« PreviousContinue »
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH.1
Rheni pacator et Istri.
Omnis in hoc uno variis discordia cessit
Ordinibus; lætatur eques, plauditque senator,
Votaque patricio certant plebeia favori.
CLAUD. DE LAUD. STILIC.
Esse aliquam in terris gentem quæ suà impensâ, suo labore ac periculo bella gerat pro libertate aliorum. Nec hoc finitimis, aut propinquæ vicinitatis hominibus, aut terris continenti junctis præstet. Maria trajiciat: ne quod toto orbe terrarum injustum imperium sit, et ubique jus, fas, lex, potentissima sint. LIV. HIST. lib. 33.
WHILE crowds of princes your deserts proclaim,
Proud in their number to enrol your name;
While emperors to you commit their cause,
And ANNA's praises crown the vast applause;
Accept, great leader, what the muse recites,
That in ambitious verse attempts your fights,
Fired and transported with a theme so new.
Ten thousand wonders opening to my view
Shine forth at once; sieges and storms appear,
And wars and conquests fill the important year,
Rivers of blood I see, and hills of slain,
An Iliad rising out of one campaign.
The haughty Gaul beheld, with towering pride,
His ancient bounds enlarged on every side,
Pirene's lofty barriers were subdued,
And in the midst of his wide empire stood;
The execution of this poem is better than the plan. Indeed the subject was fit only for an ode, and might have furnished materials for a very fine one, if Mr. Addison had possessed the talents of a lyric poet. However, particular passages are wrought up into much life and beauty.
Ausonia's states, the victor to restrain,
Opposed their Alps and Apennines in vain,
Nor found themselves, with strength of rocks immured,
Behind their everlasting hills secured;
The rising Danube its long race began,
And half its course through the new conquests ran;
Amazed and anxious for her sovereign's fates,
Germania trembled through a hundred states;
Great Leopold himself was seized with fear;
He gazed around, but saw no succour near;
He gazed, and half abandoned to despair
His hopes on Heaven, and confidence in prayer.
To Britain's queen the nations turn their eyes,
On her resolves the Western world relies,
Confiding still, amidst its dire alarms,
In ANNA'S councils and in CHURCHILL's arms.
Thrice happy Britain, from the kingdoms rent,
To sit the guardian of the continent!
That sees her bravest son advanced so high,
And flourishing so near her prince's eye;
Thy favourites grow not up by fortune's sport,
Or from the crimes or follies of a court;
On the firm basis of desert they rise,
From long-tried faith, and friendship's holy ties:
Their sovereign's well-distinguished smiles they share,
Her ornaments in peace, her strength in war;
The nation thanks them with a public voice,
By showers of blessings Heaven approves their choice;
Envy itself is dumb, in wonder lost,
And factions strive who shall applaud 'em most.
Soon as soft vernal breezes warm the sky,
Britannia's colours in the zephyrs fly;
Her chief already has his march begun,
Crossing the provinces himself had won,
Till the Moselle, appearing from afar,
Retards the progress of the moving war.
Delightful stream, had nature bid her fall
In distant climes, far from the perjured Gaul;
But now a purchase to the sword she lies,
Her harvests for uncertain owners rise,
Each vineyard doubtful of its master grows,
And to the victor's bowl each vintage flows.
The discontented shades of slaughtered hosts,
That wandered on her banks, her heroes' ghosts,
Hoped, when they saw Britannia's arms appear,
The vengeance due to their great deaths was near.
Our godlike leader, ere the stream he passed,
The mighty scheme of all his labours cast,
Forming the wondrous year within his thought;
His bosom glowed with battles yet unfought.
The long, laborious march he first surveys,
And joins the distant Danube to the Maese,
Between whose floods such pathless forests
Such mountains rise, so many rivers flow:
The toil looks lovely in the hero's eyes,
And danger serves but to enhance the prize.
Big with the fate of Europe, he renews
His dreadful course, and the proud foe pursues:
Infected by the burning scorpion's heat,
The sultry gales round his chafed temples beat,
Till on the borders of the Maine he finds
Defensive shadows and refreshing winds.
Our British youth, with in-born freedom bold,
Unnumbered scenes of servitude behold,
Nations of slaves, with tyranny debased,
(Their Maker's image more than half defaced,)
Hourly instructed, as they urge their toil,
To prize their queen, and love their native soil.
Still to the rising sun they take their way
Through clouds of dust, and gain upon the day.
When now the Neckar on its friendly coast
With cooling streams revives the fainting host,
That cheerfully its labours past forgets,
The midnight watches, and the noon-day heats.
O'er prostrate towns and palaces they pass,
(Now covered o'er with weeds and hid in grass,)
Breathing revenge; whilst anger and disdain
Fire every breast, and boil in every vein:
Here shattered walls, like broken rocks, from far
Rise up in hideous views, the guilt of war,
Whilst here the vine o'er hills of ruin climbs,
Industrious to conceal great Bourbon's crimes.
1 Our godlike leader.] Our poets, half paganized in their education, deal much too freely in this epithet.
At length the fame of England's hero drew Eugenio to the glorious interview. Great souls by instinct to each other turn, Demand alliance, and in friendship burn; A sudden friendship, while with stretched-out rays They meet each other, mingling blaze with blaze. Polished in courts, and hardened in the field, Renowned for conquest, and in council skilled, Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood Of mounting spirits, and fermenting blood: Lodged in the soul, with virtue over-ruled, Inflamed by reason, and by reason cooled, In hours of peace content to be unknown, And only in the field of battle shown: To souls like these, in mutual friendship joined, Heaven dares intrust the cause of human-kind. Britannia's graceful sons appear in arms, Her harassed troops the hero's presence warms, Whilst the high hills and rivers all around With thundering peals of British shouts resound: Doubling their speed, they march with fresh delight, Eager for glory, and require the fight. So the staunch hound the trembling deer pursues, And smells his footsteps in the tainted dews, The tedious track unravelling by degrees: But when the scent comes warm in every breeze, Fired at the near approach, he shoots away On his full stretch, and bears upon his prey.
The march concludes, the various realms are past,
The immortal Schellenberg appears at last :
Like hills the aspiring ramparts rise on high,
Like valleys at their feet the trenches lie;
Batteries on batteries guard each fatal pass,
Threatening destruction; rows of hollow brass,
Tube behind tube, the dreadful entrance keep,
Whilst in their wombs ten thousand thunders sleep:
Great Churchill owns, charmed with the glorious sight,
His march o'erpaid by such a promised fight.
The western sun now shot a feeble ray,
And faintly scattered the remains of day;
Evening approached; but, oh! what hosts of foes
Were never to behold that evening close!
Thickening their ranks, and wedged in firm array,
The close-compacted Britons win their way:
In vain the cannon their thronged war defaced
With tracts of death, and laid the battle waste;
Still pressing forward to the fight, they broke
Through flames of sulphur, and a night of smoke,
Till slaughter'd legions filled the trench below,
And bore their fierce avengers to the foe.
High on the works the mingling hosts engage;
The battle, kindled into tenfold rage
With showers of bullets and with storms of fire,
Burns in full fury; heaps on heaps expire;
Nations with nations mixed confusedly die,
And lost in one promiscuous carnage lie.
How many generous Britons meet their doom, New to the field, and heroes in the bloom! The illustrious youths, that left their native shore To march where Britons never marched before, (Oh fatal love of fame! oh glorious heat, Only destructive to the brave and great!) After such toils o'ercome, such dangers past, Stretched on Bavarian ramparts breathe their last. But hold, my muse, may no complaints appear, Nor blot the day with an ungrateful tear: While Marlborough lives, Britannia's stars dispenso A friendly light, and shine in innocence. Plunging through seas of blood his fiery steed Where'er his friends retire, or foes succeed; Those he supports, these drives to sudden flight, And turns the various fortune of the fight.
Forbear, great man, renowned in arms, forbear
To brave the thickest terrors of the war,
Nor hazard thus, confused in crowds of foes,
Britannia's safety, and the world's repose;
Let nations, anxious for thy life, abate
This scorn of danger and contempt of fate:
Thou liv'st not for thyself; thy queen demands
Conquest and peace from thy victorious hands;
Kingdoms and empires in thy fortune join,
And Europe's destiny depends on thine.
At length the long-disputed pass they gain,
By crowded armies fortified in vain ;