Thou didst not murmur, nor revile,
And drank’st thy wormwood with a smile.
—Olor Iscanus; 1651.
A TALE OF PRINCE RUPERT
September 30: 1651
Seventy league from Terceira they lay
In the mid Atlantic straining;
And inch upon inch as she settles they know
The leak on the Admiral gaining.
Below them ’tis death rushes greedily in;
But their signal unheeded is waving,
For the shouts by their billow-toss’d consort unheard
Are lost in the tempest’s wild raving.
For Maurice in vain o’er the bulwark leant forth,
While Rupert to rescue was crying;
And the voice of farewell on his face is flung back
With the scud on the billow-top flying!
But no time was for tears, save for duty no thought,
When brother is parting from brother;
For Rupert the brave and his high-hearted crew,
They must die, as they lived, by each other.
Unregarded the boat, for none care from their post
To steal off while the Prince is beside them,
All, all, side by side with his comrades to share
Till the death-plunge at last shall divide them.
Ah, sharp in his bosom meanwhile is the smart,
He alone for his king is contending!
And the brightness and blaze of his youth in its prime
Must here in mid-waves have their ending!
—The seas they break over, the seas they
From fo’csle to binnacle streaming;
And a ripple runs over the Admiral’s deck,
With blue cold witch-fire gleaming.
O then in a noble rebellion they rise;
They may die, but the Prince shall o’erlive them!
With a loving rough force to the boat he is thrust,
And he must be saved and forgive them!
Now their flame-pikes they lift, the last signal for
Flaring wild in the wild rack above them:—
And each breast has one prayer for the Mercy on high,
And one for the far-off who love them.
O high-beating hearts that are still’d in the
Unknown treasure-caverns of Ocean!
There, where storms cannot vex, the three hundred are laid
In their silent heroic devotion.
Rupert, nephew to Charles through his sister Elizabeth, wife to the Elector Palatine, after the ruin of his uncle’s cause, carried on the struggle at sea. The incident here treated occurred on one of his last voyages, when cruising in the Atlantic near the Canaries: it is told at full length in E. Warburton’s narrative of Rupert’s life.
Brother is parting from brother; Maurice, a year younger than himself,—then in the companion ship Swallow, in which Rupert, by the devoted determination of his comrades, was ultimately saved. Maurice was not long after drowned in the West Indies.