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Fain from the neighbouring dangers would they run,
And wish themselves still nearer to the sun.
The Gallic ships are in their ports confined,
Denied the common use of sea and wind,
Nor dare again the British strength engage;
Still they remember that destructive rage
Which lately made their trembling host retire,
Stunned with the noise, and wrapt in smoke and fire;
The waves with wide unnumbered wrecks were strowed,
And planks, and arms, and men, promiscuous flowed.
Spain's numerous fleet, that perisht on our coast,
Could scarce a longer line of battle boast,
The winds could hardly drive them to their fate,
And all the ocean laboured with the weight.
Where'er the waves in restless errors roll,
The sea lies open now to either pole:
Now may we safely use the northern gales,
And in the Polar Circle spread our sails;
Or deep in southern climes, secure from wars,
New lands explore, and sail by other stars;
Fetch uncontrolled each labour of the sun,
And make the product of the world our own.
At length, proud prince, ambitious Lewis, cease
To plague mankind, and trouble Europe's peace;
Think on the structures which thy pride has razed,
On towns unpeopled, and on fields laid waste;
Think on the heaps of corps, and streams of blood,
On every guilty plain, and purple flood,
Thy arms have made, and cease an impious war,
Nor waste the lives intrusted to thy care.
Or if no milder thought can calm thy mind,
Behold the great avenger of mankind,
See mighty Nassau through the battle ride,
And see thy subjects gasping by his side:
Fain would the pious prince refuse the alarm,
Fain would he check the fury of his arm;
But when thy cruelties his thoughts engage,
The hero kindles with becoming rage,
Then countries stolen, and captives unrestored,
Give strength to every blow, and edge his sword.
Behold with what resistless force he falls
On towns besieged, and thunders at thy walls!
Ask Villeroy; for Villeroy beheld
The town surrendered, and the treaty sealed;
With what amazing strength the forts were woll,
Whilst the whole power of France stood looking on.
But stop not here: behold where Berkley stands,
And executes his injured king's commands!
Around thy coast his bursting bombs he pours
On flaming citadels and falling towers ;
With hissing streams of fire the air they streak,
And hurl destruction round them where they break;
The skies with long ascending flames are bright,
And all the sea reflects a quivering light.
Thus Etna, when in fierce eruptions broke,
Fills heaven with ashes, and the earth with smoke;
Here crags of broken rocks are twirled on high,
Here molten stones and scattered cinders fly:
Its fury reaches the remotest coast,
And strows the Asiatic shore with dust.
Now does the sailor from the neighbouring main Look after Gallic towns and forts in vain; No more his wonted marks he can descry, But sees a long unmeasured ruin lie; Whilst, pointing to the naked coast, he shows His wondering mates where towns and steeples rose, Where crowded citizens he lately viewed,
And singles out the place where once St. Maloes stood.
Here Russel's actions should my muse require;
And, would my strength but second my desire,
I'd all his boundless bravery rehearse,
And draw his cannons thundering in my verse:
High on the deck should the great leader stand,
Wrath in his look, and lightning in his hand;
Like Homer's Hector, when he flung his fire
Amidst a thousand ships, and made all Greece retire.
But who can run the British triumphs o'er,
And count the flames disperst on every shore?
Who can describe the scattered victory,
And draw the reader on from sea to sea?
Else who could Ormond's godlike acts refuse,
Ormond the theme of every Oxford muse?
Fain would I here his mighty worth proclaim,
Attend him in the noble chase of fame,
Through all the noise and hurry of the fight,
Observe each blow, and keep him still in sight.
Oh, did our British peers thus court renown,
And grace the coats their forefathers won!
Our arms would then triumphantly advance,
Nor Henry be the last that conquered France.
What might not England hope, if such abroad
Purchased their country's honour with their blood:
When such, detained at home, support our state
In William's stead, and bear a kingdom's weight,
The schemes of Gallic policy o'erthrow,
And blast the counsels of the common foe;
Direct our armies, and distribute right,
And render our Maria's loss more light.
But stop, my muse, the ungrateful sound forbear,
Maria's name still wounds each British ear:
Each British heart Maria still does1 wound,
And tears burst out unbidden at the sound;
Maria still our rising mirth destroys,
Darkens our triumphs, and forbids our joys.
But see, at length, the British ships appear!
Our Nassau comes! and, as his fleet draws near,
The rising masts advance, the sails grow white,
And all his pompous navy floats in sight.
Come, mighty prince, desired of Britain, come!
May heaven's propitious gales attend thee home!
Come, and let longing crowds behold that look
Which such confusion and amazement strook
Through Gallic hosts: but, oh! let us descry
Mirth in thy brow, and pleasure in thy eye;
Let nothing dreadful in thy face be found;
But for awhile forget the trumpet's sound;
Well-pleased, thy people's loyalty approve,
Accept their duty, and enjoy their love.
For as, when lately moved with fierce delight,
You plunged amidst the tumult of the fight,
Whole heaps of dead encompassed you around,
And steeds o'erturned lay foaming on the ground:
1 Does wound.] An unlucky blemish in this otherwise pretty passage -Yet it is a mistake to think that these feeble expletives, do, does, did, &c., as Pope calls them, are never to have a place in our verse: the rule is "they should not be coupled with the verb." The reason is obvious.
So crowned with laurels now, where'er you go,
Around you blooming joys and peaceful blessings flow.
EXCEPT THE STORY OF ARISTÆUS.
ETHEREAL Sweets shall next my muse engage,1
And this, Mæcenas, claims your patronage.
Of little creatures' wondrous acts I treat,
The ranks and mighty leaders of their state,
Their laws, employments, and their wars relate.
A trifling theme provokes my humble lays.
Trifling the theme, not so the poet's praise,
If great Apollo and the tuneful Nine
Join in the piece, to make the work divine.
First for your bees a proper
That's fenced about, and sheltered from the wind;
For winds divert them in their flight, and drive
The swarms, when loaden homeward, from their hive.
Nor sheep, nor goats, must pasture near their stores,
To trample under-foot the springing flowers;
Nor frisking heifers bound about the place,
To spurn the dew-drops off, and bruise the rising grass;
Nor must the lizard's painted brood appear,
Nor wood-pecks, nor the swallow, harbour near.
They waste the swarms, and, as they fly along,
Convey the tender morsels to their young.
Let purling streams, and fountains edged with moss, And shallow rills run trickling down the grass;
1 Ethereal sweets.] The following version, though it be exact enough, for the most part, and not inelegant, gives us but a faint idea of the original. It has the grace, but not the energy, of Virgil's manner. The late Translator of the Georgics* has succeeded much better. The versification (except only the bad rhymes) may be excused; for the frequent triplets and Alexandrines (which Dryden's laziness, by the favour of his exuberant genius, had introduced) were esteemed, when this translation was made, not blemishes, but beauties.
Let branching olives o'er the fountain grow;
Or palms shoot up, and shade the streams below;
That when the youth, led by their princes, shun
The crowded hive and sport it in the sun,
Refreshing springs may tempt them from the heat,
And shady coverts yield a cool retreat.
Whether the neighbouring water stands or runs,
Lay twigs across and bridge it o'er with stones;
That if rough storms, or sudden blasts of wind,
Should dip or scatter those that lag behind,
Here they may settle on the friendly stone,
And dry their reeking pinions at the sun.
Plant all the flowery banks with lavender,
With store of savoury scent the fragrant air;
Let running betony the field o'erspread,
And fountains soak the violet's dewy bed.
Though barks or plaited willows make your hive,
A narrow inlet to their cells contrive;
For colds congeal and freeze the liquors up,
And, melted down with heat, the waxen buildings drop.
The bees, of both extremes alike afraid,
Their wax around the whistling crannies spread,
And suck out clammy dews from herbs and flowers,
To smear the chinks, and plaster up the pores;
For this they hoard up glue, whose clinging drops,
Like pitch or bird-lime, hang in stringy ropes.
They oft, 'tis said, in dark retirements dwell,
And work in subterraneous caves their cell;
At other times the industrious insects live
In hollow rocks, or make a tree their hive.
Point all their chinky lodgings round with mud,
And leaves most thinly on your work be strowed;
But let no baleful yew-tree flourish near,
Nor rotten marshes send out steams of mire;
Nor burning crabs grow red, and crackle in the fire.
Nor neighbouring caves return the dying sound,
Nor echoing rocks the doubled voice rebound.
Things thus prepared-
When the under-world is seized with cold and night,
And summer here descends in streams of light,
The bees through woods and forests take their flight.