« ForrigeFortsett »
some to undo, and some to be undone;
while luxury and wealth, like war and peace,
are each the other's ruin and increase;
as rivers lost in seas, some secret vein
thence reconveys, there to be lost again,
oh! happiness of sweet retir'd content!
to be at once secure and innocent.
Windsor the next (where Mars with Venus dwells,
beauty with strength) above the valley swells
into my eye, and doth itself present
with such an easy and unforc'd ascent,
that no stupendous precipice denies
access, no horror turns away our eyes;
but such a rise as doth at once invite
a pleasure and a rev'rence from the sight:
thy mighty master's emblem, in whose face
sat meekness, heighten'd with majestic grace;
such seems thy gentle height, made only proud
to be the basis of that pompous load,
than which a nobler weight no mountain bears,
but Atlas only, which supports the spheres.
When Nature's hand this ground did thus advance,
't was guided by a wiser pow'r than chance;
mark'd out for such an use, as if t'were meant
t' invite the builder, and his choice prevent.
Nor can we call it choice, when what we choose
folly or blindness only could refuse.
A crown of such majestic towers doth grace
the god's great mother, when her heav'nly race
do homage to her; yet she cannot boast,
among that num'rous and celestial host,
more heroes than can Windsor; nor doth Fame's immortal book record more noble names.
Not to look back so far, to whom this isle
owes the first glory of so brave a pile,
whether to Cæsar, Albanact, or Brute,
the British Arthur, or the Danish C’nute;
(tho' this of old no less contest did move
than when for Homer's birth seven cities strove)
(like him in birth, thou shouldst be like in fame,
as thine his fate, if mine had been his flame)
but whosoe'er it was, Nature design'd
first a brave place, and then as brave a mind.
Not to recount those sev'ral kings to whom
it gave a cradle, or to whom a tomb;
but thee, great Edward! and thy greater son,'
(the Lilies which his father wore he won)
and thy Bellona, † who the consort came
not only to thy bed but to thy fame,
she to thy triumph led one captive king, +
and brought that son which did the second ‡ bring; then didst thou found that Order (whether love or victory thy royal thoughts did move :) each was a noble cause, and nothing less than the design has been the great success, which foreign kings and emperors esteem the second honour to their diadem.
Had thy great Destiny but given thee skill to know, as well as pow'r to act her will, that from those kings, who then thy captives were, in after-times should spring a royal pair who should possess all that thy mighty pow'r, or thy desires more mighty, did devour; to whom their better fate reserves whate'er the victor hopes for or the vanquish'd fear;
that blood which thou and thy great grandsire shed,
* Edward 3, and the Black Prince,
+ Queen Phillippa.
The kings of France and Scotland
and all that since the sister nations bled,'
had been unspilt, and happy Edward known
that all the blood he spilt had been his own.
When he that patron chose in whom are join'd
soldier and martyr, and his arms confin'd
within the azure circle, he did seem
but to foretel and prophesy of him
who to his realms that azure round hath join'd, which Nature for their bound at first design'd; that bound which to the world's extremest ends, endless itself, it's liquid arms extends.
Nor doth be need those emblems which we paint, but is himself the soldier and the saint.
Here should my wonder dwell, and here my praise; but my fix'd thoughts my wand'ring eye betrays, viewing a neighb'ring hill, whose top of late a chapel crown'd, till in the common fate th' adjoining abbey fell. (May no such storm fall on our times, where ruin must reform !) Tell me, my Muse! what monstrous dire offence, what crime, could any Christian king incense to such a rage? Was 't luxury or lust?
was he so temperate, so chaste, so just?
were these their crimes? they were his own much
but wealth is crime enough to him that's poor,
who having spent the treasures of his crown,
condemns their luxury to feed his own;
and yet this act, to varnish o'er the shame
of sacrilege, must bear devotion's name.
No crime so bold but would be understood
a real, or at least a seeming good.
Who fears not to do ill, yet fears the name,
and, free from conscience, is a slave to fame.
Thus he the church at once protects and spoils;
but princes'swords are sharper than their styles:
and thus to th' ages past he makes amends,
their charity destroys, their faith defends.
Then did Religion in a lazy cell,
in empty airy contemplations dwell,
and like the block unmoved lay; but our's,
as much too active, like the stork devours.
Is there no temp'rate region can be known
betwixt their Frigid and our Torrid zone?
Could we not wake from that lethargic dream,
but to be restless in a worse extreme?
and for that lethargy was there no cure
but to be cast into a calenture?
Can knowledge have no bound, but must advance. so far, to make us wish for ignorance,
and rather in the dark to grope our way than led by a false guide to err by day? Who sees these dismal heaps but would demand what barbarous invader sack'd the land?
but when he hears no Goth, no Turk, did bring this desolation, but a Christian king;
when nothing but the name of zeal appears 'twixt our best actions and the worst of their's; what does he think our sacrilege would spare, when such th' effects of our devotions are? parting from thence 'twixt anger, shame, and fear, those for what's past, and this for what's too near, my eye descending from the Hill, surveys
where Thames among the wanton vallies strays. Thames! the most lov'd of all the Ocean's sons, by his old sire, to his embraces runs,
hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
like mortal life to meet eternity;
tho' with those streams he no resemblance hold, whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold:
his genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore,
search not his bottom, but survey his shore,
o'er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
and hatches plenty for th' ensuing spring;
nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
like mothers which their infants overlay;
nor with a sudden and inpetuous wave,
like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
No unexpected inundations spoil
the mower's hopes, nor mock the ploughman's toil;
but godlike his unweary'd bounty flows;
first loves to do, then loves the good he does.
Nor are his blessings to his banks confin❜d,
but free and common as the sea or wind;
when he, to boast or to disperse his stores,
full of the tributes of his grateful shores,
visits the world, and in his flying tow'rs
brings home to us, and makes both Indies our's;
finds wealth where 't is, bestows it where it wants,
cities in deserts, woods in cities, plants.
So that to us no thing, no place, is strange,
while his fair bosom is the world's exchange.
O could I flow like thee! and make thy stream
my great example, as it is my theme;
tho' deep yet clear, tho' gentle yet not dull;
strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.
Heav'n her Eridanus no more shall boast,
whose fame in thine, like lesser current, 's lost;
thy nobler streams shall visit Jove's abodes,
to shine among the stars,* and bathe the gods.
Here Nature, whether more intent to please
us for herself with strange varieties,
(for things of wonder give no less delight
to the wise Maker's than beholder's sight;