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Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear, [send
Silent, in smoke of cannon they come on:
Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Now at each tack our little fleet grows less;
And, like maim'd 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,
The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing,
Among the Dutch thus Albemarle did fare:
Yet pity did his manly spirit move,
To see those perish who so well had fought. And generously with his despair he strove, Resolv'd to live till he their safety wrought.
Let other Muses write his prosperous fate,
Of conquer'd nations tell, and kings restor'd:
He drew his mighty frigates all before,
His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
Which first the Asian empire overthrew.
The foe approach'd; and one for his bold sin
Was sunk; as he that touch'd the ark was slain; The wild waves master'd him and suck'd 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
Th' increasing sound is borne to either shore,
Plied thick and close as when the fight begun,
And now reduc'd 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 press'd, And flew so home they could not rise again.
Already batter'd, 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 open'd sides receive a gloomy light,
Dreadful as day let into shades below; Without grim Death rides barefac'd 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 tir'd before the dog she lay : Who stretch'd 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 hinder'd him to push his fortune on; For what they to his courage did refuse,
By mortal valor never must be done.
This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tatter'd 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 oppos'd, no longer can pursue: Lasting till Heaven had done his courage right; When he had conquer'd he his weakness knew.
He casts a frown on the departing foe,
And sighs to see him quit the watery field: His stern fix'd eyes no satisfaction show,
For all the glories which the fight did yield.
Though, as when fiends did miracles avow,
He stands confess'd ev'n by the boastful Dutch: Ile only does his conquest disavow,
And thinks too little what they found too much.
Return'd, he with the fleet resolv'd to stay;
No tender thoughts of home his heart divide; Domestic joys and cares he puts away; [guide For realms are households which the great must
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 labor bless
Heaven ended not the first or second day,
Yet each was perfect to the work design'd: God and kings work, when they their work survey. A passive aptness in all subjects find.
In burthen'd vessels first, with speedy care,
His plenteous stores do season'd timber send : Thither the brawny carpenters repair,
And as the surgeons of maim'd ships attend.
With cord and canvas, from rich Hamburgh sent,
All hands employ'd, the royal work grows warm :
With glewy wax some new foundations lay
Or tend the sick, or educate the young.
So here some pick out bullets from the sides,
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 gall'd ropes with dauby marline bind, Or sear-cloth masts with strong tarpawling 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 cannons' 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 fall'n into the road.
The goodly London in her gallant trim,
Her flag aloft spread ruffling to the wind,
And sanguine streamers seem the flood to fire: The weaver, charm'd with what his loom design'd, 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,
This martial present, piously design'd,
The loyal city give their best-lov'd king: And with a bounty ample as the wind,
Built, fitted, and maintain'd, to aid him bring.
By viewing Nature, Nature's handmaid, Art,
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 appear'd,
When from lost empire he to exile went, And with the golden age to Tyber steer'd, Where coin and commerce first 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 us'd 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,
Whose paths shall be familiar as the land.
Instructed ships shall sail to quick commerce,
Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
This I foretell from your auspicious care,
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
But first the toils of war we must endure,
And gives up fraud to be chastis'd with ease.
Already were the Belgians on our coast,
Designing, subtle, 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 staid the English long; but well supplied, Appear as numerous as th' insulting foe: The combat now by courage must be tried, And the success the braver nation show.
There was the Plymouth squadron now 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 aw'd.
Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Fam'd 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;
The tempting fruits of Afric did unfold.
With him went Sprag, as bountiful as brave, Whom his high courage to command had brought: Harman, who did the twice-fir'd 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,
Of every size an hundred fighting sail :
And with its weight it shoulders off the tides.
Now, anchors weigh'd, the seamen shout so shrill, That Heaven and Earth and the Wide Ocean
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