That favoring hour to bright-eyed Fancy dear,
When most she loves to seek the mountain side
And mark the pomp of twilight hast'ning near.
Ah then, what faery forms around her throng!
On every cloud a magic charm she sees:
Sweet Evening these delights to thee belong,
But now alas! comes Autumn's chilling breeze
And early night attendant on its sway
Bears in her envious veil, sweet fancy's hour away.
John Thelwall was a radical who sympathized with the democratic principles
of the French Revolution; in the spring of 1794, he was arrested and charged
with high treason for his revolutionary views, along with other leaders of the
London Corresponding Society. He was tried and acquitted after being im-
prisoned in the Tower.The first three of the following sonnets were written
there and appeared in Poems Written in Close Confinement in the Tower and
Newgate under a Charge of High Treason (1795). He was a prolific poet, essayist,
pamphleteer, and editor of The Champion, a political and literary newspaper.
Thelwall once wrote an essay on the contemporary sonnet that praised Char-
lotte Smith as the best sonneteer in the English language.
O Hell-born Tyranny! how blest the land
Whose watchful citizens with dauntless breast
Oppose thy first approach! With aspect bland
Thou wont, alas! too oft, to lull to rest
The sterner virtues that should guard the throne
Of Liberty. Decked with the gaudy zone
Of Pomp, and ushered with lascivious arts
Of glossing Luxury, thy fraudful smile
Ensnares the dazzled senses, till our hearts
Sink, palsied, in degenerate lethargy.
Then bursts the swoln destruction forth; and while
Down the rough tide of Power Oppression drives
The shipwrecked multitude, no hope survives,
But from the whelming storm of Anarchy.
O, that there were, indeed, some hidden charm—
Some magic power in ancestry!—thy shore,