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The' illustrious Duchess, and her glorious train,
(Like Thetis with her nymphs),adorn the main.
The gazing sea-gods, since the Paphian Queen'
Sprung from among them, no such sight had seen.
Charm'd with the graces of a troop so fair,
Those deathless pow'rs for us themselves declare,
Resolv'd the aid of Neptune's court to bring,
And help the nation where such beauties spring :
The soldier here his wasted store supplies,
And takes new valour from the ladies' eyes.
Meanwhile, like bees, when stormy winter's gone,
The Dutch (as if the sea were all their own).
Desert their ports, and, falling in their way,
Our Hamburg merchants are become their prey.
Thus flourish they, before the approaching fight,
As dying tapers give a blazing light.
To check their pride, our fleet half-victuall:d goes, Enough to serve us till we reach our foes; Who now appear so numerous and bold, The action worthy of our arms we hold. A greater force than that which here we find Ne'er press’d the ocean, nor employ'd the wind. Restrain’d a while by the unwelcome night, The’ impatient English scarce attend the light. But now the morning, (Heav'n severely clear! To the fierce work indulgent does appear; And Phoebus lifts above the waves his light, That he might see, and thus record, the fight.
As when loud winds from different quarters rush, Vast clouds encountering one another crush ; With swelling sails so, from their several coasts, Join the Batavian and the British hosts.
For a less prize, with less concern and rage, The Roman fleets at Actium did engage; They for the empire of the world they knew, These for the Old contend, and for the New. At the first shock, with blood and powder stain'd, Nor Heav'n nor sea their former face retain'd: Fury and art produce effects so strange, They trouble Nature, and her visage change. Where burning ships the banish'd sun supply, And no light shines but that by which men die, T'here York appears! so prodigal is he Of royal blood as ancient as the sea ! Which down to him, so many ages told, Has through the veins of mighty monarchs roll’d! The great Achilles march'd not to the field Till Vulcan that impenetrable shield · And arms had wrought; yet there no bullets flew, But shafts and darts which the weak Phrygians Our bolder hero on the deck does stand (threw. Expos'd, the bulwark of his native land ; Defensive arms laid by as useless here, Where massy balls the neighbouring rocks do tear. Some power unseen those princes does protect, Who for their country thus themselves neglect.
Against him first Opdam his squadron leads, Proud of his late success against the Swedes, Made by that action, and his high command, Worthy to perish by a prince's hand. The tall Batavian in a vast ship rides, Bearing an army in her hollow sides ; Yet, not inclin'd the English ship to board, More on his guns relies than on his sword; From whence a fatal volley we receiv’d; It miss'd the Duke, but his great heart it griev'd :
Three worthy persons 2 from his side it tore,
And dy'd his garment with their scatter'd gore.
Happy! to whom this glorious death arrives,
More to be valued than a thousand lives!
On such a theatre as this to die,
For such a cause, and such a witness by!
Who would not thus a sacrifice be made,
To have his blood on such an altar laid?
The rest about him strook with borror stood,
To see their leader cover'd o'er with blood.
So trembled Jacob, when he thought the stains
Of his son's coat had issued from his veins.
He feels no wound but in his troubled thought;
Before for bonour, now revenge he fought :
His friends in pieces torn, (the bitter news
Not brought by Fame) with his own eyes he views.
His mind at once reflecting on their youth,
Their worth, their love, their valour, and their truth,
The joys of court, their mothers, and their wives,
To follow him abandon'd, and their lives !
He storms and shoots; but flying bullets now,
To execute lis rage, appear too slow:
They miss, or sweep but common souls away;
For such a loss Opdam his life must pay.
Encouraging his men, he gives the word,
With fierce intent that hated ship to board,
And make the guilty Dutch, with his own arm,
Wait on his friends, while yet their blood is warm.
His winged vessel like an eagle shows,
When through the clouds to truss a swan she goes:
The Belgian ship unmov'd, like some huge rock
Inhabiting the sea, expects the shock:
From both the fleets' men's eyes are bent this way,
Neglecting all the business of the day:
Bullets their flight, and guns their noise suspend;
The silent Ocean does the event attend,
Which leader shall the doubtful victory bless,
And give an earnest of the war's success,
When Heav'n itself, for England to declare,
Turns ship, and men, and tackle, into air.
Their new commander from his charge is tost,
Which that young prince 3 had so unjustly lost,
Whose great progenitors, with better fate,
And better conduet, sway'd their infant state.
His flight tow'rds Heav'n the'aspiring Belgian took,
But fell, like Phæton, with thunder strook :
From vašter hopes than his he seem'd to fall,
That durst attempt the British Admiral:
From her broad sides à ruder flame is thrown
Than from the fiery chariot of the sun ;
That bears the radiant ensign of the day,
And she the flag that governs in the sea.
The Duke, (ill pleas'd that fire should thus prevent The work which for his brighter" sword he meant) Anger still burning in his valiant breast, Goes to complete revenge upon the rest. So on the guardless herd, their keeper slain, Rashes a tiger in the Libyan plain. The Dutch, accustom'd the raging sea, And in black storms the frowns of Heav'n to see, Never met tempest which more urg'd their fears, Than that which in the Prince's look appears. Fierce, goodly, young! Mars he resembles, when Jove sends him down to scourge perfidions men;
Such as with foul ingratitude have paid
Both those that led, and those that gave them aid.
Where he gives on, disposing of their fates,
Terror and death on his loud cannon waits,
With which be pleads his brother's cause so well,
He shakes the throne to which he does appeal.
The sea with spoils his angry bullets strow,
Widows and orphans making as they go :
Before his ship fragments of vessels torn,
Flags, arms, and Belgian carcasses, are borne,
And his despairing foes, to fight inclin’d,
Spread all their canvass to invite the wind.
So the rude Boreas, where he lists to blow,
Makes clouds above, and billows fly below,
Beating the shore, and with a boisterous rage
Does Heav'n at once, and earth, and sea engage.
The Dutch, elsewhere, did through the wat’ry field
Perform enough to have made others yield;
Bat English courage, growing as they fight,
In danger, noise, and slaughter, takes delight:
Their bloody task, unwearied still, they ply,
Only restrain'd by death or victory.
Iron and lead, from earth's dark entrails torn,
Like show'rs of hail, from either side are borne:
So high the rage of wretched mortals goes,
Harling their mother's bowels at their
Ingenious to their ruin, every age
Improves the arts and instruments of rage.
Death-hastening ills Nature enough has sent,
And yet men still a thousand more invent!
But Bacchus now, which led the Belgians on,
So fierce at first, to favour us begun :
Brandy and wine, (their wonted friends) at length
Render them useless, and betray their strength.