Immagini della pagina
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,

Thy monument inscrib'd such praise shall wen, As Varro timely flying once did meet,

Because he did not of his Rome despair.

Behold that navy, which a while before
Provok'd the tardy English close to fight;
Now draw their beaten vessels close to shore,
As larks lie dar'd 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 blemish'd 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 injur'd Spain.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

And now no longer letted of his prey,

He leaps up at it with enrag'd desire: bold,O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey, And nods at every house his threatening fire.

But ah! how insincere are all our joys! [no stay: Which, sent from Heaven, like lightning make Their palling taste the journey's length destroys,

Or grief sent post o'ertakes them on the way.

Swell'd 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, surpris'd 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, Walk'd 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 th' 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 courtezans, withheld

His flames from burning, but to blow them more: And every fresh attempt he is repell'd With faint denials weaker than before.

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 sigh'd, abandoning his charge to Fate,

And drooping, oft look'd back upon the wing.

At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Call'd 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-cloth'd, half-naked, hastily retire:
And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late,
For helpless infants left amidst the fire.

[blocks in formation]

One mighty squadron with a side-wind sped,
Through narrow lanes his cumber'd 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 th' imperial palace is design'd.

Now day appears, and with the day the king, Whose early care had robb'd 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 lov'd 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:

Th' amazed Flames stand gather'd on a heap; And from the precipice's brink retire,

Afraid to venture on so large a leap.

Thus fighting Fires awhile themselves consume, But straight, like Turks, forc'd 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 th' 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 shipwreck'd gol.
And seek the tempests which the others fly:

So these but wait the owners' last despair,

And what's permitted to the flames invade; Ev'n 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 murder'd 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 labyrinths 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 drowe,
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 th' afflicted as their comfort sing:
Ev'n 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 supply'd and he may want.

"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 unweary'd care I since have labour'd for my people's good; To bind the bruises of a civil war,

And stop the issues of their wasting blood.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

or could thy fabric, Paul's, defend thee long, Though thou wert sacred to thy Maker's praise: hough made immortal by a poet's song; And poets' songs the Theban walls could raise.

he daring flames peep'd in, and saw from far
The awful beauties of the sacred quire:
ut, since it was profan'd by civil war,
Heav'n thought it fit to have it purg'd by fire.

ow down the narrow streets it swiftly came,
And widely opening did on both sides prey:
is 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 th' incessant fire: It seem'd as if the stars more sickly rose,

And further from the feverish North retire.

In th' empyrean Heaven, the bless'd abode,
The thrones and the dominions prostrate lie,
Not daring to behold their angry God;
And an hush'd silence damps the tuneful sky.

At length th' Almighty cast a pitying eye,
And mercy softly touch'd his melting breast:
He saw the town's one-half in rubbish lie,
And eager flames drive 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 drove.

The vanquish'd 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 constrain❜d the earth,
A kindly thaw unlocks it with cold rain;
And first the tender blade peeps up to birth [grain:
And straight the green fields laugh with promis'd

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 perish'd they deplore.

The father of the people open'd wide

His stores, and all the poor with plenty fed: Thus God's anointed God's own place supply'd, And fill'd 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, 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 vanquish'd foe.

[blocks in formation]

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 chymic flame,
I see a city of more precious mold:
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With silver pav'd, and all divine with gold.

Already labouring with a mighty fate,

She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow, And seems to have renew'd her charter's date,

Which Heaven will to the death of Time allow.

More great than human now, and more august,
Now deify'd 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 Seyne, that would with Belgian rivers join, Shall find her lustre stain'd, and traffic lost.

The venturous merchant, who design'd more far,
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charm'd 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 fam'd 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 conquer'd 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.



An Ode in Honour of St. Cecilia's Day. 'Twas at the royal feast for Persia won By Philip's warlike son: Aloft in awful state The godlike hero sate

On his imperial throne:

His valiant peers were plac'd around; Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound: (So should desert in arms be crown'd) The lovely Thais, by his side, Sate, like a blooming eastern bride, In flower of youth and beauty's pride. Happy, happy, happy pair! None but the brave,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,

And seems to shake the spheres.

The praise of Bacchus then, the sweet musician sung
Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young:
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums;
Flush'd with a purple grace
He shows his honest face;

Now give the hautboys breath: he comes, he comes
Bacchus, ever fair and young,

Drinking joys did first ordain;
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure:

Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure;
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

« IndietroContinua »