1799 10

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Written After Seeing Opie's Picture of the
Tired Soldier in the Late Exhibition
“E. C. G.”
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXIX (August 1799), p. 696

Behold the soldier, on his journey home,
Halting to slake his thirst, and satisfy
The wants tir'd nature eagerly doth crave;
That, ere the evening clouds obscure the day,
He may, refreshen'd, still pursue his route,
And reach, at length, the haven of his hopes;
Tho', after years of absence from his home,
And all those comforts which that home did yield,
A thousand ills his anxious mind forebodes;
He dreads to meet the complicated woes,
His fears already do anticipate,
And which, alas! his presence might have stay'd:
The faithful partner of his early life
Perhaps long since hath paid great Nature's debt;
His children too, 'reft of a father's care,
Consign'd t' an early grave—dreadful the thought!
That, after having 'scap'd the fate of war,
The dangers of disease in distant climes,
Acquir'd a soldier's not unglorious name,
A little pittance for his future wants,
To lose at last that home, he fondly hop'd,
Would chear the ev'ning of his days, and make
His past misfortunes e'en a source of joy!


1. John Opie (1761-1807), portrait and historical painter, was the husband of Amelia Opie, the popular novelist and poet. John Wolcot ("Peter Pindar") gave Opie instruction in painting and in 1781 introduced him to London as a "Cornish Wonder," a self-taught genius. His most successful paintings were historical subjects such as that which elicited this poem.

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