Britain's Genius Triumphant
A Lyric Essay.
The European Magazine, LI (February 1807), pp. 134-135
(The Scene is supposed to lie in the North of Germany.)
"'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When church-yards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out
Contagion to the world!" Shak. Hamlet
Day is fled;these heaths and moors
Yield no shelter, dreary, vast:
Howls the wind, the fierce rain pours,
Torrents stream along the waste!
Danger gathers;haste, my steed;
Gain some dwelling;hah! that light!
Angels help me!what foul deed
Brings thee, Spectre, to my sight?
Crimson'd is thy robe with blood!
Round thy head fell serpents play!
Stains thy dagger the pure flood,
Welt'ring from the heart away!
Where the battle's thunder peals,
Steeled hoofs impetuous dash,
Blaze the cannon, bound the wheels,
Swords with swords opposing clash!
Is thy drink the widow's tear?
Music thine the orphan's moan?
Thou dost chill my breast with fear,
Dark, bewilder'd, and alone!
Swift thou'rt fled! o'er Alpine clouds
To eclipse the orb of night,
That unearthing, wrapt in shrouds,
Phantoms sad the world affright.
High above yon vap'ry wall,
Flame-edg'd, I thy visage see;
View thy huge hand, hear thy call
For Demoniac revelry!
Subjects of the realm of fire,
Leave your day-conceal'd abode!
Sway'd by evil, fell desire,
Each pursue th' appointed road.
Some to strangle the new birth;
Some to prompt the murd'rer's hand;
Robbers some;or plague, or dearth,
Baleful spread throughout the land.
Take my most unholy charm,
Bind it round yon western isle;
Long, too long, devoid of harm,
Haughty do those Britons smile.
Dive beneath the ocean's bed,
Raise up rocks, and vex the wave;
Sink their floating bulwarks, dread
Of my Gallic warriors brave
By those ever-during fires
Of th' avenging gulf below;
By a spirit's fierce desires,
Working human nature woe,
That proud freedom-fost'ring place,
Albion, coop'd up by the sea,
Would I whelm in foul disgrace,
Would I bend to slavery.
Then should my Napoleon's fame
Soar on eagle-wings sublime!
While pale Britain mourn'd in flames,
Fatal as the wreck of Time!
[A sudden blaze of light is seen to arise from that part of
the horizon immediately over England, in which the tutelary Genius
of Britain appears, with the mirror of Truth in his hand; he approaches,
Thou! of demons most accurst,
Vain thy wishes, vain thy spell;
In the lap of Honour nurst,
Freedom shall with Britain dwell.
She Ambition's art defies,
Round her tho' the tempest roars;
Calm, as when in summer skies
Dies the gale along her shores!
[The light of the mirror is thrown on the Spectre: he vanishes.]
Genius! lend thy pow'rful art;
Draw a magic circle round,
That the fiend no ill impart
Where Germania's sons are found.
Mortal! vain you ask my aid;
Lo! the work of mischief done;
Limbs thro' strife supinely laid,
Bring the body's ruin on.
Can I quell your feudal jar,
Or restore your ancient name,
Sinewy vigour, toils of war,
Patriot love, and love of fame?
[The vision closes.]
Dec. 30, 1806.