Abbildungen der Seite

The Arbiter of others' fate

A Suppliant for his own!
Is it some yet imperial hope
That with such change can calmly cope ?

Or dread of death alone ?
To die a prince—or live a slave-
Thy choice is most ignobly brave !


He who of old would rend the oak,

Dreamed not of the rebound ; Chained by the trunk he vainly broke

Alone-how looked he round ?
Thou in the sternness of thy strength
An equal deed hast done at length,

And darker fate hast found :
He fell, the forest-prowlers' prey ;
But thou must eat thy heart away!
The Roman, when his burning heart

Was slaked with blood of Rome, Threw down the dagger—dared depart,

In savage grandeur, home.--
He dared depart in utter scorn
Of men that such a yoke had borne,

Yet left him such a doom !
His only glory was

hour Of self-upheld, abandoned power. The Spaniard, when the lust of sway

Had lost its quickening spell,
Cast crowns for rosaries away,

An empire for a cell ;
A strict accountant of his beads,
A subtle disputant on creeds,

His dotage trifled well :
Yet better had he neither known
A bigot's shrine, nor despot's throne.

But thou—from thy reluctant hand

The thunderbolt is wrung-
Too late thou leav'st the high command

To which thy weakness clung ;
All Evil Spirit as thou art,
It is enough to grieve the heart

To see thine own unstrung ;
To think that God's fair world hath been
The footstool of a thing so mean ;


And Earth has spilt her blood for him,

Who thus can hoard his own ! And Monarchs bowed the trembling limb,

And thanked him for a throne ! Fair Freedom ! we may hold thee dear, When thus thy mightiest foes their fear

In humblest guise have shown,
Oh! ne'er may tyrant leave behind
A brighter name to lure mankind !
Thine evil deeds are writ in gore,

Nor written thus in vain-
Thy triumphs tell of fame no more,

Or deepen every stain-
If thou hadst died as honour dies,
Some new Napoleon might arise,

To shame the world again-
But who would soar the solar height,
To set in such a starless night ?
Weighed in the balance, hero dust

Is vile as vulgar clay ;
Thy scales, Mortality ! are just

To all that pass away ;
But yet methought the living great
Some higher sparks should animate,

To dazzle and dismay ;

Nor deemed Contempt could thus make mirth Of these, the Conquerors of the earth.

And she, proud Austria's mournful flower,

Thy still imperial bride ;
How bears her breast the torturing hour ?

Still clings she to thy side ?
Must she too bend, must she too share
Thy late repentance, long despair,

Thou throneless Homicide ?
If still she loves thee, hoard that gem,
'Tis worth thy vanished diadem !

Then haste thee to thy sullen Isle,

And gaze upon the sea ;
That element may meet thy smile--

It ne'er was ruled by thee !
Or trace with thine all idle hand
In loitering mood upon the sand

That Earth is now as free !
That Corinth's pedagogue hath now
Transferred his byword to thy brow.

Thou Timour! in his captive's cage

What thoughts will there be thine,
While brooding in thy prisoned rage?

But one-'The world was mine!'
Unless, like he of Babylon,
All sense is with thy sceptre gone,

Life will not long confine
That spirit poured so widely forth-
So long obeyed—so little worth !
Or like the thief of fire from heaven,

Wilt thou withstand the shock ?
And share with him, the unforgiven,

His vulture and his rock !

Foredoomed by God-by man accurst,
And that last act, though not thy worst,

The very Fiend's arch mock;
He in his fall preserved his pride,
And, if a mortal, had as proudly died !

There was a day—there was an hour,

While earth was Gaul's—Gaul thine –
When that immeasurable power

Unsated to resign
Had been an act of purer fame
Than gathers round Marengo's name,

And gilded thy decline
Through the long twilight of all time,
Despite some passing clouds of crime.

But thou, forsooth, must be a King,

And don the purple vest,-
As if that foolish robe could wring

Remembrance from thy breast.
Where is that faded garment ? where

thou wert fond to wear,
The star,—the string,—the crest ?
Vain, froward child of empire! say,
Are all thy playthings snatched away?

Where may the wearied eye repose

When gazing on the Great ;
Where neither guilty glory glows,

Nor despicable state ?
Yes—one--the first-the last-the best-
The Cincinnatus of the West,

Whom envy dared not hate,
Bequeathed the name of Washington,
To make man blush there was but one !





The man who first saw that it was possible to found an European empire on the ruins of the Mogul monarchy was Dupleix. His restless, capacious, and inventive mind had formed this scheme at a time when the ablest servants of the English Company were busied only about invoices and bills of lading. Nor had he only proposed to himself the end. He had also a just and distinct view of the means by which it was to be attained. Ye clearly saw that the greatest force which the princes of India could bring into the field would be no match for a small body of men trained in the discipline and guided by the tactics of the West. He saw also that the natives of India might, under European commanders, be formed into armies, such as Saxe or Frederic would be proud to command. He was perfectly aware that the most easy and convenient way in which an European adventurer could exercise sovereignty in India, was to govern the motions, and to speak through the mouth of some glittering puppet dignified by the title of Nabob or Nizam. The arts both of war and policy, which a few years later were employed with such signal success by the English, were first understood and practised by this ingenious and aspiring Frenchman.

The situation of India was such that scarcely any aggression could be without a pretext, either in old laws or in recent practice. All rights were in a state of utter uncertainty ; and the Europeans who took part in the disputes of the natives confounded the confusion by applying to Asiatic politics the public law of the West, and analogies drawn from the feudal system. If it was convenient to treat a Nabob as an independent prince, there was an excellent plea for doing

He was independent in fact. If it was convenient to

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »