Oh! yet within the tent I see thee lie,
The victor, like a coward, crouching by;
O’erawed, rebuked, and humbled in the hour,
The plenitude of his success and power!
A pain the guilty never make us know,
In all the miseries they cause below;
A pain which they in every triumph feel,
A humbling sense no glory yet could heal,
The want of conscious worth, the poignant thought,
That inwardly sets all pretence at naught!
That curbs all self-applause—tears all disguise—
When the subdued, the ruin’d can despise;
And, in the arms of death, can yet be free,
To say, “Let me be any thing but thee!”
Ambition! while thy zeal the good inflame,
And make a noble nature sigh for fame,
We deem thee of a more than royal line,
For self-devotion tendeth to divine!
But when, like Dahab’s demon, selfish, vain,
It loosens Gratitude’s mysterious chain;
When broken Faith aloud, but vainly calls;
When the warm friend, the king, the brother falls;
Instead of honours, and a conqueror’s fame,
Hatred shall haunt, and curses brand thy name!
Written for a Young Gentleman to speak at the Audit at St. Saviour’s School, Southwark, after the Battle of Trafalgar.
While others, from the Greek and Roman page,
Declare the prudent councils of the sage;
Or, in recital of achievements bold,
Retrace the motives and the deeds of old,
I, in the accents of my native clime,
And, at the moment, shaking hands with Time,
I, whom our recent loss forbids to roam,
Shall plant my mourning standard nearer home!
At the sad shrine where gallant Nelson sleeps,
Where Britain bends her lofty head and weeps,
Deeply lamenting that she cannot prove,
The fond excess of dearly purchas’d love.
Is there a callous mind, that does not feel
An anxious interest in the public weal!
Is there a heart that pities not the brave!
To whom luxuriant laurels hide the grave!
A grief unwing’d, yet unconsol’d by pride!
A tongue that said not, when our hero died,
While bitter tears that glorious loss deplore,
The man who lov’d his country is no more?
No! in each eye the glowing trophies fade;
Each sign of triumph seems a vain parade!
The aching sigh to conquering shouts succeeds,
And Victory assumes a widow’s weeds.
Some wily chieftain, building up a name,
May fight for immortality and fame;
Time may embalm his valour, or his art,
And History shew the coldness of a heart,
Which, emulous of grandeur and a throne,
Acts for itself, “its own low self” alone;
And, in the inner chambers of the mind,
Broods over plans to subjugate mankind:
There fondly bends each nation to his sway,
That he may rule, and all beside obey.
Haply the mighty fabric may arise,
Vast in its bulk, and aiming at the skies,
Till Wisdom, viewing the enormous pile,
Admires the madness of a man the while,
Who labours with incessant toil and skill;
To feed Ambition, discontented still;
And for that serpent in his bosom curl’d,
Erects a temple fit to hold the world!