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Poem by Thomas Tickell

An Epistle from a Lady in England, to a Gentleman at Avignon

To thee, dear rover, and thy vanquish'd friends,
The health she wants, thy gentle Chloe sends;
Though much you suffer, think I suffer more,
Worse than an exile on my native shore.
Companions in your master's flight you roam,
Unenvy'd by your haughty foes at home;
For-ever near the royal out-law's side,
You share his fortunes, and his hopes divide;
On glorious schemes, and thoughts of empire dwell,
And with imaginary titles swell.
Say, (for thou know'st I own his sacred line,
The passive doctrine, and the right divine)
Say, what new succours does the chief prepare?
The strength of armies? or the force of pray'r?
Does he from heav'n or earth his hopes derive?
From saints departed? or from priests alive?
Nor saints nor priests can Brunswick's troops withstand,
And beads drop useless through the zealot's hand;
Heav'n to our vows may future kingdoms owe,
But skill and courage win the crowns below.
Ere to thy cause, and thee, my heart inclin'd,
Or love to party had seduc'd my mind,
In female joys I took a dull delight,
Slept all the morn, and punted half the night;
But now, with fears and publick cares possess'd,
The church, the church, for-ever breaks my rest.
The Post-boy on my pillow I explore,
And sift the news of ev'ry foreign shore,
Studious to find new friends, and new allies;
What armies march from Sweden in disguise;
How Spain prepares her banners to unfold,
And Rome deals out her blessings, and her gold:
Then o'er the map my finger taught to stray,
Cross many a region marks the winding way;
From sea to sea, from realm to realm I rove,
And grow a mere geographer by love.
But still Avignon, and the pleasing coast
That holds Thee banish'd, claims my care the most;
Oft on the well-known spot I fix my eyes,
And span the distance that between us lies.
Let not our James, tho' foil'd in arms, despair,
Whilst on his side he reckons half the fair:
In Britain's lovely isle a shining throng
War in his cause, a thousand beauties strong.
Th' unthinking victors vainly boast their pow'rs;
Be theirs the musket, while the tongue is ours.
We reason with such fluency and fire,
The beaux we baffle, and the learned tire,
Against the prelates plead the church's cause,
And from our judges vindicate the laws.
Then mourn not, hapless prince, thy kingdoms lost,
A crown, tho' late, thy sacred brow may boast;
Heav'n seems through us thy empire to decree,
Those who win hearts, have giv'n their hearts to thee.
Hast thou not heard that, when profusely gay,
Our well-dress'd rivals grace their sov'reign's day,
We stubborn damsels met the publick view
In loathsome wormwood, and repenting rue?
What whig but trembled, when our spotless band
In virgin roses whiten'd half the land!
Who can forget what fears the foe possess'd,
When oaken boughs mark'd ev'ry loyal breast!
Less scar'd near Medway's stream the Norman stood,
When cross the plain he spy'd a marching wood,
'Till near at hand, a gleam of swords betray'd
The youth of Kent beneath its wand'ring shade.
Those, who the succours of the fair despise,
May find that we have nails as well as eyes.
The female bands, O prince by Fortune cross'd,
At least more courage than thy men may boast;
Our sex has dar'd the mug-house chiefs to meet,
And purchase fame in many a well-fought street.
From Drury-lane, the region of renown,
The land of love, the Paphos of the town,
Fair patriots sallying oft have put to flight
With all their poles the guardians of the night,
And borne, with screams of triumph, to their side
The leader's staff in all its painted pride.
Nor fears the hawker in her warbling note
To vend the discontented statesman's thought.
Tho' red with stripes, and recent from the thong,
Sore smitten for the love of sacred song,
The tuneful sisters still pursue their trade,
Like Philomela darkling in the shade.
Poor Trott attends, forgetful of a fare,
And hums in concert o'er his empty chair.
Mean while, regardless of the royal cause,
His sword for James no brother sovereign draws.
The Pope himself surrounded with alarms,
To France his bulls, to Corfu sends his arms,
And though he hears his darling son's complaint,
Can hardly spare one tutelary saint;
But lists them all to guard his own abodes,
And into ready money coins his gods.
The dauntless Swede, pursu'd by vengeful foes,
Scarce keeps his own hereditary snows;
Nor must the friendly roof of kind Lorrain
With feast regale our garter'd youth again:
Safe, Bar-le-duc, within thy silent grove
The pheasant now may perch, the hare may rove:
The knight, who aims unerring from afar,
Th' advent'rous knight, now quits the sylvan war:
The brinded boars may slumber un-dismay'd,
Or grunt secure beneath the chesnut shade.
Inconstant Orleans (still we mourn the day
That trusted Orleans with imperial sway)
Far o'er the Alps our helpless monarch sends,
Far from the call of his desponding friends.
Such are the terms to gain Britannia's grace!
And such the terrors of the Brunswick race!
Was it for this the sun's whole lustre fail'd,
And sudden midnight o'er the noon prevail'd!
For this did heav'n display to mortal eyes
Aërial knights and combats in the skies?
Was it for this Northumbrian streams look'd red,
And Thames driv'n backward show'd his secret bed!
False auguries! th' insulting victors scorn!
Ev'n our own prodigies against us turn!
O portents constru'd on our side in vain!
Let never Tory trust eclipse again!
Run clear, ye fountains! be at peace, ye skies!
And, Thames, henceforth to thy green borders rise!
To Rome then must the royal wand'rer go,
And fall a suppliant at the papal toe?
His life in sloth inglorious must he wear,
One half in luxury, and one in pray'r?
His mind perhaps at length, debauch'd with ease,
The proffer'd purple and the hat may please.
Shall he, whose ancient patriarchal race
To mighty Nimrod in one line we trace,
In solemn conclave sit, devoid of thought,
And poll for points of faith his trusty vote!
Be summon'd to his stall in time of need,
And with his casting suffrage fix a creed!
Shall he in robes on stated days appear,
And English hereticks curse once a year!
Garnet and Faux shall he with pray'rs invoke,
And beg that Smithfield piles once more may smoak!
Forbid it heav'n! my soul, to fury wrought,
Turns almost Hanoverian at the thought.
From James and Rome I feel my heart decline,
And fear, O Brunswick, 'twill be wholly thine;
Yet still his share thy rival will contest,
And still the double claim divides my breast:
The fate of James with pitying eyes I view,
And wish my homage were not Brunswick's due;
To James my passions and my weakness guide,
But reason sways me to the victor's side.
Though griev'd I speak it, let the truth appear;
(You know my language, and my heart, sincere.)
In vain did falshood his fair fame disgrace;
What force had falshood, when he show'd his face!
In vain to war our boastful clans were led;
Heaps driven on heaps, in the dire shock they fled:
France shuns his wrath, nor raises to our shame
A second Dunkirk in another name:
In Britain's funds their wealth all Europe throws,
And up the Thames the world's abundance flows:
Spite of feign'd fears, and artificial cries,
The pious town sees fifty churches rise:
The hero triumphs as his worth is known,
And sits more firmly on his shaken throne.
To my sad thought no beam of hope appears
Through the long prospect of succeeding years;
The son aspiring to his father's fame,
Shows all his sire: another and the same.
He blest in lovely Carolina's arms,
To future ages propagates her charms:
With pain and joy at strife, I often trace
The mingled parents in each daughter's face;
Half sick'ning at the sight, too well I spie
The father's spirit through the mother's eye:
In vain new thoughts of rage I entertain,
And strive to hate their innocence in vain.
O princess! happy by thy foes confess'd!
Blest in thy husband! in thy children blest!
As they from thee, from them new beauties horn,
While Europe lasts, shall Europe's thrones adorn.
Transplanted to each court, in times to come,
Thy smile celestial and un-fading bloom
Great Austria's sons with softer lines shall grace,
And smooth the frowns of Bourbon's haughty race.
The fair descendents of thy sacred bed
Wide-branching o'er the western world shall spread,
Like the fam'd Banian tree, whose pliant shoot
To earthward bending of itself takes root,
Till like their mother plant, ten thousand stand
In verdant arches on the fertile land;
Beneath her shade the tawny Indians rove,
Or hunt at large through the wide echoing grove.
O thou, to whom these mournful lines I send,
My promis'd husband, and my dearest friend;
Since heav'n appoints this favour'd race to reign,
And blood has drench'd the Scottish fields in vain;
Must I be wretched, and thy flight partake?
Or wilt not thou, for thy lov'd Chloe's sake,
If not to Brunswick, O return to me!
Prostrate before the victor's mercy bend:
What spares whole thousands, may to thee extend.
Should blinded friends thy doubtful conduct blame,
Great Brunswick's virtues will secure thy fame:
Say, these invite thee to approach his throne,
And own the monarch heav'n vouchsafes to own.
The world, convinc'd, thy reasons will approve;
Say this to Them; but swear to Me 'twas love.

Thomas Tickell

Thomas Tickell's other poems:
  1. The Tomb of Addison
  2. On Queen Caroline's Rebuilding of the Lodgings of the Black Prince
  3. On the Prospect of Peace
  4. To a Lady before Marriage
  5. To the Earl of Warwick, on the Death of Mr. Addison

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