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The foulest stain and scandal of our nature
Became a boast ;—one murder made a Villain,
Millions a Hero!
The foe had fled the fearful strife had ceased-
And shouts arose of mockery and joy,
As the loud trumpet's wild exulting voice
Proclaimed the victory! With weary tread,
But spirits light and free, the victors passed
On to the neighbouring citadel. Nor deemed,
Nor recked they, in that moment's pride, of aught
But glory won.
Or if a tender thought
Recalled the fallen brave, 'twas like the cloud
On Summer's radiant brow-a flitting shade.
Yet on the battle-plain how many lay,
In their last dreamless sleep! Some too were there
Who struggled yet within the mighty grasp
Of that stern conqueror-Death. The fearful throes
Of parting life, at intervals, would wring,
E'en from the proudest heart, the piercing cry
Of mortal agony.
In pain I sunk,
Worn and disabled, 'mid the dead and dying.
Night's shadows were around,—the sickly moon,
Dim and discoloured, rose, as if she mourned
To gaze upon a scene so fraught with woe!
And there was one who passed me at this hour,
A form familiar to my memory
From long-departed years.
For we had met
In early youth, with feelings unconcealed,
And passions unrepressed. E'en then he seemed
The bane of every joy. His brow
dark At boyhood's happy voice and guileless smile, As though they mocked him! Now he sternly marked My well-remembered face, yet lingered not. There was a taunt upon his haughty lip, A fiery language in his scowling eye, My proud heart ill could brook!
E'en like a vision of the fevered brain,
His image haunted me--and urged to madness.-
And when my wearied limbs were locked in sleep,
The blood-red sod, my couch--the tempest-cloud,
My canopy—my bed-fellows, the dead-
My lullaby, the moaning midnight wind-
I had a dream—a strange bewildered dream-
And he was with me!
Methought I heard the hollow voice of Death
Tell of another world, while awful shrieks
Of wild despair, and agony, and dread,
Shook the dark vault of heaven !-Suddenly
Deep silence came,-and all the scene was changed !
Insufferable radiance glared around,
And pained the dazzled eye. In robes of light
High on a gorgeous throne, appeared a Form
Of pure celestial glory! In deep awe
A silent, vast, innumerable throng
Of earth-freed warriors bowed. The Form sublime,
In these benign and memorable words,
The purer spirits hailed—“Ye who have owned
Religion for your Leader, and have loved
The family of Man, and toiled and bled
For Liberty and Justice! Ye have fought
A glorious fight, and gained a glorious meed-
A bright inheritance of endless joy,
A home of endless rest!”
At this, flashed forth
With lineaments divinely beautiful,
Fair shapes of bright-wing'd beings, holy guides
To realms of everlasting peace and love!
Alas! how few of that surrounding host
Were led to happier worlds ! The chosen band
In sacred light departed; and the form
That sat upon the thr ne, then slowly rose
With darkened brow, and majesty severe,
And this dread judgment gave-
“ He that can love not Man loves not his God!
And lo! his image ye have dared to mar
In hate and exultation, and for this
Shall fearful strife, and agonies untold,
Be your eternal doom !”
And now with horrid laughter mixed with yells
More terrible than shuddering Fancy hears
Raising strange echoes in the charnel vault,
Uprose grim Fiends of Hell, and urged us on,
Through paths of hideous gloom, till like the sea
At night, wide shown beneath the lightning's glare,
A boundless plain quick burst upon the view!
In the dim distance glittered shafts of war;
Wild Horror's cry, and Hate's delirious shout,
The din of strife, and shrieks of agony,
Came on the roaring blast! A mighty voice,
Piercing the dissonance infernal, cried,
“ On to the Hell of Battle!” These dread words,
Like sudden thunder, startled and dismayed
Each quailing warrior's soul. But soon despair
Was wrought to frenzy, and we madly rushed,
To join the strife of demons !
Amid that countless throng now caught mine eye!
His was the form I loved not in my youth,
And cursed in after years. We fiercely met,
A wild thrust reached him. Then he loudly shrieked,
And Death's relieving hand besought in vain,
Where Death could never come! With quenchless rage,
And strength untamed, on his triumphant foe,
Again he turned !—but he was victor now ;-
And in unutterable pain- I woke !
'Twas morning—and the sun's far-levelled rays Gleamed on the ghastly brows and stiffened limbs Of those that slumbered-ne'er to wake again !
THE NEW YEAR AND THE OLD.
(WRITTEN ON THE 31st of DECEMBER, 1833.]
The Old Year and the New Year are now quickly meeting, and will separate in less than the shake of a skylark's wing, or the single glimmer of a star!
“We take no note of time but by its loss,” and are not easily reminded of the purport and rapidity of our voyage down the stream of life. If it were not for the land-marks and divisions which are visible in our course, we should glide onwards to the vast waters of eternity with a perfect unconsciousness of our progress. It is well, therefore, to preserve, as far as possible, those ancient customs which celebrate the advent of particular seasons, and render them memorable and distinct. The vigil on the last night of the old year to welcome the arrival of the new one is, abstractedly considered, a beautiful and affecting practice, though it is unhappily too often attended with inebriation and vulgar merriment. Nothing can be less appropriate to the season than jollity and uproar. If there be any one period that seems more essentially suited to sober thought than another, it is this. There is something ungracious in the manner in which we mix our merry welcome of the new year with our farewell to the past year, which is like an old familiar face, fraught with many tender associations.
Though, like other men, I have sometimes looked towards the future with eagerness and curiosity, I am far more disposed to linger over the memory of departed hours. I feel no peculiar satisfaction in parting with an ancient friend, nor can I hail his successor without some feeling of distrust. But the generality of