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A Dramatic POEM.

Lectos ex omnibus Oris
Evehis; & meritum, non quae cunabula quaeris,
Et qualis, non unde satus: sub teste benigno
Vivitur; egregios invitant praemia mores.
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Dramatis Personae.

  • EDWARD the Third, King of England, &c.
  • PHILIPPA, Queen of England, &c.
  • EDWARD, Prince of Wales.
  • JOHN,
    * The order of the GARTER was instituted on St. George's day the 23d of April 1350. King John came into England in 1357. I have taken the advantage of the licence usually allowed to poets, of departing a little from chronology; and have postponed for a few years the institution of this order, for the sake of rendering that solemnity more august, by introducing king John of France, who, though a prisoner, was treated both by Edward and his son the prince of Wales with all the regard due to the quality and virtue of so great a prince. To alleviate his captivity, Edward entertained him and the other French prisoners with diversions of various kinds: among which a tournament he held at Windsor on the 23d of April, to solemnize the feast of St. George, the patron of the order of the GARTER, held the chief place; and was, as Rapin tells us, the most sumptuous and magnificent that had ever been seen in England. The duke of Brabant, with several other sovereign princes, and an infinite number of knights of all nations there present, and splendidly entertained.
    King of France, &c.
    • Genius of England.
    • Bards.
    • Druids.
  • Heralds, Attendants, &c.
SCENE, Windsor Park, with a Prospect of the Castle.
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Flourish of aërial musick at a distance, after which the following verses are sung in the air by SPIRITS, while the GENIUS of England descends.
1 HITHER, all ye heav'nly pow'rs,
2 From your empyreal bow'rs;
3 From the fields for ever gay,
4 From the star-pav'd milky way,
5 From the moon's relucent horn,
6 From the star that wakes the morn;
7 From the bow, whose mingling dyes
8 Sweetly cheer the frowning skies;
9 From the silver cloud that sails
10 Shadowy o'er the darken'd vales;
11 From th' Elysiums of the sky,
12 Spirits immortal, hither fly!
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13 Fly, and through the limpid air
14 Guard in pomp the sliding car,
15 Which to his terrestrial throne
16 Wafts Britannia's Genius down.
Second SPIRIT.
17 Hither, all ye heav'nly pow'rs!
18 From your empyreal bow'rs!
19 Chiefly ye, whose brows divine
20 Crown'd with starry circlets shine;
21 Who in various labours try'd,
22 Once Britannia's strength and pride,
23 Now in everlasting rest
24 Share the glories of the blest!
25 Peers and nobles of the sky,
26 Spirits immortal, hither fly!
27 Fly, and through the limpid air
28 Guard in pomp the sliding car,
29 Which to his terrestrial throne
30 Wafts Britannia's Genius [down].
31 Hither too, ye tuneful throng,
32 Masters of enchanting song,
33 Sacred bards! whose rapt'rous strains
34 Sooth the toiling hero's pains,
35 Sooth the patriot's gen'rous cares;
36 Sweetly thro' their ravish'd ears
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37 Whisp'ring to th' immortal mind
38 Heav'nly visions, hopes refin'd;
39 Hopes of endless peace and fame,
40 Safe from envy's blasting flame,
41 Pure, sincere, in those abodes,
42 Where to throngs of list'ning gods,
43 Hymning bards, to virtue's praise,
44 Tune their never-dying lays.
45 Sweet encomiasts of the sky,
46 Spirits immortal, hither fly!
47 Fly, and charm the limpid air,
48 While the softly-sliding car,
49 To his sea-encircled throne
50 Wafts Britannia's Genius down.
Chorus of BARDS descends, dress'd in long flowing sky-colour'd robes spangled with stars, with garlands of oaken bought upon their heads, and golden harps in their hands, made like the Welch, or old British harp. Before they appear, they sing the chorus, and afterwards, as they descend, the following songs; at the last stanza of which, the chariot of the GENIUS appears, and descends gradually all the while that and the grand chorus is singing.
51 Gentle Spirit, we obey;
52 Thus along th' aetherial way,
53 We attend our monarch's car;
54 Thus we charm the silent air.
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First BARD.
55 Ye southern gales, that ever fly
56 In frolic April's vernal train,
57 Who, as ye skim along the sky,
58 Dip your light pinions in the main,
59 Then shake them fraught with genial show'rs,
60 O'er blooming Flora's primrose bow'rs:
61 Now cease awhile your wanton sport,
62 Now drive each threat'ning cloud away;
63 Then to the flow'ry vale resort,
64 And hither all its sweets convey;
65 And ever as ye dance along,
66 With soft murmurs aid our song.


Second BARD.
67 But lo! fair Windsor's tow'rs appear,
68 And hills with spreading oaks imbrown'd!
69 Hark! hark! the voice of joy I hear,
70 Sung by a thousand echoes round;
71 And now I view a glitt'ring train,
72 In triumph march o'er yonder plain.
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73 Hail mighty nation! ever fam'd in war!
74 Lo! heav'n descends thy festivals to share;
75 To view those heroes, whose immortal praise
76 Celestial bards shall sing in living lays.
At the conclusion of this chorus, the GENIUS alights from his chariot, the front of which resembling the head of a man of war, is adorned with a carved lion, holding before his breast the arms of England, as they were borne by Edward. Behind, on a rais'd seat, sits the GENIUS, leaning upon an anchor of silver, and bearing in his right hand the vindicta, or wand of enfranchisement, and in his left a roll of parchment, upon which is written, in large letters of gold, MAGNA CHARTA. On his head is a corona rostrata, or naval crown; and his robe, of a sea-green colour, is embroidered with cornucopia's and golden tridents.
77 Disdain not, ye blest denizens of air,
78 To breathe this grosser atmosphere awhile,
79 Your service I shall need; mean time resort
80 To yon imperial palace, and in air
81 Draw up your squadrons in a radiant orb,
82 Suspended o'er those lofty battlements,
83 Like the bright halo that invests the moon,
84 Or Saturn's lucid ring: thence shed benign
85 Your choicest influence on the noble train,
86 There on this solemn day assembled round
87 The throne of British Edward: I awhile
88 Must here await th' approach of other spirits,
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89 Sage Druids, Britain's old philosophers;
90 Fetch'd by my summons from the western isles,
91 That, scatter'd o'er the rough Hibernian flood,
92 Seem like huge fragments by the wild wave torn
93 From stormy Scotland, and the Cambrian shore.
94 There, from the world retir'd in secret shades,
95 Chiefly where Breint and Meinai wash'd the oaks
96 Of ancient Mona, their academies
97 And schools of sage and moral discipline
98 They held; and to the neighb'ring Britons round,
99 From their rever'd tribunals, holy mounts,
100 Dispens'd at once their oracles and laws.
101 'Till fierce Paulinus, and his Roman bands,
102 Them and their gods defying, drove them thence
103 To seek for shelter in Hibernian shades.
104 Yet still enamour'd of their ancient haunts,
105 Unseen of mortal eyes, they hover round
106 Their ruin'd altars, consecrated hills
107 Once girt with spreading oaks, mysterious rows
108 Of rude enormous obelisks, that rise
109 Orb within orb, stupendous monuments
110 Of artless architecture, such as now
111 Oft times amaze the wand'ring traveller,
112 By the pale moon discern'd on Sarum's plain.
113 But hence, aërial spirits: lo, they come!
Here the SPIRITS and BARDS, together with the chariot of the GENIUS, reascend, and at the same time the DRUIDS enter, cloath'd in dark-colour'd coarse stuff gowns[Page 113] which before hang no lower than the knee, but behind almost touch the ground. The sleeves of these gowns reach down below the elbow, and from behind comes up a sort of hood or cowle, which hangs loose about the head and forehead. From the left shoulder hangs in a string a kind of pouch, or scrip, and rests on the right hip. In their right hand they hold a staff, and in their left an oaken branch. Their beards are very large and long, reaching below their waists. Their legs are naked, and their feet shod with sandals, which are fastened by thongs wound about the foot and the small of the leg.
a See a cut of the chief Druid in Rowland's Mona Antiqua restaurata, taken from a statue, p. 65.
Chief DRUID.
114 Inform us, happy spirit, protecting pow'r
115 Of this our ancient country, wherefore now
116 From our sequester'd vallies, pensive groves
117 And dark recesses, thou hast summon'd us
118 To wait thy orders on this flow'ry hill?
119 A great event, sage Druids, that no less
120 Imports than this your ancient country's fame,
121 From contemplation, and your silent shades,
122 Calls you to meet me on this flow'ry hill.
123 Know, in yon castle, whose proud battlements
124 Sit like a regal crown upon the brow
125 Of high-climbing lawn, doth Edward hold
126 This day his solemn session to receive
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127 The pleas of all th' aspiring candidates,
128 Who, summon'd by the
b Edward having communicated his intention of instituting the order of the GARTER to the great council of his realm, and having receiv'd their approbation, dispatch'd his heralds to severals parts of Europe, to invite all that were eminent for military virtue, &c. to be present at its institution. And his queen Philippa, on her part, assembled a train of 300 of the fairest ladies to grace the solemnity, and add to its magnificence.
herald's publick voice,
129 To Windsor, as to Fame's bright temple, haste
130 From ev'ry shore; the noble, wise, and brave,
131 Knights, senators, and statesmen, lords and kings;
132 Ambitious each to gain the splendid prize,
133 By Edward promis'd to transcendent worth.
134 For who of mortals is too great and high
135 In the career of virtue to contend?
136 Of these selecting the most glorious names,
137 Doth England's monarch purpose to compose
138 A princely brotherhood, himself the chief,
139 And worthy sov'reign of th' illustrious band;
140 A band of heroes, listed in the cause
141 Of honour, virtue, and celestial truth,
142 Under the name and holy patronage
143 Of Cappadocian GEORGE, Britannia's saint.
144 Such is the plan by gen'rous Edward form'd;
145 A plan of glory, that beyond the reach
146 Of his own conquering arms, shall propagate
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147 The sov'reignty of Britain, and erect
148 Her monarchs into judges of mankind.
149 But from this day's decisions, from the choice
150 Of his first collegues, shall succeeding times
151 Of Edward judge, and on his fame pronounce.
152 For dignities and titles, when misplac'd
153 Upon the vicious, the corrupt and vile,
154 Like princely virgins to low peasants match'd,
155 Descend from their nobility, and soil'd
156 By base alliance, not their pride alone
157 And native splendor lose, but shame retort
158 Ev'n on the sacred throne, from whence they sprung.
159 So may the lustre of this order bright,
160 This eldest child of chivalry be stain'd,
161 If at her first espousals, her great sire,
162 Caught by the specious outsides, that deceive
163 And captivate the world, admit the suit
164 Of vain pretenders void of real worth;
165 Light empty bubbles, by the wanton gale
166 Of fortune swell'd, and only form'd to dance
167 And glitter in the sun-shine of a court.
168 Begin we then with Edward; first let him
169 At his own high tribunal undergo
170 The rigid inquisition I for this
171 Have left my lucid star-encircled throne:
172 For this, immortal sages have requir'd
173 Your wise and prudent ministry, well skill'd
174 In various science and the human heart.
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175 Search Edward's to the bottom: sound the depths
176 And shallows of his soul; if he possess
177 That first of regal talents, to discern
178 With quick-ey'd penetration, thro' the veil
179 Of art, each character's intrinsick worth,
180 And all the labyrinths of the human mind.
181 Nor blush for this good end yourselves to wear
182 Fallacious forms to plead the cause of false
183 But specious merit; at his throne appear
184 In borrow'd shapes, and there with artful guile,
185 When the shrill trumpet cites the candidates,
186 Urge your pretensions: all the pow'r employ
187 Of wit and eloquence: Edward, I trust,
188 The trial shall abide; which shall but tend
189 To manifest, that not from arrogance,
190 But conscious virtue, hath he thus assum'd
191 Above all other kings, to be the judge
192 And great rewarder of heroic deeds.
193 Nor wholly unassisted will I leave
194 My royal charge, but with blest influence clear
195 His intellectual eye from the dim mists
196 It haply hath contracted from a long
197 Unebbing current of felicity,
198 Unhop'd, unequall'd triumphs, from the view
199 Of captive monarchs, and the glitt'ring throng,
200 Who at his summons from all climates come,
201 To take, as from their sov'reign, honours new.
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202 When heav'n tries mortals in unusual ways,
203 'Tis fit it should afford unusual aid.
204 Now, sages, to yon spreading oaks retire
205 There wait my summons; and mean time advise
206 How best to execute the task enjoin'd.
Ex. Gen. and Druids.
The SCENE changes to a large room in the castle (St. George's Hall) at the upper end of which is a royal canopy with the figure of St George, and the motto of the Garter, HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE, beneath it embroider'd in gold. Under this canopy appears seated on an elevation of two or three steps, king Edward, in the habit of the order of the Garter, with a sceptre in his right hand, and a globe in his left. On his left hand is seated queen Philippa, with a crown upon her head, and dress'd in a royal mantle of crimson velvet, powder'd with embroider'd garters, and an enamel'd
c That the ladies of the knights of the Garter wore this ensign of the order upon their left arms, may be seen in Ashmole's History of the Garter.
garter bound like a bracelet upon her left arm. By her stand a great number of ladies very richly dress'd. On Edward's right hand is seated king John, in the imperial robes of France; and on the same side, but a step lower, sits Edward the Black Prince, in the robes belonging to the Prince of Wales. Next to queen Philippa are seated the rest of Edward's children; and next to the Black Prince, on the other side, stand the French prisoners, and a great number of lords, &c. richly dress'd.
On the floor, at some distance, stands Garter king at arms in the habit of his office, holding in his hand a Garter, with the grand collar of the order. Near him stand other heralds, ushers, attendants, &c.
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Flourish of trumpets, kettle-drums, &c. After which Edward rising up from his throne, addresses himself to the assembly.
207 That hither from your distant residence,
208 By solemn invitation, noble guests,
209 I have entreated your illustrious train,
210 Misconstrue not to levity and pride,
211 Or ostentatious vain magnificence,
212 Unworthy the grave majesty of kings,
213 Unworthy your atention, my renown.
214 This bright assemblage of the wise, the brave,
215 The noble, the magnificent, the fair,
216 The ornaments of Europe, have I sought
217 To grace the pomp of Virtue, to adorn
218 With noblest off'rings her unspotted shrine,
219 Attracting thus to her divine commands
220 The aweful veneration of mankind.
221 This was the cause, great princes, this the call,
222 The voice of Virtue, not of England's king,
223 That with respectful zeal ye hear'd and follow'd:
224 From Burgundy's rich vineyards, from the meads
225 Of Hainault and Brabant, the rocky wave
226 Of Danube, from Germania's warlike tow'rs,
227 Imperial mother of an hundred states;
228 From Spain, long exercis'd by Moorish arms,
229 From Italy's fair princedoms, and the walls
230 Of sea-wash'd Venice, Adria's haughty spouse.
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231 With me then, all ye virtuous, by what stile
232 Recorded in the registers of fame,
233 Knights, senators, or soldiers, ermin'd lords,
234 Or scepter'd princes; from whatever clime
235 Ye come, ennobled by heroic acts,
236 With me unite the splendor of your names
237 To dignify th' erection of a new
238 And noble order, which to heav'n's high praise,
239 And to heav'n's champion Cappadocian GEORGE,
240 On this his holy festival I mean
241 To found a recompence for worthiest deeds.
242 Thus as the orient sun, ador'd of old
243 By prostrate Persia, ow'd his deity
244 Less to that genial and benignant heat
245 That cherishes and warms the seeds of life,
246 Than to those gorgeous beams, that deck with gold
247 And crimson the gay portals of the morn;
248 So shall this rising order owe its fame
249 And brightest lustre to the splendid train
250 Of lords and purpled princes, who are met
251 This day to usher and adorn its birth.
252 Nor deem that to allure heroic minds,
253 My private int'rests partially to serve,
254 To lift the valiant in ambition's cause,
255 And form a league of conquest, I have laid
256 In subtle policy this great design:
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258 SO READS MY PURPOSE: and be he accurs'd
259 Whoe'er in after-times shall so pervert
260 This sacred institution. To the world
261 I here consign it, to the good and great
262 Of every age and clime, and them alone.
d Edward being engaged in a war with France, for the obtaining that crown, in order to draw into England great multitudes of foreigners, with whom he might negotiate either for their personal service, or aids of troops to assist him in that undertaking, ordered, during the truce that then subsisted between the two crowns, publication to be made of a great tournament, to be held at Windsor; an expedient, says Rapin, which could not fail of success, because it was entirely agreeable to the taste of that age. Accordingly many persons of distinction came over, to all of whom he gave an honourable reception, caressing them in such a manner that they could never sufficiently admire his politeness, magnificence, and liberality. To render these entertainments the more solemn, and to free himself also from the ceremonies, to which the difference of rank and condition would have subjected him, he caused a circular hall of boards to be run up at Windsor, 200 feet in diameter. There it was that he feasted all the knights at one table, which was called the Round Table, in memory of the great Arthur, who, as it is pretended, instituted an order of knighthood by that name. Next year he caused a more solid building to be erected, that he might continue yearly the same diversions. During that time he treated with these several lords about the aids, wherewith each could furnish him, in proportion to his forces. His rival king Philip could not see without jealousy, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Flemings, and Frenchmen themselves flock to England to assist at these tournaments. He suspected some hidden design in these ntertainments, and to break Edward's measures, caused the like to be published in his dominions; which meeting with success, proved a countermine to Edward's main design, so that he did not long continue to keep up his round table. From thence, however, it is generally agreed, he took the first hint of instituting the order of the Garter. But as his purpose in erecting this order was very different from that which had induced him to revive Arthur's round table, as he had in this no private views, no ambitious scheme of engaging such as should be admitted into this fraternity to assist him in his wars, he thought proper, in order to obviate the like jealousies and suspicion as had alarmed king Philip, to signify by his motto the purity of his intentions, and to retort shame upon all those who should put any malignant construction upon his design in instituting this order. This therefore I take to be the true meaning and import of the famous motto, HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE. The not understanding the purport of which, gave rise, in all probability, to that vulgar story of the countess of Salisbury's garter, rejected by all the best writers.
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263 Now sound the trumpet; bid the candidates
264 With confidence appear, and urge their claims.
Flourish of trumpets, &c. which is answered by another trumpet from without; then enter a grandee of Spain, magnificently attir'd in the Spanish habit, holding in his hand the pedigree of his family, and preceded by heralds, &c. bearing atchievements, banners, coats of armour, helmets, gauntlets, spurs, &c.
265 Illustrious monarch! emp'ror of the isles!
266 My name is Guzman from those heroes sprung,
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267 Who with Pelagio 'mid th' Asturian rocks
268 Against th' invasion of unnumber'd Moors,
269 Maintain'd the same and empire of the Goths,
270 And founded at Oviedo once again
271 The Spanish monarchy and cath'lick faith,
272 Transporting from the mountain's dreary womb
273 To glitt'ring temples her most holy altars.
274 Thence on the bordering Moor their valiant sons
275 Waging incessant war, ere long regain'd
276 Their ancient realms of Leon, Arragon,
277 And rich Castilia: in which great exploits
278 My brave progenitors, by valour, zeal,
279 And loyalty distinguish'd, from their kings
280 Gain'd those high honours, princely signories,
281 And proud prerogatives, which have extoll'd
282 The name of Guzman to such envy'd grandeur,
283 That scarce above it towers the regal throne.
284 These honours undiminish'd, undefil'd,
285 To me deliver'd down, might well content
286 A vulgar mind; but spirits highly born
287 Are full of gen'rous and aspiring thoughts;
288 And use the vantage ground of rank and pow'r
289 But to ascend still higher. Thus I come
290 Thy GARTER to sollicit; pleas'd, great prince,
291 With thee to be enroll'd thy brother knight,
292 And fearing no repulse. Nobility,
293 As nearest in her orbit, first receives
294 The beams of majesty; alone can bear
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295 The fulness of that glory, which o'erpow'rs
296 Inferior natures. Virtue's self would blush,
297 Did she at once approach too near the throne.
298 But the young eagle borne amid the blaze
299 Of glancing lightnings, with undazzled eye
300 Soars to the courts of heav'n, and perches bold
301 On the bright sceptre of imperial Jove.
302 The greatest king is he, who is the king
303 Of greatest subjects. Seek'st thou to advance
304 The glory of thy order? To thy self
305 Associate those, whose high-exalted names
306 For ages past from Envy's self have forc'd
307 Habitual veneration, never paid
308 To new and upstart merit. Such am I,
309 Whose pure and gen'rous blood descending down
310 From noblest fountains, in its course enrich'd
311 By glorious mixtures with each royal stream
312 That fair Iberia boasts, might ev'n pretend
313 To thy alliance, Edward. View this scroll,
314 The faithful blazon of my ancient line,
315 A line of potentates, whose ev'ry son
316 Deserv'd to wear the GARTER I demand.
317 In me their representative, the heir,
318 Of all their honours, son of their renown,
319 Do thou reward their virtues: in their names
320 I claim, and on hereditary right,
321 The right of monarchs, Edward, rest my plea.
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322 The high desert of thy renown'd forefathers
323 Well hast thou shewn; but hast thou therefore prov'd
324 Thy self deserving to be call'd their son?
325 To thee their prosp'rous virtues have indeed
326 Transmitted lineal rank, and titles proud,
327 By them more hardly gain'd; for which thou stand'st
328 To custom and th' indulgence of thy country
329 Indebted, Guzman, in a large account;
330 Which thou must first discharge by noble deeds,
331 Ere thou canst stile those dignities thine own.
332 This if thou hast not paid, why dost thou seek,
333 Like thriftless prodigals, to swell the debt,
334 And overwhelm thy self with obligations?
335 Virtue is honour, and the noblest titles
336 Are but the public stamps set on the ore
337 To ascertain its value to mankind.
338 It were a kind of treason to my crown,
339 To mark base metal with the royal impress,
340 And put off lazy pride in virtue's name.
341 Wou'dst thou attain my GARTER? Seek it there
342 Where thy heroic ancestors acquir'd
343 Their glorious honours, in th' embattled field
344 Among the squadrons of the warlike Moors:
345 Or in the council of thy king, by truth
346 And wisdom equal to th' important trust.
347 Be what thy fathers were, and then return
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348 To ask the pledge of merit from my hand,
349 And be the fit companion of a king.
Exit Spaniard.
Flourish of trumpets, &c. which, as before, is answered by another trumpet from without; then enter an usurer and senator of Genoa (at that time the bank of Europe) dress'd in his senatorial gown of black velvet, profusely, but aukwardly adorn'd with jewels, pearls and diamond necklaces, pendents, bracelets, rings, such as he may be supposed to have received as pawns, and to wear rather as marks of his great riches, than as ornaments of his dress. He is attended by a large train of people of every profession, appearing to be his debtors, by their abject and timid countenances, at the head of whom, and next to the usurer, marches a scrivener, bearing a large bundle of bonds, mortgages, &c.
350 From Genoa the opulent, the bank
351 And treasury of the world, most puissant king,
352 Invited by thy heralds, am I come
353 To claim the honour by thy promise due,
354 Due by thy justice to superior worth;
355 Due then to me, great Edward, who possess
356 That object of the toils, the cares, the vows
357 Of all mankind, that comprehensive good,
358 Source of all pow'r and grandeur, boundless wealth.
359 Behold yon glitt'ring train, whose sumptuous pride,
360 Bright with the treasures of each precious mine,
361 Invests with glory thy imperial throne:
362 Whence is their dignity? The ray august,
363 That awes and dazzles the respectful crowd,
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364 Proceeds it from nobility, from virtue,
365 Their wisdom, or their valour, or their fame?
366 Comes it not rather from the beaming ore?
367 The diamond's star-like radiance? Wealth, O king,
368 Wealth is the sun that decks the gorgeous scene;
369 That cherishes, adorns, and calls to view
370 These princely flowers of honour, virtue, fame,
371 Which in the shades of poverty were lost.
372 Whatever men desire or venerate,
373 On wealth attends; ev'n empire's self is bought.
374 Nor cou'd the mighty Julius have attain'd
375 By wisdom or by valour sov'reign pow'r,
376 Had not the gold of vanquish'd Gaul subdu'd
377 The liberties of Rome. On wretched want,
378 Contempt and narrow-soul'd dependence wait.
379 Ev'n kings, of necessary wealth depriv'd,
380 In powerless indigence lose all respect,
381 All homage from their subjects: while the rich,
382 Like gods ador'd, o'er ev'ry neck extend
383 Their potent sceptres, and in golden chains
384 Fierce Faction and rebellious Freedom bind.
385 The glory, strength, importance of a realm
386 Is measur'd by its riches: Venice thus,
387 Thus Genoa's petty state out-balances,
388 In Europe's scale, the boundless wilds that cloath
389 With tributary furs the Russian Czar.
390 With like pre-eminence exalted shines
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391 In ev'ry land above the proudest names,
392 The blest possessor of all-worship'd gold.
393 My birth or rank I boast not here, though born
394 A senator of Genoa. The desert,
395 On which I found my claim, is all my own;
396 To have adorn'd and dignify'd the state
397 Of my declining house with greater wealth
398 Than e'er my thriftless ancestors possess'd;
399 Whose richest acquisitions were but sprigs
400 Of barren laurel, or the flaunting rags
401 Of some torn ensign, to their needy son
402 A worthless heritage. Yet not to swell
403 My narrow fortunes wou'd my soul descend
404 To the base methods of ignoble trade,
405 And vulgar mercantile pursuit of gain.
406 Mine were the noble arts of raising gold
407 From gold, of nursing and improving wealth
408 By gainful use; arts practis'd heretofore
409 By senators and sages of old Rome,
410 Illustrious Crassus, and wise Seneca.
411 Thus have I grac'd the splendor of my name
412 With suitable possessions; thus I hold
413 In firm subjection to my will the poor
414 Of ev'ry rank and order, soldier, priest,
415 The vent'rous merchant, and the sumptuous lord,
416 Who in a lower vassalage to me,
417 Than to thy sceptre, Edward, bow their heads,
418 Pledging their lands and liberties for gold.
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419 Hence am I bold to stand before thy throne
420 A candidate for glory's highest prize:
421 And let me add, that policy alone
422 Shou'd teach thy prudence to approve my claim;
423 Shou'd teach thee in thy subjects to excite,
424 By honours on superior wealth bestow'd,
425 An useful emulation to be rich:
426 Which once inspir'd, thy Albion shall become
427 The first of nations, thou the first of kings.
428 Hadst thou by op'ning to thy native land
429 The golden veins of commerce, by employing
430 The useful hands of industry in works
431 Of national advantage, by uniting
432 Remotest regions in the friendly bands
433 And honest intercourse of mutual trade;
434 Hadst thou by these humane and generous arts,
435 Which thy mistaken pride so much disdains,
436 Enrich'd at once thy country and thy self,
437 Then not unworthy hadst thou been to wear
438 The brightest marks of honour; but thy wealth,
439 The base-born child of sordid usury,
440 That foe to commerce, nurse of idleness,
441 Stains and degrades thee from thy noble birth;
442 Nor in the usurer can I discern
443 The senator of Genoa. To enlarge
444 The mind with gen'rous sentiments, to raise
445 Its aims by virtuous emulation, here
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446 I sit; but not to gild with honour's beams
447 That selfish passion which congeals the heart,
448 And stops the streams of sweet benevolence,
449 Mean avarice, the vice of narrowest souls,
450 Incapable of glory. Wealth, thou say'st,
451 Can buy ev'n empire, and to Julius gave
452 Dominion o'er his country Fatal gift,
453 And ruinous to both! But what to Rome,
454 What to that Caesar's successors avail'd
455 The boundless treasures of the ravag'd world,
456 When they had lost their virtue? Did not soon
457 The valiant sons of poverty, the Goths,
458 The Huns and Vandals, from their barren hills
459 And rugged woods descending, to their steel
460 Subject the Roman gold? Yet I deny not
461 The pow'r and use of riches: to the wise
462 And good, in publick or in private life,
463 They are the means of virtue, and best serve
464 The noblest purposes; but in the use,
465 Not in the bare possession, lies the merit.
466 Shew me thy merit then, thy bounteous acts,
467 Publick munificence, or private alms,
468 The hungry and the naked, and the sick,
469 Sustain'd and cherish'd by thy saving hand;
470 Plead this, and I allow thy worthy claim,
471 For this is virtue, and deserves reward.
Ex. Gen.
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Flourish of trumpets, &c. which is answered by a symphony of flutes, violins, &c. playing a light amorous air; then appears a Neapolitan courtier, a favourite of queen Joan, who then reign'd at Naples, and whose court was the most debauch'd and dissolute of that age. He comes in with a gay and affected gesture, and is dress'd in loose silken robes, rich, but finical and esseminate; on his hair, which is curl'd and spread all over his shoulders down to the middle of his back, he wears a chaplet of roses, and is attended by a train of beautiful boys, habited like Cupids, and musicians, who, as he marches towards the throne, continue playing their soft and wanton airs.
472 Not on my wealth, nor on my noble blood,
473 Shall I presume to claim thy royal gift,
474 Auspicious prince, but on the skill to give
475 That splendor to nobility and wealth,
476 That elegance of taste, from which alone
477 Their value they derive; of this to judge,
478 This to direct, I boast, fit arbiter
479 Of all refin'd delights. But chief to kings
480 My happy talents I devote; on them
481 My genius waits with duteous care, and wafts
482 The golden cup of pleasure to their lips,
483 Like Ganymede before the throne of Jove.
484 And who indeed would wish to be a god
485 Only to thunder, and to hear the pray'rs
486 Of clam'rous suitors? 'Tis the nectar'd feast,
487 The dance of Graces, and the wanton charms
488 Of Venus, sporting with the Smiles and Loves,
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489 That make the court of heav'n a blest abode.
490 Far happier were the meanest peasant's lot
491 Who sleeps or sings in careless ease beneath
492 The sun-burnt hay-cock, or the flow'ry thorn,
493 Than to be plac'd on high in anxious pride,
494 The purple drudge and slave of tiresome state,
495 If to superior pow'r superior means
496 Of joy were not annex'd, and larger scope
497 For ev'ry wish the lavish heart can form:
498 If the soft hand of pleasure did not wreathe
499 Around the royal diadem, whose weight
500 Oppressive loads the monarch's aching brow,
501 Her fairest growth of ever-blooming flow'rs.
502 On thee, victorious prince, propitious Fortune
503 Hath pour'd her richest gifts, renown and wealth,
504 And greatness equal to thy mighty mind;
505 One only bliss is wanting to thy court,
506 Voluptuous elegance, the lovely child
507 Of ease and opulence; that never comes,
508 But like a bird of summer to attend
509 The brightest sun-shine of a glorious state.
510 To her, and her alone belongs the task,
511 By learned delicacy to remove
512 What yet remains in this thy ancient realm
513 Of Gothick barbarism, the rust of war,
514 And valiant ignorance. Her artful hand
515 Thy rugged Britons shall refine, and teach
516 More courtly manners, to their sov'reign's will
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517 Politely pliant: do but thou command
518 Thy willing servant, with thy favours grac'd,
519 From fair Joanna's ever-smiling court,
520 Under whose happy influence I was train'd,
521 From polish'd Naples, her delightful seat,
522 The blooming goddess to transport, with all
523 Her train of joys, and fix them here beneath
524 Thy great protection. But perhaps thou fear'st
525 The voice of censure, and the grave reproof
526 Of moralizing dullness: idle fear!
527 The vulgar herd, indeed, religious craft
528 And policy of state have well confin'd
529 With wise severity to rigid laws:
530 Else would that headstrong beast the multitude
531 Forget obedience, and its rider's voice
532 Disdain. But shall the rider put a curb
533 In his own mouth? The laws that kings have made
534 Shall they restrain the makers? Edward, no!
535 For thee indulgent justice shall relax
536 Her harsh decrees, and piety shall wait
537 To give her rev'rend sanction to thy will.
538 'Tis thine to rove at large thro' nature's field,
539 Crop ev'ry flow'r, and taste of ev'ry fruit;
540 By sweet variety provoking still
541 The languid appetite to new desires.
542 Nor useless to thy pleasures, happy prince,
543 Shall be my faithful service; nicer joys,
544 Joys of a quicker, more exalted taste,
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545 Than ever ripen'd in this northern clime,
546 The growth of softer regions, shall my hand
547 By skilful culture in thy Britain raise.
548 To them, whose gross and dull capacities
549 Are fit to bear the burthens of the state,
550 The lab'ring mules, that thro' the mire of forms
551 Draw the slow car of government along,
552 Gladly the task of bus'ness I resign.
553 Be mine the brighter province, to direct
554 Thy pleasures, Edward, minister supreme
555 Of all thy softer hours: to serve the king
556 Be theirs the glory, let me serve the man.
557 But shou'd thy sterner Genius, only pleas'd
558 With arms and royalty's important cares,
559 The duties of a king, my gentle arts
560 Too lightly prize, and thence reject my suit:
561 Permit at least, that to Philippa's ear,
562 Divine Philippa, thine and beauty's queen,
563 And her attendant graces, I may plead
564 The cause of bliss, a cause so much their own:
565 They will approve my claim, to whom the cares,
566 The labours of my life, my head, my heart
567 Are all devoted Let me from their hands
568 Receive the GARTER, and be call'd their knight.
569 Permit me, gracious Edward, to reply
570 To this irreverent flatt'rer, who presumes
571 Before a matron and a queen to plead
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572 The cause of vice, and impudently hopes
573 To find in her a fautress of his suit.
574 But know, pernicious sophister, my heart
575 Hath learn'd from Edward's love, and this high rank
576 Which I partake with him, a noble pride,
577 That ill can brook the too familiar eye
578 And saucy tongue of riot and debauch;
579 In whose unmanner'd light society,
580 Nor majesty, nor virtue can maintain
581 That dignity, which is their proper guard.
582 Thy vile refinements, and luxurious arts,
583 Miscall'd politeness, I detest; and feel,
584 In the soft duties of a virtuous love,
585 Such pure, serene delight, as far transcends
586 What thou styl'st pleasure, the delirious joy
587 Of an intoxicated feverish brain.
588 Behold my royal lord, the first and best
589 Of kings, the love and wonder of mankind!
590 Behold my children, worthy their great sire,
591 The gen'ral theme of praise and benediction!
592 These are my pleasures; can thy skill bestow
593 Superior bliss? Ah no, the vain attempt.
594 Wou'd only bring disgust, remorse, and shame.
595 That I have lov'd, Philippa, and esteem'd thee
596 More for thy virtues than those female charms,
597 Which this vile flatterer deems singly worth
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598 His panegyrick, be thy happiness
599 And glory, as it is thy Edward's pride.
600 With the like spirit have I also woo'd
601 And wedded sov'reign power; nor weakly caught
602 With outward pomp, or seeking to myself
603 A privilege to riot uncontroul'd
604 In sensual pleasures, and behind the throne
605 To laugh securely at restraint and law.
606 No: I embrac'd her as the child of heav'n,
607 Dowr'd with the ample means of doing good;
608 From whose espousals I might hope to raise
609 An offspring, worth th' ambition of a king,
610 Immortal glory; to a gen'rous mind
611 As far surpassing all the wanton toys,
612 Which he calls pleasure, as thy faithful love
613 (The sweet o'erflowing of heart-felt delight)
614 Excels, Philippa, the lascivious smile
615 Of common prostitutes, caress'd and loath'd.
616 Hence from my sight with thy detested arts,
617 Base minister of luxury, the bane
618 Of ev'ry flourishing and happy state:
619 Presume no more within my court to sing
620 Thy Syren-song, nor soften into slaves
621 And cowards my brave subjects. I disdain
622 That elegance, which such as thou can teach.
623 Virtue alone is elegant, alone
624 Polite; vice must be sordid and deform'd,
625 Tho' to adorn her ev'ry art contend.
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626 And rather wou'd I see my Britons roam
627 Untutor'd savages, among the woods,
628 As once they did, in naked innocence,
629 Than polish'd like the vile degenerate race
630 Of modern Italy's corrupted sons.
Exit Neap.
Trumpet sounds, and is answer'd from without by another trumpet, which sounds a march, accompanied by kettle-drums, and other warlike instruments: Then enters, preceded by soldiers playing upon fifes, and others bearing tatter'd ensigns, standards and trophies, a leader of mercenary bands, compleatly arm'd from head to foot, and carrying in his right hand a baton or truncheon. On each side of him march his 'squires, one bearing his lance, the other his shield. Behind him, as his attendants, comes a train of officers and soldiers maimed, and their faces all seam'd with scars.
631 Nor riches, nor nobility of birth,
632 Nor the soft arts of base effem'nate ease,
633 Which justly thou rejectest, valiant prince,
634 But thy own darling attribute I boast,
635 Undaunted courage, try'd in many a field,
636 In ev'ry clime, and under ev'ry banner,
637 That for these forty summers have been wav'd
638 O'er Europe's plains, by Ister, Rhine, and Po,
639 Hungarian and Bohemian, Flemish, French,
640 Venetian, Spanish, Guelph and Gibbeline:
641 Whence in just confidence secure I come
642 This military honour to demand,
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643 Due to my toils and service, to my wounds,
644 My laurels, and that generous love of glory,
645 Which without any call, or publick cause,
646 Or private animosity, alone
647 Rais'd my strong arm, and drew my dreadful sword.
648 Wherever Mars his crimson flag display'd,
649 That was my country, thither swift I bore
650 My ready valour, and the dauntless band
651 Of various nations, under my command,
652 Prepar'd to sell their blood, their limbs, their lives:
653 Nor where the right, nor where the justest cause,
654 Deign'd we to ask those intricate debates
655 We left to lazy penmen in the shade
656 Of coward ease; while our impetuous fire
657 Still bore us forward, ardent to pursue
658 Thro' danger's roughest paths the steps to fame.
659 On such a spirit should thy favour smile.
660 But let me wonder, Edward, that so long
661 Thy ear the vain pretensions cou'd endure
662 Of men unknown to war, attendants meet
663 Of some luxurious Asiatic court,
664 Or female distaff-reign; but suiting ill
665 The presence of a monarch great in arms.
666 Hadst thou to those inglorious sons of peace
667 Thy martial order giv'n, the warrior-saint
668 Had blush'd to see his image so profan'd,
669 Which on my manly breast, indented o'er
670 With many a noble scar, will fitly shine.
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671 But wherefore stand I thus haranguing here,
672 Unskilful as I am in smooth discourse,
673 The coward's argument? On force alone
674 I rest my title: let the glorious prize
675 Be hung on high amid the listed field,
676 And let me there dispute it; there my lance
677 Shall plead my cause far better than my tongue,
678 If any dare deny my rightful claim.
679 Not for the brave alone have I ordain'd
680 This institution, but for all desert,
681 All publick virtue, wisdom, all that serves,
682 Improves, defends, or dignifies a state:
683 Tho' first indeed to valour, as the guard
684 Of all the rest, when in the publick cause,
685 With justice and benevolence employ'd.
686 But thou, base mercenary, canst thou dare
687 The glorious name of valour to usurp,
688 Who know'st no publick cause, no sense of right,
689 Nor pity, nor affection, nor remorse?
690 Who under any chief, in any quarrel,
691 Canst stain with gore thy prostituted arms?
692 Call it not love of glory; that is built
693 On acts for the deliv'rance of mankind;
694 On gen'rous principles, and noble scorn
695 Of sordid int'rest: call it cruel pride,
696 And savageness of nature, that delights
697 To conquer, and oppress, afflict, insult;
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698 Or call it love of plunder, that can draw
699 Unauthoris'd, uninjur'd, unprovok'd,
700 The sword of war; that bravo-like can lift
701 For hire the venal hand to perpetrate
702 Assassinations, murders, massacres.
703 But thou hast serv'd with courage: be it so
704 Thou hast thy pay, and with it thy reward;
705 Pretend no farther, nor compare thy deeds,
706 Dishonour'd by the mean desire of gain,
707 With his, who for his country and his king
708 Resigns his ease, his fortune, or his life.
709 Those battles thou hast fought, those forty years
710 Of blood and horror, which thy vaunting tongue
711 So high hath sounded, are indeed thy crimes,
712 Flagitious crimes; for which th' impartial bar
713 Of reason wou'd condemn thee, as the foe
714 Of human nature, did not custom screen
715 By her unjust esteem thy guilty head.
716 But hope not honour or employment here.
717 Unsafe and wretched is that monarch's state
718 Who weakly trusts to mercenary bands,
719 The guard or of his person, or his realm:
720 Unfaithful, insolent, rapacious, base
721 He soon shall prove them, and become himself
722 Their slave, to hold his kingdom at their will.
723 For this within my Britain have I sought
724 To raise a martial spirit, and ordain'd
725 These new incitements, honours, and rewards,
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726 To virtuous chivalry, that never king
727 Who wears hereafter my imperial crown,
728 May need to stoop to the precarious aid
729 Of venal foreign swords; but in the hearts
730 Of his brave subjects find a stronger guard,
731 Prepar'd with zeal unbought, and English valour,
732 His rights to vindicate, and save their own.
Exit Soldier.
Trumpet sounds, to which another from without replies: Then enters an Italian politician, habited like a Venetian nobleman, who advancing with a solemn and important air towards the throne, makes a low reverence to king Edward, and proceeds.
733 Well has thy sovereign wisdom, royal judge,
734 The suit refus'd of these pretenders vain,
735 And, by rejecting them, embolden'd me.
736 For valour, and nobility, and wealth,
737 Though by their proud possessors vaunted high,
738 Are but subordinate, the slaves and tools,
739 Not the companions, and the counsellors
740 Of godlike monarchy; whose aweful throne
741 By darksome clouds envelop'd, far beyond
742 The ken of vulgar eyes, supported stands
743 On that deep-rooted prop, the craft of state,
744 Mysterious policy. Who best hath learn'd
745 Her wily lessons, best deserves to share
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746 The honours, counsels, and the hearts of kings.
747 By him instructed, ev'n the meanest prince
748 Shall rise to envy'd greatness, shall advance
749 His dreaded pow'r above restraint and fear,
750 And all the rules that in fantastic chains
751 Inferior minds confine. Thus Milan's dukes,
752 Thus Padua's lords above their country's laws
753 Have rais'd their heads, and trampled to the dust
754 The pride of freedom, that essays in vain
755 Their high superior genius to controul.
756 These were my masters, mighty prince; beneath
757 Their rule, and in their councils was I form'd
758 To know the false corrupted heart of man,
759 His ev'ry weakness, ev'ry vice, and thence
760 To tempt, or break his passions to the yoke:
761 To scorn the publick as an empty name,
762 And on the helpless multitude impose
763 The adamantine bonds of fraud and force.
764 Thus was I train'd, thus fitted to conduct
765 The fate of proudest empires; thus I come
766 To claim thy GARTER, Edward, the just meed
767 Of worth praeeminent, and in return
768 My services to offer, which no doubt
769 Thy wisdom gladly will accept: for who
770 So fit to serve the majesty of kings,
771 As he, who slighting ev'ry meaner tye,
772 Friends, parents, country, to advance their pow'r
773 Devotes his toil, experience, fortune, fame,
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774 Nor other favour courts, nor refuge hopes
775 But in their high protection? Led by me,
776 Thou, royal Edward, shalt attain that height,
777 That glorious summit of imperial pow'r,
778 Which not thy mighty ancestors have reach'd;
779 Where in a freer air, a more enlarg'd
780 Horizon, bounded only by thy will,
781 Thou shalt exalted sit, and view beneath,
782 In humbler distances and safer bounds,
783 Those subjects, who presumptuous now approach
784 Too near, and with rude hands profane thy throne.
785 Nor let weak scruples check thy manly soul
786 In the bright task of glory; know, great prince,
787 A king's divinity is sov'reign pow'r,
788 The only god, before whose shrine the wise
789 Their incense offer, whence inspir'd, they draw
790 Divine ambition, and heroic scorn
791 Of vulgar prejudices, vulgar fears.
792 Virtue's the people's idol, and by them
793 Rewarded well with popular applause,
794 That idle breath, the gift and prize of fools.
795 'Tis thine to govern, not to court mankind,
796 Nor on their smiles precarious to depend,
797 But nobly force them to depend on thine.
798 O sacred sir, can virtue give thee this,
799 This bright supremacy? Trust not her boasts,
800 Her idle pageanty of barren praise:
801 Reject her saucy claims, importunate,
[Page 143]
802 And self-supported; nor admit her train,
803 Proud independency, and publick zeal,
804 Those factious demagogues, the foes of kings.
805 Are virtue then, and love of publick good,
806 The foes of monarchy? and are deceit,
807 Injustice and oppression, qualities
808 Becoming and expedient in a king?
809 Then know I not to govern; but have nurs'd
810 For twice these fifteen years ev'n in my heart,
811 A pois'nous viper; nay unking'd myself,
812 By yielding to restrain my sov'reign pow'r
813 With laws and charters of enfranchisement,
814 Not due, it seems, from monarchs to their slaves.
815 But know, vile counsellor of infamy,
816 That I disdain thy politics, those false
817 And shallow politics, by which my sire,
818 Weak judging Edward, was betray'd to shame
819 And foul destruction, while to such as thee
820 His ear and heart incautious he resign'd,
821 And was indeed their slave, not England's king.
822 By maxims different far have I sustain'd
823 The strength and splendor of my regal state,
824 On the broad basis of true wisdom fix'd
825 With solid firmness. By encouraging
826 The gen'rous love of virtue and of fame,
827 That source of valour, pledge of victory.
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828 By granting to my subjects, what indeed
829 Is their inherent right, security,
830 The cheerful father of content and peace,
831 Of industry and opulence, which fills
832 With smiling multitudes the land, and pays
833 In willing subsidies that prince's care,
834 Who lays up treasure in his people's hearts.
835 By holding with a firm impartial hand
836 The sleddy scale of justice; not alone
837 Betwixt my subjects in their private rights,
838 But in the gen'ral, more important cause,
839 Betwixt the crown and them, the diff'rent claims
840 Of freedom and of just prerogative:
841 Transgressing not myself by boundless pow'r,
842 Nor suff'ring others to transgress those laws,
843 That in their golden chain together bind,
844 For common good, the whole united state.
845 But more than all, by guarding from contempt,
846 Or impious violation, that supreme
847 Protrectress of all government and law,
848 Religion; in whose train for ever wait
849 Obedience, order, justice, mercy, love,
850 A guard of angels plac'd around the throne.
851 Her sacred counsels have I still rever'd,
852 Her high commands enforc'd, her pow'r implor'd,
853 O'er all my subject nations to call down
854 From heav'nly wisdom, her eternal fire,
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855 A fix'd secure felicity, beyond
856 The force of human prudence to attain.
857 These are my arts of government, those arts
858 By which my British crown I have advanc'd
859 Above th' imperial diadem, above
860 The pride of Afric's, or of Asia's thrones.
861 I wou'd not tell thee this, but that thou seem'st
862 A stranger to my fame, as to my realm,
863 And to the real greatness of a king:
864 Whose sacred dignity, by thee traduc'd,
865 Much it behoves a king to vindicate;
866 Not by rejecting only with disdain
867 Thy arrogant pretensions, but in thee
868 Dishonouring and branding with reproach
869 Thy tenets also, the pernicious lore
870 Of tyrants and usurpers, which thy tongue,
871 Blaspheming justice, government, and law,
872 Hath in a land of freedom dar'd to vent.
873 Hence! from my kingdom, with thy quickest speed,
874 Lest the revenge of an insulted king
875 With sudden ruin intercept thy flight.
Exit Politician.
King JOHN.
876 Permit me, Edward, to thy royal voice
877 To add my suffrage also, and with thee
878 Protest against this coward policy,
879 That meanly skulks behind opprobrious fraud,
880 And low unprincely artifice; I feel
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881 A virtue in my heart, a gen'rous pride,
882 That tells me kings were cloath'd with majesty,
883 Encircled with authority, rever'd
884 And almost deify'd, to teach them thence
885 That goodness and the saving attributes
886 Of heav'n become their office, justice chief,
887 And truth, the virtue of heroic minds,
888 Which, were it banish'd from all other breasts,
889 Should dwell for ever in the hearts of kings.
Aërial musick, upon which re-enter the five Druids who personated the Grandee, &c. in their original characters and habits of Druids, the chief of whom advancing towards the throne, addresses himself to king Edward.
Chief DRUID.
890 Behold in us, great king, the ancient priests
891 And judges of this land, the Druids old:
892 Who late in borrow'd characters have stood
893 Before thy sage tribunal, to prefer
894 The claims of valour, wealth, nobility,
895 And those soft specious flatt'rers, who beneath
896 The rosy wreath of pleasure and of love
897 Conceal the sickly and disgustful brow
898 Of riot and debauch, and often win
899 From weak unmanly princes the rich prize
900 To virtue due and wisdom, not to these
901 The cankers of a state; but least of all
902 Due to that traytor of his king and country,
[Page 147]
903 Who lab'ring to build up the regal throne
904 Beyond its due proportion, and the strength
905 Of those foundations which the laws have laid,
906 O'erwhelms the people, and at once o'erturns
907 His royal master, places him at best
908 On an uneasy tott'ring pinnacle,
909 The mark of execration and reproach.
910 These claims hast thou rejected; like a king
911 Discerning in mankind, and knowing well
912 The value of his favours: like a king
913 Deserving the high office of the judge
914 And arbiter of Europe: like a king
915 Equal to his great fame, and worth the care
916 Of those immortal spirits, who this day
917 Have quitted their celestial residence,
918 To view and to approve thy glorious deeds.
919 But, Edward, be not thou amaz'd to find
920 That those who lately for thy favour su'd
921 Were not the personages they assum'd.
922 O king! thou art beset with counterfeits
923 The very opposites to us, who seem
924 Far better than they are. For Flattery,
925 Cameleon-like, accommodates with care
926 To the court-hue his changeful countenance.
927 And when a prince is brave, magnanimous,
928 And high in spirit, then Ambition wears
929 A face of dignity, and nothing breathes
930 But lofty enterprizes, conquest, pow'r,
[Page 148]
931 And schemes of glory to the sov'reign ear,
932 Pretending love and care for his renown
933 With more than duteous zeal. Of these beware!
934 For as the Theban queen, in fables old,
935 Was, by the specious guile of fraudful Jove,
936 In her Amphitryon's form to guilt betray'd,
937 So by these counterfeits are kings seduc'd,
938 Ev'n in the most belov'd suspectless shapes,
939 To take a traytor to their royal arms.
940 But thou shalt know them, Edward, by their works,
941 And of this truth be most assur'd, that he,
942 Who in his private commerce with mankind
943 Is mean, dishonest, interested, false,
944 Can ne'er be true to thee; nor can he love
945 His prince, who feels not for his country's good.
946 Thus warn'd we leave thee, mighty prince: be firm,
947 Be constant in the paths of fair renown.
948 Think it thy duty to revere thyself
949 The sacred laws of chivalry, the wise
950 Injunctions by thy order laid on all
951 The GARTER'D KNIGHTS; so shall thy fame remain
952 The great example of all future kings.
953 Farewell! for lo! the Genius of thy realm
954 With all his pomp attended, comes to share,
955 And grace the glories of this signal day.
956 These clouds of fragrance, that far-beaming blaze
957 Of heav'nly brightness, his approach declare.
Druids vanish.
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Flashes of light, and symphony of aërial musick. Genius of England descends in his chariot attended by spirits and bards; then alighting, he advances towards the throne, and addresses himself to Edward.
958 From the gay realms of cloudless day I come,
959 Where in the glitter of unnumber'd worlds,
960 That like to isles of various magnitudes
961 Float in the ocean of unbounded space;
962 On my invisible aërial throne
963 I sit, attended with a radiant band
964 Of spirits immortal, whose pure essences,
965 While clad in human shapes on earth they dwelt,
966 Thro' the dull clay of gross mortality
967 Disclos'd their heav'nly vigour, and burst forth
968 In godlike virtues and heroic deeds,
969 Their Albion gracing with as fair a growth
970 Of fame, as e'er enrich'd imperial Rome.
971 Thence ripe for heav'n and immortality,
972 To me, the Genius of this happy isle,
973 They fly, and claim the meed of their desert,
974 Celestial crowns, and ever-living praise
975 Recorded in the songs of heav'nly bards,
976 That round my throne their hymns of triumph sing,
977 Attuning to the sweet harmonious spheres
978 Their undiscording lyres and voice divine.
979 Nor thus remov'd to heav'n, and thus employ'd
980 In careless raptures, wont they to forget
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981 Their native country, and the public weal,
982 To which on earth their labours and their lives
983 They once devoted; but pursuing still
984 The bent and habit of their souls, with me
985 They watch the British empire, still intent
986 To check alternately th' incroaching waves
987 Of regal pow'r and popular liberty:
988 I, chief attentive near the royal throne,
989 Take up my watchful station, to infuse
990 My sage and mod'rate counsels in those ears,
991 Which wisdom hath prepar'd and purify'd
992 To relish honest, tho' unpleasing truth.
993 Thus am I always, tho' invisible,
994 Attendant, Edward, on thy glorious deeds.
995 But on this solemn day have I vouchsaf'd
996 To manifest my presence; to declare,
997 Not in those whispers which have often spoke
998 Peace to thy conscious heart, but audibly
999 And evident to all, th' assent of heav'n
1000 To the great business, which hath gather'd here
1001 This troop of princes from all nations round.
1002 Hence all may know that virtue hath a train
1003 More bright than earthly empire can command:
1004 Know, that those actions which are great and good,
1005 Receive a nobler sanction from the free
1006 And universal voice of all mankind,
1007 Which is the voice of heav'n, than from the highest,
1008 The most illustrious act of regal pow'r.
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1009 This nobler sanction, Edward, in the name
1010 Not of this age alone, but latest time,
1011 Here do I solemnly annex to each
1012 Of thy great acts, but chief to this most wise,
1013 Most virtuous institution, which extends
1014 Wide as thy fame, beyond thy empire's bound,
1015 A prize of virtue publish'd to mankind.
1016 Ye registers of heav'n, record the deed.
1017 Now tune, ye bards, the British lyre;
1018 Now wake the vocal string;
1019 While heav'n and earth in Edward's praise conspire,
1020 Join to the gen'ral voice your sacred choir,
1021 And on your soaring wing,
1022 From time and envy waft his glorious name,
1023 And place it in the shrine of incorruptive fame.
1024 Begin: the list'ning echoes round
1025 Shall catch with joy the long-forgotten sound,
1026 And warbling thro' each grove the British strain
1027 To Windsor's smiling nymphs, recall their Arthur's reign.
1028 Ye nymphs of Windsor's bow'ry woods,
1029 Ye pow'rs who haunt yon glist'ning floods,
1030 That with reluctant fond delay
1031 Around yon flow'ry valley stray;
1032 Say, from your minds hath time eras'd
1033 The pleasing images of glory pass'd?
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1034 Review ye now those scenes no more?
1035 When nobly stain'd with Saxon gore,
1036 From Badon's long-contended plain
1037 Great Arthur with his martial train
1038 To Windsor's chosen shades repair'd,
1039 And with his knights the festive banquet shar'd.
1040 Then first exulting Thames beheld
1041 The triumphs of the listed field;
1042 Beheld along his level meads
1043 Careering knights, encount'ring steeds,
1044 Heroic games, whose toils inspire
1045 The thirst of praise, and kindle martial fire.
1046 Fair Peace in war's bright mail array'd,
1047 With smiles the glorious lists survey'd;
1048 So shou'd the brave (she cry'd) prepare
1049 Their hearts and sinewy arms for war:
1050 Such combats break not my repose,
1051 Such sons best guard my rights from daring foes.
1052 Then too in feastful hall or bow'r,
1053 Attendant on the genial hour,
1054 The British harp sweet lyrists strung,
1055 And Albion's generous victors sung:
1056 While valiant Arthur's copious fame
1057 Incessant fed the bright poetic flame.
[Page 153]
1058 But mortals erring in excess,
1059 O'erwhelm the virtue they caress.
1060 Thus Arthur his great story mourn'd,
1061 By too fond praise to fable turn'd:
1062 Mourn'd the companions of his toils,
1063 Mock'd with false glory and fantastic spoils.
1064 'Till thro' the dark romantic tale,
1065 Thro' superstition's magic veil,
1066 Sage Edward piercing view'd, and own'd
1067 The chief with genuine lustre crown'd:
1068 View'd the great model, and restor'd
1069 The long-lost honours of his martial board.
1070 Hail British prince! these faithful lays,
1071 Eternal records of heroic worth,
1072 Shall reassert thy ancient praise,
1073 And from the cloud of fiction call thee forth,
1074 In glory's sphere thy orbit to reclaim,
1075 And at great Edward's beam relume thy darken'd fame.
1076 But see in heav'nly panoply array'd,
1077 Whose streaming radiance skirts the clouds with gold,
1078 I view Pendragon burst the veiling shade,
1079 And all his blazing magnitude unfold!
1080 O'er yon broad tow'r he takes his airy stand,
1081 And pointing, Edward, towards the royal throne,
1082 To his fam'd knights around, a laurel'd band,
1083 Shews on thy knee the bright sky-tinctur'd zone.
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1084 Virtue, he cries, (th' aetherial sound
1085 Thy gross material organ cannot hear)
1086 Virtue on earth by British Edward crown'd.
1087 Her rev'rend throne once more shall rear.
1088 To her own self-applauding breast
1089 Forc'd for reward no longer to retreat,
1090 She sees her aweful charms by kings caress'd,
1091 Sees honour woo her for his mate.
1092 Honour, her heav'n-elected spouse,
1093 From her embrace by lawless pow'r with-held,
1094 Now at yon altar plights his holy vows,
1095 Vows by assenting Edward seal'd.
1096 And now the fair angelic bride
1097 Gath'ring her noble train from ev'ry land,
1098 To her late wedded lord with decent pride
1099 Presents the venerable band.
1100 The great procession Edward leads;
1101 I see yon hallow'd dome with heroes throng'd:
1102 Incessant still the white-plum'd pomp proceeds,
1103 Thro' time's eternal course prolong'd.
1104 And you, dear partners of my fame,
1105 Your ancient honours now again shall boast;
1106 This noble ORDER shall retrieve our name,
1107 In visionary fables lost.
[Page 155]
1108 This from our martial board deriv'd,
1109 These for our brethren let us proudly own,
1110 More pleas'd to view our deeds by thee reviv'd,
1111 Then griev'd, great king, to be outdone.
1112 Hail British prince! these faithful lays
1113 Shall reassert thy ancient praise.
1114 Nor thee, O Windsor, shall I pass unsung,
1115 Mansion of princes, and fit haunt of gods,
1116 Who frequent shall desert their bright abodes,
1117 To view thy sacred walls with trophies hung:
1118 Thy walls by British Arthur first renown'd,
1119 The early seat of chivalry and fame;
1120 By Edward now with deathless honours crown'd,
1121 Illustrious by his BIRTH, his GARTER, and his NAME.
1122 Conferring just rewards, most worthy prince,
1123 Is the first attribute of sov'reign pow'r,
1124 And that which best distinguishes a king:
1125 For punishment, and all the nice awards
1126 Of civil justice, by the laws are fix'd,
1127 And kings but execute what they decree.
1128 While in rewarding merit, uncontroul'd,
1129 Unguided, unassisted is the hand
1130 Of majesty; the prince himself alone
1131 There judges, and his wisdom is the law.
1132 Well does thy court, great king, with ev'ry worth
[Page 156]
1133 And ev'ry virtue fill'd, this wisdom shew
1134 In thee transcendent: well hast thou approv'd
1135 Its force in this great trial, which my pow'r
1136 Commanded, in no common ways to prove
1137 Thy royal mind. But that a father's name
1138 May not restrain thy justice in the choice
1139 Of the first knights-companions of St. GEORGE,
1140 Myself here take upon me to present
1141 A candidate, whom, were he not thy son,
1142 Thou wouldst thyself select from all mankind.
1143 His modesty compels me to declare
1144 That candidate is Edward, prince of Wales.
Prince EDWARD.
1145 Inhabitant of heav'n! I not presume
1146 To deprecate or question that high will,
1147 To which it best becomes me to submit.
1148 But, gentle spirit, be propitious to me;
1149 And thou, my gracious liege, if I request
1150 That this illustrious monarch, whose desert
1151 Is equal to the grandeur of his crown,
1152 May stand before me in this list of fame.
King JOHN.
1153 O generous youth! in vain thy goodness strives
1154 To raise thy captive thus above his fortune.
1155 The king that is not free, is not a king;
1156 Nor can thy bounteous favour reconcile
1157 Honour and bondage. To thy conqu'ring son
1158 Do thou, great Edward, give this noble mark
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1159 Of prosp'rous virtue; ill becomes it me,
1160 To wear at once thy GARTER and thy chains.
1161 Though by my former dignity I swear,
1162 That were I reinstated in my throne,
1163 The thronc of Capet and of Charlemagne,
1164 Thus to be join'd in fellowship with thee,
1165 Would be the first ambition of my soul;
1166 A ray of glory I would sue to gain,
1167 And prize it equal with my diadem.
1168 Wisely thou hast determin'd, worthy prince,
1169 For thine and Edward's honour, and hast fix'd
1170 Its proper value on his royal gift,
1171 Which as the meed of merit, may become
1172 The proudest monarchs, by this GARTER mark'd
1173 For something more than monarchs, virtuous men.
1174 This be the glory of thy order, Edward.
1175 And
* Besides the great persons of our own nation, that have been admitted of this order, the English reader may be glad to be informed, that in the annals of the Garter are found the names of Charles V. emperor of Germany; of Francis I. and Henry IV. kings of France; and of Gustavus Adolphus king of Sweden.
never shall it want the greatest names
1176 Of all succeeding times to grace its annals.
1177 France, Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Spain,
1178 Each realm of Europe's wide-extended bounds,
1179 Shall count among thy knights its mightiest lords,
1180 And see, in emulation of thy fame,
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1181 New royal founders of like orders rise.
1182 Proceed then, mighty king, and set the world
1183 The precedent of glory: thou begin
1184 The radiant list of Sov'reigns, while thy son,
1185 Like a young bride, that on her nuptial morn
1186 Leads on with modest pride the virgin-choir,
1187 Herself the brightest, heads the shining band
1188 Of knights-companions, nobly seconding
1189 His father's glorious deeds with equal fame.
1190 The testimony of heav'n to thee, my son,
1191 Thus gloriously accorded, renders vain
1192 All farther trial. To my people's voice,
1193 By this their tutelary pow'r declar'd,
1194 With pleasure I consent, directing still
1195 By theirs my choice, my judgment, my desires.
1196 Approach then, my belov'd, my noble son,
1197 Strength of my crown, and honour of my realm;
1198 In whom my heart more joys, and glories more,
1199 Than in the highest pride of sov'reign pow'r.
* The prince of Wales advances to his father, and kneels; while the king, taking the Garter from the herald, buckles it round his left leg.
Thus I admit thee, Edward prince of Wales,
1201 First founder of the order of St. GEORGE;
1202 In evidence whereof, about thy knee
1203 I bind this mystic GARTER; to denote
1204 The bond of honour that together ties
[Page 159]
1205 The brethren of St. GEORGE in friendly league,
1206 United to maintain the cause of truth
1207 And justice only
The sense, and almost the words in the verses of this speech, mark'd thus "are taken from the admonition read to the knights, at the time of their receiving the GARTER and the RIBBON or COLLAR of the order. Vide Ashmole's History of the order of the GARTER.
"May propitious heav'n
1208 "Grant thou may'st henceforth wear it to his praise,
1209 "The exaltation of this noble order,
1210 "And thy own glory." With like reverence,
1211 My son receive and wear this golden chain,
1212 "Grac'd with the image of Britannia's saint,
1213 "Heav'n's valiant soldier, CAPPADOCIAN GEORGE;
1214 "In imitation of whose glorious deeds
1215 "May'st thou triumphant in each state of life,
1216 "Or prosperous or adverse, still subdue
1217 "Thy spiritual and carnal enemies;
1218 "That not on earth alone thou may'st obtain
1219 "The guerdon of thy valour, endless praise,
1220 "But with the virtuous and the brave above,
1221 "In solemn triumph, wear celestial palms,
1222 "To crown thy final noblest victory."
Embraces Pr. EDW.
Prince EDWARD.
1223 Accept, my sovereign liege, my grateful thanks,
1224 That thou hast thus vouchsaf'd to place thy son
1225 First next thyself upon the roll of fame,
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1226 As he indeed is first in filial love,
1227 And emulation of thy royal virtues
1228 And may thy benediction, gracious lord,
1229 May thy paternal vows be heard in heav'n!
1230 That he, whom thou hast listed in the cause
1231 Of truth and virtue, never may forget
1232 His vow'd engagements, nor defraud thy hopes,
1233 By soiling with dishonourable deeds
1234 The lustre of that ORDER, which thy name
1235 Shou'd teach him to respect and to adorn.


1236 Celestial maid!
1237 Bright spark of that aetherial flame,
1238 Whose vivid spirit thro' all nature spread,
1239 Sustains and actuates this boundless frame!
1240 O by whatever stile to mortals known,
1241 Virtue, benevolence, or public zeal,
1242 Divine assessor of the regal throne,
1243 Divine protectress of the common weal,
1244 O in our hearts thy energy infuse!
1245 Be thou our Muse,
1246 Celestial maid,
1247 And, as of old, impart thy heav'nly aid
1248 To those, who warm'd by thy benignant fire,
1249 To public merit and their country's good
1250 Devoted ever their recording lyre,
1251 Wont along DEVA'S sacred flood,
[Page 161]
1252 Or, beneath Mona's oak retir'd,
1253 To warble forth their patriot lays,
1254 And nourish with immortal praise
1255 The bright heroic flames by thee inspir'd.
1256 I feel, I feel
1257 Thy soul-invigorating heat;
1258 My bounding veins distend with fervent zeal,
1259 And to Britannia's fame responsive beat.
1260 Hail Albion, native country! but how chang'd
1261 Thy once grim aspect, how adorn'd and gay
1262 Thy howling forests! where together rang'd
1263 The naked hunter and his savage prey:
1264 Where amid black inhospitable woods
1265 The sedge-grown floods
1266 All cheerless stray'd.
1267 Not in their lonely wand'ring course survey'd,
1268 Or tow'r, or castle, heav'n-ascending fane,
1269 Or lowly village, residence of peace
1270 And joyous industry, or furrow'd plain,
1271 Or lowing herd, or silver fleece
1272 That whitens now each verdant vale;
1273 While laden with their precious store
1274 Far trading barks to every shore,
1275 Swift heralds of Britannia's glory, sail.
[Page 162]
1276 These are thy shining works: this smiling face
1277 Of beauteous nature thus in regal state,
1278 Deck'd by each handmaid art, each polish'd grace,
1279 That on fair liberty and order wait.
1280 This pomp, these riches, this repose,
1281 To thee imperial Britain owes.
1282 To thee, great substitute of heav'n,
1283 To whom the charge of earthly realms was giv'n;
1284 Their social systems by wise nature's plan
1285 To form and rule by her eternal laws;
1286 To teach the selfish soul of wayward man
1287 To seek the publick good, and aid the common cause.
1288 So didst thou move the mighty heart
1289 Of Alfred, founder of the British state:
1290 So to Matilda's scepter'd son,
1291 To him whose virtue and renown
1292 First made the name of Edward great,
1293 Thy ample spirit so didst thou impart:
1294 Protecting thus in every age,
1295 From greedy pow'r and factious rage,
1296 The law of freedom, which to Britain's shore
1297 From Saxon Elva's many-headed flood,
1298 The valiant sons of Odin with them bore,
1299 Their national, ador'd, inseparable good.
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* Runny Mead near Stains, where the Grand Charter was signed by king John.
On yonder plain,
1301 Along whose willow-fringed side
1302 The silver-footed Naiads, sportive train,
1303 Down the smooth Thames amid the cygnets glide,
1304 I saw, when at thy reconciling word,
1305 Injustice, anarchy, intestine jar,
1306 Despotick insolence, the wasting sword,
1307 And all the brazen throats of civil war,
1308 Were hush'd in peace; from his imperious throne
1309 Hurl'd furious down,
1310 Abash'd, dismay'd,
1311 Like a chas'd lion to the savage shade
1312 Of his own forests, fell oppression fled,
1313 With vengeance brooding in his sullen breast.
1314 Then justice fearless rear'd her decent head,
1315 Heal'd every grief, each wrong redress'd;
1316 While round her valiant squadrons stood,
1317 And bade her aweful tongue demand,
1318 From vanquish'd John's reluctant hand,
1319 The deed of freedom purchas'd with their blood.
[Page 164]
1320 O vain surmise!
1321 To deem the grandeur of a crown
1322 Consists in lawless pow'r! to deem them wife
1323 Who change security and fair renown,
1324 For detestation, shame, distrust, and fear!
1325 Who, shut for ever from the blissful bow'rs,
1326 With horror and remorse at distance hear
1327 The musick that inchants th' immortal pow'rs,
1328 The heav'nly musick of well-purchas'd praise,
1329 Seraphick lays,
1330 The sweet reward
1331 On heroes, patriots, righteous kings conferr'd.
1332 For such alone the heav'n-taught poets sing.
1333 Tune ye for Edward, then, the mortal strain,
1334 His name shall well become your golden string,
1335 Begirt with this aetherial train,
1336 Seems he not rank'd among the gods?
1337 Then let him reap the glorious meed
1338 Due to each great heroic deed,
1339 And taste the pleasures of the blest abodes.
1340 Hail, happy prince! on whom kind Fate bestows
1341 Sublimer joys, and glory brighter far
1342 Than Cressy's palm, and every wreath that grows
1343 In all the blood-stain'd field of prosp'rous war;
[Page 165]
1344 Joys that might charm an heav'nly breast,
1345 To make dependent millions blest,
1346 A dying nation to restore
1347 And save fall'n liberty with kingly pow'r;
1348 To quench the torch of discord and debate,
1349 Relume the languid spark of publick zeal,
1350 Repair the breaches of a shatter'd state,
1351 And gloriously compleat the plan of England's weal;
1352 Compleat the noble Gothick pile,
1353 That on the rock of justice rear'd shall stand
1354 In symmetry, and strength, and fame,
1355 A rival of that boasted frame
1356 Which virtue rais'd on Tiber's strand.
1357 This, Edward, guardian, father of our isle,
1358 This god-like task, to few assign'd,
1359 Exalts thee above human-kind,
1360 And from the realms of everlasting day
1361 Calls down celestial bards thy praise to sing;
1362 Calls this bright troop of spirits to survey
1363 Thee, the great miracle of earth, a PATRIOT-King.
1364 Now reascend your skies, immortal spirits!
1365 Th' important act, that drew ye down to earth,
1366 Is finish'd. Spare we now their mortal sense,
1367 That cannot long endure th' unshrouded beam
1368 Of higher natures. Well hath Edward laid,
1369 Under your happy auspices, the base
1370 Of his great ORDER: let him undisturb'd,
[Page 166]
1371 But not unaided by the heav'nly powers,
1372 Compleat th' illustrious work, which future kings,
1373 Struck with the beauty of the noble plan,
1374 Shall emulously labour to maintain.
1375 And may thy spirit, Edward, be their guide!
1376 In every chapter, thou henceforth preside,
1377 In every breast infuse thy virtuous flame,
1378 And teach them to respect their country's fame.
Genius and Spirits reascend to a loud sympony of musick.


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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): THE INSTITUTION OF THE ORDER OF THE GARTER. A Dramatic POEM.
    Author: Gilbert West
    Themes: politics; monarchy (heads of state); glories of past ages; patriotism; glory of the British nation
    Genres: drama
    References: DMI 22411

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    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. II. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. [105]-166. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163)

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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.