Si velimus cum priorum temporum necessitate certare, vincemur. Ingeniosior est enim ad excogitandum si­mulatio, Veritate; servitus, Libertate; metus, Amo­re. Plin. Pan. Trajan.

[Price One Shilling.]


Represented before Their ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE PRINCE and PRINCESS of WAL [...] At CLIFFDEN, On the First of August, 1740.

LONDON: Printed for A. MILLAR, over-against St. Clement's Church in the Strand. M DCC XL.


After the Danes had made themselves masters of Chippenham, the strongest city in the Kingdom of Wessex; Alfred was at once abandoned by all his subjects. In this uni­versal defection, that Monarch found him­self obliged to retire into the little isle of Athelney in Somersetshire; a place then rough with woods and of difficult access. There, habited like a peasant, he lived un­known, for some time, in a shepherd's cot­tage. He is supposed to be found in this retreat by the Earl of Devon; whose castle, upon the river Tau, was then be­sieged by the Danes.

EARL of Devon.
CORIN, a shepherd.
EMMA, his wife.

A B [...], Soldiers, Spirits.

The SCENE represents a plain, surrounded with woods. On one side, a cottage: on the other, flocks and herds in distant prospect. A Hermit's cave in full view, overhung with trees, wild and grotesque.




SHEPHERD, 'tis he. Beneath yon aged oak,
All on the flowery turf he lays him down.
Soft: let us not disturb him. Gentle EMMA,
Poor tho' he be, unfriended and unknown,
My pity waits with reverence on his fortune.
Modest of carriage, and of speech most gracious,
As if some saint or angel, in disguise,
Had grac'd our lowly cottage with his presence,
He steals, I know not how, into the heart,
And makes it pant to serve him. Trust me, EMMA,
He is no common man.
[Page 8]
Some lord, perhaps,
Or valiant chief, that from our deadly foe,
The haughty, cruel, unbelieving Dane,
Seeks shelter here.
And shelter he shall find.
Who loves his country is my friend and brother.
Behold him well. Fair manhood in its prime,
Even thro the homely russet that conceals him,
Shines forth, and proves him noble. Seest thou, EMMA,
Yon western clouds? The sun they strive to hide,
Yet darts his beam around.
Your thought is mine:
He is not what his present fortunes speak him.
But, ah! the raging foe is all around us:
We dare not keep him here.
Content thee, wife:
This island is of strength. Nature's own hand
Hath planted round a deep defence of woods,
The sounding ash, the mighty oak; each tree
A sheltering grove: and choak'd up all between
With wild encumbrance of perplexing thorns,
And horrid brakes. Beyond this woody verge,
Two rivers broad and rapid hem us in.
Along their channel spreads the gulphy pool,
And trembling quagmire, whose deceitful green
Betrays the foot it tempts. One path alone
Winds to this plain, so roughly difficult,
This single arm, poor shepherd as I am,
Could well dispute it with twice twenty Danes.
Yet think, my CORIN, on the stern decree
[Page 9] Of that proud foe; "Who harbours or relieves
"An English captain, dies the death of traitors:
"But who their haunts discovers, shall be safe,
"And high rewarded."
Now, just heaven forbid,
A British man should ever count for gain,
What villainy must earn. No: are we poor?
Be honesty our riches. Are we mean,
And humbly born? The true heart makes us noble.
These hands can toil, can sow the ground and reap,
For thee and thy sweet babes. Our daily labour
Is daily wealth: it finds us bread and raiment.
Could Danish gold give more?
Alas the while,
That loyal faith is fled from hall and bower,
To dwell with village-swains!
Ah look! behold!
Where, like some goodly tree by wintry winds
Torn from the roots and withering, our sad guest
Lies on the ground diffus'd.
I weep to see it.
Thou hast a heart sweet pity loves to dwell in.
Dry up thy tears; and lean on this just hope:
If yet to do away his country's shame,
To serve her bravely on some blest occasion;
If for these ends this stranger sought our cottage,
The heavenly hosts are hovering here unseen,
To watch and to protect him.—But oh! when—
My heart burns for it—shall I see the hour
Of vengeance on those Danish infidels,
[Page 10] That war with heaven and us?
Alas, my love!
These passions are not for the poor man's state.
To heaven and to the rulers of the land
Leave such ambitious thoughts. Be warn'd, my CORIN:
And think our little all depends on thee.


O peace! the fairest child of heaven,
To whom the sylvan reign was given,
The vale, the fountain and the grove,
With every softer scene of love:
Return, sweet peace! and chear the weeping swain;
Return, with ease and pleasure in thy train.
Hush: break thee off—For see, our mournful guest
Has rais'd his head—and lo! who comes to greet him;
His friend, the woodman of the neighbouring dale,
Whom late, as yester evening-star arose,
At his request I found, and hither brought.


How long, sweet heaven! how long
Shall red war desolate this prostrate land?
All, all is lost—And ALFRED lives to tell it!
His cities laid in dust! his subjects slaughter'd!
Or into slaves debas'd! the murderous foe
[Page 11] Proud and exulting in the general shame!—
Are these things so? and He without the means
Of great revenge? cast down below the hope
Of succouring those he weeps for? O despair!
O grief of griefs!
Old as I am, my Liege,
In rough war harden'd, and with death familiar,
These eyes have long forgot to melt with softness:
But O, my gracious master, they have seen—
All-pitying heaven!—such sights of ruthless rage,
Of total desolation—
O my people!
O ruin'd England!—DEVON, those were blest,
Who dy'd before this time. Ha! and those robbers,
That violate the sanctity of leagues,
The reverend seal of oaths; that basely broke,
Like nightly ruffians, on the hour of peace,
And stole a victory from men unarm'd,
Those Danes enjoy their crimes! Dread vengeance! [...]
Of power and justice! come, array'd in terrors,
Thy garment red with blood, thy keen fword drawn:
O come, and on the heads of faithless men
Pour ample retribution; men whose triumph
Upbraids eternal justice.—But no more:
Submission is heaven's due.—I will not launch
Into that dark abyss where thought must drown.
Proceed, my lord: on with the mournful tale,
My griefs broke off.
From yonder heath-crown'd hill,
This island's eastern point, where in one stream
The Thone and Parret roll their blending waves,
[Page 12] I look'd, and saw the progress of the foe,
As of some tempest, some devouring fire
That ruins without mercy where it spreads.
The riches of the year, the golden grain
That liberal crown'd our plains, lies trampled wide
By hostile feet, or rooted up and waste
Deforms the broad high-way. From space to space,
Far as my straining eye could shoot its beam,
Trees, cottages, and castles, smoak to heaven
In one ascending cloud. But Oh for pity!
That way, my lord, where yonder verdant height,
Declining, slides into a fruitful vale,
Unsightly now and bare; a few poor hinds,
Grey-hair'd, and thinly clad, stood and beheld
The common ravage: motionless and mute
With hands to heaven uplift, they stood, and wept—
My tears attended theirs—
If this sad sight
Could pain thee to such anguish, what must I
Their king and parent feel?—Thou sacred shade
Of my lov'd father! all ye parted spirits
Of my fam'd ancestors! be men once more,
To know my pangs, and weep for England's shame—
Why end I not at once this wretched being?
The means are in my hand.—But shall a prince
Thus poorly shroud him in the grave from pain,
And sense of shame? The madman, nay the coward,
Has often dar'd the same. A monarch holds
His life in trust for others. I will live then:
Let heaven dispose the rest.
Thrice-noble ALFRED,
And England's only hope, whose virtues raise
Our frail mortality, our human dust,
[Page 13] Up to angelic splendor and perfection;
With you to bear the worst of ills, the spoil
Of wasteful war, the loss of life or freedom,
Is happiness, is glory.
Ah, look round thee:
That mud-built cottage is thy sovereign's palace.
You hind, whose daily toil is all his wealth,
Lodges and feeds him. Are these times for flattery?
Or call it praise: such gaudy attributes
Would misbecome our best and proudest fortunes.
But what are mine? what is this high-prais'd ALFRED?
Among ten thousand wretches, most undone.
That prince who sees his country laid in ruins,
His subjects perishing beneath the sword
Of foreign rage; who sees and cannot save them,
Is but supreme in misery!
My Liege,
Who has not known ill fortune, never knew
Himself, or his own virtue. Be of comfort:
We can but die at last. Till that hour comes,
Let noble anger keep our hopes alive.
A sudden thought, as if from heaven inspir'd,
Darts on my soul. One castle still is ours,
Tho close begirt and shaken by the Danes.
In this disguise, my chance of passing on,
Of entering there unknown, is promising,
And wears a lucky face. 'Tis our last stake,
And I will play it like a man whose life,
Whose honor hangs upon a single cast.
Mean while, my Lord—
[Page 14]
Ha! DEVON, thou hast rous'd
My slumbering virtue. I applaud thy thought.
The praise of this brave daring shall be thine:
The danger shall be common. We will both
Strait tempt the Danish camp, and gain this fort;
To animate our brothers of the war,
Those Englishmen who yet deserve that name.
And hear, eternal Justice! if my life
Can make atonement for them, King of Kings!
Accept thy willing victim. On my head
Be all their woes: To them be grace and mercy.
Come on, my noble friend.
Ah, good my Liege,
What fits a private valor, and might grace
The simple soldier's venture, would proclaim
His general's rashness. You are England's king:
Your infant children, and your much-lov'd queen;
Nay more, the public weal, ten thousand souls,
Whose hope you are, whose all depends on you,
Forbid this enterprize. 'Tis nobler courage
To cheque this ardor, to reserve your sword
For some great day of known and high import;
That to your country, to the judging world
Shall justify all hazards you may run.
This trial suits but me.
Stay thee, rash man—
Despair and indignation wing his steps.
May that good angel, who inspir'd thy thought,
Throw round thy steps a veil of cloudy air,
That thou mayst walk invisible and safe.—
Now for reflection—Ha! this sylvan scene,
The broad wild umbrage of these pendant shades
[Page 15] That murmur in the breeze, and deep embrown,
As evening spreads the holy Hermit's cave:
These scenes that musing Melancholy loves,
Breathe their still influence on me. O blest lot
Of calm obscurity—But, list. Ha! whence
These air-born notes that sound in measur'd sweetness
Thro this vast silence?


Solemn music is heard at a distance. It comes nearer in a full symphony: after which a single trum­pet sounds a high and awakening air. Then the following stanzas are sung by two aërial spirits unseen.
Hear, ALFRED, father of the state,
Thy Genius heaven's high will declare!
What proves the hero truly great,
Is never, never to despair:
Is never to despair.
Second SPIRIT.
Thy hope awake, thy heart expand
With all its vigor, all its fires.
Arise! and save a sinking land!
Thy country calls, and heaven inspires.
Earth calls, and heaven inspires.


ALFRED alone.
All hail, ye gentle ministers of heaven!
Your song inspires new patience thro my breast,
And generous hope: it wings my mounting soul
Above th' entangling mass of earthly passions,
That keep frail man, tho struggling to be free,
Still fluttering in the dust.


ALFRED, the HERMIT advancing from his cave.
Thrice-happy Hermit!
Whom thus the heavenly habitants attend,
Blessing thy calm retreat; while ruthless war
Fills the polluted land with blood and crimes.
In this extremity of England's fate,
Led by thy sacred character, I come
For comfort and advice. Thy aged wisdom,
Purg'd from the stormy cloud of human passions,
And by a ray from heaven exalted, sees
Deep thro' futurity. Say what remains,
What yet remains to save our prostrate country?
Nor scorn this anxious question even from me,
A nameless stranger.
[Page 17]
ALFRED, England's king,
All hail! and welcome to this humble cell.
Whence dost thou know me, venerable father?
Last night, when with a draught from that cool fountain,
I had my wholesome, sober supper crown'd;
As is my stated custom, forth I walk'd,
Beneath the solemn gloom and glittering sky,
To feed my soul with prayer and meditation.
And thus to inward harmony compos'd,
That sweetest music of the grateful heart,
Whose each emotion is a silent hymn;
I to my couch retir'd. Strait on mine eyes
A pleasing slumber fell, whose mystic power
Seal'd up my senses, but enlarg'd my soul.
At once, disclos'd amid the dark waste night,
A vision to my phantasy appear'd.
For know, this ample element contains
Unnumber'd spiritual beings, or malign,
Or good to man. These, when the grosser eye
Of nature sleeps, oft play their several parts,
As on a scene, before th' attentive mind,
And to the favour'd man disclose the future.
Led by these spirits friendly to this isle,
I liv'd thro' future ages; felt the virtue,
The great, the glorious passions that will fire
Distant posterity: when guardian laws
Are by the patriot, in the glowing senate,
Won from corruption; when th' impatient arm
Of liberty, invincible, shall scourge
The tyrants of mankind—and when the Deep,
Through all her swelling waves, shall proudly joy
Beneath the boundless empire of thy sons.
[Page 18] I saw thee, ALFRED, too—But o'er thy fortunes
Lay cloud [...] impenetrable.
Ah, good Hermit,
That scene is dark indeed! Ye awful powers!
To what am I reserv'd? Still must I roam
A wanderer here, inglorious and unknown?
Or am I destin'd thy great instrument,
From fierce oppression to redeem this land?
Perhaps, the last.—But, prince, remember, then,
The vows, the noble uses, of affliction.
Preserve the quick humanity it gives,
The pitying, social sense of human weakness:
Yet keep thy stubborn fortitude entire,
The manly heart that to another's woe
Is tender, but superior to its own.
Learn to submit; yet learn to conquer fortune.
Attach thee firmly to the virtuous deeds
And offices of life: to life itself,
With all its vain and transient joys, sit loose.
Chief, let devotion to the sovereign mind,
A steady, chearful, absolute dependance
On his best, wisest government, possess thee.
In thoughtless, gay prosperity, when all
Attends our wish; when nought is seen around us,
But kneeling flattery, and obedient fortune;
Then are blind mortals apt, within themselves
To fix their stay, forgetful of the giver.
But when thus humbled, ALFRED, as thou art,
When to their feeble natural powers reduc'd,
'Tis then they feel this universal truth—
That heaven is all in all—and man is nothing.
[Page 19]
I thank thee, father, for thy pious counsel.
And witness, thou dread power! who seest my heart;
That if not to perform my regal task,
To be the common father of my people,
Patron of honor, virtue and religion;
If not to shelter industry, to guard
His honest portion from oppressive pride,
From wastful riot, and the sons of rapine,
Who basely ravish what they dare not earn;
If not to deal out justice, like the sun,
With equal light; if not to spread thy bounty,
The treasures trusted to me, not my own,
On all the smiling ranks of nourish'd life;
If not to raise our drooping English name,
To clothe it yet with terror; make this land
Renown'd for peaceful arts to bless mankind,
And generous war to humble proud oppressors:
If not to build on an eternal base,
On liberty and laws, the public weal:
If not for these great ends I am ordain'd,
May I ne'er idly sill the throne of England!
Still may thy breast these sentiments retain,
In prosperous life.
Prosperity were ruin,
Could it destroy or change such thoughts as these.
When Those whom heaven distinguishes o'er millions,
Prosusing on them honors, riches, power,
Whate'er th' expanded heart can wish; when they,
Accepting the reward, neglect the duty;
Or worse, pervert these gifts to deeds of ruin:
Is there a wretch they rule so mean as they?
Guilty, at once of sacrilege to heaven,
[Page 20] And of perfidious robbery to men—
But hark! methinks I hear a plaintive voice
Sigh thro the vale, and wake the mournful echo.


Sweet valley, say, where, pensive lying,
For me, our children, England, sighing,
The best of mortals leans his head.
Ye fountains, dimpled by my sorrow,
Ye brooks that my complainings borrow,
O lead me to his lonely bed:
Or if my lover,
Deep woods, you cover,
Ah whisper where your shadows o'er him spread!
'Tis not the loss of pomp and pleasure,
Of empire, or of tinsel treasure,
That drops this tear, that swells this groan:
No; from a nobler cause proceeding,
A heart with love and fondness bleeding,
I breathe my sadly-pleasing moan.
With other anguish
I scorn to languish:
For Love will feel no sorrows but his own.


Sure, by the voice, and purport of the song,
This generous mourner is my queen, ELTRUDA.
And yet how can that be?—O all good powers!
'Tis she! 'tis she!
My lord, my life, my ALFRED!
Oh take me to thy arms; with toil o'ercome,
And sudden transport, thus at once to find thee,
In this wild forest, pathless and perplext!
Come to my soul, thou dearest, best of women!
Come, and repose thy sorrows in my bosom.
O all my passions mix in doubtful strife!
If pain or joy prevail, I scarce can say,
While thus I clasp thee, yet recall the perils
To which thy trembling steps have been expos'd.
Why hast thou left the convent where I plac'd thee?
Why, unprotected trust thee to a land,
A barbarous land where rages Danish war?
Our hospitable England is no more!
Dire was the cause, my ALFRED. The rous'd country,
All hurl'd in breathless terror and confusion,
Inform'd us, a near party of the Danes,
Whose brutal fury spares no sex, no age,
No place however privileg'd or holy,
Were on full march that way. Instant I fled,
[Page 22] In this disguise, with only these attendants:
But in our way oft chear'd by airy voices,
To bear to this retreat our helpless children.
Ah wanderers too young! ah hapless children!
But more unhappy Sire! who cannot give,
To those he loves, protection.
Thou too, ALFRED,
Art thou not unattended? None to serve thee,
To soothe thy woes, to watch thy broken slumbers!
And when the silent tear o'erflows thy eye,
None, with the warm and cordial lip of love,
To kiss it off! There is in love a power,
There is a soft divinity, that draws
Even transport from distress; that gives the heart
A certain pang, excelling far the joys
Of gross unfeeling life. Besides, my ALFRED,
Even had the fury of this barbarous foe
Not forc'd me from the convent, life is short;
And now it trembles on the wing of danger:
Why should we lose it then? One well-fav'd hour,
In such a tender circumstance, to lovers,
Is better than an age of common time.
Oh 'tis too much! thy tenderness o'ercomes me!
Nay, look not on me with that sweet dejection,
Thro tears that pierce my soul!—Chear thee, my love:
Hope still the best; that better days await us,
And fairer from remembrance.—Thou, ELTRUDA,
Thou art a pledge of happiness!—On thee
Good angels wait; they led thy journey hither:
And I have heard them, in this wild retreat,
Warbling immortal airs, and strains of comfort.—
But ah the foe is round us: and this isle
[Page 23] Now holds my soul's best wealth, the treasur'd store
Of all my joys.—I go to skirt it round,
To visit every creek and sedgy bank,
Where rustles thro the reeds the shadowy gale;
Or where the bending umbrage drinks the stream.
And now, by slow degrees, solemn and sad,
Wide-falling o'er the world, the nightly shades
Hush the brown woods, and deepen all their horrors:
While humbled into rest, and aw'd by darkness,
Each creature seeks the covert. To that cell
Retire, my life. I will not long be absent.
End of the first Act.


ALFRED alone.
'TIS now the depth of darkness and repose.
Nowwalksmute Midnight shadowy o'er the plain,
To rule the solitary hour; and sheds
His slumbery influence o'er the peaceful world.
All nature seems to rest: while ALFRED wakes
To think, and to be wretched.—My brave friend,
I fear me, has miscarry'd.—Where yon oak
With wide and dusky shade o'erhangs the stream,
That glides in silence by, I took my stand:
What time the glow-worm thro' the dewy path
First shot his twinkling flame. Attent I stood,
Listening each noise from twilight hill and dale:
But all was hush'd around. Nor trumpet's clang,
Nor shout of roving foe, nor hasty tread
Of evening passenger, disturb'd the wide
And awful stillness. Homeward as I sped,
O'er many a delve, thro many a path perplext,
Maze running into maze; ill-boding thoughts
Haunted my steps.—Perhaps my gallant friend,
Discover'd to the Danes, this moment bleeds
Beneath their swords! or lies a breathless corse,
The prey of midnight wolves.—Some mournful sound
Struck sudden on my sense.


Here will I lean
On this green bank, to wait the wish'd return
Of morning, and my lord.
My gentle love,
ELTRUDA, why to this untimely sky
Expose thy health? The dews of night fall fast:
The chill breeze sighs aloud.
I could not rest.
Can Love repose when Apprehension wakes,
And whispers to the heart all fearful things,
That walk with night and solitude? Methought,
In each deaf murmur of the woods, I heard
The dreadful foe—or heard my ALFRED groan!
Our tender insants too—their fancy'd cries
Still sound within my cars!
ELTRUDA, there
I am a woman too: I who should cheer,
And shelter thee from every care. My children!
The thought of what may chance to them compleat [...]
Their father's sum of woes. O what safe shade
Can skreen their opening blossom from the storm
That beats severe on us! Not sweeter buds
[Page 26] The primrose in the vale, nor sooner shrinks
At winter's churlish blast—
Behold, my Lord—
Good Angels shield us—What a flood of brightness
Waves round our heads!
The Hermit moves this way.
That wondrous man holds converse with the host
Of higher natures. These far-beaming fires
Were doubtless kindled up at his command.
Be silent and attentive.


I have heard
Thy fond complainings, ALFRED.
You have then,
Good father, heard the cause that wrings them from me.
The human race are sons of sorrow born:
And each must have his portion. Vulgar minds
Refuse, or crouch beneath their load: the Brave
Bear theirs without repining.
Who can bear
The shaft that wounds him thro an infant's side?
When whom we love, to whom we owe protection,
Implore the hand we cannot reach to save them?
[Page 27]
Weep not, ELTRUDA.—Yet thou art a King,
All private passions fall before that name.
Thy subjects claim thee whole.
Can public trust,
O reverend sage! destroy the softer ties
That twine around the parent's yearning heart?
That holy passion heaven itself infus'd,
And blended with the stream that feeds our life.
You love your children, Prince—
Lives there on earth,
In air, or ocean, creature tame or wild
That has not known this universal love?
All nature feels it intimate and deep,
And all her sons of instinct or of reason.
Then shew that passion in its noblest form▪
Season their tender years with every virtue,
Social or self-retir'd; of public greatness,
Or lovely in the hour of private life;
With all that can exalt, or can adorn
Their princely rank.
Alas, their hope must stoop,
Such my unhappy fate, to humbler aims:
Affliction and base want must be their teachers.
Affliction is the wholesome soil of virtue:
Where patience, honor, sweet humanity,
Calm fortitude take root, and strongly flourish.
But prosperous fortune, that allures with pleasure,
[Page 28] Dazles with pomp, and undermines with flattery,
Poisons the soil, and its best product kills.
Should'st thou regain thy throne—
My throne? What glimpse,
What smallest ray of hope—
That day may come—
What do I feel? My labouring breast expands
To give the glorious inspiration room.
And now the cloud that o'er thy future fate,
Like total night, lay heavy and obscure,
Fades into air: and all the brightening scene
Dawns gay before me! A long line of kings,
From thee descending, glorious and renown'd,
In shadowy pomp I see!
Genius of England! hovering near,
In all thy radiant charms appear.
O come and summon, from the world unknown,
Those mighty chiefs, those sons of future fame,
Who, ages hence, this island shall renown,
And spread to distant realms her dreaded name.
Slow let the visionary forms arise,
And solemn pass before our wondring eyes.
[Music grand and awful. The Genius descending sings the following

[Page 29]


From those eternal regions bright,
Where suns, that never set in night,
Diffuse the golden day:
Where spring unfading pours around,
O'er all the dew-impearled ground,
Her thousand colors gay:
O whether on the fountain's flowery side,
Whence living waters glide,
Or in the fragrant grove,
Whose shade embosoms peace and love▪
New pleasures all your hours employ,
And rapture every sense with every joy!
Great heirs of empire! yet unborn,
Who shall this island late adorn;
A monarch's drooping thought to chear,
Appear! appear! appear!
Spirits of EDWARD III. PHILIPPA his queen, and the Black Prince his son, arise.
ALFRED, look; and say,
What seest thou yonder?
Three majestic shapes:
Two habited like mighty warriors old;
A third in whose bright aspect beauty smiles
More soft and feminine. A lucid veil,
From her fair neck dependent floats around,
Light-hovering in the gale.
[Page 30] Belov'd of heaven, behold a King indeed;
Matchless in arms; in arts of peaceful rule,
A sovereign's truest glory, yet more fam'd,
England's third EDWARD!—At his fear'd approach,
Proud France, even now, thro all her dukedoms quakes▪
Her Genius sighs: and from th' eternal shore,
The soul of her great CHARLES, a recent guest,
Looks back to earth, and mourns the distant woes,
His realms are doom'd to feel from EDWARD'S wrath.
Beneath his standard, Britain shall go forth,
Array'd for conquest, terrible in glory:
And nations shrink before her. O what deaths,
What desolation shall her vengeance spread,
From engines yet unfound; whose lightnings flash,
Whose thunders roar, amazing, o'er the plain:
As if this King had summon'd from on high
Heaven's dread artillery to fight his battle!
Nor is renown in war his sole ambition:
A nobler passion labours in his breast—
ALFRED attend—to make his people blest!
The sacred rights that Reason loudly claims
For free-born men—these, ALFRED, are his care:
Oft to confirm, and fix them on the base
Of equal laws.—O father of mankind!
Successive praises from a grateful land
Shall saint thy name for ever!
Holy sage,
Whom angels thus enlighten and inspire,
My bosom kindles at thy heaven-born flame.
Great EDWARD! Be thy conquests and their praise
Unrival'd to thy self. But O thy fame
For care paternal of the public weal;
For England blest at home—my rapt heart pants
[Page 31] To equal that renown!
Know farther, ALFRED;
A sovereign's great example forms a people.
The public breast is noble, or is vile,
As he inspires it. In this EDWARD'S time,
Warm'd by his courage, by his honor rais'd,
High flames the British spirit, like the sun,
To shine o'er half the globe: and where it shines,
The cherish'd world to brighten and enrich.
Last see this monarch in his hour of leisure;
Even social on a throne, and tasting joys
To solitary greatness seldom known:
As friend, as husband, and as father blest.
That god-like Youth remark, his eldest hope,
Who gives new lustre to the name he bears;
A hero ere a man.—I see him now
On Cressy's glorious plain! The father's heart,
With anxious love and wonder at his daring,
Beats high in mingled transport. Great himself,
Great above jealousy, the guilty mark
That brands all meaner minds, see, he applauds
The filial excellence, and gives him scope
To blaze in his full brightness!—Lo again,
He sends him dreadful to a nobler field:
The danger and the glory all his own!
A captive King, the rival of his arms,
I see adorn his triumph! Heaven! what grace
What splendor from his gracious temper mild
That triumph draws! As gentle Mercy kind,
He chears the hostile prince whose fall he weeps!
A son so rich in virtues, and so grac'd
With all that gives those virtues fair to shine,
[Page 32] When I would ask of heaven some mighty boon,
Should claim the foremost place.
Remember then,
What to thy infant sons from thee is due,
As parent and as prince.
Forgive me, Hermit,
Forgive a queen and wife her anxious fondness.
Yon beauteous shade, that, as I gaze her o'er,
My wonder draws, escapes your graver thought.
O bright ELTRUDA! thou whose blooming youth,
Whose amiable sweetness promise blessings
To ALFRED and to England! see, and mark,
In yonder pleasing form, the best of wives,
The happiest too, repaid with all the faith,
With all the friendship, love and duty claim.
She, powerful o'er the heart her charms enslave—
O virtue rarely practis'd!—uses nobly
That happy influence; to prompt each purpose
Fair honor kindles in her EDWARD'S breast.
Amid the pomps, the pleasures of a court,
Humble of heart, severly good: the friend
Of modest worth, the parent of the poor.
ELTRUDA! O transmit these noblest charms
To that fair daughter, that unfolding rose,
With which, as on this day, heaven crown'd your loves.
The spirit of ELIZABETH arises.
Say, who is she, in whom the noble graces,
Th' engaging manner, dignity and ease,
Are join'd with manly sense and resolution?
[Page 33]
The great ELIZA. She, amid a world
That threatning swells in high commotion round her;
Each dangerous state her unrelenting foe,
And chief a proud enormous empire stretch'd
O'er half mankind; with not one friendly power,
But what her kind creating hand shall raise
From out the marshes of the branching Rhine;
And min'd, at home, her ever-tottering throne
By restless bigots, who, beneath the mask
Of mild religion, are to every crime
Set loose, the faithless sons of barbarous zeal:
Yet she shall crown this happy isle with peace,
With arts, with riches, grandeur and renown;
And dash, by turns, the madness of her foes.
As when the winds, from different quarters, urge
The tempest on our shore: secure, the cliffs
Repel its idle rage, and pour it back,
In broken billows, foaming to the main.
How shall she, Hermit, gain these glorious ends?
By silent wisdom, whose informing power
Works unperceiv'd: that seems in council slow;
But, when resolv'd and ripe for execution,
That parts like lightning from the secret gloom.
By ever seizing the right point of view,
Her truest interest; which she firm pursues,
With steady patience, thro the maze of state,
The storm of opposition, the mixt views,
And thwarting manag'd passions of mankind.
By healing the divisions of her people,
And sowing that fell pest among her soes.
By saving, from the vermin of a court,
Her treasure; which, when fair occasion calls,
[Page 34] She knows to lavish, in protecting arts,
In guarding nations, and in nursing states.
By calling up to power, and public life,
Each virtue, each ability: yet she,
Amid the various worthies glowing round her,
Still shines the first; the central sun that wakes,
That rules their every motion: not the slave,
And passive property of her own creatures.
But the great soul that animates her reign,
That lights it to perfection, is the love,
The confidence unbounded, which her wisdom,
Her probity and justice, shall inspire
Into the public breast. Hence cordial faith,
Which nought can shake; hence unexhausted treasure:
And hence, above all mercenary force,
The hand that by the freeborn heart is rais'd,
And guards the blended weal of prince and people.
She too shall rouse Britannia's naval soul;
Shall greatly ravish, from insulting Spain,
The world-commanding scepter of the deep.
O matchless queen! O glory of her sex!
The great idea, father, fills my soul,
And bids it glow beyond a woman's passions.
Spirit of WILLIAM III. arises.
Once more, O ALFRED, raise thine eyes, and mark,
Who next adorns the scene, yon laurel'd shade.
Ere yet the age that clos'd this female reign
Hath led around its train of circling years,
Shall Britain on the verge of ruin stand.
A monarch, lost to greatness, to renown,
The slave of dreaming monks, shall fill her throne.
Weak and aspiring; fond of lawless rule,
[Page 35] The lawless rule his mean ambition covets
Unequal to acquire. Yon prince thou saw'st,
To glory tutor'd by the hand severe
Of sharp Adversity, shall heaven upraise,
And injur'd nations with joint call invoke,
Their last, their only refuge. Lo! he comes:
Wide o'er the billows of the boundless deep
His navy rides triumphant: and the shores
Of shouting Albion echo with his name.
Immortal WILLIAM! from before his face,
Flies Superstition, flies oppressive Power,
With vile Servility that crouch'd and kiss'd
The whip he trembled at. From this great hour
Shall Britain date her rights and laws restor'd:
And one high purpose rule her sovereign's heart;
To scourge the pride of France, that foe profess'd
To England and to freedom. Yet I see,
From distant climes in peaceful triumph borne,
Another KING arise! His early youth
With living laurel crown'd, for deeds of arms
That Reason's voice approves; for courage, rais'd
Beyond all aid from passion, greatly calm!
Intrepidly serene!—In days of peace,
Around his throne the human virtues wait,
And fair adorn him with their mildest beams;
Good without show, above ambition great;
Wise, equal, merciful, the friend of man!
O ALFRED! should thy fate, long ages hence,
In meaning scenes recall'd, exalt the joy
Of some glad festal day, before a prince
Sprung from that king belov'd—Hear, gracious heaven!
Thy soft humanity, thy patriot heart,
Thy manly virtue, steddy, great, resolv'd,
Be his supreme ambition! and with these,
[Page 36] The happiness, the glory, that await
Thy better days—be shower'd upon his head!
O Hermit! thou hast rais'd me to new life!
New hopes, new triumphs swell my bounding heart—
It comes! it comes!—The promis'd scene discloses!
Already the great work of fate begins!
The mighty wheels are turning, whence will spread,
Beyond the limits of our narrow world,
The fair dominions, ALFRED, of thy sons.
Behold the warrior bright with Danish spoils!—
The raven droops his wings—and hark! the trumpet,
Exulting, speaks the rest.


Symphony of martial music.
ALFRED, ELTRUDA, HERMIT, Earl of DEVON, followed by soldiers.
Welcome, my lord
I see true courage lags not in its course;
It stands not weighing actions, with cold wisdom
That borders near on cowardice.
My Liege,
Your troops have been successful.—But to heaven
Ascend the praise! For sure th'event exceeds
The hand of man.
[Page 37]
How was it, noble DEVON?
You know my castle is not hence far-distant,
Thither I sped: and in a Danish habit
The trenches passing, by a secret way,
Known to myself alone, emerg'd at once
Amid my joyful soldiers. There I found
A generous few, the veteran, hardy gleanings
Of many a hapless fight. They with a fierce
And gloomy joy inspirited each other;
Resolv'd on death, disdaining to survive
Their dearest country.—"If we fall, I cry'd,
"Let us not tamely fall like passive cowards!
"No: let us live—or let us die, like men!
"Come on, my friends: to ALFRED we will cut
"Our glorious way; or, as we nobly perish,
"Will offer to the genius of our country
"Whole hecatombs of Danes."—As if one soul
Had mov'd them all, around their heads they flash'd
Their flaming faulchions—"Lead us to these Danes!
"Our country!—vengeance!" was the general cry.
Strait on the careless drousy camp we rush'd:
And rapid, as the flame devours the stubble,
Bore down the heartless Danes. With this success
Our enterprize encreas'd. Not now contented
To hew a passage thro the flying herd;
We, unremitting, urg'd a total rout.
The valiant HUBBA bites the bloody field,
With twice six hundred Danes around him strow'd.
My glorious friend!—this action has restor'd
Our sinking country.—What reward can equal
A deed so great?—Is not yon pictur'd Raven
Their famous magic standard—Emblem fit
[Page 38] To speak the savage genius of the people—
That oft has scatter'd on our troops dismay,
And feeble consternation?
'Tis the same.
Wrought by the sisters of the Danish king,
Of furious IVAR, in a midnight hour:
While the sick moon, at their enchanted song,
Wrapt in pale tempest, labour'd thro' the clouds.
The Demons of destruction then, they say,
Were all abroad, and mixing with the woof
Their baleful power: The sisters ever sung;
"Shake, standard, shake this ruin on our foes!"
So these infernal powers, with rays of truth
Still deck their fables, to delude who trust them.
But where, my noble cousin, are the rest
Of your brave troops?
On t'other side the stream,
That half encloses this retreat, I left them.
Rous'd from the fear, with which it was congeal'd
As in a frost, the country pours amain.
The spirit of our ancestors is up,
The spirit of the Free! and with a voice
That breathes success, they all demand their king.
Quick, let us join them, and improve their ardor.
We cannot be too hasty to secure
The glances of occasion.

SCENE the last.

To them CORIN, EMMA, kneeling to ALFRED.
Good my Liege,
Pardon the poor unequal entertainment,
Which we, unknowing—
Rise, my honest shepherd.
I came to thee a peasant, not a prince:
And, what exalts a king o'er other men,
Stript of the toys of royalty? Yet more,
Thy rural entertainment was sincere,
Plain, hospitable, kind: such as, I hope,
Will ever mark the manners of this nation.
You friendly lodg'd me, when by all deserted:
And shall have ample recompense.
One boon,
Is all I crave.
Good shepherd, speak thy wish.
Permission, in your wars, to serve your Grace:
For tho here lost in solitary shades,
A simple swain, I bear an English heart:
A heart that burns with rage to see those Danes,
Those foreign ruffians, those inhuman pirates,
Oft our inferiors prov'd, thus lord it o'er us.
[Page 40]
Brave countryman, come on. 'Tis such as thou,
Who from affection serve, and free-born zeal,
To guard whate'er is dear and sacred to them,
That are a king's best honor and defence.
EMMA sings the following song.
If those, who live in shepherd's bower,
Press not the rich and stately bed:
The new-mown hay and breathing flower
A softer couch beneath them spread.
If those, who sit at shepherd's board,
Soothe not their taste by wanton art;
They take what Nature's gifts afford,
And take it with a chearful heart.
If those, who drain the shepherd's bowl,
No high and sparkling wines can boast;
With wholesome cups they chear the soul,
And crown them with the village toast.
If those, who join in shepherd's sport,
Gay-dancing on the daizy'd ground,
Have not the splendor of a court;
Yet Love adorns the merry round.
[Page 41]
My lov'd ELTRUDA! thou shalt here remain,
With gentle EMMA, and this reverend Hermit.
Ye silver streams, that murmuring wind around
This dusky spot, to you I trust my all!
O close around her, woods! for her, ye vales,
Throw forth your flowers, your softest lap diffuse!
And Thou! whose secret and expansive hand
Moves all the springs of this vast universe:
Whose government astonishes; who here,
In a few hours, beyond our utmost hope,
Beyond our thought, yet doubting, hast clear'd up
The storm of fate: preserve what thy kind will,
Thy bountiful appointment, makes so dear
To human hearts! preserve my queen and children!
Preserve the hopes of England! while I go
To finish thy great work, and save my country.
Go, pay the debt of honor to the public.
If ever woman, ALFRED, lov'd her husband
More fondly than herself, I claim that virtue,
That heart-felt happiness. Yet, by our loves
I swear, that in a glorious death with thee
I rather would be wrapt, than live long years
To charm thee from the rugged paths of honor:
So much I think thee born for beauteous deeds,
And the bright course of glory.
Matchless woman!
Love, at thy voice, is kindled to ambition.
Be this my dearest triumph, to approve me
A husband worthy of the best ELTRUDA!
Behold, my Lord, our venerable Bard,
[Page 42] Aged and blind, him whom the Muses favour.
Yet ere you go, in our lov'd country's praise,
That noblest theme, hear what his rapture breathes.


When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian Angels sung this strain:
"Rule Britannia, rule the waves;
"Britons never will be slaves."
The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall:
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
"Rule, &c.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
"Rule, &c.
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arrouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.
"Rule, &c.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
"Rule, &c.
The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown'd,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves.
ALFRED, go forth! lead on the radiant years,
To thee reveal'd in vision.—Lo! they rise!
Lo! patriots, heroes, sages, croud to birth:
And bards to sing them in immortal verse!
I see thy commerce, Britain, grasp the world:
All nations serve thee; every foreign flood,
Subjected, pays its tribute to the Thames.
Thither the golden South obedient pours
His sunny treasures: thither the soft East
Her spices, delicacies, gentle gifts:
And thither his rough trade the stormy North.
See, where beyond the vast Atlantic surge,
By boldest keels untouch'd, a dreadful space!
Shores, yet unfound, arise! in youthful prime,
With towering forests, mighty rivers crown'd!
These stoop to Britain's thunder. This new world,
Shook to its centre, trembles at her name:
[Page 44] And there, her sons, with aim exalted, sow
The seeds of rising empire, arts, and arms.
Britons, proceed, the subject Deep command,
Awe with your navies every hostile land.
In vain their threats, their armies all in vain:
They rule the balanc'd world, who rule the main.
The END.

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