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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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1793.22
Effects of War
"Pacificus"
The Cambridge Intelligencer (November 16, 1793)

With glittering arms I saw the soldiers march
With hearts elate, and footsteps light as air,
Vaunting of victories their arms would gain:
Eager they fill'd the transports waiting near,
To waft them to the hostile tented field,
And from the vessel's side with loud huzza,
Hail'd with a cheerful voice the crouded shore,
And bade their much dejected friends farewel.
Dejection too prophetic of their fate!
Post, after post, soon brings a heavy tale,
Though gloss'd with victory, fatal to the peace
Of fathers, mothers, children, wives, and friends.
Dead, is the hand that long with labour fought
To feed the little offspring hovering round:
Vanish'd the hope that sooth'd a parent's age;
Sunder'd the ties of faithful wedded love,
And the dear long-tried friend forever gone.
Such is the curse of victory!—Now review
The horrors that attend an adverse fate.
The conquerors are become the conquer'd now;
See them retreat before a foe, enrag'd
By unprovok'd assault, and numerous wrongs.
Their marches harrass'd by th' advancing van,
And loss sustain'd of men, of stores, and arms.
Famine and pestilence new horrors add,
And fainting by the way leave many a wretch
To linger out the sad remains of life,
Hopeless of better fate, than, that some foe,
May kindly cut its thread, and end his pain.
A shatter'd remnant reach once more the shore,
From whence in healths full tide they gaily fail'd,
Once more their footsteps press their native land,
And like a cordial draught through every vein,
New vigour flows, and warms their languid hearts.
Impatient now each seeks his long-lost home,
To cheer the breast that in his absence pines,
And in the fond embrace each soon forgets,
The various sorrows they have long endur'd.
Not e'en the sickly face and mangled limb,
Checks the pure joy that glows at his return.
Terror had long suggested he was lost:
He is once more at home, and all seems well.

If aught can damp his joy, it is the tale,
The mournful tale, that he is doom'd to tell,
Of his lost comrades, in the fatal field,
Blasting the lingering hope, that yet surviv'd,
And bade the anxious bosom daily watch,
For his return, who was its only joy.

    Long should reflection in a Monarch's mind
Dwell on such themes. Then strongly there impress'd,
War in its various horrors would appear:
And if a spark of virtue in him lives,
Nature must shrink from such a thought accurs'd,
As plunging nations in offensive wars!


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Published @ RC

September 2004