frise
[Pg 207]—"And then let 'em come—and we'll show 'em fair play—
"But they are not madmen—I tell you—not they!"
From this very day 'till the British came in,
We lived, I may say, in the Desert of Sin;
Such beating, and bruising, and scratching, and tearing;
Such kicking, and cuffing, and cursing and swearing!
But when they advanced with their numerous fleet,
And Washington made his nocturnal retreat,[K]
(And which they permitted, I say, to their shame,
Or else your New Empire had been but a name)
We townsmen, like women, of Britons in dread,
Mistrusted their meaning, and foolishly fled;
Like the rest of the dunces I mounted my steed,
And galloped away with incredible speed,
To Newark I hastened,—but trouble and care
Got up on the crupper and followed me there!
There I scarcely got fuel to keep myself warm,
And scarcely found spirits to weather the storm;
And was quickly convinced I had little to do,
(The Whigs were in arms, and my readers were few)
So after remaining one cold winter season,
And stuffing my papers with something like treason,
And meeting misfortunes and endless disasters,
And forced to submit to a hundred new masters,
I thought it more prudent to hold to the one—
And (after repenting of what I had done,
And cursing my folly and idle pursuits)
Returned to the city, and hung up my boots.

[G] Captain of the Asia man of war, who cannonaded the city.—Freneau's note.

[H] August, 1775.—Ib.

[I] A cant phrase among privateers men.—Freneau's note.

[J] A noted Inn-holder in New-York.—Ib. "Black Sam."—Ed. 1786.

[K] From Long-Island.—Freneau's note.


As matters have gone, it was plainly a blunder,
But then I expected the Whigs must knock under,
[Pg 208]And I always adhere to the sword that is longest,
And stick to the party that's like to be strongest:
That you have succeeded is merely a chance,
I never once dreamt of the conduct of France!—
If alliance with her you were promised—at least
You ought to have showed me your Star in the East,
Nor let me go off uninformed as a beast.
When your army I saw without stockings or shoes,
Or victuals—or money, to pay them their dues,
(Excepting your wretched Congressional paper,
That stunk in my nose like the smoke of a taper,
A cart load of which for a dram might be spent all,
That damnable bubble the old Continental,
That took people in at this wonderful crisis,
With its mottoes and emblems, and cunning devices;
Which, bad as it was, you were forced to admire,
And which was, in fact, the pillar of fire,
To which you directed your wandering noses,
Like the Jews in the desert conducted by Moses)
When I saw them attended with famine and fear,
Distress in their front, and Howe in their rear;
When I saw them for debt incessantly dunned,
Not a shilling to pay them laid up in your fund;
Your ploughs at a stand, and your ships run ashore—
When this was apparent (and need I say more?)
I handled my cane, and I looked at my hat,
And cryed—"God have mercy on armies like that!"
I took up my bottle, disdaining to stay,
And said—"Here's a health to the Vicar of Bray,"
And cocked up my beaver, and—strutted away.

Ashamed of my conduct, I sneaked into town,
(Six hours and a quarter the sun had been down)[Pg 209]
It was, I remember, a cold frosty night,
And the stars in the firmament glittered as bright
As if (to assume a poetical stile)
Old Vulcan had give them a rub with his file.
'Till this cursed night, I can honestly say,
I ne'er before dreaded the dawn of the day;
Not a wolf or a fox that is caught in a trap
E'er was so ashamed of his nightly mishap—
I couldn't help thinking what ills might befall me,
What rebels and rascals the British would call me,
And how I might suffer in credit and purse,
If not in my person, which still had been worse:
At length I resolved (as was surely my duty)
To go for advice to parson Auchmuty;[L]
The parson, who now I hope is in glory,
Was then upon earth, and a terrible[224] tory,
Not Cooper[M] himself, of ideas perplext,
So nicely could handle and torture a text,
When bloated with lies, through his trumpet he sounded
The damnable sin of opposing a crowned head;
Like a penitent sinner, and dreading my fate,
In the grey of the morning I knocked at his gate;
(No doubt he was vexed that I roused him so soon,
For his saintship was mostly in blankets 'till noon.)
At length he approached in his vestments of black—
(Alas, my poor heart! it was then on the rack,
Like a man in an ague, or one to be tried;
I shook—and recanted, and blubbered, and sighed)
His gown, of itself, was amazingly big,
Besides, he had on his canonical wig,[Pg 210]
And frowned at a distance; but, when I came near,
Looked pleasant and said—"What, Hugh, are you here!
"Your heart, I am certain, is horribly hardened,
"But if you confess—your sin will be pardoned;
"In spite of my preachments, and all I could say,
"Like the prodigal son, you wandered away,
"Now tell me, dear penitent, which is the best,
"To be with the rebels, pursued and distrest,
"Devoid of all comfort, all hopes of relief,
"Or else to be here, and partake the king's beef?
"More people resemble the snake than the dove,
"And more are converted by terror than love:
"Like a sheep on the mountains, or rather a swine,
"You wandered away from the ninety and nine:
"Awhile at the offers of mercy you spurned,
"But your error you saw, and at length have returned:
"Our Master will therefore consider your case,
"And restore you again to favour and grace,
"Great light shall arise from utter confusion,
"And rebels shall live to lament their delusion."
"Ah, rebels! (said I) they are rebels indeed—
"Chastisement, I hope, by the king is decreed:
"They have hung up his subjects with bed-cords and halters,
"And banished his prophets, and thrown down his altars.
"And I—even I—while I ventured to stay,
"They sought for my life—to take it away!
"I therefore propose to come under your wing,
"A foe to rebellion—a slave to the king."

[L] A high church Episcopalian, then rector of Trinity Church, N. Y., since deceased.—Freneau's note.

[M] Miles Cooper, President of Kings (now Columbia College).—Ib.


Such solemn confession,[225] in scriptural stile
Worked out my salvation, at least for a while;[Pg 211]
The parson pronounced me deserving of grace,
And so they restored me to printing and place.
But days, such as these, were too happy to last:
The sand of felicity settled too fast!
When I swore and protested I honoured the throne
The least they could do was to let me alone;
Though George I compared to an angel above,
They wanted some solider proofs of my love;
And so they obliged me each morning to come
And turn in the ranks at the beat of the drum,
While often, too often (I tell it with pain)
They menaced my head with a hickory cane,
While others, my betters, as much were opprest—
But shame and confusion shall cover the rest.
You, doubtless, will think I am dealing in fable
When I tell you I guard an officer's stable—
With usage like this my feelings are stung;
The next thing will be, I must heave out the dung!
Six hours in the day is duty too hard,
And Rivington sneers whene'er I mount guard,
And laughs till his sides are ready to split
With his jests, and his satires, and sayings of wit:
Because he's excused, on account of his post
He cannot go by without making his boast,
As if I was all that is servile and mean—
But Fortune, perhaps, may alter the scene,
And give him his turn to stand in the street,
Burnt brandy supporting his animal heat—[226]
But what for the king or the cause has he done
That we must be toiling while he can look on?
Great conquests he gave them on paper—'tis true[227][Pg 212]
When Howe was retreating, he made him pursue;
Alack! it's too plain that Britons must fall—
When loaded with laurels—they go to the wall.
From hence you may guess I do nothing but grieve,
And where we are going I cannot conceive—
The wisest among us a change are expecting,
It is not for nothing, these ships are collecting,
It is not for nothing, that Matthews, the mayor,
And legions of Tories, for sailing prepare;
It is not for nothing, that John Coghill Knap
Is filing his papers, and plugging his tap;
See Skinner himself, the fighting attorney,
Is boiling potatoes, to serve a long journey;
But where they are going, or meaning to travel,
Would puzzle John Faustus himself to unravel,
Perhaps to Penobscot, to starve in the barrens,
Perhaps to St. John's, in the gulph of St. Lawrence;
Perhaps to New-Scotland, to perish with cold,
Perhaps to Jamaica, like slaves to be sold,
Where, scorched by the summer, all nature repines,
Where Phœbus, great Phœbus, too glaringly shines,
And fierce from the zenith diverging his ray
Oppresses the isle with a torrent of day.
Since matters are thus, with proper submission
Permit me to offer my humble Petition:
(Though the form is uncommon, and lawyers may sneer,
With truth I can tell you, the scribe is sincere.)

That, since it is plain we are going away,
You will suffer Hugh Gaine unmolested to stay,
His sand is near run (life itself is a span)
So leave him to manage the best that he can:
Whoe'er are his masters, or monarchs, or regents,
For the future he's ready to swear them allegiance;[Pg 213]
The Crown he will promise to hold in disgrace:[228]
The Bible—allow him to stick in its place,
'Till that, in due season, you wish to put down
And bid him keep shop at the sign of the crown.
If the Turk with his turban should set up at last here
While he gives him protection, he'll own him his master,
And yield due obedience (when Britain is gone)
Though ruled by the sceptre of Presbyter John.
My press, that has called you (as tyranny drove her)
Rogues, rebels, and rascals, a thousand times over,
Shall be at your service by day and by night,
To publish whate'er you think proper to write;
Those types which have raised George the third to a level
With angels—shall prove him as black as the devil,
To him that contrived him a shame and disgrace,
Nor blest with one virtue to honour his race!
Who knows but, in time, I may rise to be great,
And have the good fortune to manage a State?
Great noise among people great changes denotes,
And I shall have money to purchase their votes—
The time is approaching, I venture to say,
When folks worse than me will come into play,
When your double faced[229] people will give themselves airs,
And aim to take hold of the helm of affairs,
While the honest bold soldier, who sought your renown,
Like a dog in the dirt, shall be crushed and held down.
Of honours and profits allow me a share!
I frequently dream of a president's chair!
And visions full often intrude on my brain,
That for me to interpret, would rather be vain.[Pg 214]
Blest seasons advance, when Britons[230] shall find
That they can be happy, and you[231] can be kind,
When Rebels no longer at Traitors shall spurn,
When Arnold himself will in triumph return!
But my paper informs me it's time to conclude;
I fear my Address has been rather too rude—
If it has—for my boldness your pardon I pray,
And further, at present, presume not to say,
Except that (for form's sake) in haste I remain
Your humble Petitioner—honest—Hugh Gaine.[232]

[214] First published in the Freeman's Journal in several installments, the first appearing Jan. 8, 1783. Hugh Gaine began as a printer in New York in 1750, and two years later established the New York Mercury. His imprint for many years was "Printed by Hugh Gaine, Printer, Bookseller, Stationer, at the Bible and Crown, in Hanover Square." Upon the beginning of hostilities with England he at first sided with the patriots. "Gaine's political creed it seems was to join the strongest party. When the British troops were about to take possession of New York in 1776, he left the city and set up his press at Newark; but soon after, in the belief that appearances were against the ultimate success of the United States, be privately withdrew from Newark and returned to New York. At the conclusion of the war, he petitioned the State legislature for leave to remain in the city and, having obtained permission, his press was employed in book printing, etc., but his newspaper was discontinued when the British army left."—Thomas' History of Philadelphia. I have used the text from the edition of 1809.

[215] "It is to be questioned if Gaine ever wrote a petition."—Paul Leicester Ford.

[216] "Drug shop."—Ed. 1786.

[217] "Dog house."—Ib.

[218] "Fellow."—Ed. 1786.

[219] "To gain a mere trifle, a shilling or so."—Ed. 1786.

[220] General Gage's Soliloquy, and General Gage's Confession, both printed in 1775.

[221] "Under orders from the New York Convention Isaac Sears, in the night of the twenty-fourth of August [1775] removed cannon from the battery of the city. Captain Vandeput of the Asia, a British man-of-war in the harbor of the city, kept up a heavy but ineffective fire on the working party, who succeeded in removing twenty-one eighteen pounders with their carriages. It was feared that a bombardment would follow and families began to retreat into the country."—Bancroft.

[222] This line and the following not in the 1786 edition.

[223] "At first we supposed it was only a sham."—Ed. 1786.

[224] "Moderate."—Ed. 1786.

[225] "Pitiful whining."—Ed. 1795.

[226]

"With his paunch of a hog, and his brains of an oyster,
Whence the mischief came he with his radical moisture."—Ed. 1786.

[227] This line and the three following not in the edition of 1786.

[228] This line and the three following not in the original version.

[229] "The false-hearted Tory."—Ed. 1786.

[230] "Tories."—Ed. 1786.

[231] "Whigs."—Ib.

[232] Dr. Francis, in his paper on Christopher Colles, records this story:

"While on one of his visits at Gaine's a customer saluted him loudly by name, the sound of which arrested the attention of the old Royalist, who, lifting up his eyes, interrogated him: 'Is your name Freneau?' 'Yes,' answered the Republican poet. 'Philip Freneau?' rejoined Gaine. 'Yes sir! the same.' 'Then, sir,' warmly uttered Gaine, 'you are a very clever fellow. Let me have the pleasure of taking you by the hand. Will you walk round the corner and join me in my parlor. We will take a glass of wine together. You, sir, have given me and my paper a wide reputation."


STANZAS[233]

Occasioned by the Departure of the British from Charleston,
December 14, 1782

His triumphs of a moment done,
His race of desolation run,
The Briton, yielding to his fears,
To other shores with sorrow steers:
To other shores—and coarser climes
He goes, reflecting on his crimes,
His broken oaths, a murdered Hayne,
And blood of thousands, spilt in vain.
[Pg 215]
To Cooper's stream, advancing slow,
Ashley no longer tells his woe;
No longer mourns his limpid flood
Discoloured deep with human blood.
Lo! where those social streams combine,
Again the friends of Freedom join;
And, while they stray, where once they bled,
Rejoice to find their tyrants fled.
Since memory paints that dismal day
When British squadrons held the sway,
And circling close on every side,
By sea and land retreat denied—
Can she recall that mournful scene,
And not the virtues of a Greene,
Who great in war—in danger tried,
Has won the day, and crushed their pride.
Through barren wastes and ravaged lands,
He led his bold undaunted bands;
Through sickly climes his standard bore
Where never army marched before:
By fortitude, with patience joined,
(The virtues of a noble mind)
He spread, where'er our wars are known,
His country's honour and his own.
Like Hercules, his generous plan
Was to redress the wrongs of men;
Like him, accustomed to subdue,
He freed a world from monsters too.
[Pg 216]
Through every want and every ill
We saw him persevering still,
Through Autumn's damps and Summer's heat,
'Till his great purpose was complete.
Like the bold eagle, from the skies
That stoops, to seize his trembling prize,
He darted on the slaves of kings
At Camden plains and Eutaw Springs.
Ah! had our friends that led the fray
Survived the ruins of that day,
We should not damp our joy with pain,
Nor, sympathizing, now complain.
Strange! that of those who nobly dare
Death always claims so large a share,
That those of virtue most refined
Are soonest to the grave consigned!—
But fame is theirs—and future days
On pillared brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell—when cold neglect is dead—
"These for their country fought and bled."

[233] Published in the Freeman's Journal, February 19, 1783, and copied by the Charleston Weekly Gazette, May 13 following. Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 217]

ON THE BRITISH KING'S SPEECH[234]

Recommending Peace with the American States

Grown sick of war, and war's alarms,
Good George has changed his note at last—
Conquest and death have lost their charms;
He, and his nation stand aghast,
To think what fearful lengths they've gone,
And what a brink they stand upon.
Old Bute and North, twin sons of hell,
If you advised him to retreat
Before our vanquished thousands fell,
Prostrate, submissive at his feet:
Awake once more his latent flame,
And bid us yield you all you claim.[235]
The Macedonian wept and sighed
Because no other world was found
Where he might glut his rage and pride,
And by its ruin be renowned;
The world that Sawney wished to view
George fairly had—and lost it too!
Let jarring powers make war or peace,
Monster!—no peace can greet your breast:
Our murdered friends can never cease
To hover round and break your rest!
[Pg 218]The Furies will your bosom tear,
Remorse, distraction, and despair
And hell, with all its fiends, be there!
Cursed be the ship that e'er sets sail
Hence, freighted for your odious shore;
May tempests o'er her strength prevail,
Destruction round her roar!
May Nature all her aids deny,
The sun refuse his light,
The needle from its object fly,
No star appear by night:
'Till the base pilot, conscious of his crime,
Directs the prow to some more Christian[236] clime.
Genius! that first our race designed,
To other kings impart
The finer feelings of the mind,
The virtues of the heart;
Whene'er the honours of a throne
Fall to the bloody and the base,
Like Britain's tyrant, pull them down,
Like his, be their disgrace!
Hibernia, seize each native right!
Neptune, exclude him from the main;
Like her that sunk with all her freight,
The Royal George,[237] take all his fleet,
And never let them rise again:
[Pg 219]Confine him to his gloomy isle,
Let Scotland rule her half,
Spare him to curse his fate awhile,
And Whitehead,[A] thou to write his epitaph.

[A] William Whitehead, Poet Laureat to his Majesty—author of the execrable birth-day Odes.—Freneau's note, Ed. 1786.

[234] First published in the Freeman's Journal, March 12, 1783. "King George of England was mastered by a consuming grief for the loss of America, and knew no ease of mind by day or by night. When on the fifth of December [1782], in his speech at the opening of Parliament, he came to read that he had offered to declare the colonies of America free and independent States, his manner was constrained and his voice full."—Bancroft.

[235] "And feed with hope his heart's desire."—Ed. 1786.

[236] "Grateful."—Ed. 1786.

[237] The Royal George, 108 guns, while being refitted at Spithead, August 29, 1782, was heeled over too far by her crew, causing her suddenly to sink. Admiral Kempenfelt and nearly 800 men perished in this disaster.


A NEW-YORK TORY'S EPISTLE[238]

To one of his Friends in Pennsylvania.—Written previous to his Departure for Nova Scotia

May, 1783

Dark glooms the day that sees me leave this shore,
To which fate whispers I must come no more:
From civil broils what dire disasters flow—
Those broils condemn me to a land of woe
Where barren pine trees shade the dreary steep,
Frown o'er the soil or murmur to the deep,
Where sullen fogs their heavy wings expand,
And nine months' winter chills the dismal land!
Could no kind stars have mark'd a different way,
Stars that presided on my natal day?—
Why is not man endued with power to know
The ends and upshots of events below?
Why did not heaven (some other gift deny'd)
Teach me to take the true-born Buckskin side,
Show me the balance of the wavering fates
And fortune smiling on these new-born States!
Friend of my heart!—my refuge and relief,
Who help'd me on through seven long years of grief,
[Pg 220]Whose better genius taught you to remain
In the soft quiet of your rural reign,
Who still despised the Rebels and their cause,
And, while you paid the taxes, damn'd their laws,
And wisely stood spectator of the fray,
Nor trusted George, whate'er he chose to say;
Thrice happy thou, who wore a double face,
And as the balance turn'd could each embrace;
Too happy Janus! had I shar'd thy art,
To speak a language foreign to my heart,
And stoop'd from pomp and dreams of regal state,
To court the friendship of the men I hate,
These strains of woe had not been penn'd to-day,
Nor I to foreign climes been forc'd away:
Ah! George—that name provokes my keenest rage,
Did he not swear, and promise, and engage
His loyal sons to nurture and defend,
To be their God, their father and their friend—
Yet basely quits us on a hostile coast,
And leaves us wretched where we need him most:
His is the part to promise and deceive,
By him we wander and by him we grieve;
Since the first day that these dissentions grew,
When Gage to Boston brought his blackguard crew,[239]
From place to place we urge our vagrant flight
To follow still this vapour of the night,
From town to town have run our various race,
And acted all that's mean and all that's base—
Yes—from that day until this hour we roam,
Vagrants forever from our native home!
[Pg 221]And yet, perhaps, fate sees the golden hour
When happier hands shall crush rebellious power,
When hostile tribes their plighted faith shall own
And swear subjection to the British throne,
When George the Fourth shall their petitions spurn,
And banish'd Tories to their fields return.
From dreams of conquest, worlds and empires won
Britain awaking, mourns her setting sun,
No rays of joy her evening hour illume,
'Tis one sad chaos, one unmingled gloom!
Too soon she sinks unheeded to the grave,
No eye to pity and no hand to save:
What are her crimes that she alone must bend?
Where are her hosts to conquer and defend—
Must she alone with these new regions part,
These realms that lay the nearest to her heart,
But soar'd at once to independent power,
Not sunk like Scotland in the trying hour?—
See slothful Spaniards golden empires keep,
And rule vast realms beyond the Atlantic deep;
Must we alone surrender half our reign,
And they their empires and their worlds retain?
Britannia, rise—send Johnstone to Peru,
Seize thy bold thunders and the war renew,
Conquest or ruin—one must be thy doom,
Strike—and secure a triumph or a tomb!
But we, sad outcasts from our native reign,
Driven from these shores, a poor deluded train,
In distant wilds, conducted by despair,
Seek, vainly seek, a hiding place from care!
Even now yon' tribes, the foremost of the band,
Croud to the ships and cover all the strand:
Forc'd from their friends, their country, and their God,
I see the unhappy miscreants leave the sod!
[Pg 222]Matrons and men walk sorrowing side by side
And virgin grief, and poverty, and pride,
All, all with aching hearts prepare to sail
And late repentance that has no avail!
While yet I stand on this forbidden ground
I hear the death-bell of destruction sound,
And threat'ning hosts with vengeance on their brow
Cry, "Where are Britain's base adherents now?"
These, hot for vengeance, by resentment led,
Blame on our hearts the failings of the head;
To us no peace, no favours they extend,
Their rage no bounds, their hatred knows no end;
In one firm league I see them all combin'd,
We, like the damn'd, can no forgiveness find—
As soon might Satan from perdition rise,
And the lost angels gain their vanish'd skies
As malice cease in their dark souls to burn,
Or we, once fled, be suffer'd to return.
Curs'd be the union that was form'd with France,
I see their lillies and the stars advance!
Did they not turn our triumphs to retreats,
And prove our conquests nothing but defeats?—
My heart misgives me as their chiefs draw near,
I feel the influence of all potent fear,
Henceforth must I, abandon'd and distrest,
Knock at the door of pride, a beggar guest,
And learn from years of misery and pain
Not to oppose fair Freedom's cause again!—
One truth is clear from changes such as these,[240]
Kings cannot always conquer when they please,
Nor are they rebels who mere freedom claim,
Conquest alone can ratify the name—
[Pg 223]But great the task, their efforts to controul
When genuine virtue fires the stubborn soul;
The warlike beast in Lybian deserts plac'd
To reign the master of the sun-burnt waste,
Not tamely yields to bear a servile chain,
Force may attempt it, and attempt in vain,
Nervous and bold, by native valour led,
His prowess strikes the proud invader dead,
By force nor fraud from freedom's charms beguil'd
He reigns secure the monarch of the wild.
Tantalus.

[238] Freeman's Journal, May 7, 1783. In the later editions it was entitled "Renegado Epistle." Text from the edition of 1786.

[239] Two added lines in the later editions:

"Amused with conquests, honours, riches, fame,
Posts, titles, earldoms—and a deathless name."

[240]

"From nature constant still
Kings hold not worlds or empires at their will."—Ed. 1795.

MANHATTAN CITY[241]

A Picture

Fair mistress of a warlike State,
What crime of thine deserves this fate?
While other ports to Freedom rise,
In thee that flame of honour dies.
With wars and horrors overspread,
Seven years, and more, we fought and bled:
Seized British hosts and Hessian bands,
And all—to leave you in their hands.
While British tribes forsake our plains,
In you, a ghastly herd[242] remains:
Must vipers to your halls[243] repair;
Must poison taint that purest air?
[Pg 224]
Ah! what a scene torments the eye:
In thee, what putrid monsters lie!
What dirt, and mud, and mouldering walls,
Burnt domes, dead dogs, and funerals!
Those grassy banks, where oft we stood,[244]
And fondly viewed the passing flood;
There, owls obscene, that daylight shun,
Pollute the waters, as they run.
Thus in the east—once Asia's queen—
Palmyra's tottering towers are seen;
While through her streets the serpent feeds,
Thus she puts on her mourning weeds!
Lo! Skinner there for Scotia hails
The sweepings of Cesarean jails:[245]
While, to receive the odious[246] freight,
A thousand sable transports wait.
Had he been born in days of old
When men with gods their 'squires[247] enrolled,
Hermes had claimed his aid above,
Arch-quibbler in the courts of Jove.[248]
O chief, that wrangled at the bar—
Grown old in less successful war;
What crowds of miscreants round you stand,
What vagrants bow to your command!

[241] In the edition of 1786 entitled "New-York, September, 1783."

[242] "A motley crew."—Ed. 1786.

[243] "Through thy streets."—Ib.

[244] "I stood."—Ed. 1786.

[245]

"Lo! Skinner there collects a crew,
(Their temples brushed with Stygian dew)"—Ib.

[246] "Ghastly."—Ib.

[247] "Beasts."—Ib.

[248]

"Like Nero's horse, he had been made
A consul for some Nero's aid."—Ib.

[Pg 225]

VERSES[249]

Occasioned by General Washington's arrival in Philadelphia, on his way to his seat in Virginia

December, 1783

1
The great, unequal conflict past,
The Briton banish'd from our shore,
Peace, heav'n-descended, comes at last,
And hostile nations rage no more;
From fields of death the weary swain
Returning, seeks his native plain.
2
In every vale she smiles serene,
Freedom's bright stars more radiant rise,
New charms she adds to every scene,
Her brighter sun illumes our skies;
Remotest realms admiring stand,
And hail the Hero of our land:
3
He comes!—the Genius of these lands—
Fame's thousand tongues his worth confess,
Who conquer'd with his suffering bands,
And grew immortal by distress:
Thus calms succeed the stormy blast,
And valour is repaid at last.
[Pg 226]
4
O Washington!—thrice glorious name,
What due rewards can man decree—
Empires are far below thy aim,
And sceptres have no charms for thee;
Virtue alone has thy regard,
And she must be thy great reward.
5
Encircled by extorted power,
Monarchs must envy thy Retreat,
Who cast, in some ill fated hour,
Their country's freedom at their feet;
'Twas thine to act a nobler part
For injur'd Freedom had thy heart.
6
For ravag'd realms and conquer'd seas
Rome gave the great imperial prize,
And, swell'd with pride, for feats like these,
Transferr'd her heroes to the skies:—
A brighter scene your deeds display,
You gain those heights a different way.
7
When Faction rear'd her snaky head,[250]
And join'd with tyrants to destroy,
Where'er you march'd the monster fled,
Tim'rous her arrows to employ;
Hosts catch'd from you a bolder flame,
And despots trembled at your name.
[Pg 227]
8
Ere war's dread horrors ceas'd to reign,
What leader could your place supply?—
Chiefs crowded to the embattled plain,
Prepar'd to conquer or to die—
Heroes arose—but none like you
Could save our lives and freedom too.
9
In swelling verse let kings be read,
And princes shine in polish'd prose;
Without such aid your triumphs spread
Where'er the convex ocean flows,
To Indian worlds by seas embrac'd,
And Tartar, tyrant of the waste.
10
Throughout the east you gain applause,
And soon the Old World, taught by you,
Shall blush to own her barbarous laws,
Shall learn instruction from the New:
Monarchs shall hear the humble plea,
Nor urge too far the proud decree.
11
Despising pomp and vain parade,
At home you stay, while France and Spain
The secret, ardent wish convey'd,
And hail'd you to their shores in vain:
In Vernon's groves you shun the throne,
Admir'd by kings, but seen by none.
[Pg 228]
12
Your fame, thus spread to distant lands,
May envy's fiercest blasts endure,
Like Egypt's pyramids it stands,
Built on a basis more secure;
Time's latest age shall own in you
The patriot and the statesman too.
13
Now hurrying from the busy scene,
Where thy Potowmack's waters flow,
May'st thou enjoy thy rural reign,
And every earthly blessing know;
Thus He[A] whom Rome's proud legions sway'd,
Return'd, and sought his sylvan shade.

[A] Cincinnatus.—Freneau's note.

14
Not less in wisdom than in war
Freedom shall still employ your mind,
Slavery shall vanish, wide and far,
'Till not a trace is left behind;
Your counsels not bestow'd in vain
Shall still protect this infant reign.
15
So when the bright, all-cheering sun
From our contracted view retires,
Though fools may think his race is run,
On other worlds he lights his fires:
Cold climes beneath his influence glow,
And frozen rivers learn to flow.
[Pg 229]
16
O say, thou great, exalted name!
What Muse can boast of equal lays,
Thy worth disdains all vulgar fame,
Transcends the noblest poet's praise,
Art soars, unequal to the flight,
And genius sickens at the height.
17
For states redeem'd—our western reign
Restor'd by thee to milder sway,
Thy conscious glory shall remain
When this great globe is swept away,
And all is lost that pride admires,
And all the pageant scene expires.

[249] Published in the Freeman's Journal, December 10, 1783. Washington arrived in Philadelphia from New York, December 8th. The earliest version of this poem remained practically unchanged in the later editions. The text follows the edition of 1786.

[250] "Bristly head."—Ed. 1809.


RIVINGTON'S CONFESSIONS[251]

Addressed to the Whigs of New-York

December 31, 1783

PART I

Long life and low spirits were never my choice,
As long as I live I intend to rejoice;
When life is worn out, and no wine's to be had
'Tis time enough then to be serious and sad.
'Tis time enough then to reflect and repent
When our liquor is gone, and our money is spent,
But I cannot endure what is practis'd by some
This anticipating of evils to come:
[Pg 230]
A debt must be paid, I am sorry to say,
Alike, in their turns, by the grave and the gay,
And due to a despot that none can deceive
Who grants us no respite and signs no reprieve.
Thrice happy is he that from care can retreat,
And its plagues and vexations put under his feet;
Blow the storm as it may, he is always in trim,
And the sun's in the zenith forever to him.
Since the world then in earnest is nothing but care,
(And the world will allow I have also my share)
Yet, toss'd as I am in the stormy expanse,
The best way, I find, is to leave it to chance.
Look round, if you please, and survey the wide ball
And chance, you will find, has direction of all:
'Twas owing to chance that I first saw the light,
And chance may destroy me before it is night!
'Twas a chance, a mere chance, that your arms gain'd the day,
'Twas a chance that the Britons so soon went away,
To chance by their leaders the nation is cast
And chance to perdition will send them at last.
Now because I remain when the puppies are gone
You would willingly see me hang'd, quarter'd and drawn,
Though I think I have logic sufficient to prove
That the chance of my stay—is a proof of my love.
For deeds of destruction some hundreds are ripe,
But the worst of my foes are your lads of the type:
Because they have nothing to put on their shelves
They are striving to make me as poor as themselves.[Pg 231]
There's Loudon[252] and Kollock,[253] these strong bulls of Bashan,
Are striving to hook me away from my station,
And Holt,[254] all at once, is as wonderful great
As if none but himself was to print for the State.
Ye all are convinc'd I'd a right to expect
That a sinner returning you would not reject—
Quite sick of the scarlet and slaves of the throne,
'Tis now at your option to make me your own.
Suppose I had gone with the Tories and rabble
To starve, or be drown'd on the shoals of cape Sable,
I had suffer'd, 'tis true—but I'll have you to know,
You nothing had gain'd by the voice of my woe.
You say that with grief and dejection of heart
I pack'd up my awls with a view to depart,
That my shelves were dismantled, my cellars unstor'd,
My boxes afloat, and my hampers on board:
And hence you infer (I am sure without reason)
That a right you possess to entangle my weazon—
Yet your barns I ne'er burnt, nor your blood have I spilt,
And my terror alone was no proof of my guilt.
[Pg 232]
The charge may be true—for I found it in vain
To lean on a staff that was broken in twain,
And ere I had gone at Port Roseway to fix,
I had chose to sell drams on the margin of Styx.
I confess, that, with shame and contrition opprest,
I sign'd an agreement to go with the rest,
But ere they weigh'd anchor to sail their last trip,
I saw they were vermin, and gave them the slip.
Now, why you should call me the worst man alive,
On the word of a convert, I cannot contrive,
Though turn'd a plain honest republican, still
You own me no proslelyte, do what I will.
My paper is alter'd—good people, don't fret;
I call it no longer the Royal Gazette:[255]
To me a great monarch has lost all his charms,
I have pull'd down his Lion, and trampled his Arms.
While fate was propitious, I thought they might stand,
You know I was zealous for George's command,
But since he disgrac'd it, and left us behind,
If I thought him an angel—I've alter'd my mind.
On the very same day that his army went hence
I ceas'd to tell lies for the sake of his pence;
And what was the reason—the true one is best—
I worship no suns when they move to the west:
In this I resemble a Turk or a Moor,
Bright Phœbus ascending, I prostrate adore;
And, therefore, excuse me for printing some lays,
An ode or a sonnet in Washington's praise.
[Pg 233]
His prudence alone[256] has preserv'd your dominions,
This bravest and boldest of all the Virginians!
And when he is gone—I pronounce it with pain—
We scarcely shall meet with his equal again.[257]
Old Plato asserted that life is a dream
And man but a shadow (whate'er he may seem)[258]
By which it is plain he intended to say
That man, like a shadow, must vanish away:
If this be the fact, in relation to man,
And if each one is striving to get what he can,
I hope, while I live, you will all think it best,
To allow me to bustle along with the rest.
A view of my life, though some parts might be solemn,
Would make, on the whole, a ridiculous volume:
In the life that's hereafter (to speak with submission)
I hope I shall publish a better edition:
Even swine you permit to subsist in the street;—
You pity a dog that lies down to be beat—
Then forget what is past—for the year's at a close—
And men of my age have some need of repose.

[Pg 234]

PART II

But as to the Tories that yet may remain,
They scarcely need give you a moment of pain:
What dare they attempt when their masters are fled;—
When the soul is departed who wars with the dead?
Poor souls! for the love of the king and his nation
They have had their full quota of mortification;
Wherever they fought, or whatever they won
The dream's at an end—the delusion is done.
The Temple you rais'd was so wonderful large
Not one of them thought you could answer the charge,
It seem'd a mere castle constructed of vapour,
Surrounded with gibbets and founded on Paper.
On the basis of freedom you built it too strong!
And Clinton[259] confess'd, when you held it so long,
That if any thing human the fabric could shatter
The Royal Gazette must accomplish the matter.[A]
An engine like that, in such hands as my own
Had shaken king Codjoe[B] himself from his throne,
In another rebellion had ruin'd the Scot,
While the Pope and Pretender had both gone to pot.
If you stood my attacks, I have nothing to say—
I fought, like the Swiss, for the sake of my pay;
But while I was proving your fabric unsound
Our vessel miss'd stay, and we all went aground.
[Pg 235]
Thus ended in ruin what madness begun,
And thus was our nation disgrac'd and undone,
Renown'd as we were, and the lords of the deep,
If our outset was folly, our exit was sleep.
A dominion like this, that some millions had cost!—
The king might have wept when he saw it was lost;—
This jewel—whose value I cannot describe;
This pearl—that was richer than all his Dutch tribe.
When the war came upon us, you very well knew
My income was small and my riches were few—
If your money was scarce, and your prospects were bad,
Why hinder me printing for people that had?
'Twould have pleas'd you, no doubt, had I gone with a few setts
Of books, to exist in your cold Massachusetts;
Or to wander at Newark, like ill fated Hugh,
Not a shirt to my back, nor a soal to my shoe.
Now, if we mistook (as we did, it is plain)
Our error was owing to wicked Hugh Gaine,
For he gave us such scenes of your starving and strife
As prov'd that his pictures were drawn from the life.
On the waves of the Styx had he rode quarantine,
He could not have look'd more infernally lean
Than the day, when returning dismay'd and distrest,
Like the doves to their windows, he flew to his nest.[260]
The part that he[261] acted, by some men of sense
Was wrongfully held to be malice propense,
When to all the world it was perfectly plain,
One principle rul'd him[262]—a passion for gain.
[Pg 236]
You pretend I have suffer'd no loss in the cause,
And have, therefore, no right to partake of your laws:
Some people love talking—I find to my cost,
I too am a loser—my character's lost![263]
Nay, did not your printers repeatedly stoop
To descant and reflect on my Portable Soup?
At me have your porcupines darted the quill,
You have plunder'd my Office,[C] and publish'd my Will.[264]
Resolv'd upon mischief, you held it no crime
To steal my Reflections,[265] and print them in rhyme,
When all the world knew, or at least they might guess,
That the time to reflect was no time to confess;[266]
You never consider'd my children and wife,[267]
That my lot was to toil and to struggle[268] through life;
My windows you broke—they are all on a jar,
And my house you have made a mere old man of war.
And still you insist I've no right to complain!—
Indeed if I do, I'm afraid it's in vain—
Yet am willing to hope you're too learnedly read
To hang up a printer for being misled.
If this be your aim, I must think of a flight—
In less than a month I must bid you good-night,
And hurry away to that whelp ridden shore
Where Clinton and Carleton retreated before.
[Pg 237]
From signs in the sky, and from tokens on land
I'm inclin'd to suspect my departure's at hand:
The man in the moon is unusually big,
And Inglis, they tell me, has grown a good Whig.[269]
For many days past, as the town can attest,
The tail of the weather-cock hung to the west—[270]
My shop, the last evening, seem'd all in a blaze,
And a hen crow'd at midnight, my waiting man says;
Even then, as I lay with strange whims in my head,
A ghost hove in sight, not a yard from my bed,
It seem'd Gen'ral Robertson,[271] brawly array'd,
But I grasp'd at the substance, and found him a shade!
He appear'd as of old, when, head of the throng,
And loaded with laurels, he waddled along—
He seem'd at the foot of my bedstead to stand
And cry'd—"Jemmy Rivington, reach me your hand;
"And Jemmy, (said he) I am sorry to find
"Some demon advis'd you to loiter behind;
"The country is hostile—you had better get off it,
"Here's nothing but squabbles, all plague and no profit!
"Since the day that Sir William came here with his throng
"He manag'd things so that they always went wrong,
"And tho' for his knighthood, he kept Meschianza,
"I think he was nothing but mere Sancho Pança.
[Pg 238]
"That famous conductor of moon-light retreats,
"Sir Harry, came next with his armies and fleets,
"But, finding the rebels were dying and dead,
"He grounded his arms and retreated to bed.
"Other luck we had once at the battle of Boyne!
"But here they have ruin'd Earl Charles and Burgoyne,
"Here brave col'nel Monckton was thrown on his back,
"And here lies poor André! the best of the pack."
So saying, he flitted away in a trice,
Just adding, "he hop'd I would take his advice"—
Which I surely shall do if you push me too hard—
And so I remain, with eternal regard,
James Rivington, printer, of late, to the king,
But now a republican—under your wing—
Let him stand where he is—don't push him down hill,
And he'll turn a true Blue-Skin, or just what you will.

[A]

"Si Pergama dextra
Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent."—Virg.
Freneau's note.

[B] The Negro king in Jamaica, whom the English declared independent in 1739. See our Freeman's Journal, No. 37, for the treaty.—Freneau's note in 1783.

[C] November, 1775.—Freneau's note. On November 27, 1775, a band of armed men, under Sears of Connecticut, entered the city on horseback, destroyed his press and scattered his types.

[251] First published in the Freeman's Journal, December 31, 1783. The text follows the 1786 version.

[252] A New York printer, publisher of The New York Packet during the Revolutionary period. From 1776 until 1783 he published the paper at Fishkill.

[253] Shepard Kollock, soldier-editor of the Revolution. Established the New Jersey Journal at Chatham, N. J., in 1779. Removed in 1783 to New York, where he undertook the New York Gazetteer. Later, in 1787, he moved to Elizabeth-Town, N. J., and revived his first journal, which he successfully edited for thirty-one years. Kollock died in Philadelphia, July 28, 1839.

[254] John Holt, printer, born in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1721, died in New York City, January 30, 1784. Holt founded in 1776 the New York Journal, which during the Revolution bore the famous device of a snake cut into parts, with the motto "Unite or Die."

[255] After the war Rivington removed from the head-line of his paper the arms of Great Britain and changed the title to Rivington's New York Gazette and Universal Advertiser.

[256] "His prudence and caution."—Ed. 1795.

[257] The edition of 1809 added at this point the following six lines not in the earlier editions:

"The gods for that hero did trouble prepare,
But gave him a mind that could feed upon care,
They gave him a spirit, serene but severe,
Above all disorder, confusion, and fear;
In him it was fortune where others would fail:
He was born for the tempest, and weathered the gale."

[258] "A cloud, or a stream."—Ed. 1795.

[259] "Carleton."—Ed. 1795.

[260] In the later editions this stanza was inserted after stanza 1, Part II, and made to refer to the Tories.

[261] "That I acted."—Ed. 1795.

[262] "Rul'd me."—Ib.

[263] "My Pension is lost!"—Ed. 1795.

[264] See page 120.

[265] See page 190.

[266]

"When all the town knew (and a number confess'd)
That papers, like these, were no cause of arrest."—Ed. 1795.

[267] "My struggles and strife."—Ib.

[268] "To worry."—Ib.

[269] In place of these lines, the edition of 1795 has the following:

"Old Argo the ship,—in a peep at her star,
I found they were scraping her bottom for TAR."

[270] "A boy with a feather-bed troubled my rest."—Ed. 1795.

[271] Royal Governor of New York. He arrived in the city March 21, 1780. He was considered harsh and arbitrary by the patriots.


A NEWS-MAN'S ADDRESS[272]

What tempests gloom'd the by-past year—
What dismal prospects then arose!
Scarce at your doors I dar'd appear,
So many were our griefs and woes:
But time at length has chang'd the scene,
Our prospects, now, are more serene.
[Pg 239]
Bad news we brought you every day,
Your seamen slain, your ships on shore,
The army fretting for their pay—
('Twas well they had not fretted more!)
'Twas wrong indeed to wear out shoes,
To bring you nothing but bad news.
Now let's be joyful for the change—
The folks that guard the English throne
Have given us ample room to range,
And more, perhaps, than was their own;
To western lakes they stretch our bounds,
And yield the Indian hunting grounds.
But pray read on another year,
Remain the humble newsman's friend;
And he'll engage to let you hear
What Europe's princes next intend.—
Even now their brains are all at work
To rouse the Russian on the Turk.
Well—if they fight, then fight they must,
They are a strange contentious breed;
One good effect will be, I trust,
The more are kill'd, the more you'll read;
For past experience clearly shews,
That Wrangling is the Life of News.

[272] From the edition of 1795. The poem was first published as a broadside in 1784, with the title, "New-Year Verses, For those who carry the Pennsylvania Gazette To the Customers. January 1, 1784," and was reproduced almost verbatim in the 1786 edition.


[Pg 240]

NEW YEAR'S VERSES[273]

Addressed to the customers of the Freeman's Journal, by the Lad who carries it

January 7, 1784

Blest be the man who early prov'd
And first contriv'd to make it clear
That Time upon a dial mov'd,
And trac'd that circle call'd a year;
Ere he arose, the savage, man,
No bounds to years or seasons knew,
On Nature's book his reckoning ran,
And social festivals were few.
In after days, when folks grew wise
New wonderments were daily found,
Systems they built on pumpkin pies,
And prov'd that every thing went round.
Experience shows they reason'd right,
(With laurels we their tombs should crown)
For half the world is in such plight
That one would swear it upside down.
Now I am one, (and pray attend)
Who, marching in a smaller sphere,
To set you right, my service lend,
By bringing Papers through the year,
[Pg 241]
Which to your Honours may impart
A thousand new invented schemes,
The works of wit, and toils of art,
News, commerce, politics, and dreams:
Though in a sheet, at random cast,
Our motley knowledge we dispose,
From such a mass, in ages past,
Have less substantial fabrics rose;
The Sybil wise, as Virgil says,
Her writings to the leaves consign'd,
Which soon were borne a thousand ways,
Derang'd and scatter'd by the wind.
Not such neglect in me is seen—
Soon as my leaves have left the press
I haste to bring them, neat and clean,
At all times in a New Year's dress.
Though winds their ancient spite retain,
And strive to tear them from my hold,
I bear them safe through wind and rain,
Despising heat, despising cold.
While thus employ'd, from week to week,
You surely will not think it hard
If, with the rest, I come to seek
Some humble token of regard.
Nor will you deem my conduct strange
If what I long have thought be true—
That life itself is constant change,
And death, the want of something new.

[273] Text from the 1786 edition. The poem appears in the 1795 edition under the title "A News-Carrier's Petition."


[Pg 242]

THE HAPPY PROSPECT[274]

Though clad in winter's gloomy dress all Nature's works appear,
Yet other prospects rise to bless the new returning year:
The active sail again is seen to greet our western shore,
Gay plenty smiles with brow serene, and wars distract no more.
No more the vales, no more the plains an iron harvest yield;
Peace guards our doors, impells our swains to till the grateful field:
From distant climes, no longer foes (their years of misery past)
Nations arrive, to find repose in these domains at last.
And, if a more delightful scene attracts the mortal eye,
Where clouds nor darkness intervene, behold, aspiring high,
On Freedom's soil those Fabrics plann'd, on virtue's basis laid,
That make secure our native land, and prove our toils repaid.
Ambitious aims and pride severe, would you at distance keep,
What wanderer would not tarry here, here charm his cares to sleep!
[Pg 243]O, still may health her balmy wings o'er these fair fields expand,
While commerce from all climates brings the products of each land.
Through toiling care and lengthen'd views, that share alike our span,
Gay, smiling hope her heaven pursues, the eternal friend of man:
The darkness of the days to come she brightens with her ray,
And smiles o'er Nature's gaping tomb, when sickening to decay!

[274] This is Freneau's hymn of thanksgiving at the close of the war. Text from the 1795 edition, where, as far as I can discover, it was first published.


THE DYING INDIAN[275]

TOMO-CHEQUI

"On yonder lake I spread the sail no more!
Vigour, and youth, and active days are past—
Relentless demons urge me to that shore
On whose black forests all the dead are cast:—
Ye solemn train, prepare the funeral song,
For I must go to shades below,
Where all is strange and all is new;
Companion to the airy throng!—
What solitary streams,
In dull and dreary dreams,
All melancholy, must I rove along!
[Pg 244]
To what strange lands must Chequi take his way!
Groves of the dead departed mortals trace:
No deer along those gloomy forests stray,
No huntsmen there take pleasure in the chace,
But all are empty unsubstantial shades,
That ramble through those visionary glades;
No spongy fruits from verdant trees depend,
But sickly orchards there
Do fruits as sickly bear,
And apples a consumptive visage shew,
And withered hangs the hurtle-berry blue.
Ah me! what mischiefs on the dead attend!
Wandering a stranger to the shores below,
Where shall I brook or real fountain find?
Lazy and sad deluding waters flow—
Such is the picture in my boding mind!
Fine tales, indeed, they tell
Of shades and purling rills,
Where our dead fathers dwell
Beyond the western hills,
But when did ghost return his state to shew;
Or who can promise half the tale is true?
I too must be a fleeting ghost!—no more—
None, none but shadows to those mansions go;
I leave my woods, I leave the Huron shore,
For emptier groves below!
Ye charming solitudes,
Ye tall ascending woods,
Ye glassy lakes and prattling streams,
Whose aspect still was sweet,
Whether the sun did greet,
Or the pale moon embraced you with her beams—
Adieu to all!
[Pg 245]
To all, that charmed me where I strayed,
The winding stream, the dark sequestered shade;
Adieu all triumphs here!
Adieu the mountain's lofty swell,
Adieu, thou little verdant hill,
And seas, and stars, and skies—farewell,
For some remoter sphere!
Perplexed with doubts, and tortured with despair,
Why so dejected at this hopeless sleep?
Nature at last these ruins may repair,
When fate's long dream is o'er, and she forgets to weep
Some real world once more may be assigned,
Some new born mansion for the immortal mind!
Farewell, sweet lake; farewell surrounding woods,
To other groves, through midnight glooms, I stray,
Beyond the mountains, and beyond the floods,
Beyond the Huron bay!
Prepare the hollow tomb, and place me low,
My trusty bow and arrows by my side,
The cheerful bottle and the venison store;
For long the journey is that I must go,
Without a partner, and without a guide."
He spoke, and bid the attending mourners weep,
Then closed his eyes, and sunk to endless sleep!

[275] Text from the edition of 1809. First published in the Freeman's Journal, March 17, 1784. It was inserted without change into the edition of 1786, where it bore the title: "The Dying Indian, or Last Words of Shalum. March, 1784. Debemur morti nos, nostraque." The two later editions were unchanged save in title.


[Pg 246]

LINES[276]

Intended for Mr. Peale's Exhibition

May 10, 1784

1
Toward the skies
What columns rise
In Roman style, profusely great!
What lamps ascend,
What arches bend,
And swell with more than Roman state!
2
High o'er the central arch display'd
Old Janus shuts his temple door,
And shackles war in darkest shade;
Saturnian times in view once more.
3
Pride of the human race, behold
In Gallia's king the virtues glow,
Whose conduct prov'd, whose goodness told,
That kings can feel for human woe.
[Pg 247]Thrice happy France in Louis blest,
Thy genius droops her head no more;
In the calm virtues of the mind
Equal to him no Titus shin'd—
No Trajan—whom mankind adore.
4
Another scene too soon displays!
Griefs have their share, and claim their part,
They monuments to ruin raise,
And shed keen anguish o'er the heart:
Those heroes that in battle fell
Demand a sympathetic tear,
Who fought, our tyrants to repell—
Memory preserves their laurels here.
In vernal skies
Thus tempests rise,
And clouds obscure the brightest sun—
Few wreathes are gain'd
With blood unstain'd,
No honours without ruin won.
5
The arms of France three lillies mark—
In honour's dome with these enroll'd
The plough, the sheaf, the gliding barque
The riches of our State unfold.
[Pg 248]
6
Ally'd in Heaven, a sun and stars
Friendship and peace with France declare—
The branch succeeds the spear of Mars,
Commerce repairs the wastes of war:
In ties of concord ancient foes engage
Proving the day-spring of a brighter age.
7
These States defended by the brave,
Their military trophies, see!
The virtue that of old did save
Shall still maintain them great and free:
Arts shall pervade the western wild,
And savage hearts become more mild.
8
Of science proud, the source of sway,
Lo! emblematic figures shine;
The arts their kindred forms display,
Manners to soften and refine:
A stately tree to heaven its summit sends
And cluster'd fruit from thirteen boughs depends.
9
With laurel crown'd
A chief renown'd
(His country sav'd) his faulchion sheaths;
Neglects his spoils
For rural toils
[Pg 249]And crowns his plough with laurel wreaths:
While we this Roman chief survey,
What apt resemblance strikes the eye!
Those features to the soul convey
A Washington in fame as high,
Whose prudent, persevering mind
Patience with manly courage join'd,
And when disgrace and death were near,
Look'd through the black distressing shade,
Struck hostile Britons with unwonted fear
And blasted their best hopes, and pride in ruin laid.
10
Victorious virtue! aid me to pursue
The tributary verse to triumphs due—
Behold the peasant leave his lowly shed,
Where tufted forests round him grow;—
Tho' clouds the dark sky overspread,
War's dreadful art his arm essays,
He meets the hostile cannon's blaze,
And pours redoubled vengeance on the foe.
11
Born to protect and guard our native land,
Victorious virtue! still preserve us free;
Plenty—gay child of peace, thy horn expand,
And, Concord, teach us to agree!
May every virtue that adorns the soul
Be here advanc'd to heights unknown before;
Pacific ages in succession roll,
'Till Nature blots the scene,
Chaos resumes her reign
And heaven with pleasure views its works no more.

[276] Published in the Freeman's Journal, May 19, 1784, which the text follows. Practically unchanged for the later editions. The following description of this arch appeared in the Journal, May 12th:

"Monday at noon, the sheriff, attended by the proper officers, made proclamation of the Definitive Treaty of Peace concluded between America and Great-Britain. At the same time the state flag was hoisted on Market street wharf, and in the evening the transparent paintings which were designed in celebration of the general peace, and were to have been shewn on the 22d January last, but prevented by an unfortunate accident; being revived by subscription, and executed by the ingenious Mr. Peale, were exhibited, and afforded great satisfaction to many thousands of spectators.

The following is a Description of the Triumphal Arch and its ornaments:

The Arch is fifty Feet and six Inches wide, and thirty-five Feet and six Inches high, exclusive of the Ballustrade, which is three Feet and nine Inches in height. The Arch is fourteen Feet wide in the clear, and each of the smaller Arches nine feet. The Pillars are of the Ionic Order. The Entablature, all the other Parts, and the Proportions correspond with that Order; and the whole Edifice is finished in the Style of Architecture proper for such a Building, and used by the Romans. The Pillars are adorned with spiral Festoons of Flowers in their natural Colours.... [Then follows a half-column description of the various ornaments and devices.]

The whole Building illuminated by about twelve hundred Lamps."


[Pg 250]

THE HURRICANE[277]

Happy the man who, safe on shore,
Now trims, at home, his evening fire;
Unmov'd, he hears the tempests roar,
That on the tufted groves expire:
Alas! on us they doubly fall,
Our feeble barque must bear them all.
Now to their haunts the birds retreat,
The squirrel seeks his hollow tree,
Wolves in their shaded caverns meet,
All, all are blest but wretched we—
Foredoomed a stranger to repose,
No rest the unsettled ocean knows.
While o'er the dark abyss[A] we roam,
Perhaps, with last departing gleam,
We saw the sun descend in gloom,
No more to see his morning beam;
But buried low, by far too deep,
On coral beds, unpitied, sleep!
[Pg 251]
But what a strange, uncoasted strand
Is that, where fate permits no day—
No charts have we to mark that land,
No compass to direct that way—
What Pilot shall explore that realm,
What new Columbus take the helm!
While death and darkness both surround,
And tempests rage with lawless power,
Of friendship's voice I hear no sound,
No comfort in this dreadful hour—
What friendship can in tempests be,
What comfort on this raging sea?
The barque, accustomed to obey,
No more the trembling pilots guide:
Alone she gropes her trackless way,
While mountains burst on either side—
Thus, skill and science both must fall;
And ruin is the lot of all.

[A] Near the east end of Jamaica, July 30, 1784.—Freneau's note.

[277] First published in the April 13, 1785, issue of the Freeman's Journal, under the title, "Verses, made at Sea, in a Heavy Gale," and reprinted verbatim in the 1786 edition. In the August 20, 1788, issue of the Journal the poem was republished in connection with the following note (in italics): "In that violent hurricane at Jamaica, on the night of the 30th of July, 1784, in which, no more than eight, out of 150 sail of vessels, in the ports of Kingston and Port-Royal, were saved, capt. Freneau was at sea, and arrived at Kingston next morning, a mere wreck. On that occasion, the following beautiful lines, extracted from the first volume of his writings, were penned." Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 252]

TO THE KEEPER OF THE KING'S WATER WORKS[278]

Near Kingston,[279] in the island of Jamaica, on being refused a puncheon of water

Written August, 1784

"The celestial Deities protect and relieve strangers in every country, as long as those strangers respect and submit to the laws of the country."

Kien-Lhi, alias John Tuck, Viceroy of Canton.

Can he, who o'er two Indies holds the sway,
Where'er the ocean flows, whose fleets patrole,
Who bids Hibernia's rugged sons obey,
And at whose nod (you say) shakes either pole:—
Can he, whose crown a thousand jewels grace
Of worth untold—can he, so rich, deny
One wretched puncheon from this ample waste,
Begg'd by his quondam subject—very dry?
Vast are the springs in yonder cloud-capt hill:
Why, then, refuse the abundant flowing wave?
Where hogs, and dogs, and keepers drink their fill,
May we not something from such plenty crave?
[Pg 253]
Keeper!—must we with empty cask return!
Just view the limpid stream that runs to waste!—
Denied the stream that flows from Nature's urn,
By locks and bolts secur'd from rebel taste?
Well!—if we must, inform the royal ear,
Poor are some kings that now in Britain live:
Tell him, that Nature is no miser here;
Tell him—that he withholds—what beggars give.

[278] From the edition of 1809. The poem seems first to have appeared in the National Gazette of January 12, 1792, with the following note: "The following lines were written some years ago (Sept. 1784) on board the brig Dromilly, in Kingston harbour, Jamaica; and sent to the keeper of the King's waterworks, near Rock fort; who had refused the writer a puncheon of water from a reservoir that was, by royal order, appropriated to the use of the royal navy." The present text is somewhat varied from that in the edition of 1795.

[279] "Rock-Fort."—Ed. 1795.


LINES[280]

Written at Port-Royal, in the Island of Jamaica

Here, by the margin of the murmuring main,
While her proud remnants I explore in vain,
And lonely stray through these dejected lands
Fann'd by the noon-tide breeze on burning sands,
Where the dull Spaniard once possess'd these shades,
And ports defended by his Pallisades[A]
Tho' lost to us, Port Royal claims a sigh,
Nor shall the Muse the unenvied gift deny.
Of all the towns that grac'd Jamaica's isle
This was her glory, and the proudest pile,
Where toils on toils bade wealth's gay structures rise,
And commerce swell'd her glory to the skies:[Pg 254]
St. Jago, seated on a distant plain,
Ne'er saw the tall ship entering from the main,
Unnotic'd streams her Cobra's[B] margin lave
Where yond' tall plantains shade her glowing wave,
And burning sands or rock surrounded hill
Confess its founder's fears—or want of skill.
While o'er these wastes with wearied step I go,
Past scenes of death return, in all their woe,[281]
O'er these sad shores in angry pomp he pass'd,
Mov'd in the winds, and rag'd with every blast—
Here,[C] opening gulphs confess'd the almighty hand,
Here, the dark ocean roll'd across the land,
Here, piles on piles an instant tore away,
Here, crowds on crowds in mingled ruin lay,
Whom fate scarce gave to end their noon-day feast,
Or time to call the sexton, or the priest.
Where yond' tall barque, with all her ponderous load,
Commits her anchor to its dark abode,
Eight fathoms down, where unseen waters flow
To quench the sulphur of the caves below,
Here midnight sounds torment the sailor's ear,[Pg 255]
And drums and fifes play drowsy concerts here,[282]
Sad songs of woe prevent the hours of sleep,
And Fancy aids the fiddlers of the deep;
Dull Superstition hears the ghostly hum,
Smit with the terrors of the world to come.
What now is left of all thy boasted pride!
Lost are thy glories that were spread so wide,
A spit of sand is thine, by heaven's decree,
And wasting shores that scarce resist the sea:
Is this Port-Royal on Jamaica's coast,
The Spaniard's envy, and the Briton's boast!
A shatter'd roof o'er every hut appears,
And mouldering brick-work prompts the traveller's fears;
A church, with half a priest, I grieve to see,
Grass round its door, and rust upon its key!—
One only inn with tiresome search I found
Where one sad negro dealt his beverage round;—
His was the part to wait the impatient call,
He was our landlord, post-boy, pimp, and all;
His wary eyes on every side were cast,
Beheld the present, and revolv'd the past,
Now here, now there, in swift succession stole,
Glanc'd at the bar, or watch'd the unsteady bowl.
No sprightly lads or gay bewitching maids[283]
Walk on these wastes or wander in these shades;
To other shores past times beheld them go,
And some are slumbering in the caves below;[Pg 256]
A negro tribe but ill their place supply,
With bending back, short hair, and downcast eye;[284]
A feeble rampart guards the unlucky town,
Where banish'd Tories come to seek renown,
Where worn-out slaves their bowls of beer retail,
And sun-burnt strumpets watch the approaching sail.
Here (scarce escap'd the wild tornado's rage)
Why sail'd I here to swell my future page!
To these dull scenes with eager haste I came
To trace the reliques of their ancient fame,
Not worth the search!—what domes are left to fall,
Guns, gales, and earthquakes shall destroy them all—
All shall be lost!—tho' hosts their aid implore,
The Twelve Apostles[D] shall protect no more,
Nor guardian heroes awe the impoverish'd plain;
No priest shall mutter, and no saint remain,
Nor this palmetto yield her evening shade,
Where the dark negro his dull music play'd,
Or casts his view beyond the adjacent strand
And points, still grieving, to his native land,
Turns and returns from yonder murmuring shore,
And pants for countries he must see no more—
Where shall I go, what Lethe shall I find
To drive these dark ideas from my mind!
No buckram heroes can relieve the eye,
And George's honours only raise a sigh—
[Pg 257]Not even these walls a glad remembrance claim,[285]
Where grief still wastes a half deluded dame,
Whom to these coasts a British Paris bore,
And basely left, lost virtue to deplore.—
In foreign climes detain'd from all she lov'd,
By friends neglected, long by fortune prov'd,
While sad and solemn pass'd the unwelcome day,
What charms had life for her, to tempt her stay!
Deceiv'd in all—for meanness could deceive—
Expecting still, and still condemn'd to grieve,
She scarcely saw, to different hearts allied,
That her dear Florio ne'er pursued a bride.—
Are griefs like thine to Florio's bosom known?
Must these, alas, be ceaseless in your own?—
Life is a dream—its varying shades I see,
But this base wanderer hardly dreams of thee.
Ye mountains vast, whose heights the heaven sustain,
Adieu, ye mountains, and fair Kingston's plain;
Where Nature still the toils of art transcends—
In this dull spot the fine delusion ends,
Where burning sands are borne by every blast
And these mean fabrics still bewail the past;
Where want, and death, and care, and grief reside,
And threatening moons advance the imperious tide:—
Ye stormy winds, awhile your wrath suspend,
Who leaves the land, a bottle, and a friend,
Quits this bright isle for yon' blue seas and sky,
Or even Port-Royal quits—without a sigh!
Sept. 1784.

[A] Pallisades a narrow strip of land about seven miles in length, running nearly from north to south, and forming the harbours of Port Royal and Kingston.—Freneau's note, 1809 edition.

[B] A small river falling into Kingston Bay, nearly opposite Port Royal—and which has its source in the hills beyond Spanish Town.—Freneau's note, 1809 edition.

[C] Old Port-Royal contained more than 1500 buildings, and these for the most part large and elegant. This unfortunate town was for a long time reckoned the most considerable mart of trade in the West Indies. It was destroyed on the 17th of June, 1692, by an earthquake which in two minutes sunk the far greater part of the buildings; in which disaster near 3000 people lost their lives.—Freneau's note.

[D] A Battery so called, on the side of the harbour opposite to Port-Royal.—Freneau's note.

[280] First published in the 1788 edition, the text of which I have followed. For the 1809 edition Freneau made numerous verbal changes. On an average, he changed a word in every line. No poem of Freneau's shows more clearly his peculiar mania for revision. In the 1795 edition the title is "Port Royal," in the 1809 edition it is "Written at Port Royal, in the Island of Jamaica—September, 1784."

[281] The edition of 1809 adds:

"Here for their crimes (perhaps) in ages fled,
Some vengeful fiend, familiar with the dead—"

[282] The edition of 1809 adds:

"Of ghosts all restless!—(cease they to complain—
More than a century should relieve their pain—)."

A footnote adds the comment: "A superstition, at present, existing only among the ignorant."

[283] "Handsome Yankee maids."—Ed. 1809.

[284] The edition of 1809 adds:

"That gloomy race lead up the evening dance,
Skip on the sands, or dart the alluring glance:
Sincere are they?—no—on your gold they doat—
And in one hour—for that would cut your throat.
All is deceit—half hell is in their song
And from the silent thought?—You have done us wrong!"

[285] This line and the fifteen following omitted from the later editions.


[Pg 258]

TO SIR TOBY[286]

A Sugar Planter in the interior parts of Jamaica, near the City of San Jago de la Vega, (Spanish Town) 1784

"The motions of his spirit are black as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus."
Shakespeare.
If there exists a hell—the case is clear—
Sir Toby's slaves enjoy that portion here:
Here are no blazing brimstone lakes—'tis true;
But kindled Rum too often burns as blue;
In which some fiend, whom nature must detest,
Steeps Toby's brand, and marks poor Cudjoe's breast.[A]
Here whips on whips excite perpetual fears,
And mingled howlings vibrate on my ears:
Here nature's plagues abound, to fret and teaze,
Snakes, scorpions, despots, lizards, centipees—
No art, no care escapes the busy lash;
All have their dues—and all are paid in cash—
The eternal driver keeps a steady eye
On a black herd, who would his vengeance fly,
But chained, imprisoned, on a burning soil,
For the mean avarice of a tyrant, toil![Pg 259]
The lengthy cart-whip guards this monster's reign—
And cracks, like pistols, from the fields of cane.
Ye powers! who formed these wretched tribes, relate,
What had they done, to merit such a fate!
Why were they brought from Eboe's[B] sultry waste,
To see that plenty which they must not taste—
Food, which they cannot buy, and dare not steal;
Yams and potatoes—many a scanty meal!—
One, with a gibbet wakes his negro's fears,
One to the windmill nails him by the ears;
One keeps his slave in darkened dens, unfed,
One puts the wretch in pickle ere he's dead:
This, from a tree suspends him by the thumbs,
That, from his table grudges even the crumbs!
O'er yond' rough hills a tribe of females go,
Each with her gourd, her infant, and her hoe;
Scorched by a sun that has no mercy here,
Driven by a devil, whom men call overseer—
In chains, twelve wretches to their labours haste;
Twice twelve I saw, with iron collars graced!—
Are such the fruits that spring from vast domains?
Is wealth, thus got, Sir Toby, worth your pains!—
Who would your wealth on terms, like these, possess,
Where all we see is pregnant with distress—
Angola's natives scourged by ruffian hands,
And toil's hard product shipp'd to foreign lands.
Talk not of blossoms, and your endless spring;
What joy, what smile, can scenes of misery bring?—
Though Nature, here, has every blessing spread,
Poor is the labourer—and how meanly fed!—
Here Stygian paintings light and shade renew,
Pictures of hell, that Virgil's[C] pencil drew:[Pg 260]
Here, surly Charons make their annual trip,
And ghosts arrive in every Guinea ship,
To find what beasts these western isles afford,
Plutonian scourges, and despotic lords:—
Here, they, of stuff determined to be free,
Must climb the rude cliffs of the Liguanee;[D]
Beyond the clouds, in sculking haste repair,
And hardly safe from brother traitors there.—[E]

[A] This passage has a reference to the West India custom (sanctioned by law) of branding a newly imported slave on the breast, with a red hot iron, as an evidence of the purchaser's property.—Freneau's note.

[B] A small negro kingdom near the river Senegal.—Freneau's note.

[C] See Eneid, Book 6th.—and Fenelon's Telemachus, Book 18.—Ib.

[D] The mountains northward of Kingston.—Freneau's note.

[E] Alluding to the Independent negroes in the blue mountains, who for a stipulated reward, deliver up every fugitive that falls into their hands, to the English Government.—Ib.

[286] Text from the edition of 1809. The poem seems first to have been published in the National Gazette of July 21, 1792, under the title, "The Island Field Hand," with the note: "Written some years ago at a sugar plantation in Jamaica." The present text contains numerous minor variations from the edition of 1795. The four lines beginning "The eternal driver" are original in the 1809 edition.


ELEGY ON MR. ROBERT BELL[287]

The celebrated humourist, and truly philanthropic Book-seller formerly of Philadelphia, written, 1786

By schools untaught, from Nature's source he drew
That flow of wit which wits with toil pursue,
Above dependence, bent to virtue's side;
Beyond the folly of the folio's pride;
Born to no power, he took no splendid part,
Yet warm for freedom glowed his honest heart
Foe to all baseness, not afraid to shame
The little tyrant that usurped his claim:
Bound to no sect, no systems to defend,
He loved his jest, a female, and his friend:—
[Pg 261]The tale well told, to each occasion fit,
In him was nature—and that nature wit:
Alike to pride and wild ambition dumb,
He saw no terrors in the world to come.
But, slighting sophists and their flimsy aid,
To God and Reason left the works they made.
In chace of fortune, half his life was whim,
Yet fortune saw no sycophant in him;
Bold, open, free, the world he called his own,
But wished no wealth that cost a wretch a groan—
Too social Bell! in others so refined,
One sneaking virtue ne'er possessed your mind—
Had Prudence only held her share of sway,
Still had your cup been full, yourself been gay!
But while we laughed, and while the glass went round,
The lamp was darkened—and no help was found;
On distant shores you died, where none shall tell,
"Here rest the virtues and the wit of Bell."

[287] First published in the Freeman's Journal, February 28, 1787, with the explanation, "Written more than two years ago." The date in the title above, taken from the 1809 edition, is doubtless wrong.

"It is believed that Robert Bell, an Englishman or a Scotchman, who came to Philadelphia about 1772 or 1773, was the first person who kept a circulating library in this city. He had his place of business in Third street below Walnut. He was also one of the first to establish book auctions here, in which effort he met very serious opposition from the booksellers. He published several works prior to the Revolutionary War, but during that struggle he seems to have left the city. He died in Richmond, Va., Sept. 26, 1784."—Watson's Annals.

He published Freneau's American Independence in Philadelphia in 1778.


ON THE FIRST AMERICAN SHIP[288]

Empress of China, Capt. Greene

That explored the rout to China, and the East-Indies, after the Revolution, 1784

With clearance from Bellona won
She spreads her wings to meet the Sun,
Those golden regions to explore
Where George forbade to sail before.
[Pg 262]
Thus, grown to strength, the bird of Jove,
Impatient, quits his native grove,
With eyes of fire, and lightning's force
Through the blue æther holds his course.
No foreign tars are here allowed
To mingle with her chosen crowd,
Who, when returned, might, boasting, say
They shewed our native oak the way.
To that old track no more confined,
By Britain's jealous court assigned,
She round the Stormy Cape[A] shall sail,
And, eastward, catch the odorous gale.

[A] Cabo Tormentosa (The Cape of Storms) so called by Vasco da Gama, and by the earliest Portuguese adventurers to India—now called the cape of Good Hope.—Freneau's note.

To countries placed in burning climes
And islands of remotest times
She now her eager course explores,
And soon shall greet Chinesian shores.
From thence their fragrant teas to bring
Without the leave of Britain's king;
And Porcelain ware, enchased in gold,
The product of that finer mould.
Thus commerce to our world conveys
All that the varying taste can please;
For us, the Indian looms are free,
And Java strips her spicy tree.
Great pile proceed!—and o'er the brine
May every prosperous gale be thine,
'Till freighted deep with Asia's stores,
You reach again your native shores.

[288] Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 263]

THE NEWSMONGER[289]

A Character

An insect lives among mankind
For what wise ends by fate designed
'Tis hard, 'tis very hard, to find.
In pain for all, but thanked by few
Not twice a year he gets his due—
Yet, patiently he struggles through.
Beneath some garret roof restrained
To one dull place forever chained
His word is, "little money gained."
The flowers that deck the summer field,
The bloom of spring, too long concealed,
To him no hour of pleasure yield.
His life is everlasting whim;
The seasons change—but scarce for him—
On sheets of news his eyes grow dim.
He life maintains on self-esteem,
He plans, contrives, and lives by—scheme—
And blots good paper—many a ream.
Distrest for those he never saw—
Of kings and nobles not in awe,
He scorns their mandates, and their law.
[Pg 264]
Relief he finds for others' woes—
The wants of all the world he knows—
His boots are only out at toes.
Now, Europe's feuds distract his brains:
Now, Asia's news his head contains—
But still his labour for his pains.
The river Scheldt he opens wide,
And Joseph's ships in triumph ride,—
The Dutchmen are not on his side.
On great affairs condemned to fret,—
The interest on our foreign debt,
He hopes good Louis may forget.
He fears the banks will hurt our trade;
And fall they must—without his aid—
Meanwhile his taylor goes unpaid.
Our western posts, which Britons keep
In spite of treaties, break his sleep—
He plans their capture—at one sweep.
He grumbles at the price of flour,
And mourns and mutters, many an hour,
That congress have so little power,
Although he has no ships to lose,
The Algerines he loves to abuse—
And hopes to hear—some bloody news.
The French (he thinks) will soon prepare
To undertake some grand affair—
So 'tis but war "we need not care."
[Pg 265]
Where Mississippi laves the plain
He hopes the bold Kentucky swain,
Will seize the forts, and plague Old Spain:
Such morning whims, such evening dreams!
Through wakeful nights he plans odd schemes,
To dispossess her of those streams.
He prophesies, the time must come
When few will drink West India rum—
Our spirits will be proof at home.
The Tories on New Scotland's coast,
He thinks may of full bellies boast
In half a century—at most.
Then shakes his head, and shifts the scene—
Talks much about the "Empress Queen"—
And wonders what the Austrians mean?
He raves, and scolds and seems afraid
The States will break by China trade,
"Since specie for their tea is paid."
Then tells, that, "just about next June,
Lunardi in his new balloon
Will make a journey—to the moon."
Thus, all the business of mankind,
And all the follies we might find
Are huddled in his shattered mind.
'Till taught to think of new affairs,
At last, with death, he walks down stairs,
And leaves—the wide world to his heirs.

[289] Published in the Freeman's Journal, February 21, 1787. In the 1809 edition, which the text follows, 1784 is given as the date of composition.


[Pg 266]

SKETCHES OF AMERICAN HISTORY[290]

This American world, all our histories say,
Secluded from Europe, long centuries lay,
And peopled by beings whom white-men detest,
The sons of the Tartars, that came from the west.
These Indians, 'tis certain, were here long before ye all,
And dwelt in their wigwams from time immemorial;
In a mere state of nature, untutored, untaught,
They did as they pleased, and they spoke as they thought—
No priests they had then for the cure of their souls,
No lawyers, recorders, or keepers of rolls;
No learned physicians vile nostrums concealed—
Their druggist was Nature—her shop was the field.
In the midst of their forests how happy and blest,
In the skin of a bear or buffalo drest!
No care to perplex, and no luxury seen
But the feast, and the song, and the dance on the green.
Some bowed to the moon, and some worshipped the sun,
And the king and the captain were centered in one;
In a cabin they met, in their councils of state,
Where age and experience alone might debate.
With quibbles they never essayed to beguile,
And Nature had taught them the orator's style;
No pomp they affected, not quaintly refined
The nervous idea that glanced on the mind.
[Pg 267]
When hunting or battle invited to arms,
The women they left to take care of their farms—
The toils of the summer did winter repay,
While snug in their cabins they snored it away.
If death came among them his dues to demand,
They still had some prospects of comfort at hand—
The dead man they sent to the regions of bliss,
With his bottle and dog, and his fair maids to kiss.

Thus happy they dwelt in a rural domain,
Uninstructed in commerce, unpractised in gain,
'Till, taught by the loadstone to traverse the seas,
Columbus came over, that bold Genoese.
From records authentic, the date we can shew,
One thousand four hundred and ninety and two
Years, borne by the seasons, had vanished away,
Since the babe in the manger at Bethlehem lay.
What an æra was this, above all that had passed,
To yield such a treasure, discovered at last—
A new world, in value exceeding the old,
Such mountains of silver, such torrents of gold!
Yet the schemes of Columbus, however well planned
Were scarcely sufficient to find the main land;
On the islands alone with the natives he spoke,
Except when he entered the great Oronoque:
In this he resembled old Moses, the Jew,
Who, roving about with his wrong-headed crew,
When at length the reward was no longer denied,
From the top of Mount Pisgah he saw it, and died.
[Pg 268]
These islands and worlds in the watery expanse,
Like most mighty things, were the offspring of chance,
Since steering for Asia, Columbus they say,
Was astonished to find such a world in his way!
No wonder, indeed, he was smit with surprize—
This empire of Nature was new to their eyes—
Cut short in their course by so splendid a scene,
Such a region of wonders intruding between!
Yet great as he was, and deserving no doubt,
We have only to thank him for finding the rout;
These climes to the northward, more stormy and cold,
Were reserved for the efforts of Cabot the bold.

Where the sun in December appears to decline
Far off to the southward, and south of the line,
A merchant[A] of Florence, more fortunate still,
Explored a new track, and discovered Brazil:

[A] Americus Vespucius.—Freneau's note.

Good Fortune, Vespucius, pronounced thee her own,
Or else to mankind thou hadst scarcely been known—
By giving thy name, thou art ever renowned—
Thy name to a world that another had found!
Columbia, the name was, that merit decreed,
But Fortune and Merit have never agreed—
Yet the poets, alone, with commendable care
Are vainly attempting the wrong to repair.
The bounds I prescribe to my verse are too narrow
To tell of the conquests of Francis Pizarro;
And Cortez 'tis needless to bring into view,
One Mexico conquered, the other Peru.
[Pg 269]
Montezuma with credit in verse might be read,
But Dryden has told you the monarch[B] is dead!
And the woes of his subjects—what torments they bore,
Las Casas, good bishop, has mentioned before:

[B] Indian Emperor, a tragedy.—Freneau's note.

Let others be fond of their stanzas of grief—
I hate to descant on the fall of the leaf—
Two scenes are so gloomy, I view them with pain,
The annals of death, and the triumphs of Spain.
Poor Atahualpa we cannot forget—
He gave them his utmost—yet died in their debt,
His wealth was a crime that they could not forgive,
And when they possessed it, forbade him to live.
Foredoomed to misfortunes (that come not alone)
He was the twelfth Inca that sat on the throne,
Who fleecing his brother[C] of half his domains,
At the palace of Cusco confined him in chains.

[C] Huascar, who was legal heir to the throne.—Ib.


But what am I talking—or where do I roam?
'Tis time that our story was brought nearer home—
From Florida's cape did Cabot explore
To the fast frozen region of cold Labradore.
In the year fourteen hundred and ninety and eight
He came, as the annals of England relate,
But finding no gold in the lengthy domain,
And coasting the country, he left it again.
Next Davis—then Hudson adventured, they say,
One found out a streight, and the other a bay,
Whose desolate region, or turbulent wave
One present bestowed him—and that was a grave.

[Pg 270]


In the reign of a virgin (as authors discover)
Drake, Hawkins, and Raleigh in squadrons came over
While Barlow and Grenville succeeded to these,
Who all brought their colonies over the seas.
These, left in a wilderness teeming with woes,
The natives, suspicious, concluded them foes,
And murdered them all without notice or warning,
Ralph Lane, with his vagabonds, scarcely returning.
In the reign of king James (and the first of the name,)
George Summers, with Hacluit, to Chesapeake came,
Where far in the forests, not doomed to renown,
On the river Powhatan[D] they built the first town.[E]

[D] James River, Virginia.—Freneau's note.

[E] James Town.—Ib.

Twelve years after this, some scores of dissenters
To the northernmost district came seeking adventures;
Outdone by the bishops, those great faggot fighters;
They left them to rule with their cassocks and mitres.
Thus banished forever, and leaving the sod,
The first land they saw was the pitch of Cape Cod,
Where famished with hunger and quaking with cold
They planned their New-Plymouth—so called from the old.
They were, without doubt, a delightful collection;—
Some came to be rid of a Stuart's direction,
Some sailed with a view to dominion and riches,
Some to pray without book, and a few to hang witches.
Some, came on the Indians to shed a new light,
Convinced long before that their own must be right,
And that all who had died in the centuries past
On the devil's lee shore were eternally cast.
[Pg 271]
These exiles were formed in a whimsical mould,
And were awed by their priests, like the Hebrews of old;
Disclaimed all pretences to jesting and laughter,
And sighed their lives through, to be happy hereafter.
On a crown immaterial their hearts were intent,
They looked towards Zion, wherever they went,
Did all things in hopes of a future reward,
And worried mankind—for the sake of the Lord.
With rigour excessive they strengthened their reign,
Their laws were conceived in the ill-natured strain,
With mystical meanings the saint was perplext,
And the flesh and the devil were slain by a text.
The body was scourged, for the good of the soul,
All folly discouraged by peevish controul,
A knot on the head was the sign of no grace,
And the Pope and his comrade were pictured in lace.
A stove in their churches, or pews lined with green,
Were horrid to think of, much more to be seen,
Their bodies were warmed with the linings of love,
And the fire was sufficient that flashed from above.
'Twas a crime to assert that the moon was opaque,
To say the earth moved, was to merit the stake;
And he that could tell an eclipse was to be,
In the college of Satan had took his degree.
On Sundays their faces were dark as a cloud—
The road to the meeting was only allowed,
And those they caught rambling, on business or pleasure,
Were sent to the stocks, to repent at their leisure.
[Pg 272]
This day was the mournfullest day in the week—
Except on religion, none ventured to speak—
This day was the day to examine their lives,
To clear off old scores, and to preach to their wives.
Their houses were forts, that seemed proof against light;
Their parlours, all day, were the blackness of night:
And, as if at their thresholds a cannon did roar,
The animals hardly dared open their door
'Till the sun disappeared—then, like a mole's snout
In the dusk of the evening, their noses popped out.
In the school of oppression though woefully taught,
'Twas only to be the oppressors they sought;
All, all but themselves were be-deviled and blind,
And their narrow-souled creed was to serve all mankind.
This beautiful system of nature below
They neither considered, nor wanted to know,
And called it a dog-house wherein they were pent,
Unworthy themselves, and their mighty descent.
They never perceived that in Nature's wide plan
There must be that whimsical creature called Man,
Far short of the rank he affects to attain,
Yet a link in its place, in creation's vast chain.

Whatever is foreign to us and our kind
Can never be lasting, though seemingly joined—
The hive swarmed at length, and a tribe that was teazed
Set out for Rhode-Island to think as they pleased.
[Pg 273]
Some hundreds to Britain ran murmuring home—
While others went off in the forests to roam,
When they found they had missed what they looked for at first,
The downfall of sin, and the reign of the just.
Hence, dry controversial reflections were thrown,
And the old dons were vexed in the way they had shown;
So those that are held in the work-house all night
Throw dirt the next day at the doors, out of spite.
Ah pity the wretches that lived in those days,
(Ye modern admirers of novels and plays)
When nothing was suffered but musty, dull rules,
And nonsense from Mather and stuff from the schools!
No story, like Rachel's, could tempt them to sigh,
Susanna and Judith employed the bright eye—
No fine spun adventures tormented the breast,
Like our modern Clarissa, Tom Jones, and the rest.
Those tyrants had chosen the books for your shelves,
(And, trust me, no other than writ by themselves,
For always by this may a bigot be known,
He speaks well of nothing but what is his own.)
From indwelling evil these souls to release,
The Quakers arrived with their kingdom of peace—
But some were transported and some bore the lash,
And four they hanged fairly, for preaching up trash.
The lands of New-England (of which we now treat)
Were famous, ere that, for producing of wheat;
But the soil (or tradition says strangely amiss)
Has been pestered with pumpkins from that day to this.

[Pg 274]

Thus, feuds and vexations distracted their reign,
(And perhaps a few vestiges still may remain)
But time has presented an offspring as bold,
Less free to believe, and more wise than the old.
Their phantoms, their wizzards, their witches are fled,
Matthew Paris's[F] story with horror is read—
His daughters, and all the enchantments they bore—
And the demon, that pinched them, is heard of no more.

[F] See Neale's History of New England.—Freneau's note.

Their taste for the fine arts is strangely increased,
And Latin's no longer a mark of the beast:
Mathematics, at present, a farmer may know,
Without being hanged for connections below.
Proud, rough, Independent, undaunted and free,
And patient of hardships, their task is the sea,
Their country too barren their wish to attain,
They make up the loss by exploring the main.
Wherever bright Phœbus awakens the gales
I see the bold Yankees expanding their sails,
Throughout the wide ocean pursuing their schemes,
And chacing the whales on its uttermost streams.
No climate, for them, is too cold or too warm,
They reef the broad canvass, and fight with the storm;
In war with the foremost their standards display,
Or glut the loud cannon with death, for the fray.
No valour in fable their valour exceeds,
Their spirits are fitted for desperate deeds;
No rivals have they in our annals of fame,
Or if they are rivalled, 'tis York has the claim.
[Pg 275]
Inspired at the sound, while the name she repeats,
Bold Fancy conveys me to Hudson's retreats—
Ah, sweet recollection of juvenile dreams
In the groves, and the forests that skirted his streams!
How often, with rapture, those streams were surveyed,
When, sick of the city, I flew to the shade—
How often the bard, and the peasant shall mourn
Ere those groves shall revive, or those shades shall return!
Not a hill, but some fortress disfigures it round!
And ramparts are raised where the cottage was found!
The plains and the vallies with ruin are spread,
With graves in abundance, and bones of the dead.
The first that attempted to enter the streight
(In anno one thousand six hundred and eight)
Was Hudson (the same that we mentioned before,
Who was lost in the gulph that he went to explore.)
For a sum that they paid him (we know not how much)
This captain transferred all his right to the Dutch;
For the time has been here, (to the world be it known,)
When all a man sailed by, or saw, was his own.
The Dutch on their purchase sat quietly down,
And fixed on an island to lay out a town;
They modelled their streets from the horns of a ram,
And the name that best pleased them was, New Amsterdam.
They purchased large tracts from the Indians for beads,
And sadly tormented some runaway Swedes,
Who (none knows for what) from their country had flown,
To live here in peace, undisturbed and alone.
[Pg 276]
New Belgia, the Dutch called their province, be sure,
But names never yet made possession secure,
For Charley (the second that honoured the name)
Sent over a squadron, asserting his claim:
(Had his sword and his title been equally slender,
In vain had they summoned Mynheer to surrender)
The soil they demanded, or threatened their worst,
Insisting that Cabot had looked at it first.
The want of a squadron to fall on their rear
Made the argument perfectly plain to Mynheer—
Force ended the contest—the right was a sham,
And the Dutch were sent packing to hot Surinam.
'Twas hard to be thus of their labours deprived,
But the age of Republics had not yet arrived—
Fate saw—though no wizzard could tell them as much—
That the crown, in due time, was to fare like the Dutch.

[290] Published in the Freeman's Journal, December 15, 1784, under the pseudonym "K." Republished in the editions of 1795 and 1809. Text from the latter edition.


THE PROGRESS OF BALLOONS[291]

"Perdomita tellus, tumida cesserunt freta,
"Inferna nostros regna sensere impetus;
"Immune cœlum est, degnus Alcidæ labor,
"In alta mundi spatia sublimes feremur."
Senec. Herc. Furens.
Assist me, ye muses, (whose harps are in tune)
To tell of the flight of the gallant balloon!
[Pg 277]As high as my subject permit me to soar
To heights unattempted, unthought of before,
Ye grave learned Doctors, whose trade is to sigh,
Who labour to chalk out a road to the sky,
Improve on your plans—or I'll venture to say,
A chymist, of Paris, will show us the way.
The earth on its surface has all been survey'd,
The sea has been travell'd—and deep in the shade
The kingdom of Pluto has heard us at work,
When we dig for his metals wherever they lurk.
But who would have thought that invention could rise
To find out a method to soar to the skies,
And pierce the bright regions, which ages assign'd
To spirits unbodied, and flights of the mind.
Let the gods of Olympus their revels prepare—
By the aid of some pounds of inflammable air
We'll visit them soon—and forsake this dull ball
With coat, shoes and stockings, fat carcase and all!
How France is distinguish'd in Louis's reign!
What cannot her genius and courage attain?
Thro'out the wide world have her arms found the way,
And art to the stars is extending her sway.
At sea let the British their neighbours defy—
The French shall have frigates to traverse the sky,
In this navigation more fortunate prove,
And cruise at their ease in the climates above.
If the English should venture to sea with their fleet,
A host of balloons in a trice they shall meet.
The French from the zenith their wings shall display,
And souse on these sea-dogs and bear them away.
Ye sages, who travel on mighty designs,
To measure meridians and parallel lines—
The task being tedious—take heed, if you please—
Construct a balloon—and you'll do it with ease.[Pg 278]
And ye who the heav'n's broad concave survey,
And, aided by glasses, its secrets betray,
Who gaze, the night through, at the wonderful scene,
Yet still are complaining of vapours between,
Ah, seize the conveyance and fearlesly rise
To peep at the lanthorns that light up the skies,
And floating above, on our ocean of air,
Inform us, by letter, what people are there.
In Saturn, advise us if snow ever melts,
And what are the uses of Jupiter's belts;
(Mars being willing) pray send us word, greeting,
If his people are fonder of fighting than eating.
That Venus has horns we've no reason to doubt,
(I forget what they call him who first found it out)
And you'll find, I'm afraid, if you venture too near,
That the spirits of cuckolds inhabit her sphere.
Our folks of good morals it wofully grieves,
That Mercury's people are villains and thieves,
You'll see how it is—but I'll venture to shew
For a dozen among them, twelve dozens below.
From long observation one proof may be had
That the men in the moon are incurably mad;
However, compare us, and if they exceed
They must be surprizingly crazy indeed.
But now, to have done with our planets and moons—
Come, grant me a patent for making balloons—
For I find that the time is approaching—the day
When horses shall fail, and the horsemen decay.
Post riders, at present (call'd Centaurs of old)
Who brave all the seasons, hot weather and cold,
In future shall leave their dull poneys behind
And travel, like ghosts, on the wings of the wind.
The stagemen, whose gallopers scarce have the power
Through the dirt to convey you ten miles in an hour,[Pg 279]
When advanc'd to balloons shall so furiously drive
You'll hardly know whether you're dead or alive.
The man who at Boston sets out with the sun,
If the wind should be fair, may be with us at one,
At Gunpowder Ferry drink whiskey at three
And at six be at Edentown, ready for tea.
(The machine shall be order'd, we hardly need say,
To travel in darkness as well as by day)
At Charleston by ten he for sleep shall prepare,
And by twelve the next day be the devil knows where[292].
When the ladies grow sick of the city in June,
What a jaunt they shall have in the flying balloon!
Whole mornings shall see them at toilets preparing,
And forty miles high be their afternoon's airing.
Yet more with its fitness for commerce I'm struck;
What loads of tobacco shall fly from Kentuck,
What packs of best beaver—bar-iron and pig,
What budgets of leather from Conocoheague!
If Britain should ever disturb us again,
(As they threaten to do in the next George's reign)
No doubt they will play us a set of new tunes,
And pepper us well from their fighting balloons.
To market the farmers shall shortly repair
With their hogs and potatoes, wholesale, thro' the air,
Skim over the water as light as a feather,
Themselves and their turkies conversing together.
Such wonders as these from balloons shall arise—
And the giants of old, that assaulted the skies
With their Ossa on Pelion, shall freely confess
That all they attempted was nothing to this.

[291] Freeman's Journal, December 22, 1784. The year 1782, in which Cavallo made his memorable experiments, may be taken as the initial date in the history of aerial navigation. In October, 1753, Rozier ventured upon the first balloon ascension, though he ventured only fifty feet from the ground. On November 21st of the same year, with the Marquis d'Arlandes, he made the first aerial expedition, ascending from the castle la Muette in the presence of a vast multitude and remaining in the air twenty-five minutes. Text follows the edition of 1786 which bears the date "1785."

[292] Freneau's wild dream has been realized, but not in the way which he indicated.


[Pg 280]

ON THE EMIGRATION TO AMERICA[293]

And Peopling the Western Country

To western woods, and lonely plains,
Palemon from the crowd departs,
Where Nature's wildest genius reigns,
To tame the soil, and plant the arts—
What wonders there shall freedom show,
What mighty states successive grow!
From Europe's proud, despotic shores
Hither the stranger takes his way,
And in our new found world explores
A happier soil, a milder sway,
Where no proud despot holds him down,
No slaves insult him with a crown.
What charming scenes attract the eye,
On wild Ohio's savage stream!
There Nature reigns, whose works outvie
The boldest pattern art can frame;
There ages past have rolled away,
And forests bloomed but to decay.
From these fair plains, these rural seats,
So long concealed, so lately known,
The unsocial Indian far retreats,
To make some other clime his own,
When other streams, less pleasing, flow,
And darker forests round him grow.
[Pg 281]
Great Sire[A] of floods! whose varied wave
Through climes and countries takes its way,
To whom creating Nature gave
Ten thousand streams to swell thy sway!
No longer shall they useless prove,
Nor idly through the forests rove;

[A] Mississippi.—Freneau's note.

Nor longer shall your princely flood
From distant lakes be swelled in vain,
Nor longer through a darksome wood
Advance, unnoticed, to the main,
Far other ends, the heavens decree—
And commerce plans new freights for thee.
While virtue warms the generous breast,
There heaven-born freedom shall reside,
Nor shall the voice of war molest,
Nor Europe's all-aspiring pride—
There Reason shall new laws devise,
And order from confusion rise.
Forsaking kings and regal state,
With all their pomp and fancied bliss,[294]
The traveller owns, convinced though late,
No realm so free, so blest as this—
The east is half to slaves consigned,
Where kings and priests enchain the mind.[295]
O come the time, and haste the day,
When man shall man no longer crush,
When Reason shall enforce her sway,
Nor these fair regions raise our blush,
Where still the African complains,
And mourns his yet unbroken chains.
[Pg 282]
Far brighter scenes a future age,
The muse predicts, these States will hail,
Whose genius may the world engage,
Whose deeds may over death prevail,
And happier systems bring to view,
Than all the eastern sages knew.
[1784.]

[293] First published in Bailey's Pocket Almanac for 1785, and reprinted almost without change in the later editions of Freneau. Text from the edition of 1809.

[294] (A debt that reason deems amiss).—Ed. 1786.

[295] And half to slavery more refin'd.—Ib.


THE SEASONS MORALIZED[296]

They who to warmer regions run,
May bless the favour of the sun,
But seek in vain what charms us here,
Life's picture, varying with the year.
Spring, and her wanton train advance
Like Youth to lead the festive dance,
All, all her scenes are mirth and play,
And blushing blossoms own her sway.
The Summer next (those blossoms blown)
Brings on the fruits that spring had sown,
Thus men advance, impelled by time,
And Nature triumphs in her prime.
Then Autumn crowns the beauteous year,
The groves a sicklier aspect wear;
And mournful she (the lot of all)
Matures her fruits, to make them fall.
Clad in the vestments of a tomb,
Old age is only Winter's gloom—
Winter, alas! shall spring restore,
But youth returns to man no more.

[296] First published in Bailey's Pocket Almanac for 1785. The edition of 1809 is used.


[Pg 283]

ON THE DEATH OF COLONEL LAURENS[297]

Since on her plains this generous chief expired,
Whom sages honoured, and whom France admired;[298]
Does Fame no statues to his memory raise,
Nor swells one column to record his praise
Where her palmetto shades the adjacent deeps,
Affection sighs, and Carolina weeps!
Thou, who shalt stray where death this chief confines,
Revere the patriot, subject of these lines:
Not from the dust the muse transcribes his name,
And more than marble shall declare his fame
Where scenes more glorious his great soul engage,
Confest thrice worthy in that closing page
When conquering Time to dark oblivion calls,
The marble totters, and the column falls.
Laurens! thy tomb while kindred hands adorn,
Let northern muses, too, inscribe your urn.—
Of all, whose names on death's black list appear,[Pg 284]
No chief, that perished, claimed more grief sincere,
Not one, Columbia, that thy bosom bore,
More tears commanded, or deserved them more!
Grief at his tomb shall heave the unwearied sigh,
And honour lift the mantle to her eye:
Fame through the world his patriot name shall spread,
By heroes envied and by monarchs read:
Just, generous, brave—to each true heart allied:
The Briton's terror, and his country's pride;
For him the tears of war-worn soldiers ran,
The friend of freedom, and the friend of man.
Then what is death, compared with such a tomb,
Where honour fades not, and fair virtues bloom;
When silent grief on every face appears,
The tender tribute of a nation's tears;
Ah! what is death, when deeds like his, thus claim
The brave man's homage, and immortal fame!

[297] Published in the Freeman's Journal, October 17, 1787, introduced as follows:

"Mr. Bailey,

The subsequent lines were written two or three years after the event that occasioned them, but have never been printed. If you think them in any degree worthy of the memory of the patriotic young officer they attempt to celebrate (and whose death has been so deeply regretted throughout America) I must request you to insert them in your Journal.

A. B."

The 1788 edition prints the poem with this title: "To the Memory of the brave, accomplished and patriotic Col. John Laurens, Who in the 27th year of his age, was killed in an engagement with a detachment of the British from Charleston, near the river Cambahee, in South Carolina, August 1782." The text follows the edition of 1809.

[298] In 1780 Laurens was sent by Congress on a mission to France for a loan and supplies, in which he was successful.


ON THE VICISSITUDES OF THINGS[299]

"The constant lapse of rolling years
Awakes our hopes, provokes our fears
Of something yet unknown;
We saw the last year pass away,
But who, that lives can safely say,
The next shall be his own?"
[Pg 285]
So hundreds talk—and thousands more
Descant their moral doctrines o'er;
And when the preaching's done,
Each goes his various, wonted way,
To labour some, and some to play—
So goes the folly on.
How swift the vagrant seasons fly;
They're hardly born before they die,
Yet in their wild career,
Like atoms round the rapid wheel,
We seem the same, though changing still,
Mere reptiles of a year.
Some haste to seek a wealthy bride,
Some, rhymes to make on one that died;
And millions curse the day,
When first in Hymen's silken bands
The parson joined mistaken hands,
And bade the bride obey.
While sad Amelia vents her sighs,
In epitaphs and elegies,
For her departed dear,
Who would suppose the muffled bell,
And mourning gowns, were meant to tell,
Her grief will last—a year?
In folly's path how many meet—
What hosts will live to lie and cheat—
How many empty pates
May, in this wise, eventful year,
In native dignity appear
To manage Rising States!
[Pg 286]
How vain to sigh!—the wheel must on
And straws are to the whirlpool drawn,
With ships of gallant mien—
What has been once, may time restore;
What now exists, has been before—
Years only change the scene.
In endless circles all things move;
Below, about, far off, above,
This motion all attain—
If Folly's self should flit away,
She would return some New year's day,
With millions in her train.
Sun, moon, and stars, are each a sphere,
The earth the same, (or very near),
Sir Isaac has defined—
In circles each coin is cast,
And hence our cash departs so fast,
Cash—that no charm can bind.
From you to us—from us it rolls
To comfort other cloudy souls:—
If again we make it square,[A]
Perhaps the uneasy guest will stay
To cheer us in some wintry day,
And smooth the brow of care.

[A] The old Continental.—Freneau's note.

[299] This appeared first as the regular New Year's sheet of the Freeman's Journal, January 1, 1785. Its original title was, "New Year's Verses, addressed to the Customers of the Freeman's Journal by the Lad who carries it." Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 287]

PEWTER-PLATTER ALLEY[300]

In Philadelphia

(As it appeared in January, 1784)

From Christ-Church graves, across the way,
A dismal, horrid place is found,
Where rushing winds exert their sway,
And Greenland winter chills the ground:
No blossoms there are seen to bloom,
No sun pervades the dreary gloom!
The people of that gloomy place
In penance for some ancient crime
Are held in a too narrow space,
Like those beyond the bounds of time,
Who darkened still, perceive no day,
While seasons waste, and moons decay.
Cold as the shade that wraps them round,
This icy region prompts our fear;
And he who treads this frozen ground
Shall curse the chance that brought him here—
The slippery mass predicts his fate,
A broken arm, a wounded pate.
When August sheds his sultry beam,
May Celia never find this place,
Nor see, upon the clouded stream,
The fading summer in her face;
And may she ne'er discover there
The grey that mingles with her hair.
[Pg 288]
The watchman sad, whose drowsy call
Proclaims the hour forever fled,
Avoids this path to Pluto's hall;
For who would wish to wake the dead!—
Still let them sleep—it is no crime—
They pay no tax to know the time.
No coaches here, in glittering pride,
Convey their freight to take the air,
No gods nor heroes here reside,
Nor powdered beau, nor lady fair—
All, all to warmer regions flee,
And leave the glooms to Towne[A] and me.

[A] Benjamin Towne, then Printer of the Evening Post.—Freneau's note.

[300] Freeman's Journal, February 23, 1795.


ON THE DEATH OF THE REPUBLICAN
PATRIOT AND STATESMAN,
GENERAL JOSEPH REED[A]

[A] First published in the Freeman's Journal, March 9, 1785, with the following introduction:

"On Saturday morning last [March 5] departed this life in the forty-third year of his age, General Joseph Reed, Esq., formerly President of this State; and on Sunday his remains were interred in the Presbyterian burying ground in Arch Street. His funeral was attended by his excellency the President and the Superior Executive Council, the Honourable the Speaker and the General Assembly, the Militia Officers and a greater number of citizens than we've ever seen here on any similar occasion." Text follows the edition of 1809.

Reed was one of the leading figures of the Revolutionary era. As delegate to the Continental Congress, aide and secretary to Washington, Adjutant General, volunteer soldier, and Governor of Pennsylvania, he was an active and able man, and his early death was much regretted.

Soon to the grave[301] descends each honoured name
That raised their country to this blaze[302] of fame:
Sages, that planned, and chiefs that led the way
To Freedom's temple, all too soon decay,
[Pg 289]Alike submit to one impartial[303] doom,
Their glories closing in perpetual gloom,
Like the pale[304] splendours of the evening, fade,
While night advances, to complete the shade.
Reed, 'tis for thee we shed the unpurchased tear,
Bend o'er thy tomb, and plant our laurels there:
Your acts, your life,[305] the noblest pile transcend,
And Virtue, patriot Virtue, mourns her friend,
Gone to those realms, where worth may claim regard,
And gone where virtue meets her best reward.
No single art engaged his vigorous[306] mind,
In every scene his active genius shined:
Nature in him, in honour to our age,
At once composed the soldier and the sage—
Firm to his purpose, vigilant, and bold,
Detesting traitors, and despising gold,
He scorned all bribes from Britain's hostile throne
For all his country's wrongs he held[307] his own.
Reed, rest in peace: for time's impartial page
Shall raise the blush on[308] this ungrateful age:
Long in these climes thy name shall flourish fair,
The statesman's pattern, and the poet's care;
Long in these climes[309] thy memory shall remain,
And still new tributes from new ages gain,
Fair to the eye that injured honour rise—
Nor traitors triumph while the patriot dies.

The following are the variations in the 1786 edition:

[301] Swift to the dust.

[302] These heights.

[303] Unalter'd.

[304] Dim.

[305] Thy own brave deeds.

[306] Manly.

[307] Were thrice.

[308] Blast the wrongs of.

[309] On these plains.


[Pg 290]

A RENEGADO EPISTLE[310]

To the Independent Americans

We Tories, who lately were frightened away,
When you marched into York all in battle array,
Dear Whigs, in our exile have somewhat to say.
From the clime of New Scotland we wish you to know
We still are in being—mere spectres of woe,
Our dignity high, but our spirits are low.
Great people we are, and are called the king's friends;
But on friendships like these what advantage attends?
We may stay and be starved[311] when we've answered his ends!
The Indians themselves, whom no treaties can bind,
We have reason to think are perversely inclined—
And where we have friends is not easy to find.
From the day we arrived on this desolate shore
We still have been wishing to see you once more,
And your freedom enjoy, now the danger is o'er.
Although we be-rebelled you up hill and down,
It was all for your good—and to honour a crown
Whose splendours have spoiled better eyes than our own.
That traitors we were, is no more than our due,
And so may remain for a century through,
Unless we return, and be tutored by you.
[Pg 291]
Although with the dregs of the world we are classed,
We hope your resentment will soften at last,
Now your toils are repaid, and our triumphs are past.
When a matter is done, 'tis a folly to fret—
But your market-day mornings we cannot forget,
With your coaches to lend, and your horses to let.
Your dinners of beef, and your breakfasts of toast!
But we have no longer such blessings to boast,
No cattle to steal, and no turkies to roast.
Such enjoyments as these, we must tell you with pain,
'Tis odds we shall only be wishing in vain
Unless we return, and be brothers again.
We burnt up your mills and your meetings, 'tis true,
And many bold fellows we crippled and slew—
(Aye! we were the boys that had something to do!)
Old Huddy[312] we hung on the Neversink shore—
But, Sirs, had we hung up a thousand men more,
They had all been avenged in the torments we bore,
When Asgill to Jersey you foolishly fetched,
And each of us feared that his neck would be stretched,
When you were be-rebelled, and we were be-wretched.
In the book of destruction it seems to be written
The Tories must still be dependent on Britain—
The worst of dependence that ever was hit on.
Now their work is concluded—that pitiful jobb—
They send over convicts to strengthen our mob—
And so we do nothing but snivel and sob.
[Pg 292]
The worst of all countries has fallen to our share,
Where winter and famine provoke our despair,
And fogs are for ever obscuring the air.
Although there be nothing but sea dogs to feed on,
Our friend Jemmy Rivington made it an Eden—
But, alas! he had nothing but lies to proceed on.
Deceived we were all by his damnable schemes—
When he coloured it over with gardens and streams,
And grottoes and groves, and the rest of his dreams.
Our heads were so turned by that conjuror's spell,
We swallowed the lies he was ordered to tell—
But his "happy retreats" were the visions of hell.
We feel so enraged we could rip up his weazon,
When we think of the soil he described with its trees on,
And the plenty that reigned, and the charms of each season.
Like a parson that tells of the joys of the blest
To a man to be hanged—he himself thought it best
To remain where he was, in his haven of rest.
Since he helped us away by the means of his types,
His precepts should only have lighted our pipes,
His example was rather to honour your stripes.
Now, if we return, as we're bone of your bone,
We'll renounce all allegiance to George and his throne
And be the best subjects that ever were known.
In a ship, you have seen (where the duty is hard)
The cook and the scullion may claim some regard,
Though it takes a good fellow to brace the main yard.
[Pg 293]
Howe'er you despise us, because you are free,
The world's at a loss for such people as we,
Who can pillage on land, and can plunder at sea.
So long for our rations they keep us in waiting—
The Lords and the Commons, perhaps, are debating
If Tories can live without drinking or eating.
So we think it is better to see you, by far—
And have hinted our meaning to governor Parr[A]
The worst that can happen is—feathers and tar.
Nova-Scotia, Feb. 1784.

[A] Then Governor of Nova-Scotia.—Freneau's note.

[310] Text from the edition of 1809. First published in the Freeman's Journal, March 30, 1785, under the title, "A New York Tory's Epistle."

[311] "We may starve and be damn'd."—Ed. 1786.

[312] See note to poem "On Gen. Robertson's Proclamation," Vol. II, p. 162.


THE AMERICAN SIBERIA[313]

When Jove from darkness smote the sun,
And Nature earth from chaos won,
One part she left a barren waste
By stormy seas and fogs embraced.
Jove saw her vile neglect, and cried,
"What madness did your fancy guide—
Why have you left so large a space
With winter brooding o'er its face?
No trees of stately growth ascend,
Eternal fogs their wings expand—
My favorite—man—I placed not there,
But spirits of a darker sphere.
[Pg 294]
If Nature's self neglects her trade
What strange confusion will be made:
Such climes as these I doomed to fall
On Saturn's cold unsocial ball:
But such a blemish, here, to see—
How can it else but anger me?
Where chilling winds forever freeze,
What fool will fix on lands like these?"
Nature, abashed, thus made reply:
"When earth I formed, I don't deny,
Some parts I portioned out for pain,
Hard storms, dull skies, and—little gain.
Mankind are formed with different souls:
Some will be suited near the poles,
Some pleased beneath the scorching line,
And some, New Scotland, will be thine.
Yet, in due time, my plastic hand
Shall mould it o'er, if you command;
By you I act—if you stand still
The world comes tumbling down the hill!"
Untouched—(said Jove)—remain the place!
In days to come I'll form a race,
Born to betray their country's cause,
And aid an alien monarch's laws.
When traitors to their country die,
To lands, like this, their phantoms fly;
But when the brave by death decay
The mind explores a different way.
[Pg 295]
Then, Nature, hold your aiding hand—
Let fogs and tempests chill the land;
While this degenerate work of thine
To knaves and knapsacks I resign.

[313] Text follows the edition of 1809.


EPISTLE TO SYLVIUS[314]

On the Folly of Writing Poetry

Of all the fools that haunt our coast
The scribbling tribe I pity most:
Their's is a standing scene of woes,
And their's no prospect of repose.
Then, Sylvius, why this eager claim
To light your torch at Clio's flame?
To few she shews sincere regard,
And none, from her, should hope reward.
A garret high, dark dismal room,
Is still the pensive poet's doom:
Hopes raised to heaven must be their lot,
Yet bear the curse, to be forgot.
Hourly they deal with Grecian Jove,
And draw their bills on banks above:
Yet stand abashed, with all their fire,
When brought to face some country 'squire.
[Pg 296]
To mend the world, is still their aim:
The world, alas! remains the same,
And so must stand to every age,
Proof to the morals of the page!
The knave that keeps a tippling inn,
The red-nosed boy that deals out gin,
If aided by some paltry skill
May both be statesmen when they will.
The man that mends a beggar's shoes,
The quack that heals your negro's bruise,
The wretch that turns a cutler's stone,
Have wages they can call their own:
The head, that plods in trade's domains,
Gets something to reward its pains;
But Wit—that does the world beguile,
Takes for its pay—an empty smile!
Yet each presumes his works will rise,
And gain a name that never dies;
From earth, and cold oblivion freed,
Immortal, in the poets' creed!
Can Reason in that bosom reign
Which fondly feeds a hope so vain,
When every age that passes by
Beholds a crowd of poets die!
Poor Sappho's fate shall Milton know—
His scenes of grief and tales of woe
No honours, that all Europe gave,
No merit—shall from ruin save.
[Pg 297]
To all that write and all that read
Fate shall, with hasty step, succeed!
Even Shakespeare's page, his mirth, his tears
May sink beneath this weight of years.
Old Spenser's doom shall, Pope, be thine
The music of each moving line
Scarce bribes an age or two to stay,
Admire your strain—then flit away.
The people of old Chaucer's times
Were once in raptures with his rhymes,
But Time—that over verse prevails,
To other ears tells other tales.
Why then so sad, dear rhyming friends—
One common fate on both attends,
The bards that sooth the statesman's ear,
And him—who finds no audience there.
Mere structures formed of common earth,
Not they from heaven derive their birth,
Or why through life, like vagrants, pass
To mingle with the mouldering mass?—
Of all the souls, from Jove that came
To animate this mortal frame,
Of all the myriads, on the wing,
How few can taste the Muse's spring!
Sejanus, of mercantile skill,
Without whose aid the world stands still,
And by whose wonder-working play
The sun goes round—(his flatterers say)
[Pg 298]
Sejanus has in house declared
"These States, as yet, can boast no bard,
And all the sing-song of our clime
Is merely nonsense, fringed with rhyme."
With such a bold, conceited air
When such assume the critic's chair,
Low in the dust is genius laid,
The muses with the man in trade.
Then, Sylvius, come—let you and I
On Neptune's aid, once more rely:
Perhaps the muse may still impart
Her balm to ease the aching heart.
Though cold might chill and storms dismay,
Yet Zoilus will be far away:
With us at least, depart and share
No garret—but resentment there.

[314] On Nov. 24, 1785, Freneau sailed from Middletown Point as Master of the sloop Monmouth bound for southern ports. This lyric, first published in the edition of 1788, seems to have been his valedictory to the muse for a season. His conflict with Oswald and other critics had much embittered him. The text is from the edition of 1809.


THE DEPARTURE[315]

1785

From Hudson's cold, congealing streams
As winter comes, I take my way
Where other suns prompt other dreams,
And shades, less willing to decay,
Beget new raptures in the heart,
Bid spleen's dejective crew depart,
And wake the sprightly lay.
[Pg 299]
Good-natur'd Neptune, now so mild,
Like rage asleep, or madness chain'd,
By dreams amus'd or love beguil'd,
Sleep on 'till we our port have gain'd.
The gentle breeze that curls the deep,
Shall paint a finer dream on sleep!—
Ye nymphs, that haunt his grottoes low,
Where sea green trees on coral grow,
No tumults make
Lest he should wake,
And thus the passing shade betray
The sails that o'er his waters stray.
Sunk is the sun from yonder hill,
The noisy day is past;
The breeze decays, and all is still,
As all shall be at last;
The murmuring on the distant shore,
The dying wave is all I hear,
The yellow fields now disappear,
No painted butterflies are near,
And laughing folly plagues no more.
The woods that deck yon' fading waste,
That every wanton gale embrac'd,
Ere summer yet made haste to fly;
How smit with frost the pride of June!
How lost to me! how very soon
The fairy prospects die!
Condemn'd to bend to winter's stroke,
Low in the dust the embowering oak
Has bid the fading leaf descend,
Their short liv'd verdure at an end;
[Pg 300]How desolate the forests seem,
Beneath whose shade
The enamour'd maid
Was once so fond to dream.
What now is left of all that won
The eye of mirth while summer stay'd—
The birds that sported in the sun,
The sport is past, the song is done;
And nature's naked forms declare,
The rifled groves, the vallies bare,
Persuasively, tho' silent, tell,
That at the best they were but drest
Sad mourners for the funeral bell!
Now while I spread the venturous sail
To catch the breeze from yonder hill,
Say, what does all this folly mean?
Why grieve to pass the wat'ry scene?
Is fortitude to heaven confin'd?—
No—planted also in the mind,
She smooths the ocean when she will.
But life is pain—what ills must try,
What malice dark and calumny,
Indifference, with her careless eye,
And slander, with her tale begun;
Bold ignorance, with forward air,
And cowardice, that has no share
In honours gain'd, or trophies won.
To these succeed, (and these are few
Of nature's dark, unseemly crew)
Unsocial pride, and cold disgust,
Servility, that licks the dust;
Those harpies that disgrace the mind;
[Pg 301]Unknown to haunt the human breast
When pleasure her first garden dress'd—
But vanish'd is the shade so gay,
And lost in gloom the summer day
That charm'd the soul to rest.
What season shall restore that scene
When all was calm and all serene,
And happiness no empty sound,
The golden age, that pleas'd so well?—
The Mind that made it shall not tell
To those on life's uncertain road;
Where lost in folly's idle round,
And seeking what shall ne'er be found
We press to one abode.

[315] This poem was first published in the Freeman's Journal, April 18, 1787, with a note "Written at leaving Sandy Hook on a voyage to the West Indies." It is dated Nov. 26, 1785; it was, therefore, written at sea. It was published in the 1788 edition, which the text follows, and omitted from the 1809 edition.


A NEWSMAN'S ADDRESS[316]

Old Eighty-Five discharg'd and gone,
Another year comes hastening on
To quit us in its turn:
With outspread wings and running glass
Thus Time's deluding seasons pass,
And leave mankind to mourn.
But strains like this add grief to grief;—
We are the lads that give relief
With sprightly wit and merry lay:
Our various page to all imparts
Amusement fit for social hearts,
And drives the monster, spleen, away.
[Pg 302]
Abroad our leaves of knowledge fly,
And twice a week they live and die;
Short seasons of repose!
Fair to your view our toils display
The monarch's aim, what patriots say,
Or sons of art disclose:
Whate'er the barque of commerce brings
From sister States, or foreign kings,
No atom we conceal:
All Europe's prints we hourly drain,
All Asia's news our leaves contain,
And round our world we deal.
If falsehoods sometimes prompt your fears,
And horrid news from proud Algiers,
That gives our tars such pain;
Remember all must have their share,
And all the world was made for care,
The monarch and the swain.
If British isles (that once were free,
In Indian seas, to you and me)
All entrance still restrain,
Why let them starve with all their host
When British pride gives up the ghost,
And courts our aid in vain.
We fondly hope some future year
Will all our clouded prospects clear,
And commerce stretch her wings;
New tracks of trade new wealth disclose,
While round the globe our standard goes
In spite of growling kings.
[Pg 303]
Materials thus together drawn
To tell you how the world goes on
May surely claim regard;
One simple word we mean to say,
This is our jovial New Year's day,
And now, our toils reward.

[316] Freneau arrived in Charleston Dec. 8, and remained there until Jan. 23, when he cleared for Sunbury. On Jan. 1st, he wrote the above verses for the carriers of the Charleston Columbian Herald. They were republished in the editions of 1788 and 1795, which later edition the text follows.


LITERARY IMPORTATION[317]

However we wrangled with Britain awhile
We think of her now in a different stile,
And many fine things we receive from her isle;
Among all the rest,
Some demon possessed
Our dealers in knowledge and sellers of sense
To have a good bishop imported from thence.
The words of Sam Chandler[A] were thought to be vain,
When he argued so often and proved it so plain
"That Satan must flourish till bishops should reign:"
Though he went to the wall
With his project and all,
Another bold Sammy[B], in bishop's array,
Has got something more than his pains for his pay.

[A] "Who laboured for the establishment of an American Episcopacy, previously to the revolutionary war."—Freneau's note.

[B] Bishop Samuel Seabury, of Connecticut.—Ib.

It seems we had spirit to humble a throne,
Have genius for science inferior to none,
[Pg 304]But hardly encourage a plant of our own:
If a college be planned,
'Tis all at a stand
'Till to Europe we send at a shameful expense,
To send us a book-worm to teach us some sense.
Can we never be thought to have learning or grace
Unless it be brought from that horrible[318] place
Where tyranny reigns with her impudent face;
And popes and pretenders,
And sly faith-defenders
Have ever been hostile to reason and wit,
Enslaving a world that shall conquer them yet.
'Tis a folly to fret at the picture I draw:
And I say what was said by a Doctor Magraw;[C]
"If they give us their Bishops, they'll give us their law."
How that will agree
With such people as we,
Let us leave to the learned to reflect on awhile,
And say what they think in a handsomer stile.

[C] A noted practitioner in physic, formerly of N. York.—Freneau's note, Ed. 1788.

[317] First published, as far as can be learned, in the 1788 edition, and dated Charleston, S. C., 1786. The text is taken from the edition of 1809.

[318] "Damnable."—Ed. 1788.


[Pg 305]

THE ENGLISHMAN'S COMPLAINT[319]

In Carolina

Arriving from Britain with cargo so nice
Once more have I touched at these regions of rice!
Dear Ashley, with pleasure thy stream I review:
But how changed are these plains that we wished to subdue.
If through the wild woods he extended his reign,
And death and the hangman were both in his train,
Cornwallis no longer disturbs your repose,
His lordship is dead or at least in a doze.
By Sullivan's island how quiet we pass;
Fort Johnson no longer salutes us, alas!—
The season has been you did nothing but mourn,
But now you will laugh at a Briton's return!
Instead of gay soldiers that walked the parade,
Here is nothing but draymen and people in trade;
Instead of our navy that thundered around,
Here is nothing but ships without guns to be found.
Instead of Lord Rawdon and Nesbit Balfour,
Whose names and whose notions you cannot endure,
But whom in their glory you could not forget
When puffed by the froth of the Royal Gazette:
Instead of those tyrants, who homewards have flown,
This country is ruled by a race of its own,
Whom once we could laugh at—but now we must say
Seem rising to be in a handsomer way.
[Pg 306]
To us and our island eternally foes,
How tedious you are in forgetting your woes,
Your plundered plantations you still will remember,
Although we have left you—three years last December!

[319] This first appeared in the 1788 edition. The date of composition is indicated by the last line. The British evacuated the city in 1782. The edition of 1809 has been followed.


THE WILD HONEY SUCKLE[320]

Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouched thy honied blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet:
No roving foot shall crush thee here,
No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature's self in white arrayed,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
And planted here the guardian shade,
And sent soft waters murmuring by;
Thus quietly thy summer goes,
Thy days declining to repose.
Smit with those charms, that must decay,
I grieve to see your future doom;
They died—nor were those flowers more gay,
The flowers that did in Eden bloom;
Unpitying frosts, and Autumn's power
Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
[Pg 307]
From morning suns and evening dews
At first thy little being came:
If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
The space between, is but an hour,
The frail duration of a flower.

[320] Freneau doubtless wrote this poem in Charleston, S. C., in July, 1786. It appeared first in the Freeman's Journal, August 2, 1786, and was republished in the edition of 1788, and in the later editions, almost without change. The poet probably refers to the Rhododendron Viscosum, or as some call it the Asalia viscosun since it is the only flower popularly known as the wild honeysuckle that is both white and fragrant. According to Chapman's Southern Flora, it flowers in the latitude of Charleston in July and August. The text is from the edition of 1809.


ON A BOOK CALLED UNITARIAN THEOLOGY[321]

In this choice work, with wisdom penned, we find
The noblest system to reform mankind,
Bold truths confirmed, that bigots have denied,
By most perverted, and which some deride.
Here, truths divine in easy language flow,
Truths long concealed, that now all climes shall know
Here, like the blaze of our material sun,
Enlightened Reason proves, that God is One—
As that, concentered in itself, a sphere,
Illumes all Nature with its radiance here,
Bids towards itself all trees and plants aspire,
Awakes the winds, impels the seeds of fire,
And still subservient to the Almighty plan,
Warms into life the changeful race of man;
So—like that sun—in heaven's bright realms we trace
One Power of Love, that fills unbounded space,
Existing always by no borrowed aid,
Before all worlds—eternal, and not made—
To That indebted, stars and comets burn,
[Pg 308]Owe their swift movements, and to That return!
Prime source of wisdom, all-contriving mind,
First spring of Reason, that this globe designed;
Parent of order, whose unwearied hand
Upholds the fabric that his wisdom planned,
And, its due course assigned to every sphere,
Revolves the seasons, and sustains the year!—
Pure light of Truth! where'er thy splendours shine,
Thou art the image of the power divine;
Nought else, in life, that full resemblance bears,
No sun, that lights us through our circling years,
No stars, that through yon' charming azure stray,
No moon, that glads us with her evening ray,
No seas, that o'er their gloomy caverns flow,
No forms beyond us, and no shapes below!
Then slight—ah slight not, this instructive page,
For the mean follies of a dreaming age:
Here to the truth, by Reason's aid aspire,
Nor some dull preacher of romance admire;
See One, Sole God, in these convincing lines,
Beneath whose view perpetual day-light shines;
At whose command all worlds their circuits run,
And night, retiring, dies before the sun!
Here, Man no more disgraced by Time appears,
Lost in dull slumbers through ten thousand years;
Plunged in that gulph, whose dark unfathomed wave
Men of all ages to perdition gave;
An empty dream, or still more empty shade,
The substance vanished, and the form decayed:—
Here Reason proves, that when this life decays,
Instant, new life in the warm bosom plays,
As that expiring, still its course repairs
Through endless ages, and unceasing years.
[Pg 309]Where parted souls with kindred spirits meet,
Wrapt to the bloom of beauty all complete;
In that celestial, vast, unclouded sphere,
Nought there exists but has its image here!
All there is Mind!—That Intellectual Flame,
From whose vast stores all human genius came,
In which all Nature forms on Reason's plan—
Flows to this abject world, and beams on Man!

[321] This was published in the Freeman's Journal, Oct 4, 1786, under the title "On the Honourable Emanuel Swedenborg's Universal Theology." A column advertisement of the book appeared in the Journal Oct. 25. The poem was reprinted in the 1788 collection and in the later edition of 1809, which the text follows.


TO ZOILUS[322]

[A Severe Critic]

Six sheets compos'd, struck off, and dry
The work may please the world (thought I)—
If some impell'd by spleen or spite,
Refuse to read, then let them write:
I too, with them, shall have my turn,
And give advice—to tear or burn.
Now from the binder's, hurried home,
In neat array my leaves are come:
Alas, alas! is this my all?
The volume is so light and small,
That, aim to save it as I can,
'Twill fly before Myrtilla's fan.
[Pg 310]
Why did I no precautions use?
To curb these frolics of the Muse?
Ah! why did I invoke the nine
To aid these humble toils of mine—
That now forebode through every page
The witling's sneer, the critic's rage.
Did I, for this, so often rise
Before the sun illum'd the skies,
And near my Hudson's mountain stream
Invoke the Muses' morning dream,
And scorn the winds that blew so cool!
I did—and I was more the fool.
Yet slender tho' the book, and small,
And harmless, take it all in all,
I see a monstrous wight appear,
A quill suspended from his ear;
Its fate depends on his decree,
And what he says must sacred be!
A brute of such terrific mien
At wild Sanduski ne'er was seen,
And in the dark Kentuckey groves
No beast, like this, for plunder roves,
Nor dwells in Britain's lowering clime
A reptile, so severe on rhyme.
The monster comes, severe and slow,
His eyes with arrowy lightnings glow,
Takes up the book, surveys it o'er,
Exclaims, "damn'd stuff!"—but says no more:
The book is damn'd by his decree,
And what he says must gospel be!
[Pg 311]
But was there nothing to his taste?—
Was all my work a barren waste—
Was not one bright idea sown,
And not one image of my own?—
Its doom was just, if this be true:
But Zoilus shall be sweated too.
Give me a cane of mighty length,
A staff proportion'd to my strength,
Like that, by whose destructive aid
The man of Gath his conquests made;
Like that, which once on Etna's shore
The shepherd of the mountain bore:
For wit traduc'd at such a rate
To other worlds I'll send him, straight,
Where all the past shall nothing seem,
Or just be imag'd, like a dream;
Where new vexations are design'd,
No dull quietus for the mind!
Arm'd with a staff of such a size
Who would not smite this man of lies:
Here, scribbler, help me! seize that pen
With which he blasts all rhyming men:
His goose-quill must not with him go
To persecute the bards below.—
How vast a change an hour may bring!
How abject lies this snarling thing!
No longer wit to him shall bow,
To him the world is nothing now;
And all he writ, and all he read
Is, with himself, in silence laid!
[Pg 312]
Dead tho' he be—(not sent to rest)
No keen remorse torments my breast:
Yet, something in me seems to tell
I might have let him live, as well;—
'Twas his to snarl, and growl, and grin,
And life had, else, a burthen been.

[322] This was first published in the Freeman's Journal, Oct 11, 1786, though it undoubtedly was written before the poet left Philadelphia. It was republished in the 1788 edition under the title "The Pamphleteer and the Critic." The text follows the 1795 edition.


ON THE LEGISLATURE OF GREAT-BRITAIN
PROHIBITING THE SALE, IN LONDON, OF

Doctor David Ramsay's History of the Revolutionary war in South Carolina[323]

Some bold bully Dawson, expert in abusing,
Having passed all his life in the practice of bruising;
At last, when he thinks to reform and repent,
And wishes his days had been soberly spent,
Though a course of contrition in earnest begins,
He scarcely can bear to be told of his sins.
So the British, worn out with their wars in the west
(Where burning and murder their prowess confessed)
When, at last, they agreed 'twas in vain to contend
(For the days of their thieving were come to an end)
They hired some historians to scribble and flatter,
And foolishly thought they could hush up the matter.
But Ramsay[324] arose, and with Truth on his side,
Has told to the world what they laboured to hide;
With his pen of dissection, and pointed with steel,
If they ne'er before felt he has taught them to feel,
[Pg 313]Themselves and their projects has truly defined,
And dragged them to blush at the bar of mankind.
As the author, his friends, and the world might expect,
They find that the work has a damning effect—
In reply to his Facts they abuse him and rail,
And prompted by malice, prohibit the sale.
But, we trust, their chastisement is only begun;
Thirteen are the States—and he writes but of one;
Ere the twelve that are silent their story have told,
The king will run mad, and the book will be sold.

[323] Freeman's Journal, Oct. 11, dated Philadelphia, Oct. 9. The text follows the edition of 1809.

[324] David Ramsay's "History of the Revolution in South Carolina," was published at Trenton, New Jersey, in 1785.


THE DEATH SONG OF A CHEROKEE INDIAN[325]

The sun sets in night, and the stars shun the day,
But glory remains when their lights fade away.
Begin, ye tormentors: your threats are in vain
For the son of Alknomock can never complain.
[Pg 314]
Remember the woods, where in ambush he lay,
And the scalps which he bore from your nation away!
Why do ye delay?—'till I shrink from my pain?
Know the son of Alknomock can never complain.
Remember the arrows he shot from his bow
Remember your chiefs by his hatchet laid low
The flame rises high, you exult in my pain?
Know the son of Alknomock will never complain.
I go to the land where my father is gone:
His ghost shall rejoice in the fame of his son
Death comes like a friend, he relieves me from pain
And thy son, O Alknomock, has scorned to complain.

[325] The first trace I can find of this poem is in the initial number of Matthew Carey's American Museum, Jan. 1, 1787, where it is placed among the selected poetry and assigned to P. Freneau. This testimony of Carey's as to its genuineness carries with it considerable weight. Knapp, who in 1829 reviewed the poem as Freneau's, doubtless had before him a copy of the Museum. The poem, however, is not included in any of the poet's collections and I can find no earlier newspaper appearance, although my search has not been exhaustive. The authenticity of a poem suspected to be Freneau's may always be gravely doubted if it is not found to be included in his collected works, for he hoarded his poetic product, especially in his earlier period, with miserly care.

The poem appeared in 1806 among the poems of Mrs. John Hunter with the title "The Death Song, written for and adapted to, an original Indian air." Several of Mrs. Hunter's best poems had been long in circulation before she was induced to collect them. In 1822 Maria Edgeworth introduced the poem into her book "Rosamond," ascribing it to her. She added the following note: "The idea of this ballad was suggested several years ago by hearing a gentleman who resided many years among the tribe called the Cherokees, sing a wild air, which he assured me was customary for these people to chant with a barbarous jargon implying contempt for their enemies in the moments of torture and death. I have endeavored to give something of the characteristic spirit and sentiment of those brave savages."


STANZAS

Written at the foot of Monte Souffriere, near the Town of Basseterre, Guadaloupe[326]

These Indian isles, so green and gay
In summer seas by nature placed—
Art hardly told us where they lay,
'Till tyranny their charms defaced:
Ambition here her efforts made,
And avarice rifled every shade.
[Pg 315]
Their genius wept, his sons to see
By foreign arms untimely fall,
And some to distant climates flee,
Where later ruin met them all:
He saw his sylvan offspring bleed,
That envious natures might succeed.
The Chief, who first o'er untried waves
To these fair islands found his way,
Departing, left a race of slaves,
Cortez, your mandate to obey,
And these again, if fame says true,
To extirpate the vulgar crew.
No more to Indian coasts confined,
The Patron, thus, indulged his grief;
And to regret his heart resigned,
To see some proud European chief,
Pursue the harmless Indian race,
Torn by his dogs in every chace.[327]
Ah, what a change! the ambient deep
No longer hears the lover's sigh;
But wretches meet, to wail and weep
The loss of their dear liberty:
Unfeeling hearts possess these isles,
Man frowns—and only nature smiles.
Proud of the vast extended shores
The haughty Spaniard calls his own,
[Pg 316]His selfish heart restrains his stores,
To other climes but scarcely known:[328]
His Cuba lies a wilderness,
Where slavery digs what slaves possess.
Jamaica's sweet, romantic vales
In vain with golden harvests teem;
Her endless spring, her fragrant gales
More than Elysian magic seem:[329]
Yet what the soil profusely gave
Is there denied the toiling slave.
Fantastic joy and fond belief
Through life support the galling chain;
Hope's airy prospects banish griefs,
And bring his native lands again:
His native groves a heaven display,
The funeral is the jocund day.
For man oppressed and made so base,
In vain from Jove fair virtue fell;
Distress be-glooms the toiling race,
They have no motive to excel:
In death alone their miseries end,
The tyrant's dread—is their best friend.
How great their praise let truth declare,
Who touched with honour's sacred flame,
Bade freedom to some coasts repair
To urge the slave's neglected claim;
And scorning interest's swinish plan,
Gave to mankind the rights of man.
[Pg 317]
Ascending there, may freedom's sun
In all his force serenely clear,
A long, unclouded circuit run,
Till little tyrants disappear;
And a new race, not bought or sold,
Rise from the ashes of the old.

[326] Published in the Freeman's Journal of Jan. 31, 1787, with the introduction "The following verses, wrote by Mr. Freneau are subjoined to a short and accurate account of the West Indies in the printer's Pocket Almanac for the present year." The title of the poem suffered many variations in later editions. In the 1788 edition, where it was reprinted from the Journal, it was entitled "Stanzas written In a blank leaf of Burke's History of the West India Islands," and it was signed "Pennsylvania, 1786." In the 1795 edition it was entitled "Caribbeana," and in the edition of 1809, the text of which I have followed, it received the title above given. The poem was carefully revised for the edition of 1795.

[327]

"While he to tears his heart resign'd
With pain he saw the falling leaf;
'And thus (he cry'd) our reign must end,
We, like the leaves, must now descend.'"
Ed. 1788.

[328]

"No other world may share those stores
To other worlds so little known."     Ed. 1788.

[329]

"Did more to me than magic seem."     Ib.

ON THE CREW OF A CERTAIN VESSEL[330]

Several of whom happened to be of similar names to Celebrated Foreign Clergymen

In life's unsettled, odd career
What changes every day appear
To please or plague the eye:
A goodly brotherhood of priests
Are here transformed to swearing beasts
Who heaven and hell defy.
Here Bonner, bruised with many a knock,
Has changed his surplice for a frock;
Old Erskine swabs the decks,
And Watts, who once such pleasure took
In writing Hymns—here, turned a cook,
Sinners no longer vex.
Here Burnet, Tillotson, and Blair,
With Jemmy Hervey, curse and swear,
Here Cudworth mixes grog;
Pearson the crew to dinner hails,
A graceless Sherlock trims the sails,
And Bunyan heaves the log.

[330] The index to the edition of 1795 instead of "vessel" gives "ship of war." The text follows the edition of 1809.


[Pg 318]

THE BERMUDA ISLANDS[331]

"Bermuda, walled with rocks, who does not know,
That happy island, where huge lemons grow," &c.
Waller's Battle of the Summer Islands.
These islands fair with many a grove are crowned,
With cedars tall, gay hills, and verdant vales,
But dangerous rocks on every side is found,
Fatal to him who unsuspecting sails.
The gay Palmetto shades the adjacent wave:
Blue, ocean water near the lime-tree breaks!—
I leave the scene!—this stormy quarter leave,
And rove awhile by Harrington's sweet lake.
In every vale fair woodland nymphs are seen
In bloom of youth, to mourn some absent love,
Who, wandering far on Neptune's rude domain,
Heaves the fond sigh at every new remove.
From hill to hill I see Amanda stray,
Searching, with anxious view, the encircling main,
To espy the sail, so long, so far away,
Rise from the waves, and bless her sight again.
[Pg 319]
Now, on some rock, with loose, dishevelled hair,
Near dashing waves, the sorrowing beauty stands,
Hoping that each approaching barque may bear
Homeward the wandering youth from foreign lands.
Oh! may no gales such faithful loves destroy,
No hidden rock to Hymen fatal prove:
And thou, fond swain, thy nicest art employ
Once more on these sweet isles to meet your love.
When verging to the height of thirty-two,
And east or west you guide the dashy prow;
Then fear by night the dangers of this shore,
Nature's wild garden, placed in sixty-four.[A]
Here many a merchant his lost freight bemoans,
And many a gallant ship has laid her bones.

[A] Lat. 32 deg. 20 min. N.—Long. 63.40 W.—and about 780 miles East of the coast of South Carolina.—Freneau's note.

[331] During several weeks in 1778 Freneau resided in Bermuda. While there he seems to have been greatly impressed by an instance of inconstancy. He has in several prose sketches, notably in "Light Summer Reading," 1788, and in the following series of poems, composed at different times, described the incident. There is a tradition that Freneau spent several weeks in the family of the Governor of Bermuda and that it was the daughter of this official who was the unfortunate Amanda. Some traditions have mentioned Freneau himself as the lover. The text is from the edition of 1809.


FLORIO TO AMANDA[332]

Lamp of the pilot's hope! the wanderer's dream,
Far glimmering o'er the wave, we saw thy beam:
Forced from your aid by cold December's gale
As near your isle we reefed the wearied sail:
From bar to bar, from cape to cape I roam,
From you still absent, still too far from home.—
What shall repay me for these nights of pain,
And weeks of absence on this restless main,
[Pg 320]Where every dream recalls that charming shade,
Where once, Amanda, once with you I strayed,
And fondly talked, and counted every tree,
And minutes, ages, when removed from thee.
What sad mistake this wandering fancy drew
To quit my natives shores, the woods, and You,
When safely anchored on that winding stream,
Where you were all my care, and all my theme:
There, pensive, loitering, still from day to day,
The pilot wondered at such strange delay,
Musing, beheld the northern winds prevail,
Nor once surmised that Love detained the sail.
Blest be the man, who, fear beneath him cast,
From his firm decks first reared the tapering mast;
And catching life and motion from the breeze,
Stretched his broad canvas o'er a waste of seas;
And taught some swain, whom absence doomed to mourn
His distant fair one—taught a quick return:
He, homeward borne by favouring gales, might find
Remembrance welcome to his anxious mind,
And grateful vows, and generous thanks might pay
To Him, who filled the sail, and smoothed the way.
To me, indeed! the heavens less favouring prove:
Each day, returning, finds a new remove—
Sorrowing, I spread the sail, while slowly creeps
The weary vessel o'er a length of deeps;
Her northern course no favouring breeze befriends,
Hail, storm, and lightning, on her path attends:
Here, wintry suns their shrouded light restrain,
Stars dimly glow, and boding birds complain;
Here, boisterous gales the rapid Gulph controul,
Tremendous breakers near our Argo roll;
Here cloudy, sullen Hatteras, restless, raves
Scorns all repose, and swells his weight of waves:
[Pg 321]Here, drowned so late, sad cause of many a tear,
Amyntor floats upon his watery bier;
By bursting seas to horrid distance tossed,
Thou, Palinurus, in these depths wert lost,
When, torn by waves, and conquered by the blast,
Art strove in vain, and ruin seized each mast.
Now, while the winds their wonted aid deny,
For other ports, from day to day, we try
Strive, all we can, to gain the unwilling shore,
Dream still of you—the faithful chart explore;
See other groves, in happier climates placed
Untouched their bloom, and not one flower defaced.
Did Nature, there, a heaven of pleasure shew,
Could they be welcome, if not shared with you?—
Lost are my toils—my longing hopes are vain:
Yet, 'midst these ills, permit me to complain,
And half regret, that, finding fortune fail,
I left your cottage—to direct the sail:
Unmoved, amidst this elemental fray,
Let me, once more, the muses' art essay,
Once more—amidst these scenes of Nature's strife,
Catch at her forms and mould them into life;
By Fancy's aid, to unseen coasts repair,
And fondly dwell on absent beauty there.

[332] On Jan. 20, 1789, Freneau was at Castle Ireland, Bermuda, where eleven years before he had passed five delightful weeks in the family of the English Governor. The above lines were written on the tempestuous return voyage, doubtless inspired by her who soon afterward became his wife. The text follows the 1809 version.


PHILANDER: OR THE EMIGRANT[333]

While lost so long to his Arcadian shade,
Careless of fortune and of fame he stray'd,
Philander to a barbarous region came
And found a partner in a colder shade,
Fair as Amanda; and perhaps might claim
[Pg 322]With her the impassion'd soul, and friendship's holy flame;
For sprightly loves upon her bosom play'd,
And youth was in her blush, and every shepherd said
She was a modest and accomplish'd dame.
What have I done, (the wandering shepherd cry'd)
Thus to be banish'd from a face so fair,
(For now the frosts had spoil'd the daisies' pride,
And he once more for roving did prepare)
Ah, what have I to do with swelling seas
Who once could pipe upon the hollow reed?—
I take no joy in such rude scenes as these,
Nor look with pleasure on the vagrant weed
That gulphy streams from rugged caverns bore,
Which floats thro' every clime, and never finds a shore!
But other fields and other flowers were mine,
'Till wild disorder drove me from the plain.
And the black dogs of war were seen to join,
Howl o'er the soil, and dispossess the swain:
Why must I leave these climes of frost and snow?—
Were it not better in these glooms to stay,
And, while on high the autumnal tempests blow,
Let others o'er the wild seas take their way,
And I with my Livinia's tresses play?—
Ah, no, no, no! the imperious wave demands
That I must leave these shores, and lose these lands
And southward to the high equator stray:
But Fancy now has lost her vernal hue;
See Nature in her wintry garb array'd—
And where is that fine dream which once she drew
While yet by Cambria's stream she fondly play'd!
Lavinia heard his long complaint, and said,
Wouldst thou, for me, detain the expecting sail—?
Go, wanderer, go—the trees have lost their shade,[Pg 323]
And my gay flowers are blasted by the gale,
And the bright stream is chill'd that wandered thro' the vale:
Ah, why, Philander, do you sigh, so sad!
Why all this change in such a jovial lad?
Smooth seas shall be your guard, and, free from harms,
Restore you, safely, to Lavinia's arms!
Or should the eastern tempest rend your sail,
Trust me, dear shepherd, should the seas prevail,
And you be laid in Neptune's cradle low,
The winds will bring me back the woeful tale
When I must to the long shore weeping go,
And while I see the ruffian surge aspire,
Some consolation will it be to know
No pain or anguish can afflict the head
The limbs or stomach, when the heart is dead.
Thus long discoursing, on the bank they stood,
The heavy burthen'd barque at anchor lay,
While the broad topsails, from the yards unfurl'd,
Shook in the wind, and summon'd him away;
Brisk blew the gales, and curl'd the yielding flood,
Nor had he one excuse to urge his stay—
Be chang'd (he said) ye winds that blow so fair;
Why do not tempests harrow up the deep,
And all but the moist south in quiet sleep!
To the bleak shore the parting lovers came,
And while Philander did his sighs renew,
So near the deep they bade their last farewell
That the rough surge, to quench the mutual flame
Burst in and broke the embrace, and o'er Lavinia flew;
While a dark cloud hung lowering o'er the main,
From whence the attendants many an omen drew,
And said Philander would not come again![Pg 324]
Now to their various heights the sails ascend,
And southward from the land their course they bore.
Lavinia mourn'd the lover and the friend,
And stood awhile upon the sandy shore,
'Till interposing seas the hull conceal'd,
And distant sails could only greet her view,
Like a faint cloud that brush'd the watery field,
And swell'd by whistling winds, impetuous, flew:
Then to a neighbouring hill the nymph withdrew,
And the dear object from that height survey'd,
'Till all was lost and mingled with the main,
And night descended, with her gloomy shade,
And kindled in the heavens her starry train.
Safe to the south the ocean-wading keel
In one short month its rapid course achiev'd,
And the cold star, that marks the Arctic pole,
Was in the bosom of the deep receiv'd:
And now the weary barque at anchor rode
Where Oronoko pours his sultry wave,
Moist Surinam, by torrents overflow'd,
And Amazonia vends the fainting slave;—
Philander, there, not fated to return,
Perceiv'd destruction in his bosom burn,
And the warm flood of life too fiercely, glow:
The vertic sun a deadly fever gave,
And the moist soil bestow'd his bones a grave,
Deep in the waste, where oceans overflow,
And Oronoko's streams the forests lave.
Oft' to the winding shore Lavinia came
Where fond Philander bade his last adieu,
(And that steep hill which gave her the last view)
Till seven long years had round their orbits ran,[Pg 325]
Yet no Philander came, or none she knew;
Alas (she cry'd) for every nymph but me
Each sea-bleach'd sail some welcome wanderer brings,
And all but I get tidings of their friends;
Sad Mariamne drowns herself in woe
If one poor month Amyntor quits her arms,
And says, "from Ashley's stream he comes too slow,"—
And bodes the heavy storm, and midnight harms:
What would she say, if doom'd to wait, like me,
And mourn long years, and no Philander see!

[333] The text follows the edition of 1795.


THE FAIR SOLITARY[334]

No more these groves a glad remembrance claim
Where grief consumes a half deluded dame,
Whom to these isles a modern Theseus bore,
And basely left, frail virtue to deplore;—
In foreign climes detained from all she loved,
By friends neglected, long by Fortune proved,
While sad and solemn passed the unwelcome day
What charms had life for her, to tempt her stay?
Deceived in all; for meanness could deceive,
Expecting still, and still condemned to grieve,
She scarcely saw—to different hearts allied
That her dear Florio ne'er pursued a bride!
Are griefs, like thine, to Florio's bosom known?—
Must these, alas! be ceaseless in your own?
[Pg 326]
Life is a dream!—its varying shades I see;
But this cold wanderer hardly dreams of thee—
The bloom of health, which bade all hearts adore,
To your pale cheek what physic shall restore?
Vain are those drugs that art and love prepares,
No art redeems the waste of sighs and tears!

[334] Published in the 1795 edition under the title "The Mourning Nun." Text from the edition of 1809.


AMANDA IN A CONSUMPTION[335]

Smit by the glance of your bright eyes
When I, Amanda, fondly gaze,
Strange feelings in my bosom rise
And passion all my reason sways:
Worlds I would banish from my view,
And quit the gods—to talk with you.
The smile that decks your fading cheek,
To me a heavy heart declares;
When you are silent I would speak
But cowardice alarms my fears:
All must be sense that you do prize,
All that I say—be grave and wise.
When wandering in the evening shade
I shared her pain, and calmed her grief,
A thousand tender things I said,
But all I said gave no relief:
When from her hair I dried the dew,
She sighed, and said—I am not for you!
[Pg 327]
When drooping, dull, and almost dead
With fevers brought from sultry climes,
She would not wrap my fainting head;
But recommended me some rhymes
On patience and on fortitude,
And other things—less understood.
When, aiming to engage her heart
With verses from the muses' stock;
She sighed, regardless of the art,
And counted seconds by the clock;
"And thus, (she said) will verse decay,
"And thus the muse will pass away!"
When languishing upon her bed
In willow shades, remote from towns,
We came; and while Priscilla read
Of chrystal skies and golden crowns:
She bade us at a distance stand,
And leaned her head upon her hand.
So, drooping hangs the fading rose,
When summer sends the beating shower:
So, to the grave Amanda goes,
Her whole duration—but an hour!
Who shall controul the sad decree,
Or what, fair girl, recover thee?
Such virtue in that spirit dwells—
Such fortitude amidst such pain!—
And, now, with pride my bosom swells,
To think I have not lived in vain.
For, slighting all the sages knew,
I learn philosophy from you.

[335] The Freeman's Journal printed this poem on Feb. 7, 1787, with the date of composition Jan. 26, 1787. The lady's name in this original version was Cynthia. The poem was reprinted in the 1788 collection as a part of the story "Light Summer Reading." The half mad poet, who is infatuated with the lovely Marcia, writes the verses and inscribes them "To Marcia." It seems to have been a favorite with the poet. He republished it in the National Gazette in 1792 under the title "Marcella in a Consumption." Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 328]

ELEGIAC LINES[336]

With life enamoured, but in death resigned,
To seats congenial flew the unspotted mind:
Attending spirits hailed her to that shore
Where this world's winter chills the soul no more.
Learn hence, to live resigned;—and when you die
No fears will seize you, when that hour is nigh.
Transferred to heaven, Amanda has no share
In the dull business of this world of care.
Her blaze of beauty, even in death admired,
A moment kindled, but as soon expired.
Sweet as the favourite offspring of the May
Serenely mild, not criminally gay:
Adorned with all that nature could impart
To please the fancy and to gain the heart;
Heaven ne'er above more innocence possessed,
Nor earth the form of a diviner guest:
A mind all virtue!—flames descended here
From some bright seraph of some nobler sphere;
Yet, not her virtues, opening into bloom,
Nor all her sweetness saved her from the tomb,
From prospects darkened, and the purpose crossed,
Misfortune's winter,—and a lover lost;
Nor such resemblance to the forms above,
The heart of goodness, and the soul of love!
[Pg 329]
Ye thoughtless fair!—her early death bemoan,
Sense, virtue, beauty, to oblivion gone.[337]

[336] In the 1788 edition this appeared as two poems. The opening six lines had the title "Epitaph" and the remainder was entitled "Lines on the Death of a Lady." In the 1809 edition, the text of which is followed here, the poem was placed in the group of Amanda poems.

[337] "And while you mourn your fate, think on your own."—Ed. 1788.


THE INSOLVENT'S RELEASE[338]

(By H. Salem)

Not from those dismal dreary coasts I come
Where wizzard Faustus chews his brimstone rolls,
Nor have I been to wrangle with the men
Of that sad country, where, for want of rum,
Dead putrid water from the stagnant fen
Is drank, unmingled, by departed souls:
Nor from that dog-house do I bring you news,
Where Macedonian Philip[A] mends old shoes,
But from that dreadful place arrived,
Where men in debt at cribbage play,
And I most cunningly contrived
To fatten on two groats a day—
Full on my back now turned the key,
The 'squire himself is not so free.
When to these rugged walls, a fathom thick,
I came, directed by the sheriff's stick,
[Pg 330]Alas, said I, what can they mean to do!
I am not conscious of one roguish trick!
I am no thief—I took no Christian's life,
Nor have I meddled with the parson's wife,
(Which would have been a dreadful thing you know)
Then, by these gloomy walls, this iron gate
Appointed by the wisdom of your state
To shut in little rogues, and keep out great;
Tell me, ye pretty lads, that deal in law,
Ye men of mighty wigs, ye judges, say—
Say! by the jailor's speckled face
That never beamed one blush of grace;
How long must I
In prison lie
For just nine guineas—that I cannot pay!
Return, ye happy times, when all were free,
No jails on land, no nets at sea;
When mountain beasts unfettered ran,
And man refused to shut up man,
As men of modern days have shut up me!—
This is the dreary dark abode
Of poverty and solitude;
Such was the gloomy cell where Bunyan lay
While his dear pilgrim helped the time away—
Such was the place where Wakefield's vicar drew
Grave morals from the imprisoned crew,
And found both time to preach and pray.
In bed of straw and broken chair
What consolation could be found!
No gay companions ventured there
To push the ruddy liquor round!
From jug of stone
I drank, alone,
A beverage, neither clear nor strong
[Pg 331]No table laid,
No village maid
Came there to cheer me with her song;
My days were dull, my nights were long!
My evening dreams,
My morning schemes
Were how to break that cruel chain,
And, Jenny, be with you again.

[A] See Lucian's Dialogues; to the following effect:

"Great scholars have in Lucian read,
When Philip, king of Greece, was dead
His soul and body did divide.
And each part took, a different side;
One rose a star, the other fell
Below—and mended shoes in hell."—Freneau's note.

[338] The version in the Freeman's Journal is dated Philadelphia, April 10, 1787. The title in the 1788 version is "The Insolvent's Release and Miseries of a Country Jail." The "H. Salem" was first added in the edition of 1809, the text of which I have followed.


MAY TO APRIL[339]

Without your showers, I breed no flowers,
Each field a barren waste appears;
If you don't weep, my blossoms sleep,
They take such pleasures in your tears.
As your decay made room for May,
So I must part with all that's mine:
My balmy breeze, my blooming trees
To torrid suns their sweets resign!
O'er April dead, my shades I spread:
To her I owe my dress so gay—
Of daughters three, it falls on me
To close our triumphs on one day:
Thus, to repose, all Nature goes;
Month after month must find its doom:
Time on the wing, May ends the Spring,
And Summer dances on her tomb!

[339] First published in the Freeman's Journal where it was signed Philadelphia, April 16, 1787. Text from the edition of 1809.


[Pg 332]

TO AN AUTHOR[340]

Your leaves bound up compact and fair,
In neat array at length prepare,
To pass their hour on learning's stage,[341]
To meet the surly critic's rage;
The statesman's slight, the smatterer's[342] sneer—
Were these, indeed, your only[343] fear,
You might be tranquil and resigned:
What most should touch your fluttering mind;[344]
Is that, few critics[345] will be found
To sift[346] your works, and deal the wound.
Thus, when one fleeting year is past
On some bye-shelf your book is cast—[347]
Another comes, with something new,[348]
And drives you fairly out of view:
With some to praise, but more to blame,
The mind[349] returns to—whence it came;
[Pg 333]And some alive, who scarce could read[350]
Will publish satires on the dead.
Thrice happy Dryden[A], who could meet
Some rival bard in every street!
When all were bent on writing well
It was some credit to excel:—[351]

[A] See Johnson's lives of the English Poets.—Freneau's note.

Thrice happy Dryden, who could find
A Milbourne for his sport designed—
And Pope, who saw the harmless rage
Of Dennis bursting o'er his page
Might justly spurn the critic's aim,
Who only helped to swell his fame.
On these bleak climes by Fortune thrown,
Where rigid Reason reigns alone,
Where lovely Fancy has no sway,
Nor magic forms about us[352] play—
Nor nature takes her summer hue
Tell me, what has the muse to do?—
An age employed in edging steel
Can no poetic raptures feel;
No solitude's attracting power,[353]
[Pg 334]No leisure of the noon day hour,
No shaded stream, no quiet grove
Can this fantastic century move;
The muse of love in no request—
Go—try your fortune[354] with the rest,
One of the nine you should engage,[355]
To meet the follies of the age:—
On one, we fear, your choice must fall—
The least engaging of them all—[356]
Her visage stern—an angry style—
A clouded brow—malicious smile—
A mind on murdered victims placed—
She, only she, can please the taste!

[340] First published in the 1788 edition. It doubtless records the poet's mood a year or two after his first book, the 1786 collection, was given to the public. Its original title was "An Author's Soliloquy." In 1795 the title was changed to "An Author on Authorship." Text from the 1809 edition.

[341] "Time's broad stage."—Ed. 1788.

[342] "Pedants."—Ib.

[343] The poem in the 1788 version is wholly in the first person.

[344] "What most torments my boding mind."—Ed. 1788.

[345] "No critic."—Ib.

[346] "Read."—Ib.

[347] "With dead men's works my book is class'd."—Ib.

[348] This line and the following not in the original version.

[349] "Soul."—Ib.

[350]

"And I must wear the marks of time
Who hardly flourish'd in my prime."—Ed. 1788.

[351] In the 1788 version two lines follow:

"While those condemn'd to stand alone
Can only by themselves be known."—Ib.

[352] "Around her."—Ib.

[353]

"No fabled Love's enchanting power,
Nor tale of Flora's painted bower,
Nor woodland haunt, or murmuring grove,
Can their prosaic bosoms move."—Ib.

[354] "I'll try my fortune."—Ib.

[355]

"Which of the Nine shall I engage
To suit the humour of the age."—Ib.

[356] Followed by:

"So late she does her wreathes prepare
I hardly think them worth my care."—Ib.

[Pg 335]

TO MISFORTUNE[357]

Dire Goddess of the haggard brow,
Misfortune! at that shrine I bow
Where forms uncouth pourtray thee still,
A leaky ship, a doctor's bill:
A poet damn'd, a beggar's prayer,
The critic's growl, the pedant's sneer,
The urgent dun, the law severe,
A smoky house, rejected love,
And friends that all but friendly prove.
Foe to the pride of scheming man
Whose frown controuls the wisest plan,
To your decree we still submit
Our views of gain, our works of wit.
Untaught by you the feeble mind
A dull repose, indeed, might find:
But life, unvext by such controul,
Can breed no vigour in the soul.
The calm that smooths the summer seas
May suit the man of sloth and ease:
But skies that fret and storms that rave
Are the best schools to make us brave.
[Pg 336]
On Heckla's heights who hopes to see
The blooming grove, the orange tree
Awhile on hope may fondly lean
'Till sad experience blots the scene.
If Nature acts on Reason's plan,
And Reason be the guide of man:
Why should he paint fine prospects there,
Then sigh, to find them disappear?
For ruin'd states or trade perplext
'Tis almost folly to be vext:
The world at last will have its way
And we its torrent must obey.
On other shores a happier guest
The mind must fix her haven of rest,
Where better men and better climes
Shall soothe the cares of future times.

[357] Published in the Freeman's Journal, July 18, 1787; dated "Philadelphia, July 16." Republished in the 1788 and 1795 editions, the latter of which I have followed.


TO CRACOVIUS PUTRIDUS[358]

The Sailor, toss'd on stormy seas,
Implores his patron-god for ease
When Luna hides her paler blaze,
And stars, obscurely, dart their rays:
For ease the Yankee, fierce in war,
His stores of vengeance points afar:
For ease, the toiling Dutchman sighs,
Which gold, nor gems, nor purple buys!
[Pg 337]
No treasur'd hoards, from India trade,
No doctor's, or the lawyer's aid
Can ease the tumults of the mind,
Or cares to gilded roofs assign'd.
The end of life he, best, completes
Whose board is spread with frugal treats,
Whose sleep no fears, no thirst of gain,
Beneath his homely shed, restrain.
Why, then, with wasting cares engage,
Weak reptiles of so frail an age—
Why, thus, to far-off climates run,
And lands beneath another sun?
For, though to China's coasts we roam,
Ourselves we ne'er can leave at home:
Care, swift as deer—as tempests strong,
Ascends the prow, and sails along.
The mind that keeps an even state,
And all the future leaves to fate,
In every ill shall pleasure share,
As every pleasure has it's care.
Fate early seal'd Montgomery's doom,
In youth brave Laurens found a tomb;
While Arnold spends in peace and pride
The years, that heaven to them denied.
A host of votes are at your call;
A seat, perhaps, in Congress-Hall;[359]
And vestments, soak'd in Stygian dye,
Where'er you go, alarm the eye:
[Pg 338]
On me, a poor and small domain,
With something of a poet's vein
The muse bestow'd—and share of pride
To spurn a scoundrel from my side.

[358] Published in the Freeman's Journal, Sept. 5, 1787. In the 1788 edition it was entitled "Horace, Lib. II, Ode 16, Imitated and addressed to Governor Parr. Otium divos rogat in patenti, &c." The poem seems to have been occasioned by the return of General Arnold to Nova Scotia from England. Text from the edition of 1795.

[359]

"An hundred slaves before you fall,
A coach and six attends your call."—Ed. 1788.

SLENDER'S JOURNEY[A][360]

Sit mihi fas audita loqui.—Virg.

[A] Mr. Robert Slender, of Philadelphia (Stocking Weaver). Freneau's note.

I. Preliminary Reflections

Tormented with landlords and pester'd with care,
This life, I protest, is a tedious affair;
And, since I have got a few dollars to spare,
I'll e'en take a jaunt, for the sake of fresh air.
Since the day I return'd to this king-hating shore
Where George and his cronies are masters no more,
[Pg 339]And others are plac'd at the helm of affairs,
Relieving the weight of his majesty's cares;
For many long weeks, it has still been my doom
To sit like a mopus, confin'd to my loom,[B]
Whose damnable clatter so addles my brain,
That, say what they will, I am forc'd to complain.
Our citizens think, when they sit themselves down
In the gardens that grow in the skirts of the town,
They think they have got in some rural retreat,
Where the nymphs of the groves, and the singing birds meet
When only a fence shuts them out from the street;
With the smoke of the city be-clouding their eyes
They sit in their boxes, and look very wise,
Take a sip of bad punch, or a glass of sour wine;
Conceiting their pleasures are equal to mine,
Who rove where I will, and wherever I roam,
In spite of new faces, am always at home.
Poor Richard, the reel-man, had nothing to say;
He knew very well I would have my own way;—
When I said, "My dear Richard, I'm sick of the town,
"And Dutchmen that worry me, upstairs and down,
"A book of bad debts, and a score of bad smells,
"The yelping of dogs, and the chiming of bells;
"I am sick of the house, and the sight of small beer,
"And the loom may be going, tho' I am not here;
"I therefore shall leave you, and that, to be plain,
"'Till I feel in a humour to see you again."—
Poor Richard said nothing to all that I spoke,
But kindled his pipe, and redoubled his smoke.[Pg 340]
Yet it would have been nothing but friendship in him
To have said,—"Robert Slender, 'tis only a whim:—
A trip to the Schuylkill, that nothing would cost,
Might answer your ends, and no time would be lost;
But if you are thinking to make a long stay,
Consider, good Robert, what people will say:
His rent running on, and his loom standing still—
The man will be ruin'd!—he must, if he will—!
If tradesmen will always be flaunting about,
They may live to repent it—before the year's out!"

[B] The stocking-loom was invented by a young man who paid his addresses to a handsome stocking-knitter, and being rejected, in revenge contrived this curious machine, which, it is said, consists of no less than six thousand different pieces. Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

II. Characters of the Travellers

William Snip, Merchant Taylor

As I never could relish to travel alone,
I look'd round about, but could hit upon none
Whom Satan was tempting to leave their own houses
And ramble to York with their daughters and spouses;
At last, by repeating my trouble and care,
And preaching a month on the sweets of fresh air,
And the curse and the plague of remaining in town,
Where the heat was sufficient to melt a man down,
I got a few friends to consent to the trip;
And the first I shall mention was honest Will. Snip,
Philadelphia the famous had own'd to his birth,
The gravest of towns on the face of the earth;
Where saints of all orders their freedom may claim,
And poets, and painters, and girls of the game:
To him all its streets and its alleys were known,
But his travels had never exceeded the town:—
A salesman by trade (and a dabster was he
To make a silk knee-band set snug to the knee)
With his wife (and he says I may mention her name)
Susanna Snipinda—so charming a dame,[Pg 341]
The sun had with pleasure look'd down on her head,
So freckled was she, and her tresses so red.
To wait on the will of so handsome a lady
A youngster was order'd to hold himself ready,
A sly looking lad that was 'prentice to Snip,
And long had been learning to cabbage and clip;—
When Snip was in sight, he was mild as a lamb;
When absent, old Satan could hardly rule Sam.

III. O'Keef, a Swaggering Captain

The next I describe is bold captain O'Keef,
A killer of men, and a lover of beef:
With the heroes of old he had put in his claim,
And catch'd at their mantles, and rose into fame:
To the sound of a fife and the tune of no song
With his Andra Ferrara[C] he paddled along:
From his manners so rough, and his dealing in ruin,
He was known thro' the town by the name of Sir Bruin;
He was, among women, a man of great parts,
A captain of foot, and a master of arts:
He had, a sweet creature put under his care,
(Whose style of address was, my dear, and my dear)
A Milliner's girl, with a bundle of lace,
Whom Cynthia[D] he call'd, for the sake of her face,
At a ball or a frolic how glib his tongue ran,
He was, I may say, an unparallell'd man,
Very apt to harangue on the hosts he has slain
Of people—perhaps that may meet him again:
Yet so kind to the sex of the feminine make,[Pg 342]
By his words, he would venture to die for their sake,
Whence some have suspected, that some he ador'd
Have more than made up for the wastes of his sword.

[C] A large kind of sword, in use among the Italians.—Freneau's note, 1795 edition.

[D] Cynthia is also a poetical name for the Moon.—Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

IV. Touppee: a French Hair Dresser

The third in succession was Monsieur Touppee,
A barber from Paris, of royal degree,
(For oft when he takes up his razor, to strap it,
He tells his descent from the house of Hugh Capet[E])
Tho' soft in the head, his discourses were long,
Now counting his honours, and now his l'argent.
This barber, tho' meaning for pleasure to stray,
Yet had some pomatum to sell by the way,
Perfumes, and fine powders, and essence of myrrh,
A bundle of brooms, and a firkin of beer:—
His merits are great (he would have us suppose)
For Louis (it seems) he has had by the nose,
Has bid him, when drooping, to hold up his chin,
And handled a tongs—at the head of the Queen.

[E] A popular French nobleman, who, A. D. 987, usurped the crown of France, and was the first of a new race of monarchs.—Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

V. Bob: a Ballad Singer

A singer of ballads was next in our train,
Who long had been dealing in ballads in vain;
He sometimes would sing in a musical tone,
And sometimes would scribble a song of his own:
Yet never was seen with his brethren to mix—
And laugh'd at your poets in coaches and six;
Who sing, like the birds, when the weather is fine;
Whose verses the ladies pronounce "so divine;"
Who ride with Augustus, wherever he goes,[Pg 343]
And, meeting old Homer, would turn up the nose—
As to those, like himself, that were held to the ground,
He knew it was folly to feed them with sound—
He knew it was nonsense to crown them with bays,
And was too much their friend to insult them with praise.
For a dozen long years he had liv'd by the mob:
On the word of a weaver, I pitied poor Bob![361]
He had sung for the great and had rhym'd for the small,
But scarcely a shilling had got by them all—
So bad was his luck, and so poor was the trade,
And the Muses, he thought, were so sneakingly paid,
That if times didn't alter, and that very soon,
He said and he swore, he must sing his last tune.
Some devil had put it, somehow, in his head
If he took a short journey his fortune was made:
Some devil had told him (but whether in dreams
Or waking, I know not) some devil, it seems,
Had made him believe that the nymphs and the swains
Were fairly at war with their old fashion'd strains,
That the tunes which the kirk or the curates had made
(And which always had ruin'd the balladman's trade)
Were wholly disus'd, and that now was the time
For singers of catches and dealers in rhyme
To step from their stalls, where they long were disgrac'd,
Reform the old music, and fix a new taste.

VI. O'Bluster: a Seaman

A mate of a schooner, bespatter'd with tar,
Who had lately come in from Savanna-la-Mar,[F]
[Pg 344]For, the sake of an airing had stept from his deck
And ventur'd a jaunt, at the risque of his neck,
His name and his nation no soul could mistake.—
He was Bryan O'Bluster, and much of a rake;
From morning till night he was still on the move,
Was always in taverns, or always in love:
His life was sustain'd by the virtues of grog,
And many long miles he had sail'd by the log.—
Of battles and storms he had known a full share,
And his face, it was plain, was the worse for the wear;
To see a mean fellow, lord how it would fret him;
And he hated a puppy, wherever he met him—
He was ready to bleed for the good of each State,
But since they had left the poor seamen to fate;
Themselves in the dumps, and their fair ones in tears,
And many brave fellows detain'd in Algiers!—
Had spirit sufficient to make themselves free,
But not to resent their affronts on the sea!
As this was the case—he must bid us good night,
And sail with a flag that would do itself right.
At cursing and swearing he play'd a good hand,
But never was easy a minute on land;
If the wind was a-head, or his Kitty untrue,
Why, patience was all the relief that he knew:—
In the midst of misfortune he still was serene,
And Kitty, he said, was a feeble machine:
His heart was too hard for a lady to sigh,
Yet I guess'd him a rogue by the leer in his eye:
"The world (he would say) is a whimsical dance—
And reason had taught him to leave it to chance.
In chace of dame Fortune his prime he had pass'd,
And now was beginning to fail very fast,
But thought it was folly his heart to perplex,
As Fortune was just like the rest of her sex;—
[Pg 345]Designing, and fickle, and taken with show,
Now fond of a monkey, and now of a beau:—
Yet, still, as the goddess was made up of whim,
He meant to pursue 'till she smil'd upon him."
And tho' he was always deceiv'd in the chace,
He smooth'd up his whiskers, and wore a bold face.
On horseback he first had attempted to go,
But the horse was no fool, and had give him a throw;
He fell in a pond, and with not a dry rag on
The horse brought him back to the sign of the waggon,
Where three times he call'd for a dram of their best,
And three times the virtues of brandy confess'd;
Then took some tobacco, and soberly said,
"De'il take such a vessel; she's all by the head,
Broach'd to on a sudden, and then, d'ye see,
Myself and the saddle went over the lee."
His head was so full of his ragged command
He could scarcely believe he was yet on dry land;
He would rise in his sleep; call the watch up at four,
Ask the man at the helm how the Eddystone bore;
Then, rubbing his eyes, bawl out, "By my soul,
"We are bearing right down on the Hatteras shoal;
"The devil may trust to such pilots as you:
"We are close on the breakers—the breakers—halloo!"

[F] A seaport town in the S. W. quarter of Jamaica.—Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

VII. Ezekiel: a Rhode-Island Lawyer

The sixth, and the last, that attended our journey,
Was a man of the law, a Rhode-Island attorney,
As cunning as Satan to argue or plead,
To break an entailment, or get himself fee'd
They call'd him Ezekiel—I cannot tell what—
Perhaps I forget it—perhaps I do not—
[Pg 346]He had once been a parson, and studied at Yale,[G]
But took to the law, when his preaching grew stale;
In his system of thinking, not well understood,
I wander'd about, like a man in a wood;
From morning 'till night he was nothing but whim,
Not a man in the town held opinions, like him:
In regard to the vulgar, he argued that Law
Was better than preaching, to keep them in awe:
That the dread of a gallows had greater effect,
And a post or a pillory claim'd more respect
From a knave—and would sooner contribute to mend,
Than all the grave precepts that ever were penn'd.

[G] Yale College in New-Haven.—Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

VIII. The Chapter of Debates

Having pitch'd on our party, there rose a dispute
On the mode of conveyance—in waggon or boat?
For my part, said Snip, I was always afraid
Of sailors, and sloops and the shallopman's trade,
And the reason thereof I will candidly tell,
My grandmother, Mopsy, was drown'd in a well;
I therefore intreat you, and fervently pray
We may go with the waggons the Burlington way.
"Hold, master," the sailor replied in a fret,
"The devil's not ready to bait for you yet:
Even this way, you know, there is water to pass,
And twenty long miles we should sail with an ass;—
But, gentlemen all, will you take my advice?
Here's Albertson's[H] sloop; she's so new and so nice,
Her bottom so sleek, and her rigging so trim,
Not Bailey[H] or Hyde[H] can be mentioned with him;[Pg 347]
In her cabbin and steerage is plenty of room,
And how clever she looks with her flying jib-boom,
A topsail aloft, that will stand by the wind,
And a yard rigg'd athwart, for a squaresail design'd.
"Odds fish! I would sooner some little delay
Than go, like a booby, the fresh-water way
Where your cream-colour'd captains ne'er swear a bad word,
And sail without compass or quadrant on board,
Catch catfish and sturgeons, but never a whale,
Nor balance a mizen, to fight with the gale:
But Albertson goes by the route of Cape May,
Salt-water, and sees the bold porpusses play:
Where the shore of the coast the proud ocean controuls
He travels, nor strikes on the Barnegat shoals."
"You tar-smelling monster! (Snipinda rejoin'd)
Your jargon has almost distracted my mind.
If Snip should be drownded, and lost in the sea,
You never once think what a loss it would be!
I should then be a widow, dejected and sad
And where would I find such another sweet lad!
And Doctor Sangrado a letter has wrote,
And how, in three weeks he will want a new coat."—
Snip's heart, at her answer, seem'd ready to break:
"Snipinda," said he, "I would live for your sake!
If I should be drownded, indeed, it is true,
It would be a bad journey for Sam and for you!"—
For fear they should hear him, Sam whisper'd, "In troth
I would give my new hat that the devil had both."
"If Snip should be drown'd," said the valiant O'Keef,
"Poor woman! already I guess at her grief—
However, for aught that a stranger can see,
There are dozens as brisk at the needle as he,[Pg 348]
And, tho' it were hard that the sea-fish should tear him,
I'm fully convinc'd that his brethren can spare him:
"But were I to mention the very best way,
And the quickest to boot (for they go in a day)
I would sleep over night at the sign of the Queen,[I]
(Where the wine is so good, and the beds are so clean)
Then starting by day-break, and riding in state,
Arriving in Bristol—we breakfast at eight,
Then push on our way, with a rapid career,
With nothing to hinder, and nothing to fear,
Till Trenton, and Princeton, and Brunswick are pass'd,
And safe on the Hudson they drop us at last."
When the captain had finish'd, the Frenchman arose,
And smoothing his whiskers, and squaring his toes,
With a bend of his back, and a swing of his head
Thus expressing his wish, with a flourish, he said:
"Wherever pomatums are most in demand
That route has my vote, be it water or land:
Wherever I travel, through sun-shine or glooms,
May fortune direct me to powders and plumes!—
So, gentlemen, choose, I beseech you, that road
Where ladies prefer to be dress'd in the mode."
"Hold, varlet, be still"—said the Yankee attorney,
"Are you to decide on the route of our journey?
These run-about fellows, I cannot but hate 'em,
With their rings, and their ruffles, and rolls of pomatum:
But, gentlemen, (if I may venture to speak
In the stile I was wont when I dabbled in Greek,
When I blew on my trumpet, and call'd up my pack,
Who thought I was holy because I was black;
Or, if you allow me a moral to draw
From some words that were frequent with Doctor Magraw);—
[Pg 349]"We all have in view to arrive at one town,
"Yet each one would find out a way of his own;
"What a pity it is that we cannot agree
"To march all together to Zion"—said he—
But, since I'm convinc'd that it cannot be so,
(For his journey resembles our journey below)
Like the sects in religion, I heartily pray
That each, as he pleases, may have his own way,
Let Snip, and the captain, adventure by land,
The sailor by sea—he can reef, steer, and hand;
Let the Frenchman set out in a gaudy balloon,
(He'll either be there, or be dead, very soon,)
For my own part, I'm fond of the Burlington boat,
But still, if you're willing, I'll put it to vote:
The hint was sufficient—he put it to vote,
And fate bade us go with the Burlington boat.

[H] Commanders of Philadelphia and New-York packets.—Ib.

[I] Indian Queen.—Freneau's note, 1788 edition.

IX. The Passage to Burlington

The morning was fair, and the wind was at west,
The flood coming in, and the ladies were drest;
At the sign of the Billet we all were to meet,
And Snip was the first that appear'd in the street;
He strutted along with a mighty brisk air,
While Sam and Snipinda walked slow in the rear.
Dress'd, booted, and button'd, and "cutting a shine"
The captain came next, with his loaded carbine;
Then handed on board the milliner's maid:
The barber and ballad-man longer delay'd
For one had his ballads to sing and to play,
And the other some beards to take off by the way:
At last they arriv'd, and the sailor along,
(But he was besotted—his dram had been strong—)
[Pg 350]The lawyer, Ezekiel, was last to appear,
With a cane in his hand and a quill at his ear.
But, just as we all were prepar'd to embark,
The wind came a-head, and the weather look'd dark:
So, whilst they were busy in hoisting the sails
And trimming close aft' to encounter the gales,
Our seaman advis'd them to take in a reef
As the vessel was light—but the skipper was deaf:
"His boat was his own"—and he knew to a hair
The "worth of her freight," and the "sail she could bear."
Then a storm coming on, we stow'd away snug,
Some link'd with a lady, and some with a jug:
Snipinda and Sam were inclining to sleep,
And the lawyer harangu'd on the risques of the deep.
O'Bluster was busy in looking for squalls,
And Cynthia discours'd upon dances and balls,
And while the poor ballad-man gave us a song
The Frenchman complain'd that his stomach felt wrong.
Arriving, at length at the end of this stage,
We quitted our cabbin (or rather our cage)
To the sign of the Anchor we then were directed,
Where captain O'Keef a fine turkey dissected;
And Bryan O'Bluster made love to egg-nog,
And pester'd the ladies to taste of his grog:
Without it (said Bryan) I never can dine,
'Tis better, by far, than your balderdash wine,
It braces the nerves and it strengthens the brain,
A world—and no grog—is a prison of pain,
And Man, the most wretched of all that are found
To creep in the dust, or to move on the ground!
It is, of all physic, the best I have seen
To keep out the cold, and to cut up the spleen—
[Pg 351]Here, madam—miss Cynthia—'tis good—you'll confess—
Now taste—and you'll wish you had been in my mess—
With grog I'm as great as a king on his throne;
The worst of all countries is—where there is none,
New Holland, New Zealand—those islands accurs'd—
Here's health to the man that invented it first.

X. Vexations and Disasters

Coop'd up in a waggon, the curtains let down,
At three in the morning we drove out of town:
A morning more dark I ne'er saw in my life,
And the fog you might almost have cut with a knife,
It was a fit season for murders and rapes,
For drunken adventures and narrow escapes:—
So, with something to think of, but little to say,
The driver drove on, looking out for the way,
'Till we came to the brow of a horrible hill,
Six miles on our road, when the cattle stood still—
"Are you sure you have took the right road?"—queried Snip;
"I am"—said the driver—and crack'd with his whip.
Then away ran the horses, but took the wrong road,
And away went the waggon, with all its full load;
Down, deep in a valley, roll'd over and over,
Fell the flying-machine, with its curtains and cover,
Where shatter'd and shiver'd—no glimpse yet of day,
A mass of destruction, together we lay!
Then howlings were heard, that would frighten a stone,
And screeching, and screaming, and many a groan,
The bruising of heads, and the breaking of shins,
Contrition of heart, and confession of sins.[Pg 352]
First rose from his ruins tall captain O'Keef,
And call'd to Ezekiel, and begg'd for his brief:[J]
A writ he demanded, as soon as 'twas day,
And ask'd his advice, if a suit would not lay?
Then felt for his sword, but chanc'd on a cane,
And rush'd at the stageman, to cleave him in twain.
As fortune would have it, the stageman had fled,
And Snip the whole vengeance receiv'd on his head;
The staff had been whirl'd with so deadly a sweep
Poor Will in a moment was all in a heap:
There was room to surmise that his senses were hurt,
For, in spite of our bruises, he made us some sport:
His head, he conceited, was made of new cheese;
And ask'd, if the sexton would give up his fees?—
Then, rolling away on the side of the hill,
With his head in a horse-pond, he lay very still:
At last he bawl'd out—"I'm sick at my heart!
Come hither, companions, and see me depart!
Snipinda, Snipinda!—alas, I must leave her—
And all, for the sake of this villainous weaver,
Who never would give me a moment of rest
'Till I left my dear shop-board, and thus am distrest!
But a time will arrive (if I deem not amiss)
When Slender, the weaver, will suffer for this—
May his breeches, be always too big for his wear,
Or so narrow and scant as to torture his rear;
May his waistcoat be ever too long or too short,
And the skirts of his tunic not both of a sort;—
And, when from this sorrowful jaunt you return,
Tell Doctor Sangrado 'tis needless to mourn:
Ah! tell him I firmly believ'd I was going
Where people no longer are wed-ding and wooing,[Pg 353]
Where white linen stockings will ever be clean,
And sky-men are clad in the best of nankeen;
Where with old Continental our debts we can pay,
And a suit of best broad-cloth will last but a day;
Where with pretty brass thimbles the streets are all pav'd,
And a remnant—if not a whole piece—shall be sav'd,
Where cloth may be cabbag'd—and that without fear—
And journeymen work—thirteen months to the year!"
Snipinda was mov'd at so dismal a yell,
And groping about to find where he fell,
Exclaim'd, "I have got a sad bruise on one hip,
But matters, I fear, are much worse with poor Snip."
"Yes, yes"—answer'd Snip—"I'm preparing to go—
Be speedy, Snipinda, my pulse is so low!"
Then she went where he lay, and took hold of his head,
And whisper'd the captain, "how much he has bled!"
(For she thought, as he lay with his nose in the puddle,
That the water was blood, that had flow'd from his noddle.)
"Ah! where is the doctor, to give him a pill;
And where is the Lawyer, to write his last-will?
Ezekiel! Ezekiel! attend to his words;
If I am his widow, I must have my thirds!
But can you"—and here she reclin'd on his breast—
"And can you resolve to forsake me distrest,
Is it thus you would quit me, my joy and my love,
And leave me alone for the shop-boards above:
Is it thus you consign me to trouble and woe?—
When you are departed, ah! where shall I go?
I shall then be a widow—forsaken and sad—
And where shall I find such another sweet lad?
Who then will afford me a mint-water dram,
Gallant me to meeting—and who will flog Sam?"[Pg 354]
By this time the story was currently spread,
And most were convinc'd that the taylor was dead,—
"The taylor is dead beyond all relief!
The taylor is dead," cry'd captain O'Keef:
"To fetch up a fashion, or trump up a whim,
Not a knight of the thimble was equal to him!"
"The taylor is dead"—(the lawyer exclaim'd)
God speed him!—'tis better to die than be maim'd:
If life is a race, as the learned pretend,
God help him! his racing is soon at an end:
His anchor is cast, and his canvas is furl'd;
A creature he was, so attach'd to the world,
So eager for money—(I say it with grief)
He never consider'd the 'fall of the leaf.'
He is come (we may say) to the end of his tether
Where the maid and her master shall lay down together.—
For the place where he's gone may we also prepare,
Where the Mind, when admitted, shall rest from her care,
And fiddles—the finest that ever were seen,
Shall play, for his comfort, a brisk Bonny Jean.
"The taylor is dead" (said the company round)
"The taylor is dead"—the dark forests resound.—
"He is dead!"—blubber'd Sam, with a counterfeit sigh—
When the sailor bawl'd out—"By my soul it's a lie!
The fellow has only a mind for some fun,
His blood is not cold, and his race is not run.
His head, it is true, may have had a small shock:
I'll bind it—'twill only be strapping a block:
Here, hand me a neck-cloth, a napkin, a clout!
Now—heave up his noddle, and strap it about!
Success to the skull that can bear a good jirk—
They only have damag'd his ginger-bread work."
The matters turn'd out as he said and he swore,
And the taylor threw open his peepers once more.
[Pg 355]

[J] A Lawyer's compend, in which he notes down the heads of arguments in Law-suits.—Freneau's note, 1795 edition.

XI. Conclusion of the Journey

When the morning appear'd, it is horrid to tell
What mischiefs the most of our crew had befel:
A bundle lay here, and a budget lay there;
The Frenchman was fretting and pulling his hair,
The horses were feeding about on the hill,
And Snip, with his head on a hassock lay still,
The driver beseech'd us the fault to excuse,
The night had been dark—and "he lost both his shoes"—
Then he rais'd up his waggon, rejoicing to find
That, by leaving the top and the curtains behind,
We still might proceed—for the body was sound,
And the wheels, upon searching, uninjur'd all 'round.
But dull and dishearten'd we travell'd along,
Our waggon dismantled, our harness all wrong:
The lawyer was vext that we went a snail's pace,
And Cynthia was sure she had lost half her lace;
While Bryan O'Bluster, who Snip had restor'd,
Asserted, that Snip was the Jonas on board,
And often declar'd, in his moments of glee,
"He would give him a souse, if he had him at sea."
At length, we arriv'd, with the marks of our fall,
And halted to dine at the town of Road-Hall:
Honest David has always a dish of the best,
But Snipinda declar'd there was nothing well drest—
"And Snip (she exclaim'd) I would ask him to eat,
But I know that he never could relish roast-meat:
I think it were better to get him some Tea,
He always was fond of slop dinners, like me,
But then he could never endure your Bohea—
La! madam, is this the best tea that you keep?
By the taste and the smell, you have purchas'd it cheap![Pg 356]
No Hyson or Congo to give a sick stranger!
Poor man! I've no doubt but his life is in danger!
"No doctor like Neptune for people like him,
(Quoth O'Bluster)—his illness is merely a whim:
If I had him at sea, with the rest of our crew,
He should dance to the tune of a bowl of Burgoo!"
"From all that appears (said captain O'Keef)
I judge he might venture to taste the roast beef,
Nay—I think I can guess, from the cast of his eye,
He longs to have hold of the gooseberry pye!"
"Why captain (she cry'd) would you kill the poor sinner?
If he cannot have tea, he shall go without dinner!"
At length to the Ferry we safely arrive,
Each thanking his genius he still was alive:
Poor Cynthia complain'd of abundance of harms,
The black on her face and the blue on her arms:
Snipinda exclaim'd that she wanted a patch,
For Snip, in his ravings, had give her a scratch:
The corpse of the captain was merely a wreck,
And the sailor complain'd of a kink in his neck,
He had a contusion, beside, on his thigh;
And the ballad-man talk'd of a bruise on his eye,
Just adding, "how much he was vext at the heart
That no one regarded the song-singing art:
Yet the town was in love with his music (he said)
But never consider'd he liv'd by the trade;
That affronts and neglect were forever his lot,
And the lovers of music respected him—not;
He had sung for the nymphs, and had sung for the swains,
But they were unwilling to purchase his strains,[Pg 357]
When he put up his ballads and call'd for his pay,
The shepherds slunk off, and the nymphs ran away."
So, we said what we could to encourage poor Bob,
And pitied his fortune,—to live by the mob:
Advis'd him to cobble, cut throats, or dig ditches
If he wish'd to advance to perferment and riches;
That the time had arriv'd, when a sycophant race
Of poets are only promoted to place—
He should scorn them alike, if attach'd to a crown,
Singing lies to a court, or disguis'd in the gown;
That a poet of genius (all history shews)
Ne'er wanted a puppy, to bark at his muse:
And, though their productions were never once read,
Yet Bavius and Mevius must also be fed.
Then the skipper came in, with a terrible noise,
Exclaiming, "The wherry is ready, my boys:
The sails are unfurl'd, and the clock has struck eight;
Away to the wharf, for no longer I wait!"
Now all were embark'd, and the boat under sail,
With a dark cloudy sky and a stiff blowing gale:
In plying to windward we delug'd our decks—
O'Bluster discours'd of disasters and wrecks—
Snip offer'd the skipper five dollars, and more,
And a pair of new trowsers, to run us on shore;
"And, if I was there (said the faint-hearted swain)
No money should tempt me to travel again!
I had rather, by far, I had broken both legs,
Been rotting in prison, or pelted with eggs!
Now comrades and captains, I bid you good night,
And you, Mr. Slender, our journey will write;
A journey like this will attention attract,
Related in metre, and known to be fact."—
[Pg 358]Snipinda was sorry she ever left home—
Ezekiel confess'd it was madness to roam;—
Toupee was alarm'd at the break of the seas,
And you, Robert Slender, were not at your ease;
Yet couldn't help laughing at captain O'Keef,
Who shunn'd little Cynthia, and cast up his beef:
"And, Bruin (she said) I am sick at my heart,
Come hither, I pray you—and see me depart:
What wretches e'er travell'd so rugged a route;
Alas! I am sorry that e'er we set out!"
And Sam, while he own'd what a thief he had been,
O'Bluster made love to a bottle of gin—
Bob's ballads and poems lay scatter'd and torn
Himself in the dumps and his visage forlorn;—
Snip lay with his head by the side of a pot,
In doubt if his soul was departing or not,
Complaining, and spewing, and cursing his luck—
Then look'd at Snipinda—and call'd her his duck.
At last to relieve us, when thought of the least,
The wind came about to the south of southeast,
The barque that was buried in billows before
Now flew like a gull by the Long-Island shore,
And gaining the port where we wish'd to arrive,
Was safe in the bason—precisely at five.

[360] First published in pamphlet form by Bailey, April, 1787, under the title, "A Journey from Philadelphia to New-York by way of Burlington and South-Amboy. By Robert Slender, Stocking Weaver." The advertisement in the Freeman's Journal of April 25 declares that "Some truth in the occasion and a good deal of fancy in the colouring mark the character of the above performance. The style is smooth and easy and the pleasurable air that is diffused over the whole piece will certainly render the whole poem acceptable to such as choose to read it." The poem was republished in the editions of 1788 and 1795, the text of the latter of which I have used. It was again republished in a twenty-four page pamphlet by Thomas Neversink, Philadelphia, Dec. 20, 1809, under the title "A Laughable Poem; or Robert Slender's Journey from Philadelphia to New York." The earlier versions, of which the 1788 text was a reprint, had the poem divided into four cantos. In the 1795 edition the subdivision into sections was made. Freneau thoroughly revised the poem for the 1795 edition, making very many changes, all for the better. He cut out nearly all of the indelicate allusions and expressions of the earlier edition, including the coarse but highly picturesque dialogue between the skipper and the captain, and it has seemed best to me not to resurrect them. The 1809 edition was reprinted with little change from the 1795 version.

[361] The 1788 version here adds this couplet:

"The Babes in the wood was his favourite song,
Or Barbara Allan, or Johnny Armstrong."

[Pg 359]

THE HERMIT OF SABA[362]

Hermit, First Mariner, Second Mariner, Third Mariner

Scene, The Island of Saba[A]

[A] One of the windward Islands in the W. Indies. It is small, and appears like an immense cone, or sugar loaf, rising out of the surrounding ocean.—The inhabitants are of Dutch origin, and are equally strangers to the luxury and tyranny of the Sugar Islands.—Lat. 17° 30´ N. Lon. 63° 12´ W.—Freneau's note.

Hermit
Though many years on these tall cliffs residing
I recollect not such a dreadful quarrel
Between the seas and water-vexing tempests
As now torments my ears, and pains my eyes—
Clouds, low suspended, seem to embrace the foam
Of yonder angry ocean—bursting thunders,
With their pale sheets of lightning, are as busy
As though they meant to cleave this mass of nature,
Proving at once the world's mortality—
But am I safe on this sea-girded island,
Or can these shores, thus beaten, bear the shock
Of such a bold assault—?
When universal ruin shall approach,
Will the grand scene be more astonishing
When thou, sky-pointing Saba,
Shalt tremble on thy base most fearfully!—
[Pg 360]Night comes!—I'll to my cavern in the mountain,
Far from the torrent's roar and bursting billow;
That cavern, where I oft have found repose
Since on this barren isle, a shipwrecked stranger,
I made my sole escape—Ha! what are these!
A barque half buried in the spouting surge
Comes rushing towards the isle, impelled by winds
That scorn all motives of compassion.
Hark! now she strikes the iron pointed reef
Foundering; the horrid surge that breaks upon her
Has sealed their doom, and hope itself forsakes them
Man is too weak to combat with the power
Of these mad elements, that conquer all,
Ending the day light of our misery!—
Yes, yes—I'll to my haunt, for scenes like these
Pain the shocked soul and damp all resolution;—
Or, shall I to the shore, while day remains,
And search among the shell-incrusted coral,
Lest if by some great chance or miracle
Some wretch survives upon the ragged rocks,
Who knowing not of human kind residing
On this sequestered, unfrequented isle,
Tired in contending with the angry billows
And beaten by the surge the whole night through
For want of such relief, may die ere morning—
Perdition! three I see upon the rocks
Clinging, to keep off death, while the rude billow
Swells o'er their heads, insultingly victorious:
Now from the reef upborne I see them struggle,
Heaven grant, successfully!—they labour on,
Now headlong to the shore, now back they go
Despairing to the main!—now, now they land
Safe in that calm recess, a narrow bay[Pg 361]
To them the heaven from impending ruin—
So what are you?—
First Mariner
If thou art an inhabitant of the isle,
Lend your kind aid to three half perished wretches
Of threescore souls, the only three remaining—
And if thou knowest of any sheltered spot
Where from these horrid blasts and water spouts
We may retire to pass the long dull night:
Or if thou knowest of any standing pool
Or running stream, or earth-supported spring,
O tell us! and, as nothing more remains,
Our gratitude must be thy sole reward.
Hermit
Among the hills, on their declivities
Full many a sylvan haunt I have espied
Ere now, in wandering when the heaven was bright;
But springs or running streams abound not here
The skies alone supply the hollowed rock
From whence I drain my annual full supply:
Yet to my cavern you shall all resort
To taste a hermit's hospitality—
If you have strength, ascend this winding path
And amongst these rugged rocks, still following me,
We soon shall reach a safe retreat, removed
Alike from noisy seas, and mountain torrents.
Second Mariner
Lo! here the tall palmettoe, and the cedar,
The lime tree, and sweet scented shrubs abundant
With mingling branches, form a blest abode;[Pg 362]
Here, bleating lambs crowd to the evening fold
And goats and kids, that wander o'er the hills,
Vext by the storm, herd to the social hermit;
In neighbouring groves the juicy lemon swells,
The golden orange charms the admiring eye,
And the rich cocoa yields her milky stream.
Hermit
Here, strangers, here repose your wearied limbs
While some dead boughs I bring from yonder thicket,
To wake the friendly blaze.—To drain the dams
Of these impatient kids, be next my care:
The cocoa's milky flesh, dried pulse and roots
Shall be your fare to night; and when to-morrow
Dispells the gloom, and this tornado ceases,
We'll search along the shores, and find where lie
The bodies of your dear and lost companions,
That so we may commit them to the dust,
And thus obliterate from our remembrance
The horrid havock that this storm occasioned.
Third Mariner
O good old man, how do I honour thee!
My future days, my services are your's;
For you, will I be earlier than the sun
To bring you sticks to light the morning fire;
For you, will I attempt these dangerous cliffs
And climb on high to pluck the blushing plum;
For you will I from yonder rocky height
Drain chrystal waters, to delight your taste:
But now be kind; I wish to hear you tell
What chance or fortune brought you to these shores:
Whether alone on these rough craggs you dwell[Pg 363]
Where wandering mist is gathered into showers,
Or whether town or village decks the plain;
Or is there sheltered port, where swelling sails
Lodge lofty ships, from hurricanes secure,
Fenced in by reefs, or locked by neighbouring hills.
Hermit
No town or village owns this scanty soil,
Nor round its coast one safe recess is seen,
Where lofty ship, or barque of meaner freight
Might rest secure, untroubled by the winds,
Which still pursue the restless surge that pours,
And spits its venom, on these ragged shores;
Nor in these woody wilds, till you were wrecked,
Except myself, did Christian man reside,
Wandering from Europe to these Indian isles
So late discovered on the world's green end.—
All lies as Nature formed it, rough throughout,
And chance has planted here this garden wild,
For such as I, who wandering from the world;
Cities, and men, and civilized domains,
The farther distant, find the bliss more pure.
Third Mariner
In such a sad retreat, and all alone!—
To hold no converse but with senseless trees,
To have no friendship but with wandering goats,
And worthless reptiles that infest the ground—
Can man be happy in so dull a scene?
Hermit
To the steep summit of this slighted isle
I often climb at early dawn of day,
And o'er the vast expanse I throw my view,[Pg 364]
Not idly thence the busy scene surveying—
Vast fleets I sometimes see, each kept at bay,
Or joining both in angry conversation,
Their object avarice half, and half ambition—
What is it all to me? what are they seeking
That can give more than a sufficiency?—
That object I have here which they pursue,
Grasping it, miser-like, in my embraces—
The stream distilling from the shaded cliff,
And fruits mature from trees by Nature planted,
And contemplation, heaven-born contemplation!
These are my riches! I am wealthier far
Than Spain's proud fleets, that load the groaning ocean—
Wait you in yonder cave—I will return—
My herd of goats is wandering in the wild,
And I must house them, ere the close of day.         (Exit)
First Mariner
Who can this hermit be—what doth he here?
In such a dismal cell who would inhabit
Thus lonely, who has crowds and cities seen—
Is he some savage offspring of the isle,
The mountain goat his food, his god the sun;
Some wretch produced from mingled heat and moisture.
Full brother to the hungry pelican;
His friend, some monster of the adjacent wood;
His wife, some sorceress, red haired hag from hell;
His children, serpents, scorpions, centipedes—
Third Mariner
It was but now, (he spoke before he thought) he told me,
That he is richer than the fleets of Spain[Pg 365]
That burden the wide bosom of the ocean;
And then he seemed so pleased and satisfied,
Boasting himself the happiest of mankind.
Second Mariner
Where should this wealth be hid—his cave shows none:
A prayer book and a cross, a string of beads,
A bed of moss, a cap, an earthen jug,
And some few goat skins, furnish out his cave:
But still this humble guise of poverty
Vast sums of splendid riches may conceal:
The flooring of his den is a loose sand—
Searching a fathom deep may shew strange things,
While we, so long pursuing, hit on fortune.—
Perhaps this hermit is some bloody pirate,
Who having plundered friends and foes, alike,
Has brought his booty here, to bury it.
First Mariner
Lo! there he comes, driving his goats before him:
He means to fence them from the tempest's rage
Under the shelter of those tufted cedars:
It does, indeed, appear most possible,
That in this cavern rests his plundered wealth:
When sleep has locked his senses in repose
We'll seize him on his couch, and binding him,
Cast him from yonder jutting promontory
That hangs a hundred fathoms o'er the deep—
Thus, shall his fate prevent discovery.
Second Mariner
Your project pleases me—it is most wrong
That such a savage should enjoy such hoards[Pg 366]
Of useful wealth, he has not heart to use:—
He builds no ships, employs no mariners;
But, like a miser, hides the ill-gotten store,
And had he died before we wandered hither
His gold had perished, and none been the wiser.
Third Mariner
While you observe his motions, fellow sufferers,
Of twisted bark I'll make a sett of thongs
Wherewith to bind him at the midnight hour,
Lest waking, he should struggle to be free
And slip our hands before we gain the summit
From whence we mean to plunge his tawny carcase:—
There, there he comes—"Now, hermit, now befriend us,
"For cruel, merciless hunger gnaws our vitals,
"And every mischief that can man dishearten
"Is ripe to drive us into desperation!"
Hermit
Have patience, till from yonder arched grotto
I bring my bowls of milk, and seasoned roots,
And fruits I plucked before the day was high:
Now, friends, enjoy my hospitality:
All's at your service, wretched shipwrecked men;
And when you've satisfied the rage of hunger
Repose on these soft skins; your sea-beat limbs
Demand the aid of kind refreshing sleep:
I'll to my evening prayers, as I am wont,
And early dreams;—for travelling o'er the hills,
And pelted by the storm the whole day past,
My knees grow feeble, and I wish for rest.         (Exit)
[Pg 367]
Second Mariner
Yes, yes—first pray, and then repose in peace,
Hermit of Saba, ne'er to wake again!
Or should you wake, it must be in convulsions,
Tossed from the peak of yonder precipice,
Transfixt on pointed rocks, most bloodily.
Third Mariner
Now, now's the time: he sleeps: I hear him snore—
This hidden gold has so possessed my brain,
That I, at all events, must handle it:
Yet should the hermit 'wake while thus engaged,
Sad mischief might ensue: his nervous arm
(More than a match for our exhausted vigour)
Might exercise most horrible revenge!
Long practising among these rugged mountains,
Pursuing goats, bounding from rock to rock,
And cleaving trees to feed his evening fire,
His nerves and blood are all activity:
And then he is of so robust a fabrick
That we should be mere children in his hands,
Whirling us from the precipice at pleasure,
(Thus turning on ourselves our own designs)
Or catching up some fragment of a rock
Grind into atoms our pale, quivering limbs;
Taking full vengeance on ingratitude.
First Mariner
Fast bound in chains of sleep, I first assail him;
This knotty club shall give the unerring blow;
You follow on, and boldly second me!
Thus—comrades—thus!—that stroke has crushed his brain![Pg 368]
He groans! he dies?—now bear him to the summit
Of yon' tall cliff, and having thence dislodged him,
Uninterrupted we shall dig his riches,
Heirs to the wealth and plenty of his cave.
Second Mariner (conscience struck)
'Tis done, 'tis done—the hermit is no more:—
Say nothing of this deed, ye hills, ye trees,
But let eternal silence brood upon it.
O, base, base, base!!—why was I made a man,
And not some prowling monster of the forest,
The worst vile work of Nature's journeymen!
Ye lunar shadows! no resemblance yield
From craggy pointed rock, or leafy bush,
That may remind me of this murdered hermit.
Third Mariner
Deep have I fathomed in his cave, but find
No glimpse of gold—we surely did mistake him:
His treasures were not of that glittering kind;
Dryed fruits, and one good book; his goats, his kids,
These were, indeed, his riches—
Now, hermit, now I feel remorse within me:
While here we stay thy shadow will torment us,
From every haunted rock, or bush, projecting;
And when from hence we go, that too shall follow,
Crying—Perdition on these fiends from Europe,
Whose bloody malice, or whose thirst for gold,
Fresh from the slaughter-house of innocence
Unpeoples isles, and lays the world in ruin!

[362] This poem was doubtless a product of Freneau's earlier Muse, as were also the poems "The Indian Burying Ground," "The Indian Student," "The Man of Ninety," and "Alcina's Enchanted Island" which follow. They were, however, first printed in the edition of 1788 and there is no other hint as to their date. I have followed in all cases except the last the 1809 text.


[Pg 369]

THE INDIAN BURYING GROUND[363]

In spite of all the learned have said,
I still my old opinion keep;
The posture, that we give the dead,
Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands—
The Indian, when from life released,
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares again the joyous feast.[A]

[A] "The North American Indians bury their dead in a sitting posture; decorating the corpse with wampum, the images of birds, quadrupeds, &c: And (if that of a warrior) with bows, arrows, tomhawks, and other military weapons."—Freneau's note.

His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
And venison, for a journey dressed,
Bespeak the nature of the soul,
Activity, that knows no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent,
And arrows, with a head of stone,
Can only mean that life is spent,
And not the old ideas gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,
No fraud upon the dead commit—
Observe the swelling turf, and say
They do not lie, but here they sit.
[Pg 370]
Here still a lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace
(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains)
The fancies of a ruder race.
Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far-projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires)
The children of the forest played!
There oft a restless Indian queen
(Pale Shebah, with her braided hair)
And many a barbarous form is seen
To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews;
In habit for the chase arrayed,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer, a shade![364]
And long shall timorous fancy see
The painted chief, and pointed spear,
And Reason's self shall bow the knee
To shadows and delusions here.

[363] In the 1788 edition this has the title "Lines Occasioned by a Visit to an old Indian Burying Ground."

[364] Campbell borrowed this line for his poem "O'Connor's Child." Stanza IV of the poem begins as follows:

"Bright as the bow that spans the storm
In Erin's yellow vesture clad,
A son of light—a lovely form
He comes and makes her glad;
Now on the grass-green turf he sits,
His tassel'd horn beside him laid;
Now o'er the hills in chase he flits,
The hunter and the deer a shade!"

[Pg 371]

THE INDIAN STUDENT

Or, Force of Nature[365]

From Susquehanna's farthest springs
Where savage tribes pursue their game,
(His blanket tied with yellow strings,)
A shepherd of the forest came.
Not long before, a wandering priest
Expressed his wish, with visage sad—
"Ah, why (he cried) in Satan's waste,
"Ah, why detain so fine a lad?
"In white-man's land there stands a town
"Where learning may be purchased low—
"Exchange his blanket for a gown,
"And let the lad to college go."—
From long debate the council rose,
And viewing Shalum's tricks with joy
To Cambridge Hall,[A] o'er wastes of snows,
They sent the copper-coloured boy.

[A] Harvard College, at Cambridge in Massachusetts.—Freneau's note, edition 1788.

One generous chief a bow supplied,
This gave a shaft, and that a skin;
The feathers, in vermillion dyed,
Himself did from a turkey win:
[Pg 372]
Thus dressed so gay, he took his way
O'er barren hills, alone, alone!
His guide a star, he wandered far,
His pillow every night a stone.
At last he came, with foot so lame,
Where learned men talk heathen Greek,
And Hebrew lore is gabbled o'er,
To please the Muses,—twice a week.
Awhile he writ, awhile he read,
Awhile he conned their grammar rules—
(An Indian savage so well bred
Great credit promised to the schools.)
Some thought he would in law excel,
Some said in physic he would shine;
And one that knew him, passing well,
Beheld, in him, a sound Divine.
But those of more discerning eye
Even then could other prospects show,
And saw him lay his Virgil by
To wander with his dearer bow.
The tedious hours of study spent,
The heavy-moulded lecture done,
He to the woods a hunting went,
Through lonely wastes he walked, he run.
No mystic wonders fired his mind;
He sought to gain no learned degree,
But only sense enough to find
The squirrel in the hollow tree.
[Pg 373]
The shady bank, the purling stream,
The woody wild his heart possessed,
The dewy lawn, his morning dream
In fancy's gayest colours dressed.
"And why (he cried) did I forsake
"My native wood for gloomy walls;
"The silver stream, the limpid lake
"For musty books and college halls.
"A little could my wants supply—
"Can wealth and honour give me more;
"Or, will the sylvan god deny
"The humble treat he gave before?
"Let seraphs gain the bright abode,
"And heaven's sublimest mansions see—
"I only bow to Nature's God—
"The land of shades will do for me.
"These dreadful secrets of the sky
"Alarm my soul with chilling fear—
"Do planets in their orbits fly,
"And is the earth, indeed, a sphere?
"Let planets still their course pursue,
"And comets to the centre run—
"In Him my faithful friend I view,
"The image of my God—the Sun.
"Where Nature's ancient forests grow,
"And mingled laurel never fades,
"My heart is fixed;—and I must go
"To die among my native shades."
[Pg 374]
He spoke, and to the western springs,
(His gown discharged, his money spent,
His blanket tied with yellow strings,)
The shepherd of the forest went.[366]

[365] The 1788 version bore under the title the motto:

"Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes;
Flumina amem, sylvasque inglorius."
Virg. Georg. II. V. 483.

[366] The 1788 version has this additional stanza:

"Returning to this rural reign
The Indians welcom'd him with joy;
The council took him home again,
And bless'd the copper-colour'd boy."

THE MAN OF NINETY

"To yonder boughs that spread so wide,
Beneath whose shade soft waters glide,
Once more I take the well known way;
With feeble step and tottering knee
I sigh to reach my white-oak tree,
Where rosy health was wont to play.
If to the shades, consuming slow,
The shadow of myself, I go,
When I am gone, wilt thou remain!—
From dust you rose, and grew like me;
I man became, and you a tree,
Both natives of one grassy plain.
How much alike; yet not the same!—
You could no kind protector claim;
Alone you stood, to chance resigned:
When winter came, with blustering sky,
You feared its blasts—and so did I,
And for warm suns in secret pined.
[Pg 375]
When vernal suns began to glow
You felt returning vigour flow;
Which once a year new leaves supplied;
Like you, fine days I wished to see,
And May was a sweet month to me,
But when November came—I sighed!
If through your bark some ruffian arm
A mark impressed, you took the alarm,
And tears awhile I saw descend;
Till Nature's kind maternal aid
A plaister on your bruises laid,
And bade your trickling sorrows end.
Like you, I feared the lightning's stroke,
Whose flame dissolves the strength of oak,
And ends at once this mortal dream;—
You saw, with grief, the soil decay
That from your roots was torn away;
You sighed—and cursed the stream.
With borrowed earth, and busy spade,
Around your roots new life I laid,
While joy revived in every vein;
(The care of man shall life impart)—
Though Nature owns the aid of art,
No art, immortal, makes their reign.
How much alike our fortune—say—
Yet, why must I so soon decay
When thou hast scarcely reached thy prime—
Erect and tall, you joyous stand;
The staff of age has found my hand,
That guides me to the grave of time.
[Pg 376]
Could I, fair tree, like you, resign,
And banish all those fears of mine,
Grey hairs would be no cause of grief;
Your blossoms die, but you remain,
Your fruit lies scattered o'er the plain—
Learn wisdom from the falling leaf.
As you survive, by heaven's decree,
Let withered flowers be thrown on me
Sad compensation for my doom,
While winter greens and withering pines
And cedars dark, and barren vines,
Point out the lonely tomb.
The enlivening sun, that burns so bright,
Ne'er had a noon without a night,
So Life and Death agree;
The joys of man by years are broke"—
'Twas thus the man of ninety spoke,
Then rose, and left his tree.

ALCINA'S ENCHANTED ISLAND[367]

In These fair fields unfading flowers abound,
Here purple roses cloathe the enchanted ground;
Here, to the sun expand the lillies pale
Fann'd by the sweet breath of the western gale:
Here, fearless hares through dark recesses stray,
And troops of leverets take the woodland way,
Here stately stags, with branching horns, appear,
And rove unsought for, unassail'd by fear:
[Pg 377]