An Epic Poem in twenty-four books
Argument of the 1st Book
The poem commences by proposing the general subject, the War between Philip King of Spain and Elizabeth Queen of England, and the Defeat of the mighty Armada sent by the Spaniard for the conquest of his realm.
Invocation and Defiance of the Muse, the Poets resting their hopes of success on the assistance of the Paintress. They then recite the causes of the war, the increasing trade and greatness of England, and the jealousy of the neighbouring nations.
King Philip’s speech — and orders. The Queen obtains intelligence of his designs and calls a Council — The Council assembled — Speeches of Secretary Cecil of ******
The Spanish Armada
The haughty Spaniard’s ire and jealous hate
Of Britain’s Queen, Celestial Muse, I relate;
That hate, which, turn’d upon its author’s head,
His shatter’d Navy o’er the ocean spread,
To wintry winds and stormy seas a prey,
And British wrath, more dreaded far than they.
Immortal maid! who midst Parnassus’ throng
Guid’st the full measure of heroic song,
With thy blest influence two Bards inspire
Whom warlike deeds, their Country’s glory, fire.
Teach all their souls with thy fam’d love to glow,
Teach them in numbers worthy thee to flow;
Worth the gentle Fanny, faultless maid!
Who in the graphic art vouchsafes her promis’d aid.
— Alas! the boon’s denied! ah cruel Muse!
Why thy wish’d favors dost thou still refuse?
No genial ray divine, no ardent sense,
Shoots o’er their teeming souls its influence.
— Clio avaunt! what tho’ no brilliant line
Enrich the poem and conspicuous shine;
What tho’ its merits gain no lasting praise,
Live no long race of glorious after-days
Nor earn the Bards a never-fading bays;
Yet shall sweet Fanny’s matchless pencil save
The verse unworthy from th’ oblivious grave,
Ensure the bliss of never-ending fame,
And, with the Paintress’, save the Poets’ name.
Yes, lovely Fair, the Bards inspired by thee
View the long ages of futurity
And see, oh ecstasy of happiness!
Twenty editions load the groaning press:
While Turkey skins and Russian hides contain
The dauntless deeds of Drake and dire defeat of Spain.
Now o’er the spacious earth to either pole,
Where’er old ocean’s wavy billows roll;
To climes that with unceasing summer glow,
And regions while with never-melting snow;
Our native oak, fraught with commercial gain,
Advent’rous ploughed the wide-extended main;
And wond’ring nations saw, with jealous eye,
The British Standard wave in sov’reignty:
This Philip saw, who o’er th’ Iberian plain
Wielded the sceptre of despotic reign
And thus the King indignantly expressed
The jarring thoughts that rack’d his lab’ring breast
“Was it for this our ancestors unfurled
The Spanish Ensign o’er a new-found world,
And sable myriads, fill’s with dread alarms,
Bow’d ’neath the terror of Castilian arms?
Is it for this, in each revolving year,
Our rich galleons their passage homewards steer
With trans-atlantic treasures fully stored
T’enrich the monarch’s and the merchant’s hoard?
Spaniards, in vain your boasted treasures heap!
A paltry island rules the mighty deep!
Secure from port to port her vessels sail,
Our Spanish arms and mighty treasures fail —
And sleepest thou, Spain, and is that spirit fled
Which o’er the unknown main thy heroes led,
In burning climes thro countless perils bore,
The dread and envy of each distant shore?
That spirit still remains, the world shall know,
The world shall see, while England feels the blow.
Nay, willing Europe to my cause I’ll call
What nation backward in a rival’s fall!
An host himself, the Pope shall lend his aid
In bulls more potent that th’ Italian blade;
Our warlike trumpet he, at whose shrill sound,
Prompt to our cause, the nations flock around.”
— Thus mused the King — then issued his command,
And war’s bright weapons blazed throughout the land.
Soon had loquacious fame the rumour spread
Of Philip’s dire designs ’gainst Britain’s head
(That Maiden Queen whose happy prosp’rous reign
Spread England’s commerce o’er the subject main,
Who great in arts and arms, adorn’d her throne
With ev’ry virtue that can grace a crown,
Who, in her people’s love supremely blest
With mildness temper’d ev’ry high behest)
And in the threaten’d isle the tidings came
Straight to the palace of the Royal Dame.
Her timid handmaid’s dire alarm pursues,
And all the coast stands trembling at the news.
E’en hoary senators confess their fears —
The Virgin Queen alone serene appears,
And dreads not all the hostile world can do,
If to her people’s cause themselves prove true;
To Heaven she trusts, her righteous cause to aid,
And forth to council goes the Royal Maid.
In awful form th’ assembled nobles sate,
Their country’s woes engaged their deep debate,
The Spaniards’ dread designs, big with impending fate.
* * * *
* * * *
The title to the following verses is unfortunately defaced in part — they appear to have been addressed to **** Poets and Punsters in Ordinary to ****, Authors of a new poem called “The Spanish Armada”.
So much, my friends, your Grand Armada charms
And with heroic fire each bosom warms,
It bids the memory’s anxious eye retrace
The bold achievements of the British race;
That erst in days of yore by Heaven’s command
Repell’d the fierce invaders of our land;
Who first taught Britons o’er the waves to sway,
And bade the vassal waves their lords obey;
Who bade Britannia’s Genius proudly smile,
And hail in them the saviours of our isle;
Who by their valour humbled haughty Spain,
And reign’d triumphant o’er the vanquish’d main;
Who bade Britannia’s Queen the world defy,
And hostile squadrons from her presence fly;
View’s their proud fleets by British thunder riv’n,
And “Rule Britannia!” echoed up to heav’n.
Thy name, O Howard! to thy country dear
Shall last while time revolves the varying year
In after ages shall thy deeds inspire
Britannia’s sons with emulative fire;
And when in years great nature fades away
And heaven and earth in one vast ruin lay,
Yet still amidst the wreck thy glorious name
Shall chaos echo with Britannia’s fame.
Proceed, ye Bards! and may the tuneful Nine
With bays and laurel both your brows entwine;
Strike the proud lyre and tune th’ exalted lay,
Recall past ages to the present day:
So shall your poem (when ’tis read) inspire
Our present heroes with great Howard’s fire,
Teach our proud foes we can our rights maintain
And ride victorious o’er our subject main.
So shall approving Printers crown your toil
And six and sixpence on your quarto smile —
So shall the press secure your well-earned bays,
And Grub Street Authors envy while they praise.