1763
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Irene, a Canto, on the Peace.

Irene, a Canto, on the Peace; written in the Stanza of Spencer; by Philip Doyne, Esq.

Philip Doyne


49 Spenserians celebrating Britain's triumph in the Seven Years' War: with all the globe in flames, Irene has fled to Ierne; in Philip Doyne's allegorical vision Peace is restored to Britain, and from thence, by means of just laws and wise policies, to the world at large.

Julius Nicholas Hook compares the poem to Samuel Boyse's Irene (1748) in "Eighteenth-Century Imitations of Spenser" (1941) 158. Apart from the similar titles, both derive from Matthew Prior's Ode to the Queen (1706). Yet it is significant that Philip Doyne, an Irish poet, writes his poem in regular Spenserians rather than the Prior variant. Doyne's "Canto" is the unusual poem in the Prior sequence that programmatically returns to Spenser.

"From Slany's echoing banks, a Shepherd sings | The fall of mighty hosts, the wars of Europe's kings" p. 2: Augusta bids Commerce seek out Irene (Peace) that she may be restored to Albion. Commerce then circumnavigates the globe, observing the sad effects of war and tyranny in Germany, India, East Asia, and the American continent, where"th' ambitious Gauls" have made slaves of savages: "Strangers, to treason's smile, or courtier's art, | Ah, what avail'd it, to be fierce and brave! | Nought cou'd their rights protect, their savage freedom save" p. 16. Commerce sees the French deprived of their western empire (the central stanza) and, continuing her journey, encounters the allegorical figure of Victory, traveling in the opposite direction: "In her right hand the British cross she wav'd; | The British star adorn'd her radiant breast" p. 18. At last wandering nymph reaches the shores of the Emerald Isle, and in an evocation of Spenser's description of Arlo Hill, discovers "a troop of Ladies dancing round, | Who with their tuneful feet did shake the hollow ground" p. 24. Amid them is Irene, who graciously agrees to return to "greater Albion" at Augusta's behest: "For laws to haughtiest potentates she gave; | Long may her councils guide Europa's peace | And endless empire crown the mighty Guelphian race" p. 29.

Philips G. Davies's "Check List of Poems ... in the Spenserian Stanza" mistakenly attributes this poem to the Dublin schoolmaster and editor of The Shamrock, Samuel Whyte (1974) 326.



Augusta bids rich commerce haste
Irene to restore;
Whom, Earth's wide regions having past,
She finds on Slany's shore.

Queen of the deathless song, and golden lyre,
Immortal muse! begin some lofty theme;
So may thy Britons catch the hallow'd fire,
So may thy bards, in wondrous lays, proclaim
The warrior's dangers, and the patriot's name;
Striking with daring hand the sounding strings,
And fill'd with rapture at great Albion's fame,
From Slany's echoing banks, a Shepherd sings
The fall of mighty hosts, the wars of Europe's kings.

Oft thro' the solemn loneliness of night
Musing, he wander'd near the toiling flood,
While mimic fancy drew before his sight,
The dreadful glorious scene, of kings subdu'd,
Towns wrapt in flames, and armies bath'd in blood;
But now the horrid visions rise no more,
Nor threatning camps, or hostile fleets he view'd;
The storm of war which shook the world is o'er,
And peaceful Halcyons soon, revisit Albion's shore.

Oh Peace! thou fav'rite daughter of the skies,
What happy region boasts thy blissful reign
In what calm shades the lov'ly vestal lies,
Or treads, the mountain hill, or shadowy plain?
Joy, of the village nymph, and constant swain!
Around thee, goddess! endless blessings wait,
Each social virtue mingles in thy train;
While wealth and commerce joyn, to form thy state
Beyond the pomp of kings, the pride of conquest, great.

Desire of Earth! the soul of ev'ry joy!
Unfading laurels deck thy placid brow
In vain the furies labour to destroy,
While thou repair'st the waste of war below;
Thy guardian care the cherish'd muses know,
Each graceful elegance, and finer art
Each life endearing charm, thou canst bestow,
Can'st on the worthless thy rewards impart,
Pour'd e'en on faction's head, and treason's felon heart,

Yet oft hath man, possess'd by impious pride,
To fatal war by blind ambition led,
Forgot thy just requests, thy suit deny'd.
And o'er thy fruitful vales destruction spread;
Oft from fair Europe's kingdoms hast thou fled
To distant climes, and winter's endless reign;
Far from the haunt of men conceal'd thine head,
While hostile millions fill'd th' embattled plain,
And monarchs were dethron'd, and martial nations slain.

Thus when the pencil bade the canvas shine,
And Adon' bled beneath the tusky boar,
(Thy work, O Titian, or Apelles thine)
Her golden locks the queen of beauty tore;
And stain'd her snowy limbs, with crimson gore,
She wept her murder'd love, her lost delight,
Then fled with horror from the fatal shore,
Back to her sky the goddess bent her flight,
And parting, view'd the earth, and sicken'd at the sight

Long had Germania's kings, with fury fir'd,
Their martial hosts to mutual slaughter sent;
Irene from the gathering storm retir'd,
And weeping left the troubled continent;
Nor yet to Albion's shore her flight she bent,
For o'er the fields she mark'd in bright array
Her sturdy swains, on arms alone intent,
While her vast navies spread th' encumber'd sea,
And with their cannon's smoke, o'ercast the face of day.

Now six revolving years their course had run,
Each dreadful moment markt by hostile rage,
Since first the horrors of the war begun;
While Europe's states their fatal battles wage,
And half the kings of earth in arms engage;
One dire Aceldama Germania lies,
Nor spares the ruthless sword or sex or age,
To heav'n amidst the shouts of battle rise
The bleeding matron's groans, the ravish'd virgin's cries.

At length Augusta from the silver Thames
Majestick rose, with lofty turrets crown'd;
The form immortal glitter'd on his streams,
Such was the mother of the gods, renown'd
In Crete's fam'd isle, and Ida's hallow'd ground;
A train of nymphs in various dress were seen
Beauteous, and strange, who stood the power around;
To one of smiling looks, and placid mien,
With winged words began, the city crowed Queen.

"Haste, gracious nymph, on Nysa's hallow'd shore
Where Lybian Triton rolls his silver wave,
Whom, to the ocean's god, Phoenice bore,
By Dian tended in the secret cave;
To thee, in happy hour, great Neptune gave,
O'er all his oceans and his storms to reign;
Commerce the awful name thou didst receive
From all the Gods; Oh haste, to Albion's plain
Irene fair restore, with all her joys again."

Augusta spoke: her will the nymph obey'd,
Light as the feather'd shaft from earth she sprung;
'Till Albion's sea-bet rocks no more survey'd,
O'er wealthy Belgia's level coast she hung;
Where Rhine, and Maese, and Scheld did roll among
Her pop'lous realms, ere while the muses themes,
When of the great Nassovian race they sung,
And commerce had not left those peaceful streams
To dwell in Albion's isle, and grace the banks of Thames.

From thence, Germania's various realms she view'd,
And mark'd the horrors of destroying war
The god of battles red with human blood.
O'er slaughter'd armies drove his iron car,
Guiding the mangled steeds with gory spear;
In dreadful waste, before their swiftness, fall
Kingdoms, and thrones o'erturn'd on earth appear,
The brazen ranks, the city's lofty wall,
'Tis one dire scene of rage, and desolation all.

Yon ruins, that the sable flame hath spar'd,
Were once, some haughty warrior's boasted seat;
So sure his strength, so safe his throne appear'd,
He seem'd superior to the stroke of fate,
Beyond the power, of change, or fortune, great
Forth from the thicket bursts the matron's skream;
Ah, where shall beauty find a safe retreat!
While slaughter'd thousands choak the sullen stream,
And o'er the distant hills the burning cities flame.

From these fierce states, Irene, long expell'd,
To distant realms in sorrow had retir'd;
When commerce, on the Weser's banks, beheld
Where glory near the British camp appear'd,
Bright on a mountain heap of arms uprear'd,
Like Pallas dreadful in Tytanian arms
Her Gorgon Aegis thro' the darkness glar'd;
Her voice the shining ranks to war alarms,
And with heroic flames each hero's bosom warms.

Rous'd by her call, the British hosts advance,
Eager to bleed in battles not their own;
For her the silken bands of faithless France
Glitt'ring, in filed brass and iron, shone,
With boastful ensigns gay; so oft o'erthrown
And scatter'd by Britannia's victor spear;
For her, the Austrian from her distant throne,
Against the bold Borusian pour'd the war,
And all her savage hosts, rush'd raging from afar.

There strong arms the Prussian king view'd,
That man of mighty deeds, that Lord of war;
And parting swift, her rapid course pursu'd,
'Till on the shores of Thrace she heard the Jar
Of Paynim hosts, and stubborn Janizarre;
Now griev'd the vales of Persia to survey,
O'er whom fell Discord drove her iron car,
Still to the distant east she wing'd her way,
And past the rapid Ind' and gain'd upon the day.

From Ormus south, and China's wealthy shore,
To Albion's chiefs, the silken monarchs bend;
Whose fragrant groves their spicy riches bore,
Whose blazing mines their hoarded diamonds send,
That Britons might their helpless thrones defend;
Thence o'er the isles, amidst the Indian main
That num'rous lie, the British arms extend;
Whose victor fleets uphold their wide domain,
While India's sable kings, by their permission reign.

As when the fabled Jove, Tytanian lord,
In ancient tale who fill'd th' Eternal's room;
Thro' Greece and all her hundred realms ador'd,
Whose temple blaz'd amidst imperial Rome,
Grac'd with the trophies of a world o'ercome;
From the Tarpeian rock, whose height defy'd
The stroke of time, sunk by almighty doom:
So fell on India's coast, the Gallic pride,
And all the Paynim slaves her ruin'd pomp deride.

Tho' leagu'd with kings, in vain, she proudly stood,
And stretch'd her banners o'er the blazing east;
In vain from lofty Pondicherry view'd,
India's rich realms, and all their thrones oppress'd;
Kings are by Britain and by Clive redress'd
Her strength, the toil of ages, is no more,
In Asian lands her tyranny is ceas'd,
Heav'n hath to British chiefs transferr'd her power,
Theirs are her diamond mines, and theirs her golden ore.

Awhile in air the shining vision stay'd,
And on the wealth of eastern conquest gaz'd,
All the rich spoils of Asia wide display'd;
The pile on castled elephants was rais'd,
Superb, with silken robes, and gems, it blaz'd
And trophy'd arms, and mingled heaps of gold,
Spices, and painted jars; thereat amaz'd,
Exalted transports in her bosom roll'd,
Such were the high rewards, that grac'd her Britons bold.

Then swift resum'd her flight o'er Corea's sands
Amidst those savage climes her search was vain
Irene dwell'd not in the Asian lands,
And realms unbless'd, where Tartar tyrants reign;
Thence she o'erpass'd the waste and desert main,
Where storms unheard by one another roar,
Where various seas contest their wide domain,
And hollow oceans roll without a shore;
Oh terrible display, of God's almighty power!

At length, as tow'ring high she cleft the air,
Rose like a cloud the distant continent;
Its verdant shores, its shadowy rocks, appear;
Thither well pleas'd her weary'd flight she bent.
And past the stormy clouds in swift descent;
Ten thousand furious tribes those kingdoms range,
Renown'd for strength and valorous hardiment,
In dress and manner to each other strange,
Who oft, as chance directs, their wandring dwellings change.

In vain, their hardy youth were train'd to arms.
To hurl the war-ax, and the poison'd dart,
Danger, in vain, display'd its savage charms,
And love of slaughter fir'd the Huron's heart;
Remov'd by nature, to the utmost part
Of barren earth, beyond the sky mix'd wave,
Strangers, to treason's smile, or courtier's art,
Ah, what avail'd it, to be fierce and brave!
Nought cou'd their rights protect, their savage freedom save.

Oh fatal thirst of universal power!
The curse of millions, and the tyrant's boast!
For this whole nations left Europa's shore,
Whole nations in those snowy wilds were lost,
Here Montcalm, chief of many a vanquish'd host,
There youthful Wolfe, in glory's arms were slain;
How many deaths did Albion's conquests cost,
Her injur'd rights in battle to maintain.
And o'er Canada's hills, and stormy floods, to reign!

Chac'd from these lands, at length, th' Ambitious Gauls,
Groaning with fury, and in chains, retire;
By Britain's spear her western empire falls,
And all her hopes of sov'reign rule expire;
Thus when rough winter, having spent his ire,
Flys, with his tempests, and his clouds, away,
Sullen and sad; the joyful swains admire
How calm, how lovely, spring adorns the day,
Smiles on the verdant earth, and sparkles on the sea.

Long while the nymph beheld, those boundless lands,
Those mighty lakes, and ev'ry furious stream;
From Ohio's banks, and Missisippi's sands,
To Horgehela, and Labrador Breme,
All nations bend before the British name;
To such an height of empire and renown
Had Wolfe, and Amherst, rais'd their monarch's fame:
For, not the chief who built the Persian throne,
Or he who conquer'd it, such ample realms o'er-run.

There victory, from Europe's happier clime,
Came flying on, in all her splendour dress'd;
The Goddess hovers in the air sublime,
And darts her glory o'er the redning west:
A triple diadem her temple grac'd,
In her right hand the British cross she wav'd;
The British star adorn'd her radiant breast;
Illustrious scenes were on her shield engrav'd,
Of haughty kings subdu'd, and suppliant empires sav'd.

Such seem'd the power, when blazing o'er the plains
Her stature reach'd the sky, her awful shade
Cover'd Canada's realms; as when the swains
With sudden fires the mountain heath invade;
The savage tyger sees the flash dismay'd,
Forc'd from his native caves enrag'd to fly;
The rock's wild caverns are to sight display'd;
Loud roaring mounts the dreadful flame on high,
Shines o'er the red'ning hills, and tow'rs amidst the sky,

Her in the midmost region commerce past,
And hail'd her progress o'er those realms unknown,
Sent forth to civilize those regions vast,
And spread, th' influence of great Brunswick's throne,
Thro' all the journey of the burning sun,
With mighty triumphs grac'd, and spoils adorn'd;
At length her wond'rous circuit almost run,
Back to fair Albion's isle the power return'd,
And all her fruitless toil to find Irene mourn'd.

Now o'er Ierene's verdant shores she flew,
Ierne fam'd for piety and song!
Till Slany's rapid waters met her view,
Swift as he gush'd Menapia's vales along,
Pour'd from an hundred mountains deep and strong;
'Twas there, regardless of war's dreadful threat,
Of nymphs and swains appear'd a joyous throng;
Who sung, inspir'd by youth's delightful heat,
Lays of sweet love, and danc'd with nimble shifting feet.

There rose an hill above the level plain,
Like the rich orb that crowns an Heroe's shield;
There from her grassy throne, did nature reign
O'er ev'ry herb, and flower, that grac'd the field;
The rocks beneath a chrystal stream did yield,
Whose silver sparkling Waves did gently flow;
With snow-resembling sheep the sides were fill'd,
The winds in ev'ry breeze did sweeter blow,
Shaking th' empurpled rose, that shed its leaves below.

The fluid glass return'd the gaudy skies,
And golden clouds the silver waves adorn
Where, intermix't with liquid roses, lies
The downward prospect of the orient morn;
Nay was there nymph, nay herd, or shepherd, borne
Amidst those vales, but grac'd the jubilee;
And brought their rustick pipe, or cheerful horn,
That the glad sound of their rude minstrelsie
Shook the wide river's banks, and echo'd to the sky.

The Hill's green feet were border'd by a wood,
Whose matchless height above the clouds did tow're;
The awful trees in shady grandeur stood,
Shelter to many a beast, to birds a bow'r;
The sweet lark there o'erpass'd her mournful hour,
Wood musick's queen! the linnet there renew'd
Her sprightly strain; while in his kingly power
From some huge oak the beaked eagle view'd
His feather'd hosts; the hawk his frighted prey pursu'd.

Here also, playing on the shadowy green,
Were satyrs, fawns, and swift foot Dryades;
The queen of fairies oft was dauncing seen,
And all the troop of woodland deities;
Harping amidst the brakes immortal lays,
That kept all bad and hurtful things away;
As when thy musick, Orpheus, did repress
The stormy Hebrus, foaming down the lea,
And made the noisy waves in all their haste to stay

And first, th' ambitious palm with branches fair
Rear'd his proud head, aspiring to the sky;
The Sun's sad daughters next, whose wild despair
Witness'd the Po, that heard their piercing cry,
When Phaeton fell flaming from on high,
And Jove's enraged brand his members rent,
There was the gnarled oak, with proud defy
Meeting the lightning's wrath; the chestnut, bent
By Notus arms, but still the forest's ornament.

There grew immense, the rougher rinded pine,
Of which the great Argoan ship was fram'd;
Whose lofty top the forests did incline
When shook by winds, there was the laurel, nam'd
Apollo's tree, by bards and hero's claim'd;
The gloomy Holm that haunts the watry vale;
The wicked Lote, of dark oblivion fam'd;
The mournful Cypress, sign of deadly bale;
The Ash, the weeping Fir, the forlorn Willow pale.

The stubborn Yew, long borne by Britons bold,
Their hosts when Edward and fierce Henry led;
The Ivy, that with wanton arms doth hold
And round the Poplar her lythe branches spread;
The pointed Holly rear'd his verdant head;
The myrtle mindful of her ancient crime;
And that strange tree where faithful Thisbe bled;
The brittle Ash, that lifts its top sublime;
The Elm, around whose boughs, th' enamour'd Vine doth climb.

In this so pleasant forest, oft did sport
Of old, so fiction tells, the queen of love;
Nor more to proud Cythaeron did resort,
Or Ida where immortal beauties strove;
Hither swift stooping from the realms above
Commerce approach'd; and heard, the pleasing sound:
Of flutes and harps, that gentle thoughts did move;
And saw, a troop of Ladies dancing round,
Who with their tuneful feet did shake the hollow ground.

These were the nymphs that in the plains delight;
Content, and smiling Truth, and Constancy;
And innocence, array'd in virgin white;
And spotless Faith, with heav'n erected eye;
And blissful Youth, and pleasing Chastity;
With these, the daughters of sky ruling Jove,
And Ocean's ravish'd nymph, Eurinome,
Yclept the Graces three; who wait on love,
And haunt, the Cyprian isle, or Caria's hallow'd grove.

Amidst the rest, like Dian' forest queen,
Irene sported in the pleasant shade,
With modest grace, and comely carriage seen,
In dress a village nymph; for she had laid
Her crowns and sceptres by, with which she play'd
When in the courts of kings; each graceful limb
In humble sylvan weed was fair array'd,
And wreaths of flowers her flowing robes did trim;
Her all the virgin train their Goddess did esteem.

To whom, descending from the midmost air,
The joyful errant commerce 'gan relate.
"Sent by Augusta, Goddess, I repair
To win thy dear return to Albion's state;
Wild discord, which disturb'd the earth so late,
Dreadfully riding on the vengefully blast,
To pour the wrath abroad of angry fate,
From her red hand the writhen bolt hath cast;
And ruin stalks no more along the fearful waste.

"Tir'd with the horrors of the martial storm,
The kings of earth forsake the raging deep;
Tho' still abroad, fell slaughter's gory form,
Of half Germania's states domain doth keep,
Acting dire crimes, at which revenge might weep;
But lo, young Brunswick bids the tumult cease;
And glory, hov'ring o'er the chalky steep,
Sounds with her lofty trump to human race,
That victor Albion grants imploring nations peace."

She spoke; with smiles Irene swift reply'd;
Such smiles as in angelick looks appear,
The souls of martyrs when to heav'n they guide.
"Oh blissful period of destructive war!
'Tis mine, the waste of conquest to repair,
And smiling plenty o'er the land restore;
For, Albion's king demands my chiefest care,
My blessings shall uphold his righteous power,
And in his reign, ambitious curse the world no more.

"Nor fair Ierne, mindless of thy state
From thee to greater Albion I remove;
Who in mine exile gav'st a safe retreat;
My choicest favours thou shalt ever prove,
Oh land, so highly favour'd from above!
Where freedom roves amidst the cheerful swains
The blissful haunt, of innocence and love;
Where rosie health, walks smiling o'er the plains,
And nature in luxuriant blessings reigns.

"Oft have I wander'd o'er thy shadowy fields,
And in sweet musing spent the silent night;
While ev'ry vale its native fragrance yields,
How still the forest! and the stream how bright,
Its bosom silver'd with the moon's pale light!
Here undisturb'd with war's destructive rage,
Secure from rapine, and the waste of fight
Thy vig'rous sons in peaceful arts engage,
Or see a duteous race support their feeble age.

"Here too, returning from the glorious war,
Shall each stern soldier reach his native shore;
Loaded with spoils, and grac'd with many a scar,
Which nobly in his country's cause he bore,
When vanquish'd Gallia shrunk beneath her power,
With all her captive fleets, and slaughter'd hosts;
While their lost fame th' Iberian chiefs deplore;
For nought remains to guard their fenceless coasts,
Of all those navies huge, whose conquest Pocock boasts.

"Then shall the monumental marble tell,
Of all th' illustrious dead the hapless doom,
The chiefs, who bravely fought, and greatly fell;
While future heroes to their graves shall come,
Like youthful Ammon to Pelides tomb;
Their lofty deeds while many a poet sings;
Meantime, all glorious from a world o'ercome,
Shall Albion's monarch calm contending kings,
And mark each nation's bounds, adjusting doubtful things.

"Britain, which hurt by no intestine jar,
Able to ruin, studious how to save;
Safe in her seas, defies the world in war!
All fair her daughters, and her sons all brave!
Umpire of earth, and mistress of the wave!
Lo, at her voice the distant slaughters cease,
For laws to haughtiest potentates she gave;
Long may her councils guide Europa's peace
And endless empire crown the mighty Guelphian race."

Thus spoke the goddess, then with joy obey'd
Augusta's call, and sought the silver Thame,
Attendant on the fair Nisaean maid;
Their flight I markt, from Slany's noisy stream,
And fond of fancy and a Poet's name,
Deep struck the conscious lyre with daring hand;
Bless'd, if while others gain a loftier fame,
Amidst the bards of my lov'd native land,
Of Glory not devoid, nor Loyalty I stand.

[pp. 3-30]