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When through the tyrant's welcome means
The God I serve will soon provide
Before I saw the lightsome sun,
Shall mortal man repine or grudge
How oft in battle have I stood,
When smoking streams of crimson blood
How did I know that every dart
Might not find passage to my heart,
And shall I now, for fear of death,
No! from my heart fly childish fear;
Ah, godlike Henry : God forefend,
In London city was I born, Of parents of great note;
My father did a noble arms Emblazon on his coat:
I make no doubt but he is gone Where soon I hope to go,
Where we for ever shall be blest, From out the reach of wo.
He taught me justice and the laws With pity to unite;
And eke he taught me how to know The wrong cause from the right:
He taught me with a prudent hand
Nor let my servants drive away
And none can say but all my life
And summed the actions of the day
I have a spouse, go ask of her if I defiled her bed :
I have a king, and none can lay Black treason on my head.
In Lent, and on the holy eve,
Say, were ye tired of godly peace, And godly Henry's reign,
That you did chop' your easy days For those of blood and pain?
The mystic mazes of thy will,
Are past the power of human skill—
O teach me in the trying hour,
To still my sorrows, own thy power,
If in this bosom aught but Thee
Omniscience could the danger see,
Then why, my soul, dost thou complain :
Shake off the melancholy chain,
But ah! my breast is human still—
My languid vitals' feeble rill,
But yet, with fortitude resigned,
The terrors and circumstances of a Shipwreck had been often described by poets, ancient and modern, but never with any attempt at professional accuracy or minuteness of detail, before the poem of that name by Falconer. It was reserved for a genuine sailor to disclose, in correct and harmonious verse, the ‘secrets of the deep, and to enlist the sympathies of the general reader in favour of the daily life and occupations of his brother seamen, and in all the movements, the equipage, and tracery of those magnificent vessels which have carried the British name and enterprise to the remotest corners of the world. Poetical associations—a feeling of boundlessness and sublimity—obviously belonged to the scene of the poem—the ocean; but its interest soon wanders from this source, and centres in the stately ship and its crew—the gallant resistance which the men made to the fury of the storm—their calm and deliberate courage—the various resources of their skill and ingenuity—their consultations and resolutions as the ship labours in distress—and the brave unselfish piety and generosity with which they meet their fate, when at last
The crashing ribs divide— She loosens, parts, and spreads in ruin o'er the tide.
Such a subject Falconer justly considered as “new to epic lore, but it possessed strong recommendations to the British public, whose national pride and honour are so closely identified with the sea, and so many of whom have “some friend, some brother there.” WILLIAM FALconER was born in Edinburgh in 1730, and was the son of a poor barber, who had two other children, both of whom were deaf and dumb. He went early to sea, on board a Leith merchant ship, and was afterwards in the royal navy. Before he was eighteen years of age, he was second mate in the Britannia, a vessel in the Levant trade, which was shipwrecked off Cape Colonna, as described in his poem. In 1751 he was living in Edinburgh, where he published his first poetical *
a monody on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales. The choice of such a subject by a young friendless Scottish sailor, was as singular as the depth of grief he describes in his poem; for Falconer, on this occasion, wished, with a zeal worthy of ancient Pistol,
To assist the pouring rains with brimful eyes, And aid hoarse howling Boreas with his sighs!
In 1757 he was promoted to the quarter-deck of the Ramilies, and being now in a superior situation for cultivating his taste for learning, he was an assiduous student. Three years afterwards, Falconer suffered a second shipwreck; the Ramilies struck on the shore in the Channel while making for Plymouth, and of 734 of a crew, the poet and 25 others only escaped. In 1762 appeared his poem of The Shipwreck (which he afterwards greatly enlarged and improved), preceded by a dedication to the Duke of York. The work was eminently successful, and his royal highness procured him the appointment of midshipman on board the Royal George, whence he was subsequently transferred to the Glory, a frigate of 32 guns, on board which he held the situation of purser. After the peace, he resided in London, wrote a poor satire on Wilkes, Churchill, &c., and compiled a useful marine dictionary. In September 1769, the poet again took to the sea, and sailed from England as purser of the Aurora frigate, bound for India. The vessel reached the Cape of Good Hope in December, but afterwards perished at sea, having foundered, as is supposed, in the Mosambique Channel. No “tuneful Arion' was left to commemorate this calamity, the poet having died under the circumstances he had formerly described in the case of his youthful associates of the Britannia.
“The Shipwreck’ has the rare merit of being a pleasing and interesting poem, and a safe guide to practical seamen. Its nautical rules and directions are approved of by all experienced naval officers. At first, the poet does not seem to have done more than describe in nautical phrase and simple narrative the melancholy disaster he had witnessed. The characters of Albert, Rodmond, Palemon, and Anna, were added in the second edition of the work. By choosing the shipwreck of the Britannia, Falconer imparted a train of interesting recollections and images to his poem. The wreck occurred off Cape Colonna—one of the fairest portions of the beautiful shores of Greece. “In all Attica,’ says Lord Byron, “if we except Athens itself and Marathon, there is no scene more interesting than Cape Colonna. To the antiquary and artist, sixteen columns are an inexhaustible source of observation and design; to the philosopher, the supposed scene of some of Plato's conversations will not be unwelcome; and the traveller will be struck with the beauty of the prospect over “isles that crown the AEgean deep;” but for an Englishman, Colonna has yet an additional interest, as the actual spot of Falconer's Shipwreck. Pallas and Plato are often in the recollection of Falconer and Camp
Here in the dead of night by Lonna's steep,
Falconer was not insensible to the charms of these historical and classic associations, and he was still more alive to the impressions of romantic scenery and a genial climate. Some of the descriptive and episodical parts of the poem are, however, drawn out to too great a length, as they interrupt the narrative where its interest is most engrossing, besides being occasionally feeble and affected. The cha
* Pleasures of Hope.
The sun's bright orb, declining all serene,