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Say, shall the puny champion fondly dare
Thus in some gallant ship, that long has bore Britain's victorious cross from shore to shore, By chance, beneath her close sequester'd cells Some low-born worm, a lurking mischief dwells; Eats his blind way, and saps with secret guile The deep foundations of the floating pile. In vain the forest lent its stateliest pride, Rear'd her tall mast, and fram?d her knotty-side; The martial thunder's rage in vain she stood, With ev'ry conflict of the stormy flood; More sure the reptile's little arts devour Than wars, or waves, or Eurus' wint’ry pow's..
Ye fretted pinnacles, ye fapes sublime, Ye tow'rs.that wear the mossy vest of time!
Ye massy piles of old munificence,
Ev’n now, confess’d to my adoring eyes,
His hoary head o'erlooks the gazing quire,
All who to Albion gave the arts of peace, And best the labours plann'd of letter'd ease; Who taught with truth, or with persuasion mov’d; Who sooth'd with numbers, or with sense improv'd; Who rang'd the pow'rs of reason, or refin'd All that adorn’d or humaniz’d the mind; Each priest of health, that mix'd the balmy bowl, To rear frail man, and stay the fleeting soul; All crowd around, and echoing to the sky, Hail ! Oxford, hail! with filial transport cry.
And see yon sapient train! with lib'ral aim, 'Twas theirs new plans of liberty to frame; And on the gothic gloom of slavish sway To shed the dawn of intellectual day. With mild debate each musing feature glows, And well-weigh'd counsels mark’d their meaning
brows. « Lo ! these the leaders of thy patriot line,” A Raleigh, Hampden, and a Somers, shine. These from thy-source the bold contagion caught, Their future sons the great example taught: While in each youth th' hereditary flame Still blazes, unextinguish'd, and the same!
Nor all the tasks of thoughful peace engage; 'Tis thine to form the hero as the sage. I see the sable-suited prince advance With lilies crown'd, the spoils of bleeding France, Edward. The Muses in yon cloister's shade Bound on his maiden thigh the martial blade : Bade him the steel for British freedom draw; And Oxford taught the deeds that Cressy saw.
And see, great father of the sacred band, The * Patriot King before me seems to stand. He, by the bloom of this gay vale beguild, That cheer'd with lively green the shaggy wild, llither of yore, forlorn forgotten maid, The Muse in prattling infancy convey'd ; From Vandal rage the helpless virgin bore, And fix'd her cradle on my friendly shore: Soon grew the maid beneath his fost'ring hand, Soon stream'd her blessings o’er th’ enlighten'd
land. Though simple was the dome, where first to dwell She deign’d, and rude her early Saxon cell, Lo! now she holds her state in sculptur'd bowers, And proudly lifts to Heaven her hundred towers. 'Twas Alfred first, with letters and with laws, Adorn’d, as he advanc'd, his country's cause : He bade relent the Briton's stubborn soul, And sooth'd to soft society's controul A rough untutord age. With raptur'd eye Elate he views his laureld progeny:
* Alfred. VOL. II.