Inscribed to the Duke of Newcastle.

Holles! immortal in far more than fame!
Be thou illustrious in far more than power.
Great things are small when greater rise to view
Tho' station'd high, and press'd with public cares,
Disdain not to peruse my serious song,
Which peradventure may push by the world:
Of a few moments rob Britannia's weal,
And leave Europa's counsels less mature!
For thou art noble, and the theme is great.
Nor shall or Europe or Britannia blame
Thine absent ear, but gain by the delay.
Long vers'd in senates and in cabinets,
States' intricate demands and high debates!
As thou of use to those, so this to thee;
And in a point that empire far outweighs,
That far outweighs all Europe's thrones in one.
Let greatness prove its title to be great.
'Tis power's supreme prerogative to stamp
On other minds an image of its own.
Bend the strong influence of high place, to stem
The stream that sweeps away the country's weal;
The Stygian stream, the torrent of our guilt.
Far as thou mayst give life to virtue's cause;
Let not the ties of personal regard
Betray the nation's trust to feeble hands:
Let not fomented flames of private pique
Prey on the vitals of the public good:
Let not our streets with blasphemies resound,
Nor lewdness whisper where the laws can reach:
Let not best laws, the wisdom of our sires,
Turn satires on their sunk degenerate sons,
The bastards of their blood! and serve no point
But with more emphasis to call them fools:
Let not our rank enormities unhinge
Britannia's welfare from divine support.
Such deeds the minister, the prince adorn;
No power is shown but in such deeds as these:
All, all is impotence but acting right;
And where's the statesman but would show his power?
To prince and people thou, of equal zeal!
Be it henceforward but thy second care
To grace thy country, and support the throne;
Though this supported, that adorn'd so well,
A throne superior our first homage claims;
To Cësar's Cësar our first tribute due:
A tribute which, unpaid, makes specious wrong
And splendid sacrilege of all beside:
Illustrious followers; we must first be just;
And what so just as awe for the supreme?
Less fear we rugged ruffians of the north,
Than virtue's well-clad rebels nearer home
Less Loyola's disguis'd, all-aping sons,
Than traitors lurking in our appetites;
Less all the legions Seine and Tagus send,
Than unrein'd passions rushing on our peace:
Yon savage mountaineers are tame to these.
Against those rioters send forth the laws,
And break to reason's yoke their wild careers.
Prudence for all things points the proper hour,
Though some seem more importunate and great.
Tho' Britain's generous views and interests spread
Beyond the narrow circle of her shores,
And their grand entries make on distant lands;
Though Britain's genius the wide wave bestrides,
And, like a vast Colossus, towering stands
With one foot planted on the continent;
Yet be not wholly wrapp'd in public cares,
Tho' such high cares should call as call'd of late;
The cause of kings and emperors adjourn,
And Europe's little balance drop awhile;
For greater drop it: ponder and adjust
The rival interests and contending claims
Of life and death, of now and of for-ever;
Sublimest theme; and needful as sublime.
Thus great Eliza's oracles renown'd,
Thus Walsingham and Raleigh, (Britain's boasts!)
Thus every statesman thought that ever--died.
There's inspiration in a sable hour,
And Death's approach makes politicians wise.
When thunderstruck, that eagle Wolsey fell;
When royal favour, as an ebbing sea,
Like a leviathan, his grandeur left,
His gasping grandeur! naked on the strand,
Naked of human, doubtful of divine,
Assistance; no more wallowing in his wealth,
Spouting proud foams of insolence no more,
On what, then, smote his heart, uncardinal'd,
And sunk beneath the level of a man!
On the grand article, the sum of things!
The point of the first magnitude! that point
Tubes mounted in a court, but rarely reach;
Some painted cloud still intercepts their sight.
First right to judge; then choose; then persevere,
Steadfast, as if a crown or mistress call'd.--
These, these are politics will stand the test,
When finer politics their masters sting,
And statesmen fain would shrink to common men.
These, these are politics will answer now,
(When common men would fain to statesmen swell,)
Beyond a Machiavel's or Tencin's scheme.
All safety rests on honest counsels: these
Immortalize the statesman, bless the state,
Make the prince triumph, and the people smile;
In peace rever'd, or terrible in arms,
Close-leagued with an invincible ally,
Which honest counsels never fail to fix
In favour of an unabandon'd land;
A land--that starts at such a land as this,
A parliament, so principled, will sink
All ancient schools of empire in disgrace,
And Britain's glory, rising from the dead,
Will fill the world, loud fame's superior song.
Britain!--that word pronounc'd is an alarm;
It warms the blood, though frozen in our veins;
Awakes the soul, and sends her to the field,
Enamour'd of the glorious face of Death.
Britain!--there's noble magic in the sound.
O what illustrious images arise!
Embattled, round me, blaze the pomps of war!
By sea, by land, at home, in foreign climes,
What full-blown laurels on our fathers' brows!
Ye radiant trophies! and imperial spoils!
Ye scenes!--astonishing to modern sight!
Let me, at least, enjoy you in a dream.
Why vanish? Stay, ye godlike strangers! stay:
Strangers!--I wrong my countrymen: they wake;
High beats the pulse: the noble pulse of war
Beats to that ancient measure, that grand march
Which then prevail'd, when Britain highest soar'd,
And every battle paid for heroes slain.
No more our great forefathers stain our cheeks
With blushes; their renown our shame no more.
In military garb, and sudden arms,
Up starts old Britain; crosiers are laid by;
Trade wields the sword, and agriculture leaves
Her half-turn'd furrow: other harvests fire
A nobler avarice, avarice of renown!
And laurels are the growth of every field.
In distant courts is our commotion felt;
And less like gods sit monarches on their thrones.
What arm can want or sinews or success,
Which, lifted from an honest heart, descends,
With all the weight of British wrath, to cleave
The papal mitre, or the Gallic chain,
At every stroke, and save a sinking land?
Or death or victory must be resolv'd;
To dream of mercy, O how tame! how mad!
Where, o'er black deeds the crucifix display'd,
Fools think Heaven purchas'd by the blood they shed;
By giving, not supporting, pains and death!
Nor simple death! where they the greatest saints
Who most subdue all tenderness of heart;
Students in torture! where, in zeal to him,
Whose darling title is the Prince of Peace,
The best turn ruthless butchers, for our sakes;
To save us in a world they recommend,
And yet forbear, themselves with earth content;
What modesty!--such virtues Rome adorn!
And chiefly those who Rome's first honours wear,
Whose name from Jesus, and whose hearts from hell!
And shall a pope-bred princeling crawl ashore,
Replete with venom, guiltless of a sting,
And whistle cut-throats, with those swords that scrap'd
Their barren rocks for wretched sustenance,
To cut his passage to the British throne?
One that has suck'd in malice with his milk,
Malice, to Britain, liberty, and truth?
Less savage was his brother-robber's nurse,
The howling nurse of plundering Romulus,
Ere yet far worse than pagan harbour'd there.
Hail to the brave! be Britain Britain still:
Britain! high favour'd of indulgent Heaven!
Nature's anointed empress of the deep!
The nurse of merchants, who can purchase crowns!
Supreme in commerce! that exuberant source
Of wealth, the nerve of war; of wealth, the blood,
The circling current in a nation's veins,
To set high bloom on the fair face of peace!
This once so celebrated seat of power,
From which escap'd the mighty Cësar triumph'd!
Of Gallic lilies this eternal blast!
This terror of armadas! this true bolt,
Ethereal-temper'd, to repress the vain
Salmonean thunders from the papal chair!
This small isle wide-realm'd monarchs eye with awe!
Which says to their ambition's foaming waves,
"Thus far, nor farther!"--Let her hold, in life,
Nought dear disjoin'd from freedom and renown;
Renown, our ancestors' great legacy,
To be transmitted to their latest sons.
By thoughts inglorious, and un-British deeds,
Their cancel'd will is impiously profan'd.
Inhumanly disturb'd their sacred dust.
Their sacred dust with recent laurels crown,
By your own valour won. This sacred isle,
Cut from the continent, that world of slaves;
This temple built by Heaven's peculiar care,
In a recess from the contagious world,
With ocean pour'd around it for its guard,
And dedicated, long, to liberty,
That health, that strength, that bloom, of civil life!
This temple of still more divine; of faith
Sifted from errors, purified by flames,
Like gold, to take anew truth's heavenly stamp,
And (rising both in lustre and in weight)
With her bless'd Master's unmaim'd image shine;
Why should she longer droop? why longer act
As an accomplice with the plots of Rome?
Why longer lend an edge to Bourbon's sword,
And give him leave, among his dastard troops,
To muster that strong succour, Albion's crimes?
Send his self-impotent ambition aid,
And crown the conquest of her fiercest foes?
Where are her foes most fatal? Blushing truth,
"In her friends' vices,"--with a sigh replies.
Empire on virtue's rock unshaken stands;
Flux as the billows, when in vice dissolv'd.
If Heaven reclaims us by the scourge of war,
What thanks are due to Paris and Madrid?
Would they a revolution?--Aid their aim,
But be the revolution--in our hearts!
Wouldst thou (whose hand is at the helm) the bark,
The shaken bark of Britain, should outride
The present blast, and every future storm?
Give it that ballast which alone has weight
With Him whom wind, and waves, and war, obey,
Persist. Are others subtle? Thou be wise:
Above the Florentine's court-science raise;
Stand forth a patriot of the moral world;
The pattern, and the patron, of the just:
Thus strengthen Britain's military strength;
Give its own terror to the sword she draws.
Ask you, "What mean I?"--The most obvious truth;
Armies and fleets alone ne'er won the day.
When our proud arms are once disarm'd, disarm'd
Of aid from Him by whom the mighty fall;
Of aid from Him by whom the feeble stand;
Who takes away the keenest edge of battle,
Or gives the sword commission to destroy;
Who blasts, or bids the martial laurel bloom--
Emasculated, then, most manly might;
Or, though the might remains, it nought avails:
Then wither'd weakness foils the sinewy arm
Of man's meridian and high-hearted power:
Our naval thunders, and our tented fields
With travel'd banners fanning southern climes,
What do they? This; and more what can they do?
When heap'd the measure of a kingdom's crimes,
The prince most dauntless, the first plume of war,
By such bold inroads into foreign lands,
Such elongation of our armaments,
But stretches out the guilty nation's neck,
While Heaven commands her executioner,
Some less abandon'd nation, to discharge
Her full-ripe vengeance in a final blow,
And tell the world, "Not strong is human strength;
And that the proudest empire holds of Heaven."
O Britain! often rescued, often crown'd,
Beyond thy merit and most sanguine hopes,
With all that's great in war, or sweet in peace!
Know from what source thy signal blessings flow.
Though bless'd with spirits ardent in the field,
Though cover'd various oceans with thy fleets,
Though fenc'd with rocks, and moated by the main,
Thy trust repose in a far stronger guard;
In Him, who thee, though naked, could defend;
Tho' weak, could strengthen; ruin'd, could restore.
How oft, to tell what arm defends thine isle,
To guard her welfare, and yet check her pride,
Have the winds snatch'd the victory from war?
Or, rather, won the day, when war despair'd?
How oft has providential succour aw'd,
Aw'd while it bless'd us, conscious of our guilt;
Struck dead all confidence in human aid,
And, while we triumph'd, made us tremble too!
Well may we tremble now; what manners reign?
But wherefore ask we, when a true reply
Would shock too much? Kind Heaven! avert events
Whose fatal nature might reply too plain!
Heaven's half-bar'd arm of vengeance has been wav'd
In northern skies, and pointed to the south.
Vengeance delay'd but gathers and ferments;
More formidably blackens in the wind;
Brews deeper draughts of unrelenting wrath,
And higher charges the suspended storm.
"That public vice portends a public fall"--
Is this conjecture of adventurous thought!
Or pious coward's pulpit cushion'd dream;
Far from it. This is certain; this is fate.
What says experience, in her awful chair
Of ages, her authentic annals spread
Around her? What says reason eagle-eyed?
Nay, what says common sense, with common care
Weighing events, and causes, in her scale?
All give one verdict, one decision sign;
And this the sentence Delphos could not mend:
"Whatever secondary props may rise
From politics, to build the public peace,
The basis is the manners of the land.
When rotten these, the politician's wiles
But struggle with destruction, as a child
With giants huge, or giants with a Jove.
The statesman's arts to conjure up a peace,
Or military phantoms void of force,
But scare away the vultures for an hour;
The scent cadaverous (for, oh! how rank
The stench of profligates!) soon lures them back
On the proud flutter of a Gallic wing
Soon they return; soon make their full descent;
Soon glut their rage, and riot in our ruin;
Their idols grac'd and gorgeous with our spoils,
Of universal empire sure presage!
Till now repell'd by seas of British blood."
And whence the manners of the multitude?
The colours of their manners, black or fair,
Falls from above; from the complexion falls
Of state Othellos, or white men in power:
And from the greater height example falls,
Greater the weight, and deeper its impress
In ranks inferior, passive to the stroke:
From the court-mint, of hearts the current coin,
The pupil presses, but the pattern drives.
What bonds then, bonds how manifold, and strong
To duty, double duty, are the great!
And are there Samsons that can burst them all?
Yes; and great minds that stand in need of none,
Whose pulse beats virtues, and whose generous blood
Aids mental motives to push on renown,
In emulation of their glorious sires,
From whom rolls down the consecrated stream.
Some sow good seeds in the glad people's hearts,
Some cursed tares, like Satan in the text:
This makes a foe most fatal to the state;
A foe who (like a wizard in his cell)
In his dark cabinet of crooked schemes,
Resembling Cuma's gloomy grot, the forge
Of boasted oracles, and real lies,
(Aided, perhaps, by second-sighted Scots,
French magi, relics riding post from Rome,
A gothic hero(48) rising from the dead,
And changing for spruce plaid his dirty shroud,
With succour suitable from lower still,)
A foe who, these concurring to the charm,
Excites those storms that shall o'erturn the state,
Rend up her ancient honours by the root,
And lay the boast of ages, the rever'd
Of nations, the dear-bought with sumless wealth
And blood illustrious, (spite of her La Hogues,
Her Cresseys, and her Blenheims,) in the dust.
How must this strike a horror thro' the breast,
Thro' every generous breast where honour reigns,
Thro' every breast where honour claims a share!
Yes, and thro' every breast of honour void!
This thought might animate the dregs of men;
Ferment them into spirit; give them fire
To fight the cause, the black opprobrious cause,
Foul core of all!--corruption at our hearts.
What wreck of empire has the stream of time
Swept, with her vices, from the mountain height
Of grandeur, deified by half mankind,
To dark oblivion's melancholy lake,
Or flagrant infamy's eternal brand!
Those names, at which surrounding nations shook,
Those names ador'd, a nuisance! or forgot!
Nor this the caprice of a doubtful die,
But Nature's course; no single chance against it.
For know, my lord! 'tis writ in adamant,
'Tis fixt, as is the basis of the world,
Whose kingdoms stand or fall by the decree.
What saw these eyes, surpris'd!--Yet why surpris'd--
For aid divine the crisis seem'd to call,
And how divine was the monition given!
As late I walk'd the night in troubled thought,
My peace disturb'd by rumours from the north,
While thunder o'er my head, portentous, roll'd,
As giving signal of some strange event,
And ocean groan'd beneath for her he lov'd,
Albion the fair! so long his empire's queen,
Whose reign is, now, contested by her foes,
On her white cliffs (a tablet broad and bright,
Strongly reflecting the pale lunar ray)
By fate's own iron pen I saw it writ,
And thus the title ran: