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I have taken the liberty to go off from it, and to add variously, as the subject and my own imagination carried me. As to the style, the choice I made of following the ode in Latin determined me in English to the stanza; and herein it was impossible not to have a mind to follow our great countryman Spenser; which I have done (as well at least as I could) in the manner of my expression, and the turn of my number; having only added one verse to his stanza, which I thought made the number more harmonious; and avoided such of his words as I found too obsolete. I have, however, retained some few of them, to make the colouring look more like Spenser's. Behest, command; band, army; prowess, strength; I weet, I know; I ween, I think; whilom, heretofore; and two or three more of that kind, which I hope the ladies will pardon me, and not judge my Muse less handsome, though for once she appears in a farthingale. I have also, in Spenser's manner, used Capsar for the emperor, Boya for Bavaria, Bavar for that prince, Ister for Danube, Iberia for Spain, etc.
That noble part of the Ode which I just now mentioned,
* Gens, quae, cremato fortis ab Ilio
where Horace praises the Romans as being descended from AEneas, I have turned to the honour of the British nation, descended from Brute, likewise a Trojan. That this Brute, fourth or fifth from Æneas, settled in England, and built London, which is called Troja Nova, or Troynovante, is a story which (I think) owes its original, if not to Geoffry of Monmouth, at least to the Monkish writers; yet it is not rejected by our great Camden; and is told by Milton, as if (at least) he was pleased with it; though possibly he does not believe it. However, it carries a poetical authority, which is sufficient for our purpose. It is as certain that Brute came into England, as that AEneas went into Italy; and upon the supposition of these facts, Virgil wrote the best poem that the world ever read, and Spenser paid Queen Elizabeth the greatest compliment.
I need not obviate one piece of criticism. that I bring my hero
From burning Troy, and Xanthus red with blood:
whereas he was not born when that city was destroyed. Virgil, in the case of his own AFneas relating to Dido, will stand as a sufficient proof, that a man in his poetical capacity is not accountable for a little fault in chronology.
My two great examples, Horace and Spenser, in many things resemble each other. Both have a height of imagination, and a majesty of expression in describing the sublime; and both know to temper those talents, and sweeten the description, so as to make it lovely as well as pompous. Both have equally that agreeable manner of mixing morality with their story, and that curiosa felicitas in the choice of their diction, which every writer aims at, and so very few have reached. Both are particularly fine in their images, and knowing in their numbers. Leaving therefore our two masters to the consideration and study of those who design to excel in poetry, I only beg leave to add, that it is long since I have (or at least ought to have) quitted Parnassus, and all the flowery roads on that side the country; though I thought myself indispensably obliged, upon the present occasion, to take a little journey into those parts.
1 WHEN great Augustus governed ancient Rome,
2. When bright Eliza ruled Britannia's state,
3 But, greatest Anna! while thy arms pursue
Me all too mean for such a task I weet; Yet, if the Sovereign Lady deigns to smile, I’ll follow Horace with impetuous heat, And clothe the verse in Spenser's native style. By these examples rightly taught to sing, And smit with pleasure of my country's praise, Stretching the plumes of an uncommon wing, High as Olympus I my flight will raise; And latest times shall in my numbers read Anna's immortal fame, and Marlborough's hardy
As the strong eagle in the silent wood, Mindless of warlike rage and hostile care, Plays round the rocky cliff or crystal flood, Till by Jove's high behests called out to war, And charged with thunder of his angry king, His bosom with the vengeful message glows; Upward the noble bird directs his wing, And, towering round his master's earth-born foes, Swift he collects his fatal stock of ire, Lifts his fierce talon high, and darts the forked fire.
Sedate and calm thus victor Marlborough sate, Shaded with laurels, in his native land, Till Anna calls him from his soft retreat, And gives her second thunder to his hand. Then, leaving sweet repose and gentle ease, With ardent speed he seeks the distant foe; Marching o'er hills and vales, o'er rocks and seas, He meditates, and strikes the wondrous blow. Our thought flies slower than our general's fame: Grasps he the bolt! we ask, when he has hurled the
7 When fierce Bavar on Judoign's spacious plain
8 His former losses he forgets to grieve;
9 Misguided prince, no longer urge thy fate,
* The Elector of Bavaria had formerly acquired great reputation by the success of his arms against the Turks, more especially in obliging them to raise the siege of Vienna, after it had continued fifty-nine days, in September 1683, with the loss of seventy-five thousand men.
Must from thy brow their falling honours shed, And their transplanted wreaths must deck a worthier head.
10 Yet cease the ways of Providence to blame,
11 Hark! the dire trumpets sound their shrillalarms!
12 But brandished high, in an ill-omened hour
1 Monsieur Auverquerque who, in the year 1704, and the succeeding campaigns, was appointed to the command of the Dutch forces. He was in great favour with King William, and was present at his death.