On the Prospect of Peace
On the Prospect of Peace
Contending kings, and fields of death, too long
Have been the subject of the British song.
Who hath not read of fam'd Ramillia's plain,
Bavaria's fall, and Danube choak'd with slain!
Exhausted themes! a gentler note I raise,
And sing returning peace in softer lays.
Their fury quell'd, and martial rage allay'd,
I wait our heroes in the sylvan shade:
Disbanding hosts are imag'd to my mind,
And warring powers in friendly leagues combin'd,
While ease and pleasure make the nations smile,
And Heaven and Anna bless Britannia's isle.
Well sends our queen her mitred Bristol forth,
For early counsels fam'd, and long-try'd worth;
Who, thirty rolling years, had oft withheld
The Swede and Saxon from the dusty field;
Completely form'd to heal the Christian wounds,
To name the kings, and give each kingdom bounds;
The face of ravag'd Nature to repair,
By leagues to soften Earth, and Heaven by prayer,
To gain by love, where rage and slaughter fail,
And make the crosier o'er the sword prevail.
So when great Moses, with Jehovah's wand,
Had scatter'd plagues o'er stubborn Pharaoh's land,
Now spread an host of locusts round the shore,
Now turn'd Nile's fattening streams to putrid gore;
Plenty and gladness mark'd the priest of God,
And sudden almonds shot from Aaron's rod.
O thou, from whom these bounteous blessings flow,
To whom, as chief, the hopes of peace we owe,
(For next to thee, the man whom kings contend
To style companion, and to make their friend,
Great Strafford, rich in every courtly grace,
With joyful pride accepts the second place)
From Britain's isle, and Isis' sacred spring,
One hour, oh! listen while the Muses sing.
Though ministers of mighty monarchs wait,
With beating hearts to learn their masters' fate,
One hour forbear to speak thy queen's commands,
Nor think the world, thy charge, neglected stands;
The blissful prospects, in my verse display'd
May lure the stubborn, the deceiv'd persuade:
Ev'n thou to peace shalt speedier urge the way,
And more be hasten'd by this short delay.
On the Prospect of Peace
The haughty Gaul, in ten campaigns o'erthrown,
Now ceas'd to think the western world his own.
Oft had he mourn'd his boasting leaders bound,
And his proud bulwarks smoking on the ground:
In vain with powers renew'd he fill'd the plain,
Made timorous vows, and brib'd the saints in vain;
As oft his legions did the fight decline,
Lurk'd in the trench, and skulk'd behind the line.
Before his eyes the fancied javelin gleams,
At feasts he starts, and seems dethron'd in dreams;
On glory past reflects with secret pain,
On mines exhausted, and on millions slain.
To Britain's queen the scepter'd suppliant bends,
To her his crowns and infant race commends,
Who grieves her fame with Christian blood to buy,
Nor asks for glory at a price so high.
At her decree, the war suspended stands,
And Britain's heroes hold their lifted hands,
Their open brows no threatening frowns disguise,
But gentler passions sparkle in their eyes.
The Gauls, who never in their courts could find
Such temper'd fire with manly beauty join'd,
Doubt if they 're those, whom, dreadful to the view,
In forms so fierce their fearful fancies drew;
At whose dire names ten thousand widows prest
Their helpless orphans clinging to the breast.
In silent rapture each his foe surveys;
They vow firm friendship, and give mutual praise.
Brave minds, howe'er at war, are secret friends;
Their generous discord with the battle ends;
In peace they wonder whence dissension rose,
And ask how souls so like could e'er be foes.
Methinks I hear more friendly shouts rebound,
And social clarions mix their sprightly sound.
The British flags are furl'd, her troops disband,
And scatter'd armies seek their native land.
The hardy veteran, proud of many a scar,
The manly charms and honours of the war,
Who hop'd to share his friends' illustrious doom,
And in the battle find a soldier's tomb,
Leans on his spear to take his farewell view,
And, sighing, bids the glorious camp adieu.
Ye generous fair, receive the brave with smiles,
O'erpay their sleepless nights, and crown their toils;
Soft beauty is the gallant soldier's due,
For you they conquer, and they bleed for you.
In vain proud Gaul with boastful Spain conspires,
When English valour English beauty fires;
The nations dread your eyes, and kings despair
Of chiefs so brave, till they have nymphs so fair.
See the fond wife in tears of transport drown'd,
Hugs her rough lord, and weeps o'er every wound,
Hangs on the lips that fields of blood relate,
And smiles, or trembles, at his various fate.
Near the full bowl he draws the fancy'd line,
And marks feign'd trenches in the flowing wine,
Then sets th' invested fort before his eyes,
And mines, that whirl'd battalions to the skies:
His little listening progeny turn pale,
And beg again to hear the dreadful tale.
Such dire achievements sings the bard, that tells
Of palfrey'd dames, bold knights, and magic spells,
Where whole brigades one champion's arms o'erthrow,
And cleave a giant at a random blow,
Slay paynims vile, that force the fair, and tame
The goblin's fury, and the dragon's flame.
Our eager youth to distant nations run,
To visit fields, their valiant fathers won;
From Flandria's shore their country's fame they trace,
Till far Germania shows her blasted face.
Th' exulting Briton asks his mournful guide,
Where his hard fate the lost Bavaria try'd:
Where Stepney grav'd the stone to Anna's fame,
He points to Blenheim, once a vulgar name;
Here fled the Household, there did Tallard yield,
Here Marlborough turn'd the fortune of the field,
On those steep banks, near Danube's raging flood:
The Gauls thrice started back, and trembling stood:
When, Churchill's arm perceiv'd, they stood not long,
But plung'd amidst the waves, a desperate throng,
Crowds whelm'd on crowds dash'd wide the watery-bed,
And drove the current to its distant head.
As, when by Raphael's, or by Kneller's hands
A warlike courser on the canvas stands,
Such as on Landen bleeding Ormond bore,
Or set young Ammon on the Granic shore;
If chance a generous steed the work behold,
He snorts, he neighs, he champs the foamy gold:
So, Hocstet seen, tumultuous passions roll,
And hints of glory fire the Briton's soul,
In fancy'd fights he sees the troops engage,
And all the tempest of the battle rage.
Charm me, ye powers, with scenes less nobly bright,
Far humbler thoughts th' inglorious Muse delight,
Content to see the honours of the field
By plough-shares levell'd, or in flowers conceal'd.
O'er shatter'd walls may creeping ivy twine,
And grass luxuriant clothe the harmless mine.
Tame flocks ascend the breach without a wound,
Or crop the bastion, now a fruitful ground;
While shepherds sleep, along the rampard laid,
Or pipe beneath the formidable shade.
Who was the man? Oblivion blast his name,
Torn out, and blotted from the list of Fame!
Who, fond of lawless rule, and proudly brave,
First sunk the filial subject to a slave,
His neighbour's realms by frauds unkingly gain'd,
In guiltless blood the sacred ermine stain'd,
Laid schemes for death, to slaughter turn'd his heart,
And fitted murder to the rules of art.
Ah! curst Ambition, to thy lures we owe
All the great ills, that mortals bear below.
Curst by the hind, when to the spoil he yields
His year's whole sweat, and vainly ripen'd fields;
Curst by the maid, torn from her lover's side,
When left a widow, though not yet a bride;
By mothers curst, when floods of tears they shed,
And scatter useless roses on the dead.
Oh, sacred Bristol! then, what dangers prove
The arts, thou smil'st on with paternal love?
Then, mixt with rubbish by the brutal foes,
In vain the marble breathes, the canvas glows;
To shades obscure the glittering sword pursues
The gentle poet, and defenceless Muse.
A voice like thine, alone, might then asswage
The warrior's fury, and control his rage;
To hear thee speak, might the fierce Vandal stand,
And fling the brandish'd sabre from his hand.
Far hence be driven to Scythia's stormy shore
The drum's harsh music, and the cannon's roar;
Let grim Bellona haunt the lawless plain,
Where Tartar clans and grizly Cossacks reign;
Let the steel'd Turk be deaf to matrons' cries,
See virgins ravish'd with relentless eyes,
To death grey heads and smiling infants doom,
Nor spare the promise of the pregnant womb,
O'er wasted kingdoms spread his wide command,
The savage lord of an unpeopled land.
Her guiltless glory just Britannia draws
From pure religion, and impartial laws,
To Europe's wounds a mother's aid she brings,
And holds in equal scales the rival kings:
Her generous sons in choicest gifts abound,
Alike in arms, alike in arts renown'd.
As when sweet Venus (so the fable sings)
Awak'd by Nereids, from the ocean springs,
With smiles she sees the threatening billows rise,
Spreads smooth the surge, and clears the louring skies.
Light, o'er the deep, with fluttering Cupids crown'd,
The pearly couch and silver turtles bound;
Her tresses shed ambrosial odours round.
Amidst the world of waves so stands serene
Britannia's isle, the ocean's stately queen;
In vain the nations have conspired her fall,
Her trench the sea, and fleets her floating wall:
Defenceless barks, her powerful navy near,
Have only waves and hurricanes to fear.
What bold invader, or what land opprest,
Hath not her anger quell'd, her aid redrest!
Say, where have e'er her union-crosses sail'd,
But much her arms, her justice more prevail'd!
Her labours are, to plead th' Almighty's cause,
Her pride to teach th' untam'd barbarian laws:
Who conquers wins by brutal strength the prize;
But 'tis a godlike work to civilize.
Have we forgot how from great Russia's throne
The king, whose power half Europe's regions own,
Whose sceptre waving, with one shout rush forth
In swarms the harness'd millions of the north,
Through realms of ice pursued his tedious way
To court our friendship, and our fame survey!
Hence the rich prize of useful arts he bore,
And round his empire spread the learned store:
(T' adorn old realms is more than new to raise,
His country's parent is a monarch's praise.)
His bands now march in just array to war,
And Caspian gulphs unusual navies bear;
With Runick lays Smolensko's forests ring,
And wondering Volga hears the Muses sing.
Did not the painted kings of India greet
Our queen, and lay their sceptres at her feet?
Chiefs who full bowls of hostile blood had quaff'd,
Fam'd for the javelin, and envenom'd shaft,
Whose haughty brows made savages adore,
Nor bow'd to less than stars or sun before.
Her pitying smile accepts their suppliant claim,
And adds four monarchs to the Christian name.
Blest use of power! O virtuous pride in kings!
And like his bounty, whence dominion springs!
Which o'er new worlds makes Heaven's indulgence shine,
And ranges myriads under laws divine!
Well bought with all that those sweet regions hold,
With groves of spices, and with mines of gold.
Fearless our merchant now pursues his gain,
And roams securely o'er the boundless main.
Now o'er his head the polar Bear he spies,
And freezing spangles of the Lapland skies;
Now swells his canvas to the sultry line,
With glittering spoils where Indian grottos shine,
Where fumes of incense glad the southern seas,
And wafted citron scents the balmy breeze.
Here nearer suns prepare the ripening gem,
To grace great Anne's imperial diadem,
And here the ore, whose melted mass shall yield
On faithful coins each memorable field,
Which, mix'd with medals of immortal Rome,
May clear disputes, and teach the times to come.
In circling beams shall godlike Anna glow,
And Churchill's sword hang o'er the prostrate foe;
In comely wounds shall bleeding worthies stand,
Webb's firm platoon, and Lumley's faithful band.
Bold Mordaunt in Iberian trophies drest,
And Campbell's dragon on his dauntless breast,
Great Ormond's deeds on Vigo's spoils enroll'd,
And Guiscard's knife on Harley's Chili gold.
And if the Muse, O Bristol, might decree,
Here Granville noted by the lyre should be,
The lyre for Granville, and the cross for thee.
Such are the honours grateful Britain pays;
So patriots merit, and so monarchs praise.
O'er distant times such records shall prevail,
When English numbers, antiquated, fail:
A trifling song the Muse can only yield,
And sooth her soldiers panting from the field.
To sweet retirements see them safe convey'd,
And raise their battles in the rural shade.
From fields of death to Woodstock's peaceful glooms,
(The poet's haunt) Britannia's hero comes --
Begin my Muse, and softly touch the string:
Here Henry lov'd; and Chaucer learn'd to sing.
Hail, fabled grotto! hail, Elysian soil!
Thou fairest spot of fair Britannia's isle!
Where kings of old, conceal'd, forgot the throne,
And Beauty was content to shine unknown;
Where Love and War by turns pavilions rear,
And Henry's bowers near Blenheim's dome appear;
The weary'd champion lull in soft alcoves,
The noblest boast of thy romantic groves.
Oft, if the Muse presage, shall he be seen
By Rosamonda fleeting o'er the green,
In dreams be hail'd by heroes' mighty shades,
And hear old Chaucer warble through the glades,
O'er the fam'd echoing vaults his name shall bound,
And hill to hill reflect the favourite sound.
Here, here at least thy love for arms give o'er,
Nor, one world conquer'd, fondly wish for more.
Vice of great souls alone! O thirst of fame!
The Muse admires it, while she strives to blame.
Thy toils be now to chase the bounding deer,
Or view the coursers stretch in wild career.
This lovely scene shall sooth thy soul to rest,
And wear each dreadful image from thy breast.
With pleasure, by thy conquests shalt thou see
Thy queen triumphant, and all Europe free.
No cares henceforth shall thy repose destroy,
But what thou giv'st the world, thyself enjoy.
Sweet Solitude! when life's gay hours are past
Howe'er we range, in thee we fix at last:
Tost through tempestuous seas (the voyage o'er)
Pale we look back, and bless thy friendly shore.
Our own strict judges our past life we scan,
And ask if glory hath enlarg'd the span:
If bright the prospect, we the grave defy,
Trust future ages, and contented die.
When strangers from far distant climes shall come,
To view the pomp of this triumphant dome,
Where, rear'd aloft, dissembled trophies stand,
And breathing labours of the sculptor's hand,
Where Kneller's art shall paint the flying Gaul,
And Bourbon's woes shall fill the story'd wall;
Heirs of thy blood shall o'er their bounteous board
Fix Europe's guard, thy monumental sword,
Banners that oft have wav'd on conquer'd walls,
And trumps, that drown'd the groans of gasping Gauls.
Fair dames shall oft, with curious eye, explore
The costly robes that slaughter'd generals wore,
Rich trappings from the Danube's whirlpools brought,
(Hesperian nuns the gorgeous broidery wrought)
Belts stiff with gold, the Boian horseman's pride,
And Gaul's fair flowers, in human crimson dy'd.
Of Churchill's race perhaps some lovely boy
Shall mark the burnish'd steel that hangs on high,
Shall gaze transported on its glittering charms,
And reach it struggling with unequal arms,
By signs the drum's tumultuous sound request,
Then seek, in starts, the hushing mother's breast.
So in the painter's animated frame,
Where Mars embraces the soft Paphian dame,
The little Loves in sport his fauchion wield,
Or join their strength to heave his ponderous shield:
One strokes the plume in Tytion's gore embrued,
And one the spear, that reeks with Typhon's blood:
Another's infant brows the helm sustain,
He nods his crest, and frights the shrieking train.
Thus, the rude tempest of the field o'erblown,
Shall whiter rounds of smiling years roll on,
Our victors, blest in peace, forget their wars,
Enjoy past dangers, and absolve the stars.
But, oh! what sorrows shall bedew your urns,
Ye honour'd shades, whom widow'd Albion mourns!
If your thin forms yet discontented moan,
And haunt the mangled mansions, once your own;
Behold what flowers the pious Muses strow,
And tears, which in the midst of triumph flow;
Cypress and bays your envy'd brows surround,
Your names the tender matron's heart shall wound,
And the soft maid grow pensive at the sound.
Accept, great Anne, the tears their memory draws,
Who nobly perish'd in their sovereign's cause:
For thou in pity bid'st the war give o'er,
Mourn'st thy slain heroes, nor wilt venture more.
Vast price of blood on each victorious day!
(But Europe's freedom doth that price repay.)
Lamented triumphs! when one breath must tell
That Marlborough conquer'd, and that Dormer fell.
Great queen! whose name strikes haughty monarchs pale,
On whose just sceptre hangs Europa's scale,
Whose arm like Mercy wounds, decides like Fate,
On whose decree the nations anxious wait:
From Albion's cliffs thy wide-extended hand
Shall o'er the main to far Peru command;
So vast a tract whose wide domain shall run,
Its circling skies shall see no setting sun.
Thee, thee an hundred languages shall claim,
And savage Indians swear by Anna's name;
The line and poles shall own thy rightful sway,
And thy commands the sever'd globe obey.
Round the vast ball thy new dominions chain
The watery kingdoms, and control the main;
Magellan's straits to Gibraltar they join,
Across the seas a formidable line;
The sight of adverse Gaul we fear no more,
But pleas'd see Dunkirk, now a guiltless shore;
In vain great Neptune tore the narrow ground,
And meant his waters for Britannia's bound;
Her giant genius takes a mighty stride,
And sets his foot beyond the encroaching tide;
On either bank the land its master knows,
And in the midst the subject ocean flows.
So near proud Rhodes, across the raging flood,
Stupendous form! the vast Colossus stood,
(While at one foot their thronging gallies ride,
A whole hour's sail scarce reach the further side)
Betwixt his brazen thighs, in loose array,
Ten thousand streamers on the billows play.
By Harley's counsels, Dunkirk, now restor'd
To Britain's empire, owns her ancient lord,
In him transfus'd his godlike father reigns,
Rich in the blood which swell'd that patriot's veins,
Who, boldly faithful, met his sovereign's frown,
And scorn'd for gold to yield th' important town.
His son was born the ravish'd prey to claim,
And France still trembles at an Harley's name.
A fort so dreadful to our English shore,
Our fleets scarce fear'd the sands or tempests more,
Whose vast expenses to such sums amount,
That the tax'd Gaul scarce furnish'd out th' account,
Whose walls such bulwarks, such vast towers restrain,
Its weakest ramparts are the rocks and main,
His boast great Louis yields, and cheaply buys
Thy friendship, Anna, with the mighty prize.
Holland repining, and in grief cast down,
Sees the new glories of the British crown:
Ah! may they ne'er provoke thee to the fight,
Nor foes, more dreadful than the Gaul, invite.
Soon may they hold the olive, soon asswage
Their secret murmurs, nor call forth thy rage
To rend their banks, and pour, at one command,
Thy realm, the sea, o'er their precarious land.
Henceforth be thine, vice-gerent of the skies,
Scorn'd worth to raise, and vice in robes chastise,
To dry the orphan's tears, and from the bar,
Chace the brib'd judge, and hush the wordy war,
Deny the curst blasphemer's tongue to rage,
And turn God's fury from an impious age.
Blest change! the soldier's late destroying hand
Shall rear new temples in his native land;
Mistaken zealots shall with fear behold,
And beg admittance in our sacred fold;
On her own works the pious queen shall smile,
And turn her cares upon her favourite isle.
So the keen bolt a warrior angel aims,
Array'd in clouds, and wrapt in mantling flames;
He bears a tempest on his sounding wings,
And his red arm the forky vengeance flings;
At length, Heaven's wrath appeas'd, he quits the war,
To roll his orb, and guide his destin'd star,
To shed kind fate, and lucky hours bestow,
And smile propitious on the world below.
Around thy throne shall faithful nobles wait,
These guard the church, and those direct the state.
To Bristol, graceful in maternal tears,
The Church her towery forehead gently rears;
She begs her pious son t' assert her cause
Defend her rights, and reenforce her laws,
With holy zeal the sacred work begin,
To bend the stubborn, and the meek to win.
Our Oxford's earl in careful thought shall stand,
To raise his queen, and save a sinking land.
The wealthiest glebe to ravenous Spaniards known
He marks, and makes the golden world our own,
Content with hands unsoil'd to guard the prize,
And keep the store with undesiring eyes.
So round the tree, that bore Hesperian gold,
The sacred watch lay curl'd in many a fold,
His eyes up-rearing to th' untasted prey,
The sleepless guardian wasted life away.
Beneath the peaceful olives, rais'd by you,
Her ancient pride, shall every art renew,
(The arts with you fam'd Harcourt shall defend,
And courtly Bolingbroke the Muse's friend.)
With piercing eye some search where Nature plays,
And trace the wanton through her darksome maze,
Whence health from herbs; from seeds how groves begun,
How vital streams in circling eddies run.
Some teach why round the Sun the spheres advance,
In the fix'd measures of their mystic dance,
How tides, when heav'd by pressing moons, o'erflow,
And sun-born Iris paints her showery bow,
In happy chains our daring language bound,
Shall sport no more in arbitrary sound,
But buskin'd bards henceforth shall wisely rage,
And Grecian plans reform Britannia's stage:
Till Congreve bids her smile, Augusta stands
And longs to weep when flowing Rowe commands.
Britain's Spectators shall their strength combine
To mend our morals and our taste refine,
Fight virtue's cause, stand up in wit's defence,
Win us from vice, and laugh us into sense.
Nor, Prior, hast thou hush'd the trump in vain,
Thy lyre shall now revive her mirthful strain,
New tales shall now be told; if right I see,
The soul of Chaucer is restor'd in thee.
Garth, in majestic numbers, to the stars
Shall raise mock heroes, and fantastic wars;
Like the young spreading laurel, Pope, thy name
Shoots up with strength, and rises into fame;
With Philips shall the peaceful vallies ring,
And Britain hear a second Spenser sing.
That much-lov'd youth, whom Utrecht's walls confine,
To Bristol's praises shall his Strafford's join:
He too, from whom attentive Oxford draws
Rules for just thinking, and poetic laws,
To growing bards his learned aid shall lend,
The strictest critic, and the kindest friend.
Ev'n mine, a bashful Muse, whose rude essays
Scarce hope for pardon, not aspire to praise,
Cherish'd by you, in time may grow to fame,
And mine survive with Bristol's glorious name.
Fir'd with the views this glittering scene displays,
And smit with passion for my country's praise,
My artless reed attempts this lofty theme,
Where sacred Isis rolls her ancient stream;
In cloister'd domes, the great Philippa's pride,
Where Learning blooms, while Fame and Worth preside,
Where the fifth Henry arts and arms was taught,
And Edward form'd his Cressy, yet unfought,
Where laurel'd bards have struck the warbling strings,
The seat of sages, and the nurse of kings.
Here thy commands, O Lancaster, inflame
My eager breast to raise the British name,
Urge on my soul, with no ignoble pride,
To woo the Muse, whom Addison enjoy'd,
See that bold swan to Heaven sublimely soar,
Pursue at distance, and his steps adore.