π1r π1v π2r

The
Emigrants,

A
Poem,
in
Two Books.


By Charlotte Smith.


London:
Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand.
17931793.

π2v a1r

To William Cowper, Esq.

Dear Sir,

There is, I hope, some propriety in my addressing a Composition
to you, which would never perhaps have existed, had
I not, amid the heavy pressure of many sorrows, derived
infinite consolation from your Poetry, and some degree of
animation and of confidence from your esteem.

The following performance is far from aspiring to be considered
as an imitation of your inimitable Poem, The
Task
; I am perfectly sensible, that it belongs not to a
feeble and feminine hand to draw the Bow of Ulysses.

The force, clearness, and sublimity of your admirable Poem;
the felicity, almost peculiar to your genius, of giving to the
most familiar objects dignity and effect, I could never hope to a a2v [vi] reach
reach; yet, having read The Task almost incessantly from
its first publication to the present time, I felt that kind of
enchantment described by Milton, when he says,
“The Angel ended, and in Adam’s earSo charming left his voice, that he awhileThought him still speaking.”

And from the force of this impression, I was gradually led to
attempt, in Blank Verse, a delineation of those interesting objects
which happened to excite my attention, and which even
pressed upon an heart, that has learned, perhaps from its own
sufferings, to feel with acute, though unavailing compassion,
the calamity of others.

A Dedication usually consists of praises and of apologies;
my praise can add nothing to the unanimous and loud applause
of your country. She regards you with pride, as one of the
few, who, at the present period, rescue her from the imputation
of having degenerated in Poetical talents; but in the
form of Apology, I should have much to say, if I again dared
to plead the pressure of evils, aggravated by their long continuance,
as an excuse for the defects of this attempt. Whatever a2r [vii]

Whatever may be the faults of its execution, let me vindicate
myself from those, that may be imputed to the design.—
In speaking of the Emigrant Clergy, I beg to be understood as
feeling the utmost respect for the integrity of their principles;
and it is with pleasure I add my suffrage to that of those,
who have had a similar opportunity of witnessing the conduct
of the Emigrants of all descriptions during their exile in England;
which has been such as does honour to their nation,
and ought to secure to them in ours the esteem of every liberal
mind.

Your philanthropy, dear Sir, will induce you, I am persuaded,
to join with me in hoping, that this painful exile may
finally lead to the extirpation of that reciprocal hatred so
unworthy of great and enlightened nations; that it may tend
to humanize both countries, by convincing each, that good
qualities exist in the other; and at length annihilate the prejudices
that have so long existed to the injury of both.

Yet it is unfortunately but too true, that with the body of
the English, this national aversion has acquired new force by
the dreadful scenes which have been acted in France during a2 the a2v [viii]
the last summer—even those who are the victims of the
Revolution, have not escaped the odium, which the undistinguishing
multitude annex to all the natives of a country where
such horrors have been acted: nor is this the worst effect those
events have had on the minds of the English; by confounding
the original cause with the wretched catastrophes that have
followed its ill management; the attempts of public virtue,
with the outrages that guilt and folly have committed in its
disguise, the very name of Liberty has not only lost the charm
it used to have in British ears, but many, who have written,
or spoken, in its defence, have been stigmatized as promoters
of Anarchy, and enemies to the prosperity of their country.
Perhaps even the Author of The Task, with all his goodness
and tenderness of heart, is in the catalogue of those,
who are reckoned to have been too warm in a cause, which
it was once the glory of Englishmen to avow and defend—
The exquisite Poem, indeed, in which you have honoured
Liberty, by a tribute highly gratifying to her sincerest
friends, was published some years before the demolition of
regal despotism in France, which, in the fifth book, it seems to a3r [ix]
to foretell—All the truth and energy of the passage to which
I allude, must have been strongly felt, when, in the Parliament
of England
, the greatest Orator of our time quoted the
sublimest of our Poets—when the eloquence of Fox did justice
to the genius of Cowper.


I am, dear Sir,
With the most perfect esteem,
Your obliged and obedient servant,
Charlotte Smith.
Brighthelmstone, 1793-05-10May 10, 1793.
a3v

Lately Published,
By the same author,
printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand,

  • Elegiac Sonnets, 5th Edition, with additional Sonnets and
    other Poems; adorned with Plates. 6s. in Boards.
  • Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle,4 vols. 3d Edition. 12s.
    in Boards.
  • Ethelinde; or, The Recluse of the Lake, 5 vols. 2d Edition.
    15s. in Boards.
  • Celestina, 4 Vols. 2d Edition. 12s. in Boards.
  • The Romance of Real Life, 3 Vols. 9s. in Boards.
a4r

The Emigrants.

Book the First.

a4v B1r

Book I.

Scene, on the Cliffs to the Eastward of the Town of
Brighthelmstone in Sussex.

Time, a Morning in 1792-11November, 1792.

Slow in the Wintry Morn, the struggling light

Throws a faint gleam upon the troubled waves;

Their foaming tops, as they approach the shore

And the broad surf that never ceasing breaks

On the innumerous pebbles, catch the beams

Of the pale Sun, that with reluctance gives

To this cold northern Isle, its shorten’d day.

Alas! how few the morning wakes to joy!

How many murmur at oblivious night

For leaving them so soon; for bearing thus

B Their B1v [2]

Their fancied bliss (the only bliss they taste!),

On her black wings away!—Changing the dreams

That sooth’d their sorrows, for calamities

(And every day brings its own sad proportion)

For doubts, diseases, abject dread of Death,

And faithless friends, and fame and fortune lost;

Fancied or real wants; and wounded pride,

That views the day star, but to curse his beams.

Yet He, whose Spirit into being call’d

This wond’rous World of Waters; He who bids

The wild wind lift them till they dash the clouds,

And speaks to them in thunder; or whose breath,

Low murmuring o’er the gently heaving tides,

When the fair Moon, in summer night serene,

Irradiates with long trembling lines of light

Their undulating surface; that great Power,

Who B2r [3]

Who, governing the Planets, also knows

If but a Sea-Mew falls, whose nest is hid

In these incumbent cliffs; He surely means

To us, his reasoning Creatures, whom He bids

Acknowledge and revere his awful hand,

Nothing but good: Yet Man, misguided Man,

Mars the fair work that he was bid enjoy,

And makes himself the evil he deplores.

How often, when my weary soul recoils

From proud oppression, and from legal crimes

(For such are in this Land, where the vain boast

Of equal Law is mockery, while the cost

Of seeking for redress is sure to plunge

Th’ already injur’d to more certain ruin

And the wretch starves, before his Counsel pleads)

How often do I half abjure Society,

B2 And B2v [4]

And sigh for some lone Cottage, deep embower’d

In the green woods, that these steep chalky Hills

Guard from the strong South West; where round their base

The Beach wide flourishes, and the light Ash

With slender leaf half hides the thymy turf!—

There do I wish to hide me; well content

If on the short grass, strewn with fairy flowers,

I might repose thus shelter’d; or when Eve

In Orient crimson lingers in the west,

Gain the high mound, and mark these waves remote

(Lucid tho’ distant), blushing with the rays

Of the far-flaming Orb, that sinks beneath them;

For I have thought, that I should then behold

The beauteous works of God, unspoil’d by Man

And less affected then, by human woes

I witness’d not; might better learn to bear

Those B3r [5]

Those that injustice, and duplicity

And faithlessness and folly, fix on me:

For never yet could I derive relief,

When my swol’n heart was bursting with its sorrows,

From the sad thought, that others like myself

Live but to swell affliction’s countless tribes!

—Tranquil seclusion I have vainly sought;

Peace, who delights in solitary shade,

No more will spread for me her downy wings,

But, like the fabled Danaïds—or the wretch,

Who ceaseless, up the steep acclivity,

Was doom’d to heave the still rebounding rock,

Onward I labour; as the baffled wave,

Which yon rough beach repulses, that returns

With the next breath of wind, to fail again.—

Ah! Mourner—cease these wailings: cease and learn,

That B3v [6]

That not the Cot sequester’d, where the briar

And wood-bine wild, embrace the mossy thatch,

(Scarce seen amid the forest gloom obscure!)

Or more substantial farm, well fenced and warm,

Where the full barn, and cattle fodder’d round

Speak rustic plenty; nor the statelier dome

By dark firs shaded, or the aspiring pine,

Close by the village Church (with care conceal’d

By verdant foliage, lest the poor man’s grave

Should mar the smiling prospect of his Lord),

Where offices well rang’d, or dove-cote stock’d,

Declare manorial residence; not these

Or any of the buildings, new and trim

With windows circling towards the restless Sea,

Which ranged in rows, now terminate my walk,

Can shut out for an hour the spectre Care,

That B4r [7]

That from the dawn of reason, follows still

Unhappy Mortals, ’till the friendly grave

(Our sole secure asylum) “ends the chace.” 1 “Ends the chace.”— I have a confused notion, that this expression,
with nearly the same application, is to be found in Young: but I cannot
refer to it.

Behold, in witness of this mournful truth,

A group approach me, whose dejected looks,

Sad Heralds of Distrss! proclaim them Men

Banish’d for ever and for conscience sake

From their distracted Country, whence the name

Of Freedom misapplied, and much abus’d

By lawless Anarchy, has driven them far

To wander; with the prejudice they learn’d

From Bigotry (the Tut’ress of the blind),

Thro’ the wide World unshelter’d; their sole hope,

That German spoilers , thro’ that pleasant land

May carry wide the desolating scourge

Of War and Vengeance; yet unhappy Men,

Whate’er B4v [8]

Whate’er your errors, I lament your fate:

And, as disconsolate and sad ye hang

Upon the barrier of the rock, and seem

To murmur your despondence, waiting long

Some fortunate reverse that never comes;

Methinks in each expressive face, I see

Discriminated anguish; there droops one,

Who in a moping cloister long consum’d

This life inactive, to obtain a better,

And thought that meagre abstinence, to wake

From his hard pallet with the midnight bell,

To live on eleemosynary bread,

And to renounce God’s works, would please that God.

And now the poor pale wretch receives, amaz’d,

The pity, strangers give to his distress,

Because these strangers are, by his dark creed,

Condemn’d C1r [179]

Condemn’d as Heretics—and with sick heart

Regrets 2 “Regrets his pious prison and his beads.”— Lest the same attempts
at misrepresentation should now be made, as have been made on former
occasions, it is necessary to repeat, that nothing is farther from my
thoughts, than to reflect invidiously on the Emigrant clergy, whose steadiness
of principle excites veneration, as much as their sufferings compassion.
Adversity has now taught them the charity and humility they perhaps
wanted, when they made it a part of their faith, that salvation could be
obtained in no other religion than their own.
his pious prison, and his beads.—

Another, of more haughty port, declines

The aid he needs not; while in mute despair

His high indignant thoughts go back to France,

Dwelling on all he lost—the Gothic dome,

That vied with splendid palaces; 3 “The splendid palaces.”— Let it not be considered as an insult to
men in fallen fortune, if these luxuries (undoubtedly inconsisent with
their profession) be here enumerated—France is not the only country,
where the splendour and indulgences of the higher, and the poverty and
depression of the inferior Clergy, have alike proved injurious to the cause
of Religion.
the beds

Of silk and down, the silver chalices,

Vestments with gold enwrought for blazing altars;

Where, amid clouds of incense, he held forth

To kneeling crowds the imaginary bones

Of Saints suppos’d, in pearl and gold enchas’d,

And still with more than living Monarchs’ pomp

Surrounded; was believ’d by mumbling bigots

To hold the keys of Heaven, and to admit

Whom he thought good to share it—Now alas!

C He C1v [1810]

He, to whose daring soul and high ambition

The World seem’d circumscrib’d; who, wont to dream

Of Fleuri, Richelieu, Alberoni, men

Who trod on Empire, and whose politics

Were not beyond the grasp of his vast mind,

Is, in a Land once hostile, still prophan’d

By disbelief, and rites un-orthodox,

The object of compassion—At his side,

Lighter of heart than these, but heavier far

Than he was wont, another victim comes,

An Abbé—who with less contracted brow

Still smiles and flatters, and still talks of Hope;

Which, sanguine as he is, he does not feel,

And so he cheats the sad and weighty pressure

Of evils present;—Still, as Men misled

By early prejudice (so hard to break),

I mourn C2r [1911]

I mourn your sorrows; for I too have known

Involuntary exile; and while yet

England had charms for me, have felt how sad

It is to look across the dim cold sea,

That melancholy rolls its refluent tides

Between us and the dear regretted land

We call our own—as now ye pensive wait

On this bleak morning, gazing on the waves

That seem to leave your shore; from whence the wind

Is loaded to your ears, with the deep groans

Of martyr’d Saints and suffering Royalty,

While to your eyes the avenging power of Heaven

Appears in aweful anger to prepare

The storm of vengeance, fraught with plagues and death.

Even he of milder heart, who was indeed

The simple shepherd in a rustic scene,

C2 And C2v [2012]

And, ’mid the vine-clad hills of Languedoc,

Taught to the bare-foot peasant, whose hard hands

Produc’d 4 See the finely descriptive Verses written at Montauban in France in
17501750, by Dr. Joseph Warton. Printed in Dodsley’s Miscellanies, Vol. IV.
page 203
.
the nectar he could seldom taste,

Submission to the Lord for whom he toil’d;

He, or his brethren, who to Neustria’s sons

Enforc’d religious patience, when, at times,

On their indignant hearts Power’s iron hand

Too strongly struck; eliciting some sparks

Of the bold spirit of their native North;

Even these Parochial Priests, these humbled men,

Whose lowly undistinguish’d cottages

Witness’d a life of purest piety,

While the meek tenants were, perhaps, unknown

Each to the haughty Lord of his domain,

Who mark’d them not; the Noble scorning still

The poor and pious Priest, as with slow pace

He C3r [2113]

He glided thro’ the dim arch’d avenue

Which to the Castle led; hoping to cheer

The last sad hour of some laborious life

That hasten’d to its close—even such a Man

Becomes an exile; staying not to try

By temperate zeal to check his madd’ning flock,

Who, at the novel sound of Liberty

(Ah! most intoxicating sound to slaves!),

Start into licence—Lo! dejected now,

The wandering Pastor mourns, with bleeding heart,

His erring people, weeps and prays for them,

And trembles for the account that he must give

To Heaven for souls entrusted to his care.—

Where the cliff, hollow’d by the wintry storm,

Affords a seat with matted sea-weed strewn,

A softer form reclines; around her run,

On C3v [2214]

On the rough shingles, or the chalky bourn,

Her gay unconscious children, soon amus’d;

Who pick the fretted stone, or glossy shell,

Or crimson plant marine: or they contrive

The fairy vessel, with its ribband sail

And gilded paper pennant: in the pool,

Left by the salt wave on the yielding sands,

They launch the mimic navy—Happy age!

Unmindful of the miseries of Man!—

Alas! too long a victim to distress,

Their Mother, lost in melancholy thought,

Lull’d for a moment by the murmurs low

Of sullen billows, wearied by the task

Of having here, with swol’n and aching eyes

Fix’d on the grey horizon, since the dawn

Solicitously watch’d the weekly sail

From C4r [2315]

From her dear native land, now yields awhile

To kind forgetfulness, while Fancy brings,

In waking dreams, that native land again!

Versailles appears—its painted galleries,

And rooms of regal splendour; rich with gold,

Where, by long mirrors multiply’d, the crowd

Paid willing homage—and, united there,

Beauty gave charms to empire—Ah! too soon

From the gay visionary pageant rous’d,

See the sad mourner start!—and, drooping, look

With tearful eyes and heaving bosom round

On drear reality—where dark’ning waves,

Urg’d by the rising wind, unheeded foam

Near her cold rugged seat:—To call her thence

A fellow-sufferer comes: dejection deep

Checks, but conceals not quite, the martial air,

And C4v [2416]

And that high consciousness of noble blood,

Which he has learn’d from infancy to think

Exalts him o’er the race of common men:

Nurs’d in the velvet lap of luxury,

And fed by adulation—could he learn,

That worth alone is true Nobility?

And that the peasant who,

“amid 5 “Who amid the sons Of Reason, Valour, Liberty, and Virtue E2 “Displays E2v [3628] Displays distinguished merit, is a Noble Of Nature’s own creation.” These lines are Thomson’s, and are among those sentiments which are
now called (when used by living writers), not common-place declamation,
but sentiments of dangerous tendency.
the sons

Of Reason, Valour, Liberty, and Virtue,

Displays distinguish’d merit is a Noble

Of Nature’s own creation!”

—If even here,

If in this land of highly vaunted Freedom,

Even Britons controvert the unwelcome truth,

Can it be relish’d by the sons of France?

Men, who derive their boasted ancestry

From the fierce leaders of religious wars,

The first in Chivalry’s emblazon’d page;

Who D1r [2517]

Who reckon Gueslin, Bayard, or De Foix,

Among their brave Progenitors? Their eyes,

Accustom’d to regard the splendid trophies

Of Heraldry (that with fantastic hand

Mingles, like images in feverish dreams,

“Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimeras dire,”

With painted puns, and visionary shapes;),

See not the simple dignity of Virtue,

But hold all base, whom honours such as these

Exalt not from the crowd— 6 “Exalt not from the crowd.” It has been said, and with great appearance
of truth, that the contempt in which the Nobility of France held
the common people, was remembered, and with all that vindictive asperity
which long endurance of oppression naturally excites, when, by a wonderful
concurrence of circumstances, the people acquired the power of retaliation.
Yet let me here add, what seems to be in some degree inconsistent with
the former charge, that the French are good masters to their servants, and
that in their treatment of their Negro slaves, they are allowed to be more
mild and merciful than other Europeans.
As one, who long

Has dwelt amid the artificial scenes

Of populous City, deems that splendid shows,

The Theatre, and pageant pomp of Courts,

Are only worth regard; forgets all taste

For Nature’s genuine beauty; in the lapse

Of gushing waters hears no soothing sound,

D Nor D1v [2618]

Nor listens with delight to sighing winds,

That, on their fragrant pinions, waft the notes

Of birds rejoicing in the trangled copse;

Nor gazes pleas’d on Ocean’s silver breast,

While lightly o’er it sails the summer clouds

Reflected in the wave, that, hardly heard,

Flows on the yellow sands: so to his mind,

That long has liv’d where Despotism hides

His features harsh, beneath the diadem

Of worldly grandeur, abject Slavery seems,

If by that power impos’d, slavery no more:

For luxury wreathes with silk the iron bonds,

And hides the ugly rivets with her flowers,

Till the degenerate triflers, while they love

The glitter of the chains, forget their weight.

But more the Men, 7 “But more the Men.” The Financiers and Fermiers Generaux are
here intended. In the present moment of clamour against all those who
have spoken or written in favour of the first Revolution of France, the
declaimers seem to have forgotten, that under the reign of a mild and
easy tempered Monarch, in the most voluptuous Court in the world, the
abuses by which men of this description were enriched, had arisen to such
height, that their prodigality exhausted the immense resources of France:
and, unable to supply the exigencies of Government, the Ministry were
compelled to call Le Tiers Etat; a meeting that gave birth to the Revolution,
which has since been so ruinously conducted.
whose ill acquir’d wealth

Was D2r [2719]

Was wrung from plunder’d myriads, by the means

Too often legaliz’d by power abus’d,

Feel all the horrors of the fatal change,

When their ephemeral greatness, marr’d at once

(As a vain toy that Fortune’s childish hand

Equally joy’d to fashion or to crush),

Leaves them expos’d to universal scorn

For having nothing else; not even the claim

To honour, which respect for Heroes past

Allows to ancient titles; Men, like these,

Sink even beneath the level, whence base arts

Alone had rais’d them;—unlamented sink,

And know that they deserve the woes they feel.

Poor wand’ring wretches! whosoe’er ye are,

That hopeless, houseless, friendless, travel wide

O’er these bleak russet downs; where, dimly seen,

D2 The D2v [2820]

The solitary Shepherd shiv’ring tends

His dun discolour’d flock (Shepherd, unlike

Him, whom in song the Poet’s fancy crowns

With garlands, and his crook with vi’lets binds);

Poor vagrant wretches! outcasts of the world!

Whom no abode receives, no parish owns;

Roving, like Nature’s commoners, the land

That boasts such general plenty: if the sight

Of wide-extended misery softens yours

Awhile, suspend your murmurs!—here behold

The strange vicissitudes of fate—while thus

The exil’d Nobles, from their country driven,

Whose richest luxuries were their’s, must feel

More poignant anguish, than the lowest poor,

Who, born to indigence, have learn’d to brave

Rigid Adversity’s depressing breath!—

Ah! D3r 2921

Ah! rather Fortune’s worthless favourites!

Who feed on England’s vitals—Pensioners

Of base corruption, who, in quick ascent

To opulence unmerited, become

Giddy with pride, and as ye rise, forgetting

The dust ye lately left, with scorn look down

On those beneath ye (tho’ your equals once

In fortune, and in worth superior still,

They view the eminence, on which ye stand,

With wonder, not with envy; for they know

The means, by which ye reach’d it, have been such

As, in all honest eyes, degrade ye far

Beneath the poor dependent, whose sad heart

Reluctant pleads for what your pride denies);

Ye venal, worthless hirelings of a Court!

Ye pamper’d Parasites! whom Britons pay

For D3v [3022]

For forging fetters for them; rather here

Study a lesson that concerns ye much;

And, trembling, learn, that if oppress’d too long,

The raging multitude, to madness stung,

Will turn on their oppressors; and, no more

By sounding titles and parading forms

Bound like tame victims, will redress themselves!

Then swept away by the resistless torrent,

Not only all your pomp may disappear,

But, in the tempest lost, fair Order sink

Her decent head, and lawless Anarchy

O’erturn celestial Freedom’s radiant throne;—

As now in Gallia; where Confusion, born

Of party rage and selfish love of rule,

Sully the noblest cause that ever warm’d

The heart of Patriot Virtue— 8 “The breast of Patriot Virtue.” This sentiment will probably renew
against me the indignation of those, who have an
interest in asserting that no such virtue any where exists.
There arise

The D4r [3123]

The infernal passions; Vengeance, seeking blood,

And Avarice; and Envy’s harpy fangs

Pollute the immortal shrine of Liberty,

Dismay her votaries, and disgrace her name.

Respect is due to principle; and they,

Who suffer for their conscience, have a claim,

Whate’er that principle may be, to praise.

These ill-starr’d Exiles then, who, bound by ties,

To them the bonds of honour; who resign’d

Their country to preserve them, and now seek

In England an asylum—well deserve

To find that (every prejudice forgot,

Which pride and ignorance teaches), we for them

Feel as our brethren; and that English hearts,

Of just compassion ever own the sway,

As truly as our element, the deep,

Obeys D4v [3224]

Obeys the mild dominion of the Moon—

This they have found; and may they find it still!

Thus may’st thou, Britain, triumph!—May thy foes,

By Reason’s gen’rous potency subdued,

Learn, that the God thou worshippest, delights

In acts of pure humanity!—May thine

Be still such bloodless laurels! nobler far

Than those acquir’d at Cressy or Poictiers,

Or of more recent growth, those well bestow’d

On him who stood on Calpe’s blazing height

Amid the thunder of a warring world,

Illustrious rather from the crowds he sav’d

From flood and fire, than from the ranks who fell

Beneath his valour!—Actions such as these,

Like incense rising to the Throne of Heaven,

Far better justify the pride, that swells

In E1r [3325]

In British bosoms, than the deafening roar

Of Victory from a thousand brazen throats,

That tell with what success wide-wasting War

Has by our brave Compatriots thinned the world.

End of Book I.

E E1v E2r
1 “Ends the chace.”— I have a confused notion, that this expression,
with nearly the same application, is to be found in Young: but I cannot
refer to it.
2 “Regrets his pious prison and his beads.”— Lest the same attempts
at misrepresentation should now be made, as have been made on former
occasions, it is necessary to repeat, that nothing is farther from my
thoughts, than to reflect invidiously on the Emigrant clergy, whose steadiness
of principle excites veneration, as much as their sufferings compassion.
Adversity has now taught them the charity and humility they perhaps
wanted, when they made it a part of their faith, that salvation could be
obtained in no other religion than their own.
3 “The splendid palaces.”— Let it not be considered as an insult to
men in fallen fortune, if these luxuries (undoubtedly inconsisent with
their profession) be here enumerated—France is not the only country,
where the splendour and indulgences of the higher, and the poverty and
depression of the inferior Clergy, have alike proved injurious to the cause
of Religion.
4 See the finely descriptive Verses written at Montauban in France in
17501750, by Dr. Joseph Warton. Printed in Dodsley’s Miscellanies, Vol. IV.
page 203
.
5 “Who amid the sons Of Reason, Valour, Liberty, and Virtue E2 “Displays E2v [3628] Displays distinguished merit, is a Noble Of Nature’s own creation.” These lines are Thomson’s, and are among those sentiments which are
now called (when used by living writers), not common-place declamation,
but sentiments of dangerous tendency.
6 “Exalt not from the crowd.” It has been said, and with great appearance
of truth, that the contempt in which the Nobility of France held
the common people, was remembered, and with all that vindictive asperity
which long endurance of oppression naturally excites, when, by a wonderful
concurrence of circumstances, the people acquired the power of retaliation.
Yet let me here add, what seems to be in some degree inconsistent with
the former charge, that the French are good masters to their servants, and
that in their treatment of their Negro slaves, they are allowed to be more
mild and merciful than other Europeans.
7 “But more the Men.” The Financiers and Fermiers Generaux are
here intended. In the present moment of clamour against all those who
have spoken or written in favour of the first Revolution of France, the
declaimers seem to have forgotten, that under the reign of a mild and
easy tempered Monarch, in the most voluptuous Court in the world, the
abuses by which men of this description were enriched, had arisen to such
height, that their prodigality exhausted the immense resources of France:
and, unable to supply the exigencies of Government, the Ministry were
compelled to call Le Tiers Etat; a meeting that gave birth to the Revolution,
which has since been so ruinously conducted.
8 “The breast of Patriot Virtue.” This sentiment will probably renew
against me the indignation of those, who have an
interest in asserting that no such virtue any where exists.
E2v The E3r

The
Emigrants.

Book the Second.

“Quippe ubi fas versum atque nefas: tot bella per orbem Tam multæ scelerum facies; non ullus aratro Dignus honos: squalent abductis arva colonis, Et curva rigidum falces conflantur in ensem Hinc movet Euphrates, illinc Germania bellum Vicinæ ruptis inter se legibus urbes Arma ferunt: sævit toto Mars impius orbe.” Geor. lib. i.
E3v E4r

Book II.

Scene, on an Eminence on one of those Downs, which
afford to the South a View of the Sea; to the North of
the Weald of Sussex.
Time, an Afternoon in 1793-04April, 1793.

Long wintry months are past; the Moon that now

Lights her pale crescent even at noon, has made

Four times her revolution; since with step,

Mournful and slow, along the wave-worn cliff,

Pensive I took my solitary way,

Lost in despondence, while contemplating

Not my own wayward destiny alone,

(Hard as it is, and difficult to bear!)

But in beholding the unhappy lot

Of E4v [4033]

Of the lorn Exiles; who, amid the storms

Of wild disastrous Anarchy, are thrown,

Like shipwreck’d sufferers, on England’s coast,

To see, perhaps, no more their native land,

Where Desolation riots: They, like me,

From fairer hopes and happier prospects driven,

Shrink from the future, and regret the past.

But on this Upland scene, while April comes,

With fragrant airs, to fan my throbbing breast,

Fain would I snatch an interval from Care,

That weighs my wearied spirit down to earth;

Courting, once more, the influence of Hope

(For “Hope still waits upon the flowery prime)” 1 “Hope waits upon the flower prime..”— “Famine, and Sword, and Fire, crouch for employment.”— Shakespeare.

As here I mark Spring’s humid hand unfold

The early leaves that fear capricious winds,

While, even on shelter’d banks, the timid flowers

Give F1r [4134]

Give, half reluctantly, their warmer hues

To mingle with the primroses’ pale stars.

No shade the leafless copses yet afford,

Nor hide the mossy labours of the Thrush,

That, startled, darts across the narrow path;

But quickly re-assur’d, resumes his task,

Or adds his louder notes to those that rise

From yonder tufted brake; where the white buds

Of the first thorn are mingled with the leaves

Of that which blossoms on the brow of May.

Ah! ’twill not be:—So many years have pass’d,

Since, on my native hills, I learn’d to gaze

On these delightful landscapes; and those years

Have taught me so much sorrow, that my soul

Feels not the joy reviving Nature brings;

But, in dark retrospect, dejected dwells

F On F1v [4235]

On human follies, and on human woes.—

What is the promise of the infant year,

The lively verdure, or the bursting blooms,

To those, who shrink from horrors such as War

Spreads o’er the affrighted world? With swimming eye,

Back on the past they throw their mournful looks,

And see the Temple, which they fondly hop’d

Reason would raise to Liberty, destroy’d

By ruffian hands; while, on the ruin’d mass,

Flush’d with hot blood, the Fiend of Discord sits

In savage triumph; mocking every plea

Of policy and justice, as she shews

The headless corse of one, whose only crime

Was being born a Monarch—Mercy turns,

From spectacle so dire, her swol’n eyes;

And Liberty, with calm, unruffled brow

Magnanimous F2r [4336]

Magnanimous, as conscious of her strength

In Reason’s panoply, scorns to distain

Her righteous cause with carnage, and resigns

To Fraud and Anarchy the infuriate crowd.—

What is the promise of the infant year

To those, who (while the poor but peaceful hind

Pens, unmolested, the encreasing flock

Of his rich master in this sea-fenc’d isle)

Survey, in neighbouring countries, scenes that make

The sick heart shudder; and the Man, who thinks,

Blush for his species? There the trumpet’s voice

Drowns the soft warbling of the woodland choir;

And violets, lurking in their turfy beds

Beneath the flow’ring thorn, are stain’d with blood.

There fall, at once, the spoiler and the spoil’d;

While War, wide-ravaging, annihilates

F2 The F2v [4437]

The hope of cultivation; gives to Fiends,

The meagre, ghastly Fiends of Want and Woe,

The blasted land—There, taunting in the van

Of vengeance-breathing armies, Insult stalks;

And, in the ranks, 1 “Hope waits upon the flower prime..”— “Famine, and Sword, and Fire, crouch for employment.”— Shakespeare. “Famine, and Sword, and Fire,

Crouch for employment.”—Lo! the suffering world,

Torn by the fearful conflict, shrinks, amaz’d,

From Freedom’s name, usurp’d and misapplied,

And, cow’ring to the purple Tyrant’s rod,

Deems that the lesser ill—Deluded Men!

Ere ye prophane her ever-glorious name,

Or catalogue the thousands that have bled

Resisting her; or those, who greatly died

Martyrs to Liberty—revert awhile

To the black scroll, that tells of regal crimes

Committed to destroy her; rather count

The F3r [4538]

The hecatombs of victims, who have fallen

Beneath a single despot; or who gave

Their wasted lives for some disputed claim

Between anointed robbers: Monsters both! 2 “Monsters both!” Such was the cause of quarrel between the
Houses of York and Lancaster; and of too many others, with which the
page of History reproaches the reason of man.

“Oh! Polish’d perturbation—golden care!” 3 “Oh! polifh’d perturbation!—golden care!” Shakespeare.

So strangely coveted by feeble Man

To lift him o’er his fellows;—Toy, for which

Such showers of blood have drench’d th’affrighted earth—

Unfortunate his lot, whose luckless head

Thy jewel’d circlet, lin’d with thorns, has bound;

And who, by custom’s laws, obtains from thee

Hereditary right to rule, uncheck’d,

Submissive myriads: for untemper’d power,

Like steel ill form’d, injures the hand

It promis’d to protect—Unhappy France!

If e’er thy lilies, trampled now in dust,

And F3v [4639]

And blood-bespotted, shall again revive

In silver splendour, may the wreath be wov’n

By voluntary hands; and Freemen, such

As England’s self might boast, unite to place

The guarded diadem on his fair brow,

Where Loyalty may join with Liberty

To fix it firmly.—In the rugged school

Of stern Adversity so early train’d,

His future life, perchance, may emulate

That of the brave Bernois, 4 “The brave Bernois.” Henry the Fourth of France. It may be
said of this monarch, that had all the French sovereigns resembled him,
despotism would have lost its horrors; yet he had considerable failings,
and his greatest virtues may be chiefly imputed to his education in the
School of Adversity.
so justly call’d

The darling of his people; who rever’d

The Warrior less, than they ador’d the Man!

But ne’er may Party Rage, perverse and blind,

And base Venality, prevail to raise

To public trust, a wretch, whose private vice

Makes even the wildest profligate recoil;

And F4r [4740]

And who, with hireling ruffians leagu’d, has burst

The laws of Nature and Humanity!

Wading, beneath the Patriot’s specious mask,

And in Equality’s illusive name,

To empire thro’ a stream of kindred blood—

Innocent prisoner!—most unhappy heir

Of fatal greatness, who art suffering now

For all the crimes and follies of thy race;

Better for thee, if o’er thy baby brow

The regal mischief never had been held:

Then, in an humble sphere, perhaps content,

Thou hadst been free and joyous on the heights

Of Pyrennean mountains, shagg’d with woods

Of chesnut, pine, and oak: as on these hills

Is yonder little thoughtless shepherd lad,

Who, on the slope abrupt of downy turf

Reclin’d F4v [4841]

Reclin’d in playful indolence, sends off

The chalky ball, quick bounding far below;

While, half forgetful of his simple task,

Hardly his length’ning shadow, or the bells’

Slow tinkling of his flock, that supping tend

To the brown fallows in the vale beneath,

Where nightly it is folded, from his sport

Recal the happy idler.—While I gaze

On his gay vacant countenance, my thoughts

Compare with his obscure, laborious lot,

Thine, most unfortunate, imperial Boy!

Who round thy sullen prison daily hear’st

The savage howl of Murder, as it seeks

Thy unoffending life: while sad within

Thy wretched Mother, petrified with grief,

Views thee with stony eyes, and cannot weep!—

Ah! G1r [4942]

Ah! much I mourn thy sorrows, hapless Queen!

And deem thy expiation made to Heaven

For every fault, to which Prosperity

Betray’d thee, when it plac’d thee on a throne

Where boundless power was thine, and thou wert rais’d

High (as it seem’d) above the envious reach

Of destiny! Whate’er thy errors were,

Be they no more remember’d; tho’ the rage

Of Party swell’d them to such crimes, as bade

Compassion stifle every sigh that rose

For thy disastrous lot—More than enough

Thou hast endur’d; and every English heart,

Ev’n those, that highest beat in Freedom’s cause,

Disclaim as base, and of that cause unworthy,

The Vengeance, or the Fear, that makes thee still

A miserable prisoner!—Ah! who knows,

G From Gv [5043]

From sad experience, more than I, to feel

For thy desponding spirit, as it sinks

Beneath procrastinated fears for those

More dear to thee than life! But eminence

Of misery is thine, as once of joy;

And, as we view the strange vicissitude,

We ask anew, where happiness is found?—

Alas! in rural life, where youthful dreams

See the Arcadia that Romance describes,

Not even Content resides!—In yon low hut

Of clay and thatch, where rises the grey smoke

Of smold’ring turf, cut from the adjoining moor,

The labourer, its inhabitant, who toils

From the first dawn of twilight, till the Sun

Sinks in the rosy waters of the West,

Finds that with poverty it cannot dwell;

For G2r [5144]

For bread, and scanty bread, is all he earns

For him and for his household—Should Disease,

Born of chill wintry rains, arrest his arm,

Then, thro’ his patch’d and straw-stuff’d casement, peeps

The squalid figure of extremest Want;

And from the Parish the reluctant dole,

Dealt by th’unfeeling farmer, hardly saves

The ling’ring spark of life from cold extinction:

Then the bright Sun of Spring, that smiling bids

All other animals rejoice, beholds,

Crept from his pallet, the emaciate wretch

Attempt, with feeble effort, to resume

Some heavy task, above his wasted strength,

Turning his wistful looks (how much in vain!)

To the deserted mansion, where no more

The owner (gone to gayer scenes) resides,

G2 Who G2v [5245]

Who made even luxury, Virtue; while he gave

The scatter’d crumbs to honest Poverty.—

But, tho’ the landscape be too oft deform’d

By figures such as these, yet Peace is here,

And o’er our vallies, cloath’d with springing corn,

No hostile hoof shall trample, nor fierce flames

Wither the wood’s young verdure, ere it form

Gradual the laughing May’s luxuriant shade;

For, by the rude sea guarded, we are safe,

And feel not evils such as with deep sighs

The Emigrants deplore, as they recal

The Summer past, when Nature seem’d to lose

Her course in wild distemperature, and aid,

With seasons all revers’d, destructive War.

Shuddering, I view the pictures they have drawn

Of desolated countries, where the ground,

Stripp’d G3r [5346]

Stripp’d of its unripe produce, was thick strewn

With various Death—the war-horse falling there

By famine, and his rider by the sword.

The moping clouds sail’d heavy charg’d with rain,

And bursting o’er the mountains misty brow

Deluged, as with an inland sea, the vales; 5 “Delug’d, as with an inland sea, the vales.” From the heavy and
incessant rains during the last campaign, the armies were often compelled
to march for many miles through marshes overflowed; suffering the extremities
of cold and fatigue. The peasants frequently misled them; and,
after having passed thes inundations at the hazard of their lives, they
were sometimes under the necessity of crossing them a second and a third time;
their evening quarters after such a day of exertion were often in a wood
without shelter; and their repast, instead of bread, unripe corn, without
any other preparation than being mashed into a sort of paste.

Where, thro’ the sullen evening’s lurid gloom,

Rising, like columns of volcanic fire,

The flames of burning villages illum’d

The waste of water; and the wind, that howl’d

Along its troubled surface, brought the groans

Of plunder’d peasants, and the frantic shrieks

Of mothers for their children; while the brave,

To pity still alive, listen’d aghast

To these dire echoes, hopeless to prevent

The evils they beheld, or check the rage,

Which G3v [5447]

Which ever, as the people of one land

Meet in contention, fires the human heart

With savage thirst of kindred blood, and makes

Man lose his nature; rendering him more fierce

Than the gaunt monsters of the howling waste.

Oft have I heard the melancholy tale,

Which, all their native gaiety forgot,

These Exiles tell—How Hope impell’d them on,

Reckless of tempest, hunger, or the sword,

Till order’d to retreat, they know not why,

From all their flattering prospects, they became

The prey of dark suspicion and regret: 6 “The prey of dark suspicion and regret.” It is remarkable, that
notwithstanding the excessive hardships to which the army of the Emigrants
was exposed, very few in it suffered from disease till they began to
retreat; then it was that despondence consigned to the most miserable
death many brave men who deserved a better fate; and then despair impelled
some to suicide, while others fell by mutual wounds, unable to
survive disappointment and humiliation.

Then, in despondence, sunk the unnerv’d arm

Of gallant Loyalty—At every turn

Shame and disgrace appear’d, and seem’d to mock

Their scatter’d squadrons; which the warlike youth,

Unable G4r [5548]

Unable to endure7, often implor’d,

As the last act of friendship, from the hand

Of some brave comrade, to receive the blow

That freed the indignant spirit from its pain.

To a wild mountain, whose bare summit hides

Its broken eminence in clouds; whose steeps

Are dark with woods; where the receding rocks

Are worn by torrents of dissolving snow,

A wretched Woman, pale and breathless, flies!

And, gazing round her, listens to the sound

Of hostile footsteps—No! it dies away:

Nor noise remains, but of the cataract,

Or surly breeze of night, that mutters low

Among the thickets, where she trembling seeks

A temporary shelter—clasping close

To her hard-heaving heart her sleeping child,

All G4v [5649]

All she could rescue of the innocent groupe

That yesterday surrounded her—Escap’d

Almost by miracle! Fear, frantic Fear,

Wing’d her weak feet: yet, half repentant now

Her headlong haste, she wishes she had staid

To die with those affrighted Fancy paints

The lawless soldier’s victims—Hark! again

The driving tempest bears the cry of Death,

And, with deep sullen thunder, the dread sound

Of cannon vibrates on the tremulous earth;

While, bursting in the air, the murderous bomb

Glares o’er her mansion. Where the splinters fall,

Like scatter’d comets, its destructive path

Is mark’d by wreaths of flame!—Then, overwhelm’d

Beneath accumulated horror, sinks

The desolate mourner; yet, in Death itself,

True H1r [5750]

True to maternal tenderness, she tries

To save the unconscious infant from the storm

In which she perishes; and to protect

This last dear object of her ruin’d hopes

From prowling monsters, that from other hills,

More inaccessible, and wilder wastes,

Lur’d by the scent of slaughter, follow fierce

Contending hosts, and to polluted fields

Add dire increase of horrors—But alas!

The Mother and the Infant perish both!—

The feudal Chief, whose Gothic battlements

Frown on the plain beneath, returning home

From distant lands, alone and in disguise,

Gains at the fall of night his Castle walls,

But, at the vacant gate, no Porter sits

To wait his Lord’s admittance!—In the courts

H All H1v [5851]

All is drear silence!—Guessing but too well

The fatal truth, he shudders as he goes

Thro’ the mute hall; where, by the blunted light

That the dim moon thro’ painted casements lends,

He sees that devastation has been there:

Then, while each hideous image to his mind

Rises terrific, o’er a bleeding corse

Stumbling he falls; another interrupts

His staggering feet—all, all who us’d to rush

With joy to meet him—all his family

Lie murder’d in his way!—And the day dawns

On a wild raving Maniac, whom a fate

So sudden and calamitous has robb’d

Of reason; and who round his vacant walls

Screams unregarded, and reproaches Heaven!—

Such are thy dreadful trophies, savage War!

And H2r [5952]

And evils such as these, or yet more dire,

Which the pain’d mind recoils from, all are thine—

The purple Pestilence, that to the grave

Sends whom the sword has spar’d, is thine; and thine

The Widow’s anguish and the Orphan’s tears!—

Woes such as these does Man inflict on Man;

And by the closet murderers, whom we style

Wise Politicians, are the schemes prepar’d,

Which, to keep Europe’s wavering balance even,

Depopulate her kingdoms, and consign

To tears and anguish half a bleeding world!—

Oh! could the time return, when thoughts like these

Spoil’d not that gay delight, which vernal Suns,

Illuminating hills, and woods, and fields,

Gave to my infant spirits—Memory come!

And from distracting cares, that now deprive

H2 Such H2v [6053]

Such scenes of all their beauty, kindly bear

My fancy to those hours of simple joy,

When, on the banks of Arun, which I see

Make its irriguous course thro’ yonder meads,

I play’d; unconscious then of future ill!

There (where, from hollows fring’d with yellow broom,

The birch with silver rind, and fairy leaf,

Aslant the low stream trembles) I have stood,

And meditated how to venture best

Into the shallow current, to procure

The willow herb of glowing purple spikes,

Or flags, whose sword-like leaves conceal’d the tide,

Startling the timid reed-bird from her nest,

As with aquatic flowers I wove the wreath,

Such as, collected by the shepherd girls,

Deck in the villages the turfy shrine,

And H3r [6154]

And mark the arrival of propitious May.—

How little dream’d I then the time would come,

When the bright Sun of that delicious month

Should, from disturb’d and artificial sleep,

Awaken me to never-ending toil,

To terror and to tears!—Attempting still,

With feeble hands and cold desponding heart,

To save my children from the o’erwhelming wrongs,

That have for ten long years been heap’d on me!—

The fearful spectres of chicane and fraud

Have, Proteus like, still chang’d their hideous forms

(As the Law lent its plausible disguise),

Pursuing my faint steps; and I have seen

Friendship’s sweet bonds (which were so early form’d,)

And once I fondly thought of amaranth

Inwove with silver seven times tried) give way,

And H3v [6255]

And fail; as these green fan-like leaves of fern

Will wither at the touch of Autumn’s frost.

Yet there are those whose patient pity still

Hears my long murmurs; who, unwearied, try

With lenient hands to bind up every wound

My wearied spirit feels, and bid me go

“Right onward—” 7 “Right onward.” Milton, Sonnet 22d. a calm votary of the Nymph,

Who, from her adamantine rock, points out

To conscious rectitude the rugged path,

That leads at length to Peace!—Ah! yes, my friends

Peace will at last be mine; for in the Grave

Is Peace—and pass a few short years, perchance

A few short months, and all the various pain

I now endure shall be forgotten there,

And no memorial shall remain of me,

Save in your bosoms; while even your regret

Shall H4r [6356]

Shall lose its poignancy, as ye reflect

What complicated woes that grave conceals!

But, if the little praise, that may await

The Mother’s efforts, should provoke the spleen

Of Priest or Levite; and they then arraign

The dust that cannot hear them; be it yours

To vindicate my humble fame; to say,

That, not in selfish sufferings absorb’d,

“I gave to misery all I had, my tears.” 8 “I gave to misery all I had, my tears.” Gray.

And if, where regulated sanctity

Pours her long orisons to Heaven, my voice

Was seldom heard, that yet my prayer was made

To him who hears even silence; not in domes

Of human architecture, fill’d with crowds,

But on these hills, where boundless, yet distinct,

Even as a map, beneath are spread the fields

His bounty cloaths; divided here by woods,

And H4v [6457]

And there by commons rude, or winding brooks,

While I might breathe the air perfum’d with flowers,

Or the fresh odours of the mountain turf;

And gaze on clouds above me, as they sail’d

Majestic: or remark the reddening north,

When bickering arrows of electric fire

Flash on the evening sky—I made my prayer

In unison with murmuring waves that now

Swell with dark tempests, now are mild and blue,

As the bright arch above; for all to me

Declare omniscient goodness; nor need I

Declamatory essays to incite

My wonder or my praise, when every leaf

That Spring unfolds, and every simple bud,

More forcibly impresses on my heart

His power and wisdom—Ah! while I adore

That goodness, which design’d to all that lives

Some I1r [6558]

Some taste of happiness, my soul is pain’d

By the variety of woes that Man

For Man creates—his blessings often turn’d

To plagues and curses: Saint-like Piety,

Misled by Superstition, has destroy’d

More than Ambition; and the sacred flame

Of Liberty becomes a raging fire,

When Licence and Confusion bid it blaze.

From thy high throne, above yon radiant stars,

O Power Omnipotent! with mercy view

This suffering globe, and cause thy creatures cease,

With savage fangs, to tear her bleeding breast:

Restrain that rage for power, that bids a Man,

Himself a worm, desire unbounded rule

O’er beings like himself: Teach the hard hearts

Of rulers, that the poorest hind, who dies

For their unrighteous quarrels, in thy sight

I Is I1v [6659]

Is equal to the imperious Lord, that leads

His disciplin’d destroyers to the field.—

May lovely Freedom, in her genuine charms,

Aided by stern but equal Justice, drive

From the ensanguin’d earth the hell-born fiends

Of Pride, Oppression, Avarice, and Revenge,

That ruin what thy mercy made so fair!

Then shall these ill-starr’d wanderers, whose sad fate

These desultory lines lament, regain

Their native country; private vengeance then

To public virtue yield; and the fierce feuds,

That long have torn their desolated land,

May (even as storms, that agitate the air,

Drive noxious vapours from the blighted earth)

Serve, all tremendous as they are, to fix

The reign of Reason, Liberty, and Peace!

NOTES I2r
1 “Hope waits upon the flower prime..”— “Famine, and Sword, and Fire, crouch for employment.”— Shakespeare. 2 “Monsters both!” Such was the cause of quarrel between the
Houses of York and Lancaster; and of too many others, with which the
page of History reproaches the reason of man.
3 “Oh! polifh’d perturbation!—golden care!” Shakespeare. 4 “The brave Bernois.” Henry the Fourth of France. It may be
said of this monarch, that had all the French sovereigns resembled him,
despotism would have lost its horrors; yet he had considerable failings,
and his greatest virtues may be chiefly imputed to his education in the
School of Adversity.
5 “Delug’d, as with an inland sea, the vales.” From the heavy and
incessant rains during the last campaign, the armies were often compelled
to march for many miles through marshes overflowed; suffering the extremities
of cold and fatigue. The peasants frequently misled them; and,
after having passed thes inundations at the hazard of their lives, they
were sometimes under the necessity of crossing them a second and a third time;
their evening quarters after such a day of exertion were often in a wood
without shelter; and their repast, instead of bread, unripe corn, without
any other preparation than being mashed into a sort of paste.
“The I2v 6 “The prey of dark suspicion and regret.” It is remarkable, that
notwithstanding the excessive hardships to which the army of the Emigrants
was exposed, very few in it suffered from disease till they began to
retreat; then it was that despondence consigned to the most miserable
death many brave men who deserved a better fate; and then despair impelled
some to suicide, while others fell by mutual wounds, unable to
survive disappointment and humiliation.
7 “Right onward.” Milton, Sonnet 22d. 8 “I gave to misery all I had, my tears.” Gray.