Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Proud virtuous Poverty, their noble state
Maintained, amid surrounding threats of wealth,
Of superstition, and tyrannic sway
Spirit of TELL ! and art thou doomed to see
That land subdued by slavery's basest slaves ;
By men, whose lips pronounce the sacred name
Of Liberty, then kiss the despot's foot ?
HELVETIA ! hadst thou to thyself been true,
Thy dying sons had triumphed as they fell :
But 'twas a glorious effort, though in vain.
Aloft thy Genius, ʼmid the sweeping clouds,
The flag of freedom spread ; bright in the storm
The streaming meteor waved, and far it gleamed ;
But, ah ! 'twas transient as the Iris' arch,
Glanced from Leviathan's ascending shower,
When ʼmid the mountain waves heaving his head.
Already had the friendly-seeming foe
Possessed the snow-piled ramparts of the land :
Down like an avalanche they rolled, they crushed
The temple, palace, cottage, every work
Of art and nature, in one common ruin.
The dreadful crush is o'er, and peace ensues,
The peace of desolation, gloomy, still :
Each day is hushed as Sabbath ; but, alas !
No Sabbath-service glads the seventh day!
No more the happy villagers are seen,
Winding adown the rock-hewn paths, that wont
To lead their footsteps to the house of prayer ;
But, far apart, assembled in the depth
Of solitudes, perhaps a little group
Of aged men, and orphan boys, and maids
Bereft, list to the breathings of the holy man,
Who spurns an oath of fealty to the power
Of rulers chosen by a tyrant's nod.

No more, as dies the rustling of the breeze,
Is heard the distant vesper-hymn; no more
At gloamin hour, the plaintive strain, that links
His country to the SWITZER's heart, delights
The loosening team ; or if some shepherd boy
Attempt the strain, his voice soon faltering stops ;
He feels his country now a foreign land.

O SCOTLAND! canst thou for a moment brook The mere imagination, that a fate Like this should e'er be thine ! that o'er these hills And dear-bought vales, whence WALLACE,

DOUGLAS, BRUCE,
Repelled proud EDWARD's multitudinous hordes,
A Gallic foe, that abject race, should rule !
No, no ! let never hostile standard touch
Thy shore : rush, rush into the dashing brine,
And crest each wave with steel; and should the

stamp
Of Slavery's footstep violate the strand,
Let not the tardy tide efface the mark;
Sweep off the stigma with a sea of blood !

Thrice happy he who, far in Scottish glen
Retired, (yet ready at his country's call,)
Has left the restless emmet-hill of man !
He never longs to read the saddening tale
Of endless wars; and seldom does he hear
The tale of woe; and ere it reaches him,
Rumour, so loud when new,

has died away
Into a whisper, on the memory borne
Of casual traveller :-as on the deep,
Far from the sight of land, when all around
Is waveless calm, the sudden tremulous swell,

D

That gently heaves the ship, tells, as it rolls,
Of earthquakes dread, and cities overthrown.

O SCOTLAND! much I love thy tranquil dales : But most on Sabbath eve, when low the sun Slants through the upland copse, 'tis my delight, Wandering, and stopping oft, to hear the song Of kindred praise arise from humble roofs ; Or, when the simple service ends, to hear The lifted latch, and mark the grey-haired man, The father and the priest, walk forth alone Into his garden-plat, or little field, To commune with his God in secret prayer,To bless the Lord, that in his downward years His children are about him : sweet, meantime, The thrush, that sings upon the aged thorn, Brings to his view the days of youthful years, When that same aged thorn was but a bush. Nor is the contrast between youth and age To him a painful thought; he joys to think His journey near a close,-heaven is his home. More happy far that man, though bowed down, Though feeble be his gait, and dim his eye, Than they the favourites of youth and health, Of riches, and of fame, who have renounced The glorious promise of the life to come,Clinging to death.

Or mark that female face,
The faded picture of its former self,-
The garments coarse, but clean ;-frequent at

church
I've noted such a one, feeble and pale,
Yet standing, with a look of mild content,
Till, beckoned by some kindly hand to sit.

She has seen better days ; there was a time
Her hands could earn her bread, and freely give
To those who were in want; but now old age,
And lingering disease, have made her helpless.
Yet she is happy, ay, and she is wise,
(Philosophers may sneer, and pedants frown),
Although her Bible is her only book ;
And she is rich, although her only wealth
Is recollection of a well-spent life-
Is expectation of the life to come.
Examine here, explore the narrow path
In which she walks ; look not for virtuous deeds
In history's arena, where the prize
Of fame, or power, prompts to heroic acts.
Peruse the lives themselves of men obscure :-
There charity, that robs itself to give;
There fortitude in sickness, nursed by want ;
There courage, that expects no tongue to praise ;
There virtue lurks, like purest gold deep hid,
With no alloy of selfish motive mixed.
The poor man's boon, that stints him of his bread,
Is prized more highly in the sight of Him
Who sees the heart, than golden gifts from hands
That scarce can know their countless treasures

less :*

Yea, the deep sigh that heaves the poor man's breast

* “ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farihing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily, I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”Mark xii. 41-44.

To see distress, and feel his willing arm
Palsied by penury, ascends to heaven ;
While ponderous bequests of lands and goods
Ne'er rise above their earthly origin.

And should all bounty, that is clothed with

power, Be deemed unworthy ?-Far be such a thought ! Even when the rich bestow, there are sure tests Of genuine charity: yes, yes, let wealth Give other alms than silver or than gold, Time, trouble, toil, attendance, watchfulness, Exposure to disease ;-yes, let the rich Be often seen beneath the sick man's roof; Or cheering, with inquiries from the heart, And hopes of health, the melancholy range Of couches in the public wards of woe : There let them often bless the sick man's bed, With kind assurances that all is well At home; that plenty smiles upon the board, The while the hand, that earned the frugal meal, Can hardly raise itself in sign of thanks, Above all duties let the rich man search Into the cause he knoweth not, nor spurn The suppliant wretch as guilty of a crime.

Ye blessed with wealth! (another name for power Of doing good,) O would ye but devote A little portion of each seventh day, To acts of justice to your fellow men ! The house of mourning silently invites : Shun not the crowded alley ; prompt descend Into the half-sunk cell, darksome and damp; Nor seem impatient to be gone: inquire,

« ForrigeFortsæt »