Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
On the President’s Farewell Address
By St John Honeywood (1765–1798)
 
  AS the rude Zemblian views with anxious eyes
The sun fast rolling from his wintry skies,
While gathering clouds the shaded vaults deform,
And hollow winds announce the impending storm,
His anguish’d soul recoils with wild affright,        5
From the dread horrors of the tedious night;
Such fears alarm’d—such gloom o’ercast each mind,
When Washington his sacred trust resign’d,
And open’d to his much loved country’s view,
The instructive page which bid the long adieu.        10
So erst Nunnides, of prophetic tongue,
Chief victor seer, to Judah’s listening throng,
Gave his last blessings: So long ages since,
Mild Solon and the stern Laconian prince,
Those boasts of fame, their parting counsels gave,        15
When worn with toil they sought the peaceful grave.
  Columbians! long preserve that peerless page,
Stamp’d with the precepts of your warrior sage;
In all your archives be the gift enroll’d,
Suspend it to your walls encased with gold;        20
Bid schools recite it, let the priestly train
Chant it on festal days, nor deem the task profane:
When round your knees your infant offspring throng,
To join the matin prayer or evening song,
Those rites perform’d, invite them to attend        25
The farewell counsels of their good old friend,
And say, he left you, as his last bequest,
These golden rules to make a nation blest.
O land, thrice blest, if to thy interest wise,
Thy senates learn this precious boon to prize:        30
While guilty Europe’s blood-stain’d empires fall,
While heaven incensed lets loose the infuriate Gaul,
Thy states in phalanx firm, a sacred band,
Safe from the mighty wreck unmoved shall stand.
*      *      *      *      *
  Behold the man! ye crown’d and ermined train,        35
And learn from him the royal art to reign;
No guards surround him, or his walks infest,
No cuirass meanly shields his noble breast;
His the defence which despots ne’er can find,
The love, the prayers, the interest of mankind.        40
Ask ye what spoils his far famed arms have won,
What cities sack’d, what hapless realms undone?
Though Monmouth’s field supports no vulgar fame,
Though captured York shall long preserve his name,
I quote not these—a nobler scene behold,        45
Wide cultured fields fast ripening into gold!
There, as his toil the cheerful peasant plies,
New marts are opening, and new spires arise;
Here commerce smiles, and there en groupe are seen,
The useful arts and those of sprightlier mien:        50
To cheer the whole, the Muses tune their lyre,
And Independence leads the white robed choir.
Trophies like these, to vulgar minds unknown,
Were sought and prized by Washington alone,
From these, with all his country’s honors crown’d,        55
As sage in councils as in arms renown’d;
All of a piece, and faithful to the last,
Great in this action as in all the past,
He turns—and urges as his last request,
Remote from power his weary head to rest.        60
  Illustrious man, adieu! yet ere we part,
Forgive our factions which have wrung thy heart;
Still with indulgent eyes thy country see,
Whose ceaseless prayers ascend the heavens for thee:
Go, ’midst the shades of tranquil Vernon stray,        65
In vain attempt to shun the piercing ray
Of circumambient glory, till refined
All that could clog to earth the heaven-lent mind,
Then soar triumphant to the blest abodes,
And join those chiefs whom virtue raised to gods.        70
 
 
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