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Read The Poems of Philip Freneau Volume III Part 49

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Vain were their hopes–the poison’d darts of h.e.l.l, Glanced from your flinty shield, and harmless fell.

All this you bore–beyond it all you rose, Nor ask’d despotic laws to crush your foes.

Mild was your language, temperate though severe; And not less potent than Ithuriel’s spear To touch the infernals in their loathsome guise, Confound their slanders and detect their lies.

All this you braved–and, now, what task remains, But silent walks on solitary plains: To bid the vast luxuriant harvest grow, The slave be happy and secured from wo– To illume the statesmen of the times to come With the bold spirit of primeval Rome; To taste the joys your long tried service brings, And look, with pity, on the cares of kings:– Whether, with Newton, you the heavens explore, And trace through nature the creating power, Or, if with mortals you reform the age, (Alike, in all, the patriot and the sage) May peace and soft repose, attend you, still, In the lone vale, or on the cloud-capp’d hill, While smiling plenty decks the abundant plain, And hails Astrea to the world again.

ON THE PROSPECT OF WAR,

AND AMERICAN WRONGS.

Americans! rouse at the rumors of war, Which now are distracting the hearts of the nation, A flame blowing up, to extinguish your power And leave you, a prey, to another invasion; A second invasion, as bad as the old, When, northward or southward, wherever they stroll’d With heart and with hand, a murdering band Of vagrants, came over to ravage your land: For liberty’s guard, you are ever array’d And know how to fight, in the sun or the shade.

Remember the cause that induced you to rise When oppression advanced, with her king-making host, Twas the cause of our nation that bade you despise And drive to destruction all England’s proud host, Who, with musket and sword, under men they adored, Rush’d into each village and rifled each shade To murder the planter, and ravish the maid.

What though you arose, and resolved to be free, With spirit to humble all Europe combining, You had soon bit the dust or been drown’d in the sea By the slaves of a king, and a court all designing, Had not liberty swore she would cover your sh.o.r.e, Her colors display’d, and with vengeance repaid The myriads that came from a blood-thirsty isle Our groves, and our streams, and our beds to defile.

Our churches defaced, by a merciless foe, Or made the poor captive’s distress’d habitation: The prison-ship, fraught with its cargo of wo, Where thousands were starved, without shame or compa.s.sion; All these, and yet more, were the evils we bore From a motherly dame, Great Britain her name, From a nation, that once we accounted our friends, Who would shackle the country, that freedom defends.

All true-born americans! join, as of old; For freedom’s defence, be your firm resolution; Whoever invades you by force, or with gold, Alike is a foe to a free const.i.tution: Unite to pull down that imposture, a crown; Oppose it at least, tis a mark of the beast: All tyranny’s engines again are at work To make you as poor and as base as the turk.

Abandon’d to all the intrigues of a knave, Abounding with sharpers of every description, They would plunder our towns, and prohibit the wave; Their treaties of commerce are all a deception: Not a ship do we send but they rob without end; With their law of blockade they have ruin’d our trade; The shops of mechanics at midnight they burn That home manufactures may cease to be worn.

Look round the wide world; and observe with a sigh, Wherever a monarch presides o’er a nation, Sweet nature appears with a tear in her eye, And the mantle of sorrow enshrouds the creation.

The ocean is chain’d, all freedom restrain’d, The soil is resign’d to the pests of mankind, To royals and n.o.bles, the guard of the throne, And the slaves they have bribed, to make freedom their own.

All hail to the nation, immortal and great, Who, rising on bold philosophical pinion, Reforms, and enlightens, and strengthens the state, Not places her weal in excess of dominion.

What reason can do she intends to pursue; And true to the plan, on which she began, Will the volume unfold she to freedom a.s.sign’d, Till tyrants are chased from the sight of mankind.

Since the day we declared, they were masters no more, The day we arose from the colony station, Has England attack’d us, by sea and by sh.o.r.e, In war by the sword, as in peace by vexation; Impressment they claim’d, till our seamen, ashamed, Grew sick of our flag, that against the old hag Of Britain, no longer their freedom protected But left them, like slaves, to be lash’d and corrected.

Old Rome, that in darkness so long had been lost, Since on her republic bright freedom was shining: The warmth of her spirit congeal’d in a frost, Under tyrants and popes, many centuries, pining: At the close of the page, who can bridle his rage To see her return to the fetters she broke, When tyranny sicken’d, and liberty spoke: What an image of clay have they thrown in her way!

The king and the priest on her carca.s.s will feast; When these are allied, the world they divide; The nations they plunder, the nations they kill, And bend all the force of the mind to their will: Not the spirit to rise, or the strength to command, But friars and monks–and the sc.u.m of the land.– No more of your Nero’s or Caesars complain, Leave Brutus and Cato, and take them again.

But reason, that sun, whose unquenchable ray Progressive, has dawn’d on the night of the mind, From the source of all good, may hereafter display, And man a more dignified character find: As far as example and vigor can go, As long as forbearance and patience will do, The western republic will carry it through–: May order and peace through the nations increase, And murder, and plunder, and tyranny cease: May justice and honor through empires prevail And all the bad pa.s.sions weigh light in the scale, Till man is the being that nature at first Placed here, to be happy, and not to be cursed.

Approaching, at hand, in the progress of time, An era will come, to begin its career, When freedom reviving, and man in his prime, His rights will a.s.sert, and maintain without fear Of that cunning, bold race, who our species disgrace; On the blood of a nation who make calculation To rise into splendor and fill a high station; Nay, climb to the throne on a villanous plan To plunder his substance, and trample on man.

ON THE BRITISH COMMERCIAL DEPREDATIONS.

As gallant ships as ever ocean stemm’d– A thousand ships are captured, and condemn’d!

Ships from our sh.o.r.es, with native cargoes fraught, And sailing to the very sh.o.r.es they ought: And yet at peace!–the wrong is past all bearing; The very comets[A] are the war declaring: Six thousand seamen groan beneath your power, For years immured, and prisoners to this hour:

[A] A large comet appeared for several months, about this time.–_Freneau’s note._

Then England come! a sense of wrong requires To meet with thirteen stars your thousand fires; On your own seas the conflict to sustain, Or drown them, with your commerce in the main!

True do we speak, and who can well deny, That England claims all water, land, and sky Her power expands–extends through every zone, Nor bears a rival–but must rule alone.

To enforce her claims, a thousand sails unfurl’d p.r.o.nounce their home the c.o.c.k-pit of the world; The modern Tyre, whose fiends and lions prowl, A tyrant navy, which in time must howl.[B]

Heaven send the time–the world obeys her nod: Her nods, we hope, the sleep of death forbode; Some mighty change, when plunder’d thrones agree, And plunder’d countries, to make commerce free.

[B] Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, &c.–Ezekiel.–_Freneau’s note._

TO AMERICA:

On the English Depredations on the American Coast.

When Alfred held the english throne, And England’s self was little known, Yet, when invaded by the Dane, He early faced them on the main.

That scythian race who ruled the sea– He soon p.r.o.nounced their destiny; To leave his isle, to sheath the sword; Disgraced, defeated, and abhorr’d.

So now, these worse than danes appear To do their deeds of havoc here– For all they did in seasons past, The day of grief must come at last.

For plains, yet white with human bones, For murders past, no prayer atones; For ruin spread in former years, Not even the mitred clergy’s tears.

Let us but act the part we ought, And tyrants will be dearly taught That they, who aid a country’s claim, Fight not for ribands, or a name.

Still hostile to the rights of man, A deadly war, the english plan; The gothic system will prevail, To ruin where they can a.s.sail; A war, where seas of blood may flow To ornament their scenes of wo.

O Washington! thy honored dust The foe will not profane, we trust; Or if they do, will vengeance sleep, Or fail to drive them to the deep?

For sh.o.r.es well known, they shape their course, An english fleet, with all its force; A british fleet may soon appear To ravage all we counted dear.

Advancing swift, by beat of drum, Half England’s dregs, or Scotland’s sc.u.m; With these unite the indian tribes, Now hostile made by force of bribes– And they will dare the eagle’s frown, Though half his force can put them down.

The envenom’d foe, inured to war, May scatter vengeance wide and far, Unless, to a.s.sert our country’s right, All hearts resolve, all hands unite.

Let party feuds be hush’d, forgot, Past discord from the memory blot, And Britain, from our coasts repell’d, Shall rue the day she took the field.

The dart, to a.s.sail the english power, In time must reach that hostile sh.o.r.e, And red with vengeance, on its way, Their naval power in ruins lay.

The western world a blow must deal To let them know, and make them feel That much too long a plundering hag Has mortified all Europe’s flag.

By wars and death while despots thrive What pity one remains alive!

By them the seeds of war are sown, By them, our lives are not our own.

Their deadly hate to freedom’s growth, To reason’s light–that spurns them both, That deadly hate predicts our doom, And digs the pit for freedom’s tomb.

———-

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