By Miss Seward.
To Which are Added,
Letters Addressed to Her
by Major André,
in the year 1769.2
Transcribed and annotated by John W. Kennedy
Sir Henry Clinton,
Knight of the Bath.
With the zeal of a religious Enthusiast to his murdered Saint, the Author of this mounful Eulogium consecrates it to the memory of Major André, who fell a Martyr in the Cause of his King and Country, with the firm intrepidity of a Roman, and the amiable resignation of a Christian Hero.
Distant Awe and Reverence prevent her offering these Effusions of Gratitude to the beneficent and Royal Patron of the André Family. May Mr. André’s illustrious General, the Guardian of his injured Honour, his conspicuous and personal Friend, deign to accept them from One, who was once happy in the Friendship of the glorious Sufferer.
most obedient humble Servant,
Loud howls the storm! the vex’d Atlantic roars!
Thy Genius, Britain, wanders on its shores!
Hears cries of horror wafted from afar,
And groans of Anguish, mid the shrieks of War!
Hears the deep curses of the Great and Brave,
Sigh in the wind, and murmur on the wave!
O’er his damp brow the sable crape he binds,
And throws his 3 victor garland to the winds;
Bids haggard Winter, in the drear sojourn,
Tear the dim foliage from her drizzling urn;
With sickly yew unfragrant cypress twine
And hang the dusky weath round Honour’s shrine.
Bids steel-clad Valour chace that dove-like Bride.
Enfeebling Mercy, from his awful side;
Where long she sat and check’d the ardent rein,
As whirl’d his chariot o’er the embattled plain;
Gilded with sunny smile her April tent,
Rais’d her white arm, and stay’d th’ uplifted spear;
Then, in her place, bids Vengeance mount the car,
And glut with gore th’ insatiate Dogs of War!—
With one pale hand the bloody scroll he rears,
And bids his Nations blot it with their tears;
And one, extended o’er th’ Atlantic wave,
Points to his André’s ignominious grave!
And shall the Muse, that marks the solemn scene,
“As busy Fancy lifts the veil between,“
Refuse to mingle in the awful train,
Nor breath, with glowing zeal, the votive strain?
From public fame shall admiration fire
The boldest numbers of her ratur’d lyre
To hymn a Stranger?—and with ardent lay
Lead the wild mourner round her Cook’s morai;4
While André fades upon his dreary bier
And 5 Julia’s only tribute is her tear?
Dear, lovely Youth! whose gentle virtues stole
Thro’ Friendship’s softning medium on her soul!
Ah no!——with every strong resistless plea,
Rise the recorded days she pass’d with thee,
While each dim shadow of o’er-whelming Years,
With Eagle-glance reverted memory clears.
Belov’d Companion of the fairest hours
That rose for her in Joy’s resplendent bow’rs,
How gaily shone on thy bright morn of Youth
The Star of Pleasure, and the Sun of Truth!
Full from their source descended on thy mind
Each gen’rous virtue, and each taste refin’d;
Young Genius led thee to his varied fane,
Bad thee ask 6 all his gifts, nor ask in vain;
Hence novel thoughts, in ev’ry lustre drest
Of pointed Wit, that diamond of the breast;
Hence glow’d thy fancy with poetic ray,
Hence music warbled in thy sprightly lay;
And hence thy pencil, with his colours warm,
Caught ev’ry grace, and copied ev’ry charm
Whose transient glories beam on Beauty’s cheek,
And bit thy glowing Ivory breath and speak.
Blest pencil! by kind Fate ordain’d to save
Honora’s semblance from her 7 early grave.
Oh! while on 8 Julia’s arm it sweetly smiles,
And each lorn thought, each long regret beguiles,
Fondly she weeps the hand which form’d the spell,
Now shroudless mould’ring in its earthy cell!
But sure the Youth, whose ill-starr’d passion strove
With all the pangs of inauspicious Love,
Full oft’ deplor’d the fatal art, that stole
The jocund freedom of its Master’s soul!
While with nice hand he mark’d the living grace
And matchless sweetness of Honora’s face,
Th’ enamour’d Youth the faithful traces blest;
That barb’d the dart of Beauty in his breast;
Around his neck th’ enchanting Portrait hung,
While a warm vow burst ardent from his tongue,
That from his bosom no succeeding day,
No chance should bear that talisman away.
’Twas thus 9 Apelles bask’d in Beauty’s blaze,
And felt the mischief of the stedfast gaze;
Trac’d with disorder’d hand Campaspe’s charms,
And as their beams the kindling Canvas warms,
Triumphant Love, with still superior art,
Engraves their wonders on the Painter’s heart.
Dear lost Companion! ever constant Youth!
That Fate had smil’d on thy unequal’d truth!
Nor bound th’ ensanguin’d laurel on that brow
Where Love ordain’d his brightest wreathe to glow!
Then Peace had led thee to her softest bow’rs,
And Hymon10 strew’d thy path with all his flow’rs;
Drawn to thy roof, by Friendship’s silver cord,
Each social Joy had brighten’d at thy board;
Science, and soft afffection’s blended rays
Had shone unclouded on thy lengthen’d days;
From hour, to hour, thy taste with conscious pride,
Had mark’d new talents in thy lovely Bride;
Till thou hadst own’d the magic of her face
Thy fair Honora’s least engaging grace.
Dear lost Honora! o’er thy early bier
The Muse still sheds her ever sacred tear!—
The blushing rose-bud in its vernal bed,
By Zephyr fan’d, and murm’ring fountains fed,
In June’s gay morn that scents the ambient air,
Was not more sweet, more innocent, or fair.
Oh! when such Pairs their kindred Spirit find,
When Sense and Virtue deck each spotless Mind,
Hard is the doom that shall the union break,
And Fate’s dark pinion hovers o’er the wreck.
Now Prudence, in her cold and thrifty care,
Frown’d on the Maid, and bade the Youth despair;
For Pow’r Parental sternly saw, and strove
To tear the lilly-bands of plighted Love;
Nor strove in vain;—but while the Fair One’s sighs
Disperse, like April-storms in sunny skies,
The firmer Lover, with unswerving trutn,
To his first passion consecrates his Youth;
Tho’ four long years a night of absence prove,
Yet Hope’s soft Star shone trembling on his Love;
Till 11 busy Rumour chas’d each pleasing dream
And quench’d the radiance of the silver beam.
“Honora lost!—my happy Rival’s Bride!
“Swell ye full Sails! and roll thou mighty Tide!
“O’er the dark waves forsaken André bear
“Amid the vollying thunders of the War!
“To win bright Glory from my Country’s Foes,
“E’en in this ice of Love, my bosom glows.
“Voluptuous London! where thy turrets blaze,
“Their hundred thrones the frolic Pleasures raise;
“Bid proud Expence Sabean odours bring,
“Nor ask her roses of the tardy Spring;
“Where Music floats the glitt’ring roofs among,
“And with meand’ring cadence swells the Song;
“Where Painting burns the Grecian Meed to claim,
“From the high temple of immortal Fame,
“Bears to the radiant Goal, with ardent pace,
“Her Kauffman’s beauty, and her Reynold’s grace;
“Where Sun-clad Poetry the strain inspires,
“And foils the Grecian Harps, the Latian Lyres.
“Ye soft’ning Luxuries! ye polish’d Arts!
“Bend your enfeebling rays on tranquil hearts!
“I quit the Song, the Pencil, and the Lyre,
“White robes of Peace, and Pleasure’s soft attire,
“To seize the Sword, to mount the rapid Car,
“In all the proud habiliments of War.—
“Honora lost! I woo a sterner Bride,
“The arm’d Bellona calls me to her side;
“Harsh is the music of our marriage strain!
“It breathes in thunder from the western plain!
“Wide o’er the wat’ry world its echos roll,
“And rouse each latent ardor of my Soul.
“And tho’ unlike the soft melodious lay,
“That gaily wak’d Honora’s nuptial day,
“Its deeper tones shall whisper, e’er they cease,
“More genuine transport, and more lasting peace!
“Resolv’d I go!—nor from that fatal bourn
“To these gay scenes shall Andrés step return!
“Set is the star of Love, that ought to guide
“His reffluent Bark across the mighty Tide!—
“But while my Country’s Foes, with impious hand
“Hurl o’er the subject plains the livid brand
“Of dire Sedition!—Oh! let Heaven ordain
“While André lives, he may not live in vain!
“Yet without one kind farewell, cou’d I roam
“Far from my weeping Friends, my peaceful home,
“The best affections of my heart must cease,
“And gratitude be lost, with hope, and peace!
“My lovely Sisters! who were wont to twine
“Your Souls soft feelings with each wish of mine
“Shall, when this breast beats high at Glory’s call,
“From your mild eyes the show’rs of sorrow fall?
“The light of excellence, that round you glows,
“Decks with reflected beams your brother’s brows,
“Oh! may his fame, in some distinguished’d day,
“Pour on that excellence the brighter ray!
“Dim clouds of Woe! ye veil each sprightly grace
“That us’d to sparkle in Maria’s face.
“My 12 tuneful Anna to her lute complains,
“But Griefs fond throbs arrest the parting strains.
“Fair, as the silver blossom on the thorn,
“Soft as the spirit of the vernal morn,
“Louisa, chace those trembling fears, that prove
“Th’ ungovern’d terrors of a Sister’s love.
“They bend thy sweet head, like yon lucid flow’r,
“That shrinks and fades beneath the summer’s show’r.
“Oh! smile, my Sisters, on this destin’d day,
“And with the radiant omen gild my way!
“And thou, my Brother, gentle as the gale,
“Whose breath perfumes anew the blossom’d vale,
“Yet quick of Spirit, as th’ electric beam,
“When from the clouds its darting lightnings stream,
“Sooth with incessant care our mother’s woes,
“And hush her anxious sighs to soft repose.
“And be ye sure, when distant far I stray
“To share the dangers of the arduous day,
“Your tender faithful amity shall rest
“The 13 last dear record of my grateful breast.
“Oh! graceful Priestess at the fane of truth,
“Friend of my Soul! and guardian of my Youth!““
“Skill’d to convert the duty to the choice,
“My gentle Mother!—in whose melting voice
“The virtuous precept, that perpetual flow’d,
“With music warbled, and with Beauty glow’d,
“Thy tears!——Ah Heaven!——not drops of molten lead,
“Pour’d on thy hapless Son’s devoted head,
“With keener smart had each sensation torn!—
“They wake the nerve where agonies are born!
“But Oh! restrain me not!—thy tender strife,
“What would it save?—alas! thy André’s life,
“Oh! what a weary pilgrimage ’twill prove
“Strewd with the thorns of disappointed love!
“Ne’er can he break the charm, whose fond controul,
“By habit rooted, lords it o’er his soul,
“If here he languish in inclorious ease,
“Where Science palls, and Pleasures cease to please.
“’Tis Glory only, with her potent ray,
“Can chase the clouds that darken all his way.
“Then dry those pearly drops, that wildly flow,
“Nor snatch the laurel from my youthful brow,
“The Rebel Standard blazes to the noon!
“And Glory’s path is bright before thy Son!
“Then join thy voice! and thou with Heav’n ordain
“While André lives, he may not live in vain!
He says!—and sighing seeks the busy strand
Where anchor’d Navies wait the wish’d command
To the full gale the nearer billows roar,
And proudly lash the circumscribing shore;
Wile furious on the craggy coast they rave,
All calm and lovely rolls the distant wave;
For onward, as th’ unbounded waters spread,
Deep sink the rocks in their capacious bed,
And all their pointed terrors utmost force,
But gently interrupts the billows course.
So on his present hour rude passion preys!
So smooth the prospect of his future days!
Unconscious of the storm, that grimly sleeps,
To wreck it’s14 fury on th’ unshelter’d Deeps!
Now yielding waves divide before the prow,
The white sails bend, the streaming pendants glow
And swiftly waft him to the western plain,
Where fierce Bellona rages o’er the slain.
Firm in their strength opposing Legions stand,
Prepar’d to drench with blood the thirsty Land.
Now Carnage hurls her flaming bolts afar,
And Desolation groans amid the War.
As bleed the Valiant, and the Mighty yield,
Death stalks, the only Victor o’er the field.
Foremost in all the horros of the day,
Impentuous 15 André leads the glorious way;
Till, rashly bold, by numbers forc’d to yield,
They drag him captive from the long-fought field.——
Around the Hero croud th’ exulting Bands,
And seize the spoils of war with bloody hands;
Snatch the dark plumage from his awful crest,
And tear the golden crescent from his breast;
The sword, the tube, that wings the death from far,
And all the fatal implements of War!
Silent, unmov’d the gallant Youth survey’d
The lavish spoils triumphant Ruffians made.
The idle ornament, the useless spear
He little recks, but oh! there is a fear
Pants with quick throb, while yearning sorrows dart
Thro’ all his senses to his trembling heart.
“What tho’ Honora’s voice no more shall charm!
“No more her beay smile my bosom warm!
“Yet from these eyes shall Force for ever tear
“The sacred Image of that Form so dear?—
“Shade 16 of my love!—tho’ mute and cold thy charms,
“Ne’er hast thou blest my happy Rival’s arms!
“To my sad heart each dawn has seen thee prest!
“Each Night has laid thee pillow’d on my breast!
“Force shall not tear thee from thy faithful shrine;
“Thou ne’er wert his, and shalt be ever mine!
“’Tis fix’d!—these lips shall resolute inclose
“The precious Soother of my ceaseless woes.
“And should relentless violence invade
“This last retreat, by frantic Fondness made,
“One way remains!—Fate whispers to my Soul
“Intrepid 17 Portia and her burning coal!
“So shall the throbbing Inmate of my breast
“From Love’s sole gift meet everlasting rest!“
While these sad thoughts in swift succession fire
The smother’d embers of each fond desire,
Quick to his mouth his eager hand removes
The beauteous semblance of the Form he loves!
That darling treasure safe, resign’d he wears
The sordid robe, the scanty viand shares;
With cheerful fortitude content to wait
The barter’d ransom of a kinder fate.
Now many a moon in her pale course had shed,
The pensive beam on André’s captive head.
At length the Sun rose jocund, to adorn
With all his splendor the enfranchis’d Morn.
Again the Hero joins the ardent Train
That pours its thousands on the tended plain;
And shines distinguished in the long Array,
Bright as the silver star that leads the Day!
His modest temperance, his wakeful heed,
His silent diligence, his ardent speed,
Each warrior duty to the Veteran taught,
Shaming the vain experience Time had brought.
Dependance scarcely feels his gentle sway,
He shares each want, and smiles each grief away;
And to the virtues of a noble Heart
Unites the talents of inventive Art.
Thus from his swift and faithful pencil flow
The Lines, the Camp, the Fortress of the Foe;
Serene to counteract each deep design,
Points the dark Ambush, and the springing Mine;
Till, as a breathing incense, André’s name
Pervades the Host, and swells the loud acclaim.
The Chief no virtue views with cold regard,
Skill’d to discern, and generous to reward;
Each tow’ring hope his honor’d smiles impart.
As near his Person, and more near his heart
The graceful Youth he draws,—and round his brow
Bids Rank and Pow’r their mingled brilliance throw.
Oh! hast thou seen a blooming Morn of May
In chrystal beauty shed the modest ray?
And with its balmy dews refreshing show’r
Swell the young grain, and ope the purple flow’r?
In bright’ning lustre reach its radiant Noon,
Rob’d in the gayest mantle of the Sun?
Then ’mid the splendors of its azure skies,
Oh! hast thou seen the cruel Storm arise?
In sable horror shroud each dazzling charm,
And dash their glories back with icy arm!
Thus lower’d the deathful cloud amid the blaze
Of André’s destiny,- - -and quench’d its rays!- - -
Ah fatal Embassy!—thy hazard’s dire
His kindling Soul with ev’ry ardor fire;
Great Clinton gives it to the courage prov’d,
And the known wisdom of the Friend he lov’d.
As fair Euryalus to meet his Fate,
With Nysus rushes from the Dardan gate,
Relentless Fate! whose fury scorns to spare
The snowy breast, red lip, and shining hair,
So polished André launches on the waves,
Where 18 Hudson’s tide its dreary confine laves,
With firm intrepid foot the Youth explores
Each dangerous pathway of the hostile shores;
But on the Veteran chief his step attends,
As silent round the gloomy Wood he wends;
Alone he meets the brave repentant Foe,
Sustains his late resolve, receives his vow,
With ardent skill directs the doubtful course,
Seals the firm bond and ratifies its force.
’Tis thus America, thy Generals fly,
And wave new banners in their native sky!
Sick of the mischief artful Gallia pours,
In friendly semblance on thy ravag’d shores.
Unnatural compact!—Shall a Race of Slaves
Sustain the ponderous standard Freedom waves?
No! while their feign’d Protection spreads the toils,
The Vultures hover o’er the destined spoils!
How fade Provincial glories, while You run
To court far deeper Bondage than you shun!
Is the generous active rising Flame,
That boasted Liberty’s immortal name!
Blaz’d for its rights infring’d, its trophies torn,
And taught the Wife the dire mistake to mourn,
When haughty Britain, in a luckless hour,
With rage inebriate, and the lust of pow’r,
To fruitless conquest, and to countless graves
Let her gay Legions o’er the western waves!
The Fiend of Discord, cow’ring at the prow,
Sat darkly smiling at th’ impending woe.
Long did my Soul the wretched strife survey,
And wept the horrors of the deathful day;
Thro’ rolling Years saw undecisive War
Drag bleeding Wisdom at his iron Car;
Exhaust my country’s treasure, pour her gore
In fruitless conflicts on the distant shore;
Saw the firm Congress all her might oppose,
And while I mourn’d her fate, rever’d her foes.
But when, repentant of her prouder aim,
She gently waves19 the long disputed claim;
Extends the charter with your rights restor’d,
And hide in olive weaths the blood stain’d sword.20
Then to reject her peaceful weaths, and throw
Your Country’s freedom to our mutual foe!
Infatuate Land!—from that detested day
Distracted Councils, and the thirst of Sway,
Rapacious Avarice, Superstition vile,
And all the Frenchman dictates in his guile
Disgrace your Congress! Justice drops her scale!
And radiant Liberty averts her sail!
They fly indignant the polluted plain,
Where Truth is scorn’d and Mercy pleads in vain.
That she does plead in vain, thy witness bear,
Accursed Hour! Oh! darkest of the Year!
That with Misfortune’s deadliest venom fraught
To Tappan’s Wall the gallant André brought,
Snar’d in her fatal Maze, and borne away
Of fell Revenge, in all its guilt the Prey!
Oh Washington! I tho’t thee great and good,
Nor knew thy Nero-thirst of guiltless blood!
Severe to use the pow’r that fortune gave,
Thou cool determin’d Murderer of the Brave!
Lost to each fairer Virtue that inspires
The genuine fervor of the Patriot fires!
And You, the base Abettors of the doom,
That sunk his blooming honours in the tomb,
Th’ opprobious21 tomb your harden’d hearts decreed,
While all he ask’d was as the Brave to bleed!
Nor other boon the glorious Youth implor’d
Save the cold Mercy of the Warrior-Sword!
O dark, and pitiless! your impious hate
O’er-whelm’d the Hero in the Ruffian’s fate!
Stopt with the 22 Felon-cord the rosy breath!
And venom’d with disgrace the darts of Death!
Remorseless Washington! the day shall come
Of deep repentance for this barb’rous doom!
When injur’d André’s memory shall inspire
A kindling Army with resistless fire;
Each falchion sharpen that the Britons wield,
And lead their fiercest Lion to the field!
Then, when each hope of thine shall set in night,
When dubious dread, and unavailing flight
Impel your Host, thy guilt-upbraided Soul
Shall wish untouch’d the sacred Life you stole!
And when thy Heart appall’d and vanquish’d Pride
Shall vainly ask the Mercy they deny’d,
With horror shalt thou meet the fate they gave,
Nor Pity gild the darkness of thy grave!
For Infamy with livid hand shall shed
Eternal mildew on thy ruthless head.
Less cruel far than thou, on Illium’s plain
Achilles, raging for Patroclus slain!
When hapless Priam bends the aged knee
To deprecate the Victor’s dire decree,
The Nobler Greek, in melting pity spares
The lifeless Hector to his Father’s pray’rs,
Fierce as he was;—’tis Cowards only know
Persisting vengeance o’er a fallen Foe.23
But no intreaty wakes the soft remorse
Oh murder’d André! for thy sacred Corse;
Vain were an Army’s vain its Leader’s sighs!
Damp in the Earth on Hudson’s shore it lies!
Unshrouded welters in the wint’ry storm,
And gluts the riot of the 24 Tappan Worm!
But Oh! its dust, like Abel’s blood shall rise,
And call for justice from the angry skies!
What tho’ the Tyrants with malignant pride,
To thy pale Corse each decent rite deny’d!
Thy graceful limbs in no kind covert laid,
or with the Christian-Requiem sooth’d thy shade!25
Yet on thy grass-green Bier soft April show’rs,
Shall earliest wake the sweet spontaneous flow’rs!
Bit the blue Hare-bell, and the Sno drop there
Hang their cold cup, and drop the pearly tear!
And oft, at pensive Eve’s ambiguous gloom,
Imperial Honour, bending o’er thy tomb,
With solemn strains shall lull thy deep repose,
And with his deathless Laurels shade thy brows!
Lamented Youth! while with inverted spear
The British Legions pour th’ indignant tear!
Round the dropt arm the 26 funeral-scarf entwine,
And in their hearts deep core thy worth enshrine;
While my weak Muse, in fond attempt and vain
But feebly pours a perishable strain,
Oh! ye distinguish’d Few! whose glowing lays
Bright Phoebus kindles with his purest rays,
Snatch from its radiant source the living fire,
And light with 27 Vestal flame your André’s Hallow’d Pyre!
1 The James Rivington (New York) edition of 1781, used as the copy text in this edition, consistently uses è in the lower case and E in the upper case to spell the hero’s name. The one is taken to be a flat error, the other a typographic convention. This edition uses é and É. (JWK)
2 This edition omits the letters, as it is published in association with William Dunlap's André (1798), which includes the letters. (JWK)
3 Victor garland,—Alluding to the conquest by Lord Cornwallis. (AS) Cornwallis soundly defeated Horatio Gates at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, but then spent months chasing Gates’ successor, Nathaniel Greene, through the Carolinas, accomplishing little; in the very year that Seward’s poem was published, Cornwallis was trapped between the French Navy and the Continental Army at Yorktown, Virginia, and the American Revolution was effectively ended. (JWK)
4 “Morai.—The Morai is a kind of funeral altar, which the people of Otaheite raise to the memory of their deceased friends. They bring to it a daily tribute of fruits, flowers, and the plumage of birds. The chief mourner wanders around it in a state of apparent distraction, shrieking furiously, and striking at intervals a shark’s tooth into her head. All people fly her, as she aims at wounding not only herself, but others.“—Anna Seward, note to Elegy for Captain Cook (1780). The OED prefers the spelling “marae”. The present editor takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this definition. (JWK)
5 Julia.—The name by which Mr. André address’d the Author in his correspondence with her. (AS)
6 All his gifts.—Mr. André had conspicuous talents for Poetry, Music, and Painting. The news papers mention’d Cow Chace, a satiric poem of his upon the Americans, which was supposed to have stimulated their barbarity towards him. Of his wit and vivacity, the letters subjoined to this work afford ample proof. They were addressed to the Author by Mr. André when he was a youth of eighteen. (AS) He was, in fact, nineteen; Anna Seward and the André family apparently coöperated in reducing André’s age by one year. (JWK)
7 Early grave.—Miss Honora S—— to whom Mr. André’s attachment was of such singular constancy, died in a consumption a few months before he suffered death at Tappan. She had married another gentleman four years after her engagement with Mr. André had been dissolved by parental authority. (AS) Honora Sneyd was her full name. She married Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the father of Maria Edgeworth, the novelist. (JWK)
8 Julia’s arm.—Mr. André drew two miniature pictures of Miss Honora S—— on his first acquaintance with her at Buxton, in the year 1769, the one for himself, the other for the Author of this poem. (AS)
9 ’Twas thus Apelles.—Prior is very elegant upon this circumstance in an ode to his friend Mr. Howard the painter. (AS)
10 Sic. (JWK)
11 Busy rumour.—The tidings of Honora’s marriage. Upon that event Mr. André quitted his profession as a merchant, and join’d our army in America. (AS) The use of the word rumour here and the wording of this footnote would seem a likely inspiration for William Dunlap’s dramatic fiction that the marriage was a lie imposed upon André. (JWK)
12 Tuneful Anna.—Miss Anna André has a poetical talent. (AS)
13 Last dear record.—“I have a mother and three sisters, to whom the value of my commission would be an object, as the loss of Grenada has much affected their income. It is needless to be more explicit on this subject. I know your Excellency’s goodness.“———See Major André’s last letter to General Clinton, published in the Gazette. (AS) Commissions in the British Army at this time were generally bought and sold, but expired upon the death of the holder. André asked that an exception be made in his case, as the income of his family had been largely dependent upon their holdings in Grenada, which had been seized by the French in the war. (JWK)
14 Sic. (JWK)
15 Impetuous André.—It is in this passage only that fiction has been employ’d thro’ the narrative of the poem. Mr. André was a prisoner in America, soon after his arrival there, but the Author is unacquainted with the circumstances of the action in which he was taken. (AS) André was taken prisoner in the surrender of Fort St. Johns (Fort St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Quebec, on November 2, 1775, following a successful siege.. (JWK)
16 Shade of my Love.—The miniature of Honora. A letter from Major André to one of his Friends, written a few years ago, contain’d the following sentence. “I have been taken prisoner by the Americans and stript of every thing except the picture of Honora, which I concealed in my mouth.—Perserving that I yet think myself fortunate.“ (AS) This note has considerably puzzled historians. There is no record—apart from this third-hand story—on either the American or British side (including the authentic letters of André, himself) of the prisoners at Fort St. Johns being spoiled, and there is also no evidence that André had continued to cherish his old romantic attachment. It is suspected by historians that Miss Seward may have been romancing. (JWK)
17 Intrepid Portia.———
“Brutus.] Impatient of my absence,
“And griev’d that young Octavius with Mark Anthony
“Had made themselves so strong, she grew distracted,
And, her Attendants absent, swallow’d fire.
“Cassius.] And died so?
“Brutus.] Even so!
See Shakespear’s Play of Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene IV.
The First Folio actually reads:
Bru. Impatient of my absence,
And greefe, that yong Octauius with Mark Antony
Have made themselues so strong: For with her death
That tydings came. With this she fell distract,
And (her Attendants absent) swallow’d fire.
Cas. And dy’d so?
Bru. Euen so.
18 Hudson’s tide.—Major André came up the Hudson River to meet General Arnold. On his return by Land he fell into the hands of the Enemy. (AS)
19 Sic. (JWK)
20 In 1778, Parliament offered, too late, all that the Patriots demanded short of Independence. (JWK)
21 Sic. (JWK)
22 Felon Cord.——“As I suffer in the defence of my Country, I must consider this hour as the most glorious of my life. Remember that I die as becomes a British Officer, while the manner of my death must reflect disgrace on your Commander.“
See Major André’s last Words, inserted in the General Evening Post, for Tuesday, November the 14th, 1780. (AS)
Witnesses report André’s last words differently. At any rate, hanging was the customary punishment for spies, and had been the fate of Nathan Hale. (JWK)
23 André was buried at the site of his execution. Once again, this was customary. In 1822, his body was removed and reinterred in Westminster Abbey. In 1879, an American monument was put up honor his memory. (JWK)
24 Tappan.—The place where Major André was executed. (AS)
25 André was, in fact, a Deist, and refused the attentions of the chaplain. (JWK)
26 Funeral-scarf.—Our whole army in America went into mourning for Major André, a distinguish’d tribute to his merit. (AS)
27 Vestal Flame.——The Vestal fire was kept perpetually burning, and originally kindled from the rays of the Sun. (AS)