Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Elegy: ‘Ye sires of freedom, patrons of the brave!’
 
   On the death of John Haselet, Esq., Colonel of the Delaware battalion, who fell in the defence of American freedom in the action at Princeton, January 3d, 1777.
  Addressed to the Honourable Cesar Rodney, and Thomas McKean, Esquires.

From the Pennsylvania Evening Post, January 21, 1777

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

YE sires of freedom, patrons of the brave!
  Accept the tribute of my artless lays:
A votive offering to the patriot’s grave
  Will move your sorrow, whilst it asks your praise.
 
Forgive the unletter’d muse, though bold the flight:        5
  ’Tis Haselet’s merit claims the poet’s boon;
From Lethe’s shades, to fame’s meridian height,
  To raise his virtues from the silent tomb.
 
Unawed by minions, resolute as fate,
  Wise in the senate, firm to Freedom’s cause;        10
He raised his arm to prop the wavering state,
  Tortured with faction, destitute of laws.
 
The sweets pure flowing from domestic life,
  With all the joys that wealth and affluence yield,
Cheerful he left, to join the glorious strife,        15
  And face oppression in the doubtful field.
 
To curb the pride of Britain’s pamper’d lord,
  To free his country from a despot’s chain,
Haselet for this unsheath’d his vengeful sword,
  Nor has he drawn his vengeful blade in vain.        20
 
Though o’er his head the inclement Sirius reigns,
  And midday Phœbus darts his scorching rays;
Though wintry blasts congeal the snow-clad plains,
  He braves the tempests, emulous of praise.
 
When iron thunders spread destruction round,        25
  He smiled at danger, for he knew not fear;
Bold in the war, in every conflict found
  The hardy soldier, and the prudent seer.
 
Before his eyes a bright example shone,
  The immortal Washington, in fight renown’d;        30
His manly virtues wish’d to make his own,
  To rise a hero, and to tower a god.
 
Swift o’er the dusky heath, in columns vast,
  Shining refulgent on the ruddy morn,
Britannia’s veterans move in warlike haste,        35
  Viewing our cohorts with an eye of scorn.
 
Quick, through the circling air, destruction sped,
  While tortured ether echoed to the roar;
Hessians on Hessians o’er the landscape spread,
  And British blood enrich’d the mingled gore.        40
 
Thy plains, O Princeton, wet with carnage, tell
  The crimson’d laurels of the well-fought day;
How Haselet conquer’d, and how Haselet fell,
  And, crown’d with victory, breathed his soul away.
 
’Twas Freedom called the willing patriot forth:        45
  He came, he fought, and for his country bled;
His active sword proclaim’d his manly worth,
  And Fame now ranks him with the mighty dead.
 
The savage hand of War hath closed those eyes,
  Whence honest nature shone in friendly smiles,        50
Such looks as spoke him generous, brave, and wise,
  Stranger to fraud and affectation’s wiles.
 
Some future day shall sheath our blood-stain’d swords
  Glutted with vengeance on the British hosts:
Far driven from our shores, those murdering hordes        55
  Shall seek asylum on their native coasts.
 
Tremble, ye traitors to your country’s good,
  For vengeance unappeased, with reeking blade,
Still threats for Mercer and for Haselet’s blood,
  And Jersey—desert by your treasons made.        60
 
Receive, then, honour’d shade, a long farewell:
  Thy fate America shall still deplore;
Some future bard, more skill’d, thy deeds shall tell,
  And weep the soldier, who is now no more.
 
 
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