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Alas! it may not be for earthly fame
Is Fortune's frail dependant; yet there lives
In whose pure sight all virtue doth succeed.
Ferdinand von Schill, a distinguished Prussian officer, born 1773, entered the army 1789, was seriously wounded in the battle of Jena, but took the field again at the head of a free corps. Indignant at the subjection of his country to Bonaparte, he resolved to make a great effort for the liberation of Germany, collected a small body of troops, and commenced operations on the Elbe; but after a few successes was overpowered and slain at Stralsund, in May 1809.-Ed.
CALL not the royal Swede unfortunate,
And hence, wherever virtue is revered,
He sits a more exalted Potentate,
Throned in the hearts of men. Should Heaven ordain
That this great Servant of a righteous cause.
Must still have sad or vexing thoughts to endure,
Yet may a sympathizing spirit pause,
Admonished by these truths, and quench all pain
The royal Swede, "who never did to fortune bend the knee," was Gustavus IV. He abdicated in 1809, and came to London at the close of the year 1810. See note to another sonnet on the same King of Sweden, beginning
The Voice of song from distant lands shall call.
(Vol. II. p. 294.)
In the edition of 1836, Wordsworth added the following note:-" In this, and a succeeding sonnet on the same subject, let me be understood as a Poet availing himself of the situation which the King of Sweden occupied, and of the principles avowed in his manifestos; as laying hold of these advantages for the purpose of embodying moral truths. This remark might, perhaps, as well have been suppressed; for to those who may be in sympathy with the course of these Poems, it will be superfluous; and will, I fear, be thrown away upon that other class, whose besotted admiration of the intoxicated despot, hereafter placed in contrast with him, is the most melancholy evidence of degradation in British feeling and intellect which the times have furnished."—ED.
Look now on that Adventurer who hath paid
By violent and ignominious death.
The "Adventurer" who "paid his vows to Fortune," in contrast to the royal Swede "who never did to Fortune bend the knee," was of course Napoleon Bonaparte.-ED.
Is there a power that can sustain and cheer
The captive chieftain, by a tyrant's doom,
Forced to descend into his destined tomb-1
A dungeon dark! where he must waste the year,
This may refer to Palafox, alluded to in a preceding sonnet (p. 221), and in the one next in order; although, from the latter sonnet, it would seem that Wordsworth did not know that Palafox was, in 1810, a prisoner at Vincennes.—ED.
As already indicated, the poems belonging to the year 1810, like those of 1809, were mainly Sonnets, suggested by the events occurring on the Continent of Europe, and the patriotic efforts of the Spaniards to resist Napoleon. I have assigned the two sonnets referring to Flaminius, entitled "On a Celebrated Event in Ancient History," to the same year. They were first published in 1815, and seem to have been due to the same impulse which led Wordsworth to write the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty and Order."-Ed.
AH! where is Palafox? Nor tongue nor pen
Forced to descend alive into his tomb.
Of pitying human nature?
Methinks that we shall hail thee, Champion brave,
And through all Europe cheer desponding men
IN due observance of an ancient rite,
Attire the peaceful corse in vestments white;
In choral song; and, while the uplifted cross
The Mother then mourns, as she needs must mourn;
The lonesome Mother cannot choose but mourn;
3 C. and 1843.
And joy attends upon her fortitude.
Or joy returns to brighten fortitude.
228 A ROMAN MASTER STANDS ON GRECIAN GROUND.
FEELINGS OF A NOBLE BISCAYAN AT ONE OF
YET, yet, Biscayans! we must meet our Foes
Our ancient freedom; else 'twere worse than vain
ON A CELEBRATED EVENT IN ANCIENT
A ROMAN Master stands on Grecian ground,
And to the Concourse of the Isthmian Games