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Till from their maintop joyful news they hear
This mighty succour, which made glad the foe;
Never till now unwilling to obey:
And think them happy who with him can stay.
Then to the rest, “Rejoice,' said he, "to-day !
'In you the fortune of Great Britain lies; * Among so brave a people you are they
“Whom Heaven has chose to fight for such a prize.
'If number English courages could quell,
"We should at first have shunned, not met our foes,
To their known stations cheerfully they go;
But bold in others, not themselves, they stood :
But seemed to wander in a moving wood.
VIRG. (Æn. ii. 213.]
79 Our little fleet was now engaged so far
That like the sword-fish in the whale they fought; The combat only seemed a civil war,
Till through their bowels we our passage wrought.
80 Never had valour, no, not ours before
Done aught like this upon the land or main; Where not to be o'ercome was to do more
Than all the conquests former Kings did gain.
The mighty ghosts of our great Harrys rose,
And armed Edwards looked with anxious eyes, To see this fleet among unequal foes, By which Fate promised them their Charles should
Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear,
Who on their lions for the prey attend.
Silent in smoke of cannon they come on:
Such vapours once did fiery Cacus hiden:
Who burn contented by another's side.
Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Deceived themselves or to preserve some friend, Two grappling Ætnas on the ocean meet And English fires with Belgian flames contend,
* • Ille autem.' [Virg. Æn. viii. 251.]
Now at each tack our little fleet grows less;
And, like maimed fowl, swim lagging on the main; Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess, While they lose cheaper than the English gain.
86 Have you not seen when, whistled from the fist,
Some falcon stoops at what her eye designed, And, with her eagerness the quarry missed,
Straight flies at check and clips it down the wind;
The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing
And sees the groves no shelter can afford, With her loud caws her craven kind does bring, Who, safe in numbers, cuff the noble bird.
He could not conquer and disdained to fly:
To see those perish who so well had fought; And generously with his despair he strove, Resolved to live till he their safety wrought.
90 Let other muses write his prosperous fate,
Of conquered nations tell and kings restored; But mine shall sing of his eclipsed estate, Which, like the sun's, more wonders does afford.
91 He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs; His weak ones deep into his rear he bore
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.
His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
And following smoke obscured them from the foe; Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptian's pride, By flaming pillars and by clouds did go.
93 Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our courages did theirs subdue; So Xenophon once led that famed retreat Which first the Asian empire overthrew.
94 The foe approached; and one for his bold sin
Was sunk, as he that touched the Ark was slain: The wild waves mastered him and sucked him in,
And smiling eddies dimpled on the main.
This seen, the rest at awful distance stood :
As if they had been there as servants set To stay or to go on, as he thought good, And not pursue, but wait on his retreat.
96 So Libyan huntsmen on some sandy plain,
From shady coverts roused, the lion chase: The kingly beast roars out with loud disdain,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place o.
97 But if some one approach to dare his force,'
He swings his tail and swiftly turns him round, With one paw seizes on his trembling horse,
And with the other tears him to the ground.
• The simile is Virgil's : •Vestigia retro improperata refert.' [More fully and correctly :
• Haud aliter retro dubius vestigia Turnus
Æn. ix. 797.]
Now hissing waters the quenched guns restore :
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play,
And deeply mused on the succeeding day 9.
“That happy sun,' said he, 'will rise again,
Who twice victorious did our navy see,
Without one ray of all his star for me.
'Yet like an English general will I die,
And all the ocean make my spacious grave:
Till the fresh air proclaimed the morning nigh;
His naked valour is his only guard ;
And solitary guns are scarcely heard.
p Weary waves, from Statius :
* Nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus : occidit horror
[Sylv. v. 4, 5.] 9 The 3rd of June, famous for two former victories.