A British Philippic
Poem by Mark Akenside
Occasioned by the insults of the Spaniards, and the present preperations for war. 1738.
Whence this unwonted transport in my breast?
Why glow my thoughts, and whither would the Muse
Aspire with rapid wing? Her country's cause
Demands her efforts: at that sacred call
She summons all her ardour, throws aside
The trembling lyre, and with the warrior's trump
She means to thunder in each British ear;
And if one spark of honour or of fame,
Disdain of insult, dread of infamy,
One thought of public virtue yet survive, 10
She means to wake it, rouse the generous flame,
With patriot zeal inspirit every breast,
And fire each British heart with British wrongs.
Alas, the vain attempt! what influence now
Can the Muse boast! or what attention now
Is paid to fame or virtue? Where is now
The British spirit, generous, warm, and brave,
So frequent wont from tyranny and woe
To free the suppliant nations? Where, indeed!
If that protection, once to strangers given, 20
Be now withheld from sons? Each nobler thought,
That warrn'd our sires, is lost and buried now
In luxury and avarice. Baneful vice!
How it unmans a nation! yet I'll try,
I'll aim to shake this vile degenerate sloth;
I'll dare to rouse Britannia's dreaming sons
To fame, to virtue, and impart around
A generous feeling of compatriot woes.
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