University of Virginia Library





In thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Crouching at home and cruel when abroad;
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our king they courted, and our merchants awed.



Trade, which like blood should circularly flow,
Stopped in their channels, found its freedom lost;
Thither the wealth of all the world did go,
And seemed but shipwracked on so base a coast.


For them alone the heavens had kindly heat,
In eastern quarries ripening precious dew;
For them the Idumæan balm did sweat,
And in hot Ceylon spicy forests grew.


The sun but seemed the labourer of their year;
Each wexing moon supplied her watery store,
To swell those tides, which from the Line did bear
Their brim-full vessels to the Belgian shore.


Thus, mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the riches of the world from far;


Yet stooped to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:
And this may prove our second Punic war.


What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
(But they more diligent, and we more strong),
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
For they would grow too powerful, were it long.


Behold two nations then, engaged so far,
That each seven years the fit must shake each land;
Where France will side to weaken us by war,
Who only can his vast designs withstand.


See how he feeds the Iberian with delays,
To render us his timely friendship vain;
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.



Such deep designs of empire does he lay
O'er them, whose cause he seems to take in hand;
And prudently would make them lords at sea,
To whom with ease he can give laws by land.


This saw our king: and long within his breast
His pensive counsels balanced to and fro;
He grieved the land he freed should be oppressed,
And he less for it than usurpers do.


His generous mind the fair ideas drew
Of fame and honour, which in dangers lay;


Where wealth, like fruit on precipices, grew,
Not to be gathered but by birds of prey.


The loss and gain each fatally were great;
And still his subjects called aloud for war:
But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set,
Each other's poise and counterbalance are.


He first surveyed the charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain;
Yet judged, like vapours that from limbecks rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.


At length resolved to assert the watery ball,
He in himself did whole Armados bring;
Him aged seamen might their master call,
And choose for general, were he not their king.



It seems as every ship their sovereign knows,
His awful summons they so soon obey;—
So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to pasture follow through the sea.


To see this fleet upon the ocean move,
Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies;
And heaven, as if there wanted lights above,
For tapers made two glaring comets rise.



Whether they unctuous exhalations are,
Fired by the sun, or seeming so alone;
Or each some more remote and slippery star,
Which loses footing when to mortals shown;


Or one, that bright companion of the sun,
Whose glorious aspect sealed our new-born king;
And now, a round of greater years begun,
New influence from his walks of light did bring.


Victorious York did first, with famed success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place;
Thus heaven our monarch's fortune did confess,
Beginning conquest from his royal race.



But since it was decreed, auspicious king,
In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main,
Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,
And therefore doomed that Lawson should be slain.



Lawson amongst the foremost met his fate,
Whom sea-green sirens from the rocks lament
Thus, as an offering for the Grecian state,
He first was killed, who first to battle went.


Their chief blown up, in air, not waves, expired,
To which his pride presumed to give the law;
The Dutch confessed heaven present, and retired,
And all was Britain the wide ocean saw.


To nearest ports their shattered ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay awed;
So reverently men quit the open air,
Where thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.


And now approached their fleet from India, fraught

The attempt at Bergen.

With all the riches of the rising sun;
And precious sand from southern climates brought,
The fatal regions where the war begun.



Like hunted castors, conscious of their store,
Their waylaid wealth to Norway's coast they bring;
There first the North's cold bosom spices bore,
And winter brooded on the eastern spring.



By the rich scent we found our perfumed prey,
Which, flanked with rocks, did close in covert lie;
And round about their murdering cannon lay,
At once to threaten and invite the eye.



Fiercer than cannon, and than rocks more hard,
The English undertake the unequal war;
Seven ships alone, by which the port is barred,
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.


These fight like husbands, but like lovers those;
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy;
And to such height their frantic passion grows,
That what both love, both hazard to destroy.



Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball,
And now their odours armed against them fly;
Some preciously by shattered porcelain fall,
And some by aromatic splinters die.


And though by tempests of the prize bereft,
In heaven's inclemency some ease we find;
Our foes we vanquished by our valour left,
And only yielded to the seas and wind.


Nor wholly lost we so deserved a prey;
For storms, repenting, part of it restored;
Which as a tribute from the Baltic sea,
The British ocean sent her mighty lord.


Go, mortals, now, and vex yourselves in vain
For wealth, which so uncertainly must come;
When what was brought so far, and with such pain,
Was only kept to lose it nearer home.



The son, who twice three months on th'ocean tost,
Prepared to tell what he had passed before,
Now sees in English ships the Holland coast,
And parents' arms, in vain, stretched from the shore.


This careful husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn;
Who on their fingers learned to tell the day,
On which their father promised to return.


Such are the proud designs of humankind,
And so we suffer shipwreck everywhere!
Alas, what port can such a pilot find,
Who in the night of fate must blindly steer!


The undistinguished seeds of good and ill,
Heaven in his bosom from our knowledge hides;
And draws them in contempt of human skill,
Which oft, for friends mistaken, foes provides.



Let Munster's prelate ever be accurst,
In whom we seek the German faith in vain;
Alas, that he should teach the English first,
That fraud and avarice in the church could reign!


Happy, who never trust a stranger's will,
Whose friendship's in his interest understood;
Since money given but tempts him to be ill,
When power is too remote to make him good.



War declared by France.

Till now, alone the mighty nations strove;

The rest, at gaze, without the lists did stand;
And threatening France, placed by a painted Jove,
Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.


That eunuch guardian of rich Holland's trade,
Who envies us what he wants power to enjoy;
Whose noiseful valour does no foe invade,
And weak assistance will his friends destroy.


Offended that we fought without his leave,
He takes this time his secret hate to show;
Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive,
As one that neither seeks nor shuns his foe.


With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite;
France as their tyrant, Denmark as their slave.
But when with one three nations join to fight,
They silently confess that one more brave.



Louis had chased the English from his shore,
But Charles the French as subjects does invite;
Would heaven for each some Solomon restore,
Who, by their mercy, may decide their right.


Were subjects so but only by their choice,
And not from birth did forced dominion take,
Our prince alone would have the public voice,
And all his neighbours' realms would deserts make.


He without fear a dangerous war pursues,
Which without rashness he began before;
As honour made him first the danger choose,
So still he makes it good on virtue's score.


The doubled charge his subjects' love supplies,
Who in that bounty to themselves are kind:
So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,
And in his plenty their abundance find.



Prince Rupert and Duke Albemarle sent to sea.

With equal power he does two chiefs create,

Two such as each seemed worthiest when alone;
Each able to sustain a nation's fate,
Since both have found a greater in their own.



Both great in courage, conduct, and in fame,
Yet neither envious of the other's praise;
Their duty, faith, and interest too the same,
Like mighty partners equally they raise.



The Prince long time had courted fortune's love,
But once possessed did absolutely reign;
Thus with their Amazons the heroes strove,
And conquered first those beauties they would gain.


The Duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain,
That Carthage, which he ruined, rise once more;
And shook aloft the fasces of the main,
To fright those slaves with what they felt before.


Together to the watery camp they haste,
Whom matrons passing to their children show;
Infants' first vows for them to heaven are cast,
And future people bless them as they go.


With them no riotous pomp, nor Asian train,
To infect a navy with their gaudy fears;
To make slow fights, and victories but vain;
But war severely, like itself, appears.


Diffusive of themselves, where'er they pass,
They make that warmth in others they expect;
Their valour works like bodies on a glass,
And does its image on their men project.


Duke of Albemarle's battle, first day.

Our fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,

In number, and a famed commander, bold;
The narrow seas can scarce their navy bear,
Or crowded vessels can their soldiers hold.



The Duke, less numerous, but in courage more,
On wings of all the winds to combat flies;
His murdering guns a loud defiance roar,
And bloody crosses on his flag-staffs rise.


Both furl their sails, and strip them for the fight;
Their folded sheets dismiss the useless air;
The Elean plains could boast no nobler sight,
When struggling champions did their bodies bare.


Borne each by other in a distant line,
The sea-built forts in dreadful order move;
So vast the noise, as if not fleets did join,
But lands unfixed, and floating nations strove.


Now passed, on either side they nimbly tack;
Both strive to intercept and guide the wind;
And, in its eye, more closely they come back,
To finish all the deaths they left behind.



On high-raised decks the haughty Belgians ride,
Beneath whose shade our humble frigates go;
Such port the elephant bears, and so defied
By the rhinoceros, her unequal foe.


And as the built, so different is the fight,
Their mounting shot is on our sails designed;
Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.



Our dreaded admiral from far they threat,
Whose battered rigging their whole war receives;
All bare, like some old oak which tempests beat,
He stands, and sees below his scattered leaves.


Heroes of old, when wounded, shelter sought;
But he, who meets all danger with disdain,
Even in their face his ship to anchor brought,
And steeple-high stood propt upon the main.



At this excess of courage, all amazed,
The foremost of his foes a while withdraw;
With such respect in entered Rome they gazed,
Who on high chairs the godlike Fathers saw.


And now, as where Patroclus' body lay,
Here Trojan chiefs advanced, and there the Greek;
Ours o'er the Duke their pious wings display,
And theirs the noblest spoils of Britain seek.


Meantime his busy mariners he hastes,
His shattered sails with rigging to restore;
And willing pines ascend his broken masts,
Whose lofty heads rise higher than before.


Straight to the Dutch he turns his dreadful prow,
More fierce the important quarrel to decide;
Like swans, in long array, his vessels show,
Whose crests advancing do the waves divide.



They charge, recharge, and all along the sea
They drive, and squander the huge Belgian fleet;
Berkley alone, who nearest danger lay,
Did a like fate with lost Creusa meet.


The night comes on, we eager to pursue
The combat still, and they ashamed to leave;
Till the last streaks of dying day withdrew,
And doubtful moonlight did our rage deceive.


In the English fleet each ship resounds with joy,
And loud applause of their great leader's fame;
In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy,
And, slumbering, smile at the imagined flame.


Not so the Holland fleet, who, tired and done,
Stretched on their decks, like weary oxen, lie;
Faint sweats all down their mighty members run,
Vast bulks, which little souls but ill supply.



In dreams they fearful precipices tread;
Or, shipwrecked, labour to some distant shore;
Or in dark churches walk among the dead;
They wake with horror, and dare sleep no more.


Second day's battle.

The morn they look on with unwilling eyes,

Till from their main-top joyful news they hear
Of ships, which, by their mould, bring new supplies,
And in their colours Belgian lions bear.


Our watchful general had discerned from far
This mighty succour, which made glad the foe;
He sighed, but, like a father of the war,
His face spake hope, while deep his sorrows flow.


His wounded men he first sends off to shore,
Never, till now, unwilling to obey;
They, not their wounds, but want of strength, deplore,
And think them happy, who with him can stay.


Then to the rest, “Rejoice,” said he, “to-day;
In you the fortune of Great Britain lies;
Among so brave a people, you are they,
Whom heaven has chose to fight for such a prize.



“If number English courages could quell,
We should at first have shunn'd, not met, our foes,
Whose numerous sails the fearful only tell;
Courage from hearts, and not from numbers grows.”


He said, nor needed more to say; with haste,
To their known stations, cheerfully they go;
And, all at once, disdaining to be last,
Solicit every gale to meet the foe.


Nor did the encouraged Belgians long delay,
But, bold in others, not themselves, they stood;
So thick, our navy scarce could sheer their way,
But seemed to wander in a moving wood.



Our little fleet was now engaged so far,
That, like the sword-fish in the whale they fought;
The combat only seemed a civil war,
Till through their bowels we our passage wrought.


Never had valour, no, not ours before
Done aught like this upon the land or main;
Where not to be o'ercome was to do more
Than all the conquests former kings did gain.


The mighty ghosts of our great Harrys rose,
And armed Edwards looked with anxious eyes,
To see this fleet among unequal foes,
By which fate promised them their Charles should rise.


Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear,
And raking chase-guns through our sterns they send;
Close by, their fire-ships, like jackals, appear,
Who on their lions for the prey attend.



Silent, in smoke of cannon, they come on;
Such vapours once did fiery Cacus hide:
In these, the height of pleased revenge is shown,
Who burned contented by another's side.


Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Deceived themselves, or to preserve some friend,
Two grappling Ætnas on the ocean meet,
And English fires with Belgian flames contend.


Now, at each tack, our little fleet grows less;
And, like maimed fowl, swim lagging on the main.
Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess,
While they lose cheaper than the English gain.



Have you not seen, when whistled from the fist,
Some falcon stoops at what her eye designed,
And with her eagerness the quarry missed,
Straight flies at check, and clips it down the wind?


The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing,
And sees the groves no shelter can afford,
With her loud caws her craven kind does bring,
Who, safe in numbers, cuff the noble bird.


Among the Dutch thus Albemarle did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdained to fly;
Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.


Yet pity did his manly spirit move,
To see those perish who so well had fought;
And generously with his despair he strove,
Resolved to live till he their safety wrought.


Let other muses write his prosperous fate,
Of conquered nations tell, and kings restored;
But mine shall sing of his eclipsed estate,
Which, like the sun's, more wonders does afford.



He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs;
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore,
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.


His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
And following smoke obscured them from the foe:
Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptian's pride,
By flaming pillars, and by clouds did go.


Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our courages did theirs subdue;
So Xenophon once led that famed retreat,
Which first the Asian empire overthrew.


The foe approached; and one for his bold sin
Was sunk, as he that touched the ark was slain:
The wild waves mastered him, and sucked him in,
And smiling eddies dimpled on the main.



This seen, the rest at awful distance stood;
As if they had been there as servants set,
To stay, or to go on, as he thought good,
And not pursue, but wait on his retreat.


So Libyan huntsmen on some sandy plain,
From shady coverts roused, the lion chase;
The kingly beast roars out with loud disdain,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place.


But if some one approach to dare his force,
He swings his tail, and swiftly turns him round;
With one paw seizes on his trembling horse,
And with the other tears him to the ground.


Amidst these toils succeeds the balmy night;
Now hissing waters the quenched guns restore;
And weary waves, withdrawing from the fight,
Lie lulled and panting on the silent shore.



The moon shone clear on the becalmed flood,
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play,
Upon the deck our careful general stood,
And deeply mused on the succeeding day.


“That happy sun,” said he, “will rise again,
Who twice victorious did our navy see;
And I alone must view him rise in vain,
Without one ray of all his star for me.


“Yet, like an English general will I die,
And all the ocean make my spacious grave:
Women and cowards on the land may lie;
The sea's a tomb that's proper for the brave.”


Restless he passed the remnants of the night,
Till the fresh air proclaimed the morning nigh;
And burning ships, the martyrs of the fight,
With paler fires beheld the eastern sky.


But now his stores of ammunition spent,

Third day.

His naked valour is his only guard;
Rare thunders are from his dumb cannon sent,
And solitary guns are scarcely heard.



Thus far had fortune power, here forced to stay,
Nor longer durst with virtue be at strife;
This as a ransom Albemarle did pay,
For all the glories of so great a life.


For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Whose waving streamers the glad general knows;
With full-spread sails his eager navy steers,
And every ship in swift proportion grows.



The anxious Prince had heard the cannon long,
And, from that length of time, dire omens drew
Of English overmatched, and Dutch too strong,
Who never fought three days, but to pursue.


Then as an eagle, who with pious care
Was beating widely on the wing for prey,
To her now silent eyry does repair,
And finds her callow infants forced away;


Stung with her love, she stoops upon the plain,
The broken air loud whistling as she flies;
She stops and listens, and shoots forth again,
And guides her pinions by her young ones' cries.


With such kind passion hastes the Prince to fight,
And spreads his flying canvas to the sound;
Him, whom no danger, were he there, could fright,
Now absent, every little noise can wound.


As in a drought the thirsty creatures cry,
And gape upon the gathered clouds for rain;
And first the martlet meets it in the sky,
And with wet wings joys all the feathered train;


With such glad hearts did our despairing men
Salute the appearance of the Prince's fleet;
And each ambitiously would claim the ken,
That with first eyes did distant safety meet.



The Dutch, who came like greedy hinds before,
To reap the harvest their ripe ears did yield,
Now look like those, when rolling thunders roar,
And sheets of lightning blast the standing field.


Full in the Prince's passage, hills of sand,
And dangerous flats, in secret ambush lay;
Where the false tides skim o'er the covered land,
And seamen, with dissembled depths, betray.


The wily Dutch, who, like fallen angels, feared
This new Messiah's coming, there did wait,
And round the verge their braving vessels steered,
To tempt his courage with so fair a bait.


But he, unmoved, contemns their idle threat,
Secure of fame whene'er he please to fight;
His cold experience tempers all his heat,
And inbred worth does boasting valour slight.


Heroic virtue did his actions guide,
And he the substance, not the appearance, chose;
To rescue one such friend he took more pride,
Than to destroy whole thousands of such foes.


But when approached, in strict embraces bound,
Rupert and Albemarle together grow;
He joys to have his friend in safety found,
Which he to none but to that friend would owe.



The cheerful soldiers, with new stores supplied,
Now long to execute their spleenful will;
And, in revenge for those three days they tried,
Wish one, like Joshua's, when the sun stood still.


Thus reinforced, against the adverse fleet,

Fourth day's battle.

Still doubling ours, brave Rupert leads the way;
With the first blushes of the morn they meet,
And bring night back upon the new-born day.


His presence soon blows up the kindling fight,
And his loud guns speak thick like angry men;
It seemed as slaughter had been breathed all night,
And death new-pointed his dull dart again.


The Dutch too well his mighty conduct knew,
And matchless courage, since the former fight;
Whose navy like a stiff-stretched cord did shew,
Till he bore in, and bent them into flight.



The wind he shares, while half their fleet offends
His open side, and high above him shows;
Upon the rest at pleasure he descends,
And, doubly harmed, he double harms bestows.


Behind, the general mends his weary pace,
And sullenly to his revenge he sails;
So glides some trodden serpent on the grass,
And long behind his wounded volume trails.


The increasing sound is borne to either shore,
And for their stakes the throwing nations fear;
Their passions double with the cannons' roar,
And with warm wishes each man combats there.


Plied thick and close as when the fight begun,
Their huge unwieldy navy wastes away:
So sicken waning moons too near the sun,
And blunt their crescents on the edge of day.


And now, reduced on equal terms to fight,
Their ships like wasted patrimonies show;
Where the thin scattering trees admit the light,
And shun each other's shadows as they grow.



The warlike Prince had sever'd from the rest
Two giant ships, the pride of all the main;
Which with his one so vigorously he pressed,
And flew so home, they could not rise again.


Already battered, by his lee they lay;
In vain upon the passing winds they call;
The passing winds through their torn canvas play,
And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall.


Their opened sides receive a gloomy light,
Dreadful as day let into shades below;
Without, grim death rides barefaced in their sight,
And urges entering billows as they flow.


When one dire shot, the last they could supply,
Close by the board the Prince's main-mast bore:
All three, now helpless, by each other lie,
And this offends not, and those fear no more.


So have I seen some fearful hare maintain
A course, till tired before the dog she lay;
Who, stretched behind her, pants upon the plain,
Past power to kill, as she to get away.



With his loll'd tongue he faintly licks his prey;
His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies;
She, trembling, creeps upon the ground away,
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.


The Prince unjustly does his stars accuse,
Which hindered him to push his fortune on;
For what they to his courage did refuse,
By mortal valour never must be done.


This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tattered fleet to follow home;
Proud to have so got off with equal stakes,
Where 'twas a triumph not to be o'ercome.



The general's force, as kept alive by fight,
Now not opposed, no longer can pursue;
Lasting till heaven had done his courage right;
When he had conquered, he his weakness knew.


He casts a frown on the departing foe,
And sighs to see him quit the watery field;
His stern fixed eyes no satisfaction show,
For all the glories which the fight did yield.


Though, as when fiends did miracles avow,
He stands confessed e'en by the boastful Dutch;
He only does his conquest disavow,
And thinks too little what they found too much.


Returned, he with the fleet resolved to stay;
No tender thoughts of home his heart divide;
Domestic joys and cares he puts away,
For realms are households which the great must guide.



As those, who unripe veins in mines explore,
On the rich bed again the warm turf lay,
Till time digests the yet imperfect ore,
And know it will be gold another day;



So looks our monarch on this early fight,
Th'essay and rudiments of great success;
Which all-maturing time must bring to light,
While he, like heaven, does each day's labour bless.


Heaven ended not the first or second day,
Yet each was perfect to the work designed:
God and kings work, when they their work survey,
And passive aptness in all subjects find.


In burdened vessels first, with speedy care,
His plenteous stores do season'd timber send;

His Majesty repairs the fleet.

Thither the brawny carpenters repair,
And as the surgeons of maimed ships attend.


With cord and canvas from rich Hamburgh sent,
His navy's moulted wings he imps once more;
Tall Norway fir, their masts in battle spent,
And English oak, sprung leaks and planks restore.


All hands employed, the royal work grows warm;
Like labouring bees on a long summer's day,
Some sound the trumpet for the rest to swarm,
And some on bells of tasted lilies play.



With gluey wax some new foundations lay,
Of virgin-combs, which from the roof are hung;
Some armed within doors, upon duty stay,
Or tend the sick, or educate the young.


So here some pick out bullets from the sides,
Some drive old oakum through each seam and rift;
Their left hand does the caulking-iron guide,
The rattling mallet with the right they lift.


With boiling pitch another near at hand,
From friendly Sweden brought, the seams instops;
Which well paid o'er, the salt sea waves withstand,
And shakes them from the rising beak in drops.



Some the galled ropes with dauby marline bind,
Or searcloth masts with strong tarpauling coats;
To try new shrouds, one mounts into the wind,
And one below their ease or stiffness notes.


Our careful monarch stands in person by,
His new-cast cannon's firmness to explore;
The strength of big-corn'd powder loves to try,
And ball and cartridge sorts for every bore.


Each day brings fresh supplies of arms and men,
And ships which all last winter were abroad;
And such as fitted since the fight had been,
Or new from stocks, were fallen into the road.


The goodly “London,” in her gallant trim,

“Loyal London” described.

The phœnix-daughter of the vanished old,
Like a rich bride does to the ocean swim,
And on her shadow rides in floating gold.



Her flag aloft, spread ruffling to the wind,
And sanguine streamers, seem the flood to fire;
The weaver, charmed with what his loom designed,
Goes on to sea, and knows not to retire.


With roomy decks, her guns of mighty strength,
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves;
Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length,
She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.



This martial present, piously designed,
The loyal city gave their best-loved king;
And, with a bounty ample as the wind,
Built, fitted, and maintained, to aid him bring.


By viewing nature, nature's handmaid, art,

Digression concerning shipping and navigation.

Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow:
Thus fishes first to shipping did impart,
Their tail the rudder, and their head the prow.


Some log, perhaps, upon the waters swam,
An useless drift, which, rudely cut within,
And hollow'd, first a floating trough became,
And cross some rivulet passage did begin.


In shipping such as this, the Irish kern,
And untaught Indian, on the stream did glide;
Ere sharp-keel'd boats to stem the flood did learn,
Or fin-like oars did spread from either side.


Add but a sail, and Saturn so appeared,
When from lost empire he to exile went,
And with the golden age to Tiber steer'd,
Where coin and first commerce he did invent.



Rude as their ships was navigation then;
No useful compass or meridian known;
Coasting, they kept the land within their ken,
And knew no north but when the Pole-star shone.


Of all, who since have used the open sea,
Than the bold English none more fame have won;
Beyond the year, and out of heaven's high way,
They make discoveries where they see no sun.


But what so long in vain, and yet unknown,
By poor mankind's benighted wit is sought,
Shall in this age to Britain first be shown,
And hence be to admiring nations taught.


The ebbs of tides, and their mysterious flow,
We, as art's elements, shall understand;
And as by line upon the ocean go,
Whose paths shall be familiar as the land.


Instructed ships shall sail to quick commerce,
By which remotest regions are allied;
Which makes one city of the universe,
Where some may gain, and all may be supplied.



Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
And view the ocean leaning on the sky:
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry.


This I foretell from your auspicious care,

Apostrophe to the Royal Society.

Who great in search of God and nature grow;
Who best your wise Creator's praise declare,
Since best to praise His works is best to know.


O truly royal! who behold the law,
And rule of beings in your Maker's mind;
And thence, like limbecs, rich ideas draw,
To fit the levelled use of humankind.


But first the toils of war we must endure,
And from the injurious Dutch redeem the seas;
War makes the valiant of his right secure,
And gives up fraud to be chastised with ease.


Already were the Belgians on our coast,
Whose fleet more mighty every day became
By late success, which they did falsely boast,
And now, by first appearing, seemed to claim.



Designing, subtile, diligent, and close,
They knew to manage war with wise delay;
Yet all those arts their vanity did cross,
And by their pride their prudence did betray.


Nor stayed the English long; but, well supplied,
Appear as numerous as the insulting foe;
The combat now by courage must be tried,
And the success the braver nation show.


There was the Plymouth squadron new come in,
Which in the Straits last winter was abroad;
Which twice on Biscay's working bay had been,
And on the midland sea the French had awed.


Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Famed for his action on the Smyrna fleet;


And Holmes, whose name shall live in epic song,
While music numbers, or while verse has feet.


Holmes, the Achates of the general's fight,
Who first bewitched our eyes with Guinea gold;
As once old Cato, in the Roman sight,
The tempting fruits of Afric did unfold.


With him went Spragge, as bountiful as brave,
Whom his high courage to command had brought;


Harman, who did the twice-fired “Harry” save,
And in his burning ship undaunted fought.



Young Hollis on a muse by Mars begot,
Born, Cæsar-like, to write and act great deeds;
Impatient to revenge his fatal shot,
His right hand doubly to his left succeeds.



Thousands were there in darker fame that dwell,
Whose deeds some nobler poem shall adorn;
And, though to me unknown, they sure fought well,
Whom Rupert led, and who were British born.


Of every size an hundred fighting sail;
So vast the navy now at anchor rides,
That underneath it the pressed waters fail,
And with its weight it shoulders off the tides.



Now, anchors weighed, the seamen shout so shrill,
That heaven and earth, and the wide ocean rings;
A breeze from westward waits their sails to fill,
And rests in those high beds his downy wings.


The wary Dutch this gathering storm foresaw,
And durst not bide it on the English coast;
Behind their treacherous shallows they withdraw,
And there lay snares to catch the British host.


So the false spider, when her nets are spread,
Deep ambushed in her silent den does lie,
And feels far off the trembling of her thread,
Whose filmy cord should bind the struggling fly;



Then, if at last she find him fast beset,
She issues forth, and runs along her loom;
She joys to touch the captive in her net,
And drag the little wretch in triumph home.


The Belgians hoped, that, with disordered haste,
Our deep-cut keels upon the sands might run;
Or, if with caution leisurely were past,
Their numerous gross might charge us one by one.


But with a fore-wind pushing them above,
And swelling tide that heaved them from below,
O'er the blind flats our warlike squadrons move,
And with spread sails to welcome battle go.


It seemed as there the British Neptune stood,
With all his hosts of waters at command;
Beneath them to submit the officious flood,
And with his trident shoved them off the sand.


To the pale foes they suddenly draw near,
And summon them to unexpected fight:
They start like murderers when ghosts appear,
And draw their curtains in the dead of night.



Now van to van the foremost squadrons meet,

Second battle.

The midmost battles hasting up behind;
Who view far off the storm of falling sleet,
And hear their thunder rattling in the wind.



At length the adverse admirals appear,
The two bold champions of each country's right;
Their eyes describe the lists as they come near,
And draw the lines of death before they fight.


The distance judged for shot of every size,
The linstocks touch, the ponderous ball expires:
The vigorous seamen every port-hole plies,
And adds his heart to every gun he fires!


Fierce was the fight on the proud Belgians' side,
For honour, which they seldom sought before;
But now they by their own vain boasts were tied,
And forced, at least in show, to prize it more.



But sharp remembrance on the English part,
And shame of being matched by such a foe,
Rouse conscious virtue up in every heart,
And seeming to be stronger makes them so.


Nor long the Belgians could that fleet sustain,
Which did two generals' fates, and Cæsar's bear;
Each several ship a victory did gain,
As Rupert or as Albemarle were there.


Their battered admiral too soon withdrew,
Unthanked by ours for his unfinished fight;
But he the minds of his Dutch masters knew,
Who called that providence, which we called flight.


Never did men more joyfully obey,
Or sooner understood the sign to fly;
With such alacrity they bore away,
As if, to praise them, all the States stood by.


O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Thy monument inscribed such praise shall wear,
As Varro, timely flying, once did meet,
Because he did not of his Rome despair.



Behold that navy, which, a while before,
Provoked the tardy English close to fight;
Now draw their beaten vessels close to shore,
As larks lie dared, to shun the hobby's flight.


Whoe'er would English monuments survey,
In other records may our courage know;
But let them hide the story of this day,
Whose fame was blemished by too base a foe.


Or if too busily they will inquire
Into a victory, which we disdain;
Then let them know, the Belgians did retire,
Before the patron saint of injured Spain.



Repenting England this revengeful day
To Philip's manes did an offering bring;
England, which first, by leading them astray,
Hatched up rebellion to destroy her king.


Our fathers bent their baneful industry,
To check a monarchy that slowly grew;
But did not France or Holland's fate foresee,
Whose rising power to swift dominion flew.


In fortune's empire blindly thus we go,
And wander after pathless destiny;
Whose dark resorts since prudence cannot know,
In vain it would provide for what shall be.


But whate'er English to the blessed shall go,
And the fourth Harry or first Orange meet;
Find him disowning of a Bourbon foe,
And him detesting a Batavian fleet.



Now on their coasts our conquering navy rides,
Waylays their merchants, and their land besets;
Each day new wealth without their care provides;
They lie asleep with prizes in their nets.


So close behind some promontory lie
The huge leviathans to attend their prey;
And give no chase, but swallow in the fry,
Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.


Burning of the fleet in the Vlie by Sir Robert Holmes.

Nor was this all; in ports and roads remote,

Destructive fires among whole fleets we send;
Triumphant flames upon the water float,
And outbound ships at home their voyage end.



Those various squadrons, variously designed,
Each vessel freighted with a several load,
Each squadron waiting for a several wind,
All find but one,—to burn them in the road.



Some bound for Guinea, golden sand to find,
Bore all the gauds the simple natives wear;
Some for the pride of Turkish courts designed,
For folded turbans finest Holland bear.


Some English wool vexed in a Belgian loom,
And into cloth of spongy softness made,
Did into France, or colder Denmark, doom,
To ruin with worse ware our staple trade.



Our greedy seamen rummage every hold,
Smile on the booty of each wealthier chest;
And, as the priests who with their gods make bold,
Take what they like, and sacrifice the rest.


But ah! how unsincere are all our joys!

Transition to the Fire of London.

Which sent from heaven, like lightning, make no stay;
Their palling taste the journey's length destroys,
Or grief, sent post, o'ertakes them on the way.


Swelled with our late successes on the foe,
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross,
We urge an unseen fate to lay us low,
And feed their envious eyes with English loss.


Each element His dread command obeys,
Who makes or ruins with a smile or frown;
Who, as by one He did our nation raise,
So now He with another pulls us down.



Yet London, empress of the northern clime,
By an high fate thou greatly didst expire;
Great as the world's, which, at the death of time,
Must fall, and rise a nobler frame by fire.



As when some dire usurper heaven provides,
To scourge his country with a lawless sway;
His birth, perhaps, some petty village hides,
And sets his cradle out of fortune's way:


Till fully ripe his swelling fate breaks out,
And hurries him to mighty mischiefs on;
His prince, surprised at first, no ill could doubt,
And wants the power to meet it when 'tis known:


Such was the rise of this prodigious fire,
Which in mean buildings first obscurely bred,
From thence did soon to open streets aspire,
And straight to palaces and temples spread.


The diligence of trades and noiseful gain,
And luxury more late, asleep were laid;
All was the night's; and, in her silent reign,
No sound the rest of nature did invade.



In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,
Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose;
And, first, few scattering sparks about were blown,
Big with the flames that to our ruin rose.


Then in some close-pent room it crept along,
And, smouldering as it went, in silence fed;
Till th'infant monster, with devouring strong,
Walked boldly upright with exalted head.


Now, like some rich or mighty murderer,
Too great for prison, which he breaks with gold,
Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear,
And dares the world to tax him with the old:


So scapes the insulting Fire his narrow jail,
And makes small outlets into open air;
There the fierce winds his tender force assail,
And beat him downward to his first repair.


The winds, like crafty courtesans, withheld
His flames from burning, but to blow them more;
And, every fresh attempt, he is repelled
With faint denials, weaker than before.



And now, no longer letted of his prey,
He leaps up at it with enraged desire;
O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey,
And nods at every house his threat'ning fire.


The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,
With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice;
About the fire into a dance they bend,
And sing their Sabbath notes with feeble voice.


Our guardian angel saw them where they sate,
Above the palace of our slumbering king;
He sighed, abandoning his charge to fate,
And, drooping, oft looked back upon the wing.


At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Called up some waking lover to the sight;
And long it was ere he the rest could raise,
Whose heavy eyelids yet were full of night.



The next to danger, hot pursued by fate,
Half-clothed, half-naked, hastily retire;
And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late,
For helpless infants left amidst the fire.


Their cries soon waken all the dwellers near;
Now murmuring noises rise in every street;
The more remote run stumbling with their fear,
And in the dark men jostle as they meet.


So weary bees in little cells repose;
But if night-robbers lift the well-stored hive,
An humming through their waxen city grows,
And out upon each other's wings they drive.


Now streets grow thronged, and busy as by day;
Some run for buckets to the hallowed quire;
Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play,
And some, more bold, mount ladders to the fire.


In vain; for from the east a Belgian wind
His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent;
The flames, impelled, soon left their foes behind,
And forward with a wanton fury went.


A quay of fire ran all along the shore,
And lightened all the river with a blaze;
The wakened tides began again to roar,
And wondering fish in shining waters gaze.



Old Father Thames raised up his reverend head,
But feared the fate of Simois would return;
Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed,
And shrunk his waters back into his urn.


The fire, meantime, walks in a broader gross;
To either hand his wings he opens wide;
He wades the streets, and straight he reaches cross,
And plays his longing flames on the other side.


At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take;
Now with long necks from side to side they feed;
At length, grown strong, their mother-fire forsake,
And a new colony of flames succeed.


To every nobler portion of the town
The curling billows roll their restless tide;
In parties now they straggle up and down,
As armies, unopposed, for prey divide.



One mighty squadron with a side-wind sped,
Through narrow lanes his cumbered fire does haste;
By powerful charms of gold and silver led,
The Lombard bankers and the Change to waste.


Another backward to the Tower would go,
And slowly eats his way against the wind;
But the main body of the marching foe
Against the imperial palace is designed.


Now day appears, and with the day the King,
Whose early care had robbed him of his rest;
Far off the cracks of falling houses ring,
And shrieks of subjects pierce his tender breast.



Near as he draws, thick harbingers of smoke,
With gloomy pillars cover all the place;
Whose little intervals of night are broke
By sparks, that drive against his sacred face.


More than his guards his sorrows made him known,
And pious tears, which down his cheeks did shower;
The wretched in his grief forgot their own,
So much the pity of a king has power.


He wept the flames of what he loved so well,
And what so well had merited his love;
For never prince in grace did more excel,
Or royal city more in duty strove.


Nor with an idle care did he behold;
Subjects may grieve, but monarchs must redress;
He cheers the fearful, and commends the bold,
And makes despairers hope for good success.


Himself directs what first is to be done,
And orders all the succours which they bring;
The helpful and the good about him run,
And form an army worthy such a king.



He sees the dire contagion spread so fast,
That where it seizes all relief is vain;
And therefore must unwillingly lay waste
That country, which would else the foe maintain.


The powder blows up all before the fire;
The amazed flames stand gathered on a heap;
And from the precipice's brink retire,
Afraid to venture on so large a leap.


Thus fighting fires a while themselves consume,
But straight, like Turks forced on to win or die,
They first lay tender bridges of their fume,
And o'er the breach in unctuous vapours fly.



Part stay for passage, till a gust of wind
Ships o'er their forces in a shining sheet;
Part creeping under ground, their journey blind,
And climbing from below their fellows meet.


Thus to some desert plain, or old wood-side,
Dire night-hags come from far to dance their round;
And o'er broad rivers on their fiends they ride,
Or sweep in clouds above the blasted ground.


No help avails; for, hydra-like, the fire
Lifts up his hundred heads to aim his way;
And scarce the wealthy can one half retire,
Before he rushes in to share the prey.


The rich grow suppliant, and the poor grow proud;
Those offer mighty gain, and these ask more;
So void of pity is the ignoble crowd,
When others' ruin may increase their store.


As those who live by shores with joy behold
Some wealthy vessel split or stranded nigh;
And from the rocks leap down for shipwrecked gold,
And seek the tempests which the others fly:



So these but wait the owners' last despair,
And what's permitted to the flames invade;
E'en from their jaws they hungry morsels tear,
And on their backs the spoils of Vulcan lade.


The days were all in this lost labour spent;
And when the weary King gave place to night,
His beams he to his royal brother lent,
And so shone still in his reflective light.


Night came, but without darkness or repose,
A dismal picture of the general doom;
Where souls, distracted when the trumpet blows,
And half unready, with their bodies come.



Those who have homes, when home they do repair,
To a last lodging call their wandering friends;
Their short uneasy sleeps are broke with care,
To look how near their own destruction tends.


Those who have none, sit round where once it was,
And with full eyes each wonted room require;
Haunting the yet warm ashes of the place,
As murdered men walk where they did expire.


Some stir up coals and watch the vestal fire,
Others in vain from sight of ruin run;
And while through burning lab'rinths they retire,
With loathing eyes repeat what they would shun.


The most in fields, like herded beasts, lie down,
To dews obnoxious on the grassy floor;
And while their babes in sleep their sorrows drown,
Sad parents watch the remnants of their store.



While by the motion of the flames they guess
What streets are burning now, and what are near,
An infant, waking, to the paps would press,
And meets, instead of milk, a falling tear.


No thought can ease them but their sovereign's care,
Whose praise the afflicted as their comfort sing;
E'en those, whom want might drive to just despair,
Think life a blessing under such a king.


Meantime he sadly suffers in their grief,
Outweeps an hermit, and outprays a saint;
All the long night he studies their relief,
How they may be supplied, and he may want.


King's Prayer.

“O God,” said he, “thou patron of my days,

Guide of my youth in exile and distress!
Who me, unfriended, brought'st by wondrous ways,
The kingdom of my fathers to possess:



“Be thou my judge, with what unwearied care
I since have laboured for my people's good;
To bind the bruises of a civil war,
And stop the issues of their wasting blood.


“Thou who hast taught me to forgive the ill,
And recompense, as friends, the good misled;
If mercy be a precept of thy will,
Return that mercy on thy servant's head.


“Or if my heedless youth has stepped astray,
Too soon forgetful of thy gracious hand,
On me alone thy just displeasure lay,
But take thy judgments from this mourning land.


“We all have sinned; and thou hast laid us low,
As humble earth, from whence at first we came:
Like flying shades before the clouds we show,
And shrink like parchment in consuming flame.


“O let it be enough what thou hast done;
When spotted deaths ran arm'd through every street,
With poisoned darts, which not the good could shun,
The speedy could outfly, or valiant meet.



“The living few, and frequent funerals then,
Proclaimed thy wrath on this forsaken place;
And now those few, who are returned again,
Thy searching judgments to their dwellings trace.


“O pass not, Lord, an absolute decree,
Or bind thy sentence unconditional;
But in thy sentence our remorse foresee,
And in that foresight this thy doom recall.


“Thy threat'nings, Lord, as thine, thou may'st revoke;
But, if immutable and fixed they stand,
Continue still thyself to give the stroke,
And let not foreign foes oppress thy land.”



The Eternal heard, and from the heavenly quire
Chose out the cherub with the flaming sword;
And bade him swiftly drive the approaching fire
From where our naval magazines were stored.


The blessed minister his wings displayed,
And like a shooting star he cleft the night:
He charged the flames, and those that disobeyed,
He lashed to duty with his sword of light.


The fugitive flames, chastised, went forth to prey
On pious structures, by our fathers reared;
By which to heaven they did affect the way,
Ere faith in churchmen without works was heard.


The wanting orphans saw, with watery eyes,
Their founders' charity in dust laid low;
And sent to God their ever-answered cries;
For He protects the poor, who made them so.


Nor could thy fabric, Paul's, defend thee long,
Though thou wert sacred to thy Maker's praise;
Though made immortal by a poet's song,
And poets' songs the Theban walls could raise.



The daring flames peeped in, and saw from far
The awful beauties of the sacred quire;
But since it was profaned by civil war,
Heaven thought it fit to have it purged by fire.


Now down the narrow streets it swiftly came,
And, widely opening, did on both sides prey;
This benefit we sadly owe the flame,
If only ruin must enlarge our way.


And now four days the sun had seen our woes;
Four nights the moon beheld the incessant fire;
It seemed as if the stars more sickly rose,
And farther from the feverish north retire.



In the empyrean heaven, the blessed abode,
The Thrones and the Dominions prostrate lie,
Not daring to behold their angry God;
And an hushed silence damps the tuneful sky.


At length the Almighty cast a pitying eye,
And mercy softly touched his melting breast;
He saw the town's one half in rubbish lie,
And eager flames give on to storm the rest.


An hollow crystal pyramid he takes,
In firmamental waters dipt above;
Of it a broad extinguisher he makes,
And hoods the flames that to their quarry strove.


The vanquished fires withdraw from every place,
Or, full with feeding, sink into a sleep:
Each household genius shows again his face,
And from the hearths the little Lares creep.



Our King this more than natural change beholds;
With sober joy his heart and eyes abound:


To the All-good his lifted hands he folds,
And thanks him low on his redeemed ground.



As when sharp frosts had long constrained the earth,
A kindly thaw unlocks it with mild rain;
And first the tender blade peeps up to birth,
And straight the green fields laugh with promised grain.


By such degrees the spreading gladness grew
In every heart which fear had froze before;
The standing streets with so much joy they view,
That with less grief the perished they deplore.


The father of the people opened wide
His stores, and all the poor with plenty fed:
Thus God's anointed God's own place supplied,
And filled the empty with his daily bread.


This royal bounty brought its own reward,
And in their minds so deep did print the sense,
That if their ruins sadly they regard,
'Tis but with fear the sight might drive him thence.



But so may he live long, that town to sway,

City's request to the King not to leave them.

Which by his auspice they will nobler make,
As he will hatch their ashes by his stay,
And not their humble ruins now forsake.


They have not lost their loyalty by fire;
Nor is their courage or their wealth so low,
That from his wars they poorly would retire,
Or beg the pity of a vanquished foe.


Not with more constancy the Jews, of old,
By Cyrus from rewarded exile sent,
Their royal city did in dust behold,
Or with more vigour to rebuild it went.



The utmost malice of the stars is past,
And two dire comets, which have scourged the town,
In their own plague and fire have breathed their last,
Or dimly in their sinking sockets frown.


Now frequent trines the happier lights among,
And high-raised Jove, from his dark prison freed,
Those weights took off that on his planet hung,
Will gloriously the new-laid work succeed.


Methinks already from this chemic flame,
I see a city of more precious mould;
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With silver paved, and all divine with gold.


Already labouring with a mighty fate,
She shakes the rubbish from her mountain brow,
And seems to have renewed her charter's date,
Which heaven will to the death of time allow.



More great than human now, and more august,
New deified she from her fires does rise;
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And opening into larger parts she flies.


Before, she like some shepherdess did show,
Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.



Now, like a maiden queen, she will behold,
From her high turrets, hourly suitors come;
The East with incense, and the West with gold,
Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.


The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train;
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
With longing eyes to meet her face again.


The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,
The glory of their towns no more shall boast;
And Seine, that would with Belgian rivers join,
Shall find her lustre stained, and traffic lost.


The venturous merchant, who designed more far,
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charmed with the splendour of this northern star,
Shall here unlade him, and depart no more.


Our powerful navy shall no longer meet,
The wealth of France or Holland to invade;
The beauty of this town, without a fleet,
From all the world shall vindicate her trade.


And while this famed emporium we prepare,
The British ocean shall such triumphs boast,
That those, who now disdain our trade to share,
Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast.



Already we have conquered half the war,
And the less dangerous part is left behind;
Our trouble now is but to make them dare,
And not so great to vanquish as to find.


Thus to the eastern wealth through storms we go,
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more;
A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the spicy shore.

Precious stones at first are dew, condensed and hardened by the warmth of the sun, or subterranean fires.

According to their opinion who think, that great heap of waters under the Line is depressed into tides by the moon towards the poles.

Cœruleus Proteus immania ponti
Armenta, et magnas pascit sub gurgite phocas.

The admiral of Holland.

Southern climates—Guinea.

From Petronius: “Si bene calculum ponas, ubique fit naufragium.”

Tacitus saith of them, “Nullos mortalium fide aut armis ante Germanos esse.”

Examina infantium, futurusque populus. Plin. jun. in Pan. ad Trajanum.

Where the Olympic games were celebrated.

From  Virgil next hit: Credas innare revulsas Cycladas.

Spem vultu simulat, premit alto corde dolorem.

previous hit Virgil next hit.

The simile is previous hit Virgil's next hit: “Vestigia retro improperata refert.”

From Statius, Sylv.

“Nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus: occidit horror
Equoris, antennis maria acclinata quiescunt.”

The third of June, famous for two former victories.

From previous hit Virgil next hit

“Quum medii nexus, extremæque agmina caudæ
Solvuntur; tardosque trahit sinus ultimus orbes.”

From Horace—

------“Quos opimus,
Fallere et effugere est triumphus.”

Fervet opus; the same similitude in previous hit Virgil next hit.

Extra anni solisque vias.previous hit Virgil next hit.

Levat ipse tridenti, et vastas aperit syrtes.previous hit Virgil next hit.

Possunt quia posse videntur.previous hit Virgil next hit.

St. James, on whose day this victory was gained.

Philip II. of Spain, against whom the Hollanders rebelling were aided by Queen Elizabeth.

Quum mare, quum tellus, correptaque regia cœli ardeat.

Hæc arte tractabat cupidum virum, ut illius animum inopia accenderet.

Sigæa igni freta lata relucent.

previous hit Virgil next hit.


Augusta, the old name of London.