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The Right Honourable Lord Durham

Now on an Embassy at the Court of Russia

WHAT are the glories, which on history's page
Make nations proud; not that her fleets can sweep,
Like fate, above the ocean ; not that lands,
More mighty than herself, yet own her sway;
Not that her armies might subdue a world;
Not that strength sits within her walls, and wealth
Pours its abundance forth: these are but means,
And humble instruments, to work renown.
Look to what use she puts them. Does her flag
Extend protection ? Is her sword but drawn
For righteous uses ? Does her strength supply
Force to the weak ? and does her wealth relieve
The want which follows it? England, these things
Are now demanded of thee :—Far away
A ship is sailing over northern seas,
And in that ship is one who comes from thee,
An English statesman, one who lately stood
And pledged himself to the immortal cause
Of the unalienable rights of man.
He goes—and in thy name, and with thy power,
To greet the Czar, he, whose far rule extends
—“ Even to Asia. Will he bear no word
Of wrath to the oppressor, and of hope
To the oppressed ? and will he raise no voice,
O gallant Poland! in thy generous cause ?
A fearful state—that of society,
When all its natural order is o’erthrown,
By the o’erwhelming pressure of some fear,
More terrible than death; and by some hope,
Desperate, but determined : then are changed
All common rules, children have thoughts like age,
While men ’merge every aim in one atttempt;
And all hands grow familiar with the sword.
E’en woman leaves the couch by which she watched,
The lute o’er which she leant, the home which owed
To her its happiness, and seeks the trench,
The guarded wall, or mounts the fiery steed;
The sabre glances, and along the line
Runs the red flashing of the musketry:
The cannon shakes the ground, she trembles not,
Her whole sweet nature altered by despair—
But stands her ground, and dies as heroes die.
This was the struggle—then the triumph came
Of the ferocious victor, blood was poured
Like wine at some gay feast; the fire arose
A wild illumination, for it came
From castles, destined ere the morn to be
A heap of ashes, and from cottages
The clustering vine would never cover more.
Crime and captivity were common things,
And tortures strange were heralds unto death.
’Twas an unequal struggle ; but for that,
Should a free people have bent down the knee ?
Is the expedient, then, our only law ?
Must we give up the right, because we feel
That we are weak, and the oppressor strong ?
Forbid it, England—by thine own great self,
By thine own yet unviolated hearths,
By the proud flags which in thy churches wave,
Each one a victory by land or sea,
Witnesses and thanksgivings to that God,
Whose arm upheld thee; by thy future hopes
Of peace, of plenty, and of liberty—
Let not thy minister go forth in vain :
The fate of Poland now is at thy will;
The Autocrat will hear and heed thy voice ;
England, my glorious country, speak, and save!
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on August 09, 2016

2:38 min read

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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