The Spirit of the Nation/The Nation's First Number

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The Spirit of the Nation
The Nation's First Number by Terræ Filius (James Clarence Mangan)



'Tis a great day, and glorious, O Public! for you—
This October Fifteenth, Eighteen Forty and Two!
For on this day of days, lo! The Nation comes forth,
To commence its career of Wit, Wisdom, and Worth—
To give Genius its due—to do battle with Wrong—
And achieve things undreamed of as yet, save in song,
Then arise! fling aside your dark mantle of slumber,
And welcome in chorus The Nation's First Number.


Here we are, thanks to Heaven, in an epoch when Mind
Is unfettering our captives and couching our blind;
And the Press with its thunders keeps marring the mirth
Of those tyrants and bigots that curse our fair earth.
Be it ours to stand forth and contend in the van,
Of truth's legions for freedom, that birthright of man,
Shaking off the dull cobwebs that else might encumber
Our weapon—the pen—in The Nation's First Number.


We announce a New Era—be this our first news—
When the serf-grinding Landlords shall shake in their shoes;
While the ark of a bloodless yet migthy Reform
Shall emerge from the flood of the Popular Storm!
Well we know how the lickspittle panders to Power,
Feel and fear the approach of that death-dealing hour;
But we toss these aside—such vile vagabond lumber
Are but just worth a groan from The Nation's First Number.


Though we take not for motto, Nul n'a de l'esprit,
(As they once did in Paris) hors nos bons amis,
We may boast that for first-rate endowments, our band
Form a phalanx unmatched in—or out of—the land.
Poets, Patriots, Linguists, with reading like Parr's—
Critics keener than sabres—Wits brighter than stars;
And Reasoners as cool as the coolest cu-cumber
Form the host that shine out in The Nation's First Number.


We shall sketch living manners—and men—in a style
That will scarcely be sneez'd at, we guess, for a while;
Build up stories as fast as of yore Mother Bunch,
And for Fun of all twists take the shine out of "Punch;"
Thus our Wisdom and Quizdom will finely agree
Very much, Public dear, we conceive as you see
Do the lights and the shades that illume and adumber
Each beautiful page in the Nation's First Number.


A word more:—To Old Ireland our first love is given;
Still, our friendship hath arms for all lands under Heaven.
We are Irish—we vaunt it—all o'er and all out;
But we wish not that England shall "sneak up the spout!"
Then, O Public! here, there, and elsewhere through the world,
Wheresoe'er Truth's and Liberty's flags are unfurl'd,
From the Suir to the Tweed, from the Boyne to the Humber,
Raise one Shout of Applause for The Nation's First Number!