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LIBERTY. A POEM.

[Price Fifteen Shillings Currency.]

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LIBERTY A POEM.

By RUSTICUS.

Et majores vestros & posteros cogitate.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed by JOHN DUNLAP, in Market-Street, MDCCLXVIII.

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TO THE FARMER, Author of those patriotic Letters on LIBERTY, which lately appeared in the Maryland Gazette.

SIR,

WAS it possible to conceal under the simple Title of FARMER, a Production which will for ever redound to the immortal Honor of the Com­poser, the Author might have still remained unsuspect­ed; but when all is advanced in Defence of LIBERTY that possibly can be urged, and that too in such strik­ing and disinterested Colours as leave no Room to doubt the Force of Genuis, the distinguished Patriot, and the zealous Friend, we can no longer remain doubtful in [Page iv]respect to the Author. Urged by these Considerations, I have presumed, Sir, to dedicate to you the following Poem; and if it contains the least Merit, must do you the Justice to confess, the Perusal of your Letters fur­nished me with some of the best Thoughts contained in the Performance: I only mention this as a Discharge of my Duty, and should the following Composition be thought worthy your Notice in your leisure Mo­ments, the most sanguine Expectations of the Author will be totally accomplished. I have the Honor to be, with great Respect, SIR,

Your most Obedient, Humble Servant, RUSTICUS.
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LIBERTY.

TRUTH long asleep, awoke immers'd in Tears,
Deprest by Anguish, and portending Fears;
Prophetic Doubts alarm'd her throbbing Breast,
Encreas'd her Terror and destroy'd her Rest,
Exulting SLAV'RY rear'd its baneful Head,
And almost utter'd—LIBERTY is dead!
Yet while corroding Thoughts assail'd the Mind,
While fell INJUSTICE ravag'd unconfin'd,
While trembling LIBERTY, involv'd in Care,
Foresaw the Yoke her Sons would shortly wear;
[Page 6] While pleasing Hope itself was almost fled,
"And FREEDOM hung suspended by a Thread;"
Then, even then, to chear desponding Grief,
MINERVA thus administer'd Relief.
"Arise, ye Colonists, my Sons, arise,
"The servile Threats of lawless Force despise.
"To FREEDOM BORN your sacred Rights maintain,
"Nor let Compulsion one slight Purpose gain.
"Power, if at first it meets with no controul,
"Creeps by Degrees and quick subdues the Whole.
"Your Claim to FREEDOM is on Virtue built,
"To gain that Point your Parents' Blood was spilt;
"And will the Offspring of their worthy Race
"Contaminate their Blood by foul Disgrace?
[Page 7] "No, rather let Destruction swallow all,
"'Tis Time to suffer when oblig'd to fall!
"Tho' hostile Force should Devastation spread,
"And every Field show Mountains of the Dead;
"Tho' Death and Carnage should whole Cities sweep,
"And crimson Streams deface the briny Deep;
"E'en then, my Sons, undaunted rush to Death,
"Nor part with FREEDOM till you part with Breath.
"Mistaken Notions will mislead the Weak,
"And Truth, at all Times, is ashamed to speak;
"Yet when Ambition, and oppressive Might,
"Presume to rob a Subject of his Right;
"When the Grand Charter groans beneath the Weight
"Of all the machinating Wiles of State;
[Page 8] "When Mi—st-rs to feed insatiate Pride,
"Their Truth, their Country and their K—G misguide.
"By Reason prompted (if you must obey)
"Let Truth and FREEDOM only lead the Way,
"BRITANNIA like yourselves my Int'rest claim,
"To serve ye both I from Olympia came;
"Yet mark the Mandate of omniscient Jove,
"Prompted by Justice and the warmest Love,
"Then thus, in short, the God his Will exprest,
"While Anger laboured in his sacred Breast.
"Pallas, my Daughter, thither bend your Way,
"And tell the Colonists what here I say;
"Tell them, tho' lock'd in Fate, the Thund'rer sees
"Fair LIBERTY declining by Degrees,
[Page 9] "Encroaching Slavery lurking round the Land,
"And Force despotic stretching forth her Hand.
"Injurious Acts should once the Subject bear,
"Or tame Submission yield to groundless fear,
" [...] Measures, and imperious Sway,
"Will force a thoughtless People to obey;
"A Violation from superior Might,
"Upon their Laws, their Liberty or Right,
"Tho' for a while thro' Policy, and Art,
"May gild the Poison and suspend the smart,
"Tho' it at first may not its End attain,
"Compliance loses all Oppression's Gain,
"Each Step is nigher to complete its Aim,
"And load the People with immortal Shame;
[Page 10] "FREEDOM once lost is not retriev'd again,
"The Wound is mortal, and acute the Pain;
"By sly Gradations Injuries encrease,
"Nor rush too sudden on the Subject's Peace;
"Yet when the Burden they are forced to bear,
"When forced to drag the galling Chain they wear;
"When Mi—st-rs are glutted with Success,
"And public Clamour echoes out—Redress;
"The frantic People mad'ning at their State,
"Exclaim in Rage—Repentance comes too late;
"In vain Experience would this Truth conceal,
"Some never think but when compell'd to feel.
"True Greatness must from real Virtue rise,
"An honest Action never wants Disguise.
[Page 11] "Would Mi—st-rs while at the Helm be just,
"And scorn for Lucre to betray their Trust;
"Would such consult the Int'rest of the State,
"And leave their own to undetermined Fate,
"Then would each Subject over-raptur'd bring
"His Mite to serve his Country and his KING;
"Yet while ignoble Deeds meet no Disgrace,
"And ev'ry Knave is huddled into Place;
"While Merit bleeds beneath so vile a Plan,
"And Worth is look'd upon no Part of Man,
"Well may the Bliss of LIBERTY decay,
"Since Fools and Madmen have a Right to sway,
"Attempts once made if not that Moment check'd,
"The Public suffers through its own Neglect;
[Page 12] "When once Obedience as a Duty reigns,
"Deluded People fasten on their Chains;
"Indignant Customs from Compliance flow,
"And ev'ry Day presents increasing Woe;
"Divided Notions soon the Soul possess,
"To prove a Scene of exquisite Distress;
"Success attends the crafty Courtiers Toil,
"And Pride, insatiate Pride, enjoys the Spoil.
"Tread then secure the Paths your Fathers trod,
"The Road of Justice is the Road of GOD;
"Fear not the Issue of illicit Might,
"Heaven pleads the Cause of LIBERTY and RIGHT;
"Assert your Claims, to Truth and Virtue trust,
"Be to yourselves, your KING and COUNTRY just;
[Page 13] "Capricious Fancies will the Courtier guide;
"His Port Preferment, and his Pilot Pride;
"Honor and Honesty neglected rot,
"Those are the Beggar's, not the Statesman's Lot;
"When Self is once concern'd, the restless Great
"Deny their Principles, their King and State;
"Ambition agitates, corrupts the Mind,
"And few (if any) are to Truth confin'd.
"Let then no Reasons urge a thoughtless Deed,
"Power never wants a Reason to succeed;
"Despoil'd of Freedom should Injustice sway,
"All then must truckle to the Word—Obey;
"All sink to Bondage from a freeborn State,
"And sweat beneath the heavy Yoke of Fate.
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"Nature and Truth in this grand Point agree,
"None can be happy but the Man that's FREE;
"None can the Bliss of LIBERTY ensure,
"But such who may their Property secure.
"Taxes impos'd will always more or less
"The Public's Freedom injure and oppress;
"Should Br-t—h Pa-l-m—ts usurp a Right,
"Demand your Money, and your CHARTER slight;
"All venal Acts reject with manly Scorn,
"Convince you know ye were to Freedom born;
"With honest Rage let every Bosom burn,
"And from your Souls the latent Poison spurn.
"Yet some their are who guide the Helm of State;
"Deserving, virtuous, sensible and great;
[Page 15] "Some who would scorn from Honor's Path to swerve,
"Who draw their Virtues from the Prince they serve;
"But such, alas! are few—the Reason's plain,
"None long as Mi-n-st-rs must good remain,
"Corruption, Art and Envy spreads the Snare,
"And Bribes on Bribes the fatal Bait prepare;
"The Trap once laid, if Gold should not succeed,
"'Twould be, ye Gods! a Miracle indeed.
"With modest Boldness make your Troubles known;
"The Way is shortest to address the Throne;
"To Jove, your CHARTER and your SOVEREIGN trust,
"He may be tardy, but he will be just;
"Of ev'ry noble Sentiment possest,
"Injustice reigns not in his royal Breast,
[Page 16] "Supremely good, compasionate and brave,
"None more than he detests the Sound of Slave,
"None more than he would feel unfeigned Joy,
"Your Griefs to soften, and your Wrongs destroy.
"Such is the Message from almighty Jove,
"The Voice of REASON, LIBERTY and LOVE;
"Yet e'er I seek yon distant azure Sky,
"And far from you to blest Elysium fly,
"Lest Tears for Errors past should not avail,
"By Way of Application hear a Tale.
"A State once flourish'd ev'ry Blessing knew,
"Its Joys were many, and its Troubles few;
"No pungent Care the People's Peace destroy'd,
"VIRTUE and LIBERTY they long enjoy'd,
[Page 17] "Unknown to Vice, to Slavery or to Shame,
"They slept in Freedom and awoke the same;
"At length unworthy of so blest a Fate,
"They sought the Favour of the faithless Great;
"By Words delusive into Folly led,
"Their Eyes were open when their Freedom fled;
"Asham'd their Meanness and their Guilt to own,
"The penetential Slaves address'd the Throne.
"The Sovereign listened—pitied their Distress,
"Vouchsafed to answer, but would not redress;
"In Tears of Blood all then the Error wept,
"They wak'd in Bondage, but in Freedom slept.
"Mark then, my Sons, the certain Fate of such
"Who think too little and believe too much.
[Page 18] "From their Example let this Maxim rise,
"Some may too late, but none too soon be wise."
She ceas'd—and cleaving thro' the ambient Air,
Dividing Clouds receiv'd the blue eyed Fair;
All streak'd in Gold in azure Vest array'd,
The opening Sky enshrin'd the heavenly Maid,
Harmonious Music as she took her Flight,
Hung on the Ear, and ravish'd with Delight.
Minerva gone, attentive Crowds disperse,
Her Counsels honor, and her Words rehearse;
With Aspect modest, and Deportment meek,
The grateful Throng the holy Temple seek;
To Jove in fervent Prayer the People join,
And thus address the sacred Power divine.
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"Father of all, inimitably bright,
"Clad with the Glories of refulgent Light,
"Thou from whom ev'ry Consolation springs,
"Pure, holy, just, immortal King of Kings,
"Vouchsafe while now before thy Shrine we bend,
"To hear thy Suppliants and their Laws defend,
"By thee protected ev'ry Care shall cease,
"And all once more enjoy the Sweets of Peace."
They ceas'd—when lo! COLUMBUS, once the brave,
Brake thro' the gloomy Confines of the Grave;
To all the trembling Host (thro' Fear dismay'd)
Thus spake the godlike venerable Shade.
"Wail not, my Sons, from yonder peaceful Tomb
"Your Wrongs to mitigate, a Friend I come;
[Page 20] "Some Fifty Years in Silence have I slept,
"Nor should have woke, had LIBERTY not wept;
"But ah! when Frauds your precious Freedom shook,
"And Villains were for honest Men mistook;
"When all was sacrificed to Int'rest's Sake,
"'Twas Time, ye Colonists, the dead should wake;
"'Twas Time, when cunning plann'd your Overthrow,
"Yourselves to rouze, and stop the mortal Blow.
"But lest ye wonder how I quit my State,
"And stir one Space beyond the Verge of Fate;
"Unterrified with due Attention hear
"The artless dictates of a Soul sincere.
"As Gr-nv-lle late by servile Art assay'd
"Your Rights to wound, and Freedom to invade;
[Page 21] "While he the Foe of Virtue and her Cause,
"Prepar'd the Poison to infect your Laws,
"To climes unknown the Fatal Rumour spread,
"And reach'd too soon the Mansions of the Dead;
"Your Fathers restless in the silent Grave,
"A Council called your LIBERTY to save;
"With Horror saw the black ignoble Deed,
"And shuddered lest Injustice should succeed;
"Among the Rest thus summon'd to attend,
"Myself, your Founder, went, your Chief and Friend;
"From just Conclusions your Pretensions weigh'd,
"Your Troubles felt, and flew to lend you Aid;
"Yet hear me on—while Gr-nv-lle laid that Plan,
"Unworthy both the Minister and Man;
[Page 22] "While he and others bullied for the State,
"And Stamps were sent the Harbingers of Fate;
"Then venal B-RN—D, ever insincere,
"Perform'd the Functions of a Gr-nv-lle here,
"With open Zeal espous'd your injured Cause,
"Yet work'd in secret to subvert your Laws;
"But Heaven who ev'ry secret Action knows,
"Confus'd the plotting of your artful Foes;
"Your Troubles eas'd when most deprest by dread,
"And stop'd Perdition bursting o'er your Head.
"On Care and Union your Success depends,
"On Negligence and Strife, Distress attends;
"Let not Divisions damp the gen'rous Flame,
"But all and one demand your legal Claim;
[Page 23] "Unalter'd let your LIBERTIES remain,
"They want not mending which are just and plain;
"Oh! happy People, blest with Men of Parts,
"Endowed with Wisdom, and unfeigned Hearts,
"How my Soul gladdens at thy present State,
"Not long ago the Mark of envious Fate;
"Heavens! how exulting Raptures fill my Breast,
"Too long unknown to all the Joys of Rest.
"Methinks I view when all seem'd lost indeed!
"Virtue and Heaven for gasping Freedom plead;
"SHARPE, like the Pylian Sage in Knowledge skill'd,
"Concern'd—the discontented Land beheld,
"In Silence sat, and tho' to speak was loath,
"His Duty knew, and prov'd a Friend to both;
[Page 24] "Nor did Heaven's Goodness in this Instance end,
"It rose the PATRIOT, COUNSELLOR and FRIEND:
"Considerations on your sinking Laws,
"Shone like a Meteor o'er your trembling Cause;
"There Reason pointed out with Judgment fraught,
"What you ought not to do, and what you ought;
"Law, Truth, and Justice, Liberty and Right,
"The able Penman brought to perfect light,
"Convey'd this Truth which laugh'd your Foes to scorn,
"Ye are the Sons, not Slaves of Briton born.
"Had I but Time his Character to scan,
"Or tell but half the Virtues of this Man;
"Could I, my Sons, his just Deserts proclaim,
"Or speak that Worth that soars above his Fame,
[Page 25] "E'en growling Envy, Foe to fair Renown,
"With ev'ry Virtue would the Author crown.
"Another too amidst the Storms of Fate,
"Foresaw the Troubles of a falling State,
"With Force energic cheer'd the drooping Mind,
"And Truth came mended from his Pen refin'd,
"With patriot Zeal your LIBERTY explain'd,
"Rever'd your CHARTER, and your Rights maintain'd,
"With splendid Brightness, like the spotless Sun,
"Burst thro' the FARMER and with Lustre shone;
"Each Line, each Word, soon reach'd the feeling Breast,
"The Man was valued, honor'd and carest.
"Yet one Thing more, for short is now my Stay,
"The Gods have summon'd and I must obey.
[Page 26] "With Resolution still your Plan pursue,
"Support the glorious NUMBER NINETY-TWO;
"On that the Basis of your Bliss depends,
"On that the Safety of your Lives and Friends;
"Fresh Schemes are laying to disturb your Peace,
"Your Rights to wound, and Injuries encrease;
"Yet ev'ry Measure, ev'ry Act defy,
"They nobly fall who for their Freedom die,
"Bribes, Threats, and Promises will all employ,
"To stain your Virtue, and your Truth decoy;
"Yet thus in brief—Be resolute and true,
"And safely trust to NUMBER NINETY-TWO.
He spake, when sudden all the Temple shook,
As thro' the Isle his Flight the Vision took;
[Page 27] Swift as the forked Lightning flies around,
The Phantom tripp'd the Surface of the Ground;
Enclos'd in Rays divinely pure and bright,
The manly Fabrick fled from human Sight.
The gazing Strands with Admiration fraught,
To LIBERTY alone devote each Thought;
With grateful Joy the sacred Words retain,
Resolve their Rights and CHARTER to maintain,
Like Cato's Sons heroicly agree,
To lose their Lives before their LIBERTY.
FINIS.

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