Page images

Among thy trees, with merry step and glance,
The Dryad then had wound her wayward dance,
And the cold Naiad in thy waters fair
Bathed her white breast, and wrung her dripping hair

Beautiful Land! upon so pure a plain
Shall Superstition hold her hated reign ?
Must Bigotry build up her cheerless shrine
In such an air, on such an earth as thine ?
Alas! Religion from thy placid isles
Veils the warm splendor of her heavenly smiles,
And the wrapt gazer in the beauteous plan
See nothing dark except the soul of Man.

Sweet are the links that bind us to our kind,
Meek, but unyielding,-felt, but undefined ;
Sweet is the love of brethren, sweet the joy
Of a young mother in her cradled toy,
And sweet is childhood's deep and earnest glow
Of reverence for a father's head of snow!
Sweeter than all, ere our young hopes depart,
The quick’ning throb of an impassioned heart,
Beating in silence, eloquently still,
For one loved soul that answers to its thrill.
But where thy smile, Religion, hath not shone,

The chain is riven, and the charm is gone,
And, unawaken’d by thy wondrous spell,
The feelings slumber in their silent cell.

Hush'd is the voice of labor and of mirth,
The light of day is sinking from the earth

And Evening mantles in her dewy calm
The couch of one who cannot heed its balm.*
Lo! where the chieftain on his matted bed
Leans the faint form, and hangs the feverish head;
There is no lustre in his wandering eye,
His forehead hath no show of majesty,
His gasping lip, too weak for wail or prayer,
Scarce stirs the breeze, and leaves no echo there,
And his strong arm, so nobly wont to rear
The feather'd target, or the ashen spear,
Drops powerless and cold! the pang of death
Locks the set teeth, and chokes the struggling breath;
And the last glimmering of departing day
Lingers around to herald life away.
Is there no duteous youth to sprinkle now
One drop of water on his lip and brow ?
No dark-eyed maid to bring with soundless foot
The lulling potion, or the healing root?
No tender look to meet his wandering gaze ?
No tone of fondness, heard in happier days,
To soothe the terrors of the spirit's flight,
And speak of mercy and of hope to-night?
All love, all leave him !-terrible and slow
Along the crowd the whisper'd murmurs grow.
“The hand of heaven is on him! is it ours
" To check the fleeting of his numbered hours ?

* This sketch of the death of a New Zealander, and of the superstition which prevents the offering of any consolation or assistance, under the idea that a sick man is under the immediate influence of the Deity, is taken from the narrative of the death of Duaterra, a friendly chieftain, recorded by Mr. Nicholas, vol. ii. p. 181.

"Oh, not to us,-oh, not to us is given
" To read the book, or thwart the will, of Heaven !
“ Away, away !" and each familiar face
Recoils in horror from his sad embrace ;
The turf on which he lies is hallow'd ground,
The sullen priest stalks gloomily around,
And shuddering friends, that dare not soothe or save,
Hear the last groan, and dig the destined grave.
The frantic Widow folds upon her breast
Her glittering trinkets and her gorgeous vest,
Circles her neck with many a mystic charm, .
Clasps the rich bracelet on her desperate arm,
Binds her black hair, and stains her eye-lid's fringe
With the jet lustre of the Henow's tinge;
Then on the spot where those dear ashes lie,
In bigot transport sits her down to die.
Her swarthy brothers mark the wasted cheek,
The straining eye-ball, and the stifled shriek,
And sing the praises of her deathless name,
As the last flutter racks her tortured frame.
They sleep together: o'er the natural tomb
The lichen’d pine rears up its form of gloom,
And lorn acacias shed their shadow gray,
Bloomless and leafless, o'er the buried clay.
And often there, when, calmly, coldly bright,
The midnight moon flings down her ghastly light,
With solemn murmur, and with silent tread,
The dance is order'd, and the verse is said,
And sights of wonder, sounds of spectral fear
Scare the quick glance, and chill the startled ear.

Yet direr visions e'en than these rėmain;
A fiercer guiltiness, a fouler stain !
Oh! who shall sing the scene of savage strife,
Where Hatred glories in the waste of life?
The hurried march, the looks of grim delight,
The yell, the rush, the slaughter, and the flight,
The arms unwearied in the cruel toil,
The hoarded vengeance and the rifled spoil;
And, last of all, the revel in the wood,
The feast of death, the banqueting of blood,
When the wild warrior gazes on his fue
Convulsed beneath him in his painful throe,
And lifts the knife, and kneels him down to drain
The purple current from the quiv’ring vein ?-
Cease, cease the tale; and let the ocean's roll
Shut the dark horror from my wilder'd soul!
And are there none to succor ? none to speed
A fairer feeling and a holier creed ?
Alas! for this, upon the ocean blue,
Lamented Cook, thy pennon hither flew;
For* this, undaunted o'er the raging brine,
The venturous Frank upheld his Saviour's sign.
Unhappy chief! while Fancy thus surveys
The scatter'd islets, and the sparkling bays,
Beneath whose cloudless sky and gorgeous sun
Thy life was ended, and thy voyage done,
In shadowy mist thy form appears to glide,
Haunting the grove, or floating on the tide;

* From the coast of Australasia the last despatches of La Peyrouse were dited. Vid. Quarterly Review, for Feb. 1810.

Oh! there was grief for thee, and bitter tears, And racking doubts through long and joyless years ; And tender tongues that babbled of the theme, And lonely hearts that doated on the dream. Pale Memory deeni'd she saw thy cherish'd form Snatch'd from the fve, or rescued from the storm ; And faithful Love, unfailing and untired, Clung to each hope, and sigh’d as each expired. On the bleak desert, or the tombless sea, No prayer was said, no requiem sung for thee; Affection knows not, whether o'er thy grave, The ocean murmur, or the willow wave; But still the beacon of thy sacred name Lights ardent souls to Virtue and to Fame; Still Science mourns thee, and the grateful Muse Wreathes the green cypress for her own Peyrouse. But not thy death shall mar the gracious plan, Nor check the task thy pious toil began ; O’er the wide waters of the bounding main The Book of Life must win its way again, And in the regions by thy fate endear’d, The Cross be lifted, and the Altar rear'd. With furrow'd brow and cheek serenely fair, The calm wind wand’ring o'er his silver hair, His arm uplifted, and his moisten’d eye Fix'd in deep rapture on the golden sky,– Upon the shore, through many a billow driven, He kneels at last, the Messenger of Heaven! Long years, that rank the mighty with the weak, Have dimm’d the flush upor his faded cheek,

« PreviousContinue »