Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Song Of The Box
by [?]


Let History boast of her Romans and Spartans,
And tell how they stood against tyranny’s shock;
They were all, I confess, in my eye, Betty Martins
Compared to George Grote and his wonderful Box.

Ask, where Liberty now has her seat?–Oh, it isn’t
By Delaware’s banks or on Switzerland’s rocks;–
Like an imp in some conjuror’s bottle imprisoned,
She’s slyly shut up in Grote’s wonderful Box.

How snug!–‘stead of floating thro’ ether’s dominions,
Blown this way and that, by the “populi vox,”
To fold thus in silence her sinecure pinions,
And go fast asleep in Grote’s wonderful Box.

Time was, when free speech was the life-breath of freedom–
So thought once the Seldens, the Hampdens, the Lockes;
But mute be our troops, when to ambush we lead ’em,
“For Mum” is the word with us Knights of the Box.

Pure, exquisite Box! no corruption can soil it;
There’s Otto of Rose in each breath it unlocks;
While Grote is the “Betty,” that serves at the toilet,
And breathes all Arabia around from his Box.

‘Tis a singular fact, that the famed Hugo Grotius
(A namesake of Grote’s–being both of Dutch stocks),
Like Grote, too, a genius profound as precocious,
Was also, like him, much renowned for a Box;–

An immortal old clothes-box, in which the great Grotius
When suffering in prison for views heterodox,
Was packt up incog. spite of jailers ferocious,[1]
And sent to his wife,[2] carriage free, in a Box!

But the fame of old Hugo now rests on the shelf,
Since a rival hath risen that all parallel mocks;–
That Grotius ingloriously saved but himself,
While ours saves the whole British realm by a Box!

And oh! when, at last, even this greatest of Grotes
Must bend to the Power that at every door knocks,
May he drop in the urn like his own “silent votes,”
And the tomb of his rest be a large Ballot-Box.

While long at his shrine, both from county and city,
Shall pilgrims triennially gather in flocks,
And sing, while they whimper, the appropriate ditty,
“Oh breathe not his name, let it sleep–in the Box.”

[1] For the particulars of this escape of Grotius from the Castle of Louvenstein, by means of a box (only three feet and a half long, it is said) in which books used to be occasionally sent to him and foul linen returned, see any of the Biographical Dictionaries.

[2] This is not quite according to the facts of the case; his wife having been the contriver of the stratagem, and remained in the prison herself to give him time for escape.