Elizabeth Ryves, Poems on Several Occasions. London: Printed for the author and sold by J. Dodsley, 1777. 72-78.
WRITTEN IN JUNE, 1775
Ye subjects of Britain, attend to my song;
For, to you both the Muse and her numbers belong:
No courtier, no hireling, no pensioner she;
By intrest unswayd, and from prejudice free.
A subject I chuse for the theme of my lays,
Well known to this realm in Elizabeths days;
That period of glory, that age of renown,
When a female supported the rights of the crown.
A Cabal there was formd by the foes of the state,
Who like ----- and ------ could in senate debate:
Foreign gold lind their pockets, and bulls from the Pope
Removd all restraint, and gave conscience full scope.
With manners and morals adapted to please,
They flowd with opinions, as waves with the breeze;
For Rome grants indulgence for aiding her cause,
And, to favour her intrest, relaxes her laws.
Well versd in dissembling, midst Jesuits bred,
And deep in each lecture of Machiavel read;
With a latitude Truth must for ever detest,
They censurd the tenets their hearts still professd;
And loudly exclaimd, that the nation again
Woud sink to the level of Marys weak reign;
For that Burleigh, and those at the head of affairs,
From the cries of her people, had turnd the Queens ears:
That a debt justly due to the Spaniards (they said)
Thro the basest mismanagement, still lay unpaid:
That Iberia was arming her right to demand,
And had mannd a huge fleet, which no powr coud withstand:
That myriads of treasure, and oceans of gore,
Was the intrest we soon with the loan must restore;
And that nought coud avert it, or ward off the blow,
But the Ministrys ruin and swift overthrow.
Thus, with idle chimeras the people amusd,
Their judgment perverted, their reason abusd,
Obnoxious alike evry statesman appeard:
They were censurd, revild, and condemnd tho unheard.
For Prejudice suffers not Justice to sway;
Caprice is the law that her subjects obey;
And the culprit is either accusd or commended,
Not for what he has done, but what party offended.
This point once attaind, and the popular name
Of Patriot assumd, to establish their fame,
They laughd at those gudgeons who swallowd the bait,
And plannd (in its guardians) the fall of the state.
For they knew them so firm, so attachd to the laws,
To religion, to truth, and Elizabeths cause,
That, ere they coud give these a final oerthrow,
They first at their bosoms must level the blow.
So away to Whitehall they determind to hie them,
And see if her Majesty dard to deny them,
When they shoud demand the immediate disgrace
Of friends, favrites, ministers--all those in place.
Arrivd at the palace, they soon gaind admission,
As due to their rank, not their vaunted commission;
And boldly advancd to the foot of the throne,
Pretended abuses and wrongs to make known.
The Queen, with a placid but resolute eye,
Prepard for a kind or an angry reply,
As their stile might deserve; most attentively heard them,
And shewd that she neither neglected nor feard them.
With eloquence framd, their deep arts to disguise,
To fascinate reason by sudden surprize,
To lull the sound judgment to drowsy repose,
And win and insinuate still as it flows;
They talkd of abuses, of rights unprotected,
Of the wrongs we endurd, and of those we expected;
And, swelld with importance, began to arraign
A conduct too partial, which made them complain.
Said, our freedom hung poisd in a wavering scale;
That the opposite balance must shortly prevail:
For they knew by that charm they shoud strengthen the spell,
Which alone coud the schemes they concerted conceal.
But the Queens penetration detected the snare;
No soft flowing words coud impose on her ear:
Yet, wisely dissembling, she mildly desird
Theyd freely declare all her people requird.
Encouragd by this, opportunely they thought
The ministrys fall might be easily wrought;
And began to complain of their overgrown powr,
Which our freedom, our wealth, and our laws woud devour.
Said, their measures were wrong, and their administration
Obnoxious alike to all ranks in the nation;
Their disgrace they must therefore most humbly advise,
Lest the chiefs should revolt and the populace rise.
Unmovd by the menace, Elizabeth frownd
So sternly, as might the most daring confound;
And, enragd at their pride, struck the globe with her hand,
That ensign of honour and regal command.
"By the God that I worship (if rightly I ween)
"Theyre my friends, and Ive provd them," replyd the fair Queen;
"As such I regard them, as such Ill defend;
"So desist from complaining, and to me attend.
"As long as the scepter of Britain I sway,
"Ill rule like a Queen, and ye all shall obey:
"No laws Ill infringe, and no insolent Peer
"Shall presume to intrude on the Royal barrier.
"My servants Ill chuse, and my friends Ill reward;
"To the good of my subjects shew proper regard:
"But when traitors the peace of my crown would destroy,
"Let Justice the sword of correction employ.
Repulsd and abashd, from the throne they retird,
And neer, from that moment, gainst statesmen conspird,
Whose wisdom and virtue securd them esteem,
And still furnish the Muse with a favourite theme.
Success crownd the measures they wisely pursud;
Our friendship was courted, our treaties renewd,
Our commerce extended; while peace reignd at home,
And Britain shook off the last shackle of Rome.