Blenheim, a Poem

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Blenheim, a Poem (1705)
by John Philips
2878517Blenheim, a Poem1705John Philips (1676-1709)




Inscrib'd to the Right Honourable



Printed for Tho. Bennet, at the Half-Moon in
St. Paul's Church-yard.1705.





FRom low and abject Themes the Grov'ling Muse
Now mounts Aerial, to sing of Arms
Triumphant, and emblaze the Martial Acts
Of Britain's Heroe; may the Verse not sink
Beneath His Merits, but detain a while
Thy Ear, O Harley, (thô thy Country's Weal
Depends on Thee, thô mighty ANNE requires
Thy hourly Counsels) since with ev'ry Art
Thy self adorn'd, the mean Essays of Youth
Thou wilt not damp, but guide, wherever found,
The willing Genius to the Muses Seat:
Therefore Thee first, and last, the Muse shall Sing.

LOng had the Gallic Monarch uncontrol'd
Enlarg'd his Borders, and of Human Force
Opponent slightly thought, in Heart elate,
As erst Sesostris, (proud Ægyptian King,
That Monarchs harness'd to his Chariot yok't,
(Base Servitude!) and his dethron'd Compeers
Lasht furious; they in sullen Majesty
Drew the uneasie Load.) Nor less he aim'd
At Universal Sway: For WILLIAM's Arm
Could naught avail, however fam'd in War;
Nor Armies leagu'd, that diversly assay'd
To curb his Pow'r enormous; like an Oak,
That stands secure, thô all the Winds employ
Their ceaseless Roar, and only sheds its Leaves,
Or Mast, which the revolving Spring restores:
So stood he, and Alone; Alone defy'd
The Europæan Thrones combin'd, and still
Had set at Naught their Machinations vain,
But that Great ANNE, weighing th'Events of War
Momentous, in Her prudent Heart, Thee chose,
Thee, CHURCHILL, to direct in nice Extreams
Her banner'd Legions. Now their pristin Worth
The Britons recollect, and gladly change

Sweet Native Home for unaccustom'd Air,
And other Climes, where diff'rent Food and Soil
Portend Distempers; over dank, and dry,
They journey toilsome, unfatigu'd with Length
Of March, unstruck with Horror at the sight
Of Alpine Ridges bleak, high stretching Hills,
All White with Summer Snows. They go beyond
The Trace of English Steps, where scarce the Sound
Of Henry's Arms arriv'd; such Strength of Heart
Thy Conduct, and Example gives; nor small
Encouragement Godolphin, Wise, and Just,
Equal in Merit, Honour, and Success
To Burleigh, (fortunate alike to serve
The Best of Queens:) He, of the Royal Store
Splendidly frugal, fits whole Nights devoid
Of sweet Repose, Industrious to procure
The Soldiers Ease; to Regions far remote
His Care extends, and to the British Host
Makes ravag'd Countries plenteous as their own.

And now, O CHURCHILL, at thy wisht Approach
The Germans, hopeless of Success, forlorn,
With many an Inroad gor'd, their drooping Cheer
New animated rouse; not more rejoice

The miserable Race of Men, that live
Benighted half the Year, benumm'd with Frosts
Perpetual, and rough Boreas keenest Breath,
Under the Polar Bear, inclement Sky,
When first the Sun with New-born Light removes
The long incumbent Gloom; gladly to thee
Heroic Laurel'd Eugene yeilds the Prime,
Nor thinks it Diminution, to be rankt
In Military Honour next, althô
His deadly Hand shook the Turchestan Throne
Accurs'd, and prov'd in far divided Lands
Victorious; on thy pow'rful Sword alone
Germania, and the Belgic Coast relies,
Won from th'encroaching Sea: That Sword Great ANNE
Fix'd not in vain on thy puissant Side,
When Thee Sh'enrolled Her Garter'd Eiiights among,
Illustrating the Noble List; Her Hand
Assures good Omens, and Saint George's worth
Enkindles like Desire of high Exploits.
Immediate Sieges, and the Tire of War
Rowl in thy eager Mind; thy Plumy Crest
Nods horrible, with more terrific Port
Thou walk'st, and seem'st already in the Fight.
What Spoils, what Conquests then did Albion hope

From thy Achievements! yet thou had surpast
Her boldest Vows, exceeded what thy Foes
Could fear, or fancy; they, in Multitude
Superior, fed their Thoughts with Prospect vain
Of Victory, and Rapine, reck'ning what
From ransom'd Captives would accrue. Thus One
Jovial his Mate bespoke; O Friend, observe,
How gay with all th'Accoutrements of War
The Britons come, with Gold well fraught they come
Thus far, our Prey, and tempt us to subdue
Their recreant Force; how will their Bodies stript
Enrich the Victors, while the Vultures sate
Their Maws with fuII Repast! Another, warm'd
With high Ambition, and Conceit of Prowess
Inherent, arrogantly thus presum'd;
What if This Sword, full often drench'd in Blood
Of base Antagonists, with griding Edge
Should now cleave sheer the execrable Head
Of CHURCHILL, met in Arms! or if This Hand,
Soon as his Army disarray'd 'gins swerve,
Should stay Him flying, with retentive Gripe,
Confounded, and appal'd! no trivial Price
Should set Him free, nor small should be My Praise
To lead Him shackl'd, and expose to scorn

Of gath'ring Crowds the Briton's boasted Chief.

Thus They, in sportive mood, their empty Taunts
And Menaces exprest; nor could their Prince
In Arms, vain Tallard, from opprobrious Speech
Refrain; Why halt ye thus, ye Britons? why
Decline the War? shall a Morass forbid
Your easie March? Advance; we'll bridge a Way,
Safe of Access. Imprudent, thus t'invite
A furious Lion to his Folds! that Boast
He ill abides, captiv'd in other Plight
He soon revisits Britanny, that once
Resplendent came, with strech't Retinue girt,
And pompous Pageantry; O Hapless Fate,
If any Arm, but CHURCHILL's, had prevail'd!

No need such Boasts, or Exprobations false
Of Cowardice; the military[errata 1] Mound
The British Files transcend, in evil Hour
For their proud Foes, that fondly brav'd their Fate.
And now on either Side the Trumpet blew,
Signal of Onset, Resolution firm
Inspiring, and pernicious Love of War.
The adverse Fronts in rueful Conflict meet,

Collecting all their Might; for on th'Event
Decisive of this bloody Day depends
The Fate of Kingdoms: With less Vehemence
The great Competitors for Rome engag'd,
Cæsar, and Pompey, on Pharsalian Plains,
Where stern Bellona, with one final Stroke,
Adjudg'd the Empire of this Globe to One.
Here the Bavarian Duke his Brigades leads,
Gallant in Arms, and Gaudy to behold,
Bold Champion! brandishing his Noric Blade,
Best temper'd Steel, successless prov'd in Field!
Next Tallard, with his Celtic Infantry
Presumptuous comes: Here CHURCHILL, not so prompt
To Vaunt, as Fight, his hardy Cohorts joins
With Eugene's German Force. Now from each Van
The brazen Instruments of Death discharge
Horrible Flames, and turbid streaming Clouds
Of Smoak sulphureous; intermix't with these
Large globous Irons fly, of dreadful Hiss,
Singeing the Air, and from long Distance bring
Surprizing Slaughter; on each side they fly
By Chains connex't, and with destructive Sweep
Behead whole Troops at once; the hairy Scalps
Are whirl'd aloof, while numerous Trunks bestrow

Th'ensanguin'd Field; with latent Mischief stor'd
Show'rs of Granadoes rain, by sudden Burst
Disploding murd'rous Bowels, fragments of Steel,
And Stones, and Glass, and nitrous Grain adust
A Thousand Ways at once the shiver'd Orbs
Fly diverse, working Torment, and foul Rout
With deadly Bruise, and Gashes furrow'd deep.
Of Pain impatient, the high prancing Steeds
Disdain the Curb, and flinging to and fro,
Spurn their dismounted Riders; they expire
Indignant, by unhostile Wounds destroy'd.

Thus thrô each Army, Death in various Shapes,
Prevail'd; here mangled Limbs, here Brains and Gore
Lye clotted; lifeless Some: With Anguish These
Gnashing, and loud Laments invoking Aid,
Unpity'd, and unheard; the louder Din
Of Guns, and Trumpets clang, and solemn Sound
Of Drums o'ercame their Groans. In equal Scale
Long hung the Fight, few Marks of Fear were seen,
None of Retreat: As when two adverse Winds,
Sublim'd from dewy Vapours, in mid Sky
Engage with horrid Shock, the ruffled Brine
Roars stormy, they together dash the Clouds,

Levying their Equal Force with utmost Rage;
Long undecided lasts the Airy Strife.
So they, incens'd: 'Till CHURCHILL, viewing where
The Violence of Tallard most prevail'd,
Came to oppose His slaught'ring Arm; with speed
Precipitant He rode, urging His Way
O'er Hills of gasping Heroes, and fall'n Steeds
Rowling in Death: Destruction, grim with Blood,
Attends His furious Course. Him thus enrag'd
Decrying from afar some Engineer,
Dextrous to guide th'unerring Change, design'd
By One nice Shot to terminate the War.
With Aim direct the levell'd Bullet flew,
But miss'd her Scope (for Destiny withstood
Th'approaching Wound) and guiltless Plough'd her Way
Beneath His Courser; round His Sacred Head
The glowing Balls play innocent, while He
With dire impetuous Sway deals Fatal Blows
Amongst the scatter'd Gauls. But O! Beware
Great Warrior, nor too prodigal of Life
Expose the British Safety: Hath not Jove
Already warn'd Thee to withdraw? Reserve
Thy self for other Palms. Ev'n now Thy Aid
Eugene, with Regiments unequal prest,

Awaits; This Day of all His Honours gain'd
Despoils Him, if Thy Suocour opportune
Defends not the sad Hour: Permit not Thou
So Brave a Leader with the Vulgar Herd
To bite the Ground unnoted —Swift, and Fierce
As wintry Storm, He flies, to reinforce
The yielding Wing ; in Gallic Blood again
He dews His reeking Sword, and strows the Ground
With headless Ranks; (so Ajax interpos'd
His Sevenfold Shield, and skreen'd Laertes's Son,
For Valour much, and Warlike Wiles Renown'd
When the insulting Trojans urg'd Him sore
With tilted Spears:) Unmanly Dread invades
The French astony'd; straight Their useless Arms
They quit, and in their swift Retreat confide,
Unseemly Yelling; distant Hills return
The hideous Noise. What can They do? Or how
Withstand His Wide-destroying Sword? or where
Find Shelter thus repuls'd? behind with Wrath
Resistless, th'Eager English Champions Press,
Chastising tardy Flight; Before them rowls
His Current swift the Danube, Vast, and Deep
Supream of Rivers; to the frightful Brink,
Urg'd by compulsive Arms, soon as they reacht,

New Horror chill'd Their Veins; devote They saw
Themselves to wretched Doom: with Efforts vain,
Encouraged by Despair, or Obstinate
To Fall like Men in Arms, Some dare renew
Feeble Engagement, meeting Glorious Fate
On the firm Land; the Rest discomfited,
And pusht by MARLEBOROUGH's avengeful Hand,
Leap plunging in the wide extended Flood:
Bands, numerous as the Memphian Soldiery
That swell'd the Erythræan Wave, when Wall'd
The Unfroze Waters marvelously stood,
Observant of the Great Command. Upbore
By frothy Billows Thousands float the Stream
In cumbrous Mail, with love of farther Shore;
Confiding in their Hands, that sed'lous strive
To cut th'outragious Fluent: In this Distress,
Ev'n in the fight of Death, Some, Tokens shew
Of fearless Friendship, and their sinking Mates
Sustain; vain Love, thô laudable! absorpt
By a fierce Eddy, They together found
The vast Profundity; their Horses paw
The swelling Surge, with fruitless Toil: Surcharg'd,
And in his Course obstructed by large Spoil,
The River flows redundant, and attacks

The lingring Remnant with unusual Tide;
Then Rowling back, in His Capacious Lap
Ingulfs Their whole Militia, quick immerst.
So when some swelt'ring Travellers retire
To leafy Shades, near the cool Sunless Verge
Of Paraba, Brasilian Stream; Her Tail
Of vast Extension, from Her watry Den,
A grisly Hydra suddenly shoots forth,
Insidious, and with curl'd invenom'd Train
Embracing horridly, at once the Crew
Into the River whirles; th'unweeting Prey
Entwisted roars, the parted Wave rebounds.

Nor did the British Squadrons now surcease
To gall their Foes o'erwhelm'd; full many felt
In the moist Element a scorching Death,
Pierc'd sinking; Shrouded in a dusky Cloud
The Current flows, with livid missive Flames
Boiling, as once Pergamean Xanthus boil'd,
Inflam'd by Vulcan when th'Swift-footed Son
Of Peleus to his baleful Banks pursu'd
The straggling Trojans: Nor Iess Eager drove
Victorious CHURCHILL His desponding Foes
Into the deep Immense, that many a League

Impurpl'd ran, with gushing Gore distain'd.

Thus the Experience'd Valour of One Man,
Mighty in Conflict, rescu'd harrast Pow'rs
From Ruin impendent, and th’ afflicted Throne
Imperial, that once Lorded o’er the World,
Sustain’d. With prudent Stay, he long deferr’d
The rough Contention, nor would deign to rout
An Host disparted; when, in Union firm
Embody’d, They Advanc’d, collecting All
Their Strength, and worthy seem’d to be subdu’d;
He the proud Boafters sent, with stern Assault,
Down to the Realms of Night. The British Souls,
(A Lamentable Race!) that ceas'd to breathe,
On Landen-Plains, this Heav’nly Gladsome Air,
Exult to see the crouding Ghosts descend
Unnumber'd; well aveng’d, they quit the Cares
Of Mortal Life, and Drink th’ Oblivious Lake.
Not so the New Inhabitants; They roam
Erroneous, and disconsolate, Themselves
Accusing, and their Chiefs, improvident
Of Military Chance; when-lo! They see,
Thrô the Dun Mist, in Blooming Beauty fresh,
Two Lovely Youths, that Amicably walkt

O'er Verdant Meads, and pleas'd, perhaps, revolv'd
ANNA's late Conquests; One, to Empire Born,
Egregious Prince, whose Manly Childhood shew'd
His mingled Parents, and Portended Joy
Unspeakable; Thou, His Associate Dear
Once in this World, nor now by Face disjoin'd,
Had thy presiding Star propitious shone,
Shouldst CHURCHILL be! But Heav'n severe cut short
Their springing Years, nor would, this Isle should boast
Gifts so Important! Them the Gallic Shades
Surveying, read in either radiant Look
Marks of excessive Dignity and Grace,
Delighted; 'till, in One, their Curious Eye
Discerns the Great Subduer's Awful Mien,
And Corresponding Features Fair; to Them
Confusion! Straight the Airy Phantomes fleet,
With Headlong Haste, and Dread a new Persuit;
The Image pleas'd with Joy Paternal Smiles.

Enough, O Muse; the sadly-pleasing Theme
Leave, with these Dark Abodes, and Re-ascend
To breathe the upper Air, where Triumphs wait
The Conqu'ror, and sav'd Nations joint Acclaim.
Hark, how the Canon, inoffensive Now,

Gives Sighs of Gratulation; struggling Crouds
From ev'ry City flow; with ardent Gaze
Fixt, they behold the British Guide, of Sight
Insatiate; whilst His Great Redeeming Hand
Each Prince affects to touch respectful. See,
How Prussia's King transported Entertains
His Mighty Guest; to Him the RoyaI Pledge,
Hope of his Realm, commits, (with better Fate,
Than to the Trojan Chief Evander gave
Unhappy Pallas) and intreats to shew
The Skill and Rudiments austere of War.
See, with what Joy, Him Leopold declares
His Great Deliverer; and courts t'accept
Of Titles, with superior Modesty
Better refus'd. Mean while the Haughty King
Far humbler Thoughts now learns; Despair, and Fear
Now first he feels; his Laurels all at once
Torn from his Aged Head, in Life's extream,
Distract his Soul; nor can Great Boileau's Harp
Of various sounding Wire, best taught to calm
Whatever Passion, and exalt the Soul
With highest Strains, his languid Spirits cheer:
Rage, Shame, and Grief, alternate in his Breast.

But who can tell what Pangs, what sharp Remorse
Torment the Boian Prince? From Native Soil
Exil'd by Fate, torn from the dear Embrace
Of weeping Consort, and depriv'd the Sight
Of his young guiltless Progeny, he seeks
Inglorious Shelter, in an Alien Land;
Deplorable! but that his Mind averse
To Right, and Insincere, would violate
His plighted Faith: Why did he not accept
Friendly Composure offer'd? or well weigh,
With Whom he must Contend? Encount'ring fierce
The Solymæan Sultan, he o'erthrew
His Moony Troops, returning bravely smear'd
With Painim Blood effus'd; nor did the Gaul
Not find him once a baleful Foe: But when,
Of Counsel rash, new Measures he persues,
Unhappy Prince! (no more a Prince) he sees
Too late his Error, forc'd t' implore Relief
Of Him, he:once defy'd. O Destitute
Of Hope, unpity'd! Thou should'st first have thought
Of persevering stedfast; now upbraid
Thy own inconstant lll-aspiring Heart.
Lo! how the Noric Plains, thrô Thy Default,
Rise hilly, with large Piles of slaughter'd Knights,

Best Men, that Warr'd still firmly for their Prince,
Thô Faithless, and Unshaken Duty shew'd;
Worthy of Better End. Where Cities stood,
Well Fenc'd, and Numerous, Desolation Reigns,
And Emptiness, dismay'd, unfed, unhous'd,
The Widow, and the Orphan Strole around
The Desart wide; with oft retorted Eye
They view the Gaping Walls, and Poor Remains
Of Mansions, once their own (now loathsome Haunts
Of Birds obscene), bewailing loud the Loss
Of Spouse, or Sire, or Son, e'er Manly Prime
Slain in sad Conflict, and complain of Fate
As Partial, and too Rigorous; nor find
Where to Retire themselves, or where Appease
Th'afflictive keen Desire of Food, expos'd
To Winds, and Storms, and Jaws of Savage Beasts.

Thrice Happy Albion! from the World disjoin'd
By Heav'n Propitious, Blissful Seat of Peace!
Learn from Thy Neighbour's Miseries to Prize
Thy Welfare; Crown'd with Nature's Choicest Gifts,
Remote Thou hear'st the Dire Effect of War,
Depopulation, void alone of Fear,
And Peril, whilst the Dismal Symphony

Of Drums and Clarions other Realms annoys.
Th'Iberian Scepter undecided, here
Engages mighty Hosts in wasteful Strife;
From diff'rent Climes the Flow'r of Youth descends
Down to the Lusitanian Vales, resolv'd
With utmost Hazard to Enthrone their Prince,
Gallic, or Austrian; Havoc dire ensues,
And wild Uproar: The Natives, dubious whom
They must Obey, in Consternation wait,
'Till rigid Conquest will pronounce their Liege.
Nor is the Brazen Voice of War unheard
On the mild Latian Shore; what Sighs and Tears
Hath Eugene caus'd! How many Widows curse
His cleaving Faulchion! Fertile Soil in vain!
What do thy Pastures, or thy Vines avail,
Best Boon of Heav'n! or huge Taburnus, cloath'd
With Olives, when the Cruel Battel mows
The Planters, with their Harvest immature?
See, with what Outrage from the frosty North,
The early Valiant Swede draws forth his Wings
In Battailous Array, while Volga's Stream
Sends Opposite, in shaggy Armor clad,
Her Borderers; on mutual Slaughter bent,
They rend their Countries. How is Poland vext

With Civil Broils, while Two Elected Kings
Contend for Sway? Unhappy Nation, left
Thus free of Choice! The English, undisturb'd
With such sad Privilege, submiss Obey
Whom Heav'n ordains Supream, with Rev'rence due,
Not Thraldom, in fit Liberty secure.
From Scepter'd Kings, in long Descent derived,
Thou ANNA Rulest, Prudent to promote
Thy People's Ease at home, nor Studious less
Of Europe's Good; to Thee, of Kingly Rights
Sole Arbitress, declining Thrones, and Pow'rs
Sue for Relief; Thou bid'st Thy CHURCHILL go,
Succour the Injur'd Realms, Defeat the Hopes
Of Haughty Louis, unconfin'd; He goes
Obsequious, and the dread Command fulfils,
In One Great Day. Again Thou giv'st in Charge
To Rook, that He should let that Monarch know,
The Empire of the Ocean wide diffus'd
Is Thine; behold! with winged Speed He rides
Undaunted o'er the lab'ring Main, t' assert
Thy liquid Kingdoms; at his near Approach
The Gallic Navies[errata 2], impotent to bear
His Volly'd Thunder, torn, dissever'd, scud
And bless the friendly interposing Night.

Hail, Mighty QUEEN, reserv'd by Fate, to Grace
The New-born Age; what Hopes may we conceive
Of future Years, when to Thy Early Reign
Neptune submits his Trident, and Thy Arms
Already have prevail'd to th'utmost Bound
Hesperian, Calpe, by Alcides fixt,
Mountain Sublime, that crafts a Shade of Length
Immeasurable, and Rules the Inland Waves!
Let Others, with Insatiate Thirst of Rule,
Invade their Neighbours Lands, neglect the Ties
Of Leagues, and Oaths; this Thy peculiar Praise
Be still, to Study Right and Quell the Force
Of Kings Perfidious; let them learn from Thee,
That neither Strength, nor Policy refin'd
Shall with Success be Crown'd, where Justice fails.
Thou with Thy own Content, not for Thy Self,
Subduest Regions; Generous to Raise
The Suppliant Knee, and Curb the Rebel Neck.
The German Boasts Thy Conquests, and Enjoys
The Great Advantage; nought to Thee redounds
But Satisfaction from Thy Conscious Mind.

Auspicious QUEEN, since in Thy Realms secure
Of Peace, Thou Reign'st, and Victory attends

Thy distant Ensigns, with Compassion view
Europe Embroil'd; Still Thou (for Thou Alone
Sufficient art) the jarring Kingdoms Ire,
Reciprocally ruinous; Say Who
Shall weild th'Hesperian, Who the Polish Sword,
By Thy Decree; the trembling Lands shall hear
Thy Voice, Obedient, lest Thy Scourge should bruise
Their Stubborn Necks, and CHURCHILL in his Wrath
Make Them Remember Bleinheim with Regret.

Thus shall the Nations, Aw'd to Peace, Extol
Thy Pow'r, and Justice; Jealousies and Fears,
And Hate Infernal banish'd shall retire
To Mauritania or the Bactrian Coasts,
Or Tartary, Engend'ring Discords fell
Amongst the Enemies of Truth; while Arts
Pacific, and Inviolable Love
Flourish in Europe. Hail Saturnian Days
Returning! In perpetual Tenor run
Delectable, and Shed your Influence Sweet
On Virtuous ANNA's Head; ye Happy Days,
By HER restor'd, Her Just Designs compleat,
And, mildly on HER Shining, Bless the World.

Thus from the Noisy Croud exempt, with Ease,
And Plenty blest, amid the Mazy Groves;
(Sweet Solitude!) when Warbling Birds provoke
The Silent Muse, delicious Rural Seat
Of Saint John, English Memmius, I presum'd
To Sing Britannic Trophies, inexpert
Of War, with mean Attempt; while He intent
(So ANNA's Will Ordains) to Expedite
His Military Charge, no Leisure finds
To String His Charming Shell; But when Return'd
Consummate Peace shall Rear Her Chearful Head,
Then shall His CHURCHILL in Sublimer Verse
For Every Triumph; latest Times shall learn
From Such a Chief to Fight, and Bard, to Sing.



Page 6. line 16. for Limitary read Military, p.19 l. 22 f. Navy r. Navies.


  1. Original: limitary was amended to military: detail
  2. Original: Navy was amended to Navies: detail

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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