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The war breaks in, the fierce Bavarians yield,
And see their camp with British legions filled.
So Belgian mounds bear on their shattered sides
The sea's whole weight, increased with swelling tides;
But if the rushing wave a passage finds,
Enraged by watery moons, and warring winds,
The trembling peasant sees his country round
Covered with tempests, and in oceans drowned.
The few surviving foes disperst in flight,
(Refuse of swords, and gleanings of a fight,)1
In every rustling wind the victor hear,
And Marlborough's form in every shadow fear,
Till the dark cope of night with kind embrace
Befriends the rout, and covers their disgrace.
To Donawert, with unresisted force,
The gay, victorious army bends its course.
The growth of meadows, and the pride of fields,
Whatever spoils Bavaria's summer yields,
(The Danube's great increase,) Britannia shares,
The food of armies, and support of wars:
With magazines of death, destructive balls,
And cannons doomed to batter Landau's walls,
The victor finds each hidden cavern stored,
And turns their fury on their guilty lord.
Deluded prince! how is thy greatness crost,
And all the gaudy dream of empire lost,
That proudly set thee on a fancied throne,
And made imaginary realms thy own!
Thy troops that now behind the Danube join,
Shall shortly seek for shelter from the Rhine,
Nor find it there: surrounded with alarms,
Thou hopest the assistance2 of the Gallic arms;
1 (Refuse of swords, and gleanings of a fight.)] This verse and those below, The growth of meadows, and the pride of fields, and, The food of armies, and support of wars,-have been censured by the critics, not altogether without reason, yet with rather too much severity; for the expression rises something, but not so much as it ought. The greatest fault is, that three such verses (each of which is only passable) stand so near together: but for the cause of this defect in our author's rhymed verse, see the introductory note to his Latin poems.
2 Thou hopest the assistance.] Scarce tolerable in the expression, but insupportable in the sound.
The Gallic arms in safety shall advance,
And crowd thy standards with the power of France,
While to exalt thy doom, the aspiring Gaul
Shares thy destruction, and adorns thy fall.
Unbounded courage and compassion joined,
Tempering each other in the victor's mind,
Alternately proclaim him good and great,
And make the hero and the man complete.
Long did he strive the obdurate foe to gain
By proffered grace, but long he strove in vain;
Till fired at length, he thinks it vain to spare
His rising wrath, and gives a loose to war.
In vengeance roused, the soldier fills his hand
With sword and fire, and ravages the land,
A thousand villages to ashes turns,
In crackling flames a thousand harvests burns.
To the thick woods the woolly flocks1 retreat,
And mixt with bellowing herds confusedly bleat;
Their trembling lords the common shade partake,
And cries of infants sound in every brake:
The listening soldier fixt in sorrow stands,
Loth to obey his leader's just commands;
The leader grieves, by generous pity swayed,
To see his just commands so well obeyed.
But now the trumpet, terrible from far,
In shriller clangours animates the war,
Confederate drums in fuller consort beat,
And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Gallia's proud standards, to Bavaria's joined,
Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind;
The daring prince his blasted hopes renews,
And while the thick embattled host he views
Stretcht out in deep array, and dreadful length,
His heart dilates, and glories in his strength.
The fatal day its mighty course began,
That the grieved world had long desired in vain :
States that their new captivity bemoaned,
Armies of martyrs that in exile groaned,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
And prayers in bitterness of soul preferred,
The woolly flocks.] The "Lanigeræ pecudes" of Lucretius.
Europe's loud cries, that Providence assailed,
And ANNA's ardent vows, at length prevailed;
The day was come when heaven designed to show
His care and conduct of the world below.
Behold, in awful march and dread array
The long-expected squadrons shape their way!
Death, in approaching terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control:
Heat of revenge and noble pride of soul
O'erlook the foe, advantaged by his post,
Lessen his numbers, and contract his host.
Though fens and floods possest the middle space,
That unprovoked they would have feared to pass,
Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands,
When her proud foe ranged on their borders stands.
But, O my muse, what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle joined!
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound,
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise.
"Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was proved,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmoved,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examined all the dreadful scenes of war;
In peaceful thought the field of death surveyed,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
So when an angel by divine command
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past,1
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
1 Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past.] This line has been censured by a very good judge, as unpoetical. (See Dr. Beattie's Notes, prefixed to his edition of Mr. Addison's papers, in 4 vols. vol. i. p. 21,ed. 1790.) It may be so: but the allusion is fine and proper. For when the avenging angel rides in such a storm, the danger is brought home to ourselves, and the poet's imagery is not only great, but interesting; that is, we have the sublime in perfection.
And, pleased the Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
But see the haughty household-troops advance!
The dread of Europe, and the pride of France.
The war's whole art each private soldier knows,
And with a general's love of conquest glows;
Proudly he marches on, and, void of fear,
Laughs at the shaking of the British spear:1
Vain insolence! with native freedom brave,
The meanest Briton scorns the highest slave;
Contempt and fury fire their souls by turns,
Each nation's glory in each warrior burns,
Each fights, as in his arm the important day
And all the fate of his great monarch lay:
A thousand glorious actions, that might claim
Triumphant laurels, and immortal fame,
Confused in clouds of glorious actions lie,
And troops of heroes undistinguished die.
O Dormer, how can I behold thy fate,
And not the wonders of thy youth relate!
How can I see the gay, the brave, the young,
Fall in the cloud of war and lie unsung!
In joys of conquest he resigns his breath,
And, filled with England's glory, smiles in death.
The rout begins, the Gallic squadrons run,
Compelled in crowds to meet the fate they shun;
Thousands of fiery steeds with wounds transfixed
Floating in gore, with their dead masters mixt,
Midst heaps of spears and standards driven around,
Lie in the Danube's bloody whirlpools drowned,
Troops of bold youths, born on the distant Soane,
Or sounding borders of the rapid Rhône,
Or where the Seine her flowery fields divides,
Or where the Loire through winding vineyards glides;
In heaps the rolling billows sweep away,
And into Scythian seas their bloated corps convey.
From Blenheim's towers the Gaul, with wild affright,
Beholds the various havoc of the fight;
His waving banners, that so oft had stood,
Planted in fields of death, and streams of blood,
Laughs at the shaking of the British spear.] The Book of Job furnished him with this idea-he laugheth at the shaking of a spear, xli. 29.
So wont the guarded enemy to reach,
And rise triumphant in the fatal breach,
Or pierce the broken foe's remotest lines,
The hardy veteran with tears resigns.
Unfortunate Tallard! Oh, who can name
The pangs of rage, of sorrow, and of shame,
That with mixt tumult in thy bosom swelled!
When first thou saw'st thy bravest troops repelled,
Thine only son pierced with a deadly wound,
Choked in his blood, and gasping on the ground,
Thyself in bondage by the victor kept!
The chief, the father, and the captive wept.
An English muse is touched with generous woe,
And in the unhappy man forgets the foe.
Greatly distrest! thy loud complaints forbear,
Blame not the turns of fate, and chance of war;
Give thy brave foes their due, nor blush to own
The fatal field by such great leaders won,
The field whence famed Eugenio bore away
Only the second honours of the day.
With floods of gore that from the vanquished fell,
The marshes stagnate, and the rivers swell.
Mountains of slain lie heaped upon the ground,
Or, 'midst the roarings of the Danube drowned;
Whole captive hosts the conqueror detains
In painful bondage and inglorious chains;
Ev'n those who 'scape the fetters and the sword,
Nor seek the fortunes of a happier lord,
Their raging king dishonours, to complete
Marlborough's great work, and finish the defeat.
From Memminghen's high domes, and Augsburg's walls,
The distant battle drives the insulting Gauls;
Freed by the terror of the victor's name,
The rescued states his great protection claim;
Whilst Ulm the approach of her deliverer waits,
And longs to open her obsequious gates.
The hero's breast still swells with great designs,
In every thought the towering genius shines:
If to the foe his dreadful course he bends,
O'er the wide continent his march extends;
If sieges in his labouring thoughts are formed,
Camps are assaulted, and an army stormed;