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THE BRITISH PHILIPPIC, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Whence this unwonted transport in my breast?
Last Line: And hurl the bolts of justice on her foes.
Subject(s): Patriotism

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 ardour, throws aside
The trembling lyre, and with the warrior's trump
She means to thunder in each British ear;
And if one spark of honour or of fame,
Disdain of insult, dread of infamy,
One thought of public virtue yet survive,
She means to wake it, rouse the generous flame,
With patriot zeal inspirit every 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 or virtue? Where is now
The British spirit, generous, warm, and brave,
So frequent wont from tyranny and woe
To free the suppliant nations? Where, indeed!
If that protection, once to strangers given,
Be now withheld from sons? Each nobler thought,
That warm'd our sires, is lost and buried now
In luxury and avarice. Baneful vice!
How it unmans a nation! yet I'll try,
I'll aim to shake this vile degenerate sloth;
I'll dare to rouse Britannia's dreaming sons
To fame, to virtue, and impart around
A generous feeling of compatriot woes.

Come then the various powers of forceful speech,
All that can move, awaken, fire, transport!
Come the bold ardour of the Theban bard!
The arousing 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 flame exalt my soul.
O! could I give the vast ideas birth
Expressive of the thoughts that flame within,
No more should lazy Luxury detain
Our ardent youth; no more should Britain's sons
Sit tamely passive by, and careless 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 famed
For just redress; the land so often dyed
With her best blood, for that arousing cause,
The freedom of her sons; those sons that now
Far from the manly blessings of her 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, the immortal day
When rescued 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 swift impending vengeance fled in vain?
Are these our lords? And can Britannia see
Her foes oft vanquish'd thus defy her power,
Insult her standard, and enslave her sons,
And not arise to justice? Did our sires,
Unawed by chains, by exile, or by death,
Preserve inviolate her guardian rights,
To Britons ever sacred! that their sons
Might give them up to Spaniards?—Turn your eyes,
Turn ye degenerate, 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 a hideous void,
Dark as the yawning grave I while still as death
A. frightful silence reigns. There on the ground
Behold your brethren chain'd like beasts of prey:
There mark your numerous 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,
Refused by dogs, and O! the stinging thought!
View the dark Spaniard glorying in their wrongs,
The deadly priest triumphant in their woes,
And thundering worse 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 untamed,
Raises his head; and with indignant frowns
Of great defiance, and superior scorn,
Looks up and dies.—O! I am all on fire!
But let me spare the theme, lest future times
Should blush to hear that either conquer'd Spain
Durst offer Britain such outrageous wrong,
Or Britain tamely bore it—
Descend, ye guardian heroes of the land!
Scourges of Spain, descend! Behold your sons;
See! how they run the same heroic race,
How prompt, how ardent in their country's cause,
How greatly proud to assert their British blood,
And in their deeds reflect their fathers' fame!
Ah! would to heaven ye did not rather see
How dead to virtue in the public cause,
How cold, how careless, how to glory deaf,
They shame your laurels, and belie their birth!

Come, ye great spirits, Ca'ndish, Raleigh, Blake!
And ye of latter name, your country's pride,
O! come, disperse these lazy fumes of sloth,
Teach British hearts with British fires to glow!
In wakening whispers rouse our ardent youth,
Blazon the triumphs of your better days,
Paint all the glorious scenes of rightful, war
In all its splendours; to their swelling souls
Say how ye bow'd th' insulting Spaniards' pride,
Say how ye thunder'd o'er their prostrate heads,
Say how ye broke their lines and fired their ports,
Say how not death, in all its frightful shapes,
Could damp your souls, or shake the great resolve
For right and Britain: then display the joys
The patriot's soul exalting, while he views
Trasported millions hail with loud acclaim
The guardian of their civil, sacred rights.
How greatly welcome to the virtuous man
Is death for others' good! the radiant thoughts
That beam celestial on his passing soul,
Th' unfading crowns awaiting him above,
Th' exalting plaudit of the Great Supreme,
Who in his actions with complacence views
His own reflected splendour; then descend,
Though to a lower, yet a nobler scene;
Paint the just honours to his reliques paid,
Show grateful millions weeping o'er his grave;
While his fair fame in each progressive age
For ever brightens; and the wise and good
Of every land in universal choir
With richest incense of undying praise
His urn encircle, to the wondering world
His numerous triumphs blazon; while with awe,
With filial reverence, in his steps they tread,
And copying every virtue, every fame,
Transplant his glories into second life,
And, with unsparing hand, make nations blest
By his example. Vast, immense rewards!
For all the turmoils which the virtuous mind
Encounters here. Yet, Britons, are ye cold?
Yet deaf to glory, virtue, and the call
Of your poor injured countrymen? Ah! no:
I see ye are not; every bosom glows
With native greatness, and in all its state
The British spirit rises: glorious change!
Fame, virtue, freedom, welcome! O forgive
The muse that, ardent in her sacred cause,
Your glory question'd; she beholds with joy,
She owns, she triumphs in her wish'd mistake.
See! from her sea-beat throne in awful march
Britannia towers: upon her laurel crest
The plumes majestic nod; behold she heaves
Her guardian shield, and terrible in arms
For battle shakes her adamantine spear:
Loud at her foot the British lion roars,
Frighting the nations; haughty Spain full soon
Shall hear and tremble. Go then, Britons, forth,
Your country's daring champions: tell your foes,
Tell them in thunders o'er their prostrate land,
You were not born for slaves: let all your deeds
Show that the sons of those immortal men,
The stars of shining story, are not slow
In virtue's path to emulate their sires,
To assert their country's rights, avenge her sons,
And hurl the bolts of justice on her foes.

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