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IL BELLICOSO.

MDCCXLIV.

1 HENCE, dull lethargic Peace,
2 Born in some hoary Beadsman's cell obscure;
3 Or in Circaean bower,
4 Where Manhood dies, and Reason's vigils cease;
5 Hie to congenial climes,
6 Where some seraglio's downy tyrant reigns;
7 Or where Italian swains,
8 Midst wavy shades, and myrtle-blooming bowers,
9 Lull their ambrosial hours,
10 And deck with languid trills their tinkling rhymes.
11 But rouse, thou God by Furies drest,
12 In helm with Terror's plumed crest,
13 In adamantine steel bedight,
14 Glistening formidably bright,
15 With step unfix'd and aspect wild;
16 Jealous Juno's raging child,
17 Who thee conceiv'd in Flora's bower,
18 By touch of rare Olenian flower:
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19 Oft the goddess sigh'd in vain,
20 Envying Jove's prolific brain,
21 And oft she stray'd Olympus round,
22 Till this specific help she found;
23 Then fruitful grown, she quits the skies,
24 To Thracia's sanguine plain she hies,
25 There teems thee forth, of nervous mold,
26 Haughty, furious, swift and bold,
27 Names thee Mars, and bids thee call
28 The world from Pleasure's flowery thrall.
29 Come then, Genius of the war,
30 Roll me in thy iron car;
31 And while thy coursers pierce the sky,
32 Breathing fury as they fly,
33 Let Courage hurry swift before,
34 All stain'd around with purple gore,
35 And Victory follow close behind,
36 With wreath of palm and laurel join'd,
37 While high above, fair Fame assumes
38 Her place, and waves her eagle plumes.
39 Then let the trumpet swell the note,
40 Roaring rough thro' brazen throat;
41 Let the drum sonorous beat,
42 With thick vibrations hoarsely sweet;
43 Boxen hautboys too be found,
44 Nor be miss'd the fife's shrill sound;
45 Nor yet the bagpipe's swelling strain,
46 Solace sweet to Highland swain,
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47 Whether on some mountain's brow,
48 Now squeaking high, now droning low,
49 He plays deft lilts to Scottish lass,
50 Tripping it o'er the pliant grass,
51 Or whether in the battle's fray,
52 He lively pipes a bolder lay;
53 The bolder lay (such magic reigns
54 In all its moving Phrygian strains)
55 Disperses swift to all the train,
56 Fury stern, and pale Disdain
57 Strikes every fire from every mind,
58 Nor leaves one latent spark behind.
59 Bear me now to tented ground,
60 Where gaudy streamers wave around,
61 Where Britain's ensigns high display'd,
62 Lend the earth a scarlet shade;
63 And pikes, and spears, and lances gay,
64 Glitter in the solar ray;
65 Here I'll join the hardy crowd,
66 As they sport in gamesome mood,
67 Wrestling on the circled ground,
68 Wreathing limbs with limbs around,
69 Or as they pitch the massy bar,
70 Or teach the disk to whizz in air;
71 And when night returns, regale
72 With chat full blunt, and chirping ale;
73 While some voice of manly base
74 Sings my darling Chevy-Chace;
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75 How the child that's yet unborn
76 May rue earl Percy's hound and horn;
77 How Witherington in doleful dumps,
78 Fought right valiant on his stumps;
79 And many a knight and 'squire full gay
80 At morn, at night were clad in clay;
81 While first and last we join and sing,
82 "God prosper long our noble king!"
83 And when Midnight spreads around
84 Her sable vestments on the ground,
85 Hence I'll, for a studious seat,
86 To some strong citadel retreat,
87 By ditch and rampart high ypent,
88 And battery strong and battlement!
89 There, in some state-room richly dight
90 With maily coats and faulchions bright,
91 Emblazon'd shields of quaint impress,
92 And a whole army's glittering dress,
93 While the taper burneth blue,
94 (As Brutus erst was wont to do)
95 Let me turn the ample page
96 Of some grave historic Sage;
97 Or in Homer's sacred song,
98 Mix the Grecian bards among;
99 Nestor wise with silver'd head,
100 And Ajax stern, and Diomed,
101 And many more, whose wonderous might
102 Could equal e'en the gods in fight;
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103 Or list to Virgil's epic lyre,
104 Or lofty Lucan wrapp'd in fire;
105 But rather far let Shakespeare's Muse
106 Her genuine British fires diffuse;
107 And briskly with her magic strain
108 Hurry me to Gallic plain,
109 Just when each patriot Talbot bleeds,
110 Or when heaven-prosper'd Harry leads
111 His troops with seven-fold courage steel'd,
112 To Agincourt's immortal field.
113 But when th' imbattled troops advance,
114 O Mars, my every thought intrance!
115 Guide me, thundering martial god,
116 Guide thro' Glory's arduous road!
117 While hailing bullets round me fly,
118 And human thunders shake the sky,
119 While crowds of heroes heap the ground,
120 And dying groans are heard around,
121 With armour clanking, clarions sounding,
122 Cannons bellowing, shouts rebounding;
123 Guide me, thundering, martial god,
124 Guide thro' Glory's arduous road!
125 But should on land thy triumphs cease,
126 Still lead me far from hated Peace;
127 Me bear, dread Power, for warlike sport,
128 To some wave-incircled fort;
129 Or (if it yield more open sight)
130 To some hoar promontory's height,
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131 Whose high-arch'd brow o'erlooks the scene,
132 Where Tritons blue and Naiads green,
133 Sportive from their coral cave,
134 Through the fluid chrystal lave;
135 There eagerly I ken from far
136 All the waste of naval War,
137 And catch a sympathetic rage,
138 While the numerous fleets engage,
139 And every distant shore rebounds
140 To the cannons rattling sounds,
141 And the sulphurous fire-ship rends,
142 And thousand fates around her sends,
143 And limbs dissever'd hurl'd on high,
144 Smoke amid th' affrighted sky.
145 Then let black clouds above my head,
146 With gleams of scarlet thick bespread,
147 With lightning's flash and thunder's growl,
148 Suit the spleen that shades my soul.
149 There too let cranes, a numerous flight,
150 With beaks and claws rage bloody flight,
151 And airy knights from every cloud
152 Prick forth, their armour rattling loud;
153 With blazing swords and comets drear,
154 Dragging a trail of flaming hair;
155 Such as diffus'd their baneful gleam
156 Over besieg'd Jerusalem,
157 Or hung o'er Rome ere Julius fell,
158 And if old Sages rightly spell,
159 Were ever deemed to soreshow
160 Changes in our realms below.
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161 And when at length cold creeping Age
162 Freezes the torrent of my rage,
163 Let me live amongst a crew
164 Of invalids, of kindred hue!
165 Of some main limb bereft by War,
166 Or blest with some deep glorious scar;
167 Scar, that endless glory draws
168 From Liberty and Albion's cause:
169 Then oft well pleas'd with them retire
170 To circle round a sea-coal fire,
171 And all our past campaigns recite,
172 Of Vigo's sack and Blenheim's fight;
173 How valiant Rooke majestic trod,
174 How Marlbro' thunder'd; half a god!
175 And then, with sage prophetic eye,
176 In future battles to descry,
177 That Britain shall not fail to yield
178 Equal generals for the field;
179 That France again shall pour her blood,
180 And Danube roll a purpled flood.
181 And when my children round me throng,
182 The same grand theme shall grace my tongue;
183 To teach them, should fair England need
184 Their blood, 'tis theirs to wish to bleed;
185 And, as I speak, to mark with joy
186 New courage start in every boy;
187 And gladsome read in all their eyes,
188 Each will a future hero rise.
189 These delights if Mars afford,
190 Mars, with thee I whet my sword.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): IL BELLICOSO. MDCCXLIV.
Author: William Mason
Themes: war
Genres: imitation
References: DMI 32559

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. III. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 86-92. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1136; OTA K093079.003)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.