Dennis, John, 1657-1734. The battle of Ramillia: or, the power of union. A poem. In five books. By Mr. Dennis. London: printed for Ben. Bragg, 1706. [26],132p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T135406; Foxon D221; OTA K107134.000)


    In Five BOOKS.

    By Mr. DENNIS.

    LONDON, Printed for Ben. Bragg at the Raven in Pater-Noster-Row, 1706.

  • To the Right Honourable CHARLES, Lord HALIFAX.

    My Lord,

    THIS Poem which was writ with a Design to shew the Prevalence and Power of Union, could to no Person be more properly Addrest than Your Lordship, who have ever since You have appear'd in the World been so great a promoter of Union.


    In those great Offices of the highest Trust; in which Your Lordship has been employ'd at the same Time, both by the Prince and the People, You have always made profession of those Publick and Noble Principles which alone are capable of Uniting the Prince and the People.

    And while in the late Reign the Commons of England hearken'd to Your Lordship's Advice in Parliament, they were united in their Inclinations and their Designs to the great People whom they represented. The Nerves of War were duely supply'd, and that War was carried on[Page] Vigorously. The Greatness of France was sapp'd by degrees and insensibly Undermin'd, and prepar'd to receive a terrible Shock from the first Blow it should meet with. But as soon as Your Lordship's Enemies began to prevail in those Illustrious Assemblies, a Spirit of Parcimony ill Understood and worse Tim'd crept in amongst them, and forc'd the best and most discerning of Kings to make a fatal Peace, which has endanger'd the Liberties of all Europe, and the Power and Traffick of this Kingdom; and has cost this Nation so many Thousands of Lives and so[Page] many Millions of Money, and which makes us ev'n at present contented, in order to the ending this just and necessary War, to furnish those Supplies in the very midst of Scarcity, which we then grumbling with-held in the Height of the greatest Affluence.

    My Lord, The late King who was so True and so Just a Judge of Men, was so very well convinc'd of Your Lordship's Services both to the Crown and the People, that He took care by two just and two grateful Acts, that is, by calling You up to the House of Peers, and making You[Page] Auditor of the Exchequer, that Your Country should never want Your Service in Parliament, nor the Crown Your Abilities in the great Employments of the State.

    The extraordinary Regard which so great a King always express'd for Your Lordship's extraordinary Merit, provok'd Your Enemies to endeavour to fix on You the odious Name of Favourite, as they have since attempted to fasten it on some of Your Illustrious Friends. But with how much Malice, or how much Ignorance have both Attempts been made! For a Favourite is the Prince's meer[Page] Creature, whose only Merit is His Sovereign's Favour, and such an Object of the Prince's Favour is always that of the Peoples Scorn and Hatred, and often exposes the very Sovereign to the same Contempt and Hatred. Sovereign Princes are oblig'd by their Duty to God, themselves and their People, to shew most Regard for those who do most for the good of the People whom They govern. And when they perform that Duty, ev'n Kings are Justly Honour'd the more for the Merits of their Subjects. How Happy is the Nation where the Ministers[Page] of Kings become the Darlings of the People. How Happy was England during the Time of Your Administration! When Your Lordship was united both to the King and the People; when the People declar'd aloud by their Representatives in Parliament, that You had deserv'd the Honours by which the King distinguish'd You! How Happy are we now, when the Queen Employs the most extraordinary Persons in the Highest Employments, whose Praises are celebrated by the August Assemblies of Parliament, and ecchoed by every part of the[Page] Kingdom. Since never Princes were more universally esteem'd by the People of England than the late King and the present Queen, 'tis an Infallible sign that the same People approve of their chosen Ministers.

    Your Lordship, who in the late Reign was constantly employ'd in uniting the King and the People, or the People and their Representatives, has been justly thought in this to be the fittest Person to maintain Union between the two Sovereign Princes in whom England is most concern'd. With how sensible a pleasure do all who have the[Page] Honour to know Your Lordship, consider the People of Hanover surveying You with a venerable Awe, as a Person employ'd in Affairs of the Highest Trust and the Highest Consequence by the Two greatest Princes that ever ruled the bravest People of Europe. The late King made choice of Your Lordship to stand in the Breach which Faction had made in the Ramparts of Liberty. The Queen has chosen You not only to resist but to attack Faction, and to drive it from its last Retrenchment, by settling and securing an intire Correspondence between[Page] Her Majesty and Her presumptive Heir. And the Queen could not possibly repose a greater Trust in Your Lordship than by employing You in an Affair, the Success of which, was of so dear concern to Her Majesty as the securing both the Court of Hanover and Her own Subjects, of Her hearty Intentions in Relation to the Act of Settlement. When that Court beheld in Your Lordship so glorious an Example of the British Greatness, how were they exalted to think what a People they were one Day to Govern, tho' may that be late. They began to think[Page] some of their future Subjects equal to Foreign Princes, and Your Lordship was entertain'd with the same Honours which are paid to them.

    The great Things which Your Lordship has done for uniting the Prince and the Successour, the Prince and the People, and the People among one another, and for resisting the Force and Artifices of the Common Enemy, ought in gratitude to unite the Inclinations of all English Men to Your Lordship. To whom we have all so great Obligations, that we cannot so much as pay or receive the very least Summ without reflecting[Page] on our Engagements to the late King, and to You; to the late King, whose Image we see upon every single Piece, and to Your Lordship who plac'd it there; when in the midst of the publick Indigence (an Indigence like that of Tantalus that plagued us in the midst of Plenty, when the Miser rolling in full Bags might then first be truly said to be literally poor) Your Lordship by a political and noble Alchymy transmuted Pewter and sordid Brass to Silver and fine Gold, and by an Action so great and so beneficent, se ¦ cur'd real Property to those[Page] at Home, who had but the Shadow of it before, and reviv'd and restor'd the expiring Credit of the Nation abroad. Since My Lord Treasurer by his admirable Management of the Nerves of War, is so justly said to have had so great a share in the glorious Successes of the late Campaigns, Your Lordship sure must have no small one, since without what you have done, there could be no Management.

    These, My Lord, are the publick Reasons for Addressing the following Poem to Your Lordship. There is a private one, and that is, that[Page] when a Man contracts so great a Debt as to make him Insolvent, the least thing that he can do is to acknowledge what he can never pay; thus Bankrupts, when they can make no other return, send their Creditors an Epistle. I have lately had very great Obligations to Your Lordship: You have been pleas'd to take some care of my Fortune at a Time when I most wanted it, and had least reason to expect it from You, since several things hinder'd my giving that constant attendance on You, which Persons of Quality so scrupulously exact from those of[Page] Inferiour Rank, and with which, when Your Lordship is generously pleas'd to Dispense, You plainly Declare, that Your Noble Notions of Liberty are not embrac'd by You as they are by many, either out of Pride, or on the account of Interest, but by a Principle of Exalted Reason, and Goodness, and Humanity. This is the first Opportunity which I have had since I receiv'd Your Favours of paying my Acknowledgments to You in so publick a manner, which I desire Your Lordship to accept with Your usual Goodness. But how false or[Page] how bounded is Human Virtue! And how few are Grateful without a Design of engaging their Benefactors or others to Heap more Benefits on them, by shewing that they can be sensible of them. This very Address to Your Lordship is not without an Intention of engaging You whose Judgment in these Matters is acknowledg'd by all the World, to defend, as far as Your Conscience will give You leave, one of the Boldest Poems that has been writ for several Years. But I who konw the vast Business in which You are engag'd, am presuming[Page] enough to apprehend rather Your not Reading than Your not Liking,

    I am, My Lord, Your Lordship's most Humble, most Faithful and most oblig'd Servant, John Dennis.

    THough the attempt which I have made in the following Poem is very bold, yet I would not have the Reader believe it Rash. I think my self obliged, then to satisfie him without any Delay, that it is by no means designed to be a just Epick Poem. I know too little of the Nature of that Poem, and too much of my own infirmity ever to attempt to write one. But tho' this can by no means pass for a just Epick Poem, yet is it something of the Epick Kind, and bears the same proportion to a just Poem that a short and a faint Essay do's to a full and a perfect Treatise.


    That which threw me into this way of writing was the very Subject of the Poem. The Duke of Marlborough has laid such High Obligations upon his Country, that nothing can be said too much of him, nor done too much for him. And this obliged me to endeavour to do something more Bold and more Great, than any thing that I had endeavoured to do formerly.

    But no Poem that is not Religious can be great without extravagance or bold without rashness, which has been formerly prov'd. But there were but two ways of writing a Religious Poem upon this Occasion. The one was to do it by way of Hymn, and the other was to introduce Machines. The former being anticipated in the Poem which I wrote on the Battle of Bleinem; there remained only the latter.


    But here I easily foresee that the following Objection will be made, and that is, that since what the Duke of Marlborough has done is in its self so great and so wonderful, what occasion was there to endeavour to adorn it by Fiction. To which I answer, that because what the Duke of Marlborough has done is in its self so wonderful that it appears incredible, and Truth it self has the Resemblance of Fable and of Fiction, for that very Reason I was encouraged to embellish it with the Ornaments of Poetry. This is the Defence that Boileau has made for himself in his fourth Epistle, for introducing Machines into his Description of the Passage of the Rhine. And if the Apology stands good for him, as it has always past hitherto, it is still better for me. For my Machines are Christian whereas his are Pagan, and consequently can raise no great Emotion in the Minds of the Readers, because[Page] they are incredible, according to one of his own Verses.

    L' esprit n'est point emu de ce qu'il ne croit pas.

    If any one objects that what I make my Machines say and act will no more be believed than what Boileau Attributes to the God of the Rhine, to that I answer, that though things did not actually pass before and in the Battle of Ramillies, as they are related here, yet he who believes the Christian Religion and a particular Providence, and Reflects upon a hundred Passages in the Old and new Testament, must allow, that there past something not altogether unlike it. We see it is the Opinion of the Duke himself, that the Hand of God was in it, that Heaven, which leaves most Events to common Causes, was immediately concerned in this. Now can any thing be more reasonable for one who believes that[Page] Heaven was immediately concerned on one side, than to believe that Hell, which our Religion tells us is always for opposing the great Designs of Heaven, was immediately concerned on the other. Thus the Design of this Poem is built and the Machines are introduced upon what happened to the Duke in the Battle, and what he himself wrote to one of our Ministers of State after it.

    Thus I have given an Account of the Design of this Poem; How well that design is executed, I must leave to the Reader. As I have consulted my Friends who are fam'd for their Judgment in things of this Nature, as to what relates to the first four Books, and have had them by me long enough to form some Judgment of them my self, I know the Fort and the Foible of them. For the fifth I have neither had it by me long enough to make any Judgment of it my self, nor have I had time enough to consult my[Page] Friends about it. And therefore if there is any thing amiss in it, I must leave it to the indulgence of the Candid Reader. I only desire him to take notice, that having formerly describ'd with all the Application of which I was capable, a Battle gain'd by the same General, I was obliged to take a very different method in this Poem. I have only this to add, that I have not said so much as I thought to have done, of the Important Consequnces of the Battle of Ramellies, because I have some thoughts of writing a Pindarick Poem upon that great Action of Quintus Flaminius, which restored Liberty to the Grecian Citties. Between which Illustrious Roman and the Duke of Marlborough, a very just Parallel may be drawn.


    Page 24. line 1. for retire read retires ▪ p. 53. l. 9. for Head r. Hear. p. 55. l. 3. for Calamities r. Calamitous p. 56. l. 5. after mock'd, a Comma. Ibid. for in vain r. is vain.