Mark Akenside

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Occasion'd by the Insults of the Spaniards, and the present Preparations for War, 1738.

Whence this unwonted Transport in my Breast?
Why glow my Thoughts, and whither would the Muse
Aspire with rapid Wing? Her Country's Cause
Demands her Efforts; at that sacred Call
She summons all her Ardor, throws aside
The trembling Lyre, and with the Warrior Trump
She means to thunder in each British Ear.
And if one Spark of Courage, Sense of Fame,
Disdain of Insult, Dread of Infamy,
One Thought of public Virtue yet survive,
She means to wake it, rouze the gen'rous Flame,
With Patriot Zeal inspirit ev'ry Breast,
And fire each British Heart with British Wrongs.

Alas the vain Attempt! what Influence now
Can the Muse boast? Or what Attention now
Is paid to Fame and Virtue? Where is now
The British Spirit, generous, warm and brave,
So frequent known from Tyranny and Woe
To free the suppliant Nations? Where, indeed!
If that Protection, once to Strangers giv'n,
Be now withheld from Sons? Each kindling Thought
That warm'd our Sires, is lost,
In Luxury and Av'rice.—Baneful Vice!
How it unmans a Nation! Yet I'll try,
I'll aim to shake this vile degen'rate Sloth;
I'll dare to rouze Britannia's dreaming Sons
To Fame, to Virtue, and impart around
A generous Feeling of compatriot Woes.

Come then the various Pow'rs of forceful Speech!
All that can charm, awaken, fire, transport;
Come the bold Ardor of the Theban Bard!
Th'arouzing Thunder of the Patriot Greek!
The soft Persuasion of the Roman Sage!
Come all! and raise me to an equal Height,
A Rapture worthy of my glorious Cause!
Lest my best Efforts failing should debase
The sacred Theme; for with no common Wing
The Muse attempts to soar. Yet what need these?
My Country's Fame, my free-born British Heart
Shall be my best Inspirers, raise my Flight
High as the Theban's Pinion, and with more
Than Greek or Roman Ardor fire my Soul,
—And animate my Numbers. Were there Words
Expressive of the Thoughts that glow within,
Oh! could I give the vast Ideas Birth,
No more should lazy Luxury detain
Our martial Youth; no more should Britain's Sons
Sit meanly passive, and regardless hear
The Prayers, Sighs, Groans, (immortal Infamy!)
Of fellow Britons, with Oppression sunk,
In Bitterness of Soul demanding Aid,
Calling on Britain their dear native Land,
The Land of Liberty; so greatly fam'd
For just Redress; the Land so often dy'd
With her best Blood, for that arouzing Cause,
The Freedom of her Sons; those Sons that now,
Far from the Blessings of her easy Sway,
Drag the vile Fetters of a Spanish Lord.
And dare they, dare the vanquish'd Sons of Spain
Enslave a Briton? Have they then forgot,
So soon forgot the great, th'immortal Day,
When rescu'd Sicily with Joy beheld
The swift-wing'd Thunder of the British Arm
Disperse their Navies? When their coward Bands
Fled, like the Raven from the Bird of Jove,
From dread impending Vengeance fled in vain?
Are these our Lords? And can Britannia see
Her Foes, oft vanquish'd, thus defy her Pow'r,
Insult her Standard, and enslave her Sons;
Yet not arise to Justice? Did our Sires,
Unaw'd by Chains, by Exile, or by Death,
Preserve inviolate her guardian Rights,
And sacred ev'n to Britons! that their Sons
Should give them up to Spaniards?—Turn your Eyes,
Turn ye Degen'rate, who with haughty Boast
Call yourselves Britons, to that dismal Gloom,
That Dungeon dark and deep, where never Thought
Of Joy or Peace can enter; see the Gates
Harsh-creaking open; what an hideous Void,
Dark as the yawning Grave! while still as Death
A frightful Silence reigns: There on the Ground
Behold your Brethren, chain'd like Beasts of Prey:
There mark your num'rous Glories, there behold
The Look that speaks unutterable Woe;
The mangled Limb, the faint, the deathful Eye
With Famine sunk, the deep heart-bursting Groan
Suppress'd in Silence; view the loathsome Food,
Refus'd by Dogs, and oh! the stinging Thought!
View the dark Spaniard glorying in their Wrongs,
The deadly Priest triumphant in their Woes,
And thundering worst Damnation on their Souls:
While that pale Form in all the Pangs of Death,
Too faint to speak, yet eloquent of all
His native British Spirit yet untam'd,
Raises his Head, and with indignant Frowns
Of great Defiance, and superior Scorn,
Looks up and dies—Oh! I am all on fire!—
But let me spare the Theme, lest future Times
Should blush to hear that either conquer'd Spain
Durst offer Britain such outrageous Wrong,
Or Britain tamely bore it.—

Descend, ye guardian Heroes of the Land!
Scourges of Spain, descend! Behold your Sons!
See! how they run the same heroic Race,
How prompt, how ardent in their Country's Cause,
How greatly proud t'assert their British Blood,
And in their Deeds reflect their Fathers Fame!
Ah! would to Heav'n! ye did not rather see
How dead to Virtue, in the public Cause!
How cold, how careless, how to Glory deaf,
They shame your Laurels, and belie their Birth!

Come, ye great Spirits, Ca'endish, Rawleigh, Blake!
And ye of later Name your Country's Pride,
Oh! come, disperse these lazy Fumes of Sloth,
Teach British Hearts with British Fires to glow!
In wakening Whispers rouze our martial Youth,
Blazon the Triumphs of your better Days,
Paint all the glorious Scenes of rightful War
In all it's Splendors; to their swelling Souls
Say how ye bow'd th'insulting Spaniard's Pride,
Say how ye thunder'd o'er their prostrate Heads,
Say how ye broke their Lines, and fir'd their Ports;
Say how not Death in all its frightful Shapes
Could damp your Souls, or shake the great Resolve
For Right and Britain: Then display the Joys
The Patriot's Soul exalting, while he views
Transported Millions hail with loud Acclaim
The Guardian of their civil, sacred Rights:
How greatly welcome to the virtuous Man
To fall for others Good; the radiant Thoughts
That beam cælestial on his passing Soul,
Th'unfading Crowns awaiting him above,
Th'exalting Plaudit of the great Supreme,
Who in his Actions with Complacence views
His own reflected Image. Then descend
Tho' to a lower, yet a noble Scene;
Paint the just Honours to his Relicts paid,
Shew grateful Millions weeping o'er his Grave;
While his fair Fame in each progressive Age
For ever brightens; and the Wise and Good
Of every Land in universal Choir
With richest Incense of undying Praise
His Urn encircle, to the wondering World
His num'rous Triumphs blazon; while with Awe,
With filial Rev'rence in his Steps they tread,
And copying every Virtue, every Fame,
Transplant his Glories into second Life,
And with unsparing Hand make Nations blest
By his Example. Vast, immense Rewards!
For all the Turmoils which th'heroic Mind
Encounters here. Yet, Britons, are ye cold,
Yet deaf to Glory, Virtue, and the Call
Of your dear, wrong'd, insulted Country?—No,
I see ye are not; ev'ry Bosom glows
With native Greatness, and in all its State
The British Spirit rises: Glorious Change!
Fame, Virtue, Freedom, welcome! O! forgive
The Muse that ardent in her sacred Cause
Your Glory question'd: She beholds with Joy,
She owns, she triumphs, in her wish'd Mistake.

See! from her Sea-beat Throne in awful March
Britannia tow'rs; upon her Laurel'd Crest
The Plumes majestic nod; behold! she heaves
Her Guardian Shield, and terrible in Arms
For Battle shakes her adamantine Spear:
Loud at her Foot the British Lion roars,
Frighting the Nations; haughty Spain full soon
Shall hear and tremble. Go then, Britons, forth,
Your Country's daring Champions; tell your Foes,
Tell them in Thunders o'er their bending Land
You were not born for Slaves: Let all your Deeds
Shew that the Sons of those immortal Men,
The Stars of shining Story, are not slow
In Honour's Path to emulate their Sires,
T'assert their Country's Rights, to guard her Sons,
To hurl the Bolts of Justice on her Foes,
And with new Laurels Crown the British Fame.

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