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THE fight was o'er; the flashing through the gloom,
Which robes the cannon as he wings a tomb,
Had ceased; and sulphury vapours upward driven
Had left the earth, and but polluted Heaven :
The rattling roar wich rung in every volley
Had left the echoes to their melancholy;
No more they shriek'd their horror, boom for boom;
The strife was done, the vanquish'd had ther doom;
The mutineers were crush'd, dispersed, or ta'en,
Or lived to deem the happiest were the slain.
Few, few escaped, and these were hunted o'er
The isle they loved beyond their native shore.
No further home was their's, it seem'd, on earth,
Once renegades to that which gave them birth;
Track'd like wild beasts, like them they sought the wild,
As to a mother's bosom flies the child;
But vainly wolves and lions seek their den,
And still more vainly, men escape from men.
Beneath a rock whose jutting base proti udes
Far over ocean in bis fiercest moods,
When scaling his enormous crag,
Is hurl'd down headlong like the foremost brave,
And falls back on the foaming crowd behind,
Which fight beneath the banners of the wind;
But now at rest, a little remnant drew
Together, bleeding, thirsty, faint, and few;
But still their weapons in their hands, and still
With something of the pride of former will,
As men not all unused to meditate,
And strive much more than wonder at their fate. 30
Their present lot was what they had foreseen,
And dared as what was likely to have been ;
Yet still the lingering hope, which deem'd their lot
Not pardon'd, but unsought for or forgot,
Or trusted that, if sought, their distant caves
Might still be miss'd amidst the world of waves,
Had wean'd their thoughts in part from what they saw
And felt the vengeance of their country's law.
Their sea-green isle, their guilt-won paradise,
No more could shield their virtue or their vice:
Their better feelings, if such were, were thrown
Back on themselves,-their sins remain'd alone.
Proscribed even in their second country, they
Were lost; in vain the world before them lay;
All outlets seem'd secured. Their new allies
Had fought and bled in mutual sacrifice;
But what avail'd the club and spear and arm
Of Hercules, against the sulphury charm,
The magic of the thunder, which destroy'd
The warrior ere his strength could be employ'd? 50
Dug, like a spreading pestilence, the grave
No less of human bravery than the brave!
* Archidamus, King of Sparta, and son of Agesilaus, when he saw a machine invented for the casting of stones and darts, exclaimed that it was the « Grave of Valour. The same story has been told of some knights on the first application of Gunpowder; but the original anecdote is in
Their own scant numbers acted all the few
Against the many oft will dare and do;
But though the choice seems native to die free,
Even Greece can boast but one Thermopyla,
Till now, when she has forged her broken chain
Back to a sword, and dies and lives again!
Beside the jutting rock the few appear'd,
Like the last remnant of the red-deer's herd;
Their eyes were feverish, and their aspect worn,
But still the hunter's blood was on their horn.
A little stream came tumbling from the height,
And straggling into ocean as it might,
Its bounding crystal frolick'd in the ray,
And gush'd from cleft to crag with saltless spray;
Close on the wild, wide ocean, yet as pure
And fresh as innocence, and more secure,
Its silver torrent glitter'd o'er the deep,
As the shy chamois' eye o'erlooks the steep,
While far below the vast and sullen swell
Of ocean's Alpine azure rose and fell.
To this young spring they rush'd,-all feelings first
Absorb'd in Passion's and in Nature's thirst,—
Drank as they do who drink their last, and threw
Their arms aside to revel in its dew;
Cool'd their scorch'd throats, and wash'd the gory stains From wounds whose only bandage might be chains; Then, when their drought was quench'd, look'd sadly
As wondering how so many still were found
Alive and fetterless :-but silent all,
Each sought his fellow's eyes as if to call
On him for language, which his lips denied,
As though their voices with their cause had died.
Stern, and aloof a little from the rest,
Stood Christian, with his arms across his chest.
The ruddy, reckless, dauntless hue, once spread
Along his cheek, was livid now as lead;
His light-brown locks, so graceful in their flow, Now rose like startled vipers o'er his brow. Still as a statue, with his lips compress'd To stifle even the breath within his breast, Fast by the rock, all menacing but mute, He stood; and, save a slight beat of his foot, Which deepen'd now and then the sandy dint Beneath his heel, his form seem'd turn'd to flint. Some paces further Torquil lean'd his head Against a bank, and spoke not, but he bled,Not mortally-his worst wound was within: His brow was pale, his blue eyes sunken in, And blood-drops sprinkled o'er his yellow hair Show'd that his faintness came not from despair, But Nature's ebb. Beside him was another, Rough as a bear, but willing as a brother,Ben Bunting, who essay'd to wash, and wipe, And bind his wound-then calmly lit his pipeA trophy which survived an hundred fights, A beacon which had cheer'd ten thousand nights. The fourth and last of this deserted group Walk'd up and down-at times would stand, then stoop To pick a pebble up-then let it dropThen hurry as in haste-then quickly stop—
Then cast his eyes on his companions—then
Half whistle half a tune, and pause again—
And then his former movements would redouble,
Withe something between carelessness and trouble.
This is a long description, but applies
To scarce five minutes past before the eyes;
But yet what minutes! Moments like to these
Rend men's lives into immortalities.
At length Jack Skyscrape, a mercurial man
Who flutter'd over all things like a fan,
More brave than firm, and more disposed to dare
And die at once than wrestle with despair,
Exclaim'd « G―d damn! » Those syllables intense,
Nucleus of England's native eloquence,
As the Turk's « Allah!» or the Roman's more
Pagan « Proh Jupiter!» was wont of yore
To give their first impressions such a vent,
By way of echo to embarrassment.
Jack was embarrass'd,-never hero more,
And as he knew not what to say, he swore:
Nor swore in vain; the long congenial sound
Revived Ben Bunting from his pipe profound;
He drew it from his mouth, and look'd full wise.
But merely added to the oath, his eyes;
Thus rendering the imperfect phrase complete-
A peroration I need not repeat,
But Christian, of an higher order, stood
Like an extinct volcano in his mood;
Silent, and sad, and savage,— with the trace
Of passion reeking from his clouded face;