Habitarunt Di quoque silvas. VIRG.
1 KIND heav'n at length, successfully implor'd,
2 To Britain's arms her hero had restor'd:
3 And now our fears remov'd, with loud applause
4 Jointly we crown'd his conduct, and his cause.
5 Transporting pleasure rais'd each drooping tongue,
6 The peasants shouted, and the poets sung.
7 The poets sung, tho' Addison alone
8 Adorns thy laurels, and maintains his own;
9 In him alone, great MARLBOROUGH, is seen,
10 Thy graceful motion, and thy godlike mien:[Page 189]
11 Each action he exalts with rage divine,
12 And the full Danube flows in ev'ry line.
13 But we in vain to that sublime aspire;
14 So heatless glow-worms emulate the fire,
15 Shine without warmth: another song prepare,
16 My Muse; the country is the Muse's care;
17 Thither thy much-lov'd MARLBOROUGH pursue
18 With eager verse, and keep thy theme in view.
19 But oh! what joyful numbers can disclose
20 The various raptures his approach bestows;
21 How vales resound, how crowds collected share
22 The radiant glories of the matchless pair?
23 The gen'rous youths, within whose bosoms glow
24 Some secret unripe longings for a foe,
25 Surveying here the favourite of Fame,
26 Conceive new hopes, and nurse the growing flame:
27 While softer maids confess a pleasing pain,
28 And sighing wish he had been born a swain.
29 So when the pow'rs appeas'd bade discord cease,
30 And Greece obtain'd from jarring gods a peace,
31 The god of war, and beauteous queen of love,
32 To Cyprian shades their peaceful chariot drove:
33 Shepherds and nymphs attending form'd the train,
34 And mirth unusual revell'd on the plain.
35 And should the gods once more their heav'n forego,
36 To range on earth, and bless mankind below,
37 O'er all the globe no region would be found,
38 With nobler soil, or brighter beauty crown'd.[Page 190]
39 Phoebus for this would change his Delphic grove,
40 Juno her Samos, and his Ida Jove.
41 Olympic games no longer should delight,
42 But neighb'ring plains afford a nobler sight.
43 Where England's great Aeneas standing by,
44 Impatient youths on winged coursers fly:
45 Urg'd by his presence they outstrip the wind
46 Involv'd in smoke, and leave the Muse behind.
47 But see! once more returns the rival train,
48 And now they stretch, now bending loose the rein,
49 And fears and hopes beat high in ev'ry vein,
50 'Till one (long since successful in the field)
51 Exerts that strength he first with art conceal'd;
52 Then swift as light'ning darted through the skies,
53 Springs forward to the goal, and bears away the prize.
54 By arts like these all other palms are won,
55 They end with glory, who with caution run.
56 We neither write, nor act, what long can last,
57 When the first heat sees all our vigour past;
58 But, jaded, both their short-liv'd mettle lose,
59 The furious statesman, and the fiery Muse.
60 The contest ended, night with gloomy face
61 O'erspreads the heav'n; and now with equal pace
62 The victor, and the vanquish'd, quit the place:
63 Sleep's friendly office is to all the same,
64 His conquest he forgets, and they their shame.
65 Next morning, ere the sun with sickly ray
66 O'er doubtful shades maintains the dawning day,[Page 191]
67 The sprightly horn proclaims some danger near,
68 And hounds, harmonious to the sportsman's ear,
69 With deep-mouth'd notes rouse up the trembling deer.
70 Startled he leaps aside, and list'ning round,
71 This way and that explores the hostile sound,
72 Arm'd for that fight, which he declines with shame,
73 Too fond of life, too negligent of fame;
74 For Nature, to display her various art,
75 Had fortify'd his head, but not his heart:
76 Those spears, which useless on his front appear'd,
77 On any else had been ador'd and fear'd.
78 But honours disproportion'd are a load,
79 Grandeur a specious curse, when ill bestow'd.
80 Thus void of hope, and panting with surprize,
81 In vain he'd combat, and as vainly flies.
82 Of paths mysterious whether to pursue
83 The scented track informs the lab'ring crew:
84 With speed redoubled, they the hint embrace,
85 Whilst animating music warms the chace:
86 Flush'd are their hopes, and with one gen'ral cry
87 They echo thro' the woods, and sound their conquest nigh.
88 Not so the prey; he now for safety bends
89 From enemies profess'd, to faithless friends,
90 Who to the wretched own no shelter due,
91 But fly more swiftly than his foes pursue.
92 This last disgrace with indignation fires
93 His drooping soul, and gen'rous rage inspires;[Page 192]
94 By all forsaken, he resolves at length
95 To try the poor remains of wasted strength;
96 With looks and mien majestic stands at bay,
97 And whets his horns for the approaching fray:
98 Too late alas! for, the first charge begun,
99 Soon he repents what cowardice had done,
100 Owns the mistake of his o'er-hasty flight,
101 And aukwardly maintains a languid fight;
102 Here, and there, aiming a successless blow,
103 And only seems to nod upon the foe.
104 So coward princes, who at war's alarm
105 Start from their greatness, and themselves disarm,
106 With recollected forces strive in vain
107 Their empire, or their honour, to regain,
108 And turn to rally on some distant plain,
109 Whilst the fierce conqu'ror bravely urges on,
110 Improves th' advantage, and ascends the throne.
111 Forgive, great Denham, that in abject verse,
112 What richly thou adorn'st, I thus rehearse.
113 Thy noble chace all others does exceed,
114 In artful fury, and well-temper'd speed.
115 We read with pleasure, imitate with pain,
116 Where faney fires, and judgment holds the rein.
117 Goddess, proceed; and as to relicks found
118 Altars we raise, and consecrate the ground,
119 Pay thou thy homage to an aged seat,
120 Small in itself, but in its owner great;[Page 193]
121 Where Chaucer (sacred name!) whole years employ'd,
122 Coy Nature courted, and at length enjoy'd;
123 Mov'd at his suit, the naked goddess came,
124 Reveal'd her charms, and recompens'd his flame.
125 Rome's pious king with like success, retir'd,
126 And taught his people, what his Nymph inspir'd.
127 Hence flow descriptions regularly fine,
128 And beauties such as never can decline:
129 Each lively image makes the reader start,
130 And poetry invades the painter's art.
131 This Dryden saw, and with his wonted fate
132 (Rich in himself) endeavour'd to translate;
133 Took wond'rous pains to do the author wrong,
134 And set to modern tune his ancient song.
135 Cadence, and sound, which we so prize, and use,
136 Ill suit the majesty of Chaucer's Muse;
137 His language only can his thoughts express,
138 Old honest Clytus scorns the Persian dress.
139 Inimitable bard!
140 In raptures loud I would thy praises tell,
141 And on th' inspiring theme for ever dwell,
142 Did not the maid, whose wond'rous beauty seen,
143 Inflam'd great Henry, and incens'd his queen,
144 With pleasing sorrow move me to survey
145 A neighb'ring structure, aweful in decay,
146 For ever sacred, and in ruin blest,
147 Which heretofore contain'd that lovely guest.[Page 194]
148 Admiring strangers, who attentive come
149 To learn the tale of this romantic dome,
150 By faithful monuments instructed, view
151 (Tho' time should spare) what civil rage can do.
152 Where landskips once, in rich apartments high,
153 Through various prospects led the wand'ring eye:
154 Where painted rivers flow'd through flow'ry meads,
155 And hoary mountains rear'd their aweful heads:
156 Or where by hands of curious virgins wrought,
157 In rich array embroider'd heroes fought:
158 Now hemloek thrives, and weeds of pow'rful charms
159 O'er ragged walls extend their baleful arms.
160 Monsters obscene their pois'nous roots invade,
161 And bloated pant beneath the gloomy shade.
162 Thus noblest buildings are with ease effac'd,
163 And what's well wrote alone, will always last.
164 Ev'n Vanbrugh's frame, that does so brightly shine
165 In rules exact, and greatness of design,
166 Would fall a victim to devouring age,
167 Had not that hand, which built, adorn'd the stage.
168 Wit so refin'd without the poet's pain,
169 Such artful scenes in such a flowing vein,
170 O'er latest aeras deathless will prevail,
171 When Doric and Corinthian orders fail;
172 When each proud pyramid its height foregoes,
173 And sinks beneath the base on which it rose.
174 Ye British fair, whose names but mention'd, give
175 Worth to the tale, and make the poem live;[Page 195]
176 Vouchsafe to hear, whilst briefly I relate
177 Great Henry's flame, and Rosamonda's fate.
178 Pierc'd to the soul by her resistless eyes,
179 Lo! at her feet the scepter'd vassal lies,
180 Now big with hopes, now tortur'd with despair,
181 Nor toils, nor pleasures, can divert his care.
182 Her voice, her look, ten thousand wounds impart,
183 And fix the pleasing image in his heart;
184 Such as (if Fame has drawn the picture true,
185 Her native lustre sung, nor added new)
186 Might tempt the thund'rer from his bless'd abode,
187 To court that beauty which himself bestow'd.
188 Features so wrought not Venus' self displays,
189 When dress'd by youthful pens in vocal lays;
190 Not equal charms in all the Graces join,
191 And only Sunderland is more divine.
192 Thus fatally adorn'd, the hapless fair
193 Receives his suit, and listens to his prayer;
194 Fond of her ruin, pleas'd to be undone,
195 She reaps the conquest that her eyes had won.
196 Tho' tongues obscure, at humble distance plac'd,
197 May censure joys which they despair to taste;
198 Whene'er th' attack is made, all jointly own
199 What bright temptations sparkle from a throne:
200 Could love no entrance find, ambition can,
201 They clasp the monarch who despise the man;
202 Beyond his boldest wish the hero bless'd,
203 Riots in joys too great to be express'd;[Page 196]
204 And now, with caution, does the means pursue,
205 As they are great, to make them lasting too.
206 'Mid shades obscure, remote from vulgar eye,
207 An artful edifice is rear'd on high,
208 Through which inextricable windings run,
209 Lost in themselves, and end where they begun.
210 Maeander thus, as ancient stories feign,
211 In curling channels wander'd o'er the plain;
212 Oft by himself o'ertook, himself survey'd,
213 And backward turning, to his fountain stray'd.
214 Nor much unlike to these are mazes found,
215 By loit'ring hinds imprinted on the ground;
216 Who, when releas'd by some distinguish'd day,
217 Lead ruddy damsels forth to rural play;
218 And on the flow'ry vale, or mountain's brow,
219 The yielding glebe in wanton furrows plow.
220 Ye Sylvan Nymphs, who with a pleasing pride,
221 O'er shady groves, and secret vows preside,
222 On this mysterious pile with care attend,
223 Protect the mistress, and the prince befriend:
224 With both conspire to blind the wary dame,
225 And screen th'important tale, from babbling Fame.
226 Ah faithless guards! in vain with od'rous smoke
227 We feast your altars, and your aid invoke;
228 When nuptial debt's are now no longer paid,
229 More ways than one the rover is betray'd:
230 Affected passion does no more suffice,
231 And aukward kindness proves a weak disguise.
232 Woman, by nature arm'd against deceit,
233 With indignation smiles upon the cheat;
234 Looks down with scorn, and only burns to know
235 Th' uncertain author of her certain woe.
236 As a fierce lioness of Lybian race,
237 Struck by the hunter's hand, with furious pace
238 Strides o'er the sands, and red with recent gore
239 Yells out her pain, and makes the forest roar:
240 So raves the queen incens'd; and loudly tells
241 The restless grief that in her bosom dwells,
242 For her lov'd lord from her embraces fled,
243 Her slighted beauty, and her widow'd bed.
244 What dire effects her kindled fury wrought,
245 Whether by pointed steel, or poison'd draught,
246 Th' unguarded rival fell, forbear to ask,
247 Th' unwilling Muse declines the mournful task,
248 Recoils with anguish, wounded to the soul,
249 Feels ev'ry stab, and drinks th' invenom'd bowl.
250 Thee, beauteous fair, Love made a pris'ner here,
251 But great Eliza's doom was more severe;
252 By hate implacable to shades confin'd,
253 Where still the native grandeur of her mind
254 Clear and unsully'd shone, with radiant grace
255 Gilding the dusky horrors of the place.
256 No nobler gifts can heav'n itself pour down,
257 Than to deserve, and to despise a crown.
258 In some dark room, for pompous sorrow made,
259 Methinks I see the royal virgin laid;[Page 198]
260 With anxious thoughts employ'd on former times,
261 Their various fate, their glory, and their crimes;
262 Th' ill-boding place a just concernment gives,
263 Since Elinora in Maria lives.
264 Maria — but forgotten be her name,
265 In long oblivion lost, o'erlook'd by fame.
266 Do thou, O Albion, from remembrance chace
267 Thy persecuted sons, thy martyr'd race:
268 And freed at length by ANNA'S milder ray,
269 From furious zeal, and arbitrary sway,
270 Enjoy the present, or the future scene,
271 With promis'd blessings fraught, without one cloud serene.
272 Stop, goddess, stop, recall thy daring flight,
273 I cannot, must not tempt the wond'rous height.
274 Themes so exalted, with proportion'd wing,
275 Let Addison, let Garth, let Congreve sing;
276 Whilst list'ning nations crowd the vocal lyre,
277 Foretaste their bliss, and languish with desire.
278 To thee thy song, thy province is assign'd,
279 And what should foremost stand, is yet behind.
280 Silenc'd be all antiquity could boast,
281 And let old Woodstock in the new be lost.
282 No more her Edwards, or her Henrys please;
283 Their spoils of war, or monuments of peace:
284 By CHURCHILL'S hand so largely is out-done,
285 What either prince has built, and both have won.
286 With admiration struck, we gaze around,
287 The fancy entertain, the sense confound:[Page 199]
288 And whilst our eyes o'er the foundation roam,
289 Presage the wonders of the finish'd dome.
290 Thus did our hero's early dawn display
291 Th' auspicious beams of his advancing day.
292 We, who in humble cells, and learn'd retreat,
293 Are strangers to the splendor of the great,
294 On barren cliffs of speculation thrown,
295 Of all besides unknowing, and unknown,
296 Pronounce our fabrics just in ev'ry part,
297 And scorn the poor attempts of modern art;
298 (Proud of his cottage so exults the swain,
299 Who loves the forest, and admires the plain,)
300 'Till here convinc'd, unwillingly we find
301 Our Wickhams, and our Wainfleets, left behind;
302 Far as the molehill by the mountain's brow,
303 Or shrubs by cedars, in whose shade they grow.
304 Rise, glorious pile, the princess bids thee rise,
305 And claim thy title to her kindred skies:
306 Where she presides all must be nobly great,
307 All must be regular, and all compleat;
308 No other hand the mighty work requires,
309 Art may inform, but she alone inspires.
310 When lab'ring Tyrians, with united toil,
311 Advanc'd their Carthage on the destin'd soil,
312 So sate their queen, and look'd auspicious down,
313 Herself the Genius of the rising town.
314 Thrice happy he, to whom the task shall fall,
315 To grace with shining images the wall;[Page 200]
316 And in bold colours silently rehearse,
317 What soars above the reach of humble verse.
318 No fam'd exploits, from musty annals brought,
319 Shall share his art, or furnish out the draught;
320 No foreign heroes in triumphant cars,
321 No Latian victories, nor Graecian wars:
322 Germania's fruitful fields alone afford
323 Work for the pencil, harvest for the sword.
324 Her well-drawn fights with horror shall surprize,
325 And clouds of smoke upon the canvas rise;
326 Rivers distain'd shall reeking currents boast,
327 And wind in crimson waves the plunging host;
328 Each mortal pang be seen, each dying throe,
329 And Death look grim in all the pomp of woe.
330 But far, oh far distinguish'd from the rest!
331 By youth, by beauty, and a waving crest,
332 Like young Patroclus, Dormer shall be slain,
333 And great Achilles' soul be shock'd again.
334 Successful Kneller, whose improving air
335 Adds light to light, and graces to the fair,
336 Thus may compleat the glories of his age,
337 And in one piece the whole soft sex engage;
338 Who shall in crowds the lovely dead surround,
339 And weep rich gems upon his streaming wound;
340 By sad remembrance urg'd to fruitless moan,
341 And lost in Dormer's charms, neglect their own.
342 Yet artist stop not here, but boldly dare
343 Next to design, what next deserves thy care.
344 'Midst British squadrons awefully serene,
345 On rising ground let MARLBOROUGH be seen,
346 With his drawn faulchion light'ning on the foe,
347 Prepar'd to strike the great decisive blow;
348 While phlegmatic allies his vengeance stay,
349 By absence these, and by their presence they.
350 Ill-fated Gauls to 'scape his thunder so,
351 And by a short reprieve inhance their woe!
352 When they in arms again the combat try,
353 Again their troops in wild disorder fly,
354 No usual ties of clemency shall bind,
355 No temper shall assuage the victor's mind:
356 But heaps on heaps attone the fatal wrong,
357 And rage unbounded drive the storm along.
358 Legions of foes resistless shall advance
359 O'er prostrate mounds, to shock the power of France,
360 Their loud demands to proud Lutetia tell,
361 And rouze th' inglorious tyrant from his cell.
362 Then provinces releas'd shall break their chain,
363 Forego their bondage, and forget their pain.
364 Iberia, with extended arms, shall run
365 To liberty, to life, to Austria's son;
366 And by mild councils generously sway'd,
367 Own thy example, ANNA! and thy aid;
368 Whole kingdoms shall be bless'd, all Europe free,
369 And lift her hands unmanacled to Thee.