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DESCRIPTION of a BATTLE,
ILLUSTRATED BY A SUBLIME COMPARISON. (ADDISON.)
BUT O, my Muse! what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle join'd!
Methinks I hear the drums tumultuous sound
The victors' shouts and dying groans confound,
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise.
'Twas then great Marlbro's mighty soul was prov'd,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war:
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspir'd repuls'd 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,
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
The first ONSET of a BATTLE,
ILLUSTRATED BY A NOBLE COMPARISON.
(POPE'S HOMER'S ILIAD.)
FIX'D at his post was each bold Ajax found,
With well-rang'd squadrons strongly circled round:
So close their order, so dispos'd their fight,
As Pallas' self might view with fix'd delight;
Or, had the God of war inclin'd his eyes,
The God of war had own'd a just surprize.
A chosen phalanx, firm, resolv'd as fate,
Descending Hector and his battle wait,
An iron scene gleams dreadful o'er the fields,
Armour in armour lock'd, and shields in shields,
Spears lean on spears, on targets targets throng,
Helms stuck to helms, and man drove man along.
The floating plumes unnumber'd wave above,
As when an earthquake stirs the nodding grove;
And, levell'd at the skies with pointing rays,
Their brandish'd lances at each other blaze.
Thus breathing death, in terrible array, The close-compacted legions urg'd their way: Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy; Troy charg'd they first, and Hector first of Troy. As from some mountain's craggy forehead torn, A rock's round fragment flies, with fury borne, (Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends) Precipitate the pond'rous mass descends : From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds; At ev'ry shock the crackling wood resounds; Still gath'ring force, it smokes; and, urg'd amain, Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain: There stops-So Hector: Their whole force he prov❜d, Resistless when he rag'd, and when he stopt unmov'd.
To the KING on his NAVY.
WHERE-E'ER thy navy spreads her canvas-wings,
Homage to thee, and peace to all she brings;
The French and Spaniards, when thy flags appear,
Forget their hatred, and consent to fear.
So Jove from Ida did both hosts survey,
And, when he pleas'd to thunder, part the fray.
Ships heretofore in seas like fishes sped,
The mightiest still upon the smallest fed;
Thou on the deep imposest nobler laws,
And, by that justice, hast remov'd the cause
Of those rude tempests, which for rapine sent,
Too oft, alas! involv'd the innocent.
Now shall the ocean, as thy Thames, be free
From both those fates, of storms, and piracy;
But we most happy, who can fear no force
But winged troops, or Pegasean horse.
'Tis not so hard for greedy foes to spoil
Another nation, as to touch our soil.
Should nature's self invade the world again,
And o'er the centre spread the liquid main,
Thy pow'r were safe; and her destructive hand
Would but enlarge the bounds of thy command:
Thy dreadful fleet would style thee Lord of all,
And ride in triumph o'er the drowned ball :
Those tow'rs of oak o'er fertile plains might go,
And visit mountains where they once did grow.
The world's restorer once could not endure,
That finish'd Babel should those men secure,
Whose pride design'd that fabric to have stood
Above the reach of any second flood.
To thee his chosen more indulgent, he
Dares trust such power with so much piety.
On the INVENTION of LETTERS.
TELL me what genius did the art invent,
The lively image of the voice to paint;
Who first the secret how to colour sound,
And to give shape to reason, wisely found;
With bodies how to clothe ideas, taught;
And how to draw a picture of a thought:
Who taught the hand to speak, the eye to hear
A silent language roving far and near;
Whose softest noise out-strips loud thunder's sound,
And spreads her accents through the world's vast round :
A voice heard by the deaf, spoke by the dumb,
Whose echo reaches long, long time to come;
Which dead men speak as well as those alive-
Tell me what genius did this art contrive ?
THE noble art to Cadmus owes its rise,
Of painting words, and speaking to the eyes;
He first in wond'rous magic fetters bound
The airy voice, and stopp'd the flying sound:
The various figures by his pencil wrought,
Gave colour, form, and body to the thought.
The ENTHUSIAST; or the LOVER of NATURE.
YE green-rob'd Dryads, oft at dusky eve
By wond'ring shepherds seen, to forests brown,
To unfrequented meads, and pathless wilds,
Lead me from gardens deck'd with art's vain pomps,
Can gilt alcoves, can marble-mimic gods,
Parterres embroider'd, obelisks, and urns
Of high relief: can the long, spreading lake,
Or vista lessening to the sight; can Stow
With all her attic fanes, such raptures raise,
As the thrush haunted copse, where lightly leaps
The fearful fawn the rustling leaves along,
And the brisk squirrel sports from bough to bough,
While from an hollow oak, whose naked roots
O'erhang a pensive rill, the busy bees
Hum drowsy lullabies? The bards of old,
Fair Nature's friends, sought such retreats, to charm.
Sweet Echo with their songs; oft' too they met.
In summer-ev'nings, near sequester'd bow'rs,
Or mountain-nymph, or muse, and eager learn'd
The moral strains she taught to mend mankind.
As to a secret grot Ægeria stole
With patriot Numa, and in silent night
Whisper'd him sacred laws, he list'ning sat
Rapt with her virtuous voice, old Tyber lean'd
Attentive on his urn, and hush'd his waves.
Rich in her weeping country's spoils, Versailles
May boast a thousand fountains, that can cast
The tortur'd waters to the distant heav'ns ;
Yet let me choose some pine-topp'd precipice,
Abrupt and shaggy, whence a foamy stream,
Like Anio, tumbling roars; or some bleak heath,
Where straggling stand the mournful juniper,
Or yew-tree scath'd; while in clear prospect round,
From the grove's bosom spires enierge, and smoke
In bluish wreaths ascends, ripe harvests wave,
Low, lonely cottages, and ruin'd tops
Of Gothic battleme appear, and streams
Beneath the sun-beams twinkle. The shrill lark,
That wakes the woodman to his early task,
Or love-sick Philomel, whose luscious lays
Soothe lone night wanderers, the moaning dove
Pitied by listening milk-maid, far excel
The deep-mouth'd viol, the soul-lulling lute,
And battle-breathing trumpet. Artful sounds!
'That please not like the choristers of air,
When first they hail th approach of laughing May.
Can Kent design like Nature? Mark where Thames
Plenty and pleasure pours thro' * Lincoln's meads;
Can the great artist, tho' with taste supreme
Endu d, one beauty to this Eden add?
Tho' he, by rules unfetter'd, boldly scorns
Formality and method, round and square
Disdaining, plans irregularly great.
Creative Titian, can thy vivid strokes,
Or thine, O graceful Raphael, dare to vie
With the rich tints that paint the breathing mead?
The thousand-colour'd tulip, violet's bell
Snow-clad and meek, the vermil-tinctur'd rose,
And golden crocus ?-Yet with these the maid,
Phillis or Phoebe, at a feast or wake,
Her jetty locks enamels; fairer she,
In innocence and home-spun vestiments dress'd,
Than if cœrulean sapphires at her ears
Shone pendent, or a precious diamond cross
Heav'd gently on her panting bosom white.
Yon' shepherd idly stretch'd on the rude rock,
Listening to dashing waves, and sea-mews' clang
High hovering o'er his head, who views beneath
The dolphin dancing o'er the level brine,
Feels more true bliss than the proud Admiral,
Amid his vessels bright with burnish'd gold
And silken streamers, tho' his lordly nod
Ten thousand war-worn mariners revere.
And great Æneas † gaz'd with more delight
On the rough mountain shagg'd with horrid shades,
(Where cloud-compelling Jove, as fancy dream'd,
Descending shook his direful Ægis black)
Than if he enter'd the high Capitol
On golden columns rear'd, a conquer'd world
Exhausted to enrich its stately head.
More pleas'd he slept in poor Evander's cot,
On shaggy skins, lull'd by sweet nightingales,
Than if a Nero, in an age refin'd,
Beneath a gorgeous canopy had plac'd
His royal guest, and bade his minstrels sound
Soft slumb'rous Lydian airs, to soothe his rest.
Happy the first of men, ere yet confin'd
To smoky cities; who in sheltering groves,
The earl of Lincoln's terrace at Weybridge, in Surry.
† Æneid VIII.
See Lucretius, lib. 5.