Treasure Island

Thomas Cogswell Upham

(1799-1872 / the United States)

Death of Colonel Hayne


I.
Sadly and slow the mourners came
Through Charleston's streets, with bleeding heart;
And breathed their hate on Rawdon's name,
Who acted such a cruel part.

Lord Rawdon came from England Old,
Renowned for skill and courage true;
And oft in onset fierce and bold,
Americans his vengeance knew.

The fearless Hayne was one of those,
Whom in the field of death he took,
Where bands with bands in battle close,
And spear to spear defiance shook.

Soon as the captured Hayne drew near,
Lord Rawdon looked with scornful eye,
And said, thou rebel, thou art here,
Upon the gallows' tree to die.

Then Colonel Hayne with boldness said,
It matters not, my Lord, to me;
I'd rather mingle with the dead,
Than slave to any man to be.

The feeble body thou canst bind,
And draw the life-blood from the vein;
But there's defiance in the mind,
The bounding spirit knows no chain.

Lord Rawdon shook his plumage high,
And half unsheathed his angry sword;
And swore in wrath, thou soon shalt die,
If there is truth in Rawdon's word.

If men will not their king obey,
But set themselves against his power,
Their life itself the crime shall pay,
And they shall rue the 'venging hour.

Again the soldier answer made,
And said, it matters not to me;
Of foul dishonor I'm afraid,
But fear not death, my Lord, nor thee.

I'd rather be the sightless mole,
And in the dust and ashes mine;
Than stoop to tyranny's control,
Or ever bend to thee or thine.

II.
Down in a dungeon's dark retreat
The brave American was cast;
And round his hands, and round his feet,
Were made the links of iron fast.

And with him there his eldest boy,
An inmate of the cell remained;
His father viewed him once with joy,
But now the sight his bosom pained.

For well he knew what deep distress,
In this dark world of sin and strife,
Too oft befalls the fatherless,
Thrown early on the sea of life.

The boy clung round his father's neck;
It was a time his love to try;
He wept, as though his heart would break,
And said, his father must not die.

I saw, said he, the winding sheet,
That robed my mother's pallid clay;
I saw the men, with slow-paced feet,
That sadly bore her far away.

And as the bell, with heavy tongue,
Filled with her death the listening air,
Deep to my heart its accents rung,
And moved anew the anguish there.

With faltering tongue, before she died,
She said, 'My Charles, I leave you, dear!'
And as she spoke, she strove to hide
The grief, that shone in many a tear.

'I leave you, (and may God be kind,)
With one, a constant friend who'll be;
Charles! in your father you will find
A friend, as he has been to me.'

That mother, to my infant sight,
Far back as memory's step can trace,
Rose, like an angel, clothed in light,
And shone o'er all my early race.

But she hath gone; her light hath fled;
And can her parting words be true,
If you shall seek that narrow bed,
And I must bid farewell to you.

Around his father's veteran neck,
He threw his little arms again;
While, trickling o'er his youthful cheek,
The tears his faded beauty stain.

III.
My child, my child! said Colonel Hayne,
Think not, I do not deeply feel;
Thy griefs are like the clanking chain,
And pierce me, as the foeman's steel.

But when our griefs and duty meet,
There is one course for me, for all;
To trample sorrow under feet,
And stand erect at honor's call.

But there is One, who knows our need,
Nor claims what man cannot fulfil;
'Tis ours his Providence to read,
And bow submissive to his will.

Repose, my child, your hopes in God,
Make him your counsellor and friend;
He blesses, when he lifts the rod,
And oft in good our troubles end.

And while on Him for aid you call,
Fear not, but all your strength renew;
For there are others yet so small,
That they must look for help to you.

Yet scarcely old enough to know,
That they nor father have nor mother,
Watch over them, and ever show
The care, the kindness of a brother.

IV.
Two courses at the dungeon meet,
And black were they as raven's wing;
They smite the earth with pawing feet,
And high the dust around them fling.

And from the grates, the iron grates,
The brave American looked through;
And on those steeds, the coal-black mates,
The ministers of vengeance knew.

To friends and foes farewell he bade,
Who mourned alike o'er one so brave;
Upon his son his hand he laid,
And sad his parting blessing gave.

Then blew the trumpet loud and long,
Then wide the dungeon doors were flung;
And Colonel Hayne went through the throng,
Upon the gallows to be hung.

The steeds pressed heavily the ground,
The soldiers marched with solemn tread;
The trumpets pealed their thrilling sound,
The muffled drums beat dull and dread.

But Colonel Hayne showed no dismay,
No panic blanched his manly cheek;
Though multitudes, that thronged his way,
In sighs and tears their sorrows speak.

Unmoved, he reached the place of death;
Unmoved, he trod the scaffold high;
For life he knew was useless breath
Without the sweets of liberty.

But ere he died, the heart-felt prayer,
Poured for his native land, he gave,
That God would shield her with his care,
And in the hour of darkness save.

'Tis done! He gives his last embrace,
And, in the twinkling of an eye,
He, who was swift in freedom's race,
Hung black and moveless in the sky.

V.
I marked a boy pass through the street,
With garments rude, dishevelled hair;
He walked the earth with wandering feet,
And with a wild and maniac air.

He said but little; oft he stood,
When gained the sun his noon-day height,
And fixed, when in his frantic mood,
Upon its beams, his staring sight.

I asked what I his name should call,
And how that one, so young as he,
So early in his life should fall
To such extreme of misery.

Alas! he was his father's pride,
Nor less he loved that father well;
He saw him when he, struggling, died;
He shrieked, and tottering reason fell.

And from that dark, distracting day,
Wild horrors in his bosom reign;
His face is marked with sad dismay;
'Tis Charles, the son of Colonel Hayne.

VI.
These are thy fearful scenes, oh War!
These are the trophies thou dost bring;
How many pleasures thou dost mar!
How many bosoms thou dost wring!

A despot's heart is in thine arm,
Tyrannic power invokes thy hate,
To scatter wide thy dread alarm,
And leave the just man desolate.

The son and father thou dost sever,
The husband from the wife dost part;
And sendest wretchedness forever
O'er ruined home and bleeding heart.

Submitted: Friday, October 08, 2010

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