Yes! we confess it! ’mong the sons of Fate,
Earth’s great ones, thou art great!
As that tall peak which from her silver cone
Of maiden snow unstain’d
All but the bravest scares, and reigns alone
In glacier isolation: Thus wert thou,
With that pale steadfast brow,
Gaunt aquiline: Thy whole life one labouring breath,
Yet the strong soul untamed;
France bridled, England saved, thy task ere death!
—O day of triumph, when thy bloodless host
From Devon’s russet coast
Through the fair capital of the garden-West,
And that, whose gracious spire
Like childhood’s prayer springs heaven-ward unrepress’d,
To Thames march’d legion-like, and at their
The sullen despot fled,
And Law and Freedom fair,—so late restored,
And to so-perilous life,
While Stuart craft replaced the Usurper’s sword,—
Broke forth, as sunshine from the breaking sky,
When vernal storm-wings fly!
That day was thine, great Chief, from sea to sea:
The whole land’s welcome seem’d
The welcome of one man! a realm by thee
Deliver’d!—But the crowning hour
The zenith of a name
Is ours once only: and he, too just, too stern,
Too little Englishman,
A nation’s gratitude did not care to earn,
On wider aims, not worthier, set:—A soul
Immured in self-control;
Saving the thankless in their own despite:—
Then turning with a gasp
Of joy, to his own land by native right;
Changing the Hall of Rufus and the Keep
Of Windsor’s terraced steep
For Guelderland horizons, silvery-blue;
The green deer-twinkling glades,
And long, long, avenues of the stately Loo.
‘William,’ says his all too zealous panegyrist, ’never became an Englishman. He served England, it is true; but he never loved her, and he never obtained her love. To him she was always a land of exile, visited with reluctance and quitted with delight. . . . Her welfare was not his chief object. Whatever patriotic feeling he had was for Holland. . . . In the gallery of Whitehall he pined for the familiar House in the Wood at the Hague, and never was so happy as when he could quit the magnificence of Windsor for his humbler seat at Loo:’ (Macaulay: Hist. ch. vii)
One labouring breath; William throughout life was tortured by asthma.
Demon’s russet coast; Torbay.—Capital of the garden-West; Exeter.—Gracious spire; Salisbury.—Hall of Rufus; The one originally built by William II at Westminster.
Oft in midnight visions
Ghostly by my bed
Stands a Father’s image,
Pale discrowned head:—
—I forsook thee, Father!
Was no child to thee!
Now ’tis so with me.