Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837/Antioch
ANTIOCH, ON THE APPROACH FROM SUADEAH.
This View of the City is taken from a burial-ground, called, in the picturesque phraseology of the East, "The City of the Dead." There was a vulture perched on one of the tombstones.
When the vulture on the wind
Mounted as in days of old,
Leaving hope and fear behind,
What did his dark flight behold!
Conquest, in its crimson car,
Reddening sword and broken spear,
Nations gathering to the war,
These were in his wide career.
When the thunder and his wing
Swept the startled earth below,
Did the flight prophetic bring
Omen of the world we know.
Vainly did the augur seek
In its path the will of heaven;
Not to that fierce eye and beak,
Was the fated future given.
No, the future’s depths were stirred
By the white wings of the dove;
When the troubled earth first heard
Words of peace, and words of love.
Now, far other hopes arise
Over life’s enlarging day,
Science, commerce, enterprise,
Point to man his glorious way.
Where those distant deserts wind,
Even now an English band
Urge the triumphs of the mind
Through a wild and savage land.
Mind, and only mind, could gain
Such a conquest as they ask;
Stormy wind, and sandy plain,
Doubt and death attend the task.
They will make their gallant way,
Must achieve their glorious goal;
It is night subdued by day,
’Tis the mastery of the soul.
Let the dark Euphrates bear
English keel and English sail;
Not alone o’er wind and air
Will the enterprise prevail:
But our flag will bear around,
Faith and knowledge, light and hope,
Empire with no other bound
Than the wide horizon’s scope.
Honour to the generous band,
Bearing round our name and laws,
For the honour of our land,
For humanity’s great cause.
I allude to the voyage down the Euphrates. Conquest and commerce have been the two great principles of civilization. It is only of late years that we have seen the superiority of the sail over the sword. The expedition, whose advantages I have ventured above to prophesy, is in the noblest spirit of enlightened enterprise. We must take with us our knowledge; and so disturb, and eventually destroy the darkness, mental and moral, too long gathered on the East. The generous earnestness of science, and the enthusiasm of enterprise, were never more nobly marked than in the concluding passage of Colonel Chesney's letter to the Admiralty, announcing the loss of the Tigris steamer:—
"We are, therefore, continuing our descent and survey to Bussarah, hoping not only to bring up the mail from India within the specified time, but also, if it pleases God to spare us, to demonstrate the speed, economy, and commercial advantages of the river Euphrates, provided the decision of ministers shall be, in the true spirit of Englishmen, to give it a fair trial, rather than abandon the original purpose in consequence, of an unforeseen, and, as it is proved, an unavoidable calamity."