Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  548. Patriotism 2. Nelson, Pitt, Fox

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Sir Walter Scott. 1771–1832

548. Patriotism 2. Nelson, Pitt, Fox

TO mute and to material things 
New life revolving summer brings; 
The genial call dead Nature hears, 
And in her glory reappears. 
But oh, my Country’s wintry state         5
What second spring shall renovate? 
What powerful call shall bid arise 
  The buried warlike and the wise; 
The mind that thought for Britain’s weal, 
The hand that grasp’d the victor steel?  10
The vernal sun new life bestows 
Even on the meanest flower that blows; 
But vainly, vainly may he shine 
Where glory weeps o’er NELSON’S shrine; 
And vainly pierce the solemn gloom  15
That shrouds, O PITT, thy hallow’d tomb! 
Deep graved in every British heart, 
O never let those names depart! 
Say to your sons,—Lo, here his grave, 
Who victor died on Gadite wave!  20
To him, as to the burning levin, 
Short, bright, resistless course was given. 
Where’er his country’s foes were found 
Was heard the fated thunder’s sound, 
Till burst the bolt on yonder shore,  25
Roll’d, blazed, destroy’d—and was no more. 
Nor mourn ye less his perish’d worth, 
Who bade the conqueror go forth, 
And launch’d that thunderbolt of war 
On Egypt, Hafnia, Trafalgar;  30
Who, born to guide such high emprise, 
For Britain’s weal was early wise; 
Alas! to whom the Almighty gave, 
For Britain’s sins, an early grave! 
—His worth, who in his mightiest hour  35
A bauble held the pride of power, 
Spurn’d at the sordid lust of pelf, 
And served his Albion for herself; 
Who, when the frantic crowd amain 
Strain’d at subjection’s bursting rein,  40
O’er their wild mood full conquest gain’d, 
The pride he would not crush, restrain’d, 
Show’d their fierce zeal a worthier cause, 
And brought the freeman’s arm to aid the freeman’s laws. 
Hadst thou but lived, though stripp’d of power,  45
A watchman on the lonely tower, 
Thy thrilling trump had roused the land, 
When fraud or danger were at hand; 
By thee, as by the beacon-light, 
Our pilots had kept course aright;  50
As some proud column, though alone, 
Thy strength had propp’d the tottering throne. 
Now is the stately column broke, 
The beacon-light is quench’d in smoke, 
The trumpet’s silver voice is still,  55
The warder silent on the hill! 
O think, how to his latest day, 
When Death, just hovering, claim’d his prey, 
With Palinure’s unalter’d mood 
Firm at his dangerous post he stood;  60
Each call for needful rest repell’d, 
With dying hand the rudder held, 
Till in his fall with fateful sway 
The steerage of the realm gave way. 
Then—while on Britain’s thousand plains  65
One polluted church remains, 
Whose peaceful bells ne’er sent around 
The bloody tocsin’s maddening sound, 
But still upon the hallow’d day 
Convoke the swains to praise and pray;  70
While faith and civil peace are dear, 
Grace this cold marble with a tear:— 
He who preserved them, PITT, lies here! 
Nor yet suppress the generous sigh, 
Because his rival slumbers nigh;  75
Nor be thy Requiescat dumb 
Lest it be said o’er Fox’s tomb. 
For talents mourn, untimely lost, 
When best employ’d, and wanted most; 
Mourn genius high, and lore profound,  80
And wit that loved to play, not wound; 
And all the reasoning powers divine 
To penetrate, resolve, combine; 
And feelings keen, and fancy’s glow— 
They sleep with him who sleeps below:  85
And, if thou mourn’st they could not save 
From error him who owns this grave, 
Be every harsher thought suppress’d, 
And sacred be the last long rest. 
Here, where the end of earthly things  90
Lays heroes, patriots, bards, and kings; 
Where stiff the hand, and still the tongue, 
Of those who fought, and spoke, and sung; 
Here, where the fretted vaults prolong 
The distant notes of holy song,  95
As if some angel spoke agen, 
‘All peace on earth, good-will to men’; 
If ever from an English heart, 
O, here let prejudice depart, 
And, partial feeling cast aside, 100
Record that Fox a Briton died! 
When Europe crouch’d to France’s yoke, 
And Austria bent, and Prussia broke, 
And the firm Russian’s purpose brave 
Was barter’d by a timorous slave— 105
Even then dishonour’s peace he spurn’d, 
The sullied olive-branch return’d, 
Stood for his country’s glory fast, 
And nail’d her colours to the mast! 
Heaven, to reward his firmness, gave 110
A portion in this honour’d grave; 
And ne’er held marble in its trust 
Of two such wondrous men the dust. 
With more than mortal powers endow’d, 
How high they soar’d above the crowd! 115
Theirs was no common party race, 
Jostling by dark intrigue for place; 
Like fabled gods, their mighty war 
Shook realms and nations in its jar; 
Beneath each banner proud to stand, 120
Look’d up the noblest of the land, 
Till through the British world were known 
The names of PITT and Fox alone. 
Spells of such force no wizard grave 
E’er framed in dark Thessalian cave, 125
Though his could drain the ocean dry, 
And force the planets from the sky. 
These spells are spent, and, spent with these, 
The wine of life is on the lees. 
Genius, and taste, and talent gone, 130
For ever tomb’d beneath the stone, 
Where—taming thought to human pride!— 
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side. 
Drop upon Fox’s grave the tear, 
‘Twill trickle to his rival’s bier; 135
O’er PITT’S the mournful requiem sound, 
And Fox’s shall the notes rebound. 
The solemn echo seems to cry, 
‘Here let their discord with them die. 
Speak not for those a separate doom 140
Whom fate made Brothers in the tomb; 
But search the land of living men, 
Where wilt thou find their like agen?’