John Oldmixon becomes one of the first to compare Queen Anne to Elizabeth: "She, for whom Collin touch'd his golden Lyre, | And Sung her Glorious Acts with equal fire; | Ev'n She, must now to ANNA'S Reign resign | The first Bright Page, and in the second shine" pp. 4-5. The use of pastoral to celebrate the victory at Blenheim may have been intended to extend the parallel to Oldmixon himself, though in the event there is very little of Spenser, and indeed not much of pastoral, in A Pastoral Poem. While Oldmixon devotes a long preface to defending his innovation, neither the preface nor the poem suggests that he had given much thought to the matter — beyond the obvious intention to stand out in a crowded field.
Oldmixon, who had published several pastorals in the preceding reign, must have identified himself with the genre, though no one else seems to have made the connection. While his last attempt is a failed experiment, it is interesting not only as part of the constellation of Augustan pastorals written by Congreve, Philips, and Pope, but insofar as it sets the stage for Matthew Prior's memorable ode imitation of Spenser, written the following year to celebrate the battle of Ramillies. While military engagements would be treated in pastoral verse regularly throughout the century and beyond, the heroic mode would be henceforth reserved for the ode, the humble for the pastoral.
Young Thryrsis begs Menaclas to sing of the Duke of Marlborough, but the old man demures: "Peace and Caesar are no more; he said | And dropt his Crook and hung his drooping Head" p. 2. "Caesar" is William of Orange. Thyrsis then asks Menalcas to sing of Anne's glorious new reign. Menalcas declaims against Mopsus and Maevius who have lately proved faithless to William and the Whig cause, before declaring his own high hopes for the new reign. The elderly shepherd then appeals to the muse, rather clumsily, to elevate his strain: "Help me, thou Monarch of the radiant Skies, | Sublimely as the Subject soars to rise. | Help me, New Worlds, New Wonders to explore, | And tread in Parts I never trod before" p. 11. With the exception of an interval of pastoral elegy, the remainder of the poem is given over to clanging couplets describing Marlborough's victories and hurling insults at the defeated French ("Dauntless They rush amid the Flame and Smoke, | And Death's Dread Fury by their Rage Provoke"). The poem concludes with a salute to Sarah Churchill, to whom the volume is dedicated.
Oh Father of the Field! whose artful Strains
Sweeten our Sorrows, and relieve our Pains:
Whose wisdom teaches us, whose Musick Charms,
Whose Age instructs us, and whose Vigor Warms
To Damon, leave thy Flocks, the gentle Boy
Shall tune his Reed, and take the Charge with Joy.
Come to this Shade, and by Sabrina's Stream
Of Wonders Sing, and CHURCHILL be thy Theam.
For Thee in Elder Times I oft have strung
My speaking Lyre, and to delight Thee Sung.
Was the Nymph coy, or had thy Lambkins stray'd
I melted with my Notes the Cruel Maid,
And with a tuneful Pipe for all thy Losses paid.
For Thee, my Thyrsis! and the generous Swains
Who haunt the Forest, or frequent the Plains,
I rais'd my Voice to sing of Peace restor'd,
And Tyrants Bowing to Britannia's Lord;
But Peace and Caesar are no more; he said
And dropt his Crook and hung his drooping Head.
Then Thyrsis thus—
Of what do you Complain?
What Maid is injur'd, or what Shepherd slain;
With us 'tis Peace securely from afar,
We hear the dying Sound of distant War.
No Foe molests us, or Affrights us here,
Our tender Virgins are unus'd to fear,
And our Hinds safely reap the bounteous Year.
Not thus, on swelling Danube's guilty Shoars,
Nor where the Rhine's Impetuous Torrent roars,
Nor on the Banks of Taijo's wealthy Flood,
Whose golden Sands are now distain'd with Blood.
They bear unwelcome Burthens to the Main,
Foul streams of putrid gore, and Heaps of Slain:
No Musick there is heard; but dismal Cryes
That vex the Air and rend the vaulted Skies;
No Sights of Joys or Pleasure there are seen,
No Loving in the Grove, nor dancing on the Green,
But such as Death and wastful War afford,
The Spoil and Ruins of the raging Sword.
While we, in Peace, our Rural Sports pursue,
And ev'ry Blessing know, that ere we knew.
No Noise is heard, no Murmurs in our Groves,
But Sighs of Happy or Unhappy Loves.
Few are our Pains, and Sweet to be endur'd,
And easie as our Wounds are made, they're Cur'd;
We dance, we sing, we frolick and are gay,
And when we please we Love, and when we please we Play.
Say, Sage Menalcus! say to whom we owe,
This World of Joy, amidst a World of Woe:
With us 'tis Peace — and thou hast lately seen,
In Mighty Caesar's Throne, a Mighty QUEEN,
Whose Goodness charms, whose Virtue awes the Swains,
And her High Providence, defends the Plains:
Great as Eliza's, whose Immortal Name
Till now stood foremost in the Rolls of Fame.,
She, for whom Collin touch'd his golden Lyre,
And Sung her Glorious Acts with equal fire;
Ev'n She, must now to ANNA'S Reign resign
The first Bright Page, and in the second shine.
Eliza's Arms reliev'd an Infant State,
But Empires are by ANN'S repriev'd from Fate.
Her Hero's the New World explor'd for Gold,
But ANN'S for Glory only save the Old.
And shall not Her Illustrious Triumphs raise
Thy fainting Voice, and Tempt thy Sylvan Lays.
Oh Shepherd Tell, to endless Ages Tell
Who Rul'd so Greatly, and who Fought so Well.
See, the glad Youth from ev'ry Quarter throng,
To listen to thy long expected Song.
The Flocks may rove, the Lowing Herds may stray,
The Swains forget their Charge, the Nymphs their Play,
And Croud the sounding Shoars to hear the Promis'd Lay.
Be still ye Winds! Attend the sacred Muse,
And o'er the silent Shade a Thousand Sweets diffuse.
How Thyrsis, can I hope my Loyal Song
Will please a People who can Caesar wrong?
With Loud and Impious Malice they Blaspheme
The Glorious Life, that was my Darling Theam,
Ev'n Mopsus, kind to Discord, has revil'd
His Awful Name, yet He on Mopsus smil'd:
With Double Portions of his Favour Blest;
The Rising Bard, was in his Court Carest;
Of Caesar then he Sung, and Caesar's Friends,
And Curst the Factious Crew, He now defends.
What God will such a Faithless Muse inspire,
And mix Aetherial Flame with his Unhallow'd Fire.
Maevius, the dullest of the Tuneful Throng,
As Lewd in Life, as Infamous in Song;
The Vilest, of the Railing Rout, and Worst
With Poverty alike and Scandal Curst.
Insults the Mighty Dead, defies the Laws,
And Damns with wicked Rhimes, his Righteous Cause,
While Albion takes his Demon for a Muse,
Or suffers the Mad Prophet on the Ouse;
Where, Thyrsis, will my Honest Notes be heard,
The Theam Ungrateful and the same the Bard.
But soon will Heav'n and our Propitious QUEEN
Present us with a New, a Fairer Scene.
These Iron Times, as oft has been foretold
Shall rowl their Course, and then an Age of Gold.
Faction, and Frantick Zeal, and War shall cease,
And Victory resign her Reign to Peace:
The Muses then, who now in Silence mourn,
Shall leave the Wilds, and to their Shades return.
From Shoar to Shoar, the joyful News shall fly,
And ANNA'S Praise, and Churchill's reach the Sky:
To Her, to Him, we'll grateful Tribute Bring,
And none refuse to Hear and none to Sing.
Still in thy Breast will fierce Resentment burn,
Nor Joy again, nor soft Content return;
Let Faction Rage, let Discord have her Hour,
Our Fortunes are no more in Faction's Power.
Caesar Compell'd the Fury to Obey,
But ANNA by her Mild and Equal Sway,
Tempers Her Heat, Her Violence restrains,
And blesses, with Impartial Smiles, the Plains,
Nor always shall our Prince in vain invite,
The jarring Tribes to Love and to Unite;
Her High Example shall at least Prevail,
And all the Wicked Arts of Discord Fail.
Her Foreign and Domestick Foes no more,
Shall dare to tempt her Justice and her Pow'r:
Faction before her Piety shall fall,
And CHURCHILL in her Name subdue the trembling Gaul.
'Tis done — Like Friends her differing Subjects meet,
And gladly they embrace and kindly greet:
The Boaster Monarch who aspir'd to rise,
In Height to Equal Jove and mate the Skyes,
Now growles in the Dust, his Chiefs Renown'd
To ANNA'S Chariot Wheels Ingloriously are bound,
And CHURCHILL'S Brows with Double Lawrels Crown'd.
Oh whether wouldst thou have the Muse to fly?
Her Wing's alas! too weak to soar so high;
Heav'n! What a View is this so piercing Bright,
It dazles and confounds my ravish'd Sight?
Our QUEEN Triumphant, and the Gaul in Chains;
Rouse, rouse my Soul! and in exalted Strains
Declare these Wonders to the list'ning Swains;
With fear my Fingers touch an untry'd String,
I tremble at the Task and dread to Sing.
Help me, thou Monarch of the radiant Skies,
Sublimely as the Subject soars to rise.
Help me, New Worlds, New Wonders to explore,
And tread in Parts I never trod before:
Long Tracts of Light, direct the Muse the Way
To Trace the British Host of Earth and Sea
Upward She mounts, She cuts the fleeting Air,
And from on high surveys the glorious War.
At once, the Danube, and the Rhine she views,
The Tagus, and the Po, the Sambre and the Meuse.
Embattled Squadrons on their Banks appear,
The Gallick Ensigns there, the British here.
Beneath Her, She the Roman Eagle Spyes
Descending from his Height, the upper Skies,
And fal'n so low that He despairs to rise.
He Wings in middle Air his humble way,
Opprest by num'rous Hosts of Birds of Prey:
Insulting, o'er his airy Realms, they rove
And threaten to dethrone the Bird of Jove.
But see — At CHURCHILL'S awful Name He springs
Aloft, and spreading his Imperial Wings;
With steady Eyes to prove his rightful Sway,
Awhile he gazes on the burning Day:
Then Tow'rs above his foes, His Right maintains,
And drives the Rout Obscene from the Aetherial Plains.
Stop, stop my Muse! Thy hasty Flight suspend,
And with an equal Pace the Victors Arms attend.
Behold a Thousand Towns refulgent Tow'rs,
By gallick Arts enslav'd, and Gallick Pow'rs;
Almania — Mistress of the Christian World,
From boundless Empire is to Bondage hurl'd,
Precarious in his Throne Her Monarch Reigns,
And ill the Little She has left maintains:
Poor, and of course Contemptible he grows,
Insulted by his Slaves, and vanquish'd by his Foes.
The Proud Bavarian, and the Perjur'd Gaul
Press with Impatience, and expect his Fall;
With Him fair Liberty, the Beauteous Prize,
For which Old Rome so long contended, dyes.
So cry'd her Lovers, and her glorious Cause,
A Thousand Heroes to the Danube draws.
To whom shall Majesty distrest repair,
To what but ANNA'S Pow'r and ANNA'S Care,
Can Liberty and Caesar fly for succour in despair.
ANNA, by fate for Britain's Fame design'd,
In saving Liberty to save Mankind.
For what is wretched Man unless he's Free,
Who'd Chuse on any other Terms to be,
What Creature e'ent as Noble else as He.
If Bondage is of Beasts the greatest Curse,
Since Man knows more his Slavery is worse.
True — Beasts must Labour and be lash'd, the Slave
Has ease perhaps as Beasts that cannot Labour have;
But when their Arbitrary Lord's Provok'd
The Man in time may with the Mule be Yok'd.
Thus Lewis treats his stupid Slaves in Gaul,
And had he Conquer'd thus had us'd us all;
Like Albion's Genius ANNA'S Mighty Soul,
Of wrong alike impatient or Controul;
In Realms remote, to British Arms unknown,
Asserts an Emp'ror's Freedom and her own:
Fair Europe from Her threaten'd Bondage saves,
Sets Free the German and the Gaul enslaves.
To CHURCHILL Her Belov'd, Her bravest Chief,
She worthily consign'd the World's Relief.
Confed'rate Nations with united Voice,
Confirm the Pious QUEEN'S Auspicious Choice.
The Wise Bavarian, and the Warlike Dane,
The Prussian and the Princes of the Mein.
Th' Unhappy Palatine's Illustrious Race,
Assign the British Peer the Foremost Place:
To Him the jarring Chiefs submit the Sway,
His High Commands with pleasure they Obey,
And gladly follow, when he leads the Way.
His Host Prepar'd — the flying Foe to find,
He waves his Crimson Crosses in the wind;
And bids the Legions move — with loud acclaim
They hear his Voice and March secure of Fame,
Nor Rocks, nor Rivers stop Him in his Course,
All Obstacles his Art Removes, or Force.
Him Victory Attends and Fortune joyns,
Officious to assist his Vast Designs.
She blushes at his View, for well She knows,
His Glory to Himself He only owes,
And Scorns the Favours which She gave his Foes.
Just to Himself and his Intrepid Troops,
In Heav'n and Them he centers all his Hopes.
With safe and speedy Pace he moves to Scowr
The Swabian Woods and Curb Tyrannick Pow'r.
The Gallick Wolf, and the Bavarian Boar,
Wide Wast commit along the Danube's Shoar,
But Tremble at the British Lion's roar.
Till then the Rebel and his False Ally
Assembl'd Europe's distant Pow'rs Defy.
Pale Terror seizes 'em at CHURCHILL'S Name,
Conscious of present Guilt and Future Shame.
In vain to Cities or to Boggs they fly,
And Wish their Rising Ramparts reach'd the Sky,
No Works for Britain's are too Strong, no Walls too high.
To Don'wert see their Foremost Bands advance,
Don'wert defended by the Flow'r of France.
Deep Dykes and wide surround Her spatious Walls,
Made Strong by Art, which Fear has taught the Gauls,
Above her Tow'rs a Thousand Mounds; aspire
From whence a Thousand Engines vomit Fire.
The Thunders and the Sulph'rous Blaze of War,
But warm the Britains whom 'twas meant to Scare:
Dauntless They rush amid the Flame and Smoke,
And Death's Dread Fury by their Rage Provoke.
Still CHURCHILL'S great Example Leads 'em on,
The Mounds are raz'd, and now the Works are won.
Death and the Gauls to British Valour Yeild,
Death and the Gauls at once forsake the Field.
Fortune stood Neuter, nor did CHURCHILL need
The Various Nymphs Assistance to succeed;
But Victory confest Her Darling Son,
And as a Pledge of more She gave the Town:
Around his Brows the Laurel Wreath she bound,
And to the Wondring World her glorious Offspring own'd.
Thyrsis awhile we must our Joy suspend,
To mourn the Muses Patron and their Friend:
Strephon of ev'ry Youthful Grace Possest
Of ev'ry Art Inform'd, with ev'ry Virtue blest;
Tho' Noble by descent he lov'd to Play,
Among our Youth and hear a Sylvan Lay;
To haunt the Green and by the Woodland Shades,
With Sighing Airs to please the Lovesick Maids:
But never shall he Haunt the Green again;
For Strephon here, Unhappy Youth! was Slain:
When Glory call'd He left the Woodland Shades,
He ceast his Sighing Airs and fled the Lovesick Maids,
To wait on CHURCHILL, and he serv'd him well,
But here where first he fought, alas! he fell.
Happy for Thee ah Strephon! had thy Mind,
To ease been still, and to the Woods confin'd.
Fame and Ambition be the Courtier's Care,
Love is our Bus'ness, and our Pleasure here
The Fife, the Trumpet, and the rude Alarms
Of Battles, Seiges, and the Noise of Arms,
Ill with the Muses and their Sons agree,
From Care alike, and from Ambition free:
Ah Happy! Had it still been thus with thee.
For thee the Nymphs, for thee the Swains shall mourn,
And Bless with Pious Vows thy Peaceful Urn.
Cease your Laments, and listen to the Muse,
She Spreads her Pinions, and her flight persues.
Again she soars, and now the Scene is chang'd,
To Legions ready for the Battle rang'd.
The Britains, and their Brave Confed'rates here,
The Gallick, and Bavarian Armies there.
The firm Battalions are the Plain extend,
And ore the Danube's Banks their adverse Wings Depend.
Behold! the Nations met in Bleinheim's Field,
To try if Lewis, or if ANNE must yield.
For Liberty and ANNE alike we Name,
And Tyranny and Lewis are the same.
Bleinheim, a Peasant Village, in Renown
Poor, till of late, and Private like our own:
But CHURCHILL'S Triumphs shall in future tale,
Prefer Her to Philippi or Pharsale.
In dreadful Order, and in Bright array,
Their Bloody Ensigns either Host Display,
All eager to decide the doubtful Day.
See CHURCHILL flush'd with Recent Conquest ride,
Around his spreading Ranks, and by his side
EUGENE, ALMANIA'S safety and her Pride.
A grateful sound to ev'ry British Ear
For Britains are to Him, and He to Britains Dear.
EUGENE, the Fav'rite and the Boast of Fame,
Who never fail'd to Conquer where He came:
With Wonder and Delight his Friends surveys,
And Charms 'em with his Love, and Warms 'em with his Praise.
Thou False Bavarian! and thou Faithless Gaul,
Resign the Rule of the Disputed Ball,
For Churchill and Eugene will Conquer all.
Safe in their Fences, in their Numbers sure,
Of Fortune, their Divinity, secure.
Behold the Gallick Chiefs for Fight Prepare,
And with erected Front defye the Britains War.
And now the moving Squadrons joyn, and now
'Tis Darkness all Above and Death Below.
The Bellowing Cannons tear the Vaulted Shoar,
And more than Imitate the Thundrers roar,
Blew Lightnings from their Brazen Mouthes they throw,
And Balls where fiery Deaths, with baleful aspect glow;
Scarce can the Solid or the Liquid Main,
The Dreadful Blast, the Mighty Shock sustain;
In Clouds of Smoke the Mountains hide their Heads,
And Nature a Returning Chaos Dreads.
Aghast the Demons of the Air look on,
And Shrink at Terrors greater than their own.
Horrors and Furies stalk about the Plain,
Attack the Living, and insult the Slain.
For lo! the Two Contending Armies strive,
Not who shall Conquer now, but who shall Live.
Amid the Mingled Legions CHURCHILL stands,
Like Fate distributing his High Commands,
With Chearful Patience, and with awful Mien,
Cool as in Council, as in Peace Serene.
Amid a Thousand Deaths He keeps his Pace,
They flash their fiery Terrors in his Face,
Yet still he presses on with dreadful Grace.
He mildly puts the grisly Phantoms by,
Resolv'd with steady Soul to Conquer or to Dye.
Such firmness, who such Virtue can oppose,
Too Fierce, too Shining for his fainting Foes:
Fortune is fled, and to Confirm their Doom,
Bright Victory is perch'd on CHURCHILL'S Plume.
And now the weary'd Gauls begin to ply,
And now with Universal Rout thy fly,
But if they run, or if they fight, they dye.
Before 'em, see, the Danube's angry Tyde,
Behind 'em CHURCHILL and his Britains ride,
Victorious ore the Plain — the scatter'd Host
Driv'n by the Conq'rors to the Crouded Coast,
Leap down, and in the foamy Waves are lost.
On yonder Cliffs by Avon's Muddy Stream,
Thus often have I seen the flying Game.
Closely the Dogs the tim'rous Hare Pursue,
Turn as she turns, and keep her still in view,
Before the Billows, and behind the Hounds,
The double Death her Native fear Confounds,
Till Prest and Desp'rate in her Danger grown,
She takes the Cliffs and Tumbles headlong down;
Splits on the Rocks, or plunges in the Flood,
And sinking to the Deep is choak'd with mud.
The Dogs with willing Eyes the Leap survey,
Still eager of the Chace, and greedy of their Prey:
But the Wise Hunter their Mad Heat Restrains,
Blows his Hoarse Horn, and bids 'em to the Plains.
So now the Britains Chace the flying Foe,
And feign wou'd reach 'em in the Stream to strike the deadly Blow:
But CHURCHILL his Impetuous Troops Recals,
And gives to sudden Fate the sinking Gauls.
While his great Brother to sustain the Day,
At Bleinheim holds a rally'd rout at Bay.
In vain they prove again the bloody Field,
Unable to resist they beg to yield.
Britains by Nature good as they are Brave,
Wish less to Conquer than they love to save
Ev'n those, that lately had their Vengeance dar'd,
No sooner had they Vanquish'd than they spar'd.
CHURCHILL at once Ten Thousand Gauls forgives,
And Tallard only by his Mercy lives.
Tallard for Boasting and for Fraud renown'd,
In CHURCHILL'S Chains whom he defy'd is bound.
Hear Lewis! to thy dire Confusion Hear!
The rattling Links thy Chosen Legions wear.
Blush to behold thy boasted Chiefs in Bonds,
Thy Soldiers dying with Inglorious Wounds:
Where are thy Conquests, thy Immortal Fame,
Thy Glory's Dead, but Deathless is thy Shame?
Think, for whose Crimes these Seas of Blood are spilt,
Think on a lengthen'd Age of Crimson guilt.
No glaring Colours the foul Prospect hide,
For nothing now is left thee but thy Pride.
The gaudy Scene remov'd we now behold,
A wrinkled Tryrant Impotent and Old.
Early thy Scorching Sun began his Race,
And burnt and blaz'd awhile and now decays:
But ANNA'S warms the World with kindly Heat
In Virtue rose, and shall in Glory set.
Oh should I sing the Heroes of our Isle,
Distinguish'd in the Field for Martial Toil,
Thrice might the Sun Compleat his fiery Race,
And whirl his Golden Chariot round the Space:
Before the Song wou'd end — or shou'd I tell
Whose Councils guide the Peaceful State so well
Still round a Shining Circle I might run,
And never wou'd the pleasing Task be done.
Thee Wise Godolphin! whose auspicious Care,
Provides full Plenty in the Wants of War.
Thee Candish, gen'rous as thy Princely Blood;
Thee Pembroke equally belov'd and good.
And You, ye Charming and Illustrious Fair!
Who serve the Throne and sweeten ANNA'S Care.
We'll Celebrate with Songs and Sylvan Lays,
To You we'll Dedicate our Sports and Plays,
And Bless you with our Vows, and thank you with our Praise.
Cool are the Shades, and in the West the Day
Emits a feeble and declining Ray:
Night spreads her Sable Mantle o'er the Skies,
And Fogs defile the Air and Vapours rise.
Hence — To the Village, let the Swains retire,
To Tine the Beechen Pile, and by the common fire,
Let the gilt Bowl with generous Juice be crownd,
And ANNA'S and the HERO'S Healths with hearty Shouts go round.