Jacob Axford, “On my sudden going on board the Orford and her leaving the Land”

JACOB AXFORD

 “On my sudden going on board the Orford and her leaving the Land”

And must I go? so sudden the Surprize!
Not one last Look to feed my longing Eyes?
No Time to tell the Part’ner of my Heart,
How long, or wherefore we so soon must part?
Be torn from all, that ALL my Soul held dear?                                      5
My Life, my Love, my Bliss, my All was her.
The kind Companion of each anxious Hour,
Fair Nature’s Pride, and Virtue’s choicest Flower:
Whose Conversation charm’d the tedious Day,
Whilst the wing’d Hours stole unperceiv’d away:                                10
Who soft’ned Anguish with the Sweets of Love,
The last best Blessing of all bounteous Jove.
The Orford now, impatient for the Seas,
Waits the Conveyance of a gentle Breeze.
Th’ expectant Seaman now with eager Eyes                                         15
Sees the kind Zephyrs o’er the Waters rise.
The Waters whiten with th’ auspicious Gales
That fan the Air, and fill the swelling Sails:
The lofty Vessel thro’ the liquid Way
Triumphant rides, and cuts the yielding Sea:                                        20
To fair Britannia bids a long Adieu,
And with far distant Countries in her View
Mounts o’er the Billows, glides along the Main,
Nor leaves th’ Impression on the watry Plain.
Adieu, fair Britain, native lovely Isle,                                                 25
On whom Heaven deigns propitiously to smile;
Bright regal Seat of Princes and of Kings,
To whom each distant World its Tribute brings:
Blest Soil, where Plenty reigns thro’ every Part,
Where bounteous Ceres chears each honest Heart:                            30
Where every Blessing Nature can demand
The GOD of Nature gives with liberal Hand;
And all that Luxury can require, or Pride,
Is by the obedient Sea from far suppli’d:
Where pure Religion shines divinely bright;                                          35
Untainted here, and in its native Light:
Where Heaven born Liberty uprears its Head,
Its Godlike Influence thro’ the Land to spread;
Where beauteous Virgins crown each amouros Swain,
And happy Subjects bless great George’s Reign:                                  40
Farwel fair Isle! may every Blessing crown
Thy happy Shore, and mark it with Renown:
Thy mighty Arms may Conquest still attend,
Till haughty Spain shall sue to be thy Friend:
Till Europe’s Foes be greatly overthrown,                                                45
France find Submission and Lorrain a Throne:
O may no Faction vex thy friendly Shore,
But Peace prevail, and Discord be no more:
May differing Parties lay their Hatred by,
Ambition cease, and baneful Envy die:                                                   50
Bliss, Love, and Union reign throughout thy Isle,
And Joys eternal on thy Natives smile.
The mighty Vessel lab’ring with the Wind,
By narrow Seas no longer now confin’d,
To the vast Ocean wings her watry Way                                                 55
And cuts her Passage thro’ th’ Atlantic Sea.
So when th’ immortal Soul and Body part,
And Nature’s Call o’er-powers the Strength of Art;
Th’ aerial Mind from the embodying Clay
At the dread Summons breaks like Light away;                                     60
And, from the narrow Bound of Time set free,
Plunges into th’ Abyss of vast Eternity:
Stupendous Thought! here stop my Soul, and know
Th’ amazing Change that all must undergo:
When pale Disease proclaims thy parting Breath,                                 65
And sick’ning Nature tells approaching Death:
When the grim King of Terrors shall appear,
Thy tott’ring Frame when strong Convulsions tare:
How wilt thou dare to view thy future State?
Or stand the Shock of thy incumbent Fate?                                            70
Dar’st thou reflect upon that awful Day,
When the great Judge in terrible Array,
To doom the guilty and the just to clear,
In all his Father’s Glory shall appear?
Leaves conscious Guilt no Stain upon thy Mind?                                   75
Hast thou no unrepented Vice behind?
Within the secret Chamber of thy Breast,
Lurks there no guilty no deceitful Guest?
Is all serene, and calm, and clear within?
Does Recollection tell no darling Sin?                                                      80
Then boldly venture on the unknown Shore;
Death with his Terrors can affright no more:
Beyond the peaceful Mansions of the Grave,
No dismal Views thy guiltless Mind can have:
No Hopes, no Cares, thy Peace shall e’er annoy,                                   85
But Death shall prove thy Entrance into Joy:
When on the Bed of Sickness thou shalt lie,
And thy weak Frame shall totter, sink and die,
Thy conscious Innocence thy Mind shall chear,
And glorious Prospects op’ning shall appear:                                         90
Blest Choirs of Angels wait thy fleeting Soul,
And circling Joys thro’ endless Ages roll.
Eternity shall short liv’d Time devour,
And Guilt, and Pain, and Sorrow be no more.

NOTES:

Title Orford Ship possibly named after the Royal Navy Officer Edward Russell, the first Earl of Orford 1653-1727. Edward was one of the “Immortal Seven” who encouraged William of Orange to usurp James II (“Edward Russell” Wikipedia).

 12 Jove “The supreme deity of the ancient Romans, corresponding to the Greek Zeus; the ruler of gods and men, and the god of the heavens, whose weapon was the thunderbolt” (OED).

16 Zephyrs “A soft mild gentle wind or breeze” (OED).

 23 Billows A swelling wave of the sea produced by a high wind, but often used as a poetical reference to ‘the sea’ (OED).

 23 Main As in mainsail, which is “the principal sail of a ship” (OED).

26 Propitiously “Of God, the fates, etc.: disposed to be favorable; gracious; merciful, lenient” (OED).

30 Ceres “In Roman religion and mythology, goddess of grain; daughter of Saturn and Ops. She was identified by the Romans with the Greek Demeter. Her worship was connected with that of the earth goddess and involved not only fertility rites but also rites for the dead” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia).

35 pure Religion Protestantism.

 39 amouros Swain A male servant who is in love, enamored, or fond (OED).

 40 George’s Reign George III (1738-1820), reigned from 1760.

 43-46 Thy mighty arms…France find Submission The Second Hundred Years’ War consisted of a series of military conflicts between France and England, including the Seven Years’ War over the colonization of North America. Such conflicts caused England and France to be bitter rivals, while Spain and France remained allies (“Second Hundred Years’ War,” Wikipedia; “Pacte de Famille,” Enclopedia Britannica).

46 Lorrain a Throne Dominion over Lorraine was exchanged between France and the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire throughout the seventeenth century. “Lorraine was given to Stanisław I, the former king of Poland and father-in-law of the French king Louis XV, by the treaties (1738) ending the War of the Polish Succession.” After Stanislaw I’s death in 1766, Lorraine was officially under French rule (“Lorraine Region, France,” Encyclopedia Britannica).

50 baneful “Destructive to well-being, pernicious, injurious” (OED).

 68 tare “The weight of the wrapping, receptacle, or conveyance containing goods, which is deducted from the gross in order to ascertain the net weight” (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Divine, Moral and Entertaining: The Posthumous Works of Mr. Jacob Axford, Of the city of Bath, Late Surgeon of his Majesty’s Ship, Scipio; Written for his own Amusement. (Bath: S. Martin, 1764), pp. 16-19). [Google Books]

Edited by Kandace Linstrom


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