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WITH THE FOLLOWING POEM OF
HE bard, who first adorned our native tongue,
Tuned to his British lyre this ancient song;
Which Homer might without a blush rehearse,
And leaves a doubtful palm in Virgil's verse:
He matched their beauties, where they most excel;
Of love sung better, and of arms as well.
Vouchsafe, illustrious Ormond, to behold
What power the charms of beauty had of old;
Nor wonder if such deeds of arms were done,
Inspired by two fair eyes that sparkled like your own.
* Lady Mary Somerset, second wife of the Duke of Ormond, to whom she was married in 1685. She was second daughter of Henry, first Duke of Beaufort.
If Chaucer by the best idea wrought,
And poets can divine each other's thought,
The fairest nymph before his eyes he set,
And then the fairest was Plantagenet ; *
Who three contending princes made her prize,
And ruled the rival nations with her eyes;
Who left immortal trophies of her fame,
And to the noblest order gave the name.
Like her, of equal kindred to the throne, You keep her conquests, and extend your own : As when the stars in their ethereal race, At length have rolled around the liquid space, At certain periods they resume their place, From the same point of heaven their course advance, And move in measures of their former dance; Thus, after length of ages, she returns, Restored in you, and the same place adorns ; Or you perform her office in the sphere, Born of her blood, and make a new platonic year. ↑
*The first patroness of Chaucer was Blanche, first wife of John, Duke of Gaunt, whose death he has celebrated in the "Boke of the Duchesse." She was the second daughter of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, grandson of Edmund, surnamed Crouchback, brother of Edward I. But I do not know how the Duchess of Ormond could be said to be " born of her blood," since she was descended of John of Gaunt by his third, not his first wife. Dryden, however, might not know, or might disregard, these minutiæ of genealogy.
+ John of Gaunt had by his mistress, Catharine Rouet, whom he afterwards married, three sons and a daughter, who were legitimated by act of Parliament. John de Beaufort, the eldest of these, was created Earl of Somerset, and from him the ducal family of Beaufort are lineally descended. The patent of the first Duke, the father of this Duchess of Ormond, bears to be, in consideration of his services, and of his most noble descent from King Edward III., by John de Beaufort, eldest son of John of Gaunt, by his third marriage.
O true Plantagenet, O race divine,
(For beauty still is fatal to the line,)
Had Chaucer lived that angel-face to view,
Sure he had drawn his Emily from you;
Or had you lived to judge the doubtful right,
Your noble. Palamon had been the knight;
And conquering Theseus from his side had sent
Your generous lord, to guide the Theban govern-
Time shall accomplish that; and I shall see
A Palamon in him, in you an Emily.
Already have the Fates your path prepared,
And sure presage your future sway declared:
When westward, like the sun, you took your way,
And from benighted Britain bore the day,
Blue Triton gave the signal from the shore,
The ready Nereids heard, and swam before
To smooth the seas; a soft Etesian gale
But just inspired, and gently swelled the sail:
Portunus took his turn, whose ample hand †
Heaved up the lightened keel, and sunk the sand,
And steered the sacred vessel safe to land.
The land, if not restrained, had met your way,
Projected out a neck, and jutted to the sea. I
Hibernia, prostrate at your feet, adored,
In you, the pledge of her expected lord;
† Our author remembered his master Virgil:
Et Pater ipse, manu magnâ, Portunus euntem
ENEIDOS, Lib. V.
Our author is guilty of the same extravagant idea in the Astræa Redux :"
It is no longer mation cheats your view;
As you meet it, the land approacheth you.
For which he is deservedly censured by Dr Johnson.
Due to her isle, a venerable name;
His father and his grandsire known to fame;
Awed by that house, accustomed to command,
The sturdy kerns in due subjection stand,
Nor bear the reins in any foreign hand.
At your approach, they crowded to the port;
And scarcely landed, you create a court:
As Ormond's harbingert to you they run,
For Venus is the promise of the sun.
The waste of civil wars, their towns destroyed,
Pales unhonoured, Ceres unemployed,
Were all forgot; and one triumphant day
Wiped all the tears of three campaigns away. ‡
Blood, rapines, massacres, were cheaply bought,
So mighty recompence your beauty brought.
As when the dove returning bore the mark
Of earth restored to the long-labouring ark,
The relics of mankind, secure of rest,
Ope'd every window to receive the guest,
And the fair bearer of the message blessed:
So, when you came, with loud repeated cries,
The nation took an omen from your eyes,
And God advanced his rainbow in the skies,
To sign inviolable peace restored;
The saints, with solemn shouts, proclaimed the new
When at your second coming you appear,
(For I foretel that millenary year,)
The sharpened share shall vex the soil no more,
But earth unbidden shall produce her store;
The land shall laugh, the circling ocean smile,
And heaven's indulgence bless the holy isle.
The Duchess of Ormond went to, Ireland in autumn 1697, according to Mr Malone, and was followed by the Duke. ·
Alluding to the wars of the Revolution in Ireland.