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LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL.
IF yet your thoughts are loose from state affairs,
Nor feel the burden of a kingdom's cares,
If yet your time and actions are your own,
Receive the present of a muse unknown:
A muse that in advent'rous numbers sings
The rout of armies and the fall of kings,
Britain advanc'd, and Europe's peace restor'd,
By Somers' counsels and by Nassau's sword.
To you, my Lord, these daring thoughts belong, Who help'd to raise the subject of my song ; To you the hero of my verse reveals His great designs, to you in council tells His inmost thoughts, determining the doom Of towns unstorm’d, and battles yet to come. And well could
Describe his conduct, and reward his pains :
But since the state has all your cares engrost,
And poetry in higher thoughts is lost,
Attend to what a lesser muse indites,
Pardon her faults, and countenance her flights.
On you, my Lord, with anxious fear I wait, And from your judgment must expect my fate,
Who, free from vulgar passions, are above
Degrading envy, or misguided love;
If you, well-pleas'd, shall smile upon my lays,
Secure of fame, my voice I'll boldly raise,
For next to what you write, is what you praise.
WHEN now the business of the field is o'er,
The trumpets sleep, and cannons cease to roar,
When ev'ry dismal echo is decay'd,
And all the thunder of the battle laid ;
Attend, Auspicious Prince, and let the muse
In humble accents milder thoughts infuse.
Others, in bold prophetic numbers skill'd,
Set thee in arms, and led thee to the field,
My muse expecting on the British strand
Waits thy return, and welcomes thee to land :
She oft has seen thee pressing on the foe,
When Europe was concern'd-in ev'ry blow;
But durst not in heroic strains rejoice ;
The trumpets, drums, and cannons drown'd her voice:
She saw the Boyne run thick with human gore,
And floating corps lie beating on the shore :
She saw thee climb the banks, but try'd in vain
To trace her hero through the dusty plain,
When through the thick embattled lines he broke,
Now plung'd amidst the foes, now lost in clouds of
O that some muse, renown'd for lofty verse,
In daring numbers would thy toils rehearse!
Draw thee belov'd in peace, and fear'd in wars,
Inur'd to noon-day sweats, and midnight cares !
But still the godlike man, by some hard fate,
Receives the glory of his toils too late ;
Too late the verse the mighty act succeeds,
One age the hero, one the poet breeds.
A thousand years in full succession ran,
Ere Virgil rais’d his voice, and sung the man
Who, driv'n by stress of fate, such dangers bore
On stormy seas, and a disastrous shore,
Before he settled in the promis'd earth,
gave the empire of the world its birth.
Troy long had found the Grecians bold and fierce,
Ere Homer muster'd up their troops in verse;
Long had Achilles quell'd the Trojans' lust,
And laid the labour of the gods in dust,
Before the tow'ring muse began her flight,
And drew the hero raging in the fight,
Engag'd in tented fields, and rolling floods,
Or slaught’ring mortals, or a match for gods.
And here, perhaps, by fate's unerring doom,
Some mighty bard lies hid in years to come,
That shall in WILLIAM's godlike acts engage,
And with his battles warm a future age.
Hibernian fields shall here thy conquests show,
And Boyne be sung, when it has ceas'd to flow;
Here Gallic labours shall advance thy fame,
And here Seneffe shall wear another name.
Our late posterity, with secret dread,
Shall view thy battles, and with pleasure read
How, in the bloody field, too near advanc'd,
The guiltless bullet on thy shoulder glanc’d.
The race of Nassaus was by heav'n design'd
To curb the proud oppressors of mankind,
To bind the tyrants of the earth with laws,
And fight in ev'ry injur'd nation's cause,
The world's great patriots; they for justice call,
And as they favour, kingdoms rise or fall.