From Cyclopædia of American Literature, Volume II., by Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck; New York: Charles Scribner; 1856; 704-706.
FREDERICK L. COZZENS.*
THE author of numerous popular sketches in the Knickerbocker and Putnam’s Magazines, is a native of New York City. He early became engaged in mercantile life, and is at present a leading wine-merchant.
In 1853 he published a volume of sketches in prose and verse entitled Prismatics, by Richard Haywarde. It was tastefully illustrated from designs by Elliott, Darley, Kensett, Hicks and Rossiter. He has since written a series of sketches for Putnam’s Monthly, humorously descriptive of a cockney residence in the country, under the title of The Sparrowgrass Papers, which are announced for publication in a volume by Derby.
Mr. Cozzens is also the author of a very pleasant miscellany published in connexion with his business, entitled The Wine Press. In addition to
much information on the important tope of the active culture of the grape, it is enlivened by many clever essays and sketches in the range of practical æsthetics.
BUNKER HILL: AN OLD-TIME BALLAD.
It was a starry night in June, the air was soft and still,
When the “minute-men” from Cambridge came, and gathered on the hill:
Beneath us lay the sleeping town, around us frowned the fleet.
But the pulse of free men, not of slaves, within our bosoms beat;
And every heart rose high with hope, as fearlessly we said,
“We will be numbered with the free, or numbered with the dead!”
“Bring out the line to mark the trench, and stretch it on the sward!”
The trench is marked — the tools are brought — we utter not a word.
But stack our guns, then fall to work, with mattock and with spade,
A thousand men with sinewy arms, and not a sound is made:
So still were we, the stars beneath, that scarce a whisper fell;
We heard the red-coat’s musket click, and heard him cry, “All’s well!”
And here and there a twinkling port, reflected on the deep,
In many a wavy shadow showed their sullen guns asleep.
Sleep on, thou bloody hireling crew! in careless slumber lie;
The trench is growing broad and deep, the breastwork broad and high:
No striplings we, but bear the arms that held the French in check,
The drum that beat at Louisburg, and thundered in Quebec!
And thou, whose promise is deceit, no more thy word we’ll trust.
Thou butcher GAGE! thy power and thee we’ll humble in the dust;
Thou and thy tory minister have boasted to thy brood,
“The lintels of the faithful shall be sprinkled with our blood!”
But though these walls those lintels be, thy zeal is all in vain:
A thousand freemen shall rise up for every freemen slain;
And when o’er trampled crowns and thrones they raise the mighty shout,
This soil their Palestine shall be; their altar this redoubt:
See how the morn is breaking! the red is in the sky;
The mist is creeping from the stream that floats in silence by;
The Lively’s hull looms through the fog, and they our works have spied,
For the ruddy flash and roundshot part in thunder from her side;
And the Falcon and the Cerberus make every bosom thrill,
With gun and shell, and drum and bell, and boatswain’s whistle shrill;
But deep and wider grows the trench, as spade and mattock ply,
For we have to cope with fearful odds, and the time is drawing nigh!
Up with the pine tree banner! Our gallant PRESCOTT stands
Amid the plunging shells and shot, and plants it with his hands;
Up with the shout! for PUTNAM comes upon his reeking bay,
With bloody spur and foamy bit, in haste to join the fray;
And POMEROY, with his snow-white hairs, and face all flush and sweat,
Unscathed by French and Indian, wears a youthful glory yet.
But thou, whose soul is glowing in the summer of thy years,
Unvanquishable WARREN, thou (the youngest of thy peers)
Wert born, and bred, and shaped, and made to act a patriot’s part,
And dear to us thy presence is as heart’s blood to the heart!
Well may ye bark, ye British wolves! with leaders such as they,
Not one will fail to follow where they choose to lead the way —
As once before, scarce two months since, we followed on your track,
And with our rifles marked the road ye took in going back.
Ye slew a sick man in his bed; ye slew with hands accursed,
A mother nursing, and her blood fell on the babe she nursed;
By their own doors our kinsmen fell and perished in the strife;
But as we hold a hireling’s cheap, and dear a freeman’s life,
By Tanner brook, and Lincoln bridge, before the shut of sun,
We took the recompense we claimed — a score for every one!
Hark! form the town a trumpet! The barges at the wharf
Are crowded with the living freight — and now they’re pushing off;
With clash and glitter, trump and drum, in all its bright array,
Behold the splendid sacrifice move slowly o’er the bay!
And still and still the barges fill, and still across the deep,
Like thunder-clouds along the sky, the hostile transports sweep;
And now they’re forming at the Point — and now the lines advance:
We see beneath the sultry sun their polished bayonets glance;
We hear a-near the throbbing drum, the bugle challenge ring;
Quick bursts, and loud, the flashing cloud, and rolls from wing to wing;
But on the height our bulwark stands, tremendous in its gloom,
As sullen as a tropic sky, and silent as a tomb.
And so we waited till we saw, at scarce ten rifles’ length,
The old vindictive Saxon spite, in all its stubborn strength;
When sudden, flash on flash, around the jagged rampart burst
From every gun the livid light upon the foe accurst:
Then quailed a monarch’s might before a free-born people’s ire;
Then drank the sward the veteran’s life, where swept the yeoman’s fire;
Then, staggered by the shot, we saw their serried columns reel,
And fall, as falls the bearded rye beneath the reaper’s steel:
And then arose a mighty shout that might have waked the dead,
“Hurrah! they run! the field is won!” Hurrah! the foes is fled!”
And every man hath dropped his gun to clutch a neighbor’s hand,
As his heart kept praying all the while for Home and Native Land.
Thrice on that day we stood the shock of thrice a thousand foes,
And though our swift fire slackened then, and reddening in the skies,
We saw, from Charlestown’s roofs and walls, the flamy columns rise;
Yet while we had a cartridge left, we still maintained the fight,
Nor gained the foe one foot of ground upon that blood-stained height.
What though for us no laurels boom, or o’er the nameless brave
No sculptured trophy, scroll, nor hatch, records a warrior-grave!
What though the day to us was lost! Upon that deathless page
The everlasting charter stands, for every land and age!
For man hath broke his felon bonds, and cast them in the dust,
And claimed his heritage divine, and justified the trust;
While through his rifted prison-bars the hues of freedom pour
O’er every nation, race, and clime, on every sea and shore,
Such glories as the patriarch viewed, when ’mid the darkest skies,
He saw above a ruined world the Bow of Promise rise.
* As you can see from the man’s own signature, his name is misspelled! It is Frederic S. Cozzens!.
The delightful, funny, poignant, and intelligent work of Frederic Cozzens is one of the hallmarks of Elfinspell:
See The Sparrowgrass Papers,
Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,
A California Ballad,