Printed for J. Debrett, opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly.
1785M DCC LXXXV.
An Heroic Poem.
Canto the First.
From me, oh! far, Apollo, turn
The ſtreams of Satyr’s venom’d urn;
Me who at courtly themes aſpire,
Which aſk not an indignant lyre.
Let thoſe who wealth and eaſe diſclaim,
To win the empty bubble, Fame,
High wave the Nemeſean rod,
And range the tracts Alcæus Alcæus, of Meteline, who denounced the vengeance of Heaven againſt the Betrayers of their Country. trod.
Or like thoſe bards of later years,
Who tuned their lyres to Britiſh ears,
With drued rage on every crime,
Come thund’ring down in ruthleſs rhime.
But who that Fortune’s favour woos,
Would court, oh, Swift! thy cynic Muſe?
Or, arm’d with Churchill’s rougher laſh,
At vice with headlong fury daſh?
Some gentler ſiſter of the Nine,
Indulgent to my pray’r incline,
And ſoflty o’er my lute diffuſe
The balm of Flatt’ry’s genial dews.
In ſtrains, like Gnatho’s, teach my ſong,
The pleaſures which to wealth belong;
The conſcious joys which heave the breaſt,
In braids of pearl and rubies dreſt:
The rapture-kindled bluſh that breaks,
Like morning purple, o’er the cheeks
Of ſome fair dame, when firſt ſhe’s led
The courts of royalty to tread;
And vain of wealth, of favour vain,
With toſs contempt’ous ſmiles diſdain,
As preſſing through the titled crowd
She flaunts, of new-blown honours proud.
But why, my Muſe, with vagrant wing
Sweep’ſt thou this deſultory ſtring;
Why not, like other Bards, aſpire,
Sublime to tune the Epic lyre?
Behold bright ſubject for thy rhimes,
A Heroine haſtes from Indian climes;
Like Dido, when her wealth ſhe bore,
To found a throne on Africk’s ſhore.
’Tis Haſtings! high in princely ſtate;
Haſtings pre-eminently great;
Who ſweeps along the wat’ry plain,
With half an empire in her train.
Full from the Eaſt auſpicious gales,
Exulting, ſwell her fluttering ſails;
While Ocean groans beneath the weight
Of gold and iv’ry’s precious freight.
Oh! ſpare the coſtly treaſure, ſpare,
Ye Rulers of the billowey war,
The mighty plunder dearly bought,
By deeds beyond the reach of thought.
Now on the beach with ſtately mein
The Dame deſcends, in port a Queen;
While in gay ranks on either ſide,
Her train of liv’ri’d guards divide.
A gilded chariot now receives
The great Sultana from the waves;
And rolls in ſplendid pomp along,
The pageant of a wond’ring throng.
Next in long order, o’er the ſtrand,
Slow pacing, move her tawny band;
Oppreſs’d with gifts in triumph ſpread,
The chairs of ſtate, the iv’ry bed. Preſents for her Majeſty from Mrs. Haſtings.
Compar’d with which th’ beauteous throne
Where Iſreal’s mighty Monarch ſhone,
Were but a rude eſſay of art,
So highly wrought each finiſh’d part!
The curtains rich with netted gold,
Devolve in many a floating fold;
Where glow in radiant tints ſublime,
The blooms of India’s genial clime.
Next in the ſplendid pageant ſhines, A preſent to his Majeſty from Governor Haſtings.
From Hindoſtan’s exhauſtleſs mines
By theft purloin’d) that brilliant prize, In order to prevent any miſinterpretation of this ſentence, it is neceſſary to remind the reader, that the mines of Golconda belong to the Great Mogul, who reſerves for his own uſe all the diamonds which will not paſs through a certain ſieve; conſequently every gem of ſuperior ſize muſt be purloined either by the miners, or the officers employed to ſift them.
Which with meridian Phœbus vies.
Bright on the ſable foil it plays,
And flings around ten thouſand rays,
Out-beaming far the gem of old,
By Pitt to Gallic Lewis ſold.
Wealth flowing Albion! who ſhall dare
Thy Iſle with bankrupt States compare;
Whoſe ſubjects now can gifts ſupply,
Which once thy Monarch cou’d not buy?
And now to grace the ſtately train,
Spurning the ground in ſtern diſdain,
(For Monarch’s only form’d to ſtride)
Two Barbs Preſents to his Majeſty from Governor Haſtings. are led in martial pride.
Not more renownd for matchleſs ſpeed,
Thoſe courſers of etherial breed,
By Rheſus to the thund’ring car,
Enyok’d to grace the Dardan war.
Their manes like curling billows flow;
Their bitts with gold and diamonds glow;
By reins of platted ſilk reſtrain’d,
Which thrice the Tyrian vats had drain’d.
Strong riſe their necks in graceful bend;
Their fiery noſtrils wide diſtend;
And ſnuffing ev’ry gale on high,
They neigh defiance thro’ the ſky.
Next glitt’ring on a high rais’d car,
To catch th’admiring gaze from far,
The Dame’s regalia beams ſublime,
Rich ſpoils of many a ranſack’d clime.
And coſtly robes all broider’d round,
With pearls in fartheſt India found;
Or ſtudded, glorious to the view,
With opals of each varying hue.
Then pours profuſely on the ſhore,
Lacks pil’d on lacks, a princely ſtore; Lacks of rupees.
Millions of wealth, the ſpoils or bribes
Of ravag’d India’s royal tribes.
Proud ſtubborn tribes, who dar’d withhold
Their long worn gems, their thrones of gold,
Till from the ſcourge of war to ſave
Their country, they their treaſure gave.
Oh, glorious Chiefs! what northern ſphere
Shall e’er ſuch gen’rous Kings revere
As you, with patriot love replete,
Who pour’d your ſtores at Haſting’s feet?
Haſtings, to whoſe triumphant Bride,
Yet ling’ring near the billowey tide,
The Muſe returns, all proud to wait
A duteous handmaid on her ſtate;
And liſten with exulting ſoul,
As o’er the beach her axles roll,
To hear thoſe pealing It is ſaid Mrs. Haſtings was honoured on her landing with a grand ſalute from the batteries and ſhips in the harbour. thunders meet,
Which Kings and Heroes only greet.
And now, in marſhal’d order led,
While ſlow the lab’ring ſumpters tread,
A liv’ried train on ſprightly ſteeds,
The Dame’s triumphal car precedes:
And urge their ſpeed, till white with foam,
They reach that far renowned Dome, The Inn at Newbury.
Where many a princely gueſt can tell,
They found a Palace, not Hotel.
Yet for the Dame ’tis all too vile,
(Haſtings, though in a northern iſle,
Muſt find, where’er ſhe turns her eyes,
The ſplendor of the Indies riſe.
In haſte to grace her tranſient ſtay,
The buſy ſlaves their freight diſplay,
And from their poſting waggons ſpread
Carpets more worthy of her tread.
Then from the walls their arras tear,
And range in Eaſtern glory there,
Wrought hangings, dazzling to behold,
And ſofas fring’d with waving gold:
Nor leave undeck’d the ſpacious board,
But high with coſtly viands ſtor’d;
Gay porc’line ſpread, from Nanking brought,
All high with gold and azure wrought.
Then for the haſty banquet pour,
In chryſtal urns, the ſparkling ſtore,
Rich tears of the Madeiran vine,
Twice mellow’d by the glowing Line.
At length the panting ſcouts proclaim
The near approaches of the Dame,
Whoſe rapid wheels impetuous bound,
So ſwift they ſcarcely print the ground.
And now arriv’d, from each baſe eye
To guard the fair Divinity,
In files her ſwarthy Lackies ſtand,
And exile far the houſehold band;
Who tho’ till now round ev’ry gueſt,
Princely or regal, bowing preſt,
Stand peeping thro’ the crouded bar,
To ſpy the gorgeous train from far.
To London thence her courſe ſhe bends,
In ſplendor that with Crowns contends,
And gives to CScott’s――t’s Major C――t Scott aſſerted, in the Houſe of Commons laſt Seſſions, that Governor Haſtings was too poor to live in England on his fortune. opprobrious tale
The lie, not even equivocal.
There high in favour ſee her blaze,
’Midſt gems wou’d daunt an eagle’s gaze;
High tow’ring with Imperial mien,
In Britain’s court a ſiſter Queen.
Next in her glitt’ring Palace view,
Wealth that might barter half Peru,
In gay magnificence diſplay’d,
For pomp of ſtate, or beauty’s aid:
While to her crouded levy ſteer
Director, Nabob, Stateſman, Peer;
In haſte th’ illuſtrious Dame to greet,
And breathe their homage at her feet.
And now loud ratt’ling towards her gate,
The P—em—r’s chariot rolls in ſtate;
While perch’d behind four liveried beaux,
The pride of full-blown power diſcloſe.
Alighted now, while fixt remain
In glittering files the turban’d train,
Two ſlaves of higher rank proceed,
In ſtate the pompous gueſt to lead.
And as each grand ſaloon they tread,
With Perſian carpets richly ſpread;
With hangings deck’d whoſe coſtly pride,
Might well enrobe ſome royal bride:
While from their lofty domes deſcend,
Luſtres that with the ſun contend
In beaming glory; o’er the ſoul,
Of gazing P――t, what tranſports roll?
He views, exulting in the thought,
The wealth from plunder’d India brought;
And hopes ſome future day may yield,
To him the ſpoils of ſuch a field.
At length thro’ many a chamber paſt,
The ante-room receives at laſt
Th’ illuſtrious gueſt; and op’ning ſpread
The doors which to the cloſet lead.
No favour’d Prince, of whom we’re told
In tales Arabian Bards unfold,
When led by Fays at midnight hour
To view their Queen’s reſplendent bower,
More rapture ſhew’d, or more ſurprize,
Than ſparkled in the Stateſman’s eyes,
While now their glance at once explores,
The wealth of Ind’s impoveriſh’d ſhores
A while in fancy wrapt, he deems
The noon arriv’d, whoſe golden beams,
Thus on his glitt’ring gems ſhall play,
And meet from each a rival ray.
Now Haſtings riſing from her throne,
(For ſure like one the ſofa ſhone)
All gracious deigns her form to bend,
And hail him as her huſband’s friend;
Then on a couch ſuperbly graced
With tiſſued velvet as ſhe placed
Th’ admiring youth, in ſtrains ſublime,
Rich as the flow of eaſtern rhime;
Or buſkin’d heroines, when by rules
Declaiming of Stagiran ſchools,
The fair embaſſadreſs declares
Thoſe greetings from her Lord ſhe bears.
Then ſmiling cries, Oh, P—t! behold
Yon curtains deep-feſtoon’d with gold;
Theſe coſtly ſlabs Lazulian vein’d,
On tails of burniſh’d ſnakes ſuſtain’d;
That tap’ſtry by the needle wrought,
With wealth of ranſom’d Monarchs bought;
Theſe porc’lain jars whence ſweets diffuſe;
This chryſtal urn which drops with dews,
From roſes in their prime diſtill’d;
Theſe caſkets rich, with treaſure fill’d,
Pearls, corals, ſhells, from Ocean’s caves
Selected, or the Gangean waves.
Theſe (ſhe exclaim’d, while high her breaſt,
The rapture heaving ſoul confeſt)
To thy auſpic’ous influence due,
Muſt oft this grateful theme renew.
For, oh!(ſhe cry’d, with lifted eyes,
And hands appealing to the ſkies)
What now had been my Warren’s fate;
What now his beggar’d widow’s ſtate;
But that thy pow’r in Friendſhip’s cauſe,
The rage reſtrain’d of ruthleſs laws?
Thoſe laws which none beneath the throne,
Could dare oppoſe ſave P—t alone.
Hoſtile had’ſt thou, great Chief, aroſe,
Dread leader of inquiring foes,
E’en G—t had breath’d among their train
His golden arguments in vain.
And all this wealth by Haſtings ſtor’d,
Been ſwift to Britain’s coffers pour’d;
Nor left one Jagier to ſuſtain,
My lonely life’s afflicted wane.
And ſtill full oft with fell controul,
Diſtracting terrors rack my ſoul,
Leſt, tranſient as a meteor’s blaze,
Shou’d ſhine the ſplendor of my days:
For rang’d full firm in phalanx ſtand,
With ſtrength renew’d, yon veteran band,
To ſhake by fierce aſſaults again,
The baſis of our Indian reign.
Again in fancy on mine ear,
Loud burſt the thunders of their war,
And now, methinks, transfix’d with dread,
My Haſtings to their bar is led.
Diſpel thoſe fears (great P—t reſum’d)
Firſt be the Britiſh throne intom’d,
Deep in the central rocks that pile,
The ſtrong foundations of our Iſle.
Firſt ſhall the waves which laſh our ſhore,
High o’er the loftieſt mountains roar;
And of Britannia’s ancient fame,
Leave but the record of a name.
No:—though in F—x’s head-ſtrong band,
The nobleſt ſons of Britain ſtand,
From India’s unexhauſted ſtore,
We’ll draw the golden nerves of war;
Till bound and trembling in our toil,
The patriot Hydra we incoil,
And cruſh thoſe ſtubborn chiefs who tread
The paths wherein their fires have bled.
Then ſhall their factious legions feel,
The force of Fortune’s adverſe wheel;
While tax on tax their coffers drain,
Enriching thoſe who forg’d their chain.
Then ſhall triumphant Haſtings ſtand,
With pow’r, with honours at command;
Trampling the neck of each bold ſlave,
Who dares him to the ordeal brave.
While thou, illuſtrious Dame, ſhalt ſhine,
Where e’er thy fancy may incline;
Alike rever’d if thou reſort,
To Britain’s, or thine Indian Court.
End of the First Canto.