AND Sonnets.

by Cornwall Bayley


LINES written on leaving ENGLAND for QUEBEC, 1804.


ENGLAND, as now upon thy rocky strand,
My parting eyes survey their native land;
As from my much-lov’d home (awhile) I fly,
To seek new climes beneath the western sky;
How shall my falt’ring tongue unmov’d impart,
One last adieu the language of my heart?
How shall my bosom beat secure from pain,
Or reasoning comfort nature’s tear restrain?

Hard is the task to bid the scenes farewell,
Where all the ties that bind affection dwell;
Where all our blessings, all our wishes end,
In the lov’d names of parent—brother—friend!—
Hard to forsake the hearth of social ease,
And smiling circles emulous to please;
To tempt tho’ short the period climes unknown,
And wander far, unfriended and alone!

Ask Afric’s son, who in a foreign soil,
Drags out a life of death in slavish toil,
What are his dreams of realms beyond the tomb,
What his ideas of a state to come;
His native sands restor’d, his dog and wife,
Are all the Heaven he hopes in future life!
Or ask yon wand’ring Swiss, by war’s alarms
Forc’d to abandon all his mountain charms,
Whence flow the tears that down his furrow’d cheek,
In silent sorrow nature’s language speak,
*He hears the well-known tune, that o’er the lake
Was wont each social feeling to awake,
He hears its notes that now but sound in vain,
Or rousing “memory turn the past to pain,”
Mem’ry that points to his deserted shore,
Where Freedom, Peace and Glory are no more!

So strong are those attractive pow’rs of earth
That draw mankind to scenes that gave them birth!
For trace the cultivated world’s extent,
And all its bounds this general law present;
Whate’ere the charms that call mankind away.
To toil for int’rest or for pleasure stray; [Page 20]
Where’re we rove, and (as our thoughts delude,)
Shun fancied ills and chase romantic good;
Not all the world can alienate the mind,
That in its country leaves a world behind;
But as perchance, when playful infants rove
Careless of danger thro’ some distant grove;
Soon as the mother’s fondness stands confess’d,
Before their eyes, they rush into her breast:
So too the heart where genuine feeling burns,
Still to it’s country, “still untravell’d turn’s;”
And having wander’d thro’ each foreign shore,
Flies to it’s own prepar’d to love it more!—

For me—the task is done! ev’n now the gale,
Destin’d to waft me plays upon the sail;
Ev’n now my blessing and my last farewell,
Must crown the scenes I lov’d so long, so well!
Yet never shall my soul forget the shores
That hold the objects which it most adores;
*If I forgot thee, England, let my tongue
Cleave to my mouth, and be my nerves unstrung,
Let my right hand forget her us’d employ,
If I prefer not thee to every joy!

Yes! when thy rocks before mine eye-lids fail,
Still in my heart thy image shall prevail,
My raptur’d fancy shall survey thee still
And all my thoughts with pleasing sorrow fill!
In every spot—in every tree shall find,
Some pictur’d form of those it leaves behind;
And to the haunts that Contemplation loves,
Give many a well-known name of Albion’s groves.

And should the summons from my maker, God,
Recal my spirit to it’s dread abode;
Should I in foreign shores for ever sleep,
And western climes my unwept ashes keep;
For thee th’ expiring prayer shall rise to Heav’n,
For thee the sigh, the laft fond wish be given;
Thy form divine shall catch my parting breath,
And soothe ’midst angel choirs the pangs of Death.
Then in it’s bless’d Redeemer’s blood bedew’d,
By mercy pardon’d and by grace renew’d;
O! may my soul in brighter realms above,
Still share the joys of patriotic love: [Page 21]
There friends, on earth rever’d, ’midst Seraphs trace
There meet again a Father’s lov’d embrace;
There too with him, from mortal bondage free,
Triumphant soar—and gaze bless’d land on thee! [Page 22]

* The celebrated Swiss song – “Rants de Vacchès” [back]

* Psalms, 137, ver. 5 & 6 [back]