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Relieved from that unwonted weight, From whence I could not extricate Nor him nor me and there we lay The dying on the dead!
I little deem'd another day
Would see my houseless, helpless head.
"And there from morn till twilight bound,
I felt the heavy hours toil round,
With just enough of life to see
My last of suns go down on me,
In hopeless certainty of mind,
That makes us feel at length resign'd
To that which our foreboding years
Presents the worst and last of fears
Inevitable-even a boon,
Nor more unkind for coming soon;
Yet shunn'd and dreaded with such care,
As if it only were a snare
That prudence might escape:
At times both wish'd for and implored,
At times sought with self-pointed sword,
Yet still a dark and hideous close
To even intolerable woes,
And welcome in no shape.
And, strange to say, the sons of pleasure,
They who have revell'd beyond measure
In beauty, wassail, wine, and treasure,
Die calm, or calmer, oft than he
Whose heritage was misery:
For he who hath in turn run through
All that was beautiful and new,
Hath nought to hope, and nought to leave;
And, save the future, (which is view'd
Not quite as men are base or good,
But as their nerves may be endued,)
With nought perhaps to grieve: -
The wretch still hopes his woes must end,
And Death, whom he should deem his friend,
Appears, to his distemper'd eyes,
Arrived to rob him of his prize,
The tree of his new Paradise.
To-morrow would have given him all,
Repaid his pangs, repair'd his fall;
To-morrow would have been the first
Of days no more deplored or curst,
But bright, and long, and beckoning years,
Seen dazzling through the mist of tears,
Guerdon of many a painful hour;
To-morrow would have given him power
To rule, to shine, to smite, to save-
And must it dawn upon his grave?
"The sun was sinking-still I lay
Chain'd to the chill and stiffening steed,
I thought to mingle there our clay;
And my dim eyes of death hath need,
No hope arose of being freed:
I cast my last looks up the sky,
And there between me and the sun I saw the expecting raven fly,
Who scarce would wait till both should die, Ere his repast begun ;
He flew, and perch'd, then flew once more, And each time nearer than before;
I saw his wing through twilight flit,
And once so near me he alit
I could have smote, but lack'd the strength; But the slight motion of my hand,
And feeble scratching of the sand,
The exerted throat's faint struggling noise,
Which scarcely could be call'd a voice,
Together scared him off at length.
I know no more—my latest dream
Is something of a lovely star
Which fix'd my dull eyes from afar,
And went and came with wandering beam,
And of the cold, dull, swimming, dense
Sensation of recurring sense,
And then subsiding back to death,
And then again a little breath,
A little thrill, a short suspense,
An icy sickness curdling o'er
My heart, and sparks that cross'd my brain
A gasp, a throb, a start of pain,
A sigh, and nothing more.
"I woke Where was I?-Do I see
A human face look down on me?
And doth a roof above me close?
Do these limbs on a couch repose?
Is this a chamber where I lie ?
And is it mortal yon bright eye,
That watches me with gentle glance?
I closed my own again once more,
As doubtful that the former trance
Could not as yet be o'er.
A slender girl, long-hair'd, and tall,
Sate watching by the cottage wall;
The sparkle of her eye I caught,
Even with my first return of thought;
For ever and anon she threw
A prying, pitying glance on me
With her black eyes so wild and free:
I gazed, and gazed, until I knew
No vision it could be,-
But that I lived, and was released
From adding to the vulture's feast:
And when the Cossack maid beheld
My heavy eyes at length unseal'd,
She smiled and I essay'd to speak,
But fail'd-and she approach'd, and made
With lip and finger signs that said,
I must not strive as yet to break
The silence, till my strength should be
Enough to leave my accents free;
And then her hand on mine she laid,
And smooth'd the pillow for my head,
And stole along on tiptoe tread,
And gently oped the door, and spake
In whispers - ne'er was voice so sweet!
Even music follow'd her light feet;
But those she call'd were not awake, And she went forth; but, ere she pass'd, Another look on me she cast,
Another sign she made, to say,
That I had nought to fear, that all
Were near, at my command or call,
And she would not delay
Her due return: - while she was gone,
Methought I felt too much alone.
"She came with mother and with sire-
What need of more ?-I will not tire
With long recital of the rest,
Since I became the Cossack's guest
They found me senseless on the plain —
They bore me to the nearest hut-
They brought me into life again-
Me- one day o'er their realm to reign!
Thus the vain fool who strove to glut
His rage, refining on my pain,
Sent me forth to the wilderness,
Bound, naked, bleeding, and alone,
To pass the desert to a throne,
Let none despond, let none despair!
To-morrow the Borysthenes
May see our coursers graze at ease
Upon his Turkish bank,—and never
Had I such welcome for a river
As I shall yield when safely there. 1
Comrades, good night!"-
'-The Hetman threw
His length beneath the oak-tree shade,
With leafy couch already made,
A bed nor comfortless nor new
To him, who took his rest whene'er
The hour arrived, no matter where:
His eyes the hastening slumbers steep.
And if ye marvel Charles forgot
To thank his tale, he wonder'd not,
The king had been an hour asleep. ?
THE foundation of the following story will be found partly in Lieutenant Bligh's "Narrative of the Mutiny and Seizure of the Bounty, in the South Seas, in 1789;" and partly in "Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands." 5
The cloven billow flash'd from off her prow
In furrows form'd by that majestic plough;
The waters with their world were all before;
Behind, the South Sea's many an islet shore.
The quiet night, now dappling, 'gan to wane,
Dividing darkness from the dawning main;
The dolphins, not unconscious of the day,
Swam high, as eager of the coming ray;
The stars from broader beams began to creep,
And lift their shining eyelids from the deep;
The sail resumed its lately shadow'd white,
And the wind flutter'd with a freshening flight;
The purpling ocean owns the coming sun,
But ere he break-a deed is to be done.
THE morning watch was come; the vessel lay Her course, and gently made her liquid way;
[Charles, having perceived that the day was lost, and that his only chance of safety was to retire with the utmost precipitation, suffered himself to be mounted on horseback, and with the remains of his army fled to a place called Pere. wolochna, situated in the angle formed by the junction of the Vorskla and the Borysthenes. Here, accompanied by Mazeppa, and a few hundreds of his followers, Charles swam over the latter great river, and proceeding over a desolate country, in danger of perishing with hunger, at length reached the Bog, where he was kindly received by the Turkish pacha. The Russian envoy at the Sublime Porte demanded that Mazeppa should be delivered up to Peter; but the old Hetman of the Cossacks escaped this fate by taking a disease which hastened his death."BARROW's Peter the Great, pp. 196-203.]
2 [It is impossible not to suspect that the Poet had some circumstances of his own personal history in his mind, when he portrayed the fair Polish Theresa, her youthful lover, and the jealous rage of the old Count Palatine. J
3 [The Island" was written at Genoa, early in the year 1823, and published in the June following.]
[We are taught by The Book of sacred history, that the disobedience of our first parents entailed on our globe of earth
The gallant chief within his cabin slept,
Secure in those by whom the watch was kept:
a sinful and a suffering race. In our time there has sprung up from the most abandoned of this sinful family-from pirates, mutineers, and murderers a little society, which, under the precepts of that sacred volume, is characterised by religion, morality, and innocence. The discovery of this happy people, as unexpected as it was accidental, and all that regards their condition and history, partake so much of the romantic, as to render the story not ill adapted for an epic poem. Lord Byron, indeed, has partially treated the subject; but, by blending two incongruous stories, and leaving both of them imperfect, and by mixing up fact with fiction, has been less felicitous than usual; for, beautiful as many passages in his "Island" are, in a region where every tree, and flower, and fountain, breathe poetry, yet, as a whole, the poem is deficient in dramatic effect.- BARROW.]
5 [The hitherto scattered materials of the "Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of the Bounty," with many important and most interesting additions, from the records of the Admiralty, and the family papers of Captain Heywood, R. N., have lately been collected and arranged by Sir John Barrow, in a little volume, to which the reader of this poem is referred, and from which every young officer of the navy may derive valuable instruction.]
His dreams were of Old England's welcome shore,
Of toils rewarded, and of dangers o'er;
His name was added to the glorious roll
Of those who search the storm-surrounded Pole.
The worst was over, and the rest seem'd sure, I
And why should not his slumber be secure?
Alas! his deck was trod by unwilling feet,
And wilder hands would hold the vessel's sheet;
Young hearts, which languish'd for some sunny isle,
Where summer years and summer women smile;
Men without country, who, too long estranged,
Had found no native home, or found it changed,
And, half uncivilised, preferr'd the cave
Of some soft savage to the uncertain wave-
The gushing fruits that nature gave untill'd;
The wood without a path but where they will'd;
The field o'er which promiscuous Plenty pour'd
Her horn; the equal land without a lord;
The wish which ages have not yet subdued
In man-to have no master save his mood; 2
The earth, whose mine was on its face, unsold,
The glowing sun and produce all its gold;
The freedom which can call each grot a home;
The general garden, where all steps may roam,
Where Nature owns a nation as her child,
Exulting in the enjoyment of the wild;
Their shells, their fruits, the only wealth they know,
Their unexploring navy, the canoe;
Their sport, the dashing breakers and the chase;
Their strangest sight, an European face: -
Such was the country which these strangers yearn'd
To see again; a sight they dearly earn'd.
"A few hours before, my situation had been peculiarly flattering: I had a ship in the most perfect order, stored with every necessary, both for health and service; the object of the voyage was attained, and two thirds of it now completed. The remaining part had every prospect of success."- BL.GH.]
2 ["The women of Otaheite are handsome, mild, and cheerful in manners and conversation, possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them be admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people, that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these and many other concomitant circumstances, it ought hardly to be the subject of surprise that a set of sailors, most of them void of connections, should be led away, where they had the power of fixing themselves, in the midst of plenty, in one of the finest islands in the world, where there was no necessity to labour, and where the allurements of dissipation are beyond any conception that can be formed of it." B.]
3["Just before sunrise, while I was yet asleep, Mr. Christian, with the master at arms, gunner's mate, and Thomas Burkitt, seaman, came into my cabin, and, seizing me, tied my hands with a cord behind my back, threatening me with instant death, if I spoke or made the least noise. I nevertheless called out as loud as I could, in hopes of assistance; but the officers not of their party were already secured by sentinels at their doors. At my own cabin door were three men, besides the four within: all except Christian had muskets and
For ne'er can man his conscience all assuage, Unless he drain the wine of passion- rage.
In vain, not silenced by the eye of death,
Thou call'st the loyal with thy menaced breath: -
They come not; they are few, and, overawed,
Must acquiesce, while sterner hearts applaud.
In vain thou dost demand the cause: a curse
Is all the answer, with the threat of worse.
Full in thine eyes is waved the glittering blade,
Close to thy throat the pointed bayonet laid.
The levell'd muskets circle round thy breast
In hands as steel'd to do the deadly rest.
Thou darest them to their worst, exclaiming - "Fire!"
But they who pitied not could yet admire;
Some lurking remnant of their former awe
Restrain'd them longer than their broken law;
They would not dip their souls at once in blood,
But left thee to the inercies of the flood.
"Hoist out the boat!" was now the leader's cry;
And who dare answer "No!" to Mutiny,
In the first dawning of the drunken hour,
The Saturnalia of unhoped-for power?
The boat is lower'd with all the haste of hate,
With its slight plank between thee and thy fate;
Her only cargo such a scant supply
As promises the death their hands deny;
And just enough of water and of bread
To keep, some days, the dying from the dead:
Some cordage, canvass, sails, and lines, and twine,
But treasures all to hermits of the brine,
Were added after, to the earnest prayer
Of those who saw no hope, save sea and air;
And last, that trembling vassal of the Pole-
The feeling compass-Navigation's soul. +
bayonets; he had only a cutlass. I was dragged out of bed. and forced on deck in my shirt. On demanding the reason of such violence, the only answer was abuse for not holding my tongue. The boatswain was then ordered to hoist out the launch, accompanied by a threat, if he did not do it instantly, to take care of himself. The boat being hoisted out, Mr. Hey. ward and Mr. Hallet two of the midshipmen, and Mr. Samuel, the clerk, were ordered into it. I demanded the intention of giving this order, and endeavoured to persuade the people near me not to persist in such acts of violence; but it was to no effect; for the constant answer was. Hold your tongue, or you are dead this moment !'"'— BLIGH.]
4" The boatswain and those seamen who were to be put into the boat were allowed to collect twine, canvass, lines, sails, cordage, an eight-and-twenty-gallon cask of water; and Mr. Samuel got one hundred and fifty pounds of bread, with a small quantity of rum and wine; also a quadrant and compass."- B.]
["The mutineers having thus forced those of the seamen whom they wished to get rid of into the boat, Christian directed a dram to be served to each of his crew." ― B.]
6 [It appears to have been Dr. Johnson who thus gave honour to Cognac." He was persuaded," says Boswell," to take one glass of claret. He shook his head, and said, Poor stuff! No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy.' See Boswell, vol. viii. p. 4. ed. 1835.]
And such the new-born heroes found it here,
And drain'd the draught with an applauding cheer.
"Huzza! for Otaheite!" was the cry.
How strange such shouts from sons of Mutiny !
The gentle island, and the genial soil,
The friendly hearts, the feasts without a toil,
The courteous manners but from nature caught,
The wealth unhoarded, and the love unbought;
Could these have charms for rudest sea-boys, driven
Before the mast by every wind of heaven?
And now, even now prepared with others' woes
To earn mild virtue's vain desire, repose?
Alas! such is our nature! all but aim
At the same end by pathways not the same;
Our means, our birth, our nation, and our name,
Our fortune, temper, even our outward frame,
Are far more potent o'er our yielding clay
Than aught we know beyond our little day.
Yet still there whispers the small voice within,
Heard through Gain's silence, and o'er Glory's din:
Whatever creed be taught or land be trod,
Man's conscience is the oracle of God.
The launch is crowded with the faithful few
Who wait their chief, a melancholy crew:
But some remain'd reluctant on the deck
Of that proud vessel-now a moral wreck-
And view'd their captain's fate with piteous eyes;
While others scoff'd his augur'd miseries,
Sneer'd at the prospect of his pigmy sail,
And the slight bark so laden and so frail.
The tender nautilus, who steers his prow,
The sea-born sailor of his shell canoe,
The ocean Mab, the fairy of the sea,
Seems far less fragile, and, alas! more free.
He, when the lightning-wing'd tornados sweep
The surge, is safe-his port is in the deep-
And triumphs o'er the armadas of mankind,
Which shake the world, yet crumble in the wind.
When all was now prepared, the vessel clear,
Which hail'd her master in the mutineer—
A seaman, less obdurate than his mates,
Show'd the vain pity which but irritates;
Watch'd his late chieftain with exploring eye,
And told, in signs, repentant sympathy;
Held the moist shaddock to his parched mouth,
Which felt exhaustion's deep and bitter drouth:
But soon observed, this guardian was withdrawn,
Nor further mercy clouds rebellion's dawn. I
Then forward stepp'd the bold and froward boy
His chief had cherish'd only to destroy,
And, pointing to the helpless prow beneath,
Exclaim'd," Depart at once! delay is death!"
Yet then, even then, his feelings ceased not all :
In that last moment could a word recall
["Isaac Martin, I saw, had an inclination to assist me; and as he fed me with shaddock, my lips being quite parched, we explained each other's sentiments by looks. But this was observed, and he was removed. He then got into the boat, but was compelled to return."— BLIGH.]
[Christian then said, Come, Captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat, and you must go with them: if you attempt to make the least resistance, you will instantly be put to death; and, without further ceremony, I was forced over the side by a tribe of armed ruffians, where they untied my hands. Being in the boat, we were veered astern by a rope. A few pieces of pork were thrown to us,
Remorse for the black deed as yet half done,
And what he hid from many show'd to one:
When Bligh in stern reproach demanded where
Was now his grateful sense of former care?
Where all his hopes to see his name aspire,
And blazon Britain's thousand glories higher ?
His feverish lips thus broke their gloomy spell,
""Tis that! 'tis that! I am in hell! in hell!" 2
No more he said; but urging to the bark
His chief, commits him to his fragile ark;
These the sole accents from his tongue that fell,
But volumes lurk'd below his fierce farewell.
The arctic sun rose broad above the wave;
The breeze now sank, now whisper'd from his cave;
As on the Æolian harp, his fitful wings
Now swell'd, now flutter'd o'er his ocean strings.
With slow, despairing oar, the abandon'd skiff
Ploughs its drear progress to the scarce-seen cliff,
Which lifts its peak a cloud above the main :
That boat and ship shall never meet again!
But 't is not mine to tell their tale of grief,
Their constant peril, and their scant relief;
Their days of danger, and their nights of pain;
Their manly courage even when deem'd in vain ;
The sapping famine, rendering scarce a son
Known to his mother in the skeleton;
The ills that lessen'd still their little store,
And starved even Hunger till he wrung no more;
The varying frowns and favours of the deep,
That now almost ingulfs, then leaves to creep
With crazy oar and shatter'd strength along
The tide that yields reluctant to the strong;
The incessant fever of that arid thirst
Which welcomes, as a well, the clouds that burst
Above their naked bones, and feels delight
In the cold drenching of the stormy night,
And from the outspread canvass gladly wrings
A drop to moisten life's all-gasping springs;
The savage foe escaped, to seek again
More hospitable shelter from the main ;
The ghastly spectres which were doom'd at last
To tell as true a tale of dangers past,
As ever the dark annals of the deep
Disclosed for man to dread or woman weep.
We leave them to their fate, but not unknown
Nor unredress'd. Revenge may have her own:
Roused discipline aloud proclaims their cause,
And injured navies urge their broken laws.
Pursue we on his track the mutineer,
Whom distant vengeance had not taught to fear.
Wide o'er the wave- away! away! away!
Once more his eyes shall hail the welcome bay;
Once more the happy shores without a law
Receive the outlaws whom they lately saw;
also the four cutlasses. After having been kept some time to make sport for these unfeeling wretches, and having undergone much ridicule, we were at length cast adrift in the open ocean. Eighteen persons were with me in the boat. When we were sent away, Huzza for Otaheite!' was frequently heard among the mutineers. Christian, the chief of them, was of a respectable family in the north of England. While they were forcing me out of the ship, I asked him whether this was a proper return for the many instances he had ex. perienced of my friendship? He appeared disturbed at the question, and answered, with much emotion, That-Captain Bligh that is the thing I am in hell I am in hell !'". BLIGH.]
Nature, and Nature's goddess -woman-woos
To lands where, save their conscience, none accuse;
Where all partake the earth without dispute,
And bread itself is gather'd as a fruit';
Where none contest the fields, the woods, the streams:-
The goldless age, where gold disturbs no dreams,
Inhabits or inhabited the shore,
Till Europe taught them better than before:
Bestow'd her customs, and amended theirs,
But left her vices also to their heirs.
Away with this! behold them as they were,
Do good with Nature, or with Nature err.
"Huzza! for Otaheite!" was the cry,
As stately swept the gallant vessel by.
The breeze springs up; the lately flapping sail
Extends its arch before the growing gale;
In swifter ripples stream aside the seas,
Which her bold bow flings off with dashing ease.
Thus Argo plough'd the Euxine's virgin foam;
But those she wafted still look'd back to home —
These spurn their country with their rebel bark,
And fly her as the raven fled the ark;
And yet they seek to nestle with the dove,
And tame their fiery spirits down to love.
How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai 3,
When summer's sun went down the coral bay!
Come, let us to the islet's softest shade,
And hear the warbling birds! the damsels said:
The wood-dove from the forest depth shall coo,
Like voices of the gods from Bolotoo;
We'll cull the flowers that grow above the dead,
For these most bloom where rests the warrior's head;
And we will sit in twilight's face, and see
The sweet moon glancing through the tooa tree,
The lofty accents of whose sighing bough
Shall sadly please us as we lean below;
Or climb the steep, and view the surf in vain
Wrestle with rocky giants o'er the main,
Which spurn in columns back the baffled spray.
How beautiful are these! how happy they,
Who, from the toil and tumult of their lives,
Steal to look down where nought but ocean strives!
Even he too loves at times the blue lagoon,
And smooths his ruffled mane beneath the moon.
Yes-from the sepulchre we 'll gather flowers,
Then feast like spirits in their promised bowers,
Then plunge and revel in the rolling surf,
Then lay our limbs along the tender turf,
1 The now celebrated bread-fruit, to transplant which Captain Bligh's expedition was undertaken.
2 [The vessel in which Jason embarked in quest of the golden fleece.]
3 The first three sections are taken from an actual song of
And, wet and shining from the sportive toil,
Anoint our bodies with the fragrant oil,
And plait our garlands gather'd from the grave,
And wear the wreaths that sprung from out the brave.
But lo! night comes, the Mooa woos us back,
The sound of mats are heard along our track;
Anon the torchlight dance shall fling its sheen
In flashing mazes o'er the Marly's green;
And we too will be there; we too recall
The memory bright with many a festival,
Ere Fiji blew the shell of war, when foes
For the first time were wafted in canoes.
Alas! for them the flower of mankind bleeds;
Alas! for them our fields are rank with weeds:
Forgotten is the rapture, or unknown,
Of wandering with the moon and love alone.
But be it so they taught us how to wield
The club, and rain our arrows o'er the field:
Now let them reap the harvest of their art!
But feast to-night! to-morrow we depart.
Strike up the dance! the cava bowl fill high!
Drain every drop! - to-morrow we may die.
In summer garments be our limbs array'd;
Around our waists the tappa's white display'd;
Thick wreaths shall form our coronal, like spring's,
And round our necks shall glance the hooni strings;
So shall their brighter hues contrast the glow
Of the dusk bosoms that beat high below.
But now the dance is o'er-yet stay awhile;
Ah, pause nor yet put out the social smile.
To-morrow for the Mooa we depart,
But not to-night-to-night is for the heart.
Again bestow the wreaths we gently woo,
Ye young enchantresses of gay Licoo!
How lovely are your forms! how every sense
Bows to your beauties, soften'd, but intense,
Like to the flowers on Mataloco's steep,
Which fling their fragrance far athwart the deep!-
We too will see Licoo; but-oh! niy heart!-
What do I say?-to-morrow we depart !
Thus rose a song- the harmony of times
Before the winds blew Europe o'er these climes.
True, they had vices- such are Nature's growth-
But only the barbarian's-we have both:
The sordor of civilisation, mix'd
With all the savage which man's fall hath fix'd.
Who hath not seen Dissimulation's reign,
The prayers of Abel link'd to deeds of Cain?
Who such would see may from his lattice view
The Old World more degraded than the New,
Now new no more, save where Columbia rears
Twin giants, born by Freedom to her spheres,
Where Chimborazo, over air, earth, wave,
Glares with his Titan eye, and sees no slave.
Such was this ditty of Tradition's days, Which to the dead a lingering fame conveys
the Tonga Islanders, of which a prose translation is given in "Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands." Toobonai is not however one of them; but was one of those where Christian and the mutineers took refuge. I have altered and added, but have retained as much as possible of the original.