Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Lines on the Accession of George II
By Benjamin Church (1734–1778)
 
  WHERE thick embowering shades, and clustering trees,
Form soft recess, and shed poetic ease;
Inarching boughs embrown the silent way,
Fan breezy cool, and half exclude the day:
A moss-clad rock here spread its bulky base,        5
Where the lithe ivy winds its close embrace;
Beneath its slope—grey parent of the wood,
A mouldering oak, grotesque and naked, stood;
From its chafed root, a gurgling rivulet strays,
And through the forest worms its sparkling maze:        10
Here his sluiced eyes, the pensive Pollio led,
And lo his anguish utter’d, “George is dead.”
 
  The swift wing’d breeze, excursive, wafts the sound,
The cloud-topp’d forest nodded to the ground;
The bellying clouds, with sable skirts advance,        15
And a dun horror shrouds the blue expanse;
Slow swells the blast, the transient gusts arise,
And grumbling thunders roll along the skies;
The storm collects, in dusky clouds array’d,
And brooding tempest frowns the deepest shade.        20
Involved in glooms, reclined upon the oak,
In faltering accents, Pollio sobb’d and spoke.
 
  “Lower on, ye sables, shed a tenfold gloom!
George is deceased, and earth is but his tomb;
The heavens were deaf, when Albion pour’d her cries        25
Ah fruitless anguish! ah relentless skies!
War on, ye elements, ye tempests sweep
The heaving bosom of the hoary deep;
Ye trembling forests hide your faded green,
May darksome horrors wrap the saddening scene;        30
Ye verdant walks a sicklier face shall wear,
No flowers, to breathe soft incense through the air;
Their savory banquets shall the flocks refrain,
Nor crop the velvet of the pasturing plain;
No fostering showers from hence refresh the lawn,        35
No pearly blessings cheer the parching dawn;
The widow’d groves lost foliage shall deplore,
And balmy zephyrs gather sweets no more:
Thy George, O Albion! Heaven declines to spare,
Bestow’d too long to prevalence of prayer;        40
Albion! thy parent dies!—as bless’d a mind,
As heaven could furnish to exalt mankind;
Religion, mercy, peace, his steps attend,
And numerous virtues all their lustres lend;
His guide was truth, benevolence his road,        45
His life, one effort of redundant good;
No sword of violence protects a crime,
Stains the clear page, or dims the golden time;
No vice illustrious stalk’d behind the king,
No shelter’d folly fledged beneath his wing;        50
No ravenous grasp, no lawless lust of power,
Sullies his life, or stains a single hour;
So kindly just, the parent monarch sighs,
And greatly pities, while the laws chastise:
When Albion’s safety would, how swift to save?        55
(A deed for gods) he pitied and forgave:
Large as his heart, the blessings he design’d;
His godlike bounty deluged all mankind:
Here he restrain’d the Indian’s thirst of gore,
And bid the murderous tomax drink no more;        60
Crush’d faithless Gallia, with her savage train,
Who foster factions, to disturb his reign;
Stretch’d through these haunts the blessings of his sway,
And pour’d on pagan darkness, beamy day;
’T is from his hand this tide of plenty flows,        65
Thence learning buds, the infant of repose;
’T is he, whose wisdom crown’d the happiest reign,
When patriots only, equal honors gain;
Where all distinction was to vice denied,
And patriot virtue spread its influence wide:        70
No sons but virtue’s, shone among the great,
Nor less than Pitt, the pilot of the state.
Nor civil virtues were his only claim,
His early prowess won a martial fame:
The victor wreath in dreadful fields he twined,        75
And valor throned him monarch of mankind;
Germania’s realms his matchless courage boast,
And clustering glories in his name are lost.
Long was the blessing spared to Albion’s cries,
Loved by his realms, and ripening for the skies;        80
In his full orb of majesty complete,
He quits his earthly for a heavenly seat:
Death, and death only, to such kings imparts
A kingdom equal to their great deserts.”
 
  Here the full tide of grief his song suppress’d,        85
And sighs and tears, instructive, spoke the rest.
Amid the instant wreck, the laboring sigh,
What glorious form commands the weeping eye?
Pierced with a kingdom’s woes, she leads the tear,
The infections drop our lids are proud to wear;        90
’T is Albion’s guardian! see, her glossy plume
Darts a keen radiance through the withering gloom!
Not Cynthia’s beams with such effulgence flow,
When her full disk gives all its broad below:
High o’er the silver-skirted main she rose,        95
And o’er a world in anguish smiled repose:
She waves her hand, and points to Britain’s throne,
“George still survives, O Albion! all thy own:
From deep despair, redemption he commands,
And guides the sceptre with instructed hands.”        100
 
  New flush’d with life, the blooming forests rise,
Shine with fresh green, and climb to taller skies;
The warbling wantons through the dusky grove,
Sweetly conspiring pour a waste of love;
Perfumes from every breathing flower exhale,        105
And balmy incense loads the fragrant gale;
Their savory banquet lowing herds regain,
Ranged on the velvet of the pasturing plain:
On the bless’d theme the bard indulged him long,
Then thus his raptures he attuned to song:        110
“Thrice bless’d Britannia! heaven’s peculiar care!
Oft rescued in the moment of despair;
Pangs but arrive e’er blessings swift pursue,
We scarcely tremble, e’er we triumph too.
How scourged! how lost! let Albion’s groans inform;        115
This western empire scarce survived the storm:
Our ague fears, and enervating woe,
Edged the keen vengeance of the insulting foe;
But—snatch’d from fate, when to its stroke resign’d—
Who dares despair? for heaven and George were kind.        120
Then whilst with Albion we our joys contest,
And pour our raptures in the monarch’s breast;
The distant blessing honor and approve,
With secret avarice dwell upon his love;
To listening skies our laboring breasts unload,        125
And wrest new blessings from his conscious God;
He dies. At this our bursting bosoms rave,
And pain’d remembrance envied George his grave.
 
  “What kindly God presides? the tumults cease,
This hour all tempest, and the next all peace;        130
We smile, bless’d heaven! a George upon the throne,
Another George, O Albion! all thy own;
From deep despair a nation to redeem,
And check our sorrows in their midway stream:
He sways the sceptre, takes the glorious charge;        135
Unbounded goodness now shall lord at large:
His virtues blazon’d wide as fame can wing,
And proud Britannia glories in her king.
Blush, grandeur! blush, in all thy purple pride,
True greatness is to goodness close allied:        140
The worthy heart will ever claim esteem;
O prince, thy virtue is thy brightest gem:
Food for applause to distant realms dispense,
Beyond the reach of poor magnificence;
Blessings are tongued, and ever on the wing—        145
A wondering world’s a circle for a king.
Joy to the realms where slavery was design’d,
A Brunswick reigns, the guardian of mankind.
While gay-eyed conquest rears his banners high,
A flaming meteor in the Gallic sky.        150
He bids his bolted thunders cease their roar;
And offers peace to Gallia’s faithless shore.
Bless’d prince! whose unexampled goodness charms,
Thy people’s blessings be thy brightest arms:
The base of empire is the king’s desert,        155
And merit is the monarch of the heart.
Nor hostile worlds shall favorite George dethrone;
Each Briton’s breast’s a barrier to his own.
May one clear calm attend thee to thy close,
One lengthen’d sunshine of complete repose:        160
Correct our crimes, and beam that christian mind
O’er the wide wreck of dissolute mankind;
To calm brow’d peace, the maddening world restore,
Or lash the demon thirsting still for gore;
Till nature’s utmost bound thy arms restrain,        165
And prostrate tyrants bite the British chain.
 
 
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