Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

Naucratia; Or Naval Dominion. Part Iii. - Poem by Henry James Pye

Awhile let War his bloody banners fold,
And smiling Peace her gentler triumphs hold.
The generous flame that warm'd Eliza's days,
Shines forth in George's reign with brighter blaze.
Again Britannia's sons, through seas unknown,
Round Earth's vast circle trace a naval zone,
Her Wallis, Byron, Carteret, try once more
The course her Drake, her Ca'ndish led of yore.
And see true Genius, rais'd by native worth
O'er the proud claims of fortune and of birth,
Born to control the rage of winds and seas,
Skill'd to arrest the ravage of disease,
Her Cook behold!—before his eagle eye
The dread of death, the sense of hardship fly;
And o'er his sails Hygeia hovering, flings
Health's genial influence from her silver wings.
From the soft dalliance of the amorous train
Who haunt the islets of the Southern main,
Boldly he ventures to the rugged coast
Clad in the horrors of Antarctic frost,
Where endless winter o'er the iron plains
In all the pomp of desolation reigns:
His course he keeps with persevering soul,
To seek a more inhospitable pole.
For where the northern constellations rise
In the dim zenith of the chilling skies,
Still neighbouring Europe's friendly harbours yield
A near asylum from the frozen field.
Not so the southern regions—drear—unknown—
Rude coasts, where cheerless solitude alone
Reigns death-like in terrific silence, save
Where howling famine prowls the ice-bound wave.
Nought damps the breast pure virtue's flame inspires,
Not the red blaze of wild ambition's fires.
Sent by a Prince benign, whose parent sway
Freedom's true vot'ries glory to obey;
Friend to the human race,—whose generous mind,
His country bless'd,—that blessing o'er mankind
Prompt to extend, bids his expanding sails
Waft peace and plenty on the favouring gales.—
The gallant chief obeys with ready breast
His pious Sovereign's mild and just behest.
O'er oceans wafted, 'mid New Zealand's groves
Bleats the meek flock, the lowing heifer roves;
By guiltless plenty spread, dire feasts no more
The blushing herbage stain with human gore.
On Otaheité's soft and genial fields
Its cheering juice the vine ambrosial yields;
And on the enormous island's region wide,
A continent encircled by the tide,
O'er lands uncultur'd yellow harvests rise,
And infant cities meet the wondering eyes.
There, peopled realms with art and science crown'd,
Sages and kings in future times renown'd,
Truth's moral rules by deep reflection given,
And Faith's illumin'd creed, that opens heaven;
Scenes of warm hope, and ages of delight
Crowd in prophetic prospect on the sight.—
Such were the chiefs that fabling Greece of old
Amid her legendary gods enroll'd,
And taught her sons to pile the votive flame
To Pan's, to Ceres', and to Bacchus' name.
Mourn Virtue, mourn the rash insidious blow
That laid on earth thy faithful votary low!—
Yet as the weeping powers of Mercy pay
Their solemn tribute to their Cook's morai,
And o'er his tomb by guiltless laurels crown'd,
As the slow dirge and swelling hymn resound,
Proud of a son in toil, in danger tried,
Fearless in both, in both by blood undy'd,
Fame to the listening winds her voice shall raise,
And breathe the immortal song of virtuous praise;
While heavenly justice from the empyreal sphere
Sends down its seraphs to his briny bier,
To waft his spirit from the realms of night
To the bless'd mansions of celestial light.

O form'd o'er vice, o'er madness to prevail,
Bless'd source of blameless glory! Science, hail!—
When bleeding Discord rear'd her gorgon head,
And wide o'er earth and ocean ruin spread,
A generous foe to thy fam'd vot'ries gave
A peaceful passage o'er the hostile wave.—
Gallia! though stern Oppression's iron arm
Hung o'er thy plains, blasting each genial charm,
Thy gallant nobles knew with gentlest care
To heal by courtesy the wounds of war.—
Semblance alone of mercy—for beneath,
Writhed the fell serpent in the flowery wreath.—
The showy plumes that valour's crest adorn,
From pining Labour's wretched hands were torn,
And the kind smile that cheer'd the suppliant foe,
Frown'd unrelenting on domestic woe.—

The hour of vengeance comes!—but vengeance dress'd
In such dire horrors, that a rival's breast,—
An envied, injur'd rival's—swells with grief
At ills that pass excess, and mock belief.—
The hour of vengeance comes!—Justice in vain
Tries with numb'd arm the tempest to restrain.
She drops the sword, and Anarchy's wild hand
Waves the red torch of ruin o'er the land.—
Though her strong forts, and stronger hosts oppose
A dreadful barrier to assailing foes,
Domestic fury arm'd with civic rage,
Beyond the inroads of a Vandal age,
Spreading sad desolation's cruel sway,
Sweeps every trace of ancient worth away;
Rears slaughter's pile where slavery's fabric stood,
And stains fair Freedom's cause with blameless blood.—
So Ætna lifts aloft her haughty brow,
And hears the harmless tempest howl below:
Sublimely great, her azure head she shrouds
In the thick umbrage of surrounding clouds,
Her ample base while golden harvests hide,
And the ripe vintage purples o'er her side.—
But ah! the dreadful harbingers of doom
In silent ambush lurk within her womb,
Prompt at the fated moment to ascend,
And with fierce shock her fiery entrails rend;
Pour down the steeps with laughing plenty grac'd,
Lay every hope and every beauty waste,
Till the wide regions to the affrighted eye
One vast extent of smoking ruin lie.

Not to her native seats confin'd alone
Was struggling Gallia's wild convulsive groan;
With maniac rage she lifts her blood-stain'd hand,
And waves confusion o'er each neighbour land.
Europe's astonish'd sons, with trembling awe
Breathless and pale, the impending mischief saw,
And fearful threw their trembling eyes for aid
To shores their coward envy once betray'd.
Did Britain frown malignant on the woes
By fate retorted on her faithless foes?—

No—prone to godlike mercy, lo, she spreads
Her ample buckler o'er their prostrate heads.—
Each former wrong from memory's tablet tore,—
They were oppress'd, and she a foe no more.
Useless her generous aid—the furious bands
Pour like a torrent o'er Batavia's lands.
Iberia, struck with fear, the tempest flies,
And shameful safety by submission buys.
The swarming millions of exhaustless foes,
Nor valour can defeat, no skill oppose,
Vain was her force on foreign regions shewn,
Compell'd perhaps to combat for her own,
But that the guard of her surrounding wave
A potent check to mad invasion gave;
There in her native fortress firm she stood,
And frown'd defiance from her subject flood.
Not the wild frenzy of a transient hour
The trident firm can grasp of naval power.
That sceptre high she waves with sway supreme,
And scorns the phantoms of ambition's dream.—
Behold her veteran chief, victorious Howe,
The faded laurel tear from Gallia's brow;
On her own shores o'erthrown her naval pride,
Her captur'd ships in Britain's harbours ride.—
From brave Cornwallis' sails, in base retreat,
Flies with inglorious speed the numerous fleet.
Safe in the sheltering port, the timid foe
Eludes of Bridport's arm the threat'ning blow;
By peril taught with what resistless might
He knew to hurl the tempest of the fight.
And valiant Jarvis by the Iberian coast
Pours on the faithless foe his scanty host.
Superior squadrons rashly try in vain,
With swarming numbers to usurp the main;
Strict discipline to skill and courage join'd,
A penetrating eye, and ardent mind,
Conceive and execute the bold design,—
His thunder breaks the bold extended line,
And with a dauntless few he bears away
The well earn'd spoils of Britain's proudest day.

Pure source of every joy! mild Concord, bring
Each healing blessing on thy snowy wing;
Teach the wild storm of ruthless war to cease,
And charm the nations to the reign of Peace.
Then happier Commerce to the ambrosial gale
Shall free and fearless spread her welcome sail;
Waft wealth and plenty on each favouring breeze,
And dread no danger but from winds and seas.
Yet must the Muse, though cruel seem her lays,
Her warning voice in strain prophetic raise.
When hush'd to peace the ruder tempests sleep,
And Zephyr gently curls the rippling deep,
Will the skill'd mariner disarm his mind,
Lull'd by the placid swell and silken wind?—
No—long experience points the uncertain skies
Where unexpected whirlwinds sudden rise:
And though amid th'unruffled seas of spring
The flitting halcyon dip his azure wing,
By danger school'd, he stands prepar'd to brave
The loudest fury of the wintery wave.

Foster'd too oft by Peace's laughing reign,
Will luxury corrupt her fair domain:
Too oft with timid eye will Commerce gaze
On the rich stores surrounding wealth displays;
Then chill'd by danger, and by toil dismay'd,
Buy from a foreign force precarious aid.—
So Carthage fell!—in native strength elate
While the bold inmates of her rival state,
A race rapacious, unexhausted stood,
Resistless sons of rapine and of blood.—

War's dreadful clarion by Ambition blown,
The Muse of mercy ever must disown,
Though selfish pride assume the patriot's name,
And worlds, misjudging, call oppression fame:
Yet while by Cruelty or Avarice led,
Arm'd Violence will rear the hydra head;
While warlike hords will gaze with harpy eye
On the rich fields of peace and industry;
Let not her moral strain, seductive, charm
The sword of vengeance from the manly arm;
Or, while of war's destructive band she sings,
Forget what ill from coward softness springs:—
Full well she knows to paint the horrors spread
Terrific o'er the bleeding soldier's head,
When sinking breathless 'neath the hostile wound,
Wild War's insulting tumult raging round,
The last convulsive throe of ebbing life
Hangs on the orphan child and widow'd wife.
But ah! though dread that scene—let fancy trace
The woes degrading of the unwarlike race,
The gentle sons of sentimental fear,
Too weak to guard what manhood holds most dear,
When lust and murder with unbridled sway
Speed o'er their ruin'd seats their fatal way.—
Then to the gallant race who bravely stand
A breathing bulwark to their native land,
Shall not the Muse with care assiduous raise
The deathless guerdon of unblemish'd praise,
And o'er the martyr'd soldier's hallow'd bier
Pour with swoll'n eye affliction's grateful tear?—
Secure those chiefs of glory's purest meed,
Like Hawke who conquer, or like Wolfe who bleed.

Arm'd in her cause, on Chalgrave's fatal plain,
Where sorrowing Freedom mourns her Hambden slain,
Say, shall the moralizing bard presume
From his proud hearse to tear one warlike plume,
Because a Cæsar or a Cromwell wore
An impious wreath, wet with their country's gore?

Oft as the exulting Muse with pride surveys
The pile of fame Britannia's navies raise,
Trembling she sees the glorious fabric stand
On the loose basis of a shifting sand.
Athens and Carthage shine on history's page,
Portentous beacons to a distant age.—

How high their naval power, her annals tell,
Her annals too record how soon they fell.—
So may Britannia fall—yon bleeding shore,
Wasted by black revenge, and drench'd with gore,
Her commerce lost, her shatter'd fleets destroy'd,
Her coasts by predatory war annoy'd;
Her frantic sons by brutal fury stung,
Flames in the eye, and poison on the tongue,
Rushing in wild delirium of disease
With venom'd fang their shrinking foes to seize,
Spreading with hornet rage destruction round,
And satisfied to perish, if they wound.—
Yet, strong in native power, should Peace again
Bless with returning smile her genial plain,
Soon would her renovated fields display
Their freshening treasures to the healing ray;
As spring, emerging from the wintery blast,
Her flowers unfolds, nor heeds the tempest past.
But should the horrors of domestic broil,
Or hostile inroad Britain's bosom spoil;—
Whelm'd in the blood-stain'd wave her naval force,
Or basely poison'd in its vital source;
Though her firm sons in sullen courage stood,
And mark'd invasion's fatal paths with blood;
Though myriads pour'd upon her shores in vain,
But whiten'd with their bones her hostile plain;
Though Fame, where'er she turn'd her wondering eyes,
Beheld new Agincourts, new Creçis rise;
Yet, press'd at home, while on each distant coast
She mourn'd her empire sunk, her commerce lost,
Prone in the dust her vaunted power would lie,
Undone, amid the shouts of victory.
So when the loud tornado's fatal powers
Shake from their base the city's lofty towers,
The ruin'd fragments lie, no more to rise
Beneath the influence bland of brightening skies;
But noisome weeds 'mid the fall'n columns spread,
And the loath'd reptile shrouds his venom'd head.

'Tis not the oak whose hardy branches wave
O'er Britain's cliffs, and all her tempests brave;
'Tis not the ore her iron bowels yield,
The cordage growing on her fertile field,
That form her naval strength.—'Tis the bold race
Laughing at toil, and gay in danger's face,
Who quit with joy, when fame and glory lead,
Their richest pasture and their greenest mead,
The perils of the stormy deep to dare,
And jocund own their dearest pleasures there.
One common zeal the manly race inspires,
One common cause each ardent bosom fires,
From the bold youth whose agile limbs ascend
The giddy mast when angry winds contend,
And while the yard dips low its pointed arm,
Clings to the cord, and sings amidst the storm,
To the experienced chief, who knows to guide
The labouring vessel through the rolling tide;
Or when contending squadrons fierce engage,
Directs the battle's thunder where to rage:—

All, all alike with cool unfeign'd delight
Brave the tempestuous gale, and court the fight.
Britain! with jealous industry maintain
The sacred sources of this generous train,
Daring beyond what fable sings of old,
Yet mild in conquest, and humane as bold;
Now rushing on the foe with frown severe,
Now mov'd to mercy by compassion's tear.—
Fierce as the ruthless elements they brave
When their wrong'd country calls them to the wave;
Mild as the softest breeze that fans thy isle,
When sooth'd by peace and wooing beauty's smile.
A race peculiar to thy happy coast,
But lost by folly once, for ever lost.
Ne'er from the lap of luxury and ease
Shall spring the hardy warrior of the seas.—
A toilsome youth the mariner must form,
Nurs'd on the wave, and cradled in the storm.
This school thy coasts supply—the unwrought ore
Wafted from port to port around thy shore,
The northern mines, that sable stores unfold
To chase from blazing hearths frore winter's cold;—
These nurseries have train'd the daring crew
Through storms and war thy glory to pursue:
These have thy leaders train'd, and naval fame
Reads in their rolls her Cook's immortal name.
O ne'er may Commerce with misdeeming zeal
Weaken this source, her own, her country's weal,
And the canal, by tortur'd streams supplied,
Along our coasts with baleful labour guide,
Then boast, if war insults our chalky shores,
It yields safe conduct to our arms and stores.—
Perish such safety!—ne'er may commerce know
Safe conduct here but from a vanquish'd foe.—
Where mountain forests spread their deep'ning shade,
Where metals lurk beneath the midland glade,
Where mingled art and industry combine,
Weave the rich web, the liquid ore refine,
Let the canal, scoop'd out with plastic care,
To distant marts the useful produce bear;
But never may its stagnate waters lave
The sandy borders of the briny wave,
Or the rude bargeman's vile inglorious race
The generous hero of the sea replace.

O Millbrook! shall my devious feet no more
Pace the smooth margin of thy pebbly shore?
No more my eyes, when even the zephyrs sleep,
View the broad mirror of thy glassy deep,
Where the reflected spire and bordering shade
Inverted shine, by softer tint portray'd;
Or by the dancing moon-beam's silvery gleam
See the bright ripple of the curling stream,
While round the passing bark as eddies play,
A track of trembling radiance marks her way;
Or as the surge with ineffectual roar
Spends its rude force on the surrounding shore,
Behold its harmless vengeance idly beat
With vain and baffled fury at my feet?—
No more along the Channel's azure space
My sight the ship's expanding sail shall trace,
Through whose white folds—clad by the leafy year,
On the green uplands future fleets appear!—
Now through the stagnate pool, by banks confin'd,
Rolls the slow barge, dragg'd by the inglorious hind.—
By vengeance arm'd, ye powers of ocean rise!
And when full orb'd in equinoctial skies
The pale moon hangs, and with malignant pride
Rouses the driving storm, and swells the tide,
Lift high the trident, and with giant blow
Lay of vain man the pigmy labours low,
Chastize the weak presumption that would chain
The briny surge, and subjugate the main.

Though bold, and skill'd in all his native art,
On shore the mariner's incautious heart
Unpractic'd in the devious paths of guile
Falls a sure prey to each insidious wile;
Hence oft the dupe of selfish avarice made,
Hence oft by beauty's venal smile betray'd;
And hence did Faction once with treacherous aim
Lure the brave seaman from the paths of fame;
And Britain saw, amaz'd, her strongest power
On her own head with dreadful aspect lower;
While the base art of Gallic miscreants draws
Her truest patriots from their country's cause.—

Turn—turn the eye, nor view the only stain
That blots the annals of our naval reign;
On one dark tint of shame O cease to gaze,
Lost in surrounding glory's brighter blaze;
As the small spots that cloud the orb of day
Vanish to nothing in his noontide ray!

And see the beams of naval glory rise
Bright in meridian splendour to the skies!
Batavia's fleets, which long our hovering host
Held timid prisoners on their sheltering coast,
The transitory hour of absence seize,
And give their canvas to the freshening breeze.
The buoyant cutter spreads her agile wings,
And to our coast the wish'd-for tidings brings;
The foe's designs while valiant Trollope views,
By turns eludes them, and by turns pursues.
Soon as the bark arrives in Garien's bay,
Where Britain's wave-worn vessels anchoring lay,
Instant aloft the expected signal flies,
All view with beating hearts and ardent eyes;
All see with joy the leading flag display'd,
Bent is each sail, and every anchor weigh'd:
With canvas crowded groans the bending mast,
Loud through the cordage sings the favouring blast,
And as the keels the foaming surge divide,
Before the prow wild roars the whitening tide.
And now their eyes with glance impatient meet
The long hop'd prospect of the adverse fleet.
No squadron this by hands unskilful sped,
A race of seamen by a seaman led.—
Impetuous through the battle's fiery tides
The storm of war heroic Duncan guides.
The opposing line is pierced—when clustering foes
Vindictive round the daring warrior close;
Now on his beam the vollied thunders break
With dreadful peal, and now his stern they rake;—
Calm 'mid the fiery storm of death he stands,
Firm in his conduct, clear in his commands.—
Courage must bend to greater courage still,
Superior numbers to superior skill.
Her masts o'erthrown, and pil'd with dead her deck,
The Belgic leader lies a cumbrous wreck;
The scatter'd squadrons see with haggard eye
Britannia's ensign o'er Batavia's fly.
Dismay'd,—confus'd,—along the stormy main
Vainly they try the friendly coast to gain:
For all whose barks the battle's rage had borne,
Their timbers batter'd, and their cordage torn,
Fall to the victor's power,—while a mean race,
Veiling in coward boasts their own disgrace,
Safe in the shoaly Texel's channel, tell
How Belgium triumph'd, and Britannia fell.
What trophies shall the Muse to Duncan raise,
Whose worth transcends the boldest flight of praise?—

Will all the powers man's genius can display
Give added lustre to the beams of day?
His virtues shine in native worth array'd,
Nor want, nor ask, precarious flattery's aid.
Him to his senate Britain's Monarch calls,
His praise resounding from that senate's walls;
Walls where in woven tints portray'd are seen
The naval triumph of the maiden Queen.
The delegated sons of Britain's choice
In his applauses speak a people's voice;
And while from Caledonia's northern skies,
Prolific parent of the brave and wise,
Bursts the full strain in patriot ardour loud
Of such a son with honest vaunting proud,
England asserts her share of Duncan's fame,
And claims the hero in Britannia's name.

Nor, Onslow, shall the Muse to thee deny
The warrior's meed, the wreath of victory;
Or, gallant Burgess, o'er thy trophied bier
Forget to pour the tributary tear.
Nor the less known, though not less valiant train,
Who, nobly purging faction's recent stain,
Rush'd to the watery field at glory's call,
Unprais'd shall live, nor unlamented fall.—
Ah, gallant race! by bleeding victory crown'd,
Who, while life's current stream'd from every wound,
Cried with exulting, though with parting breath,
‘Now has our faith been prov'd!’ and smil'd in death.
Nor o'er the tombs of those who nobly died
Hang only pageant plumes of funeral pride;
All ranks unite to aid whom all revere,
And wipe the widow's and the orphan's tear:
Not opulence the boon alone bestows,
From humbler hearts the stream benignant flows;
And while the chiefs of Britain's banner'd host
Console the friends of kindred warriors lost,
The meanest soldier of the generous band
His scantier offering brings with liberal hand.

Imperial mistress of the briny plains,
Without a rival, now Britannia reigns.
Where'er in warlike pomp her barks appear,
Abash'd her recreant foes avow their fear,
On Gallia's threat'ning boasts, with scornful frown,
From her white cliffs she looks indignant down;
And while her fleet each clime remote explores,
While wide increasing Commerce spreads her stores
Wealth, science, courage, mingled flowers bestow
To deck the naval crown on George's brow.

Ye laurel'd chiefs, who rais'd his billowy reign!
Ye living heroes, who that power maintain!
Whose actions of renown my voice has sung
In feeble accents with a faltering tongue,
Forgive the daring effort, nor repine,
Though but recorded in a verse like mine.
The proudest Muse who soars on fiction's wings
Dims the bright lustre of the deeds she sings,
The minstrels of the epic song of old,
Who mighty acts of fabled chiefs unfold,
What seeds of fame for others have they sown,
Whose glorious works ennobled but their own?—
Your worth on that eternal base shall live
Nor fiction can destroy nor fiction give;
For History on her adamantine page
Those names displays to Time's remotest age,
Who free and fearless Glory's track pursued
Through every danger, and o'er every flood,
Britannia's thunder on Oppression hurl'd,
And thron'd her empress of the naval world.

Yet though the Muse wake not her sounding strings
With cadence equal to the theme she sings,
Oft tuned to humbler mood, her warbled lay
Has cheer'd the seaman on his watery way;
Now painting to his mind the faithful band
Of love and friendship in his native land,
Hailing with accents partial to the brave
The kind and constant warrior of the wave;
Now chanting slow the melancholy dirge
To Hosier, festering on the hostile surge;
Now striking loud the free heroic lyre
Kindling the blaze of emulative fire,
While the recording sailor's notes repeat
How gallant Russel vanquish'd Gallia's fleet.—
Nor let the sons of letter'd pride despise
Germs whence the vigorous shoots of valour rise:
So Attic freedom own'd Harmodius' strain,
So rous'd Tyrtæus' song the Spartan train.
Never shall Anarchy's mad dæmon tread
Insulting here, o'er Freedom's hallow'd head,
While Freedom's sons in festive carol raise
To George and Liberty their votive lays;
Never shall sink Britannia's naval fire
While rous'd to glory by her Thomson's lyre.—
Responsive to his lay, her Genius long
In act shall realize the raptur'd song
His fancy heard—what time the angelic train
Hail'd the bless'd isle emerging from the main,
With seraph hand their golden viols strung,
And to his ear the hymn prophetic sung.—
‘Long as her native oak's strong limbs defy
‘The furious blasts that rend her stormy sky,
‘Long as her rocky shores the ocean laves,
‘Shall Freedom and Britannia rule the waves.’


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010



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