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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1793.10
On the present unhappy Situation of the QUEEN of FRANCE, and her Son.
Charlotte Smith
The Universal Magazine, XCIII (August 1793), pp. 147-148
The Gentleman's and London Magazine (September, 1793), p. 496

(From 'The Emigrants,' a Poem, by Mrs. Charlotte Smith.)

Unhappy France!
If e'er thy lilies, trampled now in dust,
And blood-bespotted, shall again revive
In silver splendour, may the wreath be wov'n
By voluntary hands; and Freemen, such
As England's self might boast, unite to place
The guarded diadem on his fair brow
Where Loyalty may join with Liberty,
To fix it firmly.—In the rugged school
Of stern Adversity so early trained,
His future life, perchance, may emulate
That of the brave Bernois [1], so justly called
The father of his people.—
Innocent pris'ner, most unhappy heir
Of fatal greatness, who art suff'ring now
For all the crimes and follies of thy race;
Better for thee, if o'er thy baby brow
The real mischief never had been held:
Then, in a humble sphere, perhaps content,
Thou hadst been free and joyous on the heights
Of Pyrennean mountains, shagg'd with woods
Of chestnut, pine, and oak: as on these
Is yonder little thoughtless shepherd lad.

____________While I gaze
On his gay vacant countenance, my thoughts
Compare with his obscure, laborious lot,
Thine, most unfortunate, Imperial boy!
Who round thy fallen prison daily hear'st
The savage howl of murder, as it seeks
Thy unoffending life: while sad within
Thy wretched mother, petrified with grief,
Views thee with stony eyes, and cannot weep!—
Ah! much I mourn thy sorrows, hapless Queen!
And deem thy expiation made to Heav'n
For every fault, to which Prosperity
Betray'd thee, when it placed thee on a throne,
Where boundless power was thine, and thou wert rais'd
High (as it seem'd) above the envious reach
Of Destiny!—Whate'er thy errors were,
Be they no more remember'd; tho' the rage
Of Party swell'd them to such crimes, as bade
Compassion stifle every sigh that rose
For thy disastrous lot—More than enough
Hast thou endur'd; and ev'ry English heart,
Ev'n those that highest beat in Freedom's cause,
Disclaim, as base, and of that cause unworthy,
The vengeance or the fear that makes thee still
A miserable Prisoner!


Notes

1. [Author's note]: "Henry IV."


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September 2004

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