An Account Of The Greatest English Poets
Since, dearest Harry, you will needs request
A short account of all the Muse possest,
That, down from Chaucer's days to Dryden's Times,
Have spent their Noble Rage in British Rhimes;
Without more Preface, wrote in Formal length,
To speak the Undertakers want of strength,
I'll try to make they're sev'ral Beauties known,
And show their Verses worth, tho' not my Own.
Long had our dull Fore-Fathers slept Supine,
Nor felt the Raptures of the Tuneful Nine;
Till Chaucer first, the merry Bard, arose;
And many a Story told in Rhime and Prose.
But Age has Rusted what the Poet writ,
Worn out his Language, and obscur'd his Wit:
In vain he jests in his unpolish'd strain,
And tries to make his Readers laugh in vain.
Old Spencer next, warm'd with Poetick Rage,
In Antick Tales amus'd a Barb'rous Age;
An Age that yet uncultivate and Rude,
Where-e'er the Poet's Fancy led, pursu'd
Through pathless Fields, and unfrequented Floods,
To Dens of Dragons and Enchanted Woods.
But now the Mystick Tale, that pleas'd of Yore,
Can Charm an understanding Age no more;
The long-spun Allegories fulsom grow,
While the dull Moral lies too plain below.
We view well-pleas'd at distance all the sights
Of Arms and Palfreys, Battle's, Fields, and Fights,
And Damsels in Distress, and Courteous Knights.
But when we look too near, the Shades decay,
And all the pleasing Lan-skip fades away.
Great Cowley then (a mighty Genius) wrote;
O'er-run with Wit, and lavish of his Thought:
His Turns too closely on the Reader press;
He more had pleas'd us, had he pleas'd us less.
One glitt'ring Thought no sooner strikes our Eyes
With silent wonder, but new wonders rise.
As in the Milky way a shining White,
O'er-flows the Heav'ns, with one continu'd Light;
That not a single Star can shew his Rays,
Whilst joyntly all promote the Common-Blaze.
Pardon, Great Poet, that I dare to name
Th' unnumber'd Beauties of thy Verse with blame;
Thy fault is only Wit in its Excess,
But Wit like thine in any shape will please.
What Muse but thine cou'd equal Hints inspire,
And fit the Deep-Mouth'd Pindar to thy Lyre:
Pindar, whom others in a Labour'd strain
And forc'd Expression, imitate in vain?
Well-pleas'd in thee he Soars with new delight,
And Plays in more unbounded Verse, and takes a nobler flight.
Blest Man! whose spotless Life and Charming Lays
Employ'd the Tuneful Prelate in thy Praise:
Blest Man! who now shall be for ever known
In Sprat's successful Labours and thy own.
But Milton next, with high and haughty stalks,
Unfetter'd in Majestic Numbers walks;
No vulgar Heroe can his Muse ingage;
Nor Earth's wide Scene confine his hallow'd Rage.
See! see, he upward Springs, and Tow'ring high,
Spurns the dull Province of Mortality;
Shakes Heav'ns Eternal Throne with dire Alarms,
And sets the Almighty Thunderer in Arms.
What-e'er his Pen describes I more then see,
Whilst ev'ry Verse array'd in Majesty,
Bold, and sublime, my whole attention draws,
And seems above the Criticks nicer Laws.
How are you struck with Terrour and Delight,
When Angel with Arch-Angel Cope's in Fight!
When Great Messiah's out-spread Banner shines,
How does the Chariot Rattel in his Lines!
What sounds of Brazen Wheels, what Thunder, scare,
And stun the Reader with the Din of War!
With Fear my Spirits and my Blood retire,
To see the Seraphs sunk in Clouds of Fire;
But when, with eager steps, from hence I rise,
And view the first gay Scenes of Paradise;
What Tongue, what words of Rapture, can express
A Vision so profuse of pleasantness.
Oh had the Poet ne'er profan'd his Pen,
To varnish o'er the Guilt of Faithless Men,
His other works might have deserv'd applause!
But now the Language can't support the Cause;
While the clean Current, tho' serene and bright,
Betray's a bottom odious to the sight.
But now my Muse, a softer strain rehearse.
Turn every Line with Art, and smooth thy Verse;
The Courtly Waller next commands thy Lays:
Muse Tune thy Verse, with Art, to Waller's Praise.
While tender Airs and lovely Dames inspire
Soft melting Thoughts, and propagate Desire;
So long shall Waller's strains our Passion move,
And Sacharissa's Beauties kindle Love.
Thy Verse, Harmonious Bard, and flatt'ring Song,
Can make the Vanquish'd Great, the Coward strong.
Thy Verse can show ev'n Cromwell's innocence,
And Compliment the Storms that bore him hence.
Oh had thy Muse not come an Age too soon,
But seen Great Nassaw on the British Throne!
How had his Triumphs glitter'd in thy Page,
And warm'd Thee to a more Exalted Rage!
What Scenes of Death and Horrour had we viewd,
And how had Boine's wide Current Reek'd in Blood!
Or if Maria's Charms thou wou'dst rehearse,
In smoother Numbers and a softer Verse,
Thy Pen had well describ'd her Graceful Air,
And Gloriana wou'd have seem'd more Fair.
Nor must Roscommon pass neglected by,
That makes ev'n Rules a noble Poetry:
Rules who's deep Sense and Heav'nly Numbers show
The best of Critticks, and of Poets too.
Nor Denham must we e'er forget thy Strains,
While Cooper's Hill commands the neighb'ring Plains.
But see where artful Dryden next appears,
Grown old in Rhime, but Charming ev'n in Years.
Great Dryden next! whose Tuneful Muse affords
The sweetest Numbers, and the fittest words.
Whether in Comick sounds or Tragick Airs
She form's her voice, she moves our Smiles or Tears.
If Satire or Heroick Strains she writes,
Her Heroe pleases, and her Satire Bites.
From her no harsh, unartful Numbers fall,
She wears all Dresses, and she Charms in all:
How might we fear our English Poetry,
That long has flourish'd, shou'd decay with Thee;
Did not the Muses other Hope appear,
Harmonious Congreve, and forbid our Fear.
Congreve! whose Fancies unexhausted Store
Has given already much, and promis'd more.
Congreve shall still preserve thy Fame alive
And Dryden's Muse shall in his Friend survive.
I'm tir'd with Rhiming, and wou'd fain give o'er,
But Justice still demands one Labour more:
The Noble Montague remains unnam'd,
For Wit, for Humour, and for Judgment fam'd;
To Dorset he directs his Artful Muse,
In numbers such as Dorset's self might use.
How negligently Graceful he unrein's
His Verse, and writes in loose Familiar strains;
How Nassau's Godlike Acts adorn his Lines,
And all the Heroe in full Glory Shines.
We see his Army set in just Array,
And Boine's Di'd Waves run purple to the Sea.
Nor Simois chok'd with men, and Arms, and Blood;
Nor rapid Xanthus' celebrated Flood:
Shall longer be the Poet's highest Themes.
Tho' Gods and Heroes fought, Promiscuous in they're streams.
But now, to Nassau's secret Councils rais'd,
He Aids the Heroe, whom before he Prais'd.
I've done, at length, and now, Dear Friend, receive
The last poor Present that my Muse can give.
I leave the Arts of Poetry and Verse
To them that practise 'em with more success.
Of greater Truths I'll now prepare to tell,
And so at once, Dear Friend and Muse, Farewell.
A Letter From Italy
Salve magna parens frugum Saturnia tellus,
Magna virûm! tibi res antiquæ laudis et artis
Aggredior, sanctos ausus recludere fontes.
Virg. Geor. 2.
While you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,
And from Britannia's public posts retire,
Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
For their advantage sacrifice your ease;
Me into foreign realms my fate conveys,
Through nations fruitful of immortal lays,
Where the soft season and inviting clime
Conspire to trouble your repose with rhyme.
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground;
For here the Muse so oft her harp has strung
That not a mountain rears its head unsung,
Renown'd in verse each shady thicket grows,
And ev'ry stream in heavenly numbers flows
How am I pleas'd to search the hills and woods
For rising springs and celebrated floods!
To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,
And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source,
To see the Mincio draw his wat'ry store
Through the long windings of a fruitful shore,
And hoary Albula's infected tide
O'er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide.
Fir'd with a thousand raptures I survey
Eridanus through flowery meadows stray,
The king of floods! that rolling o'er the plains
The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,
And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows,
Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows.
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
I look for streams immortaliz'd in song,
That lost in silence and oblivion lie,
(Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry)
Yet run forever by the Muse's skill,
And in the smooth description murmur still.
Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire,
And the fam'd river's empty shores admire,
That destitute of strength derives its course
From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source;
Yet sung so often in poetic lays,
With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys;
So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme!
Such was the Boin, a poor inglorious stream,
That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd,
And unobserv'd in wild meanders play'd;
'Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd,
Its rising billows through the world resound,
Where-e'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce,
Or where the fame of an immortal verse.
Oh could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire
With warmth like yours, and raise an equal fire,
Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine,
And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine!
See how the golden groves around me smile,
That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle,
Or when transplanted and preserv'd with care,
Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air.
Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments
To nobler tastes, and more exalted scents:
Ev'n the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,
And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.
Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats,
Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats;
Where western gales eternally reside,
And all the seasons lavish all their pride:
Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
And the whole year in gay confusion lies.
Immortal glories in my mind revive,
And in my soul a thousand passions strive,
When Rome's exalted beauties I descry
Magnificent in piles of ruin lie.
An amphitheatre's amazing height
Here fills my eye with terror and delight,
That on its public shows unpeopled Rome,
And held uncrowded nations in its womb:
Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies:
And here the proud triumphal arches rise,
Where the old Romans deathless acts display'd,
Their base degenerate progeny upbraid:
Whole rivers here forsake the fields below,
And wond'ring at their height through airy channels flow.
Still to new scenes my wand'ring Muse retires,
And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires;
Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown,
And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone.
In solemn silence, a majestic band,
Heroes, and gods, the Roman consuls stand,
Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown,
And emperors in Parian marble frown;
While the bright dames, to whom they humbly su'd,
Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdu'd.
Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse,
And show th' immortal labours in my verse,
Where from the mingled strength of shade and light
A new creation rises to my sight,
Such heav'nly figures from his pencil flow,
So warm with life his blended colours glow.
From theme to theme with secret pleasure tost,
Amidst the soft variety I'm lost:
Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound
With circling notes and labyrinths of sound;
Here domes and temples rise in distant views,
And opening palaces invite my Muse.
How has kind Heav'n adorn'd the happy land,
And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!
But what avail her unexhausted stores,
Her blooming mountains, and her sunny shores,
With all the gifts that heav'n and earth impart,
The smiles of nature, and the charms of art,
While proud oppression in her valleys reigns,
And tyranny usurps her happy plains?
The poor inhabitant beholds in vain
The red'ning orange and the swelling grain:
Joyless he sees the growing oils and wines,
And in the myrtle's fragrant shade repines:
Starves, in the midst of nature's bounty curst,
And in the loaden vineyard dies for thirst.
Oh Liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight!
Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,
And smiling plenty leads thy wanton train;
Eas'd of her load subjection grows more light,
And poverty looks cheerful in thy sight;
Thou mak'st the gloomy face of Nature gay,
Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's Isle adores;
How has she oft exhausted all her stores,
How oft in fields of death thy presence sought,
Nor thinks the mighty prize too dearly bought!
On foreign mountains may the sun refine
The grape's soft juice, and mellow it to wine,
With citron groves adorn a distant soil,
And the fat olive swell with floods of oil:
We envy not the warmer clime, that lies
In ten degrees of more indulgent skies,
Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine,
Tho' o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine:
'Tis Liberty that crowns Britannia's Isle,
And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains
Others with towering piles may please the sight,
And in their proud aspiring domes delight;
A nicer touch to the stretch'd canvas give,
Or teach their animated rocks to live:
'Tis Britain's care to watch o'er Europe's fate,
And hold in balance each contending state,
To threaten bold presumptuous kings with war,
And answer her afflicted neighbours' pray'r.
The Dane and Swede, rous'd up by fierce alarms,
Bless the wise conduct of her pious arms:
Soon as her fleets appear, their terrors cease,
And all the northern world lies hush'd in peace.
Th' ambitious Gaul beholds with secret dread
Her thunder aim'd at his aspiring head,
And fain her godlike sons would disunite
By foreign gold, or by domestic spite;
But strives in vain to conquer or divide,
Whom Nassau's arms defend and counsels guide.
Fir'd with the name, which I so oft have found
The distant climes and different tongues resound,
I bridle in my struggling Muse with pain,
That longs to launch into a bolder strain.
But I've already troubled you too long,
Nor dare attempt a more advent'rous song.
My humble verse demands a softer theme,
A painted meadow, or a purling stream;
Unfit for heroes; whom immortal lays,
And lines like Virgil's, or like yours, should praise.
The Campaign, A Poem, To His Grace The Duke Of Marlborough
While crowds of princes your deserts proclaim,
Proud in their number to enrol your name;
While emperors to you commit their cause,
And Anna's praises crown the vast applause;
Accept, great leader, what the Muse recites,
That in ambitious verse attempts your fights.
Fir'd and transported with a theme so new,
Ten thousand wonders opening to my view
Shine forth at once; sieges and storms appear,
And wars and conquests fill the' important year:
Rivers of blood I see, and hills of slain,
And Iliad rising out of one campaign.
The haughty Gaul beheld, with towering pride,
His ancient bounds enlarg'd on every side;
Pyrene's lofty barriers were subdued,
And in the midst of his wide empire stood;
Ausonia's states, the victor to restrain,
Opposed their Alps and Apennines in vain,
Nor found themselves, with strength of rocks immur'd,
Behind their everlasting hills secur'd;
The rising Danube its long race began,
And half its course through the new conquests ran;
Amaz'd and anxious for her soverign's fates,
Germania trembled through a hundred states;
Great Leopold himself was seiz'd with fear;
He gaz'd around, but saw no succour near;
He gaz'd, and half-abandon'd to despair.
His hopes on heaven, and confidence in pray;
To Britain's queen the nations turn their eyes,
On her resolves the western world relies,
Confiding still, amidst its dire alarms,
In Anna's conncils, and in Churchill's arms.
Thrice happy Britain, from the kingdoms rent,
To fit the guardian of the continent!
That sees her bravest son advanc'd so high,
And flourishing so near her prince's eye;
Thy favourites grow not up by fortune's sport,
Or from the crimes or follies of a court;
On the firm basis of desert they rise,
From long-try'd faith and friendship's holy tyes:
Their soverign's well-distinguish'd smiles they share,
Her ornaments in peace, her strength in war;
The nation thanks them with a public voice,
By showers of blessings heaven approves their choice;
Envy itself is dumb, in wonder lost,
And factions strive who shall applaud them most.
Soon as soft vernal breezes warm the sky,
Britannia's colours in the zephyrs fly;
Her chief already has his march begun,
Crossing the provinces himself had won,
Till the Moselle, appearing from afar,
Retards the progress of the moving war.
Delightful stream, had nature bid her fall
In distant climes far from the perjur'd Gaul;
But now a purchase to the sword she lies;
Her harvests for uncertain owners rise,
Each vineyard doubtful of its master grows,
And to the victor's bowl each vintage flows.
The discontented shades of slaughter'd hosts,
That wander'd on her banks, her heroes ghosts
Hop'd, when they saw Britannia's arms appear,
The vengeance due to their great deaths was near.
Our godlike leader, ere the stream he past,
The mighty scheme of all his labours cast,
Forming the wondrous year within his thought;
His bosom glow'd with battles yet unfought.
The long laborious march he first surveys,
And joins the distant Danube to the Maese,
Between whose floods such pathless forests grow,
Such mountains rise, so many rivers flow:
The toil looks lovely in the hero's eyes,
And danger serves but to enhance the prize.
Big with the fate of Europe, he renews
His dreadful course, and the proud foe pursues!
Infected by the burning Scorpion's heat,
the sultry gales round his chas'd temples beat,
Till on the borders of the Maine he finds
Defensive shadows, and refreshing winds.
Our British youth, with in-born freedom bold,
Unnumber'd scenes of servitude behold,
Nations of slaves, with tyranny debas'd,
(Their maker's image more than half defac'd)
Hourly instructed, as they urge their toil,
To prize their queen, and love their native soil.
Still to the rising sun they take their way
Through clouds of dust, and gain upon the day.
When now the Neckar on its friendly coast
With cooling streams revives the fainting host,
That chearfully his labours past forgets,
The mid-night watches, and the noon-day heats.
O'er prostrate towns and palaces they pass
(Now cover'd o'er with woods, and hid in grass),
Breathing revenge; whilst anger and disdain
Fire every breast, and boil in every vein:
Here shatter'd walls, like broken rocks, from far
Rise up in hideous views, the guilt of war,
Whilst here the vine o'er hills of ruin climbs,
Industrious to conceal great Bourbon's crimes.
At length the fame of England's hero drew
Eugenio to the glorious interview.
Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
Demand alliance, and in friendship burn:
A sudden friendship, while with stretch'd-out rays
They meet each other, mingling blaze with blaze,
Polish'd in courts, and harden'd in the field,
Renown'd for conquest, and in council skill'd,
Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood
Of mounting spirits, and fermenting blood;
Lodg'd in the soul, with virtue over-rul'd,
Inflam'd by reason, and by reason cool'd,
In hours of peace content to be unknown,
And only in the field of battle shown:
To souls like these, in mutual fiendship join'd,
Heaven dares intrust the cause of human-kind.
Britannia's graceful sons appear in arms,
Her harrass'd troops the hero's presence warms,
Whilst the high hills and rivers all around
With thundering peals of British shouts resound:
Doubling their speed, they march with fresh delight,
Eager for glory, and require the fight.
So the stanch hound the trembling deer pursues,
And smells his footsteps in the tainted dews,
The tedious track unraveling by degrees:
But when the scent comes warm in every breeze,
Fir'd at the near approach he shoots away
On his full stretch, and bears upon his prey.
The march concludes, the various realms are past;
Th' immortal Schellenberg appears at last:
Like hills th' aspiring ramparts rise on high,
Like valley's at their feet the trenches lie;
Batteries on batteries guard each fatal pass,
Threatening destruction; rows of hollow brass,
Tube behind tube, the dreadful entrance keep,
Whilst in thier wombs ten thousand thunders sleep,
Great Churchill owns, charm'd with the glorious sight,
His march o'er-paid by such a promis'd fight.
The western sun now shot a feeble ray,
And faintly scatter'd the remains of day:
Ev'ning approach'd; but oh what host of foes
Were never to behold that evening close!
Thickening their ranks, and wedg'd in firm array,
The close-compacted Britons win their way;
In vain the cannon their throng'd war defac'd
With tracts of death, and laid the battle waste;
Still pressing forward to the fight, they broke
Through flames of sulphur, and a night of smoke,
Till slaughter'd legions fill'd the trench below,
And bore their fierce avengers to the foe.
High on the works the mingling hosts engage;
The battle, kindled into tenfold rage,
With showers of bullets and with storms of fire
Burns in full fury; heaps on heaps expire,
Nations with nations mix'd confus'dly die,
And lsot in one promiscuous carnage lie.
How many generous Britons meet their doom,
New to the field, and heroes in the bloom!
Th' illustrious youghts, that left their native shore
To march where Britons never march'd before
(O fatal love of fame! O glorious heat
Only destructive to the brave and great!)
After such toils o'ercome, such dangers past,
Stretch'd on Bavarian ramparts breathe their last.
But hold, my Muse, may no complaints appear
Nor blot the day with an ungrateful tear:
While Marlborough lives, Britannia's stars dispense
A friendly light, and shine in innocence.
Plunging through seas of blood his fiery steed
Where-e'er his friends retire, or foes succeed;
Those he supports, these drives to sudden flight,
And turns the various fortune of the fight.
Forbear, great man, renown'd in arms, forbear
To Brave the thickest terrors of the war,
Nor hazard thus, confus'd in crowds of foes,
Britannia's safety, and the world's repose;
Let nations anxious for thy life abate
This scorn of danger, and contempt of fate:
Thou liv'st not for thyself; thy Queen demands
Conquest and peace from thy victorious hands;
Kingdoms and empires in thy fortunes join,
And Europe's destiny depends on thine.
At length the long-disputed pass they gain
By crowded armies fortify'd in vain;
The war breaks in, the fierce Bavarians yield,
And see their camp with British legions fill'd.
So Belgian mounds bear on their shatter'd sides
The sea's whole weight increas'd with swelling tides;
But if the rushing wave a passage finds,
Enrag'd by watery moons, and warring winds,
The trembling peasant sees his country round
Cover'd with tempests, and in oceans drown'd.
The few surviving foes disperst in flight,
(Refuse of swords,a nd gleanings of a fight)
In every rustling wind the victor hear,
And Marlborough's form in every shadow fear,
Till the dark cope of night with kind embrace
Befriends the rout, and covers their disgrace.
To Donavert, with unresisted force,
The gay victorious army bends its course.
The growth of meadows, and the pride of fields,
Whatever spoils Bavaria's summer yields
(The Danube's great increase), Britannia shares,
The food of armies and support of wars:
With magazines of death, destructive balls,
And cannon doom'd to batter Landau's walls,
The victor finds each hidden cavern stor'd,
And turns their fury on their guilty Lord.
Deluded prince! how is thy greatness crost,
And all the gaudy dream of empire lost,
That proudly set thee on a fancy'd throne,
And made imaginary realms thy own!
Thy troops, that now behind the Danube join,
Shall shortly seek for shelter from the Rhine,
Nor find it there! Surrounded with alarms,
Thou hop'st the assistance fo the Gallic arms;
The Gallic arms in safety shall advance,
And crowd thy standards with the power of France,
While, to exalt thy doom, th' aspiring Gaul
Shares thy destruction, and adorns thy fall.
Unbounded courage and compassion join'd,
Tempering each other in the victor's mind,
Alternately proclaim him good and great,
And make the Hero and the Man compleat,
Long did he strive th' obdurate foe to gain
By proffer'd grace, but long he strove in vain;
Till, fir'd at length, he thinks it vain to spare
His rising wrath, and gives a loose to war.
In vengeance rous'd, the soldier fills his hand
With sword and fire, and ravages the land,
A thousand villages to ashes turns,
In crackling flames a thousand harvests burns.
To the thick woods the wolly flocks retreat,
And mixt with bellowing herds confus'dly bleat:
Their trembling lofds the common shade partake,
And cries of infants sound in every brake:
The listening soldier fixt in sorrow stands,
Loth to obey his leader's just commands:
The leader grieves, by generous pity sway'd,
To see his just commands so well obey'd.
But now the trumpet terrible from far
In shriller clangors animates the war;
Confederate drums in fuller concert beat,
And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Gallia's proud standards, to Bavaria's join'd,
Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind;
the daring prince his blasted hopes renews,
And, while the thick embattled host he views
Stretched out in deep array, and dreadful length,
His hearts dilates, and glories in his strength.
The fatal day its mighty course began,
That the griev'd world had long desir'd in vain;
States that their new captivity bemoan'd,
Armies of martyrs that in exile groan'd,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
And prayers in bitterness of soul preferr'd,
Europe's loud cries, that Providence assail'd,
And Anna's ardent vows at length prevail'd;
The day was come when heaven design'd to show
His care and conduct of the world below.
Behold in awful march and dread array
The long extended squadrons shape thier way!
Death, in approaching terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control:
Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul,
O'erlook the foe, advantag'd by his post,
Lessen his nmbers,a nd contract his host;
Though fens and floods possest the middle space,
That unprovok'd they would have fear'd to pass;
Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands,
When her proud foe rang'd on their borders stands.
But O, my Muse, what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle join'd!
Methinks I hear the drums tumultuous sound
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound,
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise.
'Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was prov'd,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war:
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
So when an angel by divine command
With rising tempests shaks a guilty land,
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past,
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
But see the haughty houshold troops advance!
The dread of Europe, and the pride of France.
The war's whole art each private soldier knows,
And with a General's love of conquest glows;
Proudly he marches on, and void of fear
Laughs at the shaking of the British spear:
Vain insolence! with native freedom brave,
The meanest Briton scorns the highest slave;
Contempt and fury fire their souls by turns,
Each nation's glory in each warrior burns:
Each fights, as in his arm th' important day
And all the fate of his great monarch lay:
A thousand glorious actions, that might claim
Truimphant laurels, and immortal fame,
Confus'd in crouds of glorious actions lie,
And troops of heroes undistinguish'd die.
O Dormer, how can I behold thy fate,
And not the wonders of thy youth relate!
How can I see the gay, the brave, the young,
Fall in the cloud of war, and lie usung!
In joys of conquest he resigns his breath,
And, fill'd with England's glory, smiles in death.
The rout begins, the Gallic squadrons run,
Compell'd in crouds to meet the fate they shun;
Thousands of fiery steeds with wounds transfix'd,
Floatting in gore, with their dead masters mixt,
'Midst heaps of spears and standards driven around,
Lie in the Danube's bloody whirl-pools drown'd
Troops of bold youths, born on the distant Soane,
Or sounding borders of the rapid Rhone,
Or where the Seine her flowery fields divides,
Or where the Loire through winding vineyards glides,
In heaps the rolling billows sweep away,
And into Scythian seas their bloated corps convey.
From Blenheim's towers the Gaul, with wild affright,
Beholds the various havock of the fight;
His waving banners, that so oft had stood
Planted in fields of death and streams of blood,
So wont the guarded enemy to reach,
And rise triumphant in the fatal breach,
Or pierce the broken foe's remotest lines,
The hardy veteran with tears resigns.
Unfortunate Tallard! Oh, who can name
The pangs of rage, of sorrow, and of shame,
That with mixt tumult in thy bosom swell'd,
When first thou saw'st thy bravest troops repell'd,
Thine only son pierc'd with a deadly wound,
Chok'd in his blood, and gasping on the ground,
Thyself in bondage by the victor kept!
The chief, the father, and the captive, wept.
An English Muse is touch'd with generous woe,
And in th'unhappy man forgets the foe!
Greatly distrest! they loud complaints forbear,
Blame not the turns of fate, and chance of war;
Give thy brave foes their due, nor blush to own
The fatal field by such great leaders won,
The field whence fam'd Eugenio bore away
Only the second honours of the day.
With floods of gore that from the vanquish'd fell
The marshes stagnate, and the rivers swell.
Mountains of slain lie heap'd upon the ground,
Or midst the roarings of the Danube drown'd;
Whole captive hosts the conqueror detains
In painful bondage, and inglorious chains;
Ev'n those who 'scape the fetters and the sword,
Nor seek the fortunes of a happier lord,
Their raging King dishonours, to compleat
Marlborough's great work, and finish the defeat.
From Memminghen's high domes, and Augsburg's walls,
The distant battle drives th' insulting Gauls;
Freed by the terror of the victor's name
The rescued States his great protection claim;
Whilst Ulme th' approach of her deliverer waits,
And longs to open her obsequious gates.
The hero's breast still swells with great designs,
In every thought the towering genius shines;
If to the foe his dreadful course he bends,
O'er the wide continent his march extends;
If sieges in his labouring thoughts are form'd
Camps are assaulted, and an army storm'd:
If to the sight of his active soul is bent
The fate of Europe turns on its event.
What distant land, what region, can afford
An action worthy his victorious sword?
Where will he next the flying Gaul defeat,
To make the series of his toils compleat?
Where the swoln Rhine rushing with all its force
Divides the hostile nations in its course,
While each contracts its bounds, or wider grows,
Enlarg'd or straighten'd as the river flows,
On Gallia's side a mighty bulwark stands,
That all the wide-extended plain commands;
Twice, since the war was kindled, has it try'd
The victor's rage, and twice has chang'd its side;
As oft whole armies, with the prize o'erjoy'd,
Have the long summer on its walls employ'd.
Hither our mighty chief his arms directs,
Hence future triumphs from the war expects;
And though the dog-star had its course begun,
Carries his arms still nearer to the sun:
Fixt on the glorious action, he forgets
The change of seasons, and increase of heats;
No toils are painful that can danger show,
No climes unlovely, that contain a foe.
The roving Gaul, to his own bounds restrain'd,
Learns to incamp within his native land,
But soon as the victorious host he spies,
From hill to hill, from stream to stream he flies:
Such dire impressions in his heart remain
Of Marlboroough's sword, and Hochsset's fatal plain:
In vain Britannia's mighty chief besets
Their shady coverts, and obscure retreats;
They fly the conqueror's approaching fame,
That bears the force of armies in his name.
Austria's young monarch, whose imperial sway
Sceptres and thrones are destin'd to obey,
Whose boasted ancertry so high extends,
That in the pagan gods his lineage ends,
Comes from afar, in gratitude to own
The geat supporter of his father's throne:
What tides of glory to his bosom ran,
Clasp'd in th' embrace of the godlike man!
How were his eyes with pleasing wonder fixt
To see such fire with so much sweetness mixt,
Such easy greatness, such a graceful port,
So turn'd and finish'd for the camp or court!
Achilles thus was form'd with every grace,
And Nireus shone but in the second place;
Thus the great father of almighty Rome
(Divinely flusht with an immortal bloom
That Cytherea's fragrant breath bestow'd)
In all the charms of his bright mother glow'd.
The royal youth by Marlborough's presence charm'd,
Taught by his counsels, by his actions warm'd,
On Landau with redoubled fury falls,
Discharges all his thunder on its walls,
O'er mines and caves of death provokes the fight,
And leans to conquer in the hero's fight.
The British chief, for mighty toils renown'd,
Increas'd in titles, and with conquests crown'd,
To Belgian coasts his tedious march renews,
And the long windings of the Rhine pursues,
Clearing its borders from usurping foes,
Amd blest by rescued nations as he goes.
Treves fears no more, freed from its dire alarms;
And Traerbach feels the terror of his arms:
Seated on rocks her proud foundations shake,
While Marlborough presses to the bold attack,
Plants all his batteries, bids his cannon roar,
And shows how Landau might have fall'n before.
Scar'd at his near approach, great Louis fears
Vengeance reserv'd for his declining years,
Forgets his thirst of universal sway,
And scarce can teach is subjects to obey;
His arms he finds on vain attempts employ'd,
Th' ambitious projects for his race destroy'd,
The works of ages sunk in one campaign,
And lives of millions sacrific'd in vain.
Such are th' effects of Anna's royal cares:
By her, Britannia, great in foreign wars,
Ranges through nations, wheresoe'er disjoin'd,
Without the wonted aid of sea and wind,
By her th' unfetter'd Ister's states are free,
And taste the sweets of English liberty:
But who can tell the joys of those that lie
Beneath the constant influence of her eye!
Whilst in diffusive showers her bounties fall
Like heaven's indulgence, and descend on all,
Secure the happy, succour the distrest,
Make every subject glad, and a whole people blest.
Thus would I fain Britannia's wars rehearse,
In the smooth records of a faithful verse;
That, if such numbers can o'er time prevail,
May tell posterity the wondrous tale.
When actions, unadorn'd, are faint and weak,
Cities and countries must be taught to speak;
Gods may descend in factions from the skies,
And rivers from their oozy beds arise;
Fiction may deck the truth wth spurious rays,
And round the hero cast a borrow'd blaze.
Marlborough's exploits appear divinely bright,
And proudly shine in their own native light;
Rais'd of themselves, their genuine charms they boast,
And those who paint them truest praise them most.