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The Moon shone clear on the becalmed flood, Full in the prince's passage, hills of sand,
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play, And dangerous flats, in secret ambush lay, Upon the deck our careful general stood,
Where the false tides skim o'er the cover'd land, And deeply mus'd on the succeeding day. And seamen with dissembled depths betray.
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, 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
Was beating widely on the wing for prey, To her now silent eyry does repair,
And finds her callow infants forc'd away:
The Dutch too well his mighty conduct knew,
And matchless courage, since the former fight; Whoso navy like a stiff-stretch'd cord did show,
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 offends
The broken air loud whistling as she flies : His open side, and high above him shows : She stops and listens, and shoots forth again, Upon the rest at pleasure he descends,
And guides her pinions by her young ones' cries. And doubly harm'd he double harms bestows.
With such kind passion hastes the prince to fight, Behind the general mends his weary pace,
And spreads his flying canvas to the sound : And sullenly to his revenge he sails : Him, whom no danger, were he there, could fright, So glides some trodden serpent on the grass, Now absent every little noise can wound. And long behind his wounded volume trails.
Th' increasing sound is borne to either shore, Return'd, he with the fleet resolv'd to stay ;
And for their stakes the throwing nations fear : No tender thoughts of home his heart divide; Their passions double with the cannons' roar, Domestic joys and cares he puts away ; [guide
And with warm wishes each man combats there. For realms are households which the great must
Already batter'd, by his lee they lay,
In burthen'd vessels first, with speedy care, In vain upon the passing winds they call : His plenteous stores do season'd timber send : The passing winds through their torn canvas play, Thither the brawny carpenters repair,
And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall. And as the surgeons of maim'd ships attend.
Their open'd sides receive a gloomy light, With cord and canvas, from rich Hamburgh sent, Dreadful as day let into shades below;
His navy's moulted wings he imps once more : Without grim Death rides barefac'd in their sight, Tall Norway fir, their masts in barile spent, And urges entering billows as they flow.
And English oak, sprung leaks and planks, restore
When one dire shot, the last they could supply, All hands employ'd, the royal work grows warm :
Close by the board the prince's main-mast bore: Like laboring bees on a long summer's day, All three now helpless by each other lie,
Some sound the trumpet for the rest to swarm, And this offends not, and those fear no more. And some on bells of tasted lilies play.
The general's force, as kept alive by fight, Our careful monarch stands in person by,
His new-cast cannons' firmness to explore : Lasting till Heaven had done his courage right; The strength of big-corn’d powder loves to try, When he had conquer'd he his weakness knew. And ball and cartridge sorts for every
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.
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.
Though, as when fiends did miracles avow, The goodly London in her gallant trim,
He stands confess'd ev'n by the boastful Dutch : The Phenix, daughter of the vanishid old, He only does his conquest disavow,
Like a rich bride does to the ocean swim, And thinks too little what they found too much. And on her shadow rides in floating gold.
Her flag aloft spread ruffling to the wind, O truly royal! who behold the law
And sanguine streamers seem the flood to fire : And rule of beings in your Maker's mind : The weaver, charm'd with what his loom design'd, And thence, like limbecs, rich ideas draw, Goes on to sea, and knows not to retire.
To fit the leveli'd use of human-kind.
With roomy decks, her guns of mighty strength, But first the toils of war we must endure,
War makes the valiant of his right secure,
Already were the Belgians on our coast,
Whose fleet more mighty every day became
And now by first appearing seem'd to claim.
Designing, subtle, diligent, and close,
Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow: 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 :
There was the Plymouth squadron now come in,
Which in the Straits last winter was abroad;
Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Fam'd for his action on the Smyrna Aeet:
While music numbers, or while verse has feet.
Holmes, the Achates of the general's fight;
Who first bewitch'd our eyes with Guinea gold
As once old Cato in the Roman sight
The tempting fruits of Afric did unfold.
With him went Sprag, as bountiful as brave, or all who since have us’d the open sea,
Whom his high courage to command had brought:
Young Hollis on a Muse by Mars begot,
By poor mankind's benighted wit is sought, 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:
Whom Rupert led, and who were British born.
Of every size an hundred fighting sail :
That underneath it the press'd waters fail,
And with its weight it shoulders off the tides.
Now, anchors weigh'd, the seamen shout so shrill, Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go, That Heaven and Earth and the Wide Ocean And view the ocean leaning on the sky :
rings : From thence our rolling neighbors we shall know, A breeze from westward waits their sails to fill, And on the lunar world securely pry.
And rests in those high beds his downy wings. This I foretell from your auspicious care, The wary Dutch this gathering storm foresaw,
Who great in search of God and Nature grow; And durst not bide it on the English coast: Who best your wise Creator's praise declare, Behind their treacherous shallows they withdraw,
Since best to praise his works is best to know. And there lay snares to catch the British hest.
So the false spider, when her nets are spread, O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Deep ambush'd in her silent den does lie: Thy monument inscrib'd such praise shall wear And feels far off the trembling of her thread, As Varro timely flying once did meet,
Whose filmy cord should bind the struggling fly. Because he did not of his Rome despair.
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 drags the little wretch in triumph home.
Behold that navy, which a while before
Provok'd the tardy English close to fight;
As larks lie dar'd to shun the hobby's flight.
The Belgian's hoped that, with disorder'd haste, Whoe'er would English monuments survey
Our deep-cut keels upon the sands might run: In other records may our courage know:
But let them hide the story of this day,
And swelling tide that heav'd them from below, Into a victory, which we disdain ;
And with spread sails to welcome battle go. Before the patron saint of injur'd Spain.
The distance judg'd for shot of every size, Now on their coasts our conquering navy rides,
The linstocks touch, the ponderous ball expires : Waylays their merchants, and their land besets ; The vigorous seaman every port-hole plies, Each day new wealth without their care provides ; And adds his heart to every gun he fires !
They lie asleep with prizes in their nets. Fierce was the fight on the proud Belgians' side, So close behind some promontory lie
For honor, which they seldom sought before : The huge leviathans t'attend their prey ; But now they by their own vain boasts were tied, And give no chase, but swallow in the fry,
And forc'd at least in show to prize it more. Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way
But sharp remembrance on the English part,
And shame of being match'd by such a foe, Rouse conscious virtue up in every heart,
And seeming to be stronger makes them so.
Nor was this all : in ports and roads remote,
Destructive fires among whole fleets we send;
And out-bound ships at home their voyage end
Nor long the Belgians could that fleet sustain, Those various squadrons variously design'd,
Which did two generals' fates, and Ceesar's, bear : Each vessel freighted with a several load, Each several ship a victory did gain,
Each squadron waiting for a several wind, As Rupert or as Albemarle were there.
All find but one, to burn them in the road.
Their batter'd admiral too soon withdrew, Some bound for Guinea, golden sand to find,
Bore all the gauds the simple natives wear:
Who call'd that providence which we callid flight. For folded turbans finest Holland bear.
Our greedy seamen rummage every hold,
And now no longer letted of his prey,
Take what they like, and sacrifice the rest. And nods at every house his threatening fire.
But ah! how insincere are all our joys! [stay : The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,
Which, sent from Heaven like lightning make no With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice : Their palling taste the journey's length destroys, About the fire into a dance they bend,
Or grief sent post o'ertakes them on the way. And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice.
Swell’d with our late successes on the foo, Our guardian angel saw them where they sate
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross, Above the palace of our slumbering king: We urge an unseen fate to lay us low,
He sigh’d, abandoning his charge to Fate, And feed their envious eyes with English loss. And drooping, oft look'd back upon the wing.
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.
At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Calld up some waking lover to the sight;
Whose heavy eyelids yet were full of night.
Yet, London, empress of the northern clime, The next to danger, hot pursued by Fate,
By an high fate thou greatly didst expire; Half-cloth’d, half-naked, hastily retire : Great as the world's, which, at the death of Time, And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late
Must fall, and -rise a nobler frame by Fire. For helpless infants left amidst the fire.
As when some dire usurper Heaven provides, Their cries soon waken all the dwellers near;
To scourge his country with a lawless sway; Now murmuring noises rise every street: His birth, perhaps, some petty village hides, The more remote run stumbling with their fear,
And sets his cradle out of Fortune's way : And in the dark men justle as they meet.
But if night-robbers lift the well-stor'd hive, His prince, surpris'd at first, no ill could doubt, An humming through their waxen city grows,
And wants the power to meet it when 'tis known. And out upon each other's wings they drive.
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.
Now streets grow throng'd and busy as by day:
Some run for buckets to the hallow'd quire : Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play ;
And some more bold mount ladders to the fire.
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 vain: for from the east a Belgian wind
His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent; The flames impellid soon left their foes behind,
And forward with a wanton fury went.
In this deep quiet, from what source unknown, A key of fire ran all along the shore,
Those seeds of Fire their fatal birth disclose; And lighten'd all the river with a blaze :
And wondering fish in shining waters gaze.
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.
Old father Thames rais'd up his reverend head,
But fear'd the fate of Simois would return : Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed,
And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
Now like some rich or mighty murderer,
The Fire, meantime, walks in a broader gross ; Too great for prison, which he breaks with gold ; To either hand his wings he opens wide: Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear, He wades the streets, and straight he reaches cross,
And dares the world to tax him with the old : And plays his longing flames on th' other side.
So scapes th' insulting Fire his narrow jail, At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take; And makes small outlets into open air :
Now with long necks from side to side they feed; There the fierce winds his tender force assail, At length grown strong, their mother Fire forsake,
And beat him downward to his first repair. And a new colony of Flames succeed. The winds, like crafty courtesans, withheld To every nobler portion of the town
His flames from burning, but to blow them more: The curling billows roll their restless tide : And every fresh attempt, he is repell’d
In parties now they straggle up and down, With faint denials weaker than before.
As armies unoppos'd for prey divide.