Oppress’d with light, he seeks to shun
The splendid glories of the sun;
The busy crowds that hover near,
Torment his eye, distract his ear;
He hastens to the secret shades,
Where not a ray the gloom pervades;
Where Contemplation may retreat,
And Silence take his mossy seat;
Yet even there no peace he knows,
His fev’rish blood, no calmer flows;
Some hid assassins ’vengeful knife,
Is rais’d to end his wretched life.
He shudders, starts, and stares around,
With breathless fright, to catch the fancied sound;
Seeks for the dagger in his breast,
And gripes it ’neath his ruffled vest.
Lo! now he plunges in the flood,
To cleanse his garments, stain’d with blood,
His sanguine arm, in terror, laves;
But ah! its hue defies the waves.
Deprest, bewildered, thence he flies,
And, to avoid Detection, tries,
Who, frowning, still before him stands,
The sword of Justice in her hands;
Abhorrent Scorn, unpitying Shame,
And Punishments without a name,
Still on her sounding steps attend,
And every added horror lend.
He turns away, with dread and fear,
But the fell spectres still are near.
Though Falsehood’s mazes see him wind!
Yet Infamy is close behind,
Lifting her horn, with horrors fraught,
Whose hideous yell is frenzy to the thought.
Now, maniac-like, he comes again,
And mixes with the jocund train;
But still those eyes that wildly roll,
Bespeak the tempest in his soul.
In yon deep cave he strives to rest,
But Mem’ry harrows up his breast;
He clasps the goblet, foe to Care,
And lo! Distraction hovers there.
Ah, hapless wretch! condemn’d to know,
The sad varieties of woe;
Where’er thy footsteps turn, to meet,
An earthquake yawning at thy feet,
While o’er thy head pale meteors glare,
And boding tempests fill the air,
In throbbing anguish doom’d to roam,
Yet never find a peaceful home.
Haste! to the shrine of Mercy hie,
There lift the penitential eye,
With breaking heart thy sins deplore,
And wound Integrity no more!
Repentance then thy soul shall save,
And snatch thee, ransom’d, from the grave.
* * * * *
The death of Selred, last King of the East-Saxons, reduced that part of the Heptarchy to dependance on Mercia. The rest is imaginary.
* * * * *
When Britain many chiefs obey’d,
And seven Saxon princes sway’d,
The Mercian monarch, fam’d afar,
In peace respected, fear’d in war,
Favour’d by heav’n above the rest,
In his brave son was fully blest;
For none like Cen’lin did arise,
So virtuous, elegant, and wise.