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Of these twelve hundred, of those thousands ten. 60
Tents, ammunition, colours, carriages,
Cannon, and kettle-drums;”—sweet numbers these.
But is it thus you English bards compose,
With Runic lays thus tag insipid prose;
And when you should your heroes' deeds rehearse,
Give us a commissary's list in verse?
Why, faith! Despreaux, there's sense in what you say:
I told you where my difficulty lay;
So vast, so numerous were great Blenheim's spoils,
They scorn the bounds of verse, and mock the Muse's
To make the rough recital aptly chime,
Or bring the sum of Gallia's loss to rhyme,
'Tis mighty hard; what poet would essay
To count the streamers of my Lord Mayor's-day?
To number all the several dishes dressed,
By honest Lamb, last coronation feast?
Or make arithmetic and epic meet,
And Newton's thoughts in Dryden's style repeat?
O Poet, had it been Apollo's will,
That I had shared a portion of thy skill: 80
Had this poor breast received the heavenly beam;
Or could I hope my verse might reach my theme;
Yet, Boileau, yet the labouring Muse should strive,
Beneath the shades of Marlborough's wreaths to live;
Should call aspiring gods to bless her choice, ,
And to their favourite strains exalt her voice,
Arms and a queen to sing; who, great and good,
From peaceful Thames to Danube's wandering flood,
Sent forth the terror of her high commands,
To save the nations from invading hands; 90
To prop fair liberty's declining cause,
And fix the jarring world with equal laws.
The queen should sit in Windsor's sacred grove, 93 Attended by the gods of war and love; Both should with equal zeal her smiles implore, To fix her joys, or to extend her power. Sudden, the Nymphs and Tritons should appear; And as great Anna's smiles dispel their fear, With active dance should her observance claim; With vocal shell should sound her happy name. 100 Their master Thames should leave the neighbouring shore, By his strong anchor known, and silver oar; Should lay his ensigns at his sovereign's feet, And audience mild with humble grace entreat. To her, his dear defence, he should complain, That whilst he blesses her indulgent reign; Whilst furthest seas are by his fleets surveyed, And on his happy banks each India laid; His brethren Maese, and Waal, and Rhine, and Saar, Feel the hard burthen of oppressive war; 110 That Danube scarce retains his rightful course Against two rebel armies' neighbouring force; And all must weep sad captives to the Seine, Unless unchained and freed by Britain's queen. The valiant sovereign calls her general forth; Neither recites her bounty, nor his worth: She tells him, he must Europe's fate redeem, And by that labour merit her esteem. She bids him wait her to the sacred hall; Shows him Prince Edward, and the conquered Gaul; Fixing the bloody cross upon his breast, 121 Says, he must die, or succour the distressed. Placing the saint an emblem by his side, She tells him Virtue armed must conquer lawless Pride. The hero bows obedient, and retires;
The queen's commands exalt the warrior's fires. 126
His steps are to the silent woods inclined,
The great design revolving in his mind:
When to his sight a heavenly form appears:
Her hand a palm, her head a laurel wears.
Me, she begins, the fairest child of Jove,
Below for ever sought, and blessed above;
Me, the bright source of wealth, and power, and fame;
(Nor need I say, Victoria is my name)
Me the great father down to thee has sent;
He bids me wait at thy distinguished tent,
To execute what Anna's wish would have;
Her subject thou, I only am her slave.
Dare then, thou much beloved by smiling fate,
For Anna's sake, and in her name, be great; 140
Go forth, and be to distant nations known,
My future favourite, and my darling son.
At Schellenbergh I'll manifest sustain
Thy glorious cause; and spread my wings again,
Conspicuous o'er thy helm, in Blenheim's plain.
The goddess said, nor would admit reply;
But cut the liquid air, and gained the sky.
His high commission is through Britain known,
And thronging armies to his standard run,
He marches thoughtful, and he speedy sails: 150
(Bless him, ye seas! and prosper him, ye gales!)
Belgia receives him welcome to her shores,
And William's death with lessened grief deplores:
His presence only must retrieve that loss;
Marlborough to her must be what William was.
So when great Atlas, from these low abodes
Recalled, was gathered to his kindred-gods;
Alcides respited by prudent fate,
Sustained the ball, nor drooped beneath the weight.
Secret and swift behold the chief advance; 160 Sees half the empire joined, and friend to France; The British general dooms the fight; his sword Dreadful he draws—the captains wait the word. Anne and St George! the charging hero cries; Shrill echo from the neighbouring wood replies, Anne and St George.—At that auspicious sign The standards move; the adverse armies join. Of eight great hours, Time measures out the sands; And Europe's fate in doubtful balance stands; The ninth, Victoria comes:–O'er Marlborough's head Confessed she sits; the hostile troops recede: 171 Triumphs the goddess, from her promise freed. The eagle, by the British lion's might Unchained and free, directs her upward flight; Nor did she e'er with stronger pinions soar Erom Tyber's banks, than now from Danube's shore. Fired with the thoughts which these ideas raise, And great ambition of my country's praise; The English Muse should like the Mantuan rise, 179 Scornful of earth and clouds, should reach the skies, With wonder (though with envy still) pursued by human eyes. But we must change the style—just now I said, I ne'er was master of the tuneful trade; Or the small genius which my youth could boast, In prose and business lies extinct and lost, Blessed if I may some younger muse excite, Point out the game, and animate the flight; That from Marseilles to Calais, France may know, As we have conquerors, we have poets too; And either laurel does in Britain grow; 190 That, though amongst ourselves, with too much heat, We sometimes wrangle, when we should debate;
(A consequential ill which freedom draws; 193
A bad effect, but from a noble cause;)
We can with universal zeal advance,
To curb the faithless arrogance of France;
Nor ever shall Britannia's sons refuse
To answer to thy master or thy muse;
Nor want just subject for victorious strains;
While Marlborough's arm eternal laurels gains; 200
And where old Spenser sung, a new Eliza reigns.
FOR THE PLAN OF A FOUNTAIN.
On which are the Effigies of the Queen on a Triumphal Arch, the Duke of Marlborough beneath, and the chief Rivers of the World round the whole Work.
YE active streams, where'er your waters flow,
Let distant climes and furthest nations know
What ye from Thames and Danube have been taught,
How Anne commanded, and how Marlborough fought.
Quacunque aeterno properatis, flumina, lapsu,
Divisis late terris, populisque remotis,
Dicite, nam vobis Tamisis narravit et Ister,
Anna quid imperiis potuit, quid Marlburus armis.
As the Chameleon, who is known
To have no colours of his own;
But borrows from his neighbour's hue
His white or black, his green or blue;
And struts as much in ready light,
Which credit gives him upon sight.
As if the rainbow were in tail