Gustavus Vasa - and other poems
by W. S. Walker
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Gustavus Vasa, AND OTHER POEMS.



—Tentanda via est, qua me quoque possim Tollere humo.






It would be a sufficient reason for sanctioning this work with your Ladyship's name, that it is an offering of gratitude, presented because there is nothing worthier to give.

But there is another cause. He who celebrates a patriot, cannot address himself to any one more properly than to the daughter of a patriot; of one who was for years the naval sun of England, and from whom the young and enterprising caught the unextinguishable rays of patriotism and courage.

For actions and glory such as his, the female mind is not formed; but in the calm and active virtues of private life, which are almost equally honourable to the possessor, your Ladyship maintains the dignity of your race. I call to witness those whom you have soothed in affliction, and those whom you have honoured with your friendship. They will vindicate me from the charge of flattery, and support my assertion, that your patronage is as glorious to me, as any I could possibly have chosen.

With the hope, that the virtues of your excellent daughter, and your son, whom I am proud to call my friend, may answer your fullest expectations,

I remain, Your Ladyship's Most obliged And devoted Servant, W.S. WALKER.


As the author of these Poems is only seventeen, some apology may be required for offering them to the public.

Many precedents may be quoted in favour of early publication; and the practice perhaps is not in itself blameable, except when the advice of good judges is unasked, or the work itself uncorrected and negligent. To neither of these charges is the author liable. These poems, as well as the design of publishing them, have been approved of by many sincere and judicious friends; and the work has been altered in many parts, in conformity to the advice of the same persons. The author has made no improper sacrifice to the Muse: he has deserted no duty, and neglected no necessary employment. Influenced by these motives, he appears before the bar of criticism, not indeed without diffidence, but unconscious of having deserved censure. If his verses are bad, he is content to sink into oblivion; and if the public confirms the favourable judgment of his friends, he does not deny that it will give him real satisfaction.—He is sensible, that if he delayed till time had matured his judgment, and reflection perfected his ideas, the "scribendi cacoethes," perhaps an unfortunate inclination, would take a firm and unalterable possession of his mind. He is therefore determined to try the public opinion; that he may be enabled either to pursue his poetical studies under their encouragement, or to desist in time from an useless employment. This volume is not intended to challenge approbation, but to be the precursor of something which may challenge it in future: it is not an attempt to gain the prize, but a specimen of his powers, which may entitle him to the honour of standing candidate for that prize. The reader will here find the genuine effusions of a youthful fancy, free, yet not uncontrolled; a collection of pieces, exempt from negligence and inaccuracy, though not from the usual and inevitable faults of early compositions. To offer less than this would be arrogant, and to require more than this would be unreasonable.

"Gustavus Vasa" was originally planned (the reader will smile) at eleven years of age. When the author began to know what poetry was, his first design was to write an epic poem—no matter of what sort or character, so it was an epic poem. The subject was soon chosen; and the progress of the work was various: sometimes hurried on with all the ardour of hope and enterprize, sometimes relinquished for more lively pursuits, and left to sleep for months in the leaves of a portfolio. In this manner were six long cantos completed. At length the author, in his thirteenth year, perceived numerous faults and extravagances in his early composition. He destroyed the manuscript: and some time after recommenced his poem on a new and more rational plan. Accordingly, the first and part of the second book, were written in 1810, and the rest of the work which is published in this volume, principally in 1812. All that is yet completed of this production (except the sequel of the fourth book, and the whole fifth, which are yet uncorrected) is here presented to the public; and on its success the continuation of "Gustavus Vasa" depends.

It was designed to embrace the whole actions of the hero, from his first signalizing himself under Steen Sture, to his death in 1560; but as all this could not be regularly related without destroying the unity of the poem, it was thought most convenient to begin with his introduction among the Dalecarlians at Mora, and conclude with his first election to the royalty, in 1523; the rest being introduced by means of narration, anticipation, and episode.

It will be doubtless objected, that the enterprize is beyond his powers, and that he acted rashly in undertaking it. But this is no light scheme; no work, begun for want of other amusement, and deserted when a more specious or pleasing subject for poetry presented itself. He has considered it seriously; the subject appears full of poetical capabilities, and superior to many others which offered themselves; and if the opinion of the world coincides with his own in this point, he has resolved to make it the favourite employment of his maturer years, and to reduce it as far as possible to perfection. Part of his plan for continuing the poem, will be found in the Notes.

The smaller pieces are selected from a large number of original compositions; they are not chosen as his favourites, but as what he esteems most faultless. This appeared the safer method; since it is impossible that "the flimsy productions of a youth of seventeen," as Kirke White expresses it, should be free from considerable errors; and we are apt to think our most irregular flights, our most vigorous ones. On these pieces, however, he places little stress; his principal reliance is on "Gustavus Vasa." The Latin Poems have been honoured by the approbation of different Masters at Eton.

The Author may be accused of arrogance in saying too much of himself. But he felt strongly that early publication, and the design of writing a long epic poem, would naturally be censured by many well-meaning persons; he thought it his duty to state his motives; and was less solicitous to avoid the possible charge of self-conceit, than the certain one of folly and presumption.

Any resemblance to former writers, which may occur in the course of the work, are generally unintentional. Thus the lines—

"Touch'd the abyss, and, lest his eyes might view The abandon'd shore, into its depths withdrew,"

were written before the author had seen Persius's description of a totally abandoned man:

—nescit quid perdat, et, alto Demersus, summa rursus non bullit in unda.

The Author has to express his sincere gratitude for a numerous and respectable list of Subscribers. It is far beyond his expectations; and it encourages his hope, that the reception of the present volume will authorize his continuing in the same pursuit.



Andrews, Rev. Charles, Hempton Abercrombie, Mrs., County Terrace Atkinson, Mr., Eton Ashton, Arthur, Esq., Wood Street Atkinson, Joseph, Esq., Tower Anstey, John, Esq. Appleby, Miss, Thirsk Ambrose, Mr., Eton Alderson, Edward H. Esq., Temple Aylmer, G.W. Esq., Wimpole Street Anonymous, Thirsk Angelo, Miss, Eton

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Upton, Hon. Mr.

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Gustavus Vasa.


State of Sweden at the commencement of the Poem—A Council—Trollio—Bernheim—Ernestus—Christiern proposes the reduction of Dalecarlia—Ernestus opposes him, is committed to prison—Christiern takes his measures to oppose a rebellion just arisen in Denmark.

Gustavus Vasa,



The Swede I sing, by Heaven ordain'd to save His country's glories from a Danish grave, Restore her laws, her Papal rites efface, And fix her freedom on a lasting base.

Celestial Liberty! by whom impell'd From early youth fair honour's path he held; By whose strong aid his patient courage rose Superior to the rushing tide of woes, And at whose feet, when Heaven his toils repaid, His brightest wreaths the grateful hero laid: Me too assist; with thy inspiring beam Aid my weak powers, and bless my rising theme!

Stockholm to Christiern bow'd her captive head; } By Treachery's axe her slaughter'd senate bled, } And her brave chief was numbered with the dead. } Piled with her breathless sons, th' uncultured land With daily ravage fed a wasteful band; And ruthless Christiern, wheresoe'er be flew, Around his steps a track of crimson drew. Already, by Heaven's dark protection led, To Dalecarlia Sweden's hero fled; There, with a pious friend retired, unknown, He mourn'd his country's sorrows, and his own. Those mountain peasants, negatively free, The sole surviving friends of Liberty, Unbought by bribes, still trample Christiern's power, And wait in silence the decisive hour.

'Twas morn when Christiern bade a herald call His secret council to the regal hall— Those whom his skill, selecting, had combined To share the deep recesses of his mind: In these the prince unshaken trust reposed, To these his intricate designs disclosed; Their counsel, teeming with maturest thought, His ripening plans to full perfection brought, Each enterprise with proper means supplied, And stemm'd strong difficulty's threatening tide: The summons heard, th' obedient train attend, Collect, and hastening toward the palace bend.

First of their order, as in rank and fame Superior, Upsal's haughty prelate came; Erect in priestly pride, he stalk'd along, And tower'd supreme o'er all the princely throng. A soul congenial, and a mind replete With ready artifice and bold deceit, To suit a tyrant's ends, however base, In Christiern's friendship had secured his place. His were the senator's and courtier's parts, And all the statesman's magazine of arts; His, each expedient, each all-powerful wile, To thwart a foe, or win a monarch's smile: The nicely-plann'd and well-pursued intrigue; The smooth evasion of the hollow league; The specious argument, that subtly strays Thro' winding sophistry's protracted maze: The complicated, deep, immense design, That works in darkness like a labouring mine, Unknown to all, 'till, bursting into birth, Its wide explosion shakes th' astonish'd earth. His was the prompt invention, fruitful still In means subservient to the varying will: The flexible expertness, smooth and mean, That glides thro' obstacles, and wins unseen: The quick discernment, that with eagle eyes Sees distant storms in ether darkly rise, And active vigour, that arrests their course, Or to a different aim diverts their force. He, in a happier land, by freedom bless'd, Had hallow'd virtue dawn'd upon his breast, Had done some glorious deed, to stamp his name High on the roll of ever-during fame; Snatch'd from Oppression's jaws some victim realm, Or fix'd in stable peace his country's wavering helm. But baleful Guilt usurp'd with fatal care A heart which Virtue had been proud to share; And turn'd to hateful dross the radiant ore, Whose lustre might have gilded Sweden's shore. As the red dog star, Autumn's fiery eye, Shines eminent o'er all the spangled sky, While thro' th' afflicted earth his torrid breath Darts glowing fevers and a cloud of death: So Trollio shone, in whose corrupted mind Transcendent genius and deep guilt combined; Placed all his arduous aims within his reach, Yet fix'd the stamp of infamy on each. But Providence, whose undiscover'd plan Lies deeper than the wiliest schemes of man, Can bare the sty designer's latent guilt, And crush to dust the structures he has built; Can disappoint the subtle tyrant's spite, And stem the billows of his stormy might; Confound a Trollio's skill, a Christiern's power, And blast presumption in its haughtiest hour. So Christiern found—and Trollio found it true, (Unwelcome truth, to his experience new!) That he, who trusts in guilty friendship, binds His fortune to a cloud, that shifts with veering winds. Throned in Religion's seat, he scorn'd her laws, And with a cool indifference view'd her cause: Yet, might her earthly treasures feed the fire Of wild ambition, or base gain's desire, He could assume, at will, her fairest dress— Could plunge in Superstition's dark recess— Or the red mask of Bigotry put on; The fiercest champion, where there needed none. But, should she cross some glittering enterprise, Her pleas, her awful threats, he could despise; Oaths, lightly sworn, and now forgotten things, Vanish'd, like smoke before the tempest's wings. At interest's call, when danger's sudden voice Extinguish'd hope, nor left a final choice, His sacred honours he renounc'd, and fled To hide in silent solitude his head: At interest's call, he calmly thrust aside Each bond of conscience that opposed his pride, And, deeming every scruple out of place, Back posted to his dignified disgrace.

Next, with a lofty step advancing, came A martial chieftain—Otho was his name: In Denmark born, of an illustrious line, Whose glories, now effaced, had ceased to shine; And he was but unanxious to redeem Those honours, in his eyes a worthless dream. Trained in licentious customs, he despised All virtue's rules, and pleasure only prized; And, faithful as the magnet, turn'd his head To follow fortune wheresoe'er it led: Tho' hostile justice rear'd her loftiest mound, To bar his passage o'er forbidden ground. Swift o'er all impediments he flew, And strain'd his eyes to keep the prize in view. Religion, virtue, sense, to him were nought; He hated none, yet none employ'd his thought, Save when he glitter'd in their borrowed beam, To gain preferment, or to court esteem. The minister, not tool, of Christiern's will, He serv'd his measures, yet despis'd him still: Scann'd with impartial view th'encircling scene, Glancing o'er all an eye exact and keen, Advantage to descry; and seldom fail'd, When Virtue's cause by Fortune's will prevail'd, On virtue's side his valour to display, And ne'er forsake it, but for better pay. And, e'en when Danger round his fenceless head Her threatening weight of mountain surges spread, He, like a whale amid the tempest's roar, Smiled at the storm, nor deign'd to wish it o'er. 'Twas dull instinctive boldness—like a fire Pent up in earth, whose forces ne'er expire, By grossest fuel nourished, but immured In dingy night, shine heavy and obscured; Sustain'd by this thro' all the scenes of strife, Whose dark succession form'd his chequer'd life, He ne'er the soul's sublimer courage felt, That warms the heart, and teaches it to melt; That nurses liberty's expanding seeds, And teems prolific with the noblest deeds. To guide the storm of battle o'er the plain, Condense its force, expand it, or restrain; To turn the tide of conquest to defeat By stratagems too fatally complete, Or freeze it by delay; to aim at will The well-timed stroke that mars all adverse skill; To range, in order firm, th'embattled line; Or shape, as regular, the bold design; All these were his—yet not all these could claim Exemptions from the lot of penal shame, Or snatch from glory's plant one servile wreath, To deck the waste of crimes, that frown'd beneath. Harden'd in villany, with fate unfeign'd He mock'd at warning, scorn'd reproach, nor deign'd To answer either, and remorse's dart Recoil'd from his impenetrable heart: Save in those hours when darkness or when pain Recals its force, and guilt recedes again; When passion, vice, and fancy quit their sway, When lawless pleasure trembling shrinks away, While black conviction's rushing whirlwinds quench Her smoky torch, and leave a sickening stench; And thro' the soul's chill gloom, fierce conscience pours His fiery arrows in resistless showers. But, as accumulated guilt oppress'd With stronger obstacles his hardening breast, Faint and more faint the dread awakenings grew, And their subsiding terrors soon withdrew. Like traces on the mountain's giant form Imprinted by the finger of the storm, They vanish'd; fierce atrocity return'd Triumphant, and the galling shackles spurn'd.

Him closely following, with a thoughtful pace And slow, the young Ernestus took his place; Like Bernheim, graced with an illustrious birth, But hapless Sweden was his native earth. His father sunk by death's untimely doom, His youthful mother followed to the tomb, And to a honour'd friend's paternal care Bequeath'd her only hope, her infant heir. With wary steps had Harfagar pass'd o'er The world's wide scene, and learn'd its various lore; And, with religion's pole-star for his guide, Serenely voyaged life's tempestuous tide. Yet in Ernestus' mind his skilful sense Observ'd no dawn of future excellence; He found no early graces to adorn Of springing life the inauspicious morn; No prompt benevolence, no sacred flow Of purest feeling taught his heart to glow; But virtue's native influence was in him, A wintry sun-beam, not extinct, but dim. Yet Harfagar with kind attention tried To rouse the warmth her hidden beams supplied; And, wheresoe'er his penetrating eye One bud of distant promise could descry, There all his toil was bent, to fix the root Unmoved, and spread secure the growing shoot. He watch'd the rising blossoms as they grew, Preserv'd with constant care their lively hue, Spread o'er each flow'ret a protecting veil To shelter it from trial's rougher gale, And clear'd, with strenuous and unceasing toil, From each insidious weed th' improving soil. His patient diligence had won at length A partial triumph over nature's strength: Tho' unsuppress'd th' internal weakness still With frequent bias pois'd the wavering will, Still losing ground, it seem'd to die away, Like nightly storms before advancing day: When thrice seven rolling years matured his age, And call'd him forth to life's eventful stage.

'Twas now the time, when all the northern land Was sinking under Christiern's ruthless hand; When patriotism from Sweden's hills sublime With tearful eyes o'erlook'd the subject clime, And saw where Stenon and a matchless few, To her bright race unalterably true, Regardless of the thunders launch'd by Rome, Self-titled arbitress of future doom, O'er a waste realm her shatter'd flag unfurl'd, Conspicuous to the whole applauding world. Ernestus' sire in Sweden's state before High eminence and ample influence bore; And public hope call'd forth the willing youth To join the cause of liberty and truth; Yet here his wary diffidence look'd round For due support—but no support was found, For Harfagar, whose strong unconquer'd mind } The tyrant knew, unmatch'd among mankind, } Caught in his snares, was now in chains confined. } The sudden blow his resolution shook; Deliberate fortitude his heart forsook; The pile of hope, that many a year had rear'd, Seem'd sunk in air, and now no more appear'd. Stenon had welcomed him, benign and free, With warm and undissembling amity, Enroll'd him in the list of friends select He singled out his measures to direct— And e'en his life was in Ernestus' power. This Christiern saw, and urg'd the fatal hour. With bribes and honours he the youth attack'd, With promised secrecy his proffers back'd, Tried smooth persuasion's most effectual strain, And added threats, not likely to be vain. Strong was th' assault; he arm'd his hopeless breast, And summon'd all his forces to the test. His unassisted strength awhile withstood, With desperate energy, th' invading flood, As the pale victim of all-conquering death With one faint effort struggles yet for breath. His courage soon beneath th' encounter bent, Languid before, and now by efforts spent; He yielded—his brave chief to death betray'd, And Stenon's blood dyed treachery's reeking blade.

'Twas done; and peace the traitor's bosom left, Of every comfort, every joy bereft. Rack'd by despair, in vain he sought repose: Round all his steps a cloud of horror rose, From keen reflection's maddening sting he fled, And rush'd on further crimes devoid of dread; Touch'd the abyss, and lest his eye might view Th' abandon'd shore, into its depths withdrew.

'Twas night; the cheerless moon's o'erclouded ray Shone dim; the breeze's murmurs died away: On his wan brow unwonted slumbers creep, And drench his soul in visionary sleep. When lo! deep thunders on his startled ear Successive roll, and shadowy forms appear; As thro' the misty vale at morning rise A row of trees before the traveller's eyes. His father's, from the first of time, arose, Their country's friends, and terror of her foes, Who factions quell'd, or legal justice plann'd, Or bade fair science brighten o'er the land. They came; they stopp'd—an angry eye they cast On the pale slumberer, and in silence pass'd. Again the thunder roll'd; the lightning flew; His country's form appear'd before his view: All stain'd with gore appear'd her azure vest, And her dim eyes unusual grief confess'd. The gloomy phantom on Ernestus frown'd, And with her sceptre touch'd the yawning ground: A boundless space, with mourning myriads spread, Appear'd below, and thus the vision said: "Behold th' abode of traitors! Sylla here, And guiltier Caesar, mourn their mad career; Here Curio gnaws his chain—Ernestus! see A darker grave;—a grave reserv'd for thee!" The widening chasm around him seem'd to grow. His kindred spirits call'd him from below; When lo! it closed—and from heaven's opening height, A brilliant ray burst on his dazzled sight, And broke the dream.—In deep amazement lost, Unnumber'd thoughts his feverish bosom cross'd; Hope, wonder, fear, and penitence combined, For many a hour oppress'd his varying mind, 'Till now in heaven's blue space the lamp of day Was hung serene: he hail'd the cheering ray, And thus began: "Eternal beam, give ear! Earth, air, and thou, all-ruling Monarch, hear! Call'd forth by thee from the deep maze of ill, I haste, to work the mandates of thy will. This hour, this moment, unappall'd by shame, The servitude of guilt I will disclaim; And, if eternal mercy deign to spare The forfeit life she rescued from despair, 'Tis mine to watch my country's hapless cause, And with fix'd soul defend her injured laws. Hear, Stenon, hear! from heaven's bright arch bend down The sapphire glories of thy radiant crown, Accept th' atonement with propitious brow, And thro' the courts of heaven proclaim my vow!"

Thus spoke Ernestus, and in silence sought The council hall, involved in careful thought.

These occupied a more distinguished seat; A chosen train the monarch's list complete. There unsubmitting Brask's proud genius shone, There Bernheim's might, in many a contest known; There Theodore: a bold ungovern'd soul, Rapacious, fell, and fearless of control: A harlot's favour rais'd him from the dust, To rise the pander of tyrannic lust: Graced with successive gifts, at length he shone With wondering Trollio on the sacred throne. With pleasure's arts, and sophistry's refined, Alike he pleas'd the body and the mind; Skilful alike to cheat the wandering soul, Or mix luxurious pleasure's midnight bowl. All these, and more, at Christiern's sudden call, (A shining conclave) fill the towering hall.

Ere yet they enter'd, Trollio left the rest, Th' advancing monarch met, and thus address'd:

"Hear, Christiern, hear! th' unwelcome news attend, Forced from the lips of an unwilling friend. Nor think 'tis from a mean suspicious heart I speak my message from our friends apart; I know their general worth, in duty tried, Yet in one man I tremble to confide: False to his country, to himself, and thee, Sick of success, and tired of infamy, Ernestus now prepares to burst your yoke, And win his freedom by some glorious stroke. I know him well; his ever-varying soul Now searches earth, now looks beyond the pole; Successive schemes usurp his changeful breast, That seeks for toil, and languishes in rest: Like a frail bark, the sport of every breeze, That floats unguided on the boundless seas. E'en now I mark'd him—struggling passions play'd On his pale forehead, and alternate sway'd. Of this no more.—Our friends, dread prince, have sent Advices, that concern your government. The factious souls, that late, o'eraw'd by you, Their inward rancour hid from open view, Are rous'd afresh, and gathering all their power, Beneath the smiles of this auspicious hour. Reports and whispers, toss'd about, ferment With ceaseless breath the tide of discontent. Each vile complainer casts his grievance in, } The common clamours to augment, and win } His share of future spoils, reward of clamorous din. } The torrent of sedition swells amain, Disloyalty invades the firmest Dane; And Christiern's arm, outstretch'd without delay, Alone has power to prop his tottering sway. Haste, while in momentary bounds is kept, The struggling flood, which else may intercept Your passage; haste! your new dominions quit; Their care to some experienced chief commit; Haste, and by speediest means secure your crown Ere violence and treason tear it down!"

While thus he spoke, the tyrant's mien express'd The troubled sea that roll'd within his breast. By hopes, and doubts, and fears, his mind was torn, From thought to thought irregularly borne. Thus the swift traveller, whose successful haste Has many a hill, and many a wood o'erpast, Trembling beholds new mountains touch the skies, And wider forests all around him rise. His mind, unsettled by the sudden shock, At length recovering, to his friend be spoke. "Thy counsels, Trollio, thy inventive soul, Have gain'd me half my power, secured the whole: Display thy talents now; exert them all: Rewards and honours wait without a call. I dread Ernestus; and my cautious fear These tidings would conceal, while he can hear. Myself, ev'n now, some fair pretence will frame, From this assembly to erase his name. But haste, my friend, to council—should we stay, Suspicion might comment on our delay!"

This said, they enter'd—at the monarch's side Sate lordly Trollio, in accustom'd pride. A mute attention still'd each listening man, 'Till, rising from his throne, the prince began.

"Friends of my heart! to whom your monarch owes The brightest honours his kind fate bestows; My empire, unconfirm'd, imperfect still, Yet asks the aid of your auspicious skill. Tho' Sweden's general voice consents to own Me the true master of her triple throne, Tho' her disputed crown adorns my brow, And tributary millions round me bow; One bold, one stubborn province, yet defies My brandish'd arm, and to my threats replies; In face of all the realm denies my right, And challenges three kingdoms to the fight. On Dalecarlia's wide uncultured ground, With rugged hills, and mineral riches crown'd, A race, endued with native freedom, dwell; A race, that stood, when total Sweden fell. Their strong and unremitting bands explore In earth's dark caverns her metallic store, And, from laborious days extracting health, Rest satisfied, and ask no other wealth: Rough and unyielding, like their native soil, The hardy sons of Nature and of Toil; Resistless vigour, resolute and warm, Strings every nerve, and braces every arm. Foremost to vindicate the righteous cause, And from th' oppressor guard their injur'd laws, Thro' many a rolling century these have shone Th' unfailing champions of the Swedish throne, And now with all my forces singly cope, Sweden's last bulwark, and her choicest hope. No trivial loss their courage will alarm, No threatening martial show their minds disarm, And bribes, those glittering, oft successful darts, Will find no entrance to their guarded hearts. No—fields must smoke, and blood in torrents flow, Ere all our force can master such a foe."

More had he said, but, with indignant heat Inspired, Ernestus started from his seat: His soul's resistless ardour bade him rise, His kindling soul came rushing to his eyes—

"Yes! fresh domains to ruin must succeed, Fresh cities sink in flame, fresh thousands bleed! What want'st thou more, thou prodigal of guilt! Oppression's sword is buried to the hilt In unoffending blood—what want'st thou more, Thou sanguinary pest of an unhappy shore? Far as thy sight can stretch, look round, and see All Sweden piled with monuments of thee; Behold her provinces with slaughter strown, Her ruined fields, her castles overthrown; Behold—But ah! more glaring than the rest, In me thy brightest trophy stands confess'd! Yes—prompt each fatal mandate to fulfil, Perpetual slave of thy tyrannic will, I stood, to sovereign infamy preferr'd, The meanest of thy mercenary herd: Thy crimes I copied—for thy worthless gold My monarch's life, my country's freedom sold! The cloud of wrath that veils in thickening gloom Thee and those partners of thy crimes and doom, In its black scope involv'd me—not a ray Shot thro' the ambient night one glimpse of day; 'Till heaven's own mercy offer'd to my view From its dark sphere, a radiant avenue: Cheer'd with fresh hope, its limits I forsook, And, wing'd with new-born speed, a fresh direction took. If Heaven prohibit not the blow, my fate Lies in thy hands; my transitory date This hour may close; and thou, e'en thou, mayst be The doom'd assertor of his wrath on me: So let it be! E'en so, thy friendly hate Will snatch its victim from a heavier fate: And when the storms of vengeance, that impend O'er thee and thine, collected shall descend, The bolt that shakes your haughty souls with dread, Shall roll innocuous o'er my shelter'd head, Safe in that mansion of unbroken rest, Which neither lightnings strike nor winds molest. Thus then in brief, relentless tyrant, take A fix'd resolve, thou hast no power to shake. Let wily Trollio try his utmost art, Join'd with thy power, on this determined heart. Let sorrows round me like an ocean flow, Let earth dividing yawn my grave below, Bribes, threats, nor torments, more shall bid me own Thy sway, or bow to thy detested throne, Dread power! whom, prompt to succour and to bless, Reverent I name, yet confident address, Do thou the marks of former guilt efface, Speed every just resolve, and every terror chase!"

Ernestus ceas'd. The listening senate heard; On every face derision's smile appear'd. Yet some less harden'd bosoms heav'd a sigh, } Like the faint breezes of an evening sky, } That curl the rippled wave and on its surface die. } Reproach, familiar to the monarch's ear, Might move contempt, but ne'er excited fear: It cross'd his mind, like streams of melted snow, } That o'er a cavern'd rock's cold surface flow, } But soften not their stony bed below. } His haughty bosom with impatience burn'd, He smiled contemptuous, and in brief return'd— "What! hast thou then exhausted all thy store Of sounding words? and is the tempest o'er? Haste, noble Trollio, fetch my guards, and send Th' incautious hero to his wiser friend!"

Swift as the word obsequious Trollio speeds, And to the secret hall the soldiers leads. The youth, resign'd, bow'd down his thoughtful head, And calmly silent follow'd where they led. "Such be the fate of all," the monarch cried, "Who, born to meanness, swell with worthless pride; Who, glad with nobler men to be preferr'd, Rise, by officious guilt, above the vulgar herd, Obtrude their ready service on the great, And deem their talents fit to rule a state! Yes, my brave friends, I meant this recreant fool But as a means, a momentary tool. To push my purpose to a readier end, Then to the dust my worn-out weapon send.— But leave we this; far weightier themes arise: Th' occasion told all waste of words denies. In my own realm, our trusty spies report, While Christiern lingers in a Swedish court, Once more Sedition rears her batter'd crest, And plants her snakes in every loyal breast. Wide o'er the realm the growing tumults swell, And ask immediate force their rage to quell. Let valiant Bernheim, with a chosen band, Use all his speed to reach his native land; There countermining each insidious plot By hostile Craft and Treachery begot, Prepare my way; while I thro' Sweden lead A wider army, with inferior speed, And, as I pass, the trembling cities awe, Display my terrors, and confirm my law; Then, entering Denmark, pour my eager host, An unexpected torrent, on the coast. Thou, Trollio, strait to Soren Norbi send, Our faithful subject, and unfailing friend; Bid him with speed his gallant fleet dispose, To man our ports against invading foes: (My own brave troops will guard the conquests made, Who every province, every town pervade) Thyself to Norbi constant help afford, And with thy prudence guide brave Otho's sword, And you, my friends, to second each design. Your arts, your counsels, and your arms combine."

And now (what time the westering orb of day, Shot thro' the purpled clouds a mellower ray) The soldiers, with their charge, the tower had gain'd, Where, wrapt in fetters, Harfagar remain'd— From whose tall top the eye unbounded threw O'er all the subject town its ample view, O'er crowded streets, and marts, and sacred spires, That glitter'd with the day's declining fires. There, round his limbs a length of chain they threw, Strict charge enjoin'd, and to their posts withdrew. The tranquil captive press'd the rugged ground, Smiled on his chains, and gazed the prison round; "And here," he cried, "the fates, relenting, give Fair Freedom back; again to her I live! I am once more a patriot—fix once more My foot on rectitude's deserted shore! O Sweden! tho' by me to death betray'd, Accept these tears, thou dear maternal shade! Thy image shall my lonely dungeon cheer, And in dark slumbers to my soul appear: While hopes of thee shall every terror brave, And gild the gloomy confines of the grave. Tho' snatch'd by cleaving earth to central gloom, Or buried in the Ocean's watery tomb, Yet should my soul in exile pant for thee, And lightly prize all meaner misery!" Down his warm cheeks the tears unbidden roll, And speak the silent language of his soul.

Meanwhile the council closed; the peers withdrew: To Trollio's dome the prince impatient flew; There saw at large the hostile plot disclosed, And his own plans with silent care disposed: While Bernheim bade his quarter'd troops prepare At earliest dawn the toils of war to share. The weak he strengthen'd, and confirm'd the brave, Arranged each band, and due directions gave.

Then to their stations baste the joyful powers, And cheat with various sport the midnight hours. Some brighten up their arms to polish'd flame, And shake the sword, as in the field of fame: Some crown the bowl, to chase dull fears away, And end in long debauch the task of day. Some court the aid of sleep, whose soft relief Weighs down the eye of care, and smooths the thorns of Grief. Enfolded in his golden wings they lie, And fancied triumphs swell in every eye: Each bounds in thought the airy champaign o'er, And grasps the prize, distain'd with streaming gore.

Now move the summoned peers, a shining train, To where the palace glitters o'er the plain. The opening gate receives the pompous throng; Thence to the festive room they move along, Where tapers, rang'd in lofty rows, display An added splendour, and nocturnal day. There, till the close of night, the bowls go round, And the full board with luxury is crown'd.



Soliloquies of Ernestus and Harfagar in prison—Christiern in a conversation with his peers throws further light on the rebellion of Prince Frederic in Denmark—He employs Olaus to carry Ernestus and Harfagar, in a boat, into the sea, and there assassinate them—Death of Olaus and Harfagar—Ernestus is ordered by the genius of Sweden, to seek Gustavus Vasa, hero of the poem, in Dalecarlia—Character of Admiral Norbi.


Day's golden eye had closed, his ruddy light Expiring on the bosom of the night; And solitary twilight's deepening shade In dusky robe the firmament array'd. The moon, resplendent, fill'd her glittering throne, And tipp'd with yellow gems all ether shone. The breeze was silent on the glassy deep, And half the world was sinking into sleep: Save where the shepherd led his fleecy train To crop the verdure of the moon-light plain; Save where the warder on the turret's height Trimm'd his weak lamp, and watch'd the bell of night, And the lone captive, in the dungeon's gloom, With beating pulse look'd forward to his doom.

Still Harfagar refused the gift of rest; His country's cares lay brooding in his breast: And many a gloomy pang his heart assail'd, But fortitude at each assault prevail'd. So stands in British woods a broad-bough'd oak, That braved three centuries every stormy stroke; While howling winds the scatter'd forest rend, He rears his aged trunk, and scorns to bend; So stood, serenely stood the godlike man, And thus, deep musing, inwardly began.

"Now silent night, the parent of repose, O'er half the earth her shadowy pinion throws. Hail, sleep, restorer of the tortured mind, Balm of the soul, and friend to human kind! The toils and tumults of our earthly scene Subside, and melt into thy sway serene. Life's sweetest cup, with purest blessings fraught, Were, without thee, a vapid joyless thought! My fellow captives all thy pleasures taste; Their fears, their sorrows, all in sleep are past; } Oh! be it peaceful still, for this may be the last! } Now, borne in vision to those airy plains } Where fancy undisturb'd by reason reigns, Where thron'd in rainbow light she sits serene, And flings her sportive glories o'er the scene; The first tumultuous ocean wafts them o'er, And lands them safe upon the flowery shore. This seems to see his utmost wishes crown'd, Rebellion spread to Sweden's farthest bound; Beneath his banners the whole country flies; On swarming myriads, swarming myriads rise: He leads the van: the tyrant shrinks for fear, Hides in his native den, and trembles there. This, weary of our present vale of tears, Draws back the chain of time five thousand years: Delightful visions swim before his view, } Of peaceful pleasures, joys for ever new, } When time was young, and mortals were but few: } When man, content, his freedom never sold, Nor fear'd for poverty, nor hoped for gold. Joyful he wanders, and expects to see Ten centuries of peace and liberty. This seems to meet within some moonlight glade His ancient friend, but now an empty shade: The beckoning phantom stretches toward the skies: He strives to follow, and the vision flies. This bold ferocious spirit, madly strong, Supporter of his country e'en to wrong, Impetuous to extremes, now longs to dart The point of vengeance into Christiern's heart: A whetted dagger in his hand display'd } He waves in air, and, o'er and o'er survey'd, } Smiles grimly at the visionary blade. }

"Thrice happy you! for fancy's shadowy power, Unfailing friend of sorrow's darkest hour, O'er your dim state a transient gleam can throw, Like twilight glimmering on a waste of snow!

"But me, condemn'd alone to wake and weep, My country's doubtful ills forbid to sleep: Each night the agonizing theme renews, And bathes my cheek in sorrow's bitterest dews. Where art thou, Stenon? whose resistless hand Stretch'd like a shield o'er this deserted land! Say, does that hand still turn a nation's doom, Or sleeps its valour in the silent tomb? Heroes and chieftains! whither are ye fled, Whose powerful arm collected Sweden led? I saw you glorious, from the field of fight, When Denmark shrunk before your stormy might: And now, perhaps, your buried ashes sleep, And o'er your honour'd tombs your country's sorrows weep. Illustrious senators! whose wisdom view'd Th' approaching storm, and oft its strength subdued: And thou, young Vasa! once renown'd in war, Thy country's hope, and freedom's northern star: Too true, alas! I fear, a tyrant's hand Has swept your glories from the darken'd land. Why else these walls resign'd to Christiern's powers, And I a captive in these mournful towers? Stockholm once lost, can Sweden yet remain, Or freedom linger in her desert plain? Yet, unextinguish'd by the conquering foe, Some spark in distant provinces may glow; (As the swift lightning, weary of its course, On some low distant cloud collects its scatter'd force) Prepared ere long to burst in tenfold wrath, And dart destruction on the hostile path.

"Thou too, Ernestus! what protecting doom Has guided thee thro' fate's tremendous gloom? Unhappy relic of a patriot line, Dost thou with all their ancient glory shine, And, unappall'd by labour or by fear, Lift for thy country the protecting spear? Or, wrapt in fetters, and in darkness lost, Say, dost thou languish for thy native coast? Perhaps, unnoted, by the tyrant's eyes, In unknown solitude secure he lies— Whate'er his fate, nor terror's base control, Nor hostile bribes, can e'er have moved his soul, No! taught by me, Ernestus nobly spurns Each vulgar aim, and for his country burns.

"Why art thou sad, my soul? the eye divine Still looks on all; to grieve is to repine! And tho' destruction cover all the shore, Tho' heroes, kings, and statesmen be no more, Tho' Stenon, vainly mild, and vainly brave, Fill the dark bosom of the dreary grave, Tho' Sweden's sons no earthly hope retain, Tho' not one spark of ancient fire remain, Tho' hostile banners crowd her blazing sky, And stretch'd in dust her smoking castles lie: Yet, Lord of all! from ruin's blackening ware, Thy arm is till omnipotent to save: Thy arm can stop the whirlwind's rushing breath, And light with hope the funeral shades of death!

"The gloom dissolves! and Sweden's glories old With added lustre to my sight unfold; He comes! the doom'd deliverer, from afar, Gathers his rushing thousands to the war! His generous might uniting factions greet, And crush'd oppression groans beneath his feet: From each bright year successive glories spring, And shouting millions hail a patriot king!

"For me—these joys assured, in calm repose, With trembling hope, I wait my end of woes. Long vers'd in sufferings, I no more complain, Nor shall one tear my former patience stain. Long, long, has time, slow rolling, swept away The dear companions of my earlier day; So long, that memory scarce their names retains, And blank oblivion o'er my bosom reigns. Ernestus, now, alone sustains their part, (Loved more than all) within this widow'd heart: And thou, my God, wilt hear my prayers, and spread A guardian veil o'er youthful virtue's head. Thy hand supreme, an ever watchful guide, Has steer'd me safe o'er life's uncertain tide; Has led me on thro' danger's various forms, Thro' faithless sunshine, and thro' whelming storms: Thy kind indulgence now unfolds the page Of future time to my desponding age. On thee I call, with grateful joy oppress'd, To speed my passage to eternal rest! I am alone on earth—at heaven's bright gate, Perhaps my friends their kindred spirit wait; E'n now they wait, to bid my labours cease, And point my journey to the realms of peace. As the swift eagle seeks the fields of light, When rolling clouds invest his mountain height, My soul, on fiery pinion, upward flies, And swell'd with grateful hope anticipates the skies."

Nor less Ernestus, from his friend apart, In lengthen'd thought explored his secret heart. Far from the rest, in fetters wrapt he lay, Where the wan moonlight threw a slanting ray Thro' the dim grate; his rapture beaming eyes On this he fixes, and in transport cries— "Oh, sacred lamp! since last on thee I gazed, What joy unthought this drooping soul has raised! In deep amaze I view my alter'd state, And scarce believe the wonders of my fate. My heart, so late the slave of vice and fear, Now smiles at death, and thinks no fate severe. Drop, infamy from thy neglecting hand My name; deny it a perennial brand; And cast a friendly veil on the disgrace A deed like mine entails on human race. What said I? No.—Pour all thy floods of shame Thro' future ages on Ernestus' name; Say, that with cool untrembling hand he spilt His master's blood, and gloried in his guilt: So shall the sons of earth in other times, Know my disgrace, and tremble at my crimes. Oh Stenon! could my ceaseless tears restore Thee, patriot chief to Sweden's widow'd shore! How would I joy, amidst thy martial train, To mow the adverse ranks, and sweep along the plain, Tread in thy daring steps with equal fire, Or at thy feet triumphantly expire! But vain the wish—let hope's unfading ray Lead my firm steps in duty's arduous way; Pain, shame, and death, at heaven's all righteous call I meet, and in its strength shall conquer all."

So mused the captives; while, in lordly state, Smiling amidst his peers the monarch sate. O'er the vast roof, with gilded rafters gay, Unnumber'd lamps effused a mingled ray: The dancing glory fill'd the spacious hall, Play'd on the roof, and cheer'd the pictured wall, With glancing beams the golden goblets shine, The red light trembles on the sparkling wine. Here sat the chiefs, in stormy war renown'd, Or with the senate's peaceful honours crown'd On various themes their mingled converse ran, 'Till Trollio to the monarch thus began.

"Your nice experience, prince, and art combined, Famed thro' the north, long charmed my wondering mind: This morn, I deem'd it lost; and scarce believ'd Th' unwonted words my doubtful ear receiv'd. Can then a mighty monarch eye with fear The feeble motions of the mountaineer? Is Christiern dazzled with the empty boast Of Dalecarlia, and her rugged host? A fiery race, undisciplined and loud, They move to war, no army, but a crowd: Hot from the bowl they stagger to the fight, And rush impetuous with ungovern'd might. Shall such resist us? I expect as soon A midnight rainbow, or a star at noon. Their quickly muster'd force will quickly yield, And quit in momentary flight the field. Or if some deep-mouth'd demagogue should blow The flame of war, and bid its fury glow, Yet well-told fiction and inventive art With milder force can turn the vulgar heart. Rais'd by a breath their swelling clamours rise, And with a breath their vain opinion dies." He spoke; attention sat on every eye, And all in silence watch'd their king's reply.

"Sees not my Trollio thro' the thin disguise, Form'd only to deceive Ernestus' eyes? Vers'd in the changeful temper of mankind, From day to day I watch'd his varying mind; I saw, where'er he roved, unsettled thought In his weak mind a storm of passion wrought; At length, this morn, he cast a scowling eye Upon his prince, and pass'd disdainful by. This theme, I knew, the moody youth would fire, And rouse to rage his long collected ire. Enough of this; a weightier care demands Our keen reflection, and our active hands. While here we feast, increasing dangers lower, And artful Frederic shakes my tottering power. Impatient of their lawful monarch's sway Full twenty towns sedition's flag display. Th' ambitious brother of my martial sire In every bosom fans the growing fire: His throne he rais'd on Jutland's faithless coast, Thence o'er the country spread his factious host. Each day, each hour, the ripening tumult grows, And discord's torch with added fuel glows. Ev'n now, perhaps, their midnight council wait 'Till their wise chief shall close some dark debate. Of this let Trollio tell: my anxious breast, Oft worn with thought, demands its wonted rest; And thro' yon western window's chequer'd height, The setting planets shoot a ruddier light.' He spoke; departing thro' the unfolded gate The long procession glides in lordly state; Then each, with eyes in balmy slumber closed, From the day's revels and its cares reposed.

Among the ruffians that, allured by gain, Lurk'd round the dwellings of the royal Dane, The horrid eminence a Swede might claim, A lawless wretch—Olaus was his name: His name, with darkest brand exalted high, Glared on the towering pitch of infamy. Twice, o'er his head ere thirty suns had roll'd, With shameless hand his freedom had he sold, And twice in battle drawn his venal sword Against a generous and forgiving lord. Successive crimes o'er nature soon prevail'd, And Denmark's king the perfect villain hail'd; Bade his known skill each midnight treason guide, And o'er each murdering band preside.

Him to a room the tyrant call'd by night, Where thick and gloomy grates shut out the light; From the low roof a smoky taper hung, And wide around its fitful lustre flung.

"Haste, brave Olaus!" (Scandia's monarch spoke, And on the ruffian cast a gracious look) "Haste, to the castle's lofty walls repair, And find Ernestus, lock'd in fetters there, Him and his friend from their dark cell convey, And lead them secret o'er the watery way; Thou know'st the rest." No more the tyrant said; And, at his word, th' obedient felon sped.

The stars now gliding down th' ethereal blue, O'er earth and air a shadowy lustre threw; When, by relentless avarice led to fate, Olaus issued from the royal gate. The ruffian centinels their brother knew, And at his word the portals open flew. Then to the tower he moved with silent speed, And smiled, exulting in the future deed.

So to the town where weary riot sleeps On purple clouds some dark contagion creeps: From eastern climes proceeding swift and fell, Where torrid suns the ripen'd poison swell; Borne on infected gales along the skies Th' ethereal store of vast destruction flies, O'er interposing deserts wins its way, Blasts the green vale, and withers cheerful day; Then settling on the walls, with steaming breath Pours thro' the thicken'd air disease and death.

And now in view the ancient castle frown'd, With many a dim-appearing turret crown'd: Here, round the gloomy doors, the warder-band (A watchful train) in silent order stand. The jarring gates unfold: two torches play Thro' the broad gloom, and point the darksome way. First to Ernestus' cell his way he took, And from th' astonish'd youth his fetters shook. Next to the sage, now wrapp'd in slumber, sped, } Loos'd his firm chain, and rais'd his sleeping head; } And thro' the echoing valves the noble captives led. } With kindling eye the hoary sire survey'd The stars careering thro' the nightly shade, Fix'd on the long-lost heavens his raptured sight, And drank with joy the flowing gale of night.

Then thus Olaus: "To my anxious king, Illustrious Swedes, your nightly steps I bring. He knows your worth, and deems his power were vain, Should souls like your's a captive doom sustain. Secret his purpose, to the farther coast Of Bothnia's gulph he leads his gather'd host. When first gray twilight spread her glimmering shade, On the broad main his streamers were display'd: And soon th' auspicious breeze shall waft you o'er To meet your monarch on the destined shore."

He spoke, but neither answer'd—wonder hung On either mind, and silenced either tongue; Fix'd for a space, each other's form they view'd; Then, wrapp'd in thought, their unknown guide pursued. O'er the dark streets with half-extinguish'd beam, The scatter'd lamps diffused a quivering gleam; At distant intervals the ruddy light Half mingles with the dusky robe of night: While, as they past, with loud repeated stroke A midnight bell the solemn stillness broke.

At length they reach the borders of the deep, Where a selected band in silence keep Perpetual watch. Before Olaus' stride, Ere yet he spoke, th' obedient crowd divide. A lonely boat amidst the harbour stood, And cast its shadow o'er the neighbouring flood. This from the strand he loos'd, and bade the sail Spread its white bosom to th' indulgent gale: They take their seats, and from the lessening shore It flies; the parted billows foam before: On each wan cheek the freshening breezes play, And speed their passage o'er the watery way. The silver splendors of the lunar beam } Dance on the waves, and in the quiet stream } The twinkling stars with faint reflection gleam } Now on the guide Ernestus turn'd his eyes, The gloomy look, and the gigantic size; Now on his friend, involv'd in new amaze, Fix'd the keen ardour of his silent gaze: Each thought reflected on his brow was seen, And all his soul seem'd centred in his mien.

Meanwhile the felon, exercised in ill, Watch'd the due time to work his master's will; At length his sable robe aside he threw, And from its dark concealing mantle drew A dagger's well-tried point. The moonshine play'd On the smooth surface of the polish'd blade. Ernestus saw: his heart-blood quicker flow'd; On his bold cheek the mounting courage glow'd: Inspired by Heaven, a sudden vigour strung His youthful limbs; high from the deck he sprung, And grasp'd the steel, then, wheeling swiftly round, On the astonish'd ruffian dealt a wound: Th' unerring blade, with nervous force impell'd, Deep thro' his neck its bloody passage held, Prone falls the staggering wretch: the wary foe With added strength inflicts a second blow; Then heaves his prostrate bulk with forceful strain, And hurls him headlong in the flashing main. High o'er his head the booming surges sweep, And his soul bursts amidst the roaring deep.

Now on the deck distain'd with recent blood, Involv'd in thought the silent victor stood, And turn'd to Harfagar—when on his view Successive wonders burst, and all around him grew. Faint and more feint the billowy roar became, And sunk, and died at last.—With lessening flame The starry host along th' ethereal way, Unknown the cause, successive die away. For yet the morn was far, nor had the sky With reddening blush proclaimed the solar glory nigh. Amidst the swiftly-changing scene, amazed, They stood, and on the brightening ether gazed: They gazed, but trembled not: some power unseen Confirmed their hearts to meet the awful scene. O'er the wide skies, and o'er the ocean's bed, A growing stream of wavy splendor spread, As if another sun with bright control Had changed heaven's motions, and revers'd the pole. Nature was in alarm: with sudden dread } To his dark nook the screaming sew-mew fled: } The murmurs of the midnight breeze were dead. } Wider and wider spread th' unusual glare, And the last cloud at length dispers'd in air. When, as a flame bursts broad thro' azure smoke, From the bright cloud a dazzling vision broke. Like some tall dome, that shoots its towers on high, His airy stature mingled with the sky: Terror and might stood blended in his mien, And his blue eye-balls shone with flames serene. A wreath of light his fulgent brows array'd, That, shifting, with a thousand colours play'd. His star-bespangled robe, of sparkling blue, O'er sea and air reflected glories threw: The moon, the skies, the golden stream of rays, Seem'd lost and dimm'd in that all-conquering blaze. His yellow locks sail'd on the clouds afar, And o'er his temples flamed the northern star. His better hand sustain'd a spacious shield, Round as nocturnal Cynthia's argent field; On whose enormous surface stood emblazed A mighty realm, with towers and turrets rais'd. Here, a broad lake in mimic waves extends; There, a tall mountain's sloping summit bends. O'er many a river many a navy rode, With commerce rich, and thro' the yielding flood With outspread sails proceeded—all around, Huge untamed rocks, and giant castles frown'd. The vault above serenely calm appear'd, And cloudless light the short-lived summer cheer'd. Here, fell marauders wasting far and near Spread their wild ravage o'er the yellow year: There, towers and walls and lofty works extend; Victorious legions the scaled walls ascend. Last stretch'd along a valley's shadowy length, Appear'd two realms' consolidated strength. Wide fly the glowing balls, swift falchions glare, And whizzing arrows hide the clouded air. The sculptured kings pursue their trembling foes, And, where they move, the imaged tumult grows. Another scene—the toil of war is past; This seems to triumph, that to groan his last: Blood covers all, refulgent trophies rise, And shouts of conquest seem to rend the skies.

In silent reverence stood each wondering Swede, Unmoved by terror: thrice the youth decreed To speak, and thrice upon his fetter'd tongue, Restrain'd by awe, th' imperfect accents hung, When the dread form the boundless stillness broke; Ocean and air stood listening as he spoke.

"The power who reins the whirlwind's stormy force, And guides the wheeling planets in their course, Provoked by crimes, o'er Sweden's guilty land Stretch'd wide the terrors of his flaming hand: Her venal priests, her kings in luxury lost, Her factious nobles, and seditious host, Call'd down th' unwilling bolt; and many a year Beheld it blaze, and shrunk beneath its flames severe. His angry thunder on a blasted shore } Has wreak'd its vengeance; the collected store } Of wrath is spent, and the last peal is o'er. } Now o'er the land, rich with a new-born spring, Returning Mercy waves her golden wing: Obedient fate draws back its sable line, } And bright events in long succession shine: } Consenting years roll on, and crown the great design. } Unnumber'd arts, more glorious from decay, Rise one by one, and gild the land with day. No more shall Sweden mourn her fetter'd doom, The sport of despots, and the slave of Rome: Slanderers of Heaven, betrayers of mankind By passion bloated, and to reason blind, Her prelates shall oppress the land no more; But Liberty, with charms unknown before, Break forth effulgent; and protecting Peace, For a long age, bid battle's trumpet cease. Her guardian genius, from th' empyreal plain } I come, to bid primeval blessings reign, } And exiled Science lift her sacred lamp again. }

"Thou, Harfagar, allied to earth no more, Pursue my flight, and seek our friendly shore. Thy term of care is past: thy clouded day Dissolves at length in heaven's eternal ray. Th' almighty Parent calls thee, from on high, To fill the seats of immortality. His eyes the labours of mankind regard, And suffering virtue claims her late reward. There may'st thou sit, and far removed from thence Behold the clouds of passion and of sense: Smile at the tumults of the world below, And triumph in the weakness of thy foe.

"And thou, Ernestus—thou, to whom 'tis given To bear the tidings of benignant Heaven, Aided by me, pursue the watery road, And seek Gustavus in his dark abode. Where swift Dal-Elbe his wandering current leads Thro' barren mountains and uncultured meads, Resign'd to cold despair, the hero lies, Nor knows the favour of th' indulgent skies. For twenty months unwearied has he traced The town, the province, and the watery waste: No aiding friend his patriot labours found; Fear master'd all, and all were slaves around. Each hope of liberty and Sweden lost, He now resolves to seek a foreign coast, In Albion or in Gaul secure to rest, And cling to Freedom's warm maternal breast. Such his intent—Ernestus! be it thine To tear the warrior from the rash design! Bid him to arms the free-born peasants move, Safe in the conduct of the powers above! Swift as from hill to hill the beacon flies, In every heart the patriot flame shall rise: From Wermeland's hills the war-cry shall rebound, And Sudermania echo back the sound: The frank Westmanian's generous heart shall glow, And join the sterner Goth to crush the foe. Bid him his standard in mid Sweden rear, And check th' oppressor in his fell career: Say, that, impatient of unjust command, Indignant Denmark spurns him from her land! He builds a lofty tower; the basis stands Fix'd in the stormy ocean's moving sands: The turrets in unstable grandeur rise, The baseless fabric shoots into the skies, Soon shall the glories of the ponderous hall Come thundering down, to crush him in their fall!

"Cheer'd with this hope let gallant Vasa raise His daring soul, to meet immortal praise. Graced with hereditary virtue shine, And vindicate the glories of his line. From age to age that generous line shall reign, 'And sons succeeding sons the lasting race sustain.'"

The mighty seraph ceas'd. While thus he said, Without a sigh, the old man's spirit fled. Ere yet, enfranchis'd, thro' the air it past, On the lov'd youth one parting look it cast, And gazed on Sweden, then, no more confined, Soar'd thro' the clouds, and mingled with the wind. Th' angelic power his sacred arm applied To push the vessel o'er the yielding tide, And swifter than the eagle's noon-day flight It flew: while, melting from the dazzled sight, O'er the wide heavens a radiant line he drew, The track still glittering where the glory flew.

And now 'twas silence all: the pale stars shone; The moon, declining, fill'd her ruddy throne. But wrapt in deepest trance Ernestus lay, 'Till Phosphor's lamp restored the purple day.

Meanwhile, ere yet on Stockholm's towery height The morning-planet shed its trembling light, A troop, with Bernheirn, thro' the portals past, Whose polish'd arms a glimmering splendor cast. No single breath the general stillness stirr'd; Their trampling feet alone the warder heard, And follow'd with his sight the dusty cloud, That in its mantle wrapp'd the marching crowd. O'er crackling bushes scud the warrior train And pass with haste the solitary plain; 'Till the broad sun discover'd from afar The dawning lustre of his golden car. Beneath the covert of a neighbouring wood They paus'd awhile, and their swift march renew'd.

Now, driven by force celestial o'er the tides, With lightning speed the rapid pinnace glides: 'Till, having finish'd its predestined way, Its winged motions silently decay. And now, from slumber rous'd, Ernestus spied A river, branching from the ocean tide; The mighty stream roll'd on its darksome flood Thro' mossy cavern and thro' tangled wood; Thence in soft mazes drew its humid train, To feed the verdure of a lonely plain. He furl'd the sail, and grasp'd the labouring oar, And sped to Dalecarlia's welcome shore. The oar, light-stretching, breaks the sparkling tide. And scatters the reflected sunbeam wide.

And now, by Trollio sent, without delay From Stockholm's towers a herald took his way, Amidst his idle fleet where Norbi slept, And on the ocean's verge his station kept. Amongst those peers, whom matchless talents rais'd To shine in Christiern's court, their names emblazed With glittering infamy, and splendid shame, This naval chief held no inglorious fame. In his firm heart ambition fix'd her reign, But led celestial mercy in her train. While others joy'd to crush the yielding foe, And bid the torch of ruin ceaseless glow, 'Twas his alone, to bid th' uplifted dart Recoil unsated from the victim's heart, The wounds of misery and despair to heal, And smile upon the griefs he could not feel. A lawless pirate, by his king's command His numerous navy on the hostile strand Pour'd their incessant force, and o'er his head Her wings for many a year bold triumph spread: 'Till, doom'd at length the chance of war to feel, Entangled in ambition's broken wheel, Crush'd by his falling master's hapless fate, Awhile he struggled with th' opposing weight: In vain; of every hope and power bereft, Expell'd from Sweden, and by Denmark left, The chief whose barks once hid the Baltic wave, In Russian fetters pined a haughty slave. From lord to lord by envious fortune toss'd, He join'd at last imperial Charles's host. An exile, doom'd to waste in joyless strife The poor remainder of an ill-spent life, There long he mourns—and adverse fates deny, His last remaining wish, with fame to die; Condemn'd amidst the vulgar dead to fall, And sink obscure beneath a foreign wall. So perish all, impell'd by thirst of fame To seek in crimes the lustre of a name; Who the bright path of genuine greatness seek, But, having found it, take a course oblique, Where glittering rainbows rise from far, to cheat Their wondering eyes, and tempt their eager feet; And lead them forward o'er forbidden ground, } Where pleasures still decrease, and pains abound, } Till in a miry lake, or whelming torrent, drown'd. } Thus form'd by art, a fancied meteor flies On glowing wings, and sails along the skies, Shoots to the stars with imitative blaze Of feeble splendor, rivalling their rays; With many a glittering track indents its way, Wastes as it shines, and sparkling fades away; 'Till having spent at length its noisy fires, The mimic glory drops, and in a flash expires.



Ernestus enters Dalecarlia—View of the scene round Mora—Transition to Gustavus Vasa, who it represented as reclining under a tree near his friend, the pastor's house, and retracing past events in his mind—His soliloquy—After briefly recounting the late disasters of Sweden, and the arguments which induced him to resolve to quit his country, he concludes with a prayer—Ernestus then appears, and delivers his message from the Genius of Sweden—Gustavus treats his mission as a fiction, upbraids him as a traitor, and attempts his life, but is prevented by apparent prodigies, which, however, do not entirely convince him or alter his resolution.


Auspicious Spirit, whosoe'er thou art, Who warm, exalt, and fill, the Poet's heart: Who bade young Homer pour the martial strain, And led the Tuscan bard thro' hell's profound domain: By whom unequal Camoeens, borne along A torrent-stream, majestic, wild, and strong, Sung India's clime disclosed, and fiery showers Bursting on Calicut's perfidious towers: By whom soft Maro caught Maeonian fire, And plaintive Ossian tuned his Celtic lyre:— If still 'tis thine o'er Morven's heaths to rove, Tago's green banks, or Meles' hallow'd grove, Assist me thence—command my growing song To roll with nobler energy along! Before me Life's extended vale appears, Onward I hasten thro' the gulf of years, And soon must sink beneath them; let my name With one bright furrow of recording fame Mark my brief course!—If led by thee I stray'd In youth's sweet dawn beneath the hazel shade, While over head clear shone the sunny beam, And noon's weak breeze scarce curl'd the tepid stream: Still aid me, gentle Spirit! still inspire My first bold task, and add diviner fire.

Thou too, eternal Freedom! Britain's friend, To British strains thy wonted influence lend, And fire my kindling mind, while I display Thy own Gustavus in unclouded day. From where, on vast Nevada's icy brow, Enthroned in clouds, thou view'st the realm below, The Lusian, Gaul, and Albion's warring train, The clash of arms, and tumult of the plain; From thence I call thee—rouse thy name once more, } And to an equal theme thine aid implore, } Since Spain is now, what Sweden was before. }

And now with transport wild Ernestus spies Dalarne's continuous coast before him rise. Ere yet he reach'd the bank, the toiling oar He dropp'd, and sprung impatient to the shore. Before him wide the dark-brow'd forests frown'd, And morn's still hour hush'd all the space around, Save where the whispers of the changeful breeze Half waved the summits of the towering trees. Alone, and guided by a straggling beam, He hastened onward, where the murmuring stream Cut thro' the woods its liquid way, and laved The grass, that round their trunks luxuriant waved. The willing woods an easy passage yield, And his glad footsteps reach the bordering field.

O'er many a hill he pass'd, and many a plain, While the steep sun toiled up heaven's blue domain: At length, o'erspent with labour, he descries A spire white-glistening in the morning-skies; Around, a hundred cots in order rose, } And mingling trees a shadowy scene compose; } A mighty wood, o'er all, its dark protection throws. } On vale, on village, and protecting wood, The southern sun shot down his fiery flood. Recent from toil, the weary peasant-train Reclined their languid limbs along the plain, Or dragg'd their idle steps along the soil, To watch the mountain-miner's distant toil. Here first Ernestus paused, and gazing round, Traced the wide scene, and measured all the ground. At length, his search determined to delay 'Till deepening twilight quench the crimson ray, On the cool grass his weary limbs he threw, While future years rose imaged to his view, From hope to hope his mind enraptur'd pass'd, And every hope seem'd brighter than the last. So the swift eagle, with exulting wings, Freed from his cage, thro' echoing ether springs; Towers, cities, hills recede, untired he flies, Cleaves the blue space, and gains upon the skies: There wantons in the warm expanse of day, And drinks, with kindling eyes, the sun's accustomed ray.

Meanwhile the guardian genius round him pours Celestial dews, and nature's strength restores; His swimming eyes to balmy sleep resign'd, And fancy bore sweet visions to his mind.

'Twas now the time, when sober Evening sheds Her dusky mantle o'er the grassy meads: Nor yet the pale stars trembled thro' the trees, Nor sparkling quiver'd on the inconstant seas; Nor yet the moon illumed the solemn scene: The fields were silent, and the heavens serene. The sheep had sought the fold; nor yet arose Night's listless bird from her dull day's repose. When in a vale with shadowy firs replete, Whose broad boughs rustled thro' the dark retreat, Beneath a pine that sunk to slow decay, Unseen, Gustavus pass'd the hours away. From earliest morn, ere day's third glass was run, } The chief had mused, nor mark'd the rising son; } And the retiring day appear'd as just begun. } Each flattering argument his mind revolved, Each gleam of patriot hope yet undissolved, Traced to its dubious source each meteor-light, 'Till the last spark went out, and all was night. Convinced at length, he spoke: the woods around With solemn awe return'd the mournful sound; And souls of patriots listen'd from on high, Uncertain yet of Sweden's destiny.

"Yes, thou must fall! oh once o'er earth renown'd, Queen of the North, with choicest blessings crown'd, While martial glory waited on thy voice, And wealth and power seem'd rivals for thy choice! Ye fond survivors of a ruined state, } Here quit, at length, your hopes of happier fate, } And view your country's fix'd unalterable date! } You were not made to fear a tyrant's frown, To gild with tributary wealth his crown, To welcome some deputed robber's sway, And watch his wavering will from day to day: No—once o'erwhelm'd beneath a tyrant's blow. Each following age will bring increase of woe, And every sigh, that loads the Swedish air, Will fly the herald of a patriot's care!

"How art thou changed, oh fate! since smiling Time Bore on his noiseless wings my youthful prime!— By my paternal castle-gate reclined, I caught the murmurs of the evening wind; Or, leaning o'er the rampire's battled height, Cast my young eye, with ever-new delight, O'er rocks, o'er vallies rich with many a flower, The lake blue-glistening, and the snowy tower: While my sire joy'd on days long past to dwell, How Haquin triumph'd, or how Birger fell— 'That land,' he said, 'thy gallant fathers won From realms that glow beneath a brighter sun. Their beacons blazing on each snow-clad height, The yelling sons of Odin rush'd to fight, And rent the eagles of invading Rome, Whose power had changed a hundred nations' doom. In vain the Empress of the Northern Zone, With arts on arts high piled her ill-gained throne: Stern Engelbert trod Usurpation down, And from the thirteenth Eric tore the crown. Yet may my country fall—earth's works decay, And heaven's high laws expect the annulling day.

"While yet a youth, by venturous hope impell'd, Thro' foreign climes my devious course I held; And came at last, where high in ether shine The golden towers of sceptred Constantine. There Palaeologus the kingdom sway'd, And willing Greece his mild commands obey'd. I saw the town with antique splendours crown'd, The martial force, the crowded ports around, The peopled fields, with waving harvests fair, And deem'd, security and peace were there.

"Onward I pass'd in youthful ardour bold, 'Till o'er the changeful earth four suns had roll'd, When Stockholm's towers and Meler's native stream, Of every vision, every thought the theme, Recall'd my steps.—Returning thence, I saw Byzantium sunk beneath a victor's law: O'er the high walls barbaric ensigns wave, Red with the recent carnage of the brave: On quarter'd camps the sun his red beam flings; Thro' night's dim arch the shrill-toned Ezzau rings; Buried in dust the Christian altars lie, And exiled Science seeks another sky.

"Thus, Sweden, mayst thou fall! in ruin lost, Each hope of aid by swift destruction cross'd; Thy blazing domes may feed a tyrant's ire, Thy shrines; unwilling, burn with Danish fire; Thy latest king, like Constantine, in vain May join his slaughtered subjects on the plain!— Handmaid of Science, and by Science fed, Each vice already rears its blooming head: Already Treason digs his silent mine; } With, civil follies, foreign wars combine; } And raging Faction waits to give th' appointed sign. } Oh! in that hour, when growing dangers rise, When the weak trembles, and the faithless flies, Gustavus, fight for her! for Sweden fight! For her employ the day, outwatch the night! Untouch'd by grief, by terror, or dismay, Urge thro' surrounding ills thy fearless way; Let useless torture and defeated hate Confess the triumphs of a hero's fate: Let tranquil courage in each act be seen, And tyrants tremble at thy dying mien!'

"He spoke no more. O'er my astonish'd soul I felt a flood of high emotions roll: Toss'd on the mighty stream of future time, My young heart shook with ecstasies sublime!

"Oh, look not from thy skies, lamented shade, Nor view that land to misery betray'd: If ignorance can cloud immortal sight, Be Sweden's fortunes wrapp'd in tenfold night! Thou saw'st not Devastation sweep her shore, Her forests smoke, her rivers roll in gore; Thou saw'st not half her woes. Her senate low, Thou thought'st her people would revenge the blow; And hope shone kindling in thy dying eye, That some new sun would rise to light her starless sky.— 'Twas then, when Christiern thought the axe too slow, And watch'd with eager transport every blow, And drank each murmur that to death consign'd The noblest, wisest, bravest of mankind,— When ev'n the gazing crowd was doom'd to feel The fury of his yet unsated steel,— 'Twas then thou met thy fate,—unshared by me! Thou fell'st, and with thee Sweden's liberty! Thy spouse, thy daughter, wrapp'd in fetters lie; Thy son, self-exiled, quits his native sky!"—

He paused, and starting from the verdant ground With hurried footsteps paced the forests round, Stung with fierce grief, 'till the full tide of woes Subsiding sunk, and calmer thoughts arose.

While yet he roams beneath the shady groves, And tears gush forth at every step he roves; Sleep's humid vapours lessening on his eyes, Ernestus rose, and mark'd the changing skies. And now a furze-clad eminence he found, That wide o'erlook'd the immensity of ground: From this, with eye insatiate, he admires Woods, hamlets, fields, and awe-commanding spires. And seeks where first to steer his fateful flight, Safe under covert of the quiet night. Wide to the left the blue-tinged river roll'd, And faintly tipped with eve's departing gold, The village rose: half-shaded, on the right A sloping hill appeared to bound the sight: From its hoar summit to the midmost vale, Unnumbered boughs waved floating in the gale. Imbrown'd with ceaseless toil, a smiling train Whirl the keen axe, and clear the farther plain, The intruding trees and scatter'd stems o'erthrow, And form a grassy theatre below. A hundred piles beneath the moon's wan beams, O'er rock and valley shed their lengthening streams; Three youths at each their joyous station keep, In festive contest bent to banish sleep, And strive which first shall see the morn arise With pale-red streamer waving thro' the skies. Sequester'd from the rest a shaded dome Arose, the son of Eric's rural home: On its low roof the light appear'd to rest, The last green light that trembled in the west. Thither, by Heaven impell'd, he took his way, And sought the spot where Sweden's hero lay.

Meanwhile beneath an oak, ere day was met, The village-chiefs, a rustic council, met; Whom ancient custom bade with annual care The ensuing day's festivities prepare. Thro' their dark locks cold sigh'd the evening wind; Their dogs upon the dewy plain reclined Beside them lay. In their afflicted thought Each proof of Christiern's fell oppression wrought, Each deed, each menace: gloomy bodings swell In every bosom—not a tongue can dwell On sports, on prizes, or on social games:— O'er their wide vallies doom'd to hostile flames, O'er their devoted domes, their eyes they throw, Dimm'd with the rising tear that dares not flow. At length a veteran chief, Olafsen named, In early youth for fiery valour famed, By labour unimpaired, unchilled by age, And still in battle more than counsel sage— At length Olafsen rose, and darting round His eyes, where rage and resolution frown'd, "Arouse!" he cried, "delay were madness here! Let all who dare in arms, in arms appear! Enough our eyes have track'd the conquering foe, And in calm torpor watch'd each new o'erthrow! Yon troop of peasants, ignorantly gay, Who waste in careless sports the passing day, Soon shall behold the waving sheets of fire, Sent from their peaceful domes, to heaven aspire. Each year, each month, new towns with ruin smoke, And province after province feels the yoke. Already on our conquer'd castle's height The Danish watchfires redden all the night, Soon, soon, their inroads will our fate decide— Haste, let us spread th' eventful tidings wide, Arm every hand, provoke the lingering fight; And woe to him, that joys not at the sight! By this dread tree, which many an age has stood Unshaken, and survived the subject wood, Which never pruner's steel has dared invade, Nor venturous woodman lopp'd the hallow'd shade; By this dread tree I swear, no peace to know, 'Till conqueror, captive, or in death laid low! Arouse, and conquer, by my zeal inspired!"

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