Twice twenty slender virgin-fingers twine
This curious web, where all their fancies shine.
As Nature them, so they this shade have wrought,
Soft as their hands, and various as their thought;
Not Juno’s bird when, his fair train dispread,
He woos the female to his painted bed,
No, not the bow, which so adorns the skies,
So glorious is, or boasts so many dyes.
Now, for some ages, had the pride of Spain
Made the sun shine on half the world in vain;
While she bid war to all that durst supply
The place of those her cruelty made die.
Of Nature’s bounty men forebore to taste,
And the best portion of the earth lay waste.
From the new world, her silver and her gold
Came, like a tempest, to confound the old;
Feeding with these the bribed electors’ hopes,
Alone she gives us emperors and popes; 10
With these accomplishing her vast designs,
Europe was shaken with her Indian mines.
When Britain, looking with a just disdain
Upon this gilded majesty of Spain,
And knowing well that empire must decline,
Whose chief support and sinews are of coin,
Our nation’s solid virtue did oppose
To the rich troublers of the world’s repose.
And now some months, encamping on the main,
Our naval army had besieged Spain; 20
They that the whole world’s monarchy design’d,
Are to their ports by our bold fleet confined;
From whence our Red Cross they triumphant see,
Riding without a rival on the sea.
Others may use the ocean as their road,
Only the English make it their abode,
Whose ready sails with every wind can fly,
And make a cov’nant with th’inconstant sky;
Our oaks secure, as if they there took root, 29
We tread on billows with a steady foot.
Meanwhile the Spaniards in America,
Near to the line the sun approaching saw,
And hoped their European coasts to find
Clear’d from our ships by the autumnal wind;
Their huge capacious galleons stuff’d with plate,
The lab’ring winds drive slowly t’wards their fate.
Before St. Lucar they their guns discharge
To tell their joy, or to invite a barge;
This heard some ships of ours (though out of view),
And, swift as eagles, to the quarry flew; 40
So heedless lambs, which for their mothers bleat,
Wake hungry lions, and become their meat.