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If to the fight his active soul is bent,
The fate of Europe turns on its event.
What distant land, what region, can afford
An action worthy his victorious sword?
Where will he next the flying Gaul defeat,
To make the series of his toils complete ?
Where the swoln Rhine, rushing with all its force,
Divides the hostile nations in its course,
While each contracts its bounds, or wider grows,
Enlarged or straitened as the river flows,
On Gallia's side a mighty bulwark stands,
That all the wide extended plain commands;
Twice, since the war was kindled, has it tried
The victor's rage, and twice has changed its side;
As oft whole armies, with the prize o'erjoyed,
Have the long summer on its walls employed.
Hither our mighty chief his arms directs,
Hence future triumphs from the war expects;
And though the dog-star had its course begun,
Carries his arms still nearer to the sun :
Fixt on the glorious action, he forgets
The change of seasons, and increase of heats:
No toils are painful that can danger show,
No climes unlovely that contain a foe.
The roving Gaul, to his own bounds restrained,
Learns to encamp within his native land,
But soon as the victorious host he spies,
From hill to hill, from stream to stream he flies:
Such dire impressions in his heart remain
Of Marlborough's sword, and Hocstet's fatal plain:
In vain Britannia's mighty chief besets
Their shady coverts, and obscure retreats;
They fly the conqueror's approaching fame,
That bears the force of armies in his name.
Austria's young monarch, whose imperial sway
Sceptres and thrones are destined to obey,
Whose boasted ancestry so high extends
That in the pagan gods his lineage ends,
Comes from afar, in gratitude to own
The great supporter of his father's throne;
What tides of glory to his bosom ran,
Clasped in the embraces of the godlike man!
How were his eyes with pleasing wonder fixt
To see such fire with so much sweetness mixt,
Such easy greatness, such a graceful port,
So turned and finished for the camp or court!
Achilles thus was formed with every grace,
And Nireus shone but in the second place;
Thus the great father of almighty Rome
(Divinely flusht with an immortal bloom,
That Cytherea's fragrant breath bestowed)
In all the charms of his bright mother glowed.
The royal youth by Marlborough's presence charmed,
Taught by his counsels, by his actions warmed,
On Landau with redoubled fury falls,
Discharges all his thunder on its walls,
O'er mines and caves of death provokes the fight,
And learns to conquer in the hero's sight.
The British chief, for mighty toils renowned,
Increased in titles, and with conquests crowned,
To Belgian coasts his tedious march renews,
And the long windings of the Rhine pursues,
Clearing its borders from usurping foes,
And blest by rescued nations as he goes.
Treves fears no more, freed from its dire alarms;
And Traerbach feels the terror of his arms,
Seated on rocks her proud foundations shake,
While Marlborough presses to the bold attack,
Plants all his batteries, bids his cannon roar,
And shows how Landau might have fall'n before.
Scared at his near approach, great Louis fears
Vengeance reserved for his declining years,
Forgets his thirst of universal sway,
And scarce can teach his subjects to obey;
His arms he finds on vain attempts employed,
The ambitious projects for his race destroyed,
The work of ages sunk in one campaign,
And lives of millions sacrificed in vain.
Such are the effects of ANNA's royal cares:
By her, Britannia, great in foreign wars,
Ranges through nations, wheresoe'er disjoined,
Without the wonted aid of sea and wind.
By her the unfettered Ister's states are free,
And taste the sweets of English liberty:
But who can tell the joys of those that lie
Beneath the constant influence of her eye!
Whilst in diffusive showers her bounties fall,
Like heaven's indulgence, and descend on all,
Secure the happy, succour the distrest,
Make every subject glad, and a whole people blest.
Thus would I fain Britannia's wars rehearse,
In the smooth records of a faithful verse;
That, if such numbers can o'er time prevail,
May tell posterity the wondrous tale.
When actions,1 unadorned, are faint and weak,
Cities and countries must be taught to speak;
Gods may descend in factions from the skies,
And rivers from their oozy beds arise;
Fiction deck the truth with spurious rays,
And round the hero cast a borrowed blaze.
Marlborough's exploits appear divinely bright,
And proudly shine in their own native light;
Raised of themselves, their genuine charms they boast,
And those who paint 'em truest praise 'em most.
When actions, &c.] An apology, gracefully enough made, for the prosaic plan of this poem; for though the author's invention had not supplied him with a better, his true taste could not but tell him, this was defective.
THE opera first Italian masters taught,
Enriched with songs, but innocent of thought.
Britannia's learned theatre disdains
Melodious trifles, and enervate strains;
And blushes on her injured stage to see
Nonsense well-tuned, and sweet stupidity.
No charms are wanting to thy artful song,
Soft as Corelli, but as Virgil strong.
From words so sweet new grace the notes receive,
And music borrows helps she used to give.
Thy style hath matched what ancient Romans knew,
Thy flowing numbers far excel the new;
Their cadence in such easy sound conveyed,
That height of thought may seem superfluous aid;
Yet in such charms the noble thoughts abound,
That needless seem the sweets of easy sound.
Landscapes how gay the bowery grotto yields,
Which thought creates, and lavish fancy builds!
What art can trace the visionary scenes,
The flowery groves, and everlasting greens,
The babbling sounds that mimic echo plays,
The fairy shade, and its eternal maze,
Nature and art in all their charms combined,
And all Elysium to one view confined!
No further could imagination roam,
Till Vanbrook framed, and Marlborough raised the dome.
Ten thousand pangs my anxious bosom tear,
When drowned in tears I see the imploring fair:
When bards less soft the moving words supply,
A seeming justice dooms the nymph to die;
But here she begs, nor can she beg in vain,
(In dirges thus expiring swans complain,)
Each verse so swells, expressive of her woes,
And every tear in lines so mournful flows;
We, spite of fame, her fate reversed believe,
O'erlook her crimes, and think she ought to live.
Let joy transport fair Rosamonda's shade,
And wreaths of myrtle crown the lovely maid.
While now perhaps with Dido's ghost she roves,
And hears and tells the story of their loves,
Alike they mourn, alike they bless their fate,
Since love, which made 'em wretched, makes 'em great;
Nor longer that relentless doom bemoan,
Which gained a Virgil and an Addison.
Accept, great monarch of the British lays,
The tribute song an humble subject pays.
So tries the artless lark her early flight,
And soars, to hail the god of verse, and light.
Unrivalled as thy merit be thy fame,
And thy own laurels shade thy envied name:
Thy name, the boast of all the tuneful choir,
Shall tremble on the strings of every lyre;
While the charmed reader with thy thought complies,
Feels corresponding joys or sorrows rise,
And views thy Rosamond with Henry's eyes.