Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
 
The Prince’s Vision
By James Ralph (d. 1762)
 
[Born, probably, in Philadelphia, Penn. Died at Chiswick, England, 1762. Zeuma, or the Love of Liberty. 1729.]

ONCE, as with ardent zeal he urged the chase,
And pressed, with matchless swiftness, to secure
His frighted prey, through the thick wood, from far
He spied, low bending o’er the limpid stream,
An aged hermit; who seemed wrapped in thought        5
And solitary muse; behind him, arched
By nature in the hollow rock, appeared
A gloomy cave, o’ergrown with moss, his calm
Abode; above, with difficult ascent,
Arose the hill, with vivid verdure crowned;        10
Around, the forest spread its grateful shade,
And gently murmured to the gale; beneath,
Spontaneous flowers adorned the grassy turf,
And sweetened every breeze: long gazed the king
On the enchanting scene, and wondered much        15
It had till then escaped his haunt; when, waked
By his approaching step, the father rose,
And with meek reverence thus began: “’Tis not,
Great prince, by accident you’ve strayed to this
Sequestered place, but by divine decree;        20
That you may know what instant dangers threat
Your rule, what miseries your realms;
That no surprise enervate your resolves
When war alarms you to the field; no dread
Of stranger nations, or unusual arms        25
Confuse the combat, and in foul retreat
Disperse your routed squadrons o’er the plain.”
He said, and led him, by a winding way,
To the high brow of that delightful hill,
And bid him view the prospect round. He looked,        30
And lo! the whole world’s globe seemed stretched along
Before his view, so far the landscape reached,
So many objects crowded on the eye;
On this side cities stand, and forests wave,
Green fields extend, and gentle rivers glide;        35
O’erhanging precipices frown, and hills
Ascend on high: on this the white sea foams,
And on the nearer shores, with speedy roll,
Breaks wide its hasty billows. Zeuma starts
At the surprising roar, yet still intent,        40
Beholds the restless wave, when, new and strange!
High tossing on the angry surge appear
Vast floating piles, that with capacious wings
Collect the breathing gale, and by degrees
Approach the strand; with thundering voice discharge        45
Huge streams of ruddy flame, in cloudy smoke
Involved, and fright the nations round. Again
The monarch starts, astonished at the noise,
While, down their steepy sides, descend a throng
Of bearded men, of foreign look and mien;        50
That brightened o’er the plain with shining arms,
And all the pomp of war. To them succeeds
An herd of creatures, fierce and active, trained
To battle, and the din of arms; on which
The warriors mounting, all proceed, in firm        55
And regular array, across the field;
Then sound a charge; and o’er the tranquil glebe
Let loose destruction, and with slaughter glut
The sword; with dire oppressive force, and stern
Dominion fix their barbarous rule, and lord        60
It o’er the groaning tribes. With horror struck,
Sad Zeuma overlooked the scene, and mourned
The dire event: when thus the hoary sage
His lore renewed. “These are the foes that now
Are marching to invade your land; and such        65
The ills that must afflict your tribes; see o’er
Yon ridge of hills, contemning all the force
Of freezing cold, and wintry gales, they pass
Unwearied with the toil: then haste away,
Alarm your people, and with princely care        70
Draw all your squadrons to the field. If aught
Of doubt yet hangs upon your mind,
Again survey the landscape, and believe
My mission from above.” He looked and all
The illusive prospect vanished from the view,        75
And naught remained, but one vast length of wood,
That murmuring bowed before the wanton gale.
  So, where the setting sun, with upward ray
Adorns the evening clouds in fleecy gold,
And purple deeply dyed, the attentive eye,        80
With wonder, views a maze of objects dawn
In bright confusion o’er the blue sky’s edge,
And with a round of never-ceasing change
Perplex the doubtful scene, till night’s deep shade,
Ascending swiftly, darkens o’er the heavens,        85
And in gray vapors sweeps the whole away.
 
 
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