On The Prospect Of Peace
Fronde super mitram, & felici comptus oliva.
To the Lord Privy Seal
Contending kings, and fields of death, too long
Have been the subject of the British song.
Who hath not read of fam'd Ramillia's plain,
Bavaria's fall, and Danube choak'd with slain!
Exhausted themes! a gentler note I raise,
And sing returning peace in softer lays.
Their fury quell'd, and martial rage allay'd,
I wait our heroes in the sylvan shade:
Disbanding hosts are imag'd to my mind,
And warring powers in friendly leagues combin'd,
While ease and pleasure make the nations smile,
And Heaven and Anna bless Britannia's isle.
Well sends our queen her mitred Bristol forth,
For early counsels fam'd, and long-try'd worth;
Who, thirty rolling years, had oft withheld
The Swede and Saxon from the dusty field;
Completely form'd to heal the Christian wounds,
To name the kings, and give each kingdom bounds;
The face of ravag'd Nature to repair,
By leagues to soften Earth, and Heaven by prayer,
To gain by love, where rage and slaughter fail,
And make the crosier o'er the sword prevail.
So when great Moses, with Jehovah's wand,
Had scatter'd plagues o'er stubborn Pharaoh's land,
Now spread an host of locusts round the shore,
Now turn'd Nile's fattening streams to putrid gore;
Plenty and gladness mark'd the priest of God,
And sudden almonds shot from Aaron's rod.
O thou, from whom these bounteous blessings flow,
To whom, as chief, the hopes of peace we owe,
(For next to thee, the man whom kings contend
To style companion, and to make their friend,
Great Strafford, rich in every courtly grace,
With joyful pride accepts the second place)
From Britain's isle, and Isis' sacred spring,
One hour, oh! listen while the Muses sing.
Though ministers of mighty monarchs wait,
With beating hearts to learn their masters' fate,
One hour forbear to speak thy queen's commands,
Nor think the world, thy charge, neglected stands;
The blissful prospects, in my verse display'd
May lure the stubborn, the deceiv'd persuade:
Ev'n thou to peace shalt speedier urge the way,
And more be hasten'd by this short delay.
On the Prospect of Peace
The haughty Gaul, in ten campaigns o'erthrown,
Now ceas'd to think the western world his own.
Oft had he mourn'd his boasting leaders bound,
And his proud bulwarks smoking on the ground:
In vain with powers renew'd he fill'd the plain,
Made timorous vows, and brib'd the saints in vain;
As oft his legions did the fight decline,
Lurk'd in the trench, and skulk'd behind the line.
Before his eyes the fancied javelin gleams,
At feasts he starts, and seems dethron'd in dreams;
On glory past reflects with secret pain,
On mines exhausted, and on millions slain.
To Britain's queen the scepter'd suppliant bends,
To her his crowns and infant race commends,
Who grieves her fame with Christian blood to buy,
Nor asks for glory at a price so high.
At her decree, the war suspended stands,
And Britain's heroes hold their lifted hands,
Their open brows no threatening frowns disguise,
But gentler passions sparkle in their eyes.
The Gauls, who never in their courts could find
Such temper'd fire with manly beauty join'd,
Doubt if they 're those, whom, dreadful to the view,
In forms so fierce their fearful fancies drew;
At whose dire names ten thousand widows prest
Their helpless orphans clinging to the breast.
In silent rapture each his foe surveys;
They vow firm friendship, and give mutual praise.
Brave minds, howe'er at war, are secret friends;
Their generous discord with the battle ends;
In peace they wonder whence dissension rose,
And ask how souls so like could e'er be foes.
Methinks I hear more friendly shouts rebound,
And social clarions mix their sprightly sound.
The British flags are furl'd, her troops disband,
And scatter'd armies seek their native land.
The hardy veteran, proud of many a scar,
The manly charms and honours of the war,
Who hop'd to share his friends' illustrious doom,
And in the battle find a soldier's tomb,
Leans on his spear to take his farewell view,
And, sighing, bids the glorious camp adieu.
Ye generous fair, receive the brave with smiles,
O'erpay their sleepless nights, and crown their toils;
Soft beauty is the gallant soldier's due,
For you they conquer, and they bleed for you.
In vain proud Gaul with boastful Spain conspires,
When English valour English beauty fires;
The nations dread your eyes, and kings despair
Of chiefs so brave, till they have nymphs so fair.
See the fond wife in tears of transport drown'd,
Hugs her rough lord, and weeps o'er every wound,
Hangs on the lips that fields of blood relate,
And smiles, or trembles, at his various fate.
Near the full bowl he draws the fancy'd line,
And marks feign'd trenches in the flowing wine,
Then sets th' invested fort before his eyes,
And mines, that whirl'd battalions to the skies:
His little listening progeny turn pale,
And beg again to hear the dreadful tale.
Such dire achievements sings the bard, that tells
Of palfrey'd dames, bold knights, and magic spells,
Where whole brigades one champion's arms o'erthrow,
And cleave a giant at a random blow,
Slay paynims vile, that force the fair, and tame
The goblin's fury, and the dragon's flame.
Our eager youth to distant nations run,
To visit fields, their valiant fathers won;
From Flandria's shore their country's fame they trace,
Till far Germania shows her blasted face.
Th' exulting Briton asks his mournful guide,
Where his hard fate the lost Bavaria try'd:
Where Stepney grav'd the stone to Anna's fame,
He points to Blenheim, once a vulgar name;
Here fled the Household, there did Tallard yield,
Here Marlborough turn'd the fortune of the field,
On those steep banks, near Danube's raging flood:
The Gauls thrice started back, and trembling stood:
When, Churchill's arm perceiv'd, they stood not long,
But plung'd amidst the waves, a desperate throng,
Crowds whelm'd on crowds dash'd wide the watery-bed,
And drove the current to its distant head.
As, when by Raphael's, or by Kneller's hands
A warlike courser on the canvas stands,
Such as on Landen bleeding Ormond bore,
Or set young Ammon on the Granic shore;
If chance a generous steed the work behold,
He snorts, he neighs, he champs the foamy gold:
So, Hocstet seen, tumultuous passions roll,
And hints of glory fire the Briton's soul,
In fancy'd fights he sees the troops engage,
And all the tempest of the battle rage.
Charm me, ye powers, with scenes less nobly bright,
Far humbler thoughts th' inglorious Muse delight,
Content to see the honours of the field
By plough-shares levell'd, or in flowers conceal'd.
O'er shatter'd walls may creeping ivy twine,
And grass luxuriant clothe the harmless mine.
Tame flocks ascend the breach without a wound,
Or crop the bastion, now a fruitful ground;
While shepherds sleep, along the rampard laid,
Or pipe beneath the formidable shade.
Who was the man? Oblivion blast his name,
Torn out, and blotted from the list of Fame!
Who, fond of lawless rule, and proudly brave,
First sunk the filial subject to a slave,
His neighbour's realms by frauds unkingly gain'd,
In guiltless blood the sacred ermine stain'd,
Laid schemes for death, to slaughter turn'd his heart,
And fitted murder to the rules of art.
Ah! curst Ambition, to thy lures we owe
All the great ills, that mortals bear below.
Curst by the hind, when to the spoil he yields
His year's whole sweat, and vainly ripen'd fields;
Curst by the maid, torn from her lover's side,
When left a widow, though not yet a bride;
By mothers curst, when floods of tears they shed,
And scatter useless roses on the dead.
Oh, sacred Bristol! then, what dangers prove
The arts, thou smil'st on with paternal love?
Then, mixt with rubbish by the brutal foes,
In vain the marble breathes, the canvas glows;
To shades obscure the glittering sword pursues
The gentle poet, and defenceless Muse.
A voice like thine, alone, might then asswage
The warrior's fury, and control his rage;
To hear thee speak, might the fierce Vandal stand,
And fling the brandish'd sabre from his hand.
Far hence be driven to Scythia's stormy shore
The drum's harsh music, and the cannon's roar;
Let grim Bellona haunt the lawless plain,
Where Tartar clans and grizly Cossacks reign;
Let the steel'd Turk be deaf to matrons' cries,
See virgins ravish'd with relentless eyes,
To death grey heads and smiling infants doom,
Nor spare the promise of the pregnant womb,
O'er wasted kingdoms spread his wide command,
The savage lord of an unpeopled land.
Her guiltless glory just Britannia draws
From pure religion, and impartial laws,
To Europe's wounds a mother's aid she brings,
And holds in equal scales the rival kings:
Her generous sons in choicest gifts abound,
Alike in arms, alike in arts renown'd.
As when sweet Venus (so the fable sings)
Awak'd by Nereids, from the ocean springs,
With smiles she sees the threatening billows rise,
Spreads smooth the surge, and clears the louring skies.
Light, o'er the deep, with fluttering Cupids crown'd,
The pearly couch and silver turtles bound;
Her tresses shed ambrosial odours round.
Amidst the world of waves so stands serene
Britannia's isle, the ocean's stately queen;
In vain the nations have conspired her fall,
Her trench the sea, and fleets her floating wall:
Defenceless barks, her powerful navy near,
Have only waves and hurricanes to fear.
What bold invader, or what land opprest,
Hath not her anger quell'd, her aid redrest!
Say, where have e'er her union-crosses sail'd,
But much her arms, her justice more prevail'd!
Her labours are, to plead th' Almighty's cause,
Her pride to teach th' untam'd barbarian laws:
Who conquers wins by brutal strength the prize;
But 'tis a godlike work to civilize.
Have we forgot how from great Russia's throne
The king, whose power half Europe's regions own,
Whose sceptre waving, with one shout rush forth
In swarms the harness'd millions of the north,
Through realms of ice pursued his tedious way
To court our friendship, and our fame survey!
Hence the rich prize of useful arts he bore,
And round his empire spread the learned store:
(T' adorn old realms is more than new to raise,
His country's parent is a monarch's praise.)
His bands now march in just array to war,
And Caspian gulphs unusual navies bear;
With Runick lays Smolensko's forests ring,
And wondering Volga hears the Muses sing.
Did not the painted kings of India greet
Our queen, and lay their sceptres at her feet?
Chiefs who full bowls of hostile blood had quaff'd,
Fam'd for the javelin, and envenom'd shaft,
Whose haughty brows made savages adore,
Nor bow'd to less than stars or sun before.
Her pitying smile accepts their suppliant claim,
And adds four monarchs to the Christian name.
Blest use of power! O virtuous pride in kings!
And like his bounty, whence dominion springs!
Which o'er new worlds makes Heaven's indulgence shine,
And ranges myriads under laws divine!
Well bought with all that those sweet regions hold,
With groves of spices, and with mines of gold.
Fearless our merchant now pursues his gain,
And roams securely o'er the boundless main.
Now o'er his head the polar Bear he spies,
And freezing spangles of the Lapland skies;
Now swells his canvas to the sultry line,
With glittering spoils where Indian grottos shine,
Where fumes of incense glad the southern seas,
And wafted citron scents the balmy breeze.
Here nearer suns prepare the ripening gem,
To grace great Anne's imperial diadem,
And here the ore, whose melted mass shall yield
On faithful coins each memorable field,
Which, mix'd with medals of immortal Rome,
May clear disputes, and teach the times to come.
In circling beams shall godlike Anna glow,
And Churchill's sword hang o'er the prostrate foe;
In comely wounds shall bleeding worthies stand,
Webb's firm platoon, and Lumley's faithful band.
Bold Mordaunt in Iberian trophies drest,
And Campbell's dragon on his dauntless breast,
Great Ormond's deeds on Vigo's spoils enroll'd,
And Guiscard's knife on Harley's Chili gold.
And if the Muse, O Bristol, might decree,
Here Granville noted by the lyre should be,
The lyre for Granville, and the cross for thee.
Such are the honours grateful Britain pays;
So patriots merit, and so monarchs praise.
O'er distant times such records shall prevail,
When English numbers, antiquated, fail:
A trifling song the Muse can only yield,
And sooth her soldiers panting from the field.
To sweet retirements see them safe convey'd,
And raise their battles in the rural shade.
From fields of death to Woodstock's peaceful glooms,
(The poet's haunt) Britannia's hero comes --
Begin my Muse, and softly touch the string:
Here Henry lov'd; and Chaucer learn'd to sing.
Hail, fabled grotto! hail, Elysian soil!
Thou fairest spot of fair Britannia's isle!
Where kings of old, conceal'd, forgot the throne,
And Beauty was content to shine unknown;
Where Love and War by turns pavilions rear,
And Henry's bowers near Blenheim's dome appear;
The weary'd champion lull in soft alcoves,
The noblest boast of thy romantic groves.
Oft, if the Muse presage, shall he be seen
By Rosamonda fleeting o'er the green,
In dreams be hail'd by heroes' mighty shades,
And hear old Chaucer warble through the glades,
O'er the fam'd echoing vaults his name shall bound,
And hill to hill reflect the favourite sound.
Here, here at least thy love for arms give o'er,
Nor, one world conquer'd, fondly wish for more.
Vice of great souls alone! O thirst of fame!
The Muse admires it, while she strives to blame.
Thy toils be now to chase the bounding deer,
Or view the coursers stretch in wild career.
This lovely scene shall sooth thy soul to rest,
And wear each dreadful image from thy breast.
With pleasure, by thy conquests shalt thou see
Thy queen triumphant, and all Europe free.
No cares henceforth shall thy repose destroy,
But what thou giv'st the world, thyself enjoy.
Sweet Solitude! when life's gay hours are past
Howe'er we range, in thee we fix at last:
Tost through tempestuous seas (the voyage o'er)
Pale we look back, and bless thy friendly shore.
Our own strict judges our past life we scan,
And ask if glory hath enlarg'd the span:
If bright the prospect, we the grave defy,
Trust future ages, and contented die.
When strangers from far distant climes shall come,
To view the pomp of this triumphant dome,
Where, rear'd aloft, dissembled trophies stand,
And breathing labours of the sculptor's hand,
Where Kneller's art shall paint the flying Gaul,
And Bourbon's woes shall fill the story'd wall;
Heirs of thy blood shall o'er their bounteous board
Fix Europe's guard, thy monumental sword,
Banners that oft have wav'd on conquer'd walls,
And trumps, that drown'd the groans of gasping Gauls.
Fair dames shall oft, with curious eye, explore
The costly robes that slaughter'd generals wore,
Rich trappings from the Danube's whirlpools brought,
(Hesperian nuns the gorgeous broidery wrought)
Belts stiff with gold, the Boian horseman's pride,
And Gaul's fair flowers, in human crimson dy'd.
Of Churchill's race perhaps some lovely boy
Shall mark the burnish'd steel that hangs on high,
Shall gaze transported on its glittering charms,
And reach it struggling with unequal arms,
By signs the drum's tumultuous sound request,
Then seek, in starts, the hushing mother's breast.
So in the painter's animated frame,
Where Mars embraces the soft Paphian dame,
The little Loves in sport his fauchion wield,
Or join their strength to heave his ponderous shield:
One strokes the plume in Tytion's gore embrued,
And one the spear, that reeks with Typhon's blood:
Another's infant brows the helm sustain,
He nods his crest, and frights the shrieking train.
Thus, the rude tempest of the field o'erblown,
Shall whiter rounds of smiling years roll on,
Our victors, blest in peace, forget their wars,
Enjoy past dangers, and absolve the stars.
But, oh! what sorrows shall bedew your urns,
Ye honour'd shades, whom widow'd Albion mourns!
If your thin forms yet discontented moan,
And haunt the mangled mansions, once your own;
Behold what flowers the pious Muses strow,
And tears, which in the midst of triumph flow;
Cypress and bays your envy'd brows surround,
Your names the tender matron's heart shall wound,
And the soft maid grow pensive at the sound.
Accept, great Anne, the tears their memory draws,
Who nobly perish'd in their sovereign's cause:
For thou in pity bid'st the war give o'er,
Mourn'st thy slain heroes, nor wilt venture more.
Vast price of blood on each victorious day!
(But Europe's freedom doth that price repay.)
Lamented triumphs! when one breath must tell
That Marlborough conquer'd, and that Dormer fell.
Great queen! whose name strikes haughty monarchs pale,
On whose just sceptre hangs Europa's scale,
Whose arm like Mercy wounds, decides like Fate,
On whose decree the nations anxious wait:
From Albion's cliffs thy wide-extended hand
Shall o'er the main to far Peru command;
So vast a tract whose wide domain shall run,
Its circling skies shall see no setting sun.
Thee, thee an hundred languages shall claim,
And savage Indians swear by Anna's name;
The line and poles shall own thy rightful sway,
And thy commands the sever'd globe obey.
Round the vast ball thy new dominions chain
The watery kingdoms, and control the main;
Magellan's straits to Gibraltar they join,
Across the seas a formidable line;
The sight of adverse Gaul we fear no more,
But pleas'd see Dunkirk, now a guiltless shore;
In vain great Neptune tore the narrow ground,
And meant his waters for Britannia's bound;
Her giant genius takes a mighty stride,
And sets his foot beyond the encroaching tide;
On either bank the land its master knows,
And in the midst the subject ocean flows.
So near proud Rhodes, across the raging flood,
Stupendous form! the vast Colossus stood,
(While at one foot their thronging gallies ride,
A whole hour's sail scarce reach the further side)
Betwixt his brazen thighs, in loose array,
Ten thousand streamers on the billows play.
By Harley's counsels, Dunkirk, now restor'd
To Britain's empire, owns her ancient lord,
In him transfus'd his godlike father reigns,
Rich in the blood which swell'd that patriot's veins,
Who, boldly faithful, met his sovereign's frown,
And scorn'd for gold to yield th' important town.
His son was born the ravish'd prey to claim,
And France still trembles at an Harley's name.
A fort so dreadful to our English shore,
Our fleets scarce fear'd the sands or tempests more,
Whose vast expenses to such sums amount,
That the tax'd Gaul scarce furnish'd out th' account,
Whose walls such bulwarks, such vast towers restrain,
Its weakest ramparts are the rocks and main,
His boast great Louis yields, and cheaply buys
Thy friendship, Anna, with the mighty prize.
Holland repining, and in grief cast down,
Sees the new glories of the British crown:
Ah! may they ne'er provoke thee to the fight,
Nor foes, more dreadful than the Gaul, invite.
Soon may they hold the olive, soon asswage
Their secret murmurs, nor call forth thy rage
To rend their banks, and pour, at one command,
Thy realm, the sea, o'er their precarious land.
Henceforth be thine, vice-gerent of the skies,
Scorn'd worth to raise, and vice in robes chastise,
To dry the orphan's tears, and from the bar,
Chace the brib'd judge, and hush the wordy war,
Deny the curst blasphemer's tongue to rage,
And turn God's fury from an impious age.
Blest change! the soldier's late destroying hand
Shall rear new temples in his native land;
Mistaken zealots shall with fear behold,
And beg admittance in our sacred fold;
On her own works the pious queen shall smile,
And turn her cares upon her favourite isle.
So the keen bolt a warrior angel aims,
Array'd in clouds, and wrapt in mantling flames;
He bears a tempest on his sounding wings,
And his red arm the forky vengeance flings;
At length, Heaven's wrath appeas'd, he quits the war,
To roll his orb, and guide his destin'd star,
To shed kind fate, and lucky hours bestow,
And smile propitious on the world below.
Around thy throne shall faithful nobles wait,
These guard the church, and those direct the state.
To Bristol, graceful in maternal tears,
The Church her towery forehead gently rears;
She begs her pious son t' assert her cause
Defend her rights, and reenforce her laws,
With holy zeal the sacred work begin,
To bend the stubborn, and the meek to win.
Our Oxford's earl in careful thought shall stand,
To raise his queen, and save a sinking land.
The wealthiest glebe to ravenous Spaniards known
He marks, and makes the golden world our own,
Content with hands unsoil'd to guard the prize,
And keep the store with undesiring eyes.
So round the tree, that bore Hesperian gold,
The sacred watch lay curl'd in many a fold,
His eyes up-rearing to th' untasted prey,
The sleepless guardian wasted life away.
Beneath the peaceful olives, rais'd by you,
Her ancient pride, shall every art renew,
(The arts with you fam'd Harcourt shall defend,
And courtly Bolingbroke the Muse's friend.)
With piercing eye some search where Nature plays,
And trace the wanton through her darksome maze,
Whence health from herbs; from seeds how groves begun,
How vital streams in circling eddies run.
Some teach why round the Sun the spheres advance,
In the fix'd measures of their mystic dance,
How tides, when heav'd by pressing moons, o'erflow,
And sun-born Iris paints her showery bow,
In happy chains our daring language bound,
Shall sport no more in arbitrary sound,
But buskin'd bards henceforth shall wisely rage,
And Grecian plans reform Britannia's stage:
Till Congreve bids her smile, Augusta stands
And longs to weep when flowing Rowe commands.
Britain's Spectators shall their strength combine
To mend our morals and our taste refine,
Fight virtue's cause, stand up in wit's defence,
Win us from vice, and laugh us into sense.
Nor, Prior, hast thou hush'd the trump in vain,
Thy lyre shall now revive her mirthful strain,
New tales shall now be told; if right I see,
The soul of Chaucer is restor'd in thee.
Garth, in majestic numbers, to the stars
Shall raise mock heroes, and fantastic wars;
Like the young spreading laurel, Pope, thy name
Shoots up with strength, and rises into fame;
With Philips shall the peaceful vallies ring,
And Britain hear a second Spenser sing.
That much-lov'd youth, whom Utrecht's walls confine,
To Bristol's praises shall his Strafford's join:
He too, from whom attentive Oxford draws
Rules for just thinking, and poetic laws,
To growing bards his learned aid shall lend,
The strictest critic, and the kindest friend.
Ev'n mine, a bashful Muse, whose rude essays
Scarce hope for pardon, not aspire to praise,
Cherish'd by you, in time may grow to fame,
And mine survive with Bristol's glorious name.
Fir'd with the views this glittering scene displays,
And smit with passion for my country's praise,
My artless reed attempts this lofty theme,
Where sacred Isis rolls her ancient stream;
In cloister'd domes, the great Philippa's pride,
Where Learning blooms, while Fame and Worth preside,
Where the fifth Henry arts and arms was taught,
And Edward form'd his Cressy, yet unfought,
Where laurel'd bards have struck the warbling strings,
The seat of sages, and the nurse of kings.
Here thy commands, O Lancaster, inflame
My eager breast to raise the British name,
Urge on my soul, with no ignoble pride,
To woo the Muse, whom Addison enjoy'd,
See that bold swan to Heaven sublimely soar,
Pursue at distance, and his steps adore.
______ Campos, ubi Troja fuit.
Where Kensington, high o'er the neighbouring lands
Midst greens and sweets, a regal fabric, stands,
And sees each spring, luxuriant in her bowers,
A snow of blossoms, and a wild of flowers,
The dames of Britain oft in crowds repair
To gravel walks, and unpolluted air.
Here, while the town in damps and darkness lies,
They breathe in sun-shine, and see azure skies;
Each walk, with robes of various dyes bespread,
Seems from afar a moving tulip-bed,
Where rich brocades and glossy damasks glow,
And chints, the rival of the showery bow.
Here England's daughter, darling of the land,
Sometimes, surrounded with her virgin band,
Gleams through the shades. She, towering o'er the rest,
Stands fairest of the fairer kind confest,
Form'd to gain hearts, that Brunswick's cause deny'd,
And charm a people to her father's side.
Long have these groves to royal guests been known,
Nor Nassau first prefer'd them to a throne.
Ere Norman banners wav'd in British air;
Ere lordly Hubba with the golden hair
Pour'd in his Danes; ere elder Julius came;
Or Dardan Brutus gave our isle a name;
A prince of Albion's lineage grac'd the wood,
The scene of wars, and stain'd with lovers' blood.
You, who thro' gazing crowds, your captive throng,
Throw pangs and passions, as you move along,
Turn on the left, ye fair, your radiant eyes,
Where all unlevel'd the gay garden lies:
If generous anguish for another's pains
Ere heav'd your hearts, or shiver'd through your veins,
Look down attentive on the pleasing dale,
And listen to my melancholy tale.
That hollow space, were now in living rows
Line above line the yew's sad verdure grows,
Was, ere the planter's hand its beauty gave,
A common pit, a rude unfashion'd cave.
The landscape now so sweet we well may praise:
But far, far sweeter in its ancient days,
Far sweeter was it, when its peopled ground
With fairy domes and dazzling towers was crown'd.
Where in the midst those verdant pillars spring,
Rose the proud palace of the Elfin king;
For every edge of vegetable green,
In happier years a crowded street was seen;
Nor all those leaves that now the prospect grace,
Could match the numbers of its pygmy race,
What urg'd this mighty empire to its fate,
A tale of woe and wonder, I relate.
When Albion rul'd the land, whose lineage came
From Neptune mingling with a mortal dame,
Their midnight pranks the sprightly fairies play'd
On every hill, and danc'd in every shade.
But, foes to sun-shine, most they took delight
In dells and dales conceal'd from human sight:
There hew'd their houses in the arching rock;
Or scoop'd the bosom of the blasted oak;
Or heard, o'ershadow'd by some shelving hill,
The distant murmurs of the falling rill.
They, rich in pilfer'd spoils, indulg'd their mirth,
And pity'd the huge wretched sons of Earth.
Ev'n now, 'tis said, the hinds o'erhear their strain,
And strive to view their airy forms in vain:
They to their cells at man's approach repair,
Like the shy leveret, or the mother-hare,
The whilst poor mortals startle at the sound
Of unseen footsteps on the haunted ground.
Amid this garden, then with woods o'ergrown,
Stood the lov'd seat of royal Oberon.
From every region to his palace-gate
Came peers and princes of the fairy state,
Who, rank'd in council round the sacred shade,
Their monarch's will and great behests obey'd.
From Thames' fair banks, by lofty towers adorn'd,
With loads of plunder oft his chiefs return'd:
Hence in proud robes, and colours bright and gay,
Shone every knight and every lovely fay.
Whoe'er on Powell's dazzling stage display'd,
Hath fam'd king Pepin and his court survey'd,
May guess, if old by modern things we trace,
The pomp and splendour of the fairy-race.
By magic fenc'd, by spells encompass'd round,
No mortal touch'd this interdicted ground;
No mortal enter'd, those alone who came
Stol'n from the couch of some terrestrial dame:
For oft of babes they robb'd the matron's bed,
And left some sickly changeling in their stead.
It chanc'd a youth of Albion's royal blood
Was foster'd here, the wonder of the wood.
Milkah for wiles above her peers renown'd,
Deep-skill'd in charms and many a mystic sound,
As through the regal dome she sought for prey,
Observ'd the infant Albion where he lay
In mantles broider'd o'er with georgeous pride,
And stole him from the sleeping mother's side.
Who now but Milkah triumphs in her mind!
Ah, wretched nymph, to future evils blind!
The time shall come when thou shalt dearly pay
The theft, hard-hearted! of that guilty day:
Thou in thy turn shalt like the queen repine,
And all her sorrows doubled shall be thine:
He who adorns thy house, the lovely boy
Who now adorns it, shall at length destroy.
Two hundred moons in their pale course had seen
The gay-rob'd fairies glimmer on the green,
And Albion now had reach'd in youthful prime
To nineteen years, as mortals measure time.
Flush'd with resistless charms he fir'd to love
Each nymph and little Dryad of the grove;
For skilful Milkah spar'd not to employ
Her utmost art to rear the princely boy;
Each supple limb she swath'd, and tender bone,
And to the Elfin standard kept him down;
She robb'd dwarf-elders of their fragrant fruit,
And fed him early with the daisy's root,
Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran,
And form'd in beauteous miniature the man.
Yet still, two inches taller than the rest,
His lofty port his human birth confest;
A foot in height, how stately did he show!
How look superior on the crowd below!
What knight like him could toss the rushy lance!
Who move so graceful in the mazy dance!
A shape so nice, or features half so fair,
What elf could boast! or such a flow of hair!
Bright Kenna saw, a princess born to reign,
And felt the charmer burn in every vein.
She, heiress to this empire's potent lord,
Prais'd like the stars, and next the Moon ador'd.
She, whom at distance thrones and princedoms view'd,
To whom proud Oriel and Azuriel sued,
In her high palace languish'd, void of joy,
And pin'd in secret for a mortal boy.
He too was smitten, and discreetly strove
By courtly deeds to gain the virgin's love.
For her he cull'd the fairest flower that grew,
Ere morning suns had drain'd their fragrant dew;
He chas'd the hornet in his mid-day flight,
And brought her glow-worms in the noon of night;
When on ripe fruits she cast a wishing eye,
Did ever Albion think the tree too high!
He show'd her where the pregnant goldfinch hung,
And the wren-mother brooding o'er her young;
To her th' inscription on their eggs he read,
(Admire, ye clerks, the youth whom Milkah bred)
To her he show'd each herb of virtuous juice,
Their powers distinguish'd, and describ'd their use:
All vain their powers, alas! to Kenna prove,
And well sung Ovid, ``There's no herb for love.''
As when a ghost, enlarg'd from realms below,
Seeks its old friend to tell some secret woe,
The poor shade shivering stands, and must not break
His painful silence, till the mortal speak:
So far'd it with the little love-sick maid,
Forbid to utter, what her eyes betray'd.
He saw her anguish, and reveal'd his flame,
And spar'd the blushes of the tongue-ty'd dame.
The day would fail me, should I reckon o'er
The sighs they lavish'd, and the oaths they swore
In words so melting, that compar'd with those
The nicest courtship of terrestrial beaux
Would sound like compliments, from country clowns
To red cheek'd sweet-hearts in their home-spun gowns.
All in a lawn of many a various hue
A bed of flowers (a fairy forest) grew;
'Twas here one noon, the gaudiest of the May,
The still, the secret, silent, hour of day,
Beneath a lofty tulip's ample shade
Sat the young lover and th' immortal maid.
They thought all fairies slept, ah, luckless pair!
Hid, but in vain, in the Sun's noon-tide glare!
When Albion, leaning on his Kenna's breast,
Thus all the softness of his soul exprest:
``All things are hush'd. The Sun's meridian rays
Veil the horizon in one mighty blaze:
Nor moon nor star in Heaven's blue arch is seen
With kindly rays to silver o'er the green,
Grateful to fairy eyes; they secret take
Their rest, and only wretched mortals wake.
This dead of day I fly to thee alone,
A world to me, a multitude in one.
Oh, sweet as dew-drops on these flowery lawns,
When the sky opens, and the evening dawns!
Straight as the pink, that towers so high in air,
Soft as the blow-bell! as the daisy, fair!
Blest be the hour, when first I was convey'd
An infant captive to this blissful shade!
And blest the hand that did my form refine,
And shrunk my stature to a match with thine!
Glad I for thee renounce my royal birth,
And all the giant-daughters of the Earth.
Thou, if thy breast with equal ardour burn,
Renounce thy kind, and love for love return.
So from us two, combin'd by nuptial ties,
A race unknown of demi-gods shall rise.
O speak, my love! my vows with vows repay,
And sweetly swear my rising fears away.''
To whom (the shining azure of her eyes
More brighten'd) thus th' enamour'd maid replies:
``By all the stars, and first the glorious Moon,
I swear, and by the head of Oberon,
A dreadful oath! no prince of fairy line
Shall e'er in wedlock plight his vows with mine.
Where-e'er my footsteps in the dance are seen,
May toadstools rise, and mildews blast the green,
May the keen east-wind blight my favourite flowers,
And snakes and spotted adders haunt my bowers.
Confin'd whole ages in an hemlock shade
There rather pine I a neglected maid,
Or worse, exil'd from Cynthia's gentle rays,
Parch in the sun a thousand summer-days,
Than any prince, a prince of fairy line,
In sacred wedlock plight his vows with mine.''
She ended: and with lips of rosy hue
Dipp'd five times over in ambrosial dew,
Stifled his words. When, from his covert rear'd,
The frowning brow of Oberon appear'd.
A sun-flower's trunk was near, whence (killing sight!)
The monarch issued, half an ell in height:
Full on the pair a furious look he cast,
Nor spoke; but gave his bugle-horn a blast,
That through the woodland echoed far and wide,
And drew a swarm of subjects to his side.
A hundred chosen knights, in war renown'd,
Drive Albion banish'd from the sacred ground;
And twice ten myriads guard the bright abodes,
Where the proud king, amidst his demi-gods,
For Kenna's sudden bridal bids prepare,
And to Azuriel gives the weeping fair.
If fame in arms, with ancient birth combin'd,
A faultless beauty, and a spotless mind,
To love and praise can generous souls incline,
That love, Azuriel, and that praise, was thine.
Blood only less than royal fill'd thy veins,
Proud was thy roof, and large thy fair domains.
Where now the skies high Holland-House invades,
And short-liv'd Warwick sadden'd all the shades,
Thy dwelling stood: nor did in him afford
A nobler owner, or a lovelier lord.
For thee a hundred fields produc'd their store,
And by thy name ten thousand vassals swore;
So lov'd thy name, that, at their monarch's choice,
All fairy shouted with a general voice.
Oriel alone a secret rage supprest,
That from his bosom heav'd the golden vest.
Along the banks of Thame his empire ran,
Wide was his range, and populous his clan.
When cleanly servants, if we trust old tales,
Beside their wages had good fairy vails,
Whole heaps of silver tokens, nightly paid,
The careful wife, or the neat dairy-maid,
Sunk not his stores. With smiles and powerful bribes
He gain'd the leaders of his neighbour tribes,
And ere the night the face of Heaven had chang'd,
Beneath his banners half the fairies rang'd.
Meanwhile, driven back to Earth, a lonely way
The chearless Albion wander'd half the day,
A long, long journey, choak'd with brakes and thorns
Ill-measur'd by ten thousand barley-corns.
Tir'd out at length a spreading stream he spy'd
Fed by old Thame, a daughter of the tide:
'Twas then a spreading stream, though now, its fame
Obscur'd, it bears the Creek's inglorious name,
And creeps, as through contracted bounds it strays,
A leap for boys in these degenerate days.
On the clear crystal's verdant bank he stood,
And thrice look'd backward on the fatal wood,
And thrice he groan'd, and thrice he beat his breast,
And thus in tears his kindred gods addrest.
``If true, ye watery powers, my lineage came
From Neptune mingling with a mortal dame;
Down to his court, with coral garlands crown'd,
Through all your grottoes waft my plaintive sound,
And urge the god, whose trident shakes the Earth,
To grace his offspring, and assert my birth.''
He said. A gentle Naiad heard his prayer,
And, touch'd with pity for a lover's care,
Shoots to the sea, where low beneath the tides
Old Neptune in th' unfathom'd deep resides.
Rouz'd at the news, the sea's stern sultan swore
Revenge, and scarce from present arms forbore;
But first the nymph his harbinger he sends,
And to her care the favourite boy commends.
As thro' the Thames her backward course she guides,
Driv'n up his current by the refluent tides,
Along his banks the pygmy legions spread
She spies, and haughty Oriel at their head,
Soon with wrong'd Albion's name the host she fires,
And counts the ocean's god, among his sires;
``The ocean's god, by whom shall be o'erthrown,
(Styx heard his oath) the tyrant Oberon.
See here beneath a toadstool's deadly gloom
Lies Albion: him the Fates your leader doom.
Hear, and obey; 'tis Neptune's powerful call,
By him Azuriel and his king shall fall.''
She said. They bow'd: and on their shields up-bore
With shouts their new saluted emperor.
E'en Oriel smil'd: at least to smile he strove,
And hopes of vengeance triumph'd over love.
See now the mourner of the lonely shade
By gods protected, and by hosts obey'd,
A slave, a chief, by fickle Fortune's play,
In the short course of one revolving day,
What wonder if the youth, so strangely blest,
Felt his heart flutter in his little breast!
His thick embattled troops, with secret pride,
He views extended half an acre wide;
More light he treads, more tall he seems to rise,
And struts a straw-breadth nearer to the skies.
O for thy Muse, great Bard, whose lofty strains
In battle join'd the Pygmies and the Cranes;
Each gaudy knight, had I that warmth divine,
Each colour'd legion in my verse should shine.
But simple I, and innocent of art,
The tale, that sooth'd my infant years, impart,
The tale I heard whole winter-eves, untir'd,
And sing the battles, that my nurse inspir'd.
Now the shrill corn-pipes, echoing loud to arms,
To rank and file reduce the straggling swarms,
Thick rows of spears at once, with sudden glare,
A grove of needles, glitter in the air;
Loose in the winds small ribbon-streamers flow,
Dipt in all colours of the heavenly-bow,
And the gay host, that now its march pursues,
Gleams o'er the meadows in a thousand hues.
On Buda's plains thus formidably bright,
Shone Asia's sons, a pleasing dreadful sight.
In various robes their silken troops were seen,
The blue, the red, and prophet's sacred green:
When blooming Brunswick, near the Danube's flood,
First stain'd his maiden sword in Turkish blood.
Unseen and silent march the slow brigades
Through pathless wilds, and unfrequented shades.
In hope already vanquish'd by surprise,
In Albion's power the fairy empire lies;
Already has he seiz'd on Kenna's charms,
And the glad beauty trembles in his arms.
The march concludes: and now in prospect near,
But fenc'd with arms, the hostile towers appear,
For Oberon, or Druids falsely sing,
Wore his prime visier in a magic ring,
A subtle spright, that opening plots foretold
By sudden dimness on the beamy gold.
Hence, in a cresent form'd, his legions bright
With beating bosoms waited for the fight;
To charge their foes they march, a glittering band,
And in their van doth bold Azuriel stand.
What rage that hour did Albion's soul possess,
Let chiefs imagine, and let lovers guess!
Forth issuing from his ranks, that strove in vain
To check his course, athwart the dreadful plain
He strides indignant: and with haughty cries
To single fight the fairy prince defies.
Forbear! rash youth, th' unequal war to try;
Nor, sprung from mortals, with immortals vie.
No god stands ready to avert thy doom,
Nor yet thy grandsire of the waves is come.
My words are vain -- no words the wretch can move,
By Beauty dazzled, and bewitch'd by Love:
He longs, he burns, to win the glorious prize,
And sees no danger, while he sees her eyes.
Now from each host the eager warriors start.
And furious Albion flings his hasty dart,
'Twas feather'd from the bee's transparent wing,
And its shaft ended in a hornet's sting;
But, tost in rage, it flew without a wound,
High o'er the foe, and guiltless pierc'd the ground.
Not so Azuriel's: with unerring aim,
Too near the needle-pointed javelin came,
Drove through the seven-fold shield, and silken vest,
And lightly ras'd the lover's ivory breast.
Rouz'd at the smart, and rising to the blow,
With his keen sword he cleaves his fairy foe,
Sheer from the shoulder to the waste he cleaves,
And of one arm the tottering trunk bereaves.
His useless steel brave Albion wields no more,
But sternly smiles, and thinks the combat o'er:
So had it been, had aught of mortal strain,
Or less than fairy, felt the deadly pain.
But empyreal forms, howe'er in fight
Gash'd and dismember'd, easily unite.
As some frail cup of China's purest mold,
With azure varnish'd, and bedropt with gold,
Though broke, if cur'd by some nice virgin's hands,
In its old strength and pristine beauty stands;
The tumults of the boiling bohea braves,
And holds secure the coffee's sable waves:
So did Azuriel's arm, if Fame say true,
Rejoin the vital trunk whence first it grew;
And, whilst in wonder fix'd poor Albion stood,
Plung'd the curs'd sabre in his heart's warm blood.
The golden broidery, tender Milkah wove,
The breast, to Kenna sacred and to Love,
Lie rent and mangled: and the gaping wound
Pours out a flood of purple on the ground.
The jetty lustre sickens in his eyes:
On his cold cheeks the bloomy freshness dies;
``Oh Kenna, Kenna,'' thrice he try'd to say,
``Kenna, farewel!'' and sigh'd his soul away.
His fall the Dryads with loud shrieks deplore,
By sister Naiads echo'd from the shore,
Thence down to Neptune's secret realms convey'd,
Through grotts, and glooms, and many a coral shade.
The sea's great sire, with looks denouncing war,
The trident shakes, and mounts the pearly car:
With one stern frown the wide-spread deep deforms,
And works the madding ocean into storms.
O'er foaming mountains, and through bursting tides,
Now high, now low, the bounding chariot rides,
Till through the Thames in a loud whirlwind's roar
It shoots, and lands him on the destin'd shore.
Now fix'd on earth his towering stature stood,
Hung o'er the mountains, and o'erlook'd the wood.
To Brumpton's grove one ample stride he took,
(The valleys trembled, and the forests shook)
The next huge step reach'd the devoted shade,
Where choak'd in blood was wretched Albion laid:
Where now the vanquish'd, with the victors join'd,
Beneath the regal banners stood combin'd.
Th' embattled dwarfs with rage and scorn he past,
And on their town his eye vindictive cast.
In deep foundations his strong trident cleaves.
And high in air th' up-rooted empire heaves;
On his broad engine the vast ruin hung,
Which on the foe with force divine he flung:
Aghast the legions, in th' approaching shade,
Th' inverted spires and rocking domes survey'd,
That, downward tumbling on the host below,
Crush'd the whole nation at one dreadful blow.
Towers, arms, nymphs, warriors, are together lost,
And a whole empire falls to sooth said Albion's ghost.
Such was the period, long restrain'd by Fate,
And such the downfall of the fairy state.
This dale, a pleasing region, not unblest,
This dale possest they; and had still possest;
Had not their monarch, with a father's pride,
Rent from her lord th' inviolable bride,
Rash to dissolve the contract seal'd above,
The solemn vows and sacred bonds of love.
Now, where his elves so sprightly danc'd the round,
No violet breathes, nor daisy paints the ground,
His towers and people fill one common grave,
A shapeless ruin, and a barren cave.
Beneath huge hills of smoking piles he lay
Stunn'd and confounded a whole summer's day,
At length awak'd (for what can long restrain
Unbody'd spirits!) but awak'd in pain:
And as he saw the desolated wood,
And the dark den where once his empire stood,
Grief chill'd his heart: to his half-open'd eyes
In every oak a Neptune seem'd to rise:
He fled: and left, with all his trembling peers,
The long possession of a thousand years.
Through bush, through brake, through groves, and gloomy dales,
Through dank and dry, o'er streams and flowery vales,
Direct they fled; but often look'd behind,
And stopt and started at each rustling wind.
Wing'd with like fear, his abdicated bands
Disperse and wander into different lands.
Part hid beneath the Peak's deep caverns lie,
In silent glooms, impervious to the sky;
Part on fair Avon's margin seek repose,
Whose stream o'er Britain's midmost region flows,
Where formidable Neptune never came,
And seas and oceans are but known by fame:
Some to dark woods and secret shade retreat:
And some on mountains choose their airy seat.
There haply by the ruddy damsel seen,
Or shepherd-boy, they featly foot the green,
While from their steps a circling verdure springs;
But fly from towns, and dread the courts of kings.
Mean-while said Kenna, loth to quit the grove,
Hung o'er the body of her breathless love,
Try'd every art, (vain arts!) to change his doom,
And vow'd (vain vows!) to join him in the tomb.
What could she do? the Fates alike deny
The dead to live, or fairy forms to die.
An herb there grows (the same old Homer tells
Ulysses bore to rival Circe's spells)
Its root is ebon-black, but sends to light
A stem that bends with flowrets milky white,
Moly the plant, which gods and fairies know,
But secret kept from mortal men below.
On his pale limbs its virtuous juice she shed,
And murmur'd mystic numbers o'er the dead,
When lo! the little shape by magic power
Grew less and less, contracted to a flower;
A flower, that first in this sweet garden smil'd,
To virgins sacred, and the Snow-drop styl'd.
The new-born plant with sweet regret she view'd,
Warm'd with her sighs, and with her tears bedew'd,
Its ripen'd seeds from bank to bank convey'd,
And with her lover whiten'd half the shade.
Thus won from death each spring she sees him grow,
And glorious in the vegetable snow,
Which now increas'd through wide Britannia's plains,
Its parent's warmth and spotless name retains,
First leader of the flowery race aspires,
And foremost catches the Sun's genial fires,
'Mid frosts and snows triumphant dares appear,
Mingles the seasons, and leads on the year.
Deserted now of all the pigmy race,
Nor man nor fairy touch'd this guilty place.
In heaps on heaps, for many a rolling age,
It lay accurs'd, the mark of Neptune's rage,
Till great Nassau recloath'd the desert shade,
Thence sacred to Britannia's monarchs made.
'Twas then the green-rob'd nymph, fair Kenna came,
(Kenna that gave the neighbouring town its name)
Proud when she saw th' ennobled garden shine,
With nymphs and heroes of her lover's line,
She vow'd to grace the mansions once her own.
And picture out in plants the fairy town.
To far-fam'd Wise her flight unseen she sped,
And with gay prospects fill'd the craftsman's head,
Soft in his fancy drew a pleasing scheme,
And plann'd that landscape in a morning dream.
With the sweet view the sire of gardens fir'd,
Attempts the labour by the nymph inspir'd,
The walls and streets in rows of yew designs,
And forms the town in all its ancient lines;
The corner trees he lifts more high in air,
And girds the palace with a verdant square;
Nor knows, while round he views the rising scenes,
He builds a city as he plants his greens.
With a sad pleasure the aërial maid
This image of her ancient realms survey'd,
How chang'd, how fall'n from its primeval pride!
Yet here each moon, the hour her lover dy'd,
Each moon his solemn obsequies she pays,
And leads the dance beneath pale Cynthia's rays;
Pleas'd in these shades to head her fairy train,
And grace the groves where Albion's kinsmen reign.