« PreviousContinue »
SAY, what is Honour? — 'Tis the finest sense
Of justice which the human mind can frame,
Intent each lurking frailty to disclaim,
And guard the way of life from all offence
Suffered or done. When lawless violence
A Kingdom doth assault, and in the scale
Of perilous war her weightiest Armies fail,
Honour is hopeful elevation whence
Glory - and Triumph. Yet with politic skill
Endangered States may yield to terms unjust,
Stoop their proud heads - but not unto the dust,
A Foe's most favourite
to fulfil ! Happy occasions oft by self-mistrust Are forfeited; but infamy doth kill.
The martial courage of a day is vain
An empty noise of death the battle's roar
If vital hope be wanting to restore,
Or fortitude be wanting to sustain,
Armies or Kingdoms. We have heard a strain
Of triumph, how the labouring Danube bore
A weight of hostile corses: drenched with gore
Were the wide fields, the hamlets heaped with slain.
Yet see, the mighty tumult overpast,
Austria a Daughter of her Throne hath sold!
And her Tyrolean Champion we behold
Murdered like one ashore by shipwreck cast,
Murdered without relief. Oh! blind as bold,
To think that such assurance can stand fast!
BRAVE Schill! by death delivered, take thy flight
From Prussia's timid region. Go, and rest
With Heroes 'mid the Islands of the Blest,
Or in the fields of empyrean light.
A meteor wert thou in a darksome night;
Yet shall thy name, conspicuous and sublime,
Stand in the spacious firmament of time,
Fixed as a star: such glory is thy right.
Alas! it may not be: for earthly fame
Is Fortune's frail dependant; yet there lives
A Judge, who, as man claims by merit, gives;
To whose all-pondering mind a noble aim,
Faithfully kept, is as a noble deed;
In whose pure sight all virtue doth succeed,
CALL not the royal Swede unfortunate,
Who never did to Fortune bend the knee;
Who slighted fear, -rejected steadfastly
Temptation; and whose kingly name and state
Have “perished by his choice, and not his fate!"
Hence lives He, to his inner self endeared ;
And hence, wherever virtue is revered,
He sits a more exalted Potentate,
Throned in the hearts of men. Should Heaven ordain
That this great Servant of a righteous cause
Must still have sad or vexing thoughts to endure,
Yet may a sympathizing spirit pause,
Admonished by these truths, and quench all pain
In thankful joy and gratulation pure.
Look now on that Adventurer who hath paid
His vows to Fortune; who, in cruel slight
Of virtuous hope, of liberty, and right,
Hath followed wheresoe'er a way was made
By the blind Goddess; - ruthless, undismayed;
And so hath gained at length a prosperous Height,
Round which the Elements of worldly might
Beneath his haughty feet, like clouds, are laid.
O joyless power that stands by lawless force!
Curses are his dire portion, scorn, and hate,
Internal darkness and unquiet breath;
And, if old judgments keep their sacred course,
Him from that Height shall Heaven precipitate
By violent and ignominious death.