1793 2

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

Louis XVI. to His Subjects
The European Magazine, XIII (February 1793), pp. 153-154

Alas! my people, what is then my fault,
    On truth and justice still my mind was bent:
Your happiness was all the good I sought,
    But now you drag me forth to punishment.

Ah! sons of France, did not your native earth
    Behold your Louis first with life indu'd;
One sky, with yours, has witnessed to my birth,
    Your prattling infants me an infant view'd.

Alas, my people, am I doom'd to bear
    From you such sorrow, such afflicting pains?
To give you freedom was your Monarch's care,
    And now my recompence is cruel chains.

While yet a youth, in me the French confess'd
    Their rising hope, their tutelary guide:
Ere yet my hand the regal sceptre press'd,
    To you my love a father's care supplied.

When on this throne I took my envy'd place,
    A throne for Louis from his birth design'd;
My first decree was deem'd an act of grace,
    A tribute to the wishes of mankind.

Good Henry[1], long so dear to every breast,
    Sometimes might Error's devious path pursue;
But Louis still to Virtue friend profess'd,
    Nor loves illicit sought, nor favourites knew.

Oh! name them—name the subjects whom to death
    My hand has sentenc'd in a cruel hour;
One day beheld more Frenchmen yield their breath,
    Than all my twenty years of kingly power.

But if my life to fix your peace avails,
    Receive the blood which freely I bestow;
Your loving king, while he your fault bewails,
    Dies innocent, and pardons you the blow.

Alas! my people, take this last adieu;
    Be happy, and with life I gladly part.
O may the blood that shall your hands imbrue,
    Quench all the hatred in my people's heart!


1. [Author's note]: "Henry IV."

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem