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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Prince’s Vision

By James Ralph (d. 1762)

[Born, probably, in Philadelphia, Penn. Died at Chiswick, England, 1762. Zeuma, or the Love of Liberty. 1729.]

ONCE, as with ardent zeal he urged the chase,

And pressed, with matchless swiftness, to secure

His frighted prey, through the thick wood, from far

He spied, low bending o’er the limpid stream,

An aged hermit; who seemed wrapped in thought

And solitary muse; behind him, arched

By nature in the hollow rock, appeared

A gloomy cave, o’ergrown with moss, his calm

Abode; above, with difficult ascent,

Arose the hill, with vivid verdure crowned;

Around, the forest spread its grateful shade,

And gently murmured to the gale; beneath,

Spontaneous flowers adorned the grassy turf,

And sweetened every breeze: long gazed the king

On the enchanting scene, and wondered much

It had till then escaped his haunt; when, waked

By his approaching step, the father rose,

And with meek reverence thus began: “’Tis not,

Great prince, by accident you’ve strayed to this

Sequestered place, but by divine decree;

That you may know what instant dangers threat

Your rule, what miseries your realms;

That no surprise enervate your resolves

When war alarms you to the field; no dread

Of stranger nations, or unusual arms

Confuse the combat, and in foul retreat

Disperse your routed squadrons o’er the plain.”

He said, and led him, by a winding way,

To the high brow of that delightful hill,

And bid him view the prospect round. He looked,

And lo! the whole world’s globe seemed stretched along

Before his view, so far the landscape reached,

So many objects crowded on the eye;

On this side cities stand, and forests wave,

Green fields extend, and gentle rivers glide;

O’erhanging precipices frown, and hills

Ascend on high: on this the white sea foams,

And on the nearer shores, with speedy roll,

Breaks wide its hasty billows. Zeuma starts

At the surprising roar, yet still intent,

Beholds the restless wave, when, new and strange!

High tossing on the angry surge appear

Vast floating piles, that with capacious wings

Collect the breathing gale, and by degrees

Approach the strand; with thundering voice discharge

Huge streams of ruddy flame, in cloudy smoke

Involved, and fright the nations round. Again

The monarch starts, astonished at the noise,

While, down their steepy sides, descend a throng

Of bearded men, of foreign look and mien;

That brightened o’er the plain with shining arms,

And all the pomp of war. To them succeeds

An herd of creatures, fierce and active, trained

To battle, and the din of arms; on which

The warriors mounting, all proceed, in firm

And regular array, across the field;

Then sound a charge; and o’er the tranquil glebe

Let loose destruction, and with slaughter glut

The sword; with dire oppressive force, and stern

Dominion fix their barbarous rule, and lord

It o’er the groaning tribes. With horror struck,

Sad Zeuma overlooked the scene, and mourned

The dire event: when thus the hoary sage

His lore renewed. “These are the foes that now

Are marching to invade your land; and such

The ills that must afflict your tribes; see o’er

Yon ridge of hills, contemning all the force

Of freezing cold, and wintry gales, they pass

Unwearied with the toil: then haste away,

Alarm your people, and with princely care

Draw all your squadrons to the field. If aught

Of doubt yet hangs upon your mind,

Again survey the landscape, and believe

My mission from above.” He looked and all

The illusive prospect vanished from the view,

And naught remained, but one vast length of wood,

That murmuring bowed before the wanton gale.

So, where the setting sun, with upward ray

Adorns the evening clouds in fleecy gold,

And purple deeply dyed, the attentive eye,

With wonder, views a maze of objects dawn

In bright confusion o’er the blue sky’s edge,

And with a round of never-ceasing change

Perplex the doubtful scene, till night’s deep shade,

Ascending swiftly, darkens o’er the heavens,

And in gray vapors sweeps the whole away.