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TO THE QUEEN,
GLORIOUS SUCCESS OF HER MAJESTY'S ARMS,
WRITTEN IN IMITATION OF SPENSER'S STYLE,
PREFACE, WHEN I first thought of writing upon this occasion, I found the ideas so great and numerous, that I judged them more proper for the warmth of of an Ode, than for any other sort of poetry: I therefore set Horace before me for a pattern, and particularly his famous ode, the fourth of the fourth Book,
Qualem ministrum fulminis alitem, &c. which he wrote in praise of Drusus after his expedition into Germany, and of Augustus upon his happy choice of that general. And in the following poem, though I have endeavoured to imitate all the great strokes of that ode, I have taken the liberty to go off from it, and to add variously, as the subject and my own imagination carried me. As to the style, the choice I made of following the ode in Latin, determined me in English to the stanza; and herein it was impossible not to have a mind to follow our great countryman Spenser; which I have done (as well, at least, as I could) in the manner of my expression and the turn of my number, having only added one verse to his stanza,
which I thought made the number more harmonious, and avoided such of his words as I found too obsolete. I have, however, retained some few of them, to make the colouring look more like Spenser's. Behest, command; band, army; prowess, strength; I weet, I know; I ween, I think; whilom, heretofore; and two or three more of that kind, which I hope the ladies will pardon me, and not judge my muse less handsome, though for once she appears in a farthingale. I have also, in Spenser's manner, used Cæsar, for the Emperor ; Boya, for Bavaria ; Bavar, for that prince; Ister for Danube; Iberia, for Spain, &c.
That noble part of the ode which I just now mentioned,
Gens quæ cremato fortis ab Ilio,
where Horace praises the Romans, as being descended from Æneas; I have turned to the honour of the British nation, descended from Brute, likewise a Trojan. That this Brute, fourth or fifth from Eneas, settled in England, and built London, which he called Troja Nova, or Troynovante, is a story which (I think) owes its original if not to Geoffry of Monmouth, at least to the Monkish writers, yet is not rejected by our great Camden, and is told by Milton, as if (at least) he was pleased with it, though possibly he does not believe it; however, it carries a poetical authority, which is sufficient for our purpose. It is as certain that Brute came into England as that Æneas went into Italy; and upon the supposition of these facts, Virgil wrote the best poem that the world ever
read, and Spenser paid Queen Elizabeth the greatest compliment.
I need not obviate one piece of criticism, that I bring my hero
From burning Troy, and Xanthus red with blood : whereas he was not born when that city was destroyed. Virgil, in the case of his own Æneas, relating to Dido, will stand as a sufficient proof that a man, in his poetical capacity, is not accountable for a little fault in chronology.
My two great epanples, Horace and Spenser, in many things gesemble dach other: both have a height of imágnation, and a majesty of expression in describing the sublime; and both know to temper those talents, and sweeten the description, so as to make it lovely as well as pompous; both have equally that agreeable manner of mixing morality with their story, and that curiosa felicitas in the choice of their diction, which every writer aims at, and so very few have reached: both are particularly fine in their images, and knowing in their numbers. Leaving, therefore, our two masters to the consideration and study of those who design to excel in poetry, I only beg leave to add, that it is long since I have (or at least ought to have) quitted Parnassus, and all the flowery on that side the country; though I thought myself indispensably obliged, upon the present occasion, to take a little journey into those parts.
WHEN great Augustus govern'd ancient Rome,
What numbers shall record, what tongue shall say Thy wars on land, thy triumphs on the main ? o fairest model of imperial sway! What equal pen shall write thy wondrous reign? Who shall attempts and feats of arms rehearse, Not yet by story told, nor paralleld by verse? Me all too mean for such a task I weet; Yet if the sovereign Lady deigns to smile, I'll follow Horace with impetuous heat, And clothe the verse in Spenser's native style. By these examples rightly taught to sing, And smit with pleasure of my country's praise, Stretching the plumes of an uncommon wing, High as Olympus I my flight will raise; And latest times shall in my numbers read [deed. Anna's immortal fame, and Marlborough's hardy As the strong eagle in the silent wood, Mindless of warlike rage and hostile care, Plays round the rocky cliff or crystal flood, Till by Jove's bigh behests call’d out to war; And charged with thunder of his angry king, His bosom with the vengeful message glows; Upward the noble bird directs his wing, And towering round his master's earth-born foes, Swift he collects his fatal stock of ire, Lifts his fierce talon high, and darts the forked fire. Sedate and calm, thus victor Marlborough sat, Shaded with laurels, in his native land, Till Anna calls him from his soft retreat, And gives her second thunder to his hand: Then leaving sweet repose and gentle ease, With ardent speed he seeks the distant foe; Marching o'er hills and dales, o'er rocks and seas He meditates, and strikes the wondrous blow.