John Dryden (1631–1700). The Poems of John Dryden. 1913.
Annus Mirabilis: The Year of Wonders, 1666. An Historical Poem
The most renowned and late flourishing
City of London,
The LORD MAYOR and Court of ALDERMEN,
the SHERIFFS and COMMON COUNCIL of it.
perhaps I am the first who ever presented a work of this nature to the Metropolis of any Nation, so is it likewise consonant to Justice, that he who was to give the first Example of such a Dedication should begin it with that City, which has set a pattern to all others of true Loyalty, invincible Courage, and unshaken Constancy. Other Cities have been prais’d for the same Virtues, but I am much deceiv’d if any have so dearly purchas’d their Reputation; their Fame has been won them by cheaper trials than an expensive, though necessary, War, a consuming Pestilence, and a more consuming Fire. To submit yourselves with that humility to the Judgments of Heaven, and at the same time to raise yourselves with that vigour above all human Enemies; to be combated at once from above and from below, to be struck down and to triumph; I know not whether such Trials have been ever parallel’d in any Nation, the resolution and successes of them never can be. Never had Prince or People more mutual reason to love each other, if suffering for each other can indear affection. You have come together a pair of matchless Lovers, through many difficulties; He, through a long Exile, various traverses of Fortune, and the interposition of many Rivals, who violently ravish’d and withheld You from Him: and certainly you have had your share in sufferings. But Providence has cast upon you want of Trade, that you might appear bountiful to your Country’s necessities; and the rest of your afflictions are not more the effects of God’s Displeasure (frequent examples of them having been in the Reign of the most excellent Princes) than occasions for the manifesting of your Christian and Civil virtues. To you, therefore, this Year of Wonders
is justly dedicated, because you have made it so. You, who are to stand a wonder to all Years and Ages, and who have built yourselves an Immortal Monument on your own Ruins. You are now a Phœnix
in her ashes, and, as far as Humanity can approach, a great Emblem of the suffering Deity. But Heaven never made so much Piety and Virtue, to leave it miserable. I have heard indeed of some virtuous Persons who have ended unfortunately, but never of any virtuous Nation: Providence is engaged too deeply, when the Cause becomes so general. And I cannot imagine it has resolved the ruin of that People at home, which it has blessed abroad with such Successes. I am, therefore, to conclude that your Sufferings are at an end, and that one part of my Poem has not been more an History of your destruction, than the other a Prophecy of your restoration. The accomplishment of which happiness, as it is the wish of all true Englishmen,
so is by none more passionately desired than by
The greatest of Your Admirers,
and most humble of your Servants,
TO THE HONOURABLE
Sr. ROBERT HOWARD.
SIR,I am so many ways obliged to you and so little able to return your Favours that, like those who owe too much, I can only live by getting farther into your debt. You have not only been careful of my Fortune, which was the effect of your Nobleness, but you have been solicitous of my Reputation, which is that of your Kindness. It is not long since I gave you the trouble of perusing a Play for me, and now, instead of an Acknowledgment, I have given you a greater in the Correction of a Poem. But since you are to bear this Persecution, I will at least give you the encouragement of a Martyr, you could never suffer in a nobler cause. For I have chosen the most heroick Subject which any Poet could desire: I have taken upon me to describe the motives, the beginning, progress, and successes of a most just and necessary War; in it the care, management, and prudence of our King; the conduct and valour of a Royal Admiral and of two incomparable Generals; the invincible courage of our Captains and Seamen, and three glorious Victories, the result of all. After this, I have in the Fire the most deplorable, but withal the greatest Argument that can be imagined; the destruction being so swift, so sudden, so vast and miserable, as nothing can parallel in Story. The former part of this Poem, relating to the War, is but a due expiation for my not serving my King and Country in it. All Gentlemen are almost obligea to it: and I know no reason we should give that advantage to the Commonalty of
England, to be foremost in brave actions, which the noblesse of
France would never suffer in their Peasants. I should not have written this but to a Person who has been ever forward to appear in all Employments, whither his Honour and Generosity have called him. The latter part of my Poem, which describes the Fire, I owe, first, to the Piety and Fatherly Affection of our Monarch to his suffering Subjects; and, in the second place, to the Courage, Loyalty, and Magnanimity of the City; both which were so conspicuous that I have wanted words to celebrate them as they deserve. I have called my Poem
Historical, not Epick, though both the Actions and Actors are as much Heroick as any Poem can contain. But since the Action is not properly one, nor that accomplish’d in the last successes, I have judg’d it too bold a title for a few Stanza’s, which are little more in number than a single
Iliad or the longest of the Æneids. For this reason (I mean not of length, but broken action, li’d too severely to the laws of History) I am apt to agree with those who rank
Lucan rather among Historians in Verse than Epique poets; in whose room, if I am not deceived,
Silius Italicus, though a worse Writer, may more justly be admitted. I have chosen to write my poem in
stanza’s of four in alternate rhyme, because I have ever judg’d them more noble and of greater dignity both for the Sound and Number than any other Verse in use amongst us; in which I am sure I have your approbation. The learned Languages have certainly a great advantage of us in not being tied to the slavery of any Rhyme, and were less constrained in the quantity of every syllable, which they might vary with Spondæes or Dactiles, besides so many other helps of Grammatical Figures for the lengthening or abbreviation of them, than the Modern are in the close of that one Syllable, which often confines, and more often corrupts, the sense of all the rest. But in this necessity of our Rhymes, I have always found the couplet verse most easy (though not so proper for this occasion), for there the work is sooner at an end, every two lines concluding the labour of the Poet: but in
Quatrains he is to carry it farther on; and not only so, but to bear along in his head the troublesome sense of four lines together. For those who write correctly in this kind must needs acknowledge that the last line of the
Stanza is to be considered in the composition of the first. Neither can we give ourselves the liberty of making any part of a Verse for the sake of Rhyme, or concluding with a word which is not currant English, or using the variety of Female Rhymes; all which our Fathers practised. And for the Female Rhymes, they are still in use amongst other Nations: with the
Italian in every line, with the
Spaniard promiscuously, with the
French alternately, as those who have read the
Pucelle, or any of their latter Poems, will agree with me. And besides this, they write in
Alexandrins or Verses of six feet, such as, amongst us, is the old Translation of
Chapman; All which by lengthening of their Chain makes the sphere of their activity the larger. I have dwelt too long upon the choice of my
Stanza, which you may remember is much better defended in the Preface to
Gondibert; and therefore I will hasten to acquaint you with my endeavours in the writing. In general I will only say I have never yet seen the description of any Naval Fight in the proper terms which are used at Sea; and if there be any such in another Language, as that of
Lucan in the third of his
Pharsalia, yet I could not prevail myself of it in the
English; the terms of Art in every Tongue bearing more of the Idiom of it than any other words. We hear, indeed, among our Poets, of the Thundring of Guns, the Smoke, the Disorder and the Slaughter; but all these are common notions. And certainly as those who, in a Logical dispute, keep in general terms, would hide a fallacy, so those who do it in any Poetical description would veil their Ignorance.
Descriptas servare vices, operumque colores,Cur ego, si nequeo ignoroque, Poeta salutor?For my own part, if I had little knowledge of the Sea, yet I have thought it no shame to learn: and if I have made some few mistakes, ’tis only, as you can bear me witness, because I have wanted opportunity to correct them; the whole Poem being first written, and now sent you from a place where I have not so much as the converse of any
Sea-man. Yet though the trouble I had in writing it was great, it was more than recompens’d by the pleasure; I found myself so warm in celebrating the Praises of Military men, two such especially as the
General, that it is no wonder if they inspired me with thoughts above my ordinary level. And I am well satisfied, that as they are incomparably the best subject I have ever had, excepting only the
Royal Family, so also that this I have written of them is much better than what I have performed on any other. I have been forc’d to help out other Arguments; but this has been bountiful to me: they have been low and barren of praise, and I have exalted them and made them fruitful: but here
—Omnia sponte suâ reddit justissima tellus. I have had a large, a fair, and a pleasant field; so fertile, that, without my cultivating, it has given me two Harvests in a Summer, and in both oppressed the reaper. All other greatness in Subjects is only counter-feit, it will not endure the test of danger; the greatness of arms is only real: other greatness burdens a Nation with its weight, this supports it with its strength. And as it is the happiness of the Age, so is it the peculiar goodness of the best of Kings, that we may praise his Subjects without offending him: Doubtless it proceeds from a just confidence of his own Virtue, which the lustre of no other can be so great as to darken in him; for the Good or the Valiant are never safely praised under a bad or a degenerate Prince. But to return from this digression to a farther account of my Poem, I must crave leave to tell you, that, as I have endeavoured to adorn it with noble thoughts, so much more to express those thoughts with elocution. The Composition of all Poems is or ought to be of wit; and wit in the Poet, or wit writing (if you will give me leave to use a School distinction), is no other than the faculty of imagination in the Writer; which, like a nimble Spaniel, beats over and ranges through the field of Memory, till it springs the Quarry it hunted after; or, without metaphor, which searches over all the Memory for the Species or Ideas of those things which it designs to represent. Wit written, is that which is well defin’d, the happy result of Thought, or product of Imagination. But to proceed from wit in the general notion of it to the proper wit of an Heroique or Historical Poem; I judge it chiefly to consist in the delightful imaging of Persons, Actions, Passions, or Things. ’Tis not the jerk or sting of an Epigram, nor the seeming contradiction of a poor Antithesis (the delight of an ill-judging Audience in a Play of Rhyme), nor the gingle of a more poor
Paranomasia; neither is it so much the morality of a grave Sentence, affected by
Lucan, but more sparingly used by
Virgil; but it is some lively and apt description, dressed in such colours of speech, that it sets before your eyes the absent object, as perfectly and more delightfully than nature. So then, the first happiness of the Poet’s Imagination is properly Invention, or finding of the thought; the second is Fancy, or the variation, deriving or moulding of that thought as the Judgment represents it proper to the subject; the third is Elocution, or the Art of clothing and adorning that thought so found and varied, in apt, significant and sounding words: The quickness of the Imagination is seen in the Invention, the fertility in the Fancy, and the accuracy in the Expression. For the two first of these,
Ovid is famous amongst the poets, for the later
Virgil. Ovid images more often the movements and affections of the mind, either combating between two contrary passions, or extreamly discompos’d by one: his words therefore are the least part of his care; for he pictures Nature in disorder, with which the study and choice of words is inconsistent. This is the proper wit of Dialogue or Discourse, and, consequently, of the
Drama, where all that is said is to be suppos’d the effect of sudden thought; which, though it excludes not the quickness of Wit in repartees, yet admits not a too curious election of words, too frequent allusions, or use of Tropes, or, in fine, anything that shows remoteness of thought, or labour, in the Writer. On the other side,
Virgil speaks not so often to us in the person of another, like
Ovid, but in his own, he relates almost all things as from himself, and thereby gains more liberty than the other, to express his thoughts with all the graces of elocution, to write more figuratively, and to confess as well the labour as the force of his Imagination. Though he describes his
Dido well and naturally, in the violence of her Passions, yet he must yield in that to the
Ovid; for as great an admirer of him as I am, I must acknowledge that, if I see not more of their souls than I see of
Dido’s, at least I have a greater concernment for them: And that convinces me that
Ovid has touched those tender strokes more delicately than
Virgil could. But when Action or Persons are to be described, when any such Image is to be set before us, how bold, how masterly are the strokes of
Virgil! We see the objects he represents us within their native figures, in their proper motions; but so we see them, as our own eyes could never have beheld them, so beautiful in themselves. We see the Soul of the Poet, like that universal one of which he speaks, informing and moving through all his Pictures,
Totamque infusa per artus Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet; we behold him embellishing his Images, as he makes
Venus breathing beauty upon her son
lumenque juventæPurpureum, et lætos oculis afflârat honores:Quale manus addunt Ebori decus, aut ubi flavoArgentum, Pariusve lapis circundatur auro.See his Tempest, his Funeral Sports, his Combat of
Æneas, and in his
Georgicks, which I esteem the Divinest part of all his writings, the Plague, the Country, the Battel of Bulls, the labour of the Bees, and those many other excellent Images of Nature, most of which are neither great in themselves nor have any natural ornament to bear them up: But the words wherewith he describes them are so excellent, that it might be well appli’d to him which was said by
Ovid, Materiam superabat opus: The very Sound of his Words has often somewhat that is connatural to the subject; and, while we read him, we sit, as in a Play, beholding the Scenes of what he represents. To perform this, he made frequent use of Tropes, which you know change the nature of a known word, by applying it to some other signification; and this is it which
Horace means in his Epistle to the Pisos:
Dixeris egregie, notum si callida verbumReddiderit junctura novum.But I am sensible I have presum’d too far to entertain you with a rude discourse of that Art which you both know so well, and put into practice with so much happiness. Yet before I leave
Virgil, I must own the vanity to tell you, and by you the world, that he has been my Master in this Poem: I have followed him everywhere, I know not with what success, but I am sure with diligence enough: My Images are many of them copied from him, and the rest are imitations of him. My Expressions also are as near as the Idioms of the two Languages would admit of in translation. And this, Sir, I have done with that boldness, for which I will stand accomptable to any of our little Criticks, who, perhaps, are not better acquainted with him than I am. Upon your first perusal of this Poem, you have taken notice of some words which I have innovated (if it be too bold for me to say refin’d) upon his
Latin; which, as I offer not to introduce into
English prose, so I hope they are neither improper nor altogether unelegant in Verse; and, in this, Horace will again defend me.
Et nova, fictaque nuper, habebunt verba fidem, siGræco fonte cadant, parcè detorta.The inference is exceeding plain; for if a
Roman Poet might have liberty to coin a word, supposing only that it was derived from the
Greek, was put into a
Latin termination, and that he used this liberty but seldom, and with modesty: How much more justly may I challenge that priviledge to do it with the same prerequisits, from the best and most judicious of
Latin Writers? In some places, where either the Fancy, or the Words, were his or any others, I have noted it in the Margin, that I might not seem a Plagiary; in others I have neglected it, to avoid as well tediousness as the affectation of doing it too often. Such descriptions or images, well wrought, which I promise not for mine, are, as I have said, the adequate delight of heroick Poesie; for they beget admiration, which is its proper object; as the Images of the Burlesque, which is contrary to this, by the same reason beget laughter; for the one shows Nature beautified, as in the Picture of a fair Woman, which we all admire; the other shows her deformed, as in that of a Lazar, or of a Fool with distorted face and antique gestures, at which we cannot forbear to laugh, because it is a deviation from Nature. But though the same Images serve equally for the Epique Poesie, and for the historique and panegyrique, which are branches of it, yet a several sort of Sculpture is to be used in them: If some of them are to be like those of
Juvenal, Stantes in curribus Æmiliani, Heroes drawn in their triumphal Chariots and in their full proportion; others are to be like that of
Virgil, Spirantia mollius æra: there is somewhat more of softness and tenderness to be shown in them. You will soon find I write not this without concern. Some, who have seen a paper of Verses which I wrote last year to her Highness the Dutches, have accus’d them of that only thing I could defend in them; they have said, I did
humi serpere, that I wanted not only height of Fancy, but dignity of Words to set it off; I might well answer with that of
Horace, Nunc non erat his locus, I knew I address’d them to a Lady, and accordingly I affected the softness of expression and the smoothness of measure, rather than the height of thought; and in what I did endeavour, it is no vanity to say, I have succeeded. I detest arrogance; but there is some difference betwixt that and a just defence. But I will not farther bribe your candor, or the Readers. I leave them to speak for me; and, if they can, to make out that character, not pretending to a greater, which I have given them.
Verses to Her Highness the DUTCHES on the
Memorable Victory gained by the DUKE against
the Hollanders, June the 3d. 1665. And
on Her Journey afterwards into the North.
MADAM,And now, Sir, ’tis time I should relieve you from the tedious length of this account. You have better and more profitable employment for your hours, and I wrong the Publick to detain you longer. In conclusion, I must leave my Poem to you with all its faults, which I hope to find fewer in the Printing by your emendations. I know you are not of the number of those, of whom the younger
WHEN for our sakes your Heroe you resign’dTo swelling Seas and every faithless wind;When you releas’d his Courage and set freeA Valour fatal to the Enemy,You lodg’d your Countries cares within your breast,(The mansion where soft love should only rest:)And e’re our Foes abroad were overcome,The noblest conquest you had gain’d at home.Ah, what concerns did both your Souls divide!Your Honour gave us what your Love deni’d:And ’twas for him much easier to subdueThose Foes he fought with, than to part from you.That glorious day, which two such Navies sawAs each, unmatch’d, might to the world give Law,Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,Held to them both the Trident of the Sea:The Winds were hush’d, the Waves in ranks were cast,As awfully as when God’s People past:Those, yet uncertain on whose Sails to blow,These, where the wealth of Nations ought to flow.Then with the Duke your Highness rul’d the day:While all the Brave did his Command obey,The Fair and Pious under you did pray.How pow’rful are chast Vows! the Wind and TydeYou brib’d to combat on the English side.Thus to your much loved Lord you did conveyAn unknown succour, sent the nearest way.New vigour to his wearied arms you brought(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought.)While, from afar, we heard the Cannon play,Like distant Thunder on a shiny day.For absent Friends we were asham’d to fear,When we consider’d what you ventur’d there.Ships, Men and Arms our Country might restore,But such a Leader could supply no more.With generous thoughts of Conquest he did burn,Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.Fortune and Victory he did persueTo bring them as his Slaves, to wait on you:Thus Beauty ravish’d the rewards of FameAnd the Fair triumph’d when the Brave o’recame.Then, as you meant to spread another wayBy Land your Conquests far as his by Sea,Leaving our Southern Clime, you march’d alongThe stubborn North, ten thousand Cupid’s strong.Like Commons the Nobility resort,In crowding heaps, to fill your moving Court:To welcome your approach the Vulgar run,Like some new Envoy from the distant Sun,And Country Beauties by their Lovers go,Blessing themselves, and wondring at the show.So, when the New-born Phœnix first is seen,Her feather’d Subjects all adore their Queen,And, while She makes her Progress through the East,From every Grove her numerous Train’s increast:Each Poet of the air her Glory sings,And round him the pleas’d Audience clap their Wings.
Nec sunt parum multi, qui carpere amicos suos judicium vocant; I am rather too secure of you on that side. Your candor in pardoning my Errors may make you more remiss in correcting them; if you will not withal consider that they come into the world with your approbation, and through your hands. I beg from you the greatest favour you can confer upon an absent person, since I repose upon your management what is dearest to me, my Fame and Reputation; and, therefore, I hope it will stir you up to make my Poem fairer by many of your blots. If not, you know the story of the Gamster who married the rich Man’s Daughter and, when her Father denied the Portion, Christened all the Children by his Sirname, that, if in conclusion they must beg, they should do so by one Name as well as by the other. But since the reproach of my faults will light on you, ’tis but reason I should do you that justice to the Readers to let them know, that, if there be anything tolerable in this Poem, they owe the Argument to your choice, the Writing to your encouragement, the Correction to your judgment, and the Care of it to your friendship, to which he must ever acknowledge himself to owe all things, who is,
The most Obedient and most
Faithful of your Servants,
THE YEAR OF WONDERS,
M DC LXVI
thriving Arts long time had Holland
Crouching at home, and cruel when abroad:
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our King they courted, and our Merchants aw’d.
2Trade, which like Blood should circularly flow,
Stopp’d in their Channels, found its Freedom lost:
Thither the Wealth of all the World did go,
And seem’d but Shipwrack’d on so base a Coast.
3For them alone the Heav’ns had kindly heat;
In Eastern Quarries ripening precious Dew:
For them the Idumæan Balm did sweat,
And in hot Ceilon Spicy Forrests grew.
4The Sun but seem’d the Lab’rer of their Year;
Each waxing Moon supplied her watry store,
To swell those Tides, which from the Line did bear
Their brim-full Vessels to the Belg’an shore.
5Thus, mighty in her Ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the Riches of the world from far,
Yet stoop’d to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:
And this may prove our second Punick War.
6What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
(But they more diligent, and we more strong)
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
For they would grow too pow’rful were it long.
7Behold two nations then, ingag’d so far,
That each seven years the Fit must shake each Land;
Where France will side to weaken us by War,
Who only can his vast Designs withstand.
8See how he feeds th’ Iberian with delays,
To render us his timely Friendship vain;
And, while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the Cradle of the babe of Spain.
9Such deep designs of Empire does he lay
O’re them, whose Cause he seems to take in hand:
And, prudently would make them Lords at Sea,
To whom with ease he can give Laws by Land.
10This saw our King; and long within his breast
His pensive counsels ballanc’d too and fro;
He griev’d the Land he freed should be oppress’d,
And he less for it than Usurpers do.
11His gen’rous mind the fair Ideas drew
Of Fame and Honor, which in dangers lay;
Where wealth, like Fruit on precipices, grew,
Not to be gather’d but by Birds of prey.
12The Loss and Gain each fatally were great;
And still his Subjects call’d aloud for War:
But peaceful Kings, o’re martial people set,
Each other’s poize and counter-ballance are.
13He, first, survey’d the Charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty Monarchs could maintain;
Yet judg’d, like vapours that from Limbecks rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.
14At length resolv’d t’ assert the watry Ball,
He in himself did whole Armado’s bring:
Him aged Sea-men might their Master call,
And choose for General were he not their King.
15It seems as every Ship their Sovereign knows,
His awful Summons they so soon obey;
So hear the skaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to Pasture follow through the Sea.
16To see this Fleet upon the Ocean move,
Angels drew wide the Curtains of the Skies:
And Heav’n, as if there wanted Lights above,
For Tapers made two glaring Comets rise.
17Whether they unctuous Exhalations are,
Fir’d by the Sun, or seeming so alone;
Or each some more remote and slippery Star,
Which loses footing when to Mortals shown.
18Or one that bright companion of the Sun,
Whose glorious aspect seal’d our new-born King;
And now, a round of greater years begun,
New influence from his walks of light did bring.
19Victorious York did first, with fam’d success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place:
Thus Heav’n our Monarch’s fortune did confess,
Beginning conquest from his Royal Race.
20But since it was decreed, Auspicious King,
In Britains right that thou shouldst wed the Main,
Heav’n, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,
And therefore doom’d that Lawson should be slain.
21Lawson amongst the formost met his fate,
Whom Sea-green Syrens from the Rocks lament:
Thus as an off’ring for the Grecian state,
He first was kill’d who first to Battel went.
22Their Chief blown up in air, not waves expir’d,
To which his pride presum’d to give the Law;
The Dutch confess’d Heav’n present, and retir’d,
And all was Britain the wide Ocean saw.
23To nearest Ports their shatter’d Ships repair,
Where by our dreadful Canon they lay aw’d:
So reverently Men quit the open air,
When Thunder speaks the angry Gods abroad.
24And now approach’d their Fleet from India, fraught
With all the riches of the rising Sun:
And precious Sand from Southern Climates brought,
(The fatal Regions where the War begun.)
25Like hunted Castors, conscious of their Stor
Their way-laid wealth to Norways coast they bring:
There first the North’s cold bosome spice bore,
And Winter brooded on the Eastern Spring
26By the rich scent we found our perfum’d Prey,
Which flanck’d with Rocks, did close in covert lie;
And round about their murdering Canon lay,
At once to threaten and invite the Eye.
27Fiercer than Canon, and than Rocks more hard,
The English undertake th’ unequal War:
Seven Ships alone, by which the Port is barr’d,
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.
28These fight like Husbands, but like Lovers those:
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy:
And to such height their frantick Passion grows,
That what both love, both hazard to destroy.
29Amidst whole heaps of Spices lights a Ball,
And now their Odours arm’d against them flie:
Some preciously by shatter’d Porc’lain fall,
And some by Aromatick Splinters die.
30And though by Tempests of the Prize bereft,
In Heavens inclemency some ease we find;
Our foes we vanquish’d by our valour left,
And only yielded to the Seas and Wind.
31Nor wholly lost we so deserv’d a prey;
For storms, repenting, part of it restor’d:
Which, as a tribute from the Baltick Sea,
The British Ocean sent her mighty Lord.
32Go, Mortals, now, and vex yourselves in vain
For Wealth, which so uncertainly must come:
When what was brought so far, and with such pain
Was onely kept to lose it nearer home.
33The Son, who twice three months on th’ Ocean tost,
Prepar’d to tell what he had pass’d before,
Now sees in English Ships the Holland coast,
And parents Arms, in vain, stretcht from the shore.
34This careful Husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste Wife and little Children mourn;
Who on their fingers learn’d to tell the day
On which their Father promis’d to return.
35Such are the proud Designs of human kind,
And so we suffer Shipwrack every where!
Alas! what port can such a Pilot find,
Who in the night of Fate must blindly steer.
36The undistinguish’d Seeds of Good and Ill,
Heaven, in his bosom, from our knowledge hides;
And draws them in contempt of human skill,
Which oft, for friends, mistaken foes provides.
37Let Munsters Prelate ever be accurst,
In whom we seek the German Faith in vain:
Alas, that he should teach the English first,
That Fraud and Avarice in the Church could reign!
38Happy who never trust a Strangers will,
Whose Friendship’s in his Interest understood!
Since Money giv’n but tempts him to be ill,
When pow’r is too remote to make him good.
39Till now, alone the Mighty Nations strove;
The rest, at gaze, without the Lists did stand:
And threatning France, place’d like a painted Jove,
Kept idle Thunder in his lifted hand.
40That Eunuch Guardian of rich Hollands trade,
Who envies us what he wants pow’r t’ enjoy;
Whose noiseful valour does no Foe invade,
And weak assistance will his Friends destroy.
41Offended that we fought without his leave,
He takes this time his secret Hate to show:
Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive,
As one that neither seeks, nor shuns his Foe.
42With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite,
France as their Tyrant, Denmark as their slave.
But when with one three Nations join to fight,
They silently confess that one more brave.
43Lewis had chas’d the English from his shore;
But Charles the French as Subjects does invite:
Would Heav’n for each some Solomon restore,
Who, by their mercy, may decide their right:
44Were Subjects so but only by their choice,
And not from Birth did forc’d Dominion take,
Our Prince alone would have the publique voice;
And all his Neighbours Realms would desarts make.
45He without fear a dangerous War pursues,
Which without rashness he began before.
As Honour made him first the danger choose,
So still he makes it good on virtues score.
The doubled charge his Subjects love supplies,
Who, in that bounty, to themselves are kind:
So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,
And in his plenty their abundance find.
47With equal pow’r he does two Chiefs create,
Two such, as each seem’d worthiest when alone;
Each able to sustain a Nations fate,
Since both had found a greater in their own.
48Both great in Courage, Conduct and in Fame,
Yet neither envious of the other’s Praise;
Their Duty, Faith, and Int’rest too the same,
Like mighty Partners equally they raise.
49The Prince long time had courted Fortune’s love,
But once possess’d did absolutely reign;
Thus with their Amazons the Heroes strove,
And conquer’d first those Beauties they would gain.
50The Duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain,
That Carthage which he ruin’d, rise once more;
And shook aloft the Fasces of the Main,
To fright those Slaves with what they felt before.
51Together to the watry Camp they haste,
Whom Matrons passing to their children shew:
Infants first vows for them to Heav’n are cast,
And future people bless them as they go.
52With them no riotous pomp, nor Asian train,
T’ infect a Navy with their gaudy fears:
To make slow fights, and victories but vain;
But war, severely, like it self, appears.
53Diffusive of themselves, where e’re they pass,
They make that warmth in others they expect;
Their Valour works like Bodies on a glass,
And does its Image on their men project.
54Our Fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,
In number, and a fam’d Commander, bold:
The Narrow Seas can scarce their Navy bear
Or crowded Vessels can their Soldiers hold.
55The Duke, less numerous, but in Courage more,
On wings of all the winds to Combat flies;
His murdering Guns a loud Defiance roar,
And bloody Crosses on his Flag-staffs rise.
56Both furl their Sails, and strip them for the Fight,
Their folded Sheets dismiss the useless Air:
Th’ Elean plains could boast no nobler sight,
When struggling Champions did their Bodies bare.
57Born each by other in a distant Line,
The Sea-built Forts in dreadful order move:
So vast the noise, as if not Fleets did join,
But lands unfixt, and floating Nations strove.
58Now pass’d, on either side they nimbly tack,
Both strive to intercept and guide the wind:
And, in its eye, more closely they come back,
To finish all the Deaths they left behind.
59On high-rais’d Decks the haughty Belgians ride,
Beneath whose shade our humble Frigats go:
Such port the Elephant bears, and so defi’d
By the Rhinocero’s her unequal foe.
60And as the Built, so different is the Fight;
Their mounting Shot is on our Sails design’d:
Deep in their Hulls our deadly Bullets light,
And through the yielding Planks a passage find.
61Our dreaded Admiral from far they threat,
Whose batter’d Rigging their whole war receives;
All bare, like some old Oak which Tempests beat,
He stands, and sees below his scatter’d leaves.
62Heroes of old, when wounded, Shelter sought;
But he, who meets all Danger with disdain,
Ev’n in their Face his Ship to Anchor brought,
And Steeple-high stood propt upon the Main.
63At this excess of Courage all amaz’d,
The foremost of his Foes a while withdraw:
With such respect in enter’d Rome they gaz’d,
Who on high Chairs the God-like Fathers saw.
64And now, as where Patroclus Body lay,
Here Trojan Chiefs advanc’d, and there the Greek:
Ours o’re the Duke their pious wings display,
And theirs the noblest Spoils of Britain seek.
65Mean time his busie Mariners he hasts,
His shatter’d Sails with Rigging to restore,
And willing Pines ascend his broken Masts,
Whose lofty heads rise higher than before.
66Streight to the Dutch he turns his dreadful Prow,
More fierce th’ important Quarrel to decide:
Like Swans, in long array his vessels shew,
Whose creasts, advancing, do the waves divide.
67They charge, recharge, and all along the Sea
They drive, and squander the huge Belgian Fleet;
Berkley alone, who nearest Danger lay,
Did a like Fate with lost Creusa meet.
68The night comes on, we eager to persue
The Combat still, and they asham’d to leave:
Till the last streaks of dying day withdrew,
And doubtful Moon-light did our rage deceive.
69In th’ English fleet each Ship resounds with Joy,
And loud applause of their great Leader’s Fame:
In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy,
And slumbring, smile at the imagin’d Flame.
70Not so the Holland fleet, who tired and done,
Stretch’d on their Decks like weary Oxen lie:
Faint Sweats all down their mighty Members run;
(Vast bulks which little Souls but ill supply.)
71In Dreams they fearful Precipices tread:
Or, shipwrack’d, labour to some distant shore;
Or in dark Churches walk among the Dead;
They wake with horror and dare sleep no more.
72The Morn they look on with unwilling eyes,
Till from their Main-top joyful news they hear
Of Ships, which by their mould bring new Supplies,
And in their colours Belgian Lions bear.
73Our watchful General had discern’d from far
This mighty succour, which made glad the Foe:
He sigh’d, but, like a Father of the War,
His face spake hope, while deep his Sorrows flow.
74His wounded men he first sends off to shore,
(Never, till now, unwilling to obey.)
They, not their wounds but want of Strength deplore,
And think them happy who with him can stay.
75Then to the rest, Rejoyce (said he) to-day;
In you the fortune of Great Britain lies:
Among so brave a people, you are they
Whom Heav’n has chose to fight for such a Prize.
76If number English courages could quell,
We should at first have shun’d, not met our Foes:
Whose numerous Sails the fearful only tell;
Courage from hearts, and not from numbers, grows.
77He said; nor needed more to say: with hast
To their known Stations chearfully they go;
And all at once, disdaining to be last,
Solicite every Gale to meet the Foe.
78Nor did th’ incourag’d Belgians long delay,
But, bold in others, not themselves, they stood:
So thick, our Navy scarce could sheer their way,
But seem’d to wander in a moving wood
79Our little Fleet was now ingag’d so far,
That, like the Sword-fish in the Whale, they fought.
The Combat only seem’d a Civil War,
Till through their Bowels we our Passage wrought.
80Never had Valour, no not ours, before,
Done ought like this upon the Land or Main:
Where not to be o’rcome was to do more
Than all the Conquests former Kings did gain.
81The mighty ghosts of our great Harries rose,
And armed Edwards look’d with anxious eyes,
To see this Fleet among unequal Foes,
By which fate promis’d them their Charles should rise.
82Mean time the Belgians tack upon our Reer,
And raking Chase-guns through our Sterns they send;
Close by, their fire-ships, like Jackals, appear,
Who on their Lions for the Prey attend.
83Silent in smoke of Cannons they come on
(Such Vapours once did fiery Cacus hide.)
In these the height of pleas’d Revenge is shewn,
Who burn contented by anothers side.
84Sometimes from fighting Squadrons of each Fleet,
(Deceiv’d themselves, or to preserve some Friend,)
Two grappling Ætna’s on the Ocean meet,
And English Fires with Belgian Flames contend.
85Now, at each tack, our little Fleet grows less;
And, like maim’d Fowl, swim lagging on the Main;
Their greater loss their Numbers scarce confess,
While they lose cheaper than the English gain.
86Have you not seen, when, whistled from the Fist,
Some Falcon stoops at what her Eye design’d,
And, with her eagerness, the quarry miss’d,
Streight flies at check, and clips it down the Wind?
87The dastard Crow that to the Wood made wing,
And sees the Groves no shelter can afford,
With her loud Kaws her Craven kind does bring,
Who, safe in numbers, cuff the noble Bird.
88Among the Dutch thus Albemarl did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdain’d to flie;
Past hope of safety, ’twas his latest care,
Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.
89Yet Pity did his manly Spirit move,
To see those perish who so well had fought;
And, generously, with his despair he strove,
Resolv’d to live till he their safety wrought.
90Let other Muses write his prosp’rous fate,
Of conquer’d Nations tell, and Kings restor’d:
But mine shall sing of his eclips’d estate,
Which, like the Sun’s, more wonders does afford.
91He drew his mighty Frigats all before,
On which the Foe his fruitless Force employes:
His weak ones deep into his Reer he bore
Remote from Guns, as Sick-men from the noise.
92His fiery Canon did their passage guide,
And following Smoke obscur’d them from the Foe:
Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptian’s pride,
By flaming Pillars, and by Clouds did go.
93Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our Courages did theirs subdue:
So Xenophon once led that fam’d Retreat,
Which first the Asian Empire overthrew.
94The Foe approach’d, and one, for his bold Sin,
Was sunk, (as he that touch’d the Ark was slain:)
The wild Waves master’d him and suck’d him in,
And smiling Eddies dimpled on the Main.
95This seen, the rest at awful distance stood;
As if they had been there as Servants set,
To stay, or to go on, as he thought good,
And not persue, but wait on his Retreat.
96So Lybian Huntsmen on some Sandy plain,
From shady coverts rouz’d, the Lion chace:
The Kingly beast roars out with loud disdain,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place.
97But if some one approach to dare his Force,
He swings his Tail, and swiftly turns him round:
With one Paw seizes on his trembling Horse,
And with the other tears him to the ground.
98Amidst these Toils succeeds the balmy night;
Now hissing waters the quench’d Guns restore;
And weary waves, withdrawing from the Fight,
Lie lull’d and panting on the silent Shore.
99The Moon shone clear on the becalmed floud,
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play,
Upon the Deck our careful General stood,
And deeply mus’d on the succeeding day.
100That happy Sun, said he, will rise again,
Who twice victorious did our Navy see:
And I alone must view him rise in vain,
Without one ray of all his Star for me.
101Yet like an English Gen’ral will I die,
And all the Ocean make my spatious grave:
Women and Cowards on the Land may lie,
The Sea’s a Tomb that’s proper for the Brave.
102Restless he pass’d the remnants of the Night,
Till the fresh Air proclaim’d the Morning nigh:
And burning Ships, the Martyrs of the Fight,
With paler fires beheld the Eastern sky.
103But now, his Stores of Ammunition spent,
His naked Valour is his only guard;
Rare Thunders are from his dumb Cannon sent,
And solitary Guns are scarcely heard.
104Thus far had Fortune pow’r, here forc’d to stay,
Nor longer durst with Virtue be at strife:
This, as a Ransom, Albemarl did pay
For all the Glories of so great a Life.
105For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Whose waving Streamers the glad General knows:
With full-spread Sails his eager Navy steers,
And every Ship in swift proportion grows.
106The anxious Prince had heard the Cannon long,
And from that length of time dire Omens drew
Of English over-match’d, and Dutch too strong,
Who never fought three days but to persue.
107Then, as an eagle, (who, with pious care,
Was beating widely on the wing for prey,)
To her now silent Eiry does repair,
And finds her callow Infants forc’d away.
108Stung with her Love, she stoops upon the Plain,
The broken Air loud whistling as she flies:
She stops, and listens, and shoots forth again,
And guides her Pinions by her Young ones cries.
109With such kind passion hasts the Prince to fight,
And spreads his flying Canvass to the sound;
Him, whom no danger, were he there could fright,
Now, absent, every little noise can wound.
110As in a drought the thirsty Creatures cry,
And gape upon the gather’d Clouds for Rain;
And first the Martlet meets it in the Sky,
And, with wet wings, joys all the feather’d Train.
111With such glad hearts did our despairing Men
Salute the appearance of the Princes Fleet;
And each ambitiously would claim the Ken,
That with first eyes did distant safety meet.
112The Dutch, who came like greedy Hinds before,
To reap the harvest their ripe Ears did yield;
Now look like those, when rowling Thunders roar,
And sheets of Lightning blast the standing Field.
113Full in the Princes Passage, hills of Sand
And dang’rous Flats in secret Ambush lay,
Where the false tides skim o’er the cover’d Land,
And Sea-men with dissembled Depths betray.
114The wily Dutch, who, like fall’n-Angels, fear’d
This new Messia’s coming, there did wait,
And round the verge their braving Vessels steer’d,
To tempt his Courage with so fair a Bait.
115But he, unmov’d, contemns their idle threat,
Secure of fame when e’re he please to fight:
His cold Experience tempers all his heat,
And inbred worth doth boasting Valour slight.
116Heroick Virtue did his Actions guide,
And he the substance not th’ appearance chose:
To rescue one such Friend he took more pride,
Than to destroy whole Thousands of such Foes.
117But when approach’d, in strict Embraces bound,
Rupert and Albemarl together grow:
He joys to have his Friend in safety found,
Which he to none but to that Friend would owe.
118The chearful Soldiers, with new stores suppli’d,
Now long to execute their spleenful Will;
And, in revenge for those three days they tri’d,
Wish one, like Joshuah’s, when the Sun stood still.
119Thus re-inforc’d, against the adverse Fleet,
Still doubling ours, brave Rupert leads the way;
With the first blushes of the Morn they meet,
And bring night back upon the new-born day.
120His presence soon blows up the kindling Fight
And his loud Guns speak thick like angry men:
It seem’d as Slaughter had been breath’d all night,
And Death new pointed his dull Dart agen.
121The Dutch too well his mighty Conduct knew,
And matchless Courage since the former Fight!
Whose Navy like a stiff-stretch’d cord did show,
Till he bore in, and bent them into flight.
122The wind he shares, while half their Fleet offends
His open side, and high above him shews,
Upon the rest at pleasure he descends,
And, doubly harm’d, he double harms bestows.
123Behind, the Gen’ral mends his weary Pace,
And sullenly to his Revenge he sails:
So glides some trodden Serpent on the Grass,
And long behind his wounded Volume trails.
124Th’ increasing Sound is born to either shore,
And for their stakes the throwing Nations fear:
Their Passion, double with the Cannons roar,
And with warm wishes each Man combats there.
125Pli’d thick and close as when the Fight begun,
Their huge unwieldy Navy wasts away;
So sicken waning Moons too near the Sun,
And blunt their Crescents on the edge of day.
126And now reduc’d on equal terms to fight,
Their Ships like wasted Patrimonies show;
Where the thin scatt’ring Trees admit the light,
And shun each others Shadows as they grow.
127The warlike Prince had sever’d from the rest
Two giant Ships, the pride of all the Main;
Which, with his one, so vigorously he press’d,
And flew so home they could not rise again.
128Already batter’d, by his Lee they lay,
In vain upon the passing Winds they call:
The passing Winds through their torn Canvass play,
And flagging Sails on heartless Sailors fall.
129Their open’d sides receive a gloomy light,
Dreadful as day let in to shades below:
Without, grim death rides bare-fac’d in their sight,
And urges ent’ring billows as they flow.
130When one dire shot, the last they could supply,
Close by the board the Prince’s Main-mast bore:
All three now, helpless, by each other lie,
And this offends not, and those fear no more.
131So have I seen some fearful Hare maintain
A Course, till tir’d before the Dog she lay,
Who, stretch’d behind her, pants upon the Plain,
Past pow’r to kill as she to get away.
132With his loll’d tongue he faintly licks his Prey,
His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies;
She, trembling, creeps upon the ground away,
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.
133The Prince unjustly does his Stars accuse,
Which hinder’d him to push his Fortune on;
For what they to his Courage did refuse,
By mortal Valour never must be done.
134This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tatter’d Fleet to follow home:
Proud to have so got off with equal stakes,
Where ’twas a Triumph not to be o’re-come.
135The General’s force, as kept alive by fight,
Now, not oppos’d, no longer can persue:
Lasting till Heav’n had done his courage right;
When he had conquer’d he his Weakness knew.
136He casts a Frown on the departing Foe,
And sighs to see him quit the watry Field:
His stern fix’d eyes no satisfaction shew,
For all the glories which the Fight did yield.
137Though, as when Fiends did Miracles avow,
He stands confess’d e’en by the boastful Dutch,
He only does his Conquest disavow,
And thinks too little what they found too much.
138Return’d, he with the Fleet resolv’d to stay;
No tender thoughts of Home his heart divide;
Domestick Joys and Cares he puts away;
For Realms are households which the Great must guide.
139As those who unripe veins in Mines explore,
On the rich bed again the warm Turf lay,
Till time digests the yet imperfect Ore,
And know it will be Gold another day:
140So looks our Monarch on this early Fight,
Th’ essay and rudiments of great Success,
Which all-maturing time must bring to Light,
While he, like Heav’n, does each days labour bless.
141Heav’n ended not the first or second day,
Yet each was perfect to the work design’d:
God and Kings work, when they their work survey,
And passive aptness in all Subjects find.
142In burden’d Vessels first, with speedy care,
His plenteous Stores do season’d Timber send
Thither the brawny Carpenters repair,
And as the Surgeons of maim’d Ships attend.
143With Cord and Canvass from rich Hamburgh sent,
His Navies molted wings he imps once more;
Tall Norway Fir, their Masts in Battel spent,
And English Oak sprung Leaks and Planks restore.
144All hands employ’d the Royal work grows warm:
Like labouring Bees on a long Summers day,
Some sound the Trumpet for the rest to swarm,
And some on bells of tasted Lillies play.
145With glewy wax some new Foundations lay
Of Virgin-combs, which from the Roof are hung:
Some arm’d within doors, upon Duty stay
Or tend the Sick, or educate the Young.
146So here some pick out Bullets from the side,
Some drive old Okum through each Seam and Rift:
Their left-hand does the Calking-iron guide,
The ratling Mallet with the right they lift.
147With boiling Pitch another near at hand,
(From friendly Sweden brought) the seams instops:
Which well paid o’r, the salt-Sea waves with-stand,
And shake them from the rising Beak in drops.
148Some the gall’d Ropes with dawby Marling bind,
Or sear-cloth Masts with strong Tarpawling coats:
To try new Shrouds one mounts into the wind,
And one, below, their Ease or Stifness notes.
149Our careful Monarch stands in Person by,
His new-cast Cannons Firmness to explore:
The strength of big-corn’d Powder loves to try,
And Ball and Cartrage sorts for every bore.
150Each day brings fresh supplies of Arms and Men,
And Ships which all last Winter were abroad:
And such as fitted since the Fight had been,
Or new from Stocks were fall’n into Road.
151The goodly London in her gallant Trim,
(The Phœnix daughter of the vanish’d old:)
Like a rich Bride does to the Ocean swim,
And on her shadow rides in Floating-gold.
152Her Flag aloft spread ruffling to the Wind,
And sanguine Streamers seem the Floud to fire:
The Weaver charm’d with what his Loom design’d,
Goes on to Sea, and knows not to retire.
153With roomy Decks, her Guns of mighty strength,
Whose low-laid Mouths each mounting Billow laves:
Deep in her Draught, and warlike in her Length,
She seems a Sea-wasp flying on the Waves.
154This martial Present, piously design’d,
The Loyal City give their best-lov’d King:
And with a Bounty ample as the wind,
Built, fitted and maintain’d to aid him bring.
155By viewing Nature, Nature’s Hand-maid Art
Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow:
Thus Fishes first to Shipping did impart,
Their Tail the Rudder, and their Head the Prow.
156Some Log, perhaps, upon the waters swam,
An useless drift, which rudely cut within,
And, hollow’d, first a floating Trough became
And cross some Riv’let Passage did begin.
157In shipping such as this, the Irish Kern,
And untaught Indian, on the Stream did glide:
Ere sharp-keel’d Boats to stem the Floud did learn,
Or fin-like Oars did spread from either side.
158Add but a sail, and Saturn so appear’d,
When from lost Empire he to Exile went,
And with the Golden age to Tyber steer’d,
Where Coin and first Commerce he did invent.
159Rude as their Ships was Navigation, then;
No useful Compass or Meridian known;
Coasting, they kept the Land within their ken,
And knew no North but when the Pole-star shone.
160Of all who since have used the open Sea,
Than the bold English none more Fame have won;
Beyond the Year, and out of Heav’n’s high-way,
They make discoveries where they see no Sun.
161But what so long in vain, and yet unknown,
By poor man-kinds benighted Wit is sought,
Shall in this Age to Britain first be shewn,
And hence be to admiring Nations taught.
162The Ebbs of Tides and their mysterious Flow,
We, as Arts Elements shall understand,
And as by Line upon the Ocean go,
Whose Paths shall be familiar as the Land.
163Instructed ships shall sail to quick Commerce,
By which remotest Regions are alli’d;
Which makes one City of the Universe;
Where some may gain, and all may be suppli’d.
164Then we upon our Globes last verge shall go,
And view the Ocean leaning on the Sky:
From thence our rolling Neighbours we shall know,
And on the Lunar world securely pry.
165This I fore-tel from your auspicious Care,
Who great in search of God and Nature grow;
Who best your wise Creator’s Praise declare,
Since best to praise his works is best to know.
166O truly Royal! who behold the Law,
And rule of Beings in your Makers mind:
And thence, like Limbecks, rich Idea’s draw,
To fit the levell’d use of Human-kind.
167But first the toils of War we must endure,
And from th’ injurious Dutch redeem the Seas,
War makes the valiant of his right secure,
And gives up Fraud to be chastis’d with ease.
168Already were the Belgians on our Coast,
Whose Fleet more mighty every day became
By late success, which they did falsely boast,
And now by first appearing seem’d to claim.
169Designing, Subtil, Diligent, and Close,
They knew to manage War with wise delay:
Yet all those arts their Vanity did cross,
And, by their pride, their prudence did betray.
170Nor staid the English long: But well suppli’d,
Appear as numerous as th’ insulting Foe:
The Combat now by Courage must be tri’d,
And the Success the braver Nation shew.
171There was the Plimouth Squadron new come in,
Which in the Streights last Winter was abroad;
Which twice on Biscay’s working-Bay had been,
And on the Mid-land sea the French had aw’d.
172Old expert Allen, Loyal all along,
Fam’d for his action on the Smirna fleet:
And Holmes, whose name shall live in Epick Song,
While Musick Numbers, or while Verse has Feet.
173Holmes, the Achates of the Gen’ral’s Fight;
Who first bewitch’d our eyes with Guinny gold:
As once old Cato in the Roman’s sight
The tempting Fruits of Africk did unfold.
174With him went Sprag, as bountiful as brave,
Whom his high Courage to command had brought:
Harman, who did the twice fir’d Harry save,
And in his burning ship undaunted fought.
175Young Hollis on a Muse by Mars begot,
Born, Cæsar-like, to write and act great Deeds:
Impatient to revenge his fatal Shot,
His right hand doubly to his left succeeds.
176Thousands were there in darker fame that dwell,
Whose Deeds some nobler Poem shall adorn:
And though to me unknown, they, sure, fought well,
Whom Rupert led, and who were British born.
177Of every size an hundred fighting Sail,
So vast the Navy now at Anchor rides,
That underneath it the press’d Waters fail,
And, with its weight, it shoulders off the Tides.
178Now Anchors weigh’d, the Sea-men shout so shrill,
That Heav’n, and Earth, and the wide Ocean rings:
A Breeze from Westward waits their Sails to fill,
And rests, in those high beds, his downy Wings.
179The wary Dutch this gathering storm foresaw,
And durst not bide it on the English-coast:
Behind their treacherous Shallows they withdraw,
And there lay Snares to catch the British Host.
180So the false Spider, when her Nets are spread,
Deep ambush’d in her silent Den does lie:
And feels, far off, the trembling of her thread,
Whose filmy Cord should bind the struggling Fly.
181Then, if at last she find him fast beset,
She issues forth, and runs along her Loom:
She joys to touch the Captive in her Net,
And drag the little Wretch in triumph home.
182The Belgians hop’d that, with disorder’d haste,
Our deep-cut Keels upon the Sands might run:
Or, if with caution leisurely were past,
Their numerous Gross might charge us one by one.
183But with a Fore-wind pushing them above,
And swelling Tide that heav’d them from below,
O’er the blind Flats our warlike Squadrons move,
And, with spread Sails, to welcom Battel go.
184It seem’d as there the British Neptune stood,
With all his hosts of Waters at Command,
Beneath them to submit th’ officious Floud;
And, with his Trident, shov’d them off the Sand.
185To the pale Foes they suddenly draw near,
And summon them to unexpected Fight;
They start like Murderers when Ghosts appear,
And draw their Curtains in the dead of night.
186Now Van to Van the foremost Squadrons meet,
The midmost Battels hastning up behind:
Who view, far off, the storm of falling Sleet;
And hear their Thunder ratling in the wind.
187At length the adverse Admirals appear;
(The two bold Champions of each Countries right)
Their Eyes describe the lists as they come near,
And draw the lines of Death before they fight.
188The distance judg’d for Shot of every size,
The Linstocks touch, the pond’rous Ball expires:
The vigorous Sea-man every Port-hole plies,
And adds his heart to every Gun he fires.
189Fierce was the Fight on the proud Belgians side,
For Honour, which they seldom sought before:
But now they by their own vain Boasts were ti’d
And forc’d, at least in show, to prize it more.
190But sharp remembrance on the English part
And shame of being match’d by such a Foe,
Rouze conscious Virtue up in every heart,
And seeming to be stronger makes them so.
191Nor long the Belgians could that Fleet sustain,
Which did two Gen’rals fates, and Cæsar’s bear:
Each several Ship a Victory did gain,
As Ruperl or as Albemarl were there.
192Their batter’d Admiral too soon withdrew,
Unthank’d by ours for his unfinish’d Fight;
But he the Minds of his Dutch Masters knew,
Who call’d that providence which we call’d flight.
193Never did Men more joyfully obey,
Or sooner understood the sign to flie:
With such alacrity they bore away,
As if to praise them All the States stood by.
194O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Thy Monument inscrib’d such praise shall wear,
As Varro timely flying once did meet,
Because he did not of his Rome despair.
195Behold that Navy, which a while before
Provok’d the tardy English close to Fight;
Now draw their beaten Vessels close to shore,
As Larks lie dar’d to shun the Hobbies flight.
196Who e’re would English Monuments survey,
In other Records may our Courage know:
But let them hide the Story of this day,
Whose Fame was blemish’d by too base a Foe.
197Or if too busily they will enquire
Into a Victory which we disdain:
Then let them know, the Belgians did retire
Before the Patron Saint of injur’d Spain.
198Repenting England this revengeful day
To Philip’s Manes did an offering bring
England, which first, by leading them astray,
Hatch’d up Rebellion to destroy her King.
199Our Fathers bent their baneful industry,
To check a Monarchy that slowly grew;
But did not France or Holland’s Fate fore-see,
Whose rising Pow’r to swift Dominion flew.
200In fortunes Empire blindly thus we go,
And wander after pathless Destiny;
Whose dark resorts since Prudence cannot know,
In vain it would provide for what shall be.
201But what e’re English to the bless’d shall go,
And the fourth Harry or first Orange meet;
Find him disowning of a Burbon foe,
And him detesting a Batavian Fleet.
202Now on their Coasts our conquering Navy rides,
Way-lays their Merchants, and their Land besets;
Each day new Wealth without their Care provides;
They lie asleep with Prizes in their Nets.
203So, close behind some Promontory lie
The huge Leviathans t’ attend their Prey;
And give no Chace, but swallow in the Frie,
Which through their gaping Jaws mistake the way.
204Nor was this all: In Ports and Roads remote,
Destructive Fires among whole Fleets we send;
Triumphant Flames upon the Water flote,
And out-bound Ships at home their Voyage end.
205Those various Squadrons, variously design’d
Each Vessel fraighted with a several Load,
Each Squadron waiting for a several wind,
All find but one, to burn them in the Road.
206Some bound for Guinny, golden Sand to find,
Bore all the Gauds the simple Natives wear:
Some for the pride of Turkish Courts design’d,
For folded Turbants finest Holland bear.
207Some English wool, vex’d in a Belgian Loom,
And into Cloth of spungy softness made,
Did into France or colder Denmark doom,
To ruine with worse ware our staple Trade.
208Our greedy Sea-men rummage every hold,
Smile on the Booty of each wealthier Chest;
And, as the Priests who with their Gods make bold,
Take what they like, and sacrifice the rest.
209But, ah! how unsincere are all our Joys!
Which, sent from Heav’n, like Lightning, make no stay:
Their palling Taste the Journeys Length destroys,
Or Grief, sent post, o’retakes them on the way.
210Swell’d with our late Successes on the Foe,
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross,
We urge an unseen Fate to lay us low,
And feed their envious Eyes with English loss.
211Each Element his dread Command obeys,
Who makes or ruines with a Smile or Frown;
Who as by one he did our Nation raise,
So now, he with another pulls us down.
212Yet London, Empress of the Northern Clime,
By an high Fate thou greatly didst expire:
Great as the Worlds, which, at the death of time,
Must fall, and rise a nobler frame by fire.
213As when some dire Usurper Heav’n provides
To scourge his Country with a lawless sway:
His birth perhaps some petty Village hides,
And sets his Cradle out of Fortune’s way.
214Till fully ripe his swelling Fate breaks out,
And hurries him to mighty Mischiefs on:
His Prince, surpriz’d at first, no ill could doubt,
And wants the pow’r to meet it when ’tis known.
215Such was the Rise of this prodigious fire,
Which in mean Buildings first obscurely bred,
From thence did soon to open Streets aspire,
And straight to Palaces and Temples spread.
216The diligence of Trades and noiseful Gain,
And luxury, more late, asleep were laid:
All was the nights, and in her silent reign
No sound the rest of Nature did invade.
217In this deep quiet, from what scource unknown,
Those seeds of Fire their fatal Birth disclose;
And first, few scatt’ring Sparks about were blown,
Big with the flames that to our Ruin rose.
218Then, in some close-pent Room it crept along,
And, smouldring as it went, in silence fed;
Till th’ infant Monster, with devouring strong,
Walk’d boldly upright with exalted head.
219Now like some rich or mighty Murderer,
Too great for Prison, which he breaks with Gold,
Who fresher for new Mischiefs does appear
And dares the World to tax him with the old:
220So scapes th’ insulting Fire his narrow Jail
And makes small out-lets into open air:
There the fierce Winds his tender Force assail,
And beat him down-ward to his first repair.
221The Winds, like crafty Courtezans, withheld
His Flames from burning, but to blow them more:
And every fresh attempt he is repell’d
With faint Denials, weaker than before.
222And now, no longer letted of his Prey,
He leaps up at it with inrag’d desire:
O’relooks the Neighbours with a wide survey,
And nods at every House his threatning Fire.
223The Ghosts of Traitors from the Bridge descend,
With bold Fanatick Spectres to rejoyce:
About the fire into a Dance they bend,
And sing their Sabbath Notes with feeble voice.
224Our Guardian Angel saw them where he sat
Above the Palace of our slumbring King;
He sigh’d, abandoning his charge to Fate,
And, drooping, oft lookt back upon the wing.
225At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Call’d up some waking Lover to the sight;
And long it was ere he the rest could raise,
Whose heavy Eye-lids yet were full of Night.
226The next to Danger, hot persu’d by Fate,
Half-cloth’d, half-naked, hastily retire:
And frighted Mothers strike their Breasts, too late,
For helpless Infants left amidst the Fire.
227Their Cries soon waken all the Dwellers near;
Now murmuring Noises rise in every Street;
The more remote run stumbling with their fear,
And, in the dark, Men justle as they meet.
228So weary Bees in little Cells repose;
But if Night-robbers lift the well-stor’d Hive,
An humming through their waxen City grows,
And out upon each others wings they drive.
229Now Streets grow throng’d and busie as by day:
Some run for Buckets to the hallow’d Quire:
Some cut the Pipes, and some the Engines play;
And some more bold mount Ladders to the fire.
230In vain: For from the East a Belgian wind
His hostile Breath through the dry Rafters sent;
The Flames impell’d soon left their Foes behind
And forward, with a wanton fury went.
231A Key of Fire ran all along the Shore,
And lighten’d all the River with a blaze:
The waken’d Tides began again to roar,
And wond’ring Fish in shining waters gaze.
232Old Father Thames rais’d up his reverend head,
But fear’d the fate of Simoeis would return:
Deep in his Ooze he sought his sedgy Bed,
And shrunk his Waters back into his Urn.
233The Fire, mean time walks in a broader gross;
To either hand his Wings he opens wide:
He wades the Streets, and streight he reaches cross,
And plays his longing Flames on th’ other side.
234At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take;
Now with long Necks from side to side they feed:
At length, grown strong, their Mother-fire forsake,
And a new Colony of Flames succeed.
235To every nobler Portion of the Town
The curling Billows roll their restless Tide:
In parties now they straggle up and down,
As Armies, unoppos’d, for Prey divide.
236One mighty Squadron with a Side-wind sped,
Through narrow Lanes his cumber’d Fire does haste:
By pow’rful charms of Gold and Silver led,
The Lombard Banquers and the Change to waste.
237Another backward to the Tow’r would go,
And slowly eats his way against the Wind:
But the main body of the marching Foe
Against th’ Imperial Palace is design’d.
238Now Day appears, and with the day the King,
Whose early Care had robb’d him of his rest:
Far off the Cracks of Falling houses ring,
And Shrieks of Subjects pierce his tender Breast.
239Near as he draws, thick harbingers of Smoke
With gloomy Pillars cover all the place:
Whose little intervals of Night are broke
By Sparks, that drive against his Sacred Face.
240More than his Guards his Sorrows made him known,
And pious Tears, which down his Cheeks did show’r:
The Wretched in his Grief forgot their own;
(So much the Pity of a King has pow’r.)
241He wept the Flames of what he lov’d so well,
And what so well had merited his love:
For never Prince in Grace did more excel,
Or Royal City more in Duty strove.
242Nor with an idle Care did he behold:
(Subjects may grieve, but Monarchs must redress;)
He chears the Fearful and commends the Bold,
And makes Despairers hope for good Success.
243Himself directs what first is to be done,
And orders all the Succours which they bring:
The Helpful and the Good about him run,
And form an Army worthy such a King.
244He sees the dire Contagion spread so fast
That where it seizes, all Relief is vain:
And therefore must unwillingly lay waste
That Country, which would, else, the Foe maintain.
245The Powder blows up all before the Fire:
Th’ amazed flames stand gather’d on a heap;
And from the precipices-brink retire,
Afraid to venture on so large a leap.
246Thus fighting Fires a while themselves consume,
But streight like Turks, forc’d on to win or die,
They first lay tender Bridges of their fume,
And o’re the Breach in unctuous vapours flie.
247Part stays for Passage, ’till a gust of wind
Ships o’re their Forces in a shining Sheet:
Part, creeping under ground, their Journey blind,
And, climbing from below, their Fellows meet.
248Thus to some desert Plain, or old Wood-side,
Dire Night-hags come from far to dance their round:
And o’re broad rivers, on their Fiends, they ride,
Or sweep in Clouds above the blasted ground.
249No help avails: for, Hydra-like, the Fire
Lifts up his Hundred heads to aim his way:
And scarce the wealthy can one half retire,
Before he rushes in to share the Prey.
250The Rich grow suppliant, and the Poor grow proud:
Those offer mighty gain, and these ask more;
So void of pity is th’ ignoble Crowd,
When others Ruin may increase their Store.
251As those who live by Shores with joy behold
Some wealthy Vessel split or stranded nigh;
And from the Rocks leap down for ship-wrack’d Gold,
And seek the Tempest which the others flie:
252So these but wait the Owners last despair,
And what’s permitted to the flames invade:
Ev’n from their Jaws they hungry morsels tear,
And, on their backs, the Spoils of Vulcan lade.
253The days were all in this lost labour spent;
And when the weary King gave place to Night,
His Beams he to his Royal Brother lent,
And so shone still in his reflective Light.
254Night came, but without darkness or repose,
A dismal Picture of the gen’ral Doom;
Where Souls distracted when the Trumpet blows,
And half unready with their Bodies come.
255Those who have Homes, when Home they do repair,
To a last Lodging call their wand’ring Friends:
Their short uneasie Sleeps are broke with Care,
To look how near their own Destruction tends.
256Those who have none, sit round where once it was,
And with full Eyes each wonted Room require:
Haunting the yet warm Ashes of the place,
As murder’d Men walk where they did expire.
257Some stir up Coals, and watch the Vestal fire,
Others in vain from sight of Ruin run;
And, while through burning Lab’rinths they retire,
With loathing Eyes repeat what they would shun.
258The most in Feilds like herded Beasts lie down,
To Dews obnoxious on the grassie Floor;
And while their Babes in Sleep their Sorrows drown,
Sad Parents watch the remnants of their Store.
259While by the Motion of the Flames they guess
What Streets are burning now, and what are near,
An infant waking to the Paps would press,
And meets, instead of Milk, a falling Tear.
260No thought can ease them but their Sovereign’s Care,
Whose Praise th’ afflicted as their Comfort sing;
Ev’n those, whom Want might drive to just despair,
Think Life a Blessing under such a King.
261Mean time he sadly suffers in their Grief,
Out-weeps an Hermite, and out-prays a Saint:
All the long night he studies their relief,
How they may be suppli’d, and he may want.
262O God, said he, thou Patron of my Days,
Guide of my Youth in Exile and Distress!
Who me unfriended brought’st by wondrous ways,
The Kingdom of my Fathers to possess:
263Be thou my Judge, with what unwearied Care
I since have labour’d for my People’s good;
To bind the Bruises of a Civil War,
And stop the Issues of their wasting Blood.
264Thou, who hast taught me to forgive the Ill,
And recompense, as Friends, the Good misled:
If Mercy be a Precept of thy Will,
Return that Mercy on thy Servants head.
265Or, if my heedless Youth has stept astray,
Too soon forgetful of thy gracious hand;
On me alone thy just Displeasure lay,
But take thy Judgments from this mourning Land.
266We all have sinn’d, and thou hast laid us low,
As humble Earth from whence at first we came:
Like flying Shades before the Clouds we shew,
And shrink like Parchment in consuming Flame.
267O let it be enough what thou hast done;
When spotted Deaths ran arm’d thro’ every Street,
With poison’d Darts which not the Good could shun,
The Speedy could out-flie, or Valiant meet.
268The living few, and frequent Funerals then,
Proclaim’d thy Wrath on this forsaken place:
And now those few, who are return’d agen,
Thy searching Judgments to their dwellings trace.
269O pass not, Lord, an absolute Decree,
Or bind thy Sentence unconditional:
But in thy Sentence our Remorse foresee,
And, in that foresight, this thy Doom recall.
270Thy Threatings, Lord, as thine thou maist revoke:
But, if immutable and fix’d they stand,
Continue still thy self to give the stroke,
And let not Foreign-foes oppress Thy Land.
271Th’ Eternal heard, and from the Heav’nly Quire
Chose out the Cherub with the flaming Sword:
And bad him swiftly drive th’ approaching Fire
From where our Naval Magazins were stor’d.
272The blessed Minister his Wings displai’d,
And like a shooting Star he cleft the night;
He charg’d the Flames, and those that disobey’d
He lash’d to duty with his Sword of light.
273The fugitive Flames, chastis’d, went forth to prey
On pious Structures, by our Fathers rear’d;
By which to Heav’n they did affect the way,
Ere Faith in Church-men without Works was heard.
274The wanting Orphans saw with watry Eyes
Their Founders Charity in Dust laid low,
And sent to God their ever-answer’d cries,
(For he protects the Poor, who made them so.)
275Nor could thy Fabrick, Paul’s, defend thee long,
Though thou wert Sacred to thy Makers praise:
Though made Immortal by a Poet’s Song,
And Poets Songs the Theban walls could raise.
276The daring Flames peep’t in, and saw from far
The awful Beauties of the Sacred Quire:
But, since it was prophan’d by Civil War,
Heav’n thought it fit to have it purg’d by fire.
277Now down the narrow Streets it swiftly came,
And, widely opening, did on both sides prey:
This benefit we sadly owe the Flame,
If only Ruin must enlarge our way.
278And now four days the Sun had seen our Woes;
Four nights the Moon beheld th’ incessant fire;
It seem’d as if the Stars more sickly rose,
And farther from the feav’rish North retire.
279In th’ Empyrean Heav’n (the Bless’d abode,)
The Thrones and the Dominions prostrate lie.
Not daring to behold their angry God:
And an hush’d silence damps the tuneful Sky.
280At length th’ Almighty cast a pitying Eye,
And Mercy softly touch’d his melting Breast:
He saw the Towns one half in Rubbish lie,
And eager flames drive on to storm the rest.
281An hollow chrystal Pyramid he takes,
In firmamental Waters dipt above;
Of it a broad Extinguisher he makes
And hoods the Flames that to their quarry strove.
282The vanquish’d Fires withdraw from every place,
Or, full with feeding, sink into a sleep:
Each household Genius shows again his face,
And, from the hearths, the little Lares creep.
283Our King this more than natural change beholds;
With sober Joy his heart and eyes abound:
To the All-good his lifted hands he folds,
And thanks him low on his redeemed ground.
284As when sharp Frosts had long constrain’d the earth,
A kindly Thaw unlocks it with mild Rain,
And first the tender Blade peeps up to birth,
And streight the Green fields laugh with promis’d grain:
285By such degrees the spreading Gladness grew
In every heart, which Fear had froze before:
The standing Streets with so much joy they view,
That with less grief the Perish’d they deplore.
286The Father of the People open’d wide
His Stores, and all the Poor with Plenty fed:
Thus God’s Anointed God’s own place suppli’d,
And fill’d the Empty with his daily Bread.
287This Royal bounty brought its own Reward,
And, in their Minds, so deep did print the sense;
That if their Ruins sadly they regard,
Tis but with fear the sight might drive him thence.
288But so may he live long, that Town to sway,
Which by his Auspice they will nobler make,
As he will hatch their Ashes by his stay,
And not their humble Ruins now forsake.
289They have not lost their Loyalty by Fire;
Nor is their Courage or their Wealth so low,
That from his Wars they poorly would retire,
Or beg the Pity of a vanquish’d Foe.
290Not with more Constancy the Jews of old,
By Cyrus from rewarded Exile sent,
Their Royal City did in Dust behold,
Or with more vigour to rebuild it went.
291The utmost Malice of their Stars is past,
And two dire Comets, which have scourg’d the Town
In their own Plague and Fire have breath’d their last,
Or, dimly, in their sinking sockets frown.
292Now frequent Trines the happier lights among,
And high rais’d Jove from his dark Prison freed,
(Those Weights took off that on his Planet hung,)
Will gloriously the new-laid Works succeed.
293Me-thinks already, from this Chymick flame,
I see a city of more precious mold:
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With Silver pav’d, and all divine with Gold.
294Already labouring with a mighty fate,
She shakes the Rubbish from her mounting Brow,
And seems to have renew’d her Charters date,
Which Heav’n will to the death of time allow.
295More great than human now, and more August,
New deified she from her Fires does rise:
Her widening Streets on new Foundations trust,
And, opening, into larger parts she flies.
296Before, she like some Shepherdess did shew,
Who sate to bathe her by a River’s side;
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous Arts of Modern pride.
297Now, like a Maiden Queen, she will behold,
From her high Turrets, hourly Sutors come:
The East with Incense, and the West with Gold,
Will stand, like Suppliants, to receive her Doom.
298The silver Thames, her own domestick Floud,
Shall bear her Vessels, like a sweeping Train,
And often wind (as of his Mistress proud,)
With longing eyes to meet her Face again.
299The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,
The glory of their Towns no more shall boast,
And Sein, that would with Belgian Rivers join,
Shall find her Lustre stain’d, and Traffick lost.
300The vent’rous Merchant who design’d more far,
And touches on our hospitable Shore,
Charm’d with the Splendour of this Northern Star,
Shall here unlade him, and depart no more.
301Our pow’rful Navy shall no longer meet,
The wealth of France or Holland to invade:
The beauty of this Town without a Fleet,
From all the World shall vindicate her Trade.
302And, while this fam’d Emporium we prepare,
The British Ocean shall such Triumphs boast,
That those, who now disdain our Trade to share,
Shall rob like Pyrats on our wealthy Coast.
303Already we have conquer’d half the War,
And the less dang’rous part is left behind:
Our Trouble now is but to make them dare,
And not so great to Vanquish as to Find.
304Thus to the Eastern wealth through Storms we go,
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more:
A constant Trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the Spicy shore.