Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SPEECH ACCORDING TO HORACE, by BEN JONSON



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A SPEECH ACCORDING TO HORACE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Why yet, my noble hearts, they cannot say
Last Line: Her broken arms up, to their empty moulds.


Why yet, my noble hearts, they cannot say,
But we have powder still for the king's day,
And ordinance too: so much as from the tower
To have waked, if sleeping, Spain's ambassador,
Old Aesop Gondomar: the French can tell,
For they did see it the last tilting well,
That we have trumpets, armour, and great horse,
Lances, and men, and some a breaking force.
They saw too store of feathers, and more may,
If they stay here, but till Saint George's Day.
All ensigns of a war are not yet dead,
Nor marks of wealth so from our nation fled,
But they may see gold chains, and pearl worn then,
Lent by the London dames, to the lords' men;
Withal, the dirty pains those citizens take,
To see the pride at court, their wives do make:
And the return those thankful courtiers yield
To have their husbands drawn forth to the field,
And coming home, to tell what acts were done
Under the auspice of young Swinnerton.
What a strong fort old Pimlico had been!
How it held out! How (last) 'twas taken in!
Well, I say thrive, thrive brave Artillery vard,
Thou seed-plot of the war, that hast not spared
Powder, or paper, to bring up the youth
Of London, in the military truth,
These ten years' day; as all may swear that look
But on thy practice, and the posture book:
He that but saw thy curious captain's drill,
Would think no more of Flushing or the Brill:
But give them over to the common ear
For that unnecessary charge they were.
Well did thy crafty clerk, and knight, Sir Hugh
Supplant bold Panton; and brought there to view
Translated Aelian Tactics to be read.
And the Greek discipline (with the modern) shed
So, in that ground as soon it grew to be
The city-question, whether Tilly, or he,
Were now the greater captain! For they saw
The Berghen siege, and taking in Breda,
So acted to the life, as Maurice might,
And Spinola have blushed at the sight.
O happy art! And wise epitome
Of bearing arms! Most civil soldiery!
Thou canst draw forth thy forces, and fight dry
The battles of thy aldermanity;
Without the hazard of a drop of blood:
More than the surfeits, in thee, that day stood.
Go on, increase in virtue and in fame:
And keep the glory of the English name,
Up among nations. In the stead of bold
Beauchamps, and Nevills, Cliffords, Audleys old;
Insert thy Hodges, and those newer men,
As Stiles, Dike, Ditchfield, Millar, Crips, and Fen:
That keep the war, though now't be grown more tame,
Alive yet, in the noise; and still the same;
And could (if our great men would let their sons
Come to their schools) show them the use of guns.
And there instruct the noble English heirs
In politic and militar' affairs;
But he that should persuade, to have this done
For education of our lordings; soon
Should he not hear of billow, wind, and storm,
From the tempestuous grandlings? 'Who'll inform
Us, in our bearing, that are thus, and thus,
Born, bred, allied! What's he dare tutor us?
Are we by bookworms to be awed? Must we
Live by their scale, that dare do nothing free?
Why are we rich, or great, except to show
All licence in our lives? What need we know?
More than to praise a dog or horse? Or speak
The hawking language? Or our day to break
With citizens? Let clowns, and tradesmen breed
Their sons to study arts, the laws, the creed:
We will believe, like men of our own rank,
In so much land a year, or such a bank,
That turns us so much monies, at which rate
Our ancestors imposed on prince and state.
Let poor nobility be virtuous: we,
Descended in a rope of titles, be
From Guy, or Bevis, Arthur, or from whom
The herald will. Our blood is now become
Past any need of virtue. Let them care,
That in the cradle of their gentry are,
To serve the state by councils, and by arms:
We neither love the troubles, nor the harms.'
What love you then? Your whore? What study? Gait,
Carriage, and dressing? There is up of late
The academy, where the gallants meet --
What, to make legs? Yes, and to smell most sweet.
All that they do at plays. O, but first here
They learn and study; and then practise there.
But why are all these irons in the fire
Of several makings? Helps, helps, to attire
His lordship. That is for his band, his hair
This, and that box his beauty to repair;
This other for his eyebrows; hence, away,
I may no longer on these pictures stay,
These carcasses of honour; tailors' blocks,
Covered with tissue, whose prosperity mocks
The fate of things: whilst tottered virtue holds
Her broken arms up, to their empty moulds.





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