Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Death of Hale
By William R. Lindsay
          Nathaniel Hale was a captain in the revolutionary army, and commanded a company in Colonel Knowlton’s regiment in 1776. He was with the army in the retreat from Long Island. General Washington having applied to Colonel Knowlton for a discreet and enterprising officer to penetrate the enemy’s camp, and procure intelligence, Hale volunteered to perform the dangerous service. He succeeded in obtaining the intelligence; but, while returning to the American camp, was arrested, and next morning executed as a spy, regretting that he had but one life to lay down for his country. The enemy denied him, at his execution, the use of a Bible, and the aid of a clergyman, and destroyed the letters he had written to his mother and sister. His pure and patriotic devotion to his country has not been properly appreciated, and his country has been wanting in due honour to his memory.

THE MORN was calm—no cloud obscured the sun:
  Its rays, refulgent, beamed upon the throng
That gathered round the gallows-tree of him,
  Whose every nerve in battle had been strung—
The tyrant’s scourge—a brother to the free—        5
Now doomed to die a son of Liberty.
No sound was heard: no tear was seen to fall
  As forth he came, the victim of a king:
With step as firm as is the hero’s wont,
  To calm the terrors of a sceptred thing,        10
His death, alone, could soothe Oppression’s fears—
The pride of cowards was a hero’s tears.
But that high soul, when budding freedom blooms
  In native pride, ne’er own’d a king’s decree—
Nor bowed, submissive, at a tyrant’s nod:        15
  Its only pride was that of being free.
He woo’d and won fair Freedom as his bride:
For her he lived—for her he proudly died.
He fell—an ignominious death was his—
  A death which cowards give to those they fear:        20
Yet still he lives in every freeman’s heart,
  Whilst babes are taught to hold his memory dear.
Cursed England! look upon thy deeds of shame,
And blush to own a patriotic name.
Rest, now, in peace, brave martyr of the free!        25
  Soft be thy slumbers in the bed of death:
A nation mourns the early fall of thee,
  And speaks thy praise in every passing breath.
A tyrant fear’d thine arm but yesterday—
Now lie you there—a lump of Freedom’s clay.        30

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