Page images
PDF
EPUB

45

55

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “ All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread 50
Of the Ionely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth ;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,

65
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral, and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks on the belfry's height,
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns !

60

70 75

80

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a

spark Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet; That was all! And yet, through the gloom

and the light, The fate of a nation was riding that night; And the spark struck out by that steed' in his

flight Kindled the land into flame with its heat. He has left the village and mounted the steep, And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides ; And under the alders, that skirt its edge, Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge, 85 Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides. It was twelve by the village clock, When he crossed the bridge into Medford' town. He heard the crowing of the cock And the barking of the farmer's dog, And felt the damp of the river fog, That rises after the sun goes down. It was one by the village clock, When he galloped into Lexington." He saw the gilded weathercock Swim in the moonlight as he passed, And the meeting-house windows blank and bare, Gaze at him with a spectral glare As if they already stood aghast At the bloody work they would look upon.

90

95

[ocr errors]

,

105

IIO

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord' town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed,
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm 120
To every Middlesex village and farm, -
A
cry

of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past !
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

115

125

130 NOTES ON PAUL REVERE'S RIDE.

1 Paul Revere's Ride. The English English soldiers. About Lexing.

Parliament, to repair the losses ton the struggle was most obstincaused by the Seven Years' War, ate, and it is here that the strugattempted to tax our North Ame- gle' for American Independence rican Colonies. The Colonists re- may be said to have commenced fused to pay the unjust tax and in 1775, which ended in its fulfilflung the taxed tea into Boston ment in 1781. harbour. Both Chatham, in the 2 Seventy-five, the year 1775. Lords, and Burke in the Com- 3 North Church, in Boston. mons warned Parliament against 4 Middlesex, a county in the State of the folly of this course. General Massachusetts. Gage, commander of the British 5 Charlestown shore, a peninsula troops in Boston, sent a detach. formed by the Mystic and Charles ment to seize some military rivers, and separated from Boston stores at Concord. After effecting by the Charles river. The town this the troops set out on their of Charlestown is on the peninreturn to Boston, but the people

sula. had been warned of their approach, 6 Mystic, a river on the north side of and every point of vantage was the Charlestown peninsula. occupied by American marks- 7 Medford, Lexington, Concord, towns men who cut off many of the in Middlesex county.

[merged small][ocr errors]

1. From a child Surajah Dowlah' had hated the English. It was his whim to do so; and his whims were never opposed. He had also formed much too high a notion of the wealth which might be obtained by plundering them; and his feeble and untrained mind was unable to see that the riches of Calcutta, had they been even greater than he imagined, would not compensate? him for what he must lose, if the European trade, of which Bengal was a chief seat, should be driven by his violence to some other quarter.

2. Pretexts for a quarrel were readily found. The English, in expectation of a war with France, had begun to fortify their settlement

The governor,

without special permission from the Nabob. A rich native, whom he longed to plunder, had taken refuge at Calcutta, and had not been delivered up. On such grounds as these Surajah Dowlah marched with a great army against Fort William.3

3. The servants of the Company at Madras had been forced by Dupleix to become statesmen and soldiers. Those in Bengal were still mere traders, and were terrified and bewildered by the approaching danger. who had heard much of Surajah Dowlah's cruelty, was frightened out of his wits, jumped into a boat, and took refuge in the nearest ship. The military commandant thought that he could not do better than follow so good an example.

4. The fort was taken after a feeble resistance; and great numbers of the English fell into the hands of the conquerors. The Nabob seated himself with regal pomp in the principal hall of the factory, and ordered Mr. Holwell

, the first in rank among the prisoners, to be brought before bim. His Highness talked about the insolence of the English, and grumbled at the smallness of the treasure which he had found; but promised to spare their lives, and retired to rest.

5. Then was committed that great crime, memorable for its singular atrocity," memorable for the tremendous retribution 8 by which it was followed.

The English captives were left

« PreviousContinue »