A British PHILIPPIC

Occasion'd by the Insults of the
Spaniards
, and the present Preparations 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 Ardor, throws aside
The trembling Lyre, and with the Warrior Trump
She means to thunder in each
British
Ear.
And if one Spark of Courage, Sense of Fame,
Disdain of Insult, Dread of Infamy,
One Thought of public Virtue yet survive,
She means to wake it, rouze the gen'rous Flame,
With Patriot Zeal inspirit ev'ry 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 and Virtue? Where is now
The
British
Spirit, generous, warm and brave,
So frequent known from Tyranny and Woe
To free the suppliant Nations? Where, indeed!
If that Protection, once to Strangers giv'n,
Be now withheld from Sons? Each kindling Thought
That warm'd our Sires, is lost,
In Luxury and Av'rice.—Baneful Vice!
How it unmans a Nation! Yet I'll try,
I'll aim to shake this vile degen'rate Sloth;
I'll dare to rouze
Britannia's
dreaming Sons
To Fame, to Virtue, and impart around
A generous Feeling of compatriot Woes.

Come then the various Pow'rs of forceful Speech!
All that can charm, awaken, fire, transport;
Come the bold Ardor of the
Theban
Bard!
Th'arouzing Thunder of the Patriot
Greek
!
The soft Persuasion of the
Roman
Sage!
Come all! and raise me to an equal Height,
A Rapture worthy of my glorious Cause!
Lest my best Efforts failing should debase
The sacred Theme; for with no common Wing
The Muse attempts to soar. Yet what need these?
My Country's Fame, my free-born
British
Heart
Shall be my best Inspirers, raise my Flight
High as the
Theban's
Pinion, and with more
Than
Greek
or
Roman
Ardor fire my Soul,
—And animate my Numbers. Were there Words
Expressive of the Thoughts that glow within,
Oh! could I give the vast Ideas Birth,
No more should lazy Luxury detain
Our martial Youth; no more should
Britain's
Sons
Sit meanly passive, and regardless hear
The Prayers, Sighs, Groans, (immortal Infamy!)
Of fellow
Britons
, with Oppression sunk,
In Bitterness of Soul demanding Aid,
Calling on
Britain
their dear native Land,
The Land of Liberty; so greatly fam'd
For just Redress; the Land so often dy'd
With her best Blood, for that arouzing Cause,
The Freedom of her Sons; those Sons that now,
Far from the Blessings of her easy Sway,
Drag the vile Fetters of a
Spanish
Lord.
And dare they, dare the vanquish'd Sons of
Spain

Enslave a
Briton
? Have they then forgot,
So soon forgot the great, th'immortal Day,
When rescu'd
Sicily
with Joy beheld
The swift-wing'd Thunder of the
British
Arm
Disperse their Navies? When their coward Bands
Fled, like the Raven from the Bird of
Jove
,
From dread impending Vengeance fled in vain?
Are these our Lords? And can
Britannia
see
Her Foes, oft vanquish'd, thus defy her Pow'r,
Insult her Standard, and enslave her Sons;
Yet not arise to Justice? Did our Sires,
Unaw'd by Chains, by Exile, or by Death,
Preserve inviolate her guardian Rights,
And sacred ev'n to
Britons
! that their Sons
Should give them up to Spaniards?—Turn your Eyes,
Turn ye Degen'rate, who with haughty Boast
Call yourselves Britons, to that dismal Gloom,
That Dungeon dark and deep, where never Thought
Of Joy or Peace can enter; see the Gates
Harsh-creaking open; what an hideous Void,
Dark as the yawning Grave! while still as Death
A frightful Silence reigns: There on the Ground
Behold your Brethren, chain'd like Beasts of Prey:
There mark your num'rous Glories, there behold
The Look that speaks unutterable Woe;
The mangled Limb, the faint, the deathful Eye
With Famine sunk, the deep heart-bursting Groan
Suppress'd in Silence; view the loathsome Food,
Refus'd by Dogs, and oh! the stinging Thought!
View the dark
Spaniard
glorying in their Wrongs,
The deadly Priest triumphant in their Woes,
And thundering worst Damnation on their Souls:
While that pale Form in all the Pangs of Death,
Too faint to speak, yet eloquent of all
His native
British
Spirit yet untam'd,
Raises his Head, and with indignant Frowns
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Mark Akenside

Mark Akenside was an English poet and physician. more…

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"A British PHILIPPIC" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/26481/a-british-philippic>.

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