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heard the oath with awe; and with uplifted hands attested the same God, and all his saints, that they were firmly bent on offering up their lives for the defence of their injured liberty. They then calmly agreed on their future proceedings, and for the present, each returned to his hamlet.”—Planta's History of the Helvetic Confederacy.
On the first day of the year 1308, they succeeded in throwing off the Austrian yoke, and “it is well attested,” says the same author, " that not one drop of blood was shed on this memorable occasion, nor had one proprietor to lament the loss of a claim, a privilege, or an inch of land. The Swiss met on the succeeding sabbath, and once more confirmed by oath their ancient, and (as they fondly named it) their perpetual league.”
'Twas night upon the Alps.—The Senn's? wild horn,
Like a wind's voice, had pour’d its last long tone,
Whose pealing echoes, through the larch-woods borne,
To the low cabins of the glens made known
That welcome steps were nigh. The flocks had gone,
By cliff and pine-bridge, to their place of rest ;
The chamois slumber'd, for the chase was done ;
His cavern-bed of moss the hunter prest,
And the rock-eagle couch'd, high on his cloudy nest.
Did the land sleep?—the woodman's axe had ceas'd
Its ringing notes upon the beech and plane;
The grapes were gathered in ; the vintage-feast
Was clos'd upon the hills, the reaper's strain
Hushed by the streams; the year was in its wane,
The night in its mid-watch ; it was a time
E’en marked and hallowed unto Slumber's reign.
But thoughts were stirring, restless and sublime,
And o'er his white Alps mov'd the Spirit of the clime.
For there, where snows, in crowning glory spread,
High and unmark'd by mortal footstep lay;
And there, where torrents, 'midst the ice-caves fed,
Burst in their joy of light and sound away ;
And there, where Freedom, as in scornful play,
Had hung man's dwellings ’midst the realms of air,
O'er cliffs, the very birth-place of the day-
Oh! who would dream that Tyranny could dare
To lay her withering hand on God's bright works e'en
Yet thus it was amidst the fleet streams gushing
To bring down rainbows o'er their sparry cell,
And the glad heights, through mist and tempest rushing
Up where the sun's red fire-glance earliest fell,
And the fresh pastures, where the herd's sweet bell
Recall d such life as Eastern patriarchs led ;-
peasant-men their free thoughts might not tell Save in the hour of shadows and of dread, And hollow sounds that wake to Guilt's dull, stealthy tread.
But in a land of happy shepherd-homes,
On its green hills in quiet joy reclining
With their bright hearth-fires, ʼmidst the twilight-glooms,
From bowery lattice through the fir-woods shining ;
A land of legends and wild songs, entwining
Their memory with all memories lov'd and blest-
In such a land there dwells a power, combining
The strength of many a calm, but fearless breast;
-And woe to him who breaks the sabbath of its rest!
A sound went up—the wave's dark sleep was broken-
On Uri's lake was heard a midnight oar-
Of man's brief course a troubled moment's token
Th' eternal waters to their barriers bore;
And then their gloom a flashing image wore
Of torch-fires streaming out o'er crag and wood,
And the wild falcon's wing was heard to soar
In startled haste—and by that moonlight-flood,
A band of patriot men on Grütli's verdure stood.
They stood in arms—the wolf-spear and the bow
Had wag’d their war on things of mountain-race ;
Might not their swift stroke reach a mail-clad foe?
-Strong hands in harvest, daring feet in chase,
True hearts in fight, were gather'd on that place
Of secret council.-Not for fame or spoil
So met those men in Heaven's majestic face ;
To guard free hearths they rose, the sons of toil,
The hunter of the rocks, the tiller of the soil.