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When humbly on the royal babe we gaze,
The manly lines of a majestic face
Give awful joy; 'tis paradise to look
On the fair frontispiece of nature's book.
If the first opening page so charms the sight,
Think how the unfolded volume will delight!
See how the venerable* infant lies
In early pomp; how through the mother's eyes
The father's soul, with an undaunted view,
Looks out, and takes our homage as his due!
See on his future subjects how he smiles,
Nor meanly flatters, nor with craft beguiles;
But with an open face, as on his throne,
Assures our birthrights, and assumes his own.
Born in broad day-light, that the ungrateful rout
May find no room for a remaining doubt;†
Truth, which itself is light, does darkness shun,
And the true eaglet safely dares the sun.
Fain would the fiends have made a dubious birth,
Loth to confess the godhead clothed in earth;
But, sicken'd after all their baffled lies,
To find an heir apparent in the skies,
Abandon'd to despair, still may they grudge,
And, owning not the Saviour, prove the judge.
Not great Æneas stood in plainer day,
When the dark mantling mist dissolved away;
* Venerable is here used in its original sense, as deserving of veneration. But the epithet has been so commonly connected with old age, that a modern poet would hardly venture to apply it to an infant.
Alluding to the temptation in the wilderness.
Restitit Eneas, clarâque in luce refulsit,
Os, humerosque deo similis; namque ipsa decoram
Cæsariem nato genetrix, lumenque juventæ
Purpureum, ei lætos oculis afflarat honores.
He to the Tyrians shew'd his sudden face,
Shining with all his goddess mother's grace;
For she herself had made his countenance bright,
Breath'd honour on his eyes, and her own purple light.
If our victorious Edward,* as they say,
Gave Wales a prince on that propitious day,
Why may not years revolving with his fate
Produce his like, but with a longer date;
One, who may carry to a distant shore
The terror that his famed forefather bore?
But why should James, or his young hero, stay
For slight presages of a name or day?
We need no Edward's fortune to adorn
That happy moment when our prince was born;
Our prince adorns this day, and ages hence
Shall wish his birth-day for some future prince.
Great Michael,t prince of all the etherial hosts,
And whate'er inborn saints our Britain boasts;
And thou, the adopted patron ‡ of our isle,
With cheerful aspects on this infant smile!
The pledge of heaven, which, dropping from above,
Secures our bliss, and reconciles his love.
Enough of ills our dire rebellion wrought,
When to the dregs we drank the bitter draught;
Then airy atoms did in plagues conspire,
Nor did the avenging angel yet retire,
But purged our still-increasing crimes with fire.§
Then perjured plots,|| the still impending test,**
And worse-ft but charity conceals the rest.
*Edward the Black Prince, born on Trinity Sunday. + The motto of the poem explained.
+ St George.
The great Civil War. § The Fire of London. The Popish plot.
++ The death of the Jesuits, executed for the Plot.
Here stop the current of the sanguine flood;
Require not, gracious God! thy martyrs' blood;
But let their dying pangs, their living toil,
Spread a rich harvest through their native soil;
A harvest ripening for another reign,
Of which this royal babe may reap the grain.
Enough of early saints one womb has given,
Enough increased the family of heaven ;*
Let them for his and our atonement go,
And, reigning blest above, leave him to rule below.
Enough already has the year foreslow'd
His wonted course, the sea has overflow'd,
The meads were floated with a weeping spring,
And frighten'd birds in woods forgot to sing;
The strong-limb'd steed beneath his harness faints,
And the same shivering sweat his lord attaints.t
When will the minister of wrath give o'er?
Behold him at Araunah's threshing-floor!
He stops, and seems to sheathe his flaming brand,
Pleased with burnt incense from our David's hand;‡
David has bought the Jebusite's abode,
And raised an altar to the living God.
Heaven, to reward him, makes his joys sincere; No future ills nor accidents appear,
To sully and pollute the sacred infant's year.
Five months to discord and debate were given ;||
He sanctifies the yet remaining seven.
Sabbath of months! henceforth in him be blest,
And prelude to the realm's perpetual rest!
Let his baptismal drops for us atone ;§
Lustrations for offences not his own:
*All the queen's former children died in infancy. + The year 1688, big with so many events of importance, commenced very unfavourably with stormy weather, and an epidemical distemper among men and cattle.
Original sin, supposed to be washed off by baptism.
Let conscience, which is interest ill disguised,* In the same font be cleansed, and all the land baptized.
Unnamed+ as yet; at least unknown to fame;
Is there a strife in heaven about his name,
Where every famous predecessor vies,
And makes a faction for it in the skies?
Or must it be reserved to thought alone?
Such was the sacred Tetragrammaton.‡
Things worthy silence must not be reveal'd;
Thus the true name of Rome§ was kept conceal'd,
To shun the spells and sorceries of those,
Who durst her infant majesty oppose.
But when his tender strength in time shall rise
To dare ill tongues, and fascinating eyes,
This isle, which hides the little Thunderer's fame,
Shall be too narrow to contain his name.
The artillery of heaven shall make him known; Crete | could not hold the god, when Jove was
As Jove's increase, who from his brain was born, Whom arms and arts did equally adorn, Free of the breast was bred, whose milky taste Minerva's name to Venus had debased; So this imperial babe rejects the food, That mixes monarch's with plebeian blood,**
* See "The Hind and the Panther," p. 224.
†The prince christened, but not named.
Jehovah, or the name of God, unlawful to be pronounced by the Jews. DRYDEN.
§ Some authors say, that the true name of Rome was kept a secret, ne hostes incantamentis deos elicerent. DRYDEN.
|| Candia, where Jupiter was born and lived secretly. DRYDEN. ¶ Pallas, or Minerva, said by the poets to have been bred up by hand. DRYden.
** The prince had no wet nurse.
Food that his inborn courage might controul,
Extinguish all the father in his soul,
And for his Estian race, and Saxon strain,
Might reproduce some Second Richard's reign.
Mildness he shares from both his parents' blood;
But kings too tame are despicably good.
Be this the mixture of this regal child,
By nature manly, but by virtue mild.
Thus far the furious transport of the news
Had to prophetic madness fired the muse;
Madness ungovernable, uninspired,
Swift to foretel whatever she desired.
Was it for me the dark abyss to tread,
And read the book which angels cannot read?
How was I punish'd, when the sudden blast*
The face of heaven, and our young sun, o'ercast !
Fame, the swift ill increasing as she roll'd,
Disease, despair, and death, at three reprises told.
At three insulting strides she stalk'd the town,
And, like contagion, struck the loyal down.
Down fell the winnow'd wheat; but, mounted high,
The whirlwind bore the chaff, and hid the sky.
Here black rebellion shooting from below,
(As earth's gigantic brood by moments grow,)
And here the sons of God are petrified with woe.
An apoplex of grief! so low were driven
The saints, as hardly to defend their heaven.
As, when pent vapours run their hollow round,
Earthquakes, which are convulsions of the ground,
Break bellowing forth, and no confinement brook,
Till the third settles what the former shook;
Such heavings had our souls, till, slow and late,
Our life with his return'd, and faith prevail'd on
* The sudden false report of the prince's death. See Note VII.