« AnteriorContinuar »
before Dryden conformed to the same religion. to be told, that the ten concluding years of his life, This step has been the cause of much obloquy on in which he wrote for bread, and composed at a cerone side, and has found much excuse on the other ; tain rate per line, were those of many of the pieces but if it be considered, from a view of his past life, which have most contributed to immortalise his that, in changing his religious profession, he could name. They were those of his translation of Juvehave had little difficulty to encounter, it will appear nal and Persius ; of that of Virgil entire, a work no breach of candour to suppose that his immediate which enriches the English language, and has motive was nothing more than personal interest. greatly promoted the author's fame; of his celeThe reward he obtained from his compliance was an brated Alexander's Feast ; and of his Fables, conaddition to his pension of 100l. per annum. Some taining some of the richest and most truly poetical time after he was engaged in a work which was the pieces which he ever composed. Of these, several longest single piece he ever composed. This was will appear in the subsequent collection of his works. his elaborate controversial poem of “ The Hind Nor ought his prose writings to be neglected, and Panther.” When completed, notwithstanding which, chiefly consisting of the critical essays preits unpromising subject, and signal absurdity of fixed to his poems, are performances of extraordiplan, such was the power of Dryden's verse, that it nary vigour and comprehension of mind, and afford, was read with avidity, and bore every mark of oc- perhaps, the best specimens of genuine English. cupying the public attention. The birth of a Dryden died of a sprcading inflammation in one prince called forth a congratulatory poem from Dry- of his toes, on the first of May, 1700, and was den, entitled “ Britannia Rediviva,” in which he buried in Westminster Abbey, next to the tomb of ventured to use a poet's privilege of prophesy, fore- Chaucer. No monument marked his grave, till a telling a commencing era of prosperity to tie nation plain one, with his bust, was erected, at the expence and the church from this auspicious event; but in of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. He left behind vain! for the revolution took place within a few him three sons, all brought up to letters. His inonths, and the hopes of the party were blasted for own character was cold and reserved, buckward in
personal advances to the great, and rather heavy in Dryden was a severe sufferer from the change : conversation. In fact, he was too much engaged his posts and pensions were taken away, and the in literature to devote much of his time to society. poetical laurei was conferred upon his insignificant few writers of his time delighted so much to aprival, Shadwell. He was now, in advanced life, to proach the verge of prophaneness ; whence it may depend upon his own exertions for a security from be inferred, that though religion was an interesting absolute indigence. His faculties were equal to topic of discussion to him, he had very little of its tize emergency; and it will surprise some theorists spirit in his heart.
Thus, mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the riches of the world from far ;
And thuis may prove our second Punic war.
This saw our king; and long within his breast
His pensive counsels balanc'd to and fro :
And he less for it than usurpers do.
Of fame and honour, which in dangers lay ;
The loss and gain each fatally were great ; By the rich soent we found our perfum'd prey,
And still his subjects call’d aloud for war : Which, flank'd with rocks, did close in covert lie : But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set, And round about their murdering cannon lay,
Each other's poize and counterbalance are. At once to threaten and invite the eye. He first survey'd the charge with careful eyes, Fiercer than cannon, and than rocks more hard,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain; The English undertake th' unequal war : Yet judg'd, like vapours that from limbecs rise, Seven ships alone, by which the port is barr’d, It would in richer showers descend again.
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare. At length resolv'd t' assert the watery ball, These fight like husbands, but like lovers those : He in himself did whole armadoes bring :
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy: Him aged seamen might their master call, And to such height their frantic passion grows,
And choose for general, were he not their king. That what both love, both hazard to destroy. It seems as every ship their sovereign knows, Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball, His awful summons they so soon obey ;
And now their odours arm’d against them fly : So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows, Some preciously by shatter'd porcelain fall, And so to pasture follow through the sea.
And some by aromatic splinters die. To see this fleet upon the ocean move,
And though by tempests of the prize bereft, Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies; In Heaven's inclemency some ease we find : And Heaven, as if there wanted lights above, Our foes we vanquish'd by our valour left, For tapers made two glaring comets rise.
And only yielded to the seas and wind. Whether they unctuous exhalations are,
Nor wholly lost we so deserv'd a prey ; Fir'd by the Sun, or seeming so alone;
For storms, repenting, part of it restor'd : Or each some more remote and slippery star, Which, as a tribute from the Baltic sea,
Which loses footing when to mortals shown : The British ocean sent her mighty lord. Or one, that bright companion of the Sun, Go, mortals, now and vex yourselves in vain
Whose glorious aspect seal’d our new-born king; For wealth, which so uncertainly must come : And now, a round of greater years begun,
When what was brought so far, and with such pain, New influence from his walks of light did bring. Was only kept to lose it nearer home. Victorious York did first with fam'd success, The son, who twice three months on th' ocean tost,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place: Prepar'd to tell what he had pass'd before, Thus Heaven our monarch's fortune did confess, Now sees in Englislı ships the Holland coast, Beginning conquest froin his royal race.
And parents' arms, in vain, stretch'd from the shore. But since it was decreed, auspicious king,
This careful husband had been long away, In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main, Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn: Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing, Who on their fingers learn'd to tell the day
And therefore doom'd that Lawson should be slain. On which their father promis'd to return.
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 kill'd who first to battle went.
Such are the proud designs of human-kind,
And so we suffer shipwreck every where!
Who in the night of Fate must blindly steer!
Their chief blown up in air, not waves, expir’d,
To which his pride presum'd to give the law : The Dutch confess'd Heaven present, and retir'd,
And all was Britain the wide ocean saw.
The undistinguish'd 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.
To nearest ports their shatter'd ships repair, Let Munster's prelate ever be accurst,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay aw'd : In whom we seek the German faith in vain: So reverently men quit the open air,
Alas, that he should teach the English first, When thunder speaks the angry gods abroad. That fraud and avarice in the church could reign! And now approach'd their fleet from India fraught, Happy, who never trust a stranger's will, With all the riches of the rising Sun :
Whose friendship's in his interest understood ! And precious sand from southern climates brought, Since money given but tempts him to be ill, The fatal regions where the war begun.
When power is too remote to make him good. Like hunted castors, conscious of their store, [bring: Till now, alone the mighty nations strove;
Their way-laid wealth to Norway's coasts they The rest, at gaze, without the lists did stand ; There first the North's cold bosom spices bore, And threatening France, plac'd like a painted Jove,
And Winter brooded on the eastern Spring. Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.
That eunuch guardian of rich Holland's trade, Our fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,
Who envies us what he wants power t' enjoy ; In number, and a fam'd commander, bold : Whose noiseful valour does no foe invade,
The narrow seas can scarce their navy bear, And weak assistance will his friends destroy. Or crowded vessels can their soldiers hold. Offended that we fought without his leave, The duke, less numerous, but in coạrage more, He takes this time his secret hate to show :
On wings of all the winds to combat fies : Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive, His murdering guns a loud defiance roar,
As one that neither seeks nor shuns his foe. 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 : Th' Elean plains could boast no nobler sight,
When struggling champions did their bodies bare.
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. Lewis had chas'd 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!
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 unfix'd, and floating nations strove.
Now pass’d, 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-rais’d decks the haughty Belgians ride,
Beneath whose shade our humble frigates go : Such port the elephant bears, and so defy'd
By the rhinoceros her unequal foe.
And as the built, so different is the fight :
Their mounting shot is on our sails design'd; Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.
Our dreaded admiral from far they threat,
Whose batter'd rigging their whole war receives : All bare, like some old oak which tempests beat,
He stands, and sees below his scatter'd leaves.
Were subjects so but only by their choice,
And not from birth did forc'd 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. With equal power he does two chiefs create,
Two such as each seem'd worthiest when alone; Each able to sustain a nation's fate,
Since both had found a greater in their own. Both great in courage, conduct, and in fame,
Yet neither envious of the other's praise;
Like mighty partners equally they raise.
But once possess'd did absolutely reign :
And conquer'd first those beauties they would gain. The duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain,
That Carthage, which he ruin'd, 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.
Heroes of old, when wounded, shelter sought;
But he who meets all danger with disdain,
And steeple-high stood propt upon the main.
At this excess of courage, all amaz'd,
The foremost of his foes awhile withdraw : With such respect in enter'd Rome they gaz'd,
Who on high chairs the godlike fathers saw,
And now, as where Patroclus' body lay,
Here Trojan chiefs advanc'd, 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 shatter'd sails with rigging to restore ;
Whose lofty heads rise higher than before.
Straight to the Dutch he turns his dreadful prow,
More fierce th' important quarrel to decide : Like swans, in long array his vessels show,
Whose crests advancing do the waves divide.
With them no riotous pomp, nor Asian train,
To infect a navy with their gaudy fears;
But war severely like itself appears.
They make that warmth in others they expect : Their valour works like bodies on a glass,
And does its image on their men project.
They charge, recharge, and all along the sea
They drive, and squander the huge Belgian fleet Berkeley alone, who nearest danger lay,
Did a like fate with lost Creusa meet.
The night comes on, we eager to pursue
Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear, (send. The combat still, and they asham'd to leave: And raking chace-guns through our sterns they Till the last streaks of dying day withdrew, Close by, their fire-ships, like jackals, appear,
And doubtful moonlight did our rage deceive. Who on their lions for the prey attend. In th' English fleet each ship resounds with joy, Silent, in smoke of cannon they come on:
And loud applause of their great leader's fame : Such vapours once did fiery Cacus hide : In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy, In these the height of pleas'd revenge is shown,
And slumbering smile at the imagin’d fame. Who burn contented by another's side. Not so the Holland fleet, who, tir'd and done, Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Stretch'd on their decks like weary oxen lie: Deceiv’d themselves, or to preserve some friend, Faint sweats all down their mighty members run! Two grappling Etnas on the ocean meet,
Vast bulks, which little souls but ill supply. And English fires with Belgian flames contend. In dreams they fearful precipices tread :
Now at each tack our little fleet grows less; (main: Or, shipwreck'd, labour to some distant shore : And, like maim'd fowl, swim lagging on the Or in dark churches walk among the dead; Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess,
They wake with horrour, and dare sleep no more. While they lose cheaper than the English gain. The morn they look on with unwilling eyes, Have you not seen, when, whistled from the fist,
Till from their main-top joyful news they hear Some falcon stoops at what her eye design'd, Of ships, which by their mould bring new supplies, And with her eagerness the quarry miss'd And in their colours Belgian Lions bear.
Straight tlies at check, and clips it down the wind? Our watchful general had discern'd from far The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing,
This mighty succour, which made glad the foe : And sees the groves no shelter can afford,
With her loud kaws her craven kind does bring,
He could not conquer, and disdainid to fly; They, not their wounds, but want of strength, deplore, Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
And think them happy who with him can stay. Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.
To see those perish who so well had fought : Among so brave a people, you are they
And generously with his despair he strove, Whom Heaven has chose to fight for such a prize.
Resolv'd to live till he their safety wrought. “ If number English courages could quell,
Let other Muses write his prosperous fate, We should at first have shunn'd, not met our foes : Of conquer'd nations tell, and kings restor'd: Whose numerous sails the fearfulonly tell : (grows.' But mine shall sing of his eclips'd estate,
Courage from hearts, and not from numbers Which, like the Sun's, more wonders does afford. He said, nor needed more to say: with haste He drew his mighty frigates all before, To their known stations cheerfully they go;
On which the foe his fruitless force employs : And all at once, disdaining to be last,
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore Solicit every gale to meet the foc.
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise. Nor did th' encourag'd Belgians long delay, His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
But bold in others, not themselves, they stood : And following smoke obscur'd them from the foe; So thick, our navy scarce could steer their way, Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptian's pride, But seein'd to wander in a moving wood.
By flaming pillars and by clouds did go. Our little feet was now engag'd so far,
Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat, That like the sword-fish in the whale they fought : But here our courages did theirs subdue : The combat only seem'd a civil war, (wrought : So Xenophon once led that fam'd retreat, Till through their bowels we
Which first the Asian empire overthrew. Never had valour, no not ours, before
The foe approach'd; and one for his bold sin Done aught like this upon the land or inain, Was sunk; as he that touch'd the ark was slain; Where not to be o'ercome was to do more
The wild waves master'd him and suck'd nim in, Than all the conquests former kings did gain. And smiling eddies dimpled on the main. The mighty ghosts of our great Harries rose, This seen, the rest at awful distance stood :
And armed Edwards look'd with anxious eyes, As if they had been there as servants set To see this feet among unequal foes, (should risc. To stay, or to go on, as he thought good,
By which Fate promis'd them their Charles And not pursue but wait on his retreat
So Libyan huntsmen, on some sandy plain, As in a drought the thirsty creatures cry,
And gape upon the gather'd clouds for rain : The kingly beast roars out with loud disdain, And first the martlet meets it in the sky,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place. And with wet wings joys all the feather'd train :
He swings his tail, and swiftly turns him round: Salute th' appearance of the prince's fleet;
And with the other tears him to the ground. That with first eyes did distant safety meet.
Amidst these toils succeeds the balmy night;
Now hissing waters the quench'd guns restore ; And weary waves withdrawing from the fight,
Lie lull’d and panting on the silent shore.
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 cover'd land,
And seamen with dissembled depths betray.
The wily Dutch, who like fall'n angels fear'd
This new Messiah's coming, there did wait, And round the verge their braving vessels steerd,
To tempt his courage with so fair a bait.
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 mus'd 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 : Woinen and cowards on the land may lie;
The sea 's a tomb that 's proper for the brave." Restless he pass'd the remnant of the night,
Till the fresh air proclaim'd the morning nigh: And burning ships, the martyrs of the fight,
With paler fires beheld the eastern sky.
But he unmov'd contemns their idle threat,
Secure of fame whene'er he please to fight :
And inbred worth doth boasting valour slight.
Heroic virtue did his actions guide,
And he the substance, not th' appearance, chose : To rescue one such friend, he took more pride,
Than to destroy whole thousands of such foes.
But now, his stores of ammunition spent,
But when approach'd, in strict embraces bound, His naked valour is his only guard :
Rupert and Albemarle together grow : Hare thunders are from his dumb cannon sent, He joys to have his friend in safety found, And solitary guns are scarcely heard.
Which he to none but to that friend would owe. Thus far had Fortune power, he forc'd to stay, The cheerful soldiers, with new stores supply'd, Nor longer durst with Virtue be at strife :
Now long to execute their spleenful will : This is a ransom Albemarle did pay,
And, in revenge for those three days they try'd, For all the glories of so great a life.
Wish one, like Joshua's, when the Sun stood still. For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Thus reinforc'd, against the adverse fleet, Whose waving streamers the glad general knows : Still doubling ours, brave Rupert leads the way : With full-spread sails his eager navy steers,
With the first blushes of the morn they meet, And every ship in swift proportion grows.
And bring night back upon the new-born day.' The anxious prince had heard the cannon long, His presence soon blows up the kindling fight,
And from that length of time dire omens drew And his loud guns speak thick like angry men : of English overmatch'd, and Dutch too strong, It seem'd as slaughter had been breath'd all night,
Who never fought three days, but to pursue. And Death new pointed his dull dart again. Then, as an eagle, who with pious care
The Dutch too well his mighty conduct knew, Was beating widely on the wing for prey,
And matchless courage, since the former fight: To her now silent eiry does repair,
Whose navy like a stiff-stretch'd cord did show, And finds lier callow infants forc'd away :
Till he bore in and bent them into flight. Stung with her love, she stoops upon the plain, The wind he shares, while half their fleet oflends The broken air loud whistling as she flies :
His open side, and high above him shows :
And guides her pinions by her young ones' cries. And doubly harm’d he double harms bestows.
And long behind his wounded volume trails.