On the Present Times,
27th January 1795
[Amelia Alderson Opie]
The Cabinet, II (1795), pp. 92-94
Lo! Winter drives his horrors round;
Wide o'er the rugged soil
In their cold spells each stream is bound,
While at the magic of
Each sign of Spring's gay beauty fades,
And one white wild the aching sight invades.
It is the time for Woe to reign,
And hark! she bids her haggard train,
Pale poverty and want, appear,
Disease, their darling child, draw near,
And, grateful for the favouring hour,
They feel, they seize, they riot, in their power.
But Winter! not to thee alone
sway they owe,
For they to war's despotic throne
As tributary subjects
War, who bids trembling Europe gasp,
With wild convulsions in his bloody grasp.
Whence yonder groans? O wretched land!
Poland, from thee, alas!
A despot speaks, and lo! a band,
Blaspheming pure Religion's
Bid cold, deliberate murder live,
And death's dread stroke to helpless thousands give.
And see, on Belgia's reeking plain,
Alternate horrors rise and reign!
What mingled sounds affright the ear!
Now, we the song of victory hear,
And now, despair's appalling tone,
And now, of death the deep sepulchral groan.
Freedom! for whose dear sake I'd dare
Each various ill that
Though I thy matchless victories share,
While, towering 'midst
the bloody strife,
I see thy form sublime, acquire
New power to charm, new beauty to inspire;
I cannot smile; I cannot join
The song of triumph; tho'
Celestial power! are also mine;
And tho' I weep for all
Yet I thy triumphs too must weep,
And in my tears thy bloody laurels steep.
For who are they that madly bear
Against thy sons the venal spear?
Are they not men?—then say, what power
Can bid my bosom mourn no more;
O where's the fiend-delighting ban
Forbidding MAN to weep for SLAUGHTERED MAN!
E'en Victory, when reflection's voice
Breathes in her ear 'thy
Shall bid her sons no more rejoice,
But change her shouts
for pity's sigh:
She will her breast in anguish beat,
And wear the sombrous aspect of defeat.
O Britain! ill-starred land! no more
Must Peace to thee her
But on thy once-triumphant shore,
Must we behold the form
Expecting, on the swelling tide,
To see the FOE in proud defiance ride!
Avert the threatening, awful ill;
For fraught with power, and fraught with will
To make thy hardiest veterans die,
A lurking fiend, alas! is nigh,
Who threatens on thy sons to pour
The fatal cloud thou bad'st on GALLIA lower.
spreads her banners wide;
She comes arrayed in horrid
But, not to humble Gallia's pride,
And on the rear of victory
She comes the humbled to subdue,
And twine round fading wreaths, death's baleful yew.
She comes to Britain!—at the thought,
Winter! thy scene with horrors fraught,
Fades from my sight—the present ill
Appears to lose its power to kill:
To future scenes pale Fancy flies,
Lifts her dim tearful eyes to heaven, and dies.