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XIII.--THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON.
ILD was the night ! yet a wilder night
Hung round the Soldier's pillow;
In his bosom there raged a fiercer fight,
Than the fight on the wrathful billow.
A few fond mourners were kneeling by-
The few that his stern heart cherish'd ;
They knew, by his glared and unearthly eye,
That life had nearly perish’d.
They knew, by his awful and kingly look,
By the order hastily spoken,
That he dream'd of days when the nations shook,
And the nations' hosts were broken !
He dream'd that the Frenchman's sword still slew -
Still triumph'd the Frenchman's " eagle ;"
That the struggling Austrian Aed anew,
Like the hare before the beagle.
The bearded Russian he scourged again-
The Prussian camp was routed-
And again, on the hills of haughty Spain,
His mighty armies shouted ;-
Over Egypt's sands—over Alpine snows-
At the Pyramids—at the mountain--
Where the wave of the lordly Danube flows-
And by the Italian fountain.
On the snowy cliffs where mountain-streams
Dash by the Switzer's dwelling,
He led again, in his dying dreams,
His hosts, the broad earth quelling.
Again Marengo's field was won,
And Jena's bloody battle ;
Again the world was over-run,
Made pale at his cannon's rattle.
He died at the close of that darksome day-
A day that shall live in story:
In the rocky land they placed his clay,
· And left him alone with his glory.”
XIV.-BINGEN ON THE RHINE.
SOLDIER of the Legion lay dying in Algiers ;
There was lack of woman's nursing ; there was dearth of woman's tears; But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away, And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say. The dying soldier faltered as he took the comrade's hand, And he said : I never more shall see my own, my native land ; Take a message and a token to some distant friends of mine, For I was born at Bingen-at Bingen on the Rhine.
Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around
To hear my mournful story, in the pleasant vineyard ground:
That we fought the battle bravely, and, when the day was done,
Full many a corpse lay, ghastly pale, beneath the setting sun ;
And midst the dead and dying were some grown old in wars,
The death wound on their gallant breasts, the last of many scars,
But some were young, and suddenly beheld life's morn decline,
And one had come from Bingen, fair Bingen on the Rhine!.
Tell my mother that her other sons shall comfort her old age ;
And I was, aye, a truant bird, that thought his home a cage ;-
my father was a soldier, and even as a child
My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild ;
And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard,
I let them take whate'er they would, but kept my father's sword;
And, with boyish love, I hung it where the bright light used to shine
On the cattage wall at Bingen, calm Bingen on the Rhine !
Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head-
When the troops are marching home again, with glad and gallant tread,
But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye,
For her brother was a soldier, too, and not afraid to die.
And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her, in my name,
To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame,
And to hang the old sword on its place (my father's sword and mine),
For the honor of old Bingen, dear Bingen on the Rhine !
There's another--not a sister-in the happy days gone by
You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye ;
Too innocent for coquetry, too fond for idle scorning-
Oh! friend, I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning!
Tell her the last night of my life (for ere this moon be risen
My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of prison),
I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine
On the vine-clad hills of Bingen, fair Bingen on the Rhine !
I saw the blue Rhine sweep along; I heard, or seemed to hear,
The German songs we used to sing in chorus sweet and clear.
And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill,
That echoing chorus sounded through the evening calm and still ;
And her glad blue eyes were on me as we passed, with friendly talk,
Down many a path beloved of yore, and well remembered walk.
And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine-
But we'll meet no more at Bingen, loved Bingen on the Rhine !
His voice grew faint and hoarser; his grasp was childish weak,
His eyes put on a dying look; he sighed, and ceased to speak;
His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of life had fled-
The soldier of the Legion in a foreign land was dead !
And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down
On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown-
Yes, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine
And it shone on distant Bingen, fair Bingen on the Rhine!
How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor, and song !
How the gay sledges like meteors flash by-
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye.
Ringing, swinging, dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow:
Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
As to make one regret to see it lie
To be trampled, and tracked, by the thousands of feet
Till it blends with the horrible filth in the street.
Once I was pure as the snow—but I fell :
Fell, like the snow-flakes, from heaven—to hell
Fell, to be trampled as the filth of the street
Fell, to be scoffed, to be spit on and beat.
Pleading, cursing, dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy,
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread.
Hating the living, and fearing the dead.
Merciful God ! have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like this beautiful snow !
Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like its crystals, a heart like its glow ;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace-
Flattered, and sought for the charm of my face.
Father, mother, sisters, all,
God, and myself, I have lost by my fall..
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by
Will take a wide sweep, lest I wander too nigh ;
For of all that is on or about me, I know
There is nothing that's pure but the beautiful snow.
How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it would be, when the night comes again,
If the snow, and the ice, struck my desperate brain !
Fainting, freezing, dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan
To be heard in the crash of the crazy town,
Gone mad in its joy at the snow's coming down
To lie, and to die, in my terrible woe,
With a bed, and a shroud of the beautiful snow.
Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner despair not! Christ stoopeth low
To rescue the soul that is lost in its sin,
And raise it to life and enjoyment again,
Groaning, bleeding, dying for thee,
The Crucified hung, on the cursed tree !
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear;
Is there mercy for me? will he hear weak
prayer. O, God! in that stream that for sinners doth flow, Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow !
HE lark has sung his carol in the sky,
The bees have hummed their noontide lullaby;
Still, in the vale, the village bells ring round,
Still, in Llewellyn-hall, the jests resound :
For, now, the caudle-cup is circling there;
Now, glad at heart, the gossips breathe their prayer,
And, crowding, stop the cradle, to admire
The babe,—the sleeping image of his sire !
A few short years, and then these sounds shall hail The day again, and gladness fill the vale ; So soon the child and youth, the youth and man, Eager to run the race his fathers ran : Then, the huge ox shall yield the broad sirloin ; The ale ( now brewed ) in floods of amber shine ; And, basking in the chimney's ample blaze, 'Mid many a tale told of his boyish days, The nurse shall cry, of all her ills beguiled, ««'Twas on these knees he sat so oft and smiled!"
And soon, again, shall music swell the breeze : Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees Vestures of nuptail white; and hymns be sung, And violets scattered round; and old and young,
In every cottage perch, with garlands green,
Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene ;
While, her dark eyes declining, by his side,
Moves, in her virgin veil, the gentle bride.
And once, alas ! nor in a distant hour,
Another voice shall come from yonder tower ;
When, in dim chambers, long black weeds are seen,
And weepings heard, where only joy hath been ;
When, by his children borne, and from his door
Slowly departing to return no more,
He rests in holy earth, with them who went before.
And such is Human Life! So gliding on, It glimmers, like a meteor-and is gone!
H! for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where rumor of oppression and deceit, Of unsuccessful or successful war, Might never reach me more ! My ear is pained, My soul is sick, with every day's report Of wrong and outrage, with which earth is filled, There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart: It does not feel for man. That natural bond Of brotherhood is severed, as the flax That falls asunder at the touch of fire. He finds his fellow guilty—of a skin Not colored like his own ; and, having power To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey. Lands intersected by a narrow frith, Abhor each other. Mountains interposed Make enemies of nations, who had else, Like kindred drops, been mingled into one. Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys; And, worse than all, and most to be deplored, As human nature's broadest, foulest blot, Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart, Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast. Then, what is man? And what man seeing this, And having human feelings, does not blush And hang his head, to think himself a man? I would not have a slave to till my ground, To carry ine, to fan me while I sleep, And tremble when I wake, for the wealth That sinews bought and sold have ever earned. No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's Just estimation prized above all price, I had much rather be myself the slave, And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.