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Thomas Campbell: Men will weep for him when many a guilty martial fame is dim


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Campbell: Selections on peace and war


Thomas Campbell

From The Cherubs

On wings outspeeding mail or post,
Our sprites o’ertook the Imperial host;
In massacres it wallowed:
A noble nation met its hordes,
And broken fell their cause and swords,
Unfortunate, though hallowed.

They saw a late bombarded town,
It streets still warm with blood ran down;
Still smoked each burning rafter;
And hideously, ‘midst rape and sack,
The murderer’s laughter answered back
His prey’s convulsive laughter.

They saw the captive eye the dead,
With envy of his gory bed, –
Death’s quick reward of bravery:
They heard the clank of chains, and then
Saw thirty thousand bleeding men
Dragged manacled to slavery.

“Fie! fie!” the younger heavenly spark
Exclaimed – “we must have missed our mark,
And entered hell’s own portals:
Earth can’t be stained by crimes so black;
Nay, sure, we’ve got among a pack
Of fiends and not of mortals.”

“No,” said the elder; no such thing:
Fiends are not full enough to wring
The necks of one another: –
They know their interests too well:
Men fight; but every devil in hell
Lives friendly with his brother.”


From Lines Written In a Blank Leaf of La Perouse’s Voyages

His truth so touched romantic springs of thought,
That all my after-life his fate and fame
Entwined romance with La Perouse’s name. –
Fair were his ships, expert his gallant crews,
And glorious was the emprise of La Perouse, –
Humanely glorious! Men will weep for him,
When many a guilty martial fame is dim:
He ploughed the deep to bind no captive’s chain –
Pursued no repine – strewed no wreck with slain…

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