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BUGGESTED BY THE VIEW OF LANCASTER CASTLE (ON THE ROAD FROM THE SOUTH.) THIS spot at once unfolding sight so fair Of sea and land, with yon grey towers that still Rise up as if to lord it over air — Might soothe in human breasts the sense of ill, Or charm it out of memory; yea, might fill The heart with joy and gratitude to God For all his bounties upon man bestowed: Why bears it then the name of " Weeping Hill?" Thousands, as toward yon old Lancastrian Towers, A prison's crown, along this way they past For lingering durance or quick death with shame, From this bare eminence thereon have cast Their first look blinded as tears fell in showers Shed on their chains; and hence that doleful name.
SONNETS UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH.
TENDERLY do we feel by Nature's law
For worst offenders: though the heart will heave
With indignation, deeply moved we grieve,
In after thought, for him who stood in awe
Neither of God nor man, and only saw,
Lost wretch, a horrible device enthroned
On proud temptations, till the victim groaned.
Under the steel his hand had dared to draw.
But O, restrain compassion, if its course,
As oft befals, prevent or turn aside
Judgments and aims and acts whose higher source
Is sympathy with the unforewarned, who died
FEEL for the wrongs to universal ken
Daily exposed, woe that unshrouded lies;
And seek the sufferer in his darkest den,
Whether conducted to the spot by sighs
And moanings, or he dwells (as if the wren
Taught him concealment) hidden from all eyes
In silence and the awful modesties
Of sorrow; feel for all, as brother men!
Rest not in hope want's icy chain to thaw
By casual boons and formal charities;
Learn to be just, just through impartial law,
Far as ye may, erect and equalise;
And, what ye cannot reach by statute, draw
Each from his fountain of self-sacrifice!
[* See an excellent commentary on this series of Poems, by Henry Taylor, Esq., author of "Philip Van Artaelde," etc., at the close of a Critical Essay from his pen, which appeared in the Quarter Review for December, 84). No. 137, p. 39.-H. R
THE Roman Consul doomed his sons to die
Who had betrayed their country. The stern word
Afforded (may it through all time afford)
A theme for praise' and admiration high.
Upon the surface of humanity
He rested not; its depths his mind explored;
He felt; but his parental bosom's lord
Was duty, -duty calmed his agony.
And some, we know, when they by wilful act
A single human life have wrongly taken,
Pass sentence on themselves, confess the fact,
And, to atone for it, with soul unshaken
Kneel at the feet of Justice, and for faith
Broken with all mankind, solicit death.
Is Death, when evil against good has fought
With such fell mastery that a man may dare
By deeds the blackest purpose to lay bare?
Is Death, for one to that condition brought,
For him or any one, the thing that ought
To be most dreaded? Lawgivers, beware,
Lest capital pains remitting till ye spare
The murderer, ye, by sanction to that thought
Seemingly given, debase the general mind;
Tempt the vague will tried standards to disown,
Nor only palpable restraints unbind,
But upon Honour's head disturb the crown,
Whose absolute rule permits not to withstand
In the weak love of life his least command.
Nor to the object specially designed,
Howe'er momentous in itself it be,
Good to promote or curb depravity,
Is the wise Legislator's view confined.
His Spirit, when most severe, is oft most kind;
As all Authority in earth depends
On Love and Fear, their several powers he blends,
Copying with awe the one Paternal mind.
Uncaught by processes in show humane,
He feels how far the act would derogate
From even the humblest functions of the State;
If she, self-shorn of Majesty, ordain
That never more shall hang upon her breath
The last alternative of Life or Death.
YE brood of conscience - Spectres! that frequent
The bad Man's restless walk, and haunt his bed-
Fiends in your aspect, yet beneficent
In act, as hovering Angels when they spread
Their wings to guard the unconscious Innocent
Slow be the Statutes of the land to share
A laxity that could not but impair
Your power to punish crime, and so prevent.
And ye, Beliefs! coiled serpent-like about
The adage on all tongues, "Murder will out,"
How shall your ancient warnings work for good
In the full might they hitherto have shown,
If for deliberate shedder of man's blood
Survive not Judgment that requires his own?
BEFORE the world had past her time of youth
While polity and discipline were weak,
The precept eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,
Came forth -a light, though but as of day-break,
Strong as could then be borne. A Master meek
Proscribed the spirit fostered by that rule,
Patience his law, long-suffering his school,
And love the end, which all through peace must seek.
But lamentably do they err who strain
His mandates, given rash impulse to controul
And keep vindictive thirstings from the soul,
So far that, if consistent in their scheme,
They must forbid the State to inflict a pain,
Making of social order a mere dream.
FIT retribution, by the moral code
Determined, lies beyond the State's embrace,
Yet, as she may, for each peculiar case
She plants weil-measured terrors in the road
Of wrongful acts. Downward it is and broad,
And, the main fear once doomed to banishment,
Far oftener then, bad ushering worse event,
Blood would be spilt that in his dark abode
Crime might lie better hid. And, should the change
Take from the horror due to a foul deed,
Pursuit and evidence so far must fail,
And, guilt escaping, passion then might plead
In angry spirits for her old free range,
And the "wild justice of revenge" prevail.
THOUGH to give timely warning and deter
Is one great aim of penalty, extend
Thy mental vision further and ascend
Far higher, else full surely shalt thou err.
What is a State? The wise behold in her
A creature born of time, that keeps one eye
Fixed on the statutes of Eternity,
To which her judgments reverently defer.
Speaking through Law's dispassionate voice the State
Endues her conscience with external life
And being, to preclude or quell the strife
Of individual will, to elevate
The grovelling mind, the erring to recal, And fortify the moral sense of all.
OUR bodily life, some plead, that life the shrine
Of an immortal spirit is a gift
So sacred, so informed with light divine,
That no tribunal, though most wise to sift
Deed and intent, should turn the being adrift
Into that world where penitential tear
May not avail, nor prayer have for God's ear
A voice that world whose veil no hand can lift
For earthly sight. "Eternity and Time"
They urge, "have interwoven claims and rights
Not to be jeopardised through foulest crime:
The sentence rule by mercy's heaven-born lights.”
Even so; but measuring not by finite sense
Infinite Power, perfect Intelligence.
AH, think how one compelled for life to abide
Locked in a dungeon needs must eat the heart
Out of his own humanity, and part
With every hope that mutual cares provide;
And, should a less unnatural doom confide
In life-long exile on a savage coast,
Soon the relapsing penitent may boast
Of yet more heinous guilt, with fiercer pride.
Hence thoughtful Mercy, Mercy sage and pure,
Sanctions the forfeiture that Law demands,
Leaving the final issue in His hands
They know the dread requital's source profound;
Nor is, they feel, its wisdom obsolete-
(Would that it were!) the sacrifice unmeet
Whose goodness knows no change, whose love is sure, For Christian Faith. But hopeful signs abound;
Who sees, foresees; who cannot judge amiss,
The social rights of man breathe purer air;
And wafts at will the contrite soul to bliss.
Religion deepens her preventive care;
Then, moved by needless fear of past abuse,
Strike not from Law's firm hand that awful rod,
But leave it thence to drop for lack of use:
Oh, speed the blessed hour, Almighty God!
SEE the Condemned alone within his cell
And prostrate at some moment when remorse
Stings to the quick, and, with resistless force,
Assaults the pride she strove in vain to quell.
Then mark him, him who could so long rebel,
The crime confessed, a kneeling penitent
Before the Altar, where the Sacrament
Softens his heart, till from his eyes outwell
Tears of salvation. Welcome death! while Heaven
Does in this change exceedingly rejoice;
While yet the solemn heed the State hath given
Helps him to meet the last Tribunal's voice
In faith, which fresh offences, were he cast
On old temptations, might for ever blast.
YES, though he well may tremble at the sound
Of his own voice, who from the judgment-seat
Sends the pale convict to his last retreat
In death; though listeners shudder all around,
THE formal world relaxes her cold chain
For one who speaks in numbers; ampler scope
His utterance finds; and, conscious of the gain,
Imagination works with bolder hope
The cause of grateful reason to sustain;
And, serving Truth, the heart more strongly beats
Against all barriers which his labour meets
In lofty place, or humble life's domain.
Enough: before us lay a painful road,
And guidance have I sought in duteous love
From Wisdom's heavenly Father. Hence hath flowed
Patience, with trust that, whatsoe'er the way
Each takes in this high matter, all may move
Cheered with the prospect of a brighter day.
MEMORIALS OF A TOUR ON THE CONTINENT, 1820.
DEAR Fellow-travellers! think not that the Muse
Presents to notice these memorial Lays,
Hoping the general eye thereon will gaze,
As on a mirror that gives back the hues
Of living Nature; no-though free to choose
The greenest bowers, the most inviting ways,
The fairest landscapes and the brightest days,
Her skill she tried with less ambitious views.
For You she wrought; ye only can supply
The life, the truth, the beauty: she confides
In that enjoyment which with you abides,
Trusts to your love and vivid memory;
Thus far contented, that for You her verse
Shall lack not power the "meeting soul to pierce!"
RYDAL MOUNT, January, 1822.
FISH-WOMEN.-ON LANDING AT CALAIS. 'Tis said, fantastic Ocean doth enfold The likeness of whate'er on Land is seen;
But, if the Nereid Sisters and their Queen,
Above whose heads the Tide so long hath rolled,
The Dames resemble whom we here behold,
How terrible beneath the opening waves
To sink, and meet them in their fretted caves,
Withered, grotesque-immeasurably old,
And shrill and fierce in accent! - Fear it not;
For they Earth's fairest Daughters do excel;
Pure undecaying beauty is their lot;
Their voices into liquid music swell,
Thrilling each pearly cleft and sparry grot —
The undisturbed Abodes where Sea-nymphs dwell!
BRUGES I saw attired with golden light (Streamed from the west) as with a robe of power: "Tis past and now the grave and sunless hour, That, slowly making way for peaceful night, Best suits with fallen grandeur, to my sight
Offers the beauty, the magnificence,
And all the graces, left her for defence
Against the injuries of Time, the spite
Of Fortune, and the desolating storms
Of future War. Advance not spare to hide,
O gentle Power of Darkness! these mild hues;
Obscure not yet these silent avenues
Of stateliest Architecture, where the forms
Of Nun-like Females, with soft motion, glide!
THE Spirit of Antiquity-enshrined
In sumptuous Buildings, vocal in sweet Song,
In Picture, speaking with heroic tongue,
And with devout solemnities entwined
Strikes to the seat of grace within the mind:
Hence Forms that glide with swan-like ease along;
Hence motions, even amid the vulgar throng,
To an harmonious decency confined;
As if the Streets were consecrated ground,
The City one vast Temple - dedicate
To mutual respect in thought and deed;
To leisure, to forbearances sedate;
To social cares from jarring passions freed;
A nobler peace than that in deserts found!
AFTER VISITING THE FIELD OF WATERLOO A WINGED Goddess, clothed in vesture wrought Of rainbow colours; one whose port was bold, Whose overburthened hand could scarcely hold The glittering crowns and garlands which it brought Hovered in air above the far-famed Spot. She vanished leaving prospect blank and cold Of wind-swept corn that wide around us rolled In dreary billows, wood, and meagre cot, And monuments that soon must disappear: Yet a dread local recompense we found; While glory seemed betrayed, while patriot zea Sank in our hearts, we felt as Men should feel With such vast hoards of hidden carnage near And horror breathing from the silent ground!
SCENERY BETWEEN NAMUR AND LIEGE.
WHAT lovelier home could gentle Fancy choose?
Is this the Stream, whose cities, heights, and plains,
War's favourite playground, are with crimson stains
Familiar, as the Morn ́with pearly dews?
The Morn, that now, along the silver MEUSE,
Spreading her peaceful ensigns, calls the Swains
To tend their silent boats and ringing wains,
Or strip the bough whose mellow fruit bestrews
The ripening corn beneath it. As mine eyes
Turn from the fortified and threatening hill,
How sweet the prospect of yon watery glade,
With its gray rocks clustering in pensive shade,
That, shaped like old monastic turrets, rise
From the smooth meadow-ground, serene and still!
Was it to disenchant, and to undo,
That we approached the Seat of Charlemaine?
To sweep from many an old romantic strain
That faith which no devotion may renew!
Why does this puny Church present to view
Its feeble columns? and that scanty Chair?
This Sword that One of our weak times might wear!
Objects of false pretence, or meanly true!
If from a Traveller's fortune I might claim
A palpable memorial of that day,
Then would I seek the Pyrenean Breach
Which ROLAND clove with huge two-handed sway,
And to the enormous labour left his name,
Where unremitting frosts the rocky Crescent bleach.*
IN THE CATHEDRAL AT COLOGNE. O FOR the help of Angels to complete This Temple-Angels governed by a plan How gloriously pursued by daring Man, Studious that He might not disdain the seat Who dwells in Heaven! But that inspiring heat Hath failed; and now, ye Powers! whose gorgeous
And splendid aspect yon emblazonings But faintly picture, 't were an office meet
Let a wall of rocks be imagined from three to six hundred feet in height, and rising between France and Spain, so as physically to separate the two kingdoms-let us fancy this wall curved like a crescent, with its convexity towards France. Lastly, let us suppose, that in the very middle of the wall, a breach of 300 feet wide has been beaten down by the famous Roland, and we may have a good idea of what the mountaineers call the 'BRECHE DE ROLAND''
FOR THE BOATMEN, AS THEY APPROACH THE RAPIDS
UNDER THE CASTLE OF HEIDELBURG.
JESU! bless our slender Boat,
By the current swept along;
Loud its threatenings- let them not
Drown the music of a Song
Breathed thy mercy to implore,
Where these troubled waters roar!
Saviour, in thy image, seen
Bleeding on that precious Rood;
If, while through the meadows green
Gently wound the peaceful flood,
We forgot Thee, do not Thou
Disregard thy Suppliants now!
Hither, like yon ancient Tower
Watching o'er the River's bed,
Fling the shadow of thy power,
Else we sleep among the Dead,
Thou who trodd'st the billowy Sea,
Shield us in our jeopardy!
Guide our Bark among the waves;
Through the rocks our passage smooth; Where the whirlpool frets and raves
Let thy love its anger soothe: All our hope is placed in Thee; Miserere Domine!*
*See the beautiful Song in Mr. Coleridge's Tragedy, “THE REMORSE." Why is the Harp of Quantock silent?