The French Mariner: a Ballad


AN Old French Mariner am I,
Whom Time hath render’d poor and gray;
Hear, conquering Britons, ere I die,
What anguish prompts me thus to say.
I’ve rode o’er many a dreadful wave, 5
I’ve seen the reeking blood descend;
I’ve heard the last groans of the brave;—
The shipmate dear, the steady Friend.
’Twas when De Grasse the battle join’d
And struck, on April’s fatal morn: 10
I left three smiling boys behind,
And saw my Country’s Lillie torn.
There, as I brav’d the storms of Fate,
Dead in my arms my Brother fell;
Here sits forlorn his widow’d Mate, 15
Who weeps whene’er the tale I tell.
Thy reign, sweet Peace, was o’er too soon;
War, piecemeal, robs me of my joy:
For, on the bloodstain’d first of June
Death took my eldest favorite Boy.20
The other two enrag’d arose;
‘Our Country claims our lives,’ they said.
With them I lost my Soul’s repose;
That fatal hour my last hope fled.
With Bruey’s [1]  the proud Nile they sought; 25
Where one in ling’ring wounds expir’d;
While yet the other bravely fought
The Orient’s magazine was fir’d.
And must I mourn my Country’s shame?
And envious curse the conquering Foe?30
No more I feel that thirst of Fame;—
All I can feel is private woe.
E’en all the joy that Vict’ry brings,
(Her bellowing Guns, and flaming pride)
Cold, momentary comfort flings 35
Around where weeping Friends reside.
Whose blighted bud no Sun shall cheer,
Whose Lamp of Life no longer shine:
Some Parent, Brother, Child, most dear,
Who ventur’d, and who died like mine.40
Proud crested Fiend, the World’s worst foe,
Ambition; canst thou boast one deed.
Whence no unsightly horrors flow,
Nor private peace is seen to bleed?
Ah! why do these Old Eyes remain 45
To see succeeding mornings rise!
My Wife is dead, my Children slain,
And Poverty is all my prize.
Yet shall not poor enfeebled Age
Breathe forth revenge; . . . but rather say, 50
O God, who seest the Battle’s rage,
Take from men’s Hearts that rage away.
From the vindictive tongue of strife
Bid Hatred and false Glory flee;
That babes may meet advancing life, 55
Nor feel the woes that light on me. [2] 


[1] BRUEY’S] BRUYES 1st edn, 2nd state; BRUEYS 2nd edn and later edns BACK

[2] [1st edn, 1st state adds note:] I can hardly imagine any thing more great, generous, and pathetic, than the subject, sentiment, and expression of this Ballad. C. L.] omitted in 1st edn, 2nd state and later edns BACK