Poems, by Andrew Marvell

The Loyal Scot.

By Cleveland’s Ghost, upon the death of Captain Douglas, burned on his ship at Chatham.


Of the old heroes when the warlike shades

Saw Douglas marching on the Elysian glades.

They all, consulting, gathered in a ring,

Which of their poets should his welcome sing;

And, as a favourable penance, chose

Cleveland, on whom they would that task impose.

He understood, but willingly addressed

His ready muse, to court that noble guest.

Much had he cured the tumour of his vein,

He judged more clearly now and saw more plain;10

For those soft airs had tempered every thought,

Since of wise Lethe he had drunk a draught.

Abruptly he begun, disguising art.

As of his satire this had been a part.

As so, brave Douglas, on whose lovely chin

The early down but newly did begin.

And modest beauty yet his sex did veil,

While envious virgins hope he is a male,

His yellow locks curl back themselves to seek,

Nor other courtship know but to his cheek. 20

Oft as he in chill Esk or Tyne, by night,

Hardened and cooled his limbs, so soft, so white,

Among the reeds, to be espied by him,

The nymphs would rustle, he would forward swim.

They sighed, and said, Fond boy, why so untame,

That fly’st love’s fires, reserved for other flame?

First on his ship he faced that horrid day.

And wondered much at those that ran away.

No other fear himself could comprehend.

Than lest Heaven fall ere thither he ascend: 30

But entertains the while his time, too short.

With birding at the Dutch, as if in sport;

Or waves his sword, and, could he them conjure

“Within his circle, knows himself secure.

The fatal bark him boards with grappling fire,

And safely through its port the Dutch retire.

That precious life he yet disdains to save,

Or with known art to try the gentle wave.

Much him the honour of his ancient race

Inspired, nor would he his own deeds deface; 40

And secret joy in his calm soul does rise.

That Monck looks on to see how Douglas dies.

Like a glad lover the fierce flames he meets.

And tries his first embraces in their sheets;

His shape exact, which the bright flames enfold,

Like the sun’s statue stands of burnished gold;

Round the transparent fire about him glows,

As the clear amber on the bee docs close;

And, as on angels’ heads their glories shine,

His burning locks adorn his face divine. 50

But when in his immortal mind he felt

His altering form and soldered limbs to melt,

Down on the deck he laid himself, and died,

With his dear sword reposing by his side.

And on the flaming plank so rests his head.

As one that warmed himself, and went to bed.

His ship bums down, and with his relics sinks.

And the sad stream beneath his ashes drinks.

Fortunate boy! if either pencil’s fame,

Or if my verse can propagate thy name, 60

When CEta and Alcides are forgot,

Our English youth shall sing the valiant Scot.

Skip saddles, Pegasus, thou needst not brag.

Sometimes the Galloway proves the better nag.

Shall not a death so generous, when told,

Unite our distance, fill our breaches old?

So in the Roman forum, Curtius brave,

Galloping down, closed up the gaping cave.

No more discourse of Scotch and English race,

Nor chant the fabulous hunt of Chevy-Chase; 70

Mixed in Corinthian metal at thy flame.

Our nations melting, thy Colossus frame.

Prick down the point, whoever has the art.

Where nature Scotland does from England part;

Anatomists may sooner fix the cells

Where life resides and understanding dwells.

But this we know, though that exceeds our skill,

That whosoever separates them does ill.

Will you the Tweed that sullen bounder call.

Of soil, of wit, of manners, and of all? 80

Why draw you not, as well, the thrifty line

From Thames, Trent, Humber, or at least the Tyne?

So may we the state-corpulence redress.

And little England, when we please, make less.

What ethic river is this wondrous Tweed,

Whose one bank virtue, t’other vice, does breed?

Or what new perpendicular does rise

Up from her streams, continued to the skies,

That between us the common air should bar.

And split the influence of every star? 90

But who considers right, will find indeed,

’Tis Holy Island parts us, not the Tweed.

Nothing but clergy could us two seclude,

No Scotch was ever like a bishop’s feud.

All Litanies in this have wanted faith,

There’s no deliver us from a bishop” s wrath

Never shall Calvin pardoned be for Sales,

Never, for Burnet’s sake, the Lauderdales;

For Becket’s sake, Kent always shall have tails.

Who sermons e’er can pacify and prayers? 100

Or to the joint stools reconcile the chairs?

Though kingdoms join, yet church will kirk oppose;

The mitre still divides, the crown does close;

As in Rogation week they whip us round,

To keep in mind the Scotch and English bound.

What the ocean binds is by the bishops rent,

Then seas make islands in our continent.

Nature in vain us in one land compiles,

If the cathedral still shall have its isles.

Nothing, not bogs nor sands nor seas nor Alps, i lo 110

Separates the world so as the bishops’ scalps;

Stretch for the line their surcingle alone,

’Twill make a more unhabitable zone.

The friendly loadstone has not more combined.

Than bishops cramped the commerce of mankind.

Had it not been for such a bias strong.

Two nations ne’er had missed the mark so long.

The world in all doth but two nations bear.

The good, the bad, and these mixed everywhere;

Under each pole place either of these two, 120

The bad will basely, good will bravely, do;

And few, indeed, can parallel our climes,

For worth heroic, or heroic crimes.

The trial would, however, be too nice.

Which stronger were, a Scotch or English vice;

Or whether the same virtue would reflect,

From Scotch or English heart, the same effect.

Nation is all, but name, a Shibboleth,

Where a mistaken accent causes death.

In Paradise names only nature showed, 130

At Babel names from pride and discord flowed;

And ever since men, with a female spite.

First call each other names, and then they fight.

Scotland and England cause of just uproar;

Do man and wife signify rogue and whore?

Say but a Scot and straight we fall to sides;

That syllable like a Picts’ wall divides.

Rational men’s words pledges are of peace;

Perverted, serve dissension to increase.

For shame! extirpate from each loyal breast 140

That senseless rancour, against interest.

One king, one faith, one language, and one isle,

English and Scotch, ’tis all but cross and pile.

Charles, our great soul J this only understands;

He our affections both, and wills, commands;

And where twin-sympathies cannot atone,

Knows the last secret, how to make us one.

Just so the prudent husbandman, that sees

The idle tumult of his factious bees,

The morning dews, and flowers, neglected grown, 150

The hive a comb-case, every bee a drone,

Powders them o’er, till none discerns his foes.

And all themselves in meal and friendship lose;

The insect kingdom straight begins to thrive.

And all work honey for the common hive.

Pardon, young hero, this so long transport,

Thy death more noble did the same extort.

My former satire for this verse forget,

My fault against my recantation set.

I single did against a nation write, 160

Against a nation thou didst singly fight.

My differing crimes do more thy virtue raise,

And, such my rashness, best thy valour praise.

Here Douglas smiling said, he did intend,

After such frankness shown, to be his friend;

Forewarned him therefore, lest in time he were

Metempsychosed to some Scotch Presbyter.

The ships were burnt on June 12, 1667. Captain Archibald Douglas — the “loyal Scot” — was really an officer in the army; but having been ordered to defend the “Royal Oak,” he refused to leave the ship after it was on fire, saying that “it should never be told that a Douglas had quitted his post without orders.” His men all left the vessel, and he remained alone to die.

32. — Birding: firing with small arms.

97. — St. Francis de Sales.

104. — The beating of the bounds of a parish.

107. — Seas: a pun on “sees.”

116. — Bias: a metaphor from the game of bowls.

143. — i.e. English and Scotch are only the two sides of one and the same coin. Pile is the reverse of a coin.

162. — Differing crimes: crime of causing differences.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58