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Already has he lifted high the sign,
Which crowned the conquering arms of Constantine. *
The moon† grows pale at that presaging sight,
And half her train of stars have lost their light.
Behold another Sylvester, to bless
The sacred standard, and secure success;
Large of his treasures, of a soul so great,
As fills and crowds his universal seat.
Now view at home a second Constantine; §
(The former too was of the British line,)
Has not his healing balm your breaches closed,
Whose exile many sought, and few opposed? ¶
O, did not heaven, by its eternal doom,
Permit those evils, that this good might come?
So manifest, that even the moon-eyed sects
See whom and what this Providence protects.
Methinks, had we within our minds no more
Than that one shipwreck on the fatal Ore, ||
That only thought may make us think again,
What wonders God reserves for such a reign.
To dream, that chance his preservation wrought,
Were to think Noah was preserved for nought;
Or the surviving eight were not designed
To people earth, and to restore their kind.
* The Cross.
+ The Crescent, which the Turks bear for their arms. DRYDEN. Note III.
The Pope, in the time of Constantine the Great; alluding to the present Pope. DRYDEN.-See Note IV.
§ King James II.
¶ Bill of Exclusion,
The Lemmon Ore, on which the vessel of King James was lost in his return from Scotland. The crew perished, and he himself escaped with difficulty. See Vol. IX. p. 401.
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
Loth to confess the godhead clothed in earth;
But, sickened, after all their baffled lies,
To find an heir apparent in the skies,
Abandoned 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.
+ Note V.
Alluding to the temptation in the wilderness.
|| Restitit Æneas, clarâque in luce refulsit,
Os, humerosque deo similis ; namque ipsa decoram
Cæsariem nato genetrix, lumenque juventœ
Purpureum, et lætos oculis afflarat honores.
He to the Tyrians showed his sudden face,
Shining with all his goddess mother's grace;
For she herself had made his countenance bright,
Breathed 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, † 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-tt 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 foreslowed
His wonted course, the sea has overflowed,
The meads were floated with a weeping spring,
And frightened birds in woods forgot to sing;
The strong-limbed steed beneath his harness faints,
And the same shivering sweat his lord attaints. *
When will the minister of wrath give o'er?
Behold him at Araunah's threshing-floor!
He stops, and seems to sheath 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
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 realms 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.
† 1 Kings, chap. xxxiv.
‡ Note VI.
§ 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 bap-
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 revealed;
Thus the true name of Rome§ was kept concealed,
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.