A Poem, Addressed to the Lord Privy Seal, on the Prospect of Peace

Original Text: 
Second edition (London: Jacob Tonson,1713 [i.e., 1712]). E-10 1386 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto
To The Lord Privy Seal
2Have been the subject of the British song.
5Exhausted themes! A gentler note I raise,
6And sing returning peace in softer lays.
7Their fury quell'd, and martial rage allay'd,
8I wait our heroes in the sylvan shade:
9Disbanding hosts are imag'd to my mind,
10And warring pow'rs in friendly leagues combin'd,
11While ease and pleasure make the nations smile,
14For early counsels fam'd, and long try'd worth,
15Who, thirty rolling years, had oft withheld
17Completely form'd to heal the Christian wounds,
18To name the kings, and give each kingdom bounds,
19The face of ravag'd nature to repair,
21To gain by law, where rage and slaughter fail,
24Had scatter'd plagues o'er stubborn Pharaoh's land,
25Now spread an host of locusts round the shore,
26Now turn'd Nile's fatt'ning streams to putrid gore;
27Plenty and gladness mark'd the priest of God,
29      O thou, from whom these bounteous blessings flow,
30To whom, as chief, the hopes of peace we owe,
31(For next to thee, the man whom kings contend
32To style companion, and to make their friend,
34With joyful pride accepts the second place.)
36One hour, oh! listen while the muses sing.
37Though ministers of mighty monarchs wait,
38With beating hearts, to learn their masters' fate,
39One hour forbear to speak thy Queen's commands,
40Not think the world, thy charge, neglected stands;
41The blissful prospects, in my verse display'd,
42May lure the stubborn, the deceiv'd persuade,
43Ev'n thou to peace shall speedier urge the way,
44And more be hasten'd by this short delay.
A Poem on The Prospect of Peace
46Now ceas'd to think the western world his own.
50Made tim'rous vows, and brib'd the saints in vain;
51As oft his legions did the fight decline,
52Lurk'd in the trench, and skulk'd behind the line.
53Before his eyes the fancy'd javelin gleams,
54At feasts he starts, and seems dethron'd in dreams,
55On glory past reflects with secret pain,
57      To Britain's Queen the sceptred suppliant bends,
59Who grieves her fame with Christian blood to buy,
60Nor asks for glory at a price so high.
62And Britain's heroes hold their lifted hands,
63Their open brows no threat'ning frowns disguise,
64But gentler passions sparkle in their eyes.
65The Gauls, who never in their courts could find
66Such temper'd fire with manly beauty join'd,
67Doubt if they're those, whom dreadful to the view
68In forms so fierce their fearful fancies drew,
69At whose dire names ten thousand widows press'd
70Their helpless orphans clinging to the breast.
71In silent rapture each his foe surveys,
72Firm friendship vows, and gives alternate praise.
73Brave minds, howe'er at war, are secret friends,
74Their gen'rous discord with the battle ends;
75In peace they wonder whence dissention rose,
76And ask how souls so like could e'er be foes,
77      Methinks I hear more friendly shouts rebound,
79The British flags are furl'd, her troops disband,
80And scatter'd armies seek their native land.
81The hardy vet'ran, proud of many a scar,
82The manly charms and honours of the war,
83Who hop'd to share his friends' illustrious doom,
84And in the battle find a soldier's tomb,
85Leans on his spear to take a farewell view,
86And sighing bids the glorious camp adieu.
87       Ye gen'rous fair, receive the brave with smiles,
88O'er-pay their sleepness nights, and crown their toils;
89Soft beauty is the gallant solder's due,
90For you they conquer, and they bleed for you.
92When English valour English beauty fires;
93The nations dread your eyes, and kings despair
94Of chiefs so brave, till they have nymphs so fair.
95      See the fond wife, in tears of transport drown'd,
96Hugs her rough lord, and weeps o'er ev'ry wound,
97Hangs on the lips that fields of blood relate,
99Near the full bowl he draws the fancy'd line,
100And marks feign'd trenches in the flowing wine,
101He sets th' invested fort before her eyes,
103His little list'ning progeny turn pale,
104And beg again to hear the dreadful tale.
107Where whole brigades one champion's arms o'erthrow,
108And cleave a giant at a random blow,
110The goblin's fury, and the dragon's flame.
111      Our eager youth to distant nations runs,
112To visit fields, their valiant fathers won;
115Th' exulting Briton asks his mournful guide,
116Where his hard fate the lost Bavarian try'd,
118He points to Blenheim, once a vulgar name;
120Here Marlb'rough turn'd the fortune of the field,
121On those steep banks, near Danube's raging flood
122The Gauls thrice started back, and trembling stood:
124But plung'd amidst the waves, a desp'rate throng,
125Crowds whelm'd on crowds dash'd wide the wat'ry bed,
128A warlike courser on the canvas stands,
134And hints of glory fire the Briton's soul,
135In fancy'd fights he sees the troops engage,
136And all the tempest of the battle rage.
137      Charm me, ye pow'rs, with scenes less nobly bright,
138Far humbler thoughts th' inglorious muse delight,
139Content to see the horrors of the field
141O'er shatter'd walls may creeping ivy twine,
143Tame flocks ascend the breach without a wound,
144Or crop the bastion, now a fruitful ground;
145While shepherds sleep, along the rampart laid,
146Or pipe beneath the formidable shade.
148Torn out, and blotted from the list of fame!
149Who fond of lawless rule, and proudly brave,
150First sunk the filial subject to a slave,
151His neighbour's realm by frauds un-kingly gain'd,
152In guiltless blood the sacred ermine stain'd,
153Laid schemes for death, to slaughter turn'd his heart,
154And fitted murder to the rules of art.
155      Ah! curst Ambition, to thy lures we owe
156All the great ills, that mortals bear below.
158His year's whole sweat, and vainly ripen'd fields;
159Curs'd by the maid, torn from her lover's side,
160When left a widow, though not yet a bride;
161By mothers curs'd, when floods of tears they shed,
162And scatter useless roses on the dead.
164The arts, thou smil'st on with paternal love?
165Then, mix'd with rubbish by the brutal foes,
166In vain the marble breathes, the canvas glows;
167To shades obscure the glitt'ring sword pursues
168The gentle poet, and defenceless muse.
169A voice, like thine alone, might then assuage
170The warrior's fury, and control his rage;
172And fling the brandish'd sabre from his hand.
174The drum's harsh music, and the cannon's roar;
178See virgins ravish'd with relentless eyes,
179To death grey heads and smiling infants doom,
180Nor spare the promise of the pregnant womb,
181O'er wasted kingdoms spread his wide command,
182The savage lord of an unpeopled land.
183      Her guiltless praises just Britannia draws
184From pure religion, and impartial laws,
185To Europe's wounds a mother's aid she brings,
186And holds in equal scales the rival kings:
187Her gen'rous sons in choicest gifts abound,
188In arms alike, alike in arts renown'd.
189       As when sweet Venus (so the fable sings)
191With smiles she sees the threat'ning billows rise,
192Spreads smooth the surge, and clears the low'ring skies,
193Light, o'er the deep, with flutt'ring Cupids crown'd,
194The pearly conch and silver turtles bound;
195Her tresses shed ambrosial odours round.
196      Amidst the world of waves so stands serene
197Britannia's isle, the ocean's stately queen;
198In vain the nations have conspir'd her fall,
199Her trench the sea, and fleets her floating wall:
200Defenceless barks, her pow'rful navy near,
201Have only waves and hurricanes to fear.
202What bold invader, or what land oppress'd
203Hath not her anger quell'd, her aid redress'd!
205But much her arms, her justice more prevail'd!
206Her labours are to plead th'Almighty's cause,
207Her pride of teach th' untam'd barbarian laws:
208Who conquers, wins by brutal strength the prize;
209But 'tis a godlike work to civilize.
210      Have we forgot how from great Russia's throne
212Whose sceptre waving, with one shout rush forth
213In swarms the harness'd millions of the north,
214Through realms of ice pursu'd his tedious way
215To court our friendship, and our fame survey!
216Hence the rich prize of useful arts he bore,
217And round his empire spread the learned store:
218(T' adorn old realms is more than new to raise,
219His country's parent is a monarch's praise.)
220His bands now march in just array to war,
223And wond'ring Volga hears the muses sing.
225Our Queen, and yield their sceptres at her feet!
226Chiefs who full bowls of hostile blood had quaff'd.
227Fam'd for the javelin, and invenom'd shaft,
228Whose haughty brows made savages adore,
229Nor bow'd to less than stars, or sun before.
230Her pitying smile accepts their suppliant claim,
231And adds four monarchs to the Christian name.
232      Bless'd use of pow'r! O virtuous pride in kings!
233And like His bounty, whence dominion springs!
234Which o'er new worlds makes Heav'n's indulgence shine,
235And ranges myriads under laws divine!
236Well bought with all that those sweet regions hold,
237With groves of spices, and with mines of gold.
238      Fearless our merchant now may fetch his gain,
239And roam securely o'er the boundless main.
241And freezing spangles of the Lapland skies,
244Where fumes of incense glad the southern seas,
245And wafted citron scents the balmy breeze.
247To grace great Anne's imperial diadem,
248And here the ore, whose melted mass shall yield
250Which, mix'd with medals of immortal Rome,
253And Churchill's sword hang o'er the prostrate foe,
254In comely wounds shall bleeding worthies stand,
260And if the Muse, O Bristol, might decree,
262The lyre for Granville, and the cross for thee.
263      Such are the honours grateful Britain pays,
264So patriots merit, and so monarchs praise.
265O'er distant times such records shall prevail,
267A trifling song the muse can only yield,
268And soothe her soldiers panting from the field,
269To sweet retirements see them safe convey'd,
271From fields of death to Woodstock's peaceful glooms
272(The poet's haunt) Britannia's hero comes---
273Begin, my muse, and softly touch the string:
275      Hail fabled grotto! hail Elysian soil!
276Thou fairest spot of fair Britannia's isle!
277Where kings of old conceal'd forgot the throne,
278And beauty was content to shine unknown,
279Where love and war by turns pavilions rear,
282The noblest boast of thy romantic groves.
283Oft, if the muse presage, shall he be seen
284By Rosamonda fleeting o'er the green,
285In dreams be hail'd by heroes' mighty shades,
286And hear old Chaucer warble through the glades,
287O'er the fam'd echoing vaults his name shall bound,
288And hill to hill reflect the fav'rite sound.
289      Here, here at least thy love for arms give o'er,
291Vice of great souls alone! O thirst of fame!
292The muse admires it, while she strives to blame.
293Thy toils be now to chase the bounding deer,
295This lovely scene shall soothe thy soul to rest,
296And wear each dreadful image from thy breast,
297With pleasure, by thy conquests shalt thou see
298Thy Queen triumphant, and all Europe free,
299No cares henceforth shall thy repose destroy,
300But what thou giv'st the world, thy self enjoy.
301      Sweet solitude! when life's gay hours are past,
302Howe'er we range, in thee we fix at last,
303Toss'd through tempestuous seas (the voyage o'er)
304Pale we look back, and bless thy friendly shore.
305Our own strict judges our past life we scan,
306And ask if glory hath enlarg'd the span;
307If bright the prospect, we the grave defy,
308Trust future ages, and contented die.
309      When strangers from far distant climes come,
310To view the pomp of this triumphant dome,
312And breathing labours of the sculptor's hand,
315Heirs of thy blood shall o'er their bounteous board
316Fix Europe's guard, thy monumental sword,
317Banners that oft had wav'd on conquer'd walls,
319Fair dames shall oft, with curious eye, explore
320The costly robes that slaughter'd gen'rals wore,
321Rich trappings from the Danube's whirlpools brought,
324And Gaul's fair flow'rs, in human crimson dy'd.
326Shall mark the burnish'd steel, that hangs on high,
327Shall gaze transported on its glitt'ring charms,
328And reach it struggling with unequal arms,
329By signs the drum's tumultuous sound request,
330Then seek, in starts, the hushing mother's breast.
332Where Mars embraces the fair Paphian dame,
334Or join their strength to heave his pond'rous shield:
336And one the spear, that reeks with Typhon's blood,
337Another's infant-brows the helm sustain,
338He nods his crest, and frights the shrieking train.
339      Thus, the rude tempest of the field o'erblown,
341Our victors, blest in peace, forget their wars,
342Enjoy past dangers, and absolve the stars.
343But oh! what sorrows shall bedew your urns,
344Ye honour'd shades, whom widow'd Albion mourns!
345If your thin forms yet discontented moan,
346And haunt the mangled mansions, once your own,
347Behold what flow'rs the pious muses strow,
348And tears, which in the midst of triumph flow,
350Your names the tender matron's heart shall wound,
351And the soft maid grow pensive at the sound.
352      Accept, great Anne, the tears their mem'ry draws,
353Who nobly perish'd in their sov'reign's cause:
354For thou in pity bid'st the war give o'er,
355Mourn'st thy slain heroes, nor wilt venture more.
356Vast price of blood on each victorious day!
357(But Europe's freedom doth that price repay.)
358Lamented triumphs! when one breath must tell
360      Great Queen! whose name strikes haughty monarchs pale,
361On whose just sceptre hangs Europa's scale,
362Whose arm like mercy wounds, decides like fate,
363On whose decree the nations anxious wait:
364From Albion's cliffs thy wide-extended hand
366So vast a tract whose wide domain shall run,
367Its circling skies shall see no setting sun.
368Thee, thee an hundred languages shall claim,
369And savage Indians swear by Anna's name,
372      Round the vast ball thy new dominions chain
373The wat'ry kingdoms, and control the main,
375Across the seas a formidable line;
376The sight of adverse Gaul we fear no more,
379And meant his waters for Britannia's bound,
381And sets his foot beyond th' encroaching tide,
382On either bank the land its master knows,
383And in the midst the subject ocean flows.
384      So near proud Rhodes, across the raging flood,
386(While at one foot the thronging galleys ride,
387A whole hour's sail scarce reach'd the further side)
388Betwixt his brazen thighs, in close array,
389Ten thousand streamers on the billows play.
390      By Harley's counsels Dunkirk now restor'd
393Rich in the blood which swell'd that patriot's veins,
394Who boldly faithful met his sov'reign's frown,
395And scorned for gold to yield th' important town.
396His son was born the ravish'd prey to claim,
397And France still trembles at an Harley's name.
398     A fort so dreadul to our English shore,
399Our fleets scarce fear'd the sands or tempest more,
400Whose vast expenses to such sums amount,
401That the tax'd Gaul scarce furnish'd out th' account,
403Its weakest ramparts are the rocks and main,
404His boast great Louis yields, and cheaply buys
405Thy friendship, Anna, with the mighty prize.
407Sees the new glories of the British crown:
408Ah! may they ne'er provoke thee to the fight,
409Nor foes, more dreadful than the Gaul, invite,
411Their secret murmurs, nor call forth thy rage
413Thy realm the sea o'er their precious land.
416To dry the orphan's tears, and from the bar
417Chase the brib'd judge, and hush the wordy war,
418Deny the curst blasphemer's tongue to rage,
419And turn God's fury from an impious age.
423And beg admittance in our sacred fold;
424On her own works the pious Queen shall smile,
425And turn her cares upon her fav'rite isle.
426      So the keen bolt a warrior angel aims,
428He bears a tempest on his sounding wings,
429And his red arm the forky vengeance flings;
430At length, Heav'n's wrath appeas'd, he quits the war,
432To shed kind fate, and lucky hours bestow,
433And smile propitious on the world below.
434      Around thy throne shall faithful nobles wait,
437She begs her pious son t' assert her cause,
438Defend her rights, and re-inforce her laws,
439With holy zeal the sacred work begin,
440To bend the stubborn, and the meek to win.
442To raise his Queen, and save a sinking land.
444He marks, and makes the golden world our own,
448The sacred watch lay curl'd in many a fold,
449His eyes up-rearing to th' untasted prey,
450The sleepless guardian wasted life away.
451      Beneath the peaceful olives, rais'd by you,
452Her ancient pride shall ev'ry art renew,
455With piercing eye some search where nature plays,
456And trace the wanton through her darksome maze,
457Whence health from herbs; from seeds how groves begun,
459Some teach why round the sun the spheres advance,
460In the fix'd measures of their mystic dance,
461How tides, when heav'd by pressing moons, o'erflow,
463In happy chains our daring language bound,
464Shall sport no more in arbitrary sound,
465But buskin'd bards henceforth shall wisely rage,
466And Grecian plans reform Britannia's stage:
470To mend our morals, and our taste refine,
471Fight virtue's cause, stand up in wit's defence,
472Win us from vice, and laugh us into sense.
474Thy lyre shall now revive her mirthful strain,
475New tales shall now be told; if right I see,
476The soul of Chaucer is restor'd in thee.
478Shall raise mock-heroes, and fantastic wars.
480Shoots up with strength, and rises into fame;
482And Britain hear a second Spenser sing.
486Rules for just thinking, and poetic laws,
487To growing bards his learned aid shall lend,
488The strictest critic, and the kindest friend.
489Ev'n mine, a bashful muse, whose rude essays
490Scarce hope for pardon, not aspire to praise.
491Cherish'd by you in time may grow to fame,
492And mine survive with Bristol's glorious name.
493      Fir'd with the views this glitt'ring scene displays,
494And smit with passion for my country's praise,
495My artless reed attempts this lofty theme,
496Where sacred Isis rolls her ancient stream;
498Where learning blooms, while fame and worth preside,
501Where laurel'd bards have struck the warbling strings,
502The seat of sages, and the nurse of kings.
504My eager breast to raise the British name,
505Urge on my soul, with no ignoble pride,
507See that bold swan to Heav'n sublimely soar,
508Pursue at distance, and his steps adore.


1] The poem was published in October 1712, though dated 1713, and went through four editions. This text follows the second edition (1712, dated 1713), in which Tickell made a few minor changes. The dedicatee was John Robinson (1650-1723), who had spent thirty years in the diplomatic service, chiefly in Sweden, where he had originally gone as Anglican chaplain to the English embassy. Having won the confidence of successive kings of Sweden, he had become a powerful and effective promoter of English interests in the Baltic during a time of warfare in northern Europe. On his return to England, he had been appointed Bishop of Bristol (1710) and Lord Privy Seal (1711). Robinson was one of the few diplomats who served at the ambassadorial level both before and after the revolution of 1688; he was also the last British clergyman to hold high political office. Early in 1712 he went to the Dutch city of Utrecht as first (i.e., leading) British plenipotentiary in the protracted negotiations to end the War of the Spanish Succession, which had begun in 1701. The peace treaty was finally signed in April 1713, on terms generally favourable to Britain. Back to Line
3] Ramillia's plain: the battle of Ramillies, 1706, Marlborough's second great victory over the French. Back to Line
4] At the battle of Blenheim in 1704 the Duke of Marlborough, commanding Dutch and English forces, and the Austrian Prince Eugene won a decisive victory over French and Bavarian armies, many of whose soldiers were chased into the nearby Danube river. Bavaria withdrew from the war as a result. Back to Line
12] Anna: Queen Anne (1701-1714). The Act of Union, passed in 1707, had joined the parliaments of Scotland and England to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Back to Line
13] mitred: wearing a mitre, the ceremonial headgear of a bishop of the Church of England. Robinson wore his ecclesiatical robes while acting as a diplomat in Utrecht, so this is not merely a figure of speech. Back to Line
16] In the seventeenth century, Sweden had extensive dominions on the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic; in 1700 an alliance led by Augustus II of Saxony and Peter the Great of Russia initiated a series of hostilities against the young Swedish king Charles XII that came to be known as the Great Northern War, and did not end until 1721. Back to Line
20] Elliptical: "to make life on Earth less harsh by international alliances, and to gain the favour of Heaven by prayer." Back to Line
22] crosier: the staff carried by a bishop, symbolizing his role as shepherd of his flock. Back to Line
23] Moses: see Exodus 7-10, especially 7: 19-25 for the bloody waters, and 10: 12-15 for the locusts; to initiate each plague Moses stretches his rod ("Jehovah's wand") over the land of Egypt. Back to Line
28] almonds: see Numbers 17: 1-9. Back to Line
33] Strafford: Thomas Wentworth, first Earl of Strafford (1672-1739), a soldier turned diplomat, served as second British plenipotentiary to the peace talks at Utrecht. Back to Line
35] Isis: the river that flows through the city of Oxford, subsequently becoming the Thames. Tickell was a Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford, and his first major poem was entitled Oxford (1706); he shared this enthusiasm for Oxford with Robinson, a notably loyal and generous alumnus of the University. Back to Line
45] Gaul: Louis XIV, King of France (1643-1715). His armies had been largely victorious in the later seventeenth century, but suffered severe defeats in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13). Back to Line
47] leaders bound: such as Marshal Tallard, captured at the battle of Blenheim. Back to Line
48] bulwarks: Marlborough conducted numerous successful siege operations, notably at Lille (1708), Mons (1709), and Bouchain (1711). Back to Line
49] pow'rs: armies. Back to Line
56] mines: sources of gold. Back to Line
58] infant race: Predeceased both by his son (1711) and his grandson (1712), Louis XIV's heir and successor was his great-grandson, the future Louis XV, a boy of two in 1712. Back to Line
61] suspended: in May 1712 the Tory ministry ordered British forces to cease operations against the French. Back to Line
78] social clarions: trumpet-calls are no longer summons to military action but to friendly activities. Back to Line
91] Spain; when the childless Charles II of Spain died in 1700 his will left Spain first to Philip of Anjou, a grandson of Louis XIV, second to Philip's younger brother, and third to the Archduke Charles of Austria, all of whom had significant claims on account of their ancestry. Philip accepted the Spanish throne, and ruled as Philip V. Some parts of Spain, especially Catalonia, preferred the Archduke Charles, and Britain, Portugal, the United Provinces (the Netherlands) and several German princes, alarmed by the immediate prospect of a French king of Spain and the more distant one of a union of the two crowns, went to war with Louis XIV and Philip V in favour of the Archduke. Charles, however, was unable to extend his rule beyond Catalonia, and when in 1711 the unexpected death of his elder brother made him the Holy Roman Emperor, the prospect of a union of Austria and Spain proved as unpalatable as a union of Spain and France. Philip V formally renounced all claims to the French throne, and the war was slowly brought to an end, first by secret negotiations between Britain and France, and then by the processes of official diplomacy in which Robinson was engaged. Back to Line
98] various fate: at the various things that happened to him. Back to Line
102] mines: here, explosive charges placed in tunnels dug under enemy fortifications. Back to Line
105] the bard: Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queene. Tickell's allusions are to Book I. Back to Line
106] palfrey'd dames: ladies riding horses suitable for female riders. Back to Line
109] paynims: non-Christians. Back to Line
113] Flandria: Flanders, now the Belgian provinces of East and West Flanders, and a part of north-eastern France; many of the battles of the of war had been fought here. Back to Line
114] Germania: referring particularly to the battle of Blenheim in Bavaria. Back to Line
117] Stepney: George Stepney (1663-1707), a diplomat expert in German affairs, who composed a Latin inscription for a marble pillar to be erected on the battlefield of Blenheim; after detailing the captured officers and men, the 14,000 enemy slain and 4,000 "push'd into the Danube," this salutes the allied leaders Prince Eugene and "John, Duke of Marlborough, an Englishman, who under the happy influence of his mistress, Queen Anne," conducted the campaign that led to the glorious victory. Back to Line
119] Household: the Gens d'Armes, elite French troops. Tallard: the duc de Tallard, Marshal of France, was the senior French commander at Blenheim; he was captured by the British. He was well known in England, where he had been French ambassador (1700-1702). Back to Line
123] When . . . perceiv'd: "when they perceived Churchill's arm [raised against them] they did not delay" Back to Line
126] drove . . . head: "forced the river to flow backwards to its distant source." Back to Line
127] Raphael: Rafaello Santi (1483-1520), Italian Renaissance painter, highly esteemed in England. Kneller: Sir Godfrey Kneller (1746-1723), German painter who lived and worked in England from 1674 until his death; highly esteemed as a portrait painter. See l. 320 and note. Back to Line
129] Landen: at the battle of Landen (1693), a French victory over British and Dutch forces led by William III, James Butler, second Duke of Ormond (1665-1745) was taken prisoner. In 1711 he replaced Marlborough as Captain-General and was thus commander of British forces at the time of the poem's publication. See below, line 265. Back to Line
130] Ammon: Alexander the Great, who won a great victory over the Persian emperor Darius in 334 BCE after crossing the river Granicus; he had a famous warhorse named Bucephalus. Back to Line
131] the work: military activity; a battle. Back to Line
132] champs the foamy gold: bites impatiently on the spittle-covered bit. Back to Line
133] Hocstet: Hochstaedt, a town near Blenheim; alternative name for the battle. Back to Line
140] plough-shares: perhaps an allusion to Isaiah 2: 4. Back to Line
142] mine: here, the tunnel in which in war an explosive charge would be placed. Back to Line
147] the man: this denunciation of the first royal tyrant is a veiled attack on Louis XIV. Back to Line
157] hind: peasant. spoil: pillage (by soldiers); perhaps a reference to Marlborough's devastation of Bavaria in 1704. Back to Line
163] prove: put to the proof; test; here almost with the sense "threaten." Back to Line
171] Vandal: since the sack of Rome by the Vandals in 455, the prototypical barbarian destroyer. Back to Line
173] Scythia: a vague term, covering everything north and east of the Black Sea; associated always with barbarism and warfare. Back to Line
175] Bellona: in classical mythology, goddess of war. Back to Line
176] Tartar clans: like the Cossacks, associated with the steppes of central Asia. Back to Line
177] steel'd: both rendered obdurate, and equipped with steel weapons. Back to Line
190] Nereids: in classical mythology, nymphs of the sea. Back to Line
204] union-crosses: the union flag, combining the crosses of St. Andrew (Scotland) and St. George (England); flown by British naval vessels since the union of crowns in 1603. Back to Line
211] The King: Peter I (" the Great") of Russia (1682-1725), who, seeking diplomatic and military alliances against the Ottoman Empire, in 1697-98 went on a "Grand Embassy" to the countries of western Europe. He spent much time learning about and even practising the arts and technology that he found there, especially ship-building and urban planning. On his return he introduced many measures to modernize Russia. His "harness'd millions" had won a crushing victory over the Swedish Charles XII at Poltava in 1709 Back to Line
221] Caspian gulfs: Tsar Peter had founded a Russian naval base at Taganrog on the Sea of Azov in 1698, and had deployed his forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1710. Back to Line
222] runic: while the word here means little more than "Scandinavian," it is a covert nod to Robinson, who had presented two Swedish rune stones to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Smolensk is an ancient city of strategic importance on the headwaters of the river Dnieper in western Russia. Back to Line
224] kings of India: the four so-called "Indian kings," representatives of the Iroquois Confederacy, were brought to England in 1710 by Sir Francis Nicholson, a former governor of Virginia and Maryland, to raise support for the "Great Design," a scheme to attack French possessions in what is now Nova Scotia, much favoured in New England. The "kings" were a huge public relations success in London. They met with Queen Anne, who presented them with silver Communion vessels, and their portraits were painted by John Verelst, a court painter. The portraits, now the property of National Portrait Gallery of Canada, show the "kings" standing, all with painted faces; three carry weapons, while the fourth holds an ecclesiatical scarf to symbolize their conversion to Christianity. Back to Line
240] o'er his head: the merchant probably belongs to the Muscovy Company, which shipped goods from Britain to Russia round the North Cape into the White Sea port of Arkhangelsk. Back to Line
242] line: the Equator. Back to Line
243] India: where the East India Company traded. Back to Line
246] nearer suns: in reference to the ancient belief that gemstones were created by the action of the sun on materials beneath the earth's surface; the hotter the sun, the more numerous and larger the stones would be. Back to Line
249] coins: here used interchangeably with "medals;" "field" is a pun, signifying both the surface of the medal on which a design or lettering appears, and a field of battle that is the subject of a commemorative medal. There is probably here a covert compliment to Joseph Addison, who had written his Dialogues upon the Usefulness of Ancient Medals about 1702 while travelling on the Continent, but did not publish them in his lifetime. Tickell may well have seen the work in manuscript. Back to Line
251] clear: resolve. Back to Line
252] In circling beams: Tickell now imagines how some commemorative medals might look. Back to Line
255] Webb: Major-General John Richmond Webb (1667-1724); the reference is probably to his defeat of a much larger French force at the battle of Wijnendale (1708), which saved vital supplies from capture. Lumley: Major-General Henry Lumley (c.1658-1722) served in all Marlborough's victorious campaigns. Back to Line
256] Mordaunt: Charles Mordaunt, third Earl of Peterborough (1658?-1735), who waged brilliant but unorthodox campaigns in Spain (Iberia) in 1707-09. Back to Line
257] Campbell: Sir James Campbell of Lawers (c. 1680-1745) served in all Marlborough's victorious campaigns, and played a vital role as commander of the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons at the battle of Maplaquet (1709). Back to Line
258] Ormond: see above, line 136; after an unsuccessful attack on Cadiz, he captured most of the cargo of the Spanish treasure fleet at Vigo in 1702. Back to Line
259] Guiscard: Antoine de Guiscard, a French spy who posed as a refugee; while being interrogated at a meeting of ministers, he drew a knife and stabbed Robert Harley (1661-1724), the Lord Treasurer; the blade broke on the gold-thread embroidery of Harley's coat; Tickell implies that Chilean gold seized at Vigo caused this French assassination attempt to fail. Back to Line
261] Granville: George Granville (1666-1735), having established a literary reputation as a playwright and lyric poet, became active in politics as a Tory in the first decade of the eighteenth century, serving as Secretary at War in Harley's adminstration from 1710 to 1712. In January 1712 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Lansdowne, one of the twelve Tory peers created by Queen Anne to ensure a government majority in the House of Lords. While he is cited as a poet, his pro-peace political stance is not irrelevant here. Back to Line
266] numbers: versification. Back to Line
270] raise their battles: bring back their battles (by recounting them). Back to Line
274] Henry: Woodstock Palace was a royal residence for centuries, and a favourite of Henry II (1154-89). Here he dallied with his mistress, the "fair" Rosamond Clifford (d. 1175-76), building her a "bower" or complex of buildings where she could remain secluded. But legend relates that Henry's Queen Eleanor tracked her down, and forced her to choose between stabbing and poison; Rosamond chose the poison. Whatever the truth about her death, she was buried at a convent nearby at Godstow, which was richly endowed by the King in her memory. Addison's opera based on this story, Rosamond, produced in 1707, was designed to flatter both Queen Anne and the Duke of Marlborough following the Queen's gift to him of the manor of Woodstock and the vote of money by Parliament to build Blenheim Palace on the site of the former royal palace. Tickell, who had already published a poet praising Rosamond, follows the same line, adding further flattery by repeating its central theme in the paragraph that follows. Chaucer: the poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343?-1400), who as a young man in the household of the countess of Ulster, wife of Prince Lionel, a son of Edward III, would have visited Woodstock and other royal residences. The house of his son Thomas Chaucer still stands in the town of Woodstock. Back to Line
280] dome: imposing building. Back to Line
281] champion: the Duke of Marlborough. Back to Line
290] fondly: foolishly. Back to Line
294] coursers: hounds trained to hunt by sight rather than by scent. Back to Line
311] dissembled trophies: representations in sculpture of captured military equipment. Back to Line
313] Kneller: Sir Godfrey Kneller, court painter to six English monarchs, painted portraits almost exclusively, and Tickell is here imagining a narrative painting that was never painted. Back to Line
314] Bourbon: the king of France, Louis XIV. Back to Line
318] trumps: trumpets. Back to Line
322] Hesperian: probably here "Spanish," but there is also perhaps a reference to the gold thread in the embroidery on the French generals' coats; see note to line 455. Back to Line
323] Boian: the Boii were a migratory people, today represented only by the "Bo" of Bologna and Bohemia, two places where they settled. Caesar encountered them in his campaigns in Gaul, and Tacitus in his book on Germany locates them between the Rhine and the Main rivers; hence here "Bavarian." Back to Line
325] Churchill's race: a delicate point, because Marlborough's sons had died young, and he had no male heir. Back to Line
331] animated frame: the lovers Mars and Venus made a popular mythological subject for Renaissance and Baroque painters; Tickell seems to be describing the version by Nicloas Poussin (1694-1665). The painting, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, came to England in the 1730s. Tickell may have known it in an engraving. Back to Line
333] fauchion: sword. Back to Line
335] Tityon: like Typhon, a gigantic monster and enemy of the gods in classical mythology. Back to Line
340] whiter rounds: more fortunate cycles. Back to Line
349] Cypress and bays: cypress for mourning, bays (laurels) for victory. Back to Line
359] Dormer: Philip Dormer, lieutenant-colonel of the first regiment of Foot Guards, was killed at Blenheim. His younger brother James (1679-1741), a captain in the same regiment, was seriously wounded but survived to have a long and distinguished military career. Back to Line
365] main: ocean. Peru: not the modern country of Peru, but all the Spanish possessions west of Brazil; often, as here, equivalent to "as far as you can go." Back to Line
370] line and poles: the Equator and the North and South Poles. Back to Line
371] sever'd: separated into parts. Back to Line
374] Gibraltar: captured by a British force in 1704. Back to Line
377] Dunkirk: port in northern France, long dangerous to British commerce because it served as a base for privateers. Dunkirk had belonged to the Spanish Netherlands until 1658, when it surrendered to France and was handed over to England; Charles II sold it back to France in 1662, after which it was heavily fortified as a base for naval operations, thus becoming a military threat. The Jacobite Pretender launched an unsuccessful invasion of England from Dunkirk in 1708. In July 1712 it became "a guiltless shore" when, in accordance with the preliminary peace agreement between France and Britain, a British force occupied Dunkirk to supervise the destruction of the fortifications and the filling-in of the harbour. Back to Line
378] tore the narrow ground: opened up the English Channel. It was a current geographical theory that Britain had been separated from the Continent either by the Flood or by a violent earthquake. Back to Line
380] Genius: presiding spirit. Back to Line
385] Colossus: one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a statue that stood over the entrance to the harbour of the city of Rhodes. In likening Britain bestriding the English Channel to the statue, Tickell wildly overstates its size; the Colossus was about 30 metres high. Back to Line
391] Britain's empire: Dunkirk in 1712 was under British military control, but was not and was never supposed to be British territory. Back to Line
392] transfus'd: alluding to the belief that souls existed independently of bodies, so that the same soul might be "poured" into different bodies. father: Sir Edward Harley (1624-1700), Robert's father, had been dismissed as governor of Dunkirk by Charles II in 1661 because he opposed the King's intention to sell Dunkirk to France. Back to Line
402] bulwarks: Louis XIV's famous military architect Vauban had turned Dunkirk into one of the most heavily fortified cities in Europe. Back to Line
406] Holland repining: the Dutch were unhappy because their ally Britain had secretly negotiated a separate peace with France and effectively withdrawn from the war without securing Dutch interests. Back to Line
410] olive: the olive branch symbolizing peace. Back to Line
412] banks: the dykes protecting large areas of the Netherlands from the sea. Back to Line
414] vice-gerent of the skies: Tickell addresses Queen Anne as God`s deputy, given authority to act in His place. To so address the sovereign implies acceptance of the concept of monarchy as a sacred institution. Back to Line
415] in robes: among the great and powerful. Back to Line
420] the soldier: the common soldier. late: recently. Back to Line
421] Shall rear new temples: in 1711 Parliament imposed a tax on coal shipped to London to support the building of fifty new churches in London. Back to Line
422] mistaken zealots: dissenters from the Church of England, such as Baptists and Congregationalists. Back to Line
427] mantling: enveloping. Back to Line
431] roll his orb: alluding to the belief that each planet and star in the heavens was guided in its motion by an angel. Back to Line
436] tow'ry: the Church of England is towery because of the towers and spires of its churches. Back to Line
441] Oxford's Earl: Robert Harley, Queen Anne's chief minister from 1710, was created first Earl of Oxford and Mortimer in May, 1711. Back to Line
443] glebe: portion of the earth's surface. Back to Line
445] the prize: the Asiento, the right to ship slaves from Africa to the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean and South America, was held by France; Harley secured its transfer to Britain for thirty years in the Treaty of Utrecht. Back to Line
446] the store: the treasure. Back to Line
447] Hesperian gold: the golden apples that Zeus gave to Hera on their marriage were watched over by the three nymphs known as the Hesperides (daughters of Hesperos, or "western"); a dragon that never slept lay under the tree on which they grew. Back to Line
453] Harcourt: Simon Harcourt, first Viscount Harcourt (1661-1727), a successful barrister and Tory politician, had a keen interest in literature. Back to Line
454] Bolingbroke: Henry St. John (1678-1751), served as Secretary at War from 1704 to 1708; as Secretary of State for the Northern Department (1710-1714) he was officially responsible for the peace negotiations with France. He was created Viscount Bolingbroke in July 1712. He extended patronage to a number of writers, usually for political reasons. Back to Line
458] vital streams: of blood; referring to William Harvey's establishment of its circulation in the human body in 1628. Back to Line
462] Iris: in classical mythology, the rainbow. Back to Line
467] Congreve: William Congreve (1670-1729), had written four comedies in the 1690s, but ceased to write for the stage after the relative unsuccess of The Way of the World in 1700. Back to Line
468] Rowe: Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), author of successful tragedies depicting female distress, such as The Fair Penitent (1703). Back to Line
469] Spectators: The Spectator, the periodical of essays published six days a week, edited and largely written by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele (1672-1729), between 1 March 1711 and 6 December 1712. Tickell alludes to Addison's program announced in #10: "I shall endeavour to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality . . . . till I have recovered [my readers] out of that desperate state of vice and folly into which the age is fallen." Back to Line
473] Prior: Matthew Prior (1664-1721) was Harley's personal representative to the French court, and played an important role in the peace negotiations; he was also an accomplished and popular poet with a talent for narrative. Back to Line
477] Garth: Sir Samuel Garth (1664-1719), eminent physician and poet, author of The Dispensary (1699), an enormously successful mock-heroic satire on a medical controversy. Back to Line
479] Pope: Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Back to Line
481] Philips: Ambrose Philips (1674-1749), whose Pastorals in the manner of Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calender had been published in 1709: a friend of Addison's. Back to Line
483] youth: William Harrison (1685-1713), an Oxford contemporary of Tickell's; his poems Woodstock Park and On His Grace the Duke of Marlborough Going to Holland (both 1707) had made an impression. He went to Holland in 1711 as secretary to Thomas Wentworth (then Lord Raby and ambassador-extraordinary to the United Provinces; later Lord Strafford and second-ranking plenipotentiary to the treaty negotiations at Utrecht); in 1712 Harrison was appointed the Queen' secretary to the Utrecht peace conference. He returned to London on a diplomatic mission in January 1713, fell ill, and died. Back to Line
484] To . . . join: Strafford's praises of him shall join Bristol's; i.e., they will both sing his praises. Back to Line
485] He: the Rev. Joseph Trapp (1679-1747), fellow of Wadham College and first Professor of Poetry (1708-18) at Oxford; Tickell had deputized for him in 1711. Back to Line
497] cloister'd domes: in the buildings of the The Queen's College, Oxford, founded in 1341 in honour of Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III of England. Tickell had entered the College as an undergraduate and had been a Fellow since 1710. Back to Line
499] Henry: tradition alleged that the future Henry V spent some time at The Queen's College in 1398, when he was thirteen years old; modern historians doubt this. Back to Line
500] Cressy: the important victory over the king of France won by Edward III at Crécy in 1346. Back to Line
503] Lancaster: William Lancaster (1649/50-1717), Provost of The Queen's College from 1704 until his death, was an eager promoter of the literary merits of Addison and Tickell. Back to Line
506] Addison: he enrolled first as an undergraduate at The Queen's College; he made such an impression on Lancaster, then a Fellow, that Lancaster urged him to apply for a foundation scholarship at Magdalen College. Addison's Latin poems, written at the University, won the approval of Boileau, the greatest French poet of the age, and his English poems of the 1690s laid the basis of his later career in letters and in public office. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Addison refers to this poem as a recent publication on 30 October 1712; the title-page is dated 1713, but such postdating is common during the last three months of the year at this period.
RPO poem Editors: 
John D. Baird
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

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