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The Storm: an Essay, by Daniel Defoe

I’m told, for we have news among the dead,
Heaven lately spoke, but few knew what it said;
The voice in loudest tempests spoke,
And storms, which nature’s strong foundation shook.
I felt it hither, and I’d have you know
I heard the voice, and knew the language too.
Think it not strange I heard it here,
No place is so remote, but when he speaks they hear.
Besides, tho’ I am dead in fame,
I never told you where I am.

Tho’ I have lost poetic breath,
I’m not in perfect state of death:
From whence this Popish consequence I draw,
I’m in the limbus of the law.
Let me be where I will I heard the storm,
From every blast it echo’d thus, reform;
I felt the mighty shock, and saw the night,
When guilt look’d pale, and own’d the fright;
And every time the raging element
Shook London’s lofty towers, at every rent
The falling timbers gave, they cry’d repent.

I saw, when all the stormy crew.
Newly commission’d from on high,
Newly instructed what to do,
In lowring cloudy troops drew nigh;

They hover’d o’er the guilty land,
As if they had been backward to obey;
As if they wonder’d at the sad command,
And pity’d those they should destroy.
But heaven, that long had gentler methods try’d
And saw those gentler methods all defy’d
Had now resolved to be obey’d.
The Queen, an emblemA heraldic device or symbol that forms the badge of a nation, organisation, or family. of the soft still voice.
Had told the nation how to make their choice;
Told them the only way to happiness
Was by the blessed door of peace.
But the unhappy genius of the land,
Deaf to the blessing, as to the command.
Scorn the high caution, and contemn the news,
And all the blessed thoughts of peace refuse.
Since storms are then the nation’s choice.
Be storms their portion, said the heavenly voice:
He said, and I could hear no more
So soon th’ obedient troops began to roar:
So soon the black’ning clouds drew near,
And fill’d with loudest storms the trembling air:
I thought I felt the world’s foundation shake
And look’d when all the wond’rous frame would break.
I trembl’d as the winds grew high,
And so did many a braver man than I;
For he whose valourShowing great courage in the face of danger. scorns his sense.
Has chang’d his courage into impudence.
Man may to man his valour show.
And ’tis his virtue to do so;
But if he’s of his Maker not afraid,
He’s not courageous then, but mad.

Soon as I heard the horrid blast,
And understood how long ‘twould last,
View’d all the fury of the element,
Consider’d well by whom ’twas sent,
And unto whom for punishment;
It brought my hero to my mind,
William the glorious, great, and good, and kind,
Short epithets to his just memory;
The first he was to all the world, the last to me.

The mighty genius to my thought appear’d.
Just in the same concern he us’d to show,
When private tempests used to blow,
Storms which the monarchA king, queen, or emperor more than death or battled fear’d,
When party fury shook his throne,
And made their mighty malice known,
I’ve heard the sighing monarch say,
The public peace so near him lay,
It took the pleasure of his crown away.
It fill’d with cares his royal breast.
Often he has those cares prophetically express’d.
That when he should the reins let to.
Heaven would some token of its anger show
To let the thankless nation see
How they despis’d their own felicity.
This robb’d the hero of his rest,
Disturbed the calm of his serener breast.

When to the queen the sceptre he resigned
With a resolv’d and steady mind,
Tho’ he rejoic’d to lay the trifle down,
He pity’d her to whom he left the crown:
Foreseeing long and vig'rous wars,
Foreseeing endless, private, party jars,
Would always interrupt her rest,
And fill with anxious care her royal breast.
For storms of court ambition rage as high
Almost as tempests in the sky.

Could I my hasty doom retrieve,
And once more in the land of poets live,
I’d now the men of flags and fortune greet.
And write an elegy upon the fleet.
First, those that on the shore were idly found.
Whom other fate protects, while better men were drown’d,
They may thank God for being knaves on shore,
But sure the Queen will never trust them more.

They who rid out the storm, and liv’d,
But saw not whence it was deriv’d.
Senseless of danger, or the mighty hand,
That could to cease as well as blow command.
Let such unthinking creatures have a care.
For some worse end prepare.
Let them look out for some such day,
When what the sea would not, the gallows may.

Those that in former dangers shunn’d the fight,
But met their ends in this disastrous night,
Have left this caution, tho’ too late,
That all events are known to fate.
Cowards avoid no danger when they ran,
And courage ’scapes the death it would not shun;
’Tis nonsense from our fate to fly,
All men must have heart enough to die.

Those sons of plunderThe violent and dishonest theft of property and possessions are below my pen,
Because they are below the names of men;
Who from the shores presenting to their eyes
The fatal Goodwin, where the wreck of navies lies,
A thousand dying sailors talking to the skies.
From the sad shores they saw the wretches walk,
By signals of distress they talk;
There with one tide of life they’re vext,
For all were sure to die the next.
The barbarous shores with men and boats abound.
The men more barbarous than the shores are found;
Off to the shattered ships they go.
And for the floating purchase row.
They spare no hazard, or no pain.
But ’tis to save the goods, and not the men,
Within the sinking suppliants reach appear.
As if they’d mock their dying fear.
Then for some trifle all their hopes supplant,
With cruelty would make a Turk relent.

If I had any Satire left to write.
Could I with suited spleen indite,
My verse should blast that fatal town,
And drown’d sailors’ widows pull it down;
No footsteps of it should appear,
And ships no more cast anchor there.
The barbarous hated name of Deal should die,
Or be a term of infamy;
And till that’s done, the town will stand
A just reproach to all the land.

The ships come next to be my theme.
The men’s the loss, I’m not concern’d for them;
For had they perish’d e’er they went,
Where to no purpose they were sent,
The ships might ha’ been built again.
And we had sav’d the money and the men.
There the mighty wrecks appear,
Hic jacent, useless things of war.
Graves of men, and tools of state,
There you lie too soon, there you lie too late.
But O ye mighty ships of war!
What in winter did you there?
Wild November should our ships restore
To Chatham, Portsmouth, and the Nore,
So it was always heretofore;
For heaven itself is not unkind,
If winter storms he’ll sometimes send,
Since ’tis supposed the men-of-war
Are all laid up and left secure.

Nor did our navy feel alone
The dreadful desolation;
It shook the walls of flesh as well as stone,
And ruffl’d all the nation.
The universal fright
Made guilty How expect his fatal night;
His harden’d soul began to doubt,
And storms grew high within as they grew high without.

Flaming meteors fill’d the air.
But Asgil miss’d his fiery chariot there;
Recall’d his black blaspheming breath,
And trembling paid his homage unto death.

Terror appeared in every face.
Even vile Blackbourn felt some shocks of grace;
Began to feel the hated truth appear,
Began to fear,
After he had burlesqued a God so long,
He should at last be in the wrong.
Some power he plainly saw,
(And seeing, felt a strange unusual awe;)
Some secret hand he plainly found,
Was bringing some strange thing to pass.
And he that neither God nor devil own’d.
Must needs be at a loss to guess.
Fain he would not ha’ guest the worst.
But guilt will always be with terror curst.

Hell shook, for devils dread Almighty power
At every shock they fear’d the fatal blow,
The adamantine pillars mov’d,
And Satan’s pandemonium trembl’d too;
The tottering seraphs wildly rov’d
Doubtful what the Almighty meant to do.
For in the darkest of the black albode
There’s not a devil but helieves a God.
Old Lucifer has somtimes tried
To have himself deifi’d;
But devils nor men the being of God denied,
Till men of late found out new ways to sin,
And turn’d the devil out to let the Atheists in.
But when the mighty element began,
And storms the weighty truth explain
Almighty power upon the whirlwind rode,
And every blast proclaim’d aloud
There is, there is, there is, a God.

Plague, famine, pestilence, and war
Are in their causes seen.
The true original appear
Before the effects begin:
But storms and tempests are above our rules.
Here our philosophers are fools.
The Stagyrite himself could never shew,
From whence, nor how they know.
’Tis all sublime, ’tis all a mystery,
They see no manner how, nor reason why;
All Sovereign Being is our amazing theme,
’Tis all resolv’d to power supreme;
From this first cause our tempest came.
And let the Atheists ‘spite of sense blaspheme;
They can no room for banter find.
Till they produce another father for the wind.

Satire, thy sense of sovereign being declare.
He made the mighty prince o’ th’ air,
And devils recognize him by their fear.

Ancient as time, and elder than the light,
E’re the first day, or antecedent night,
E’re matter into settl’d form became.
And long before existence had a name;
Before th’ expanse of indigested space,
While the vast no-where filled the room of place.
Liv’d the First Cause, the first great Where and Why,
Existing to and from eternity,
Of his great Self, and of necessity.

This I call God, that one great word of fear,
At whose great sound.
When from his mighty breath ’tis echo’d round,
Nature pays homage with a trembling bow,
And conscious man would faintly disallow;

The secret trepidation racks the soul,
And while he says, No God, replies, Thou feel.
But call it what we will,
First being it had, does space and substance fill.
Eternal self-existing power enjoy’d.
And whatso’er is so, that same is God.

If then it should fall out, as who can tell,
But that there is a heaven and hell,
Mankind had best consider well for fear
’T should be too late when their mistakes appear;
Such may in vain reform,
Unless they do’t before another storm.

They tell us Scotland ’scaped the blast;
No nation else have been without a taste:
All Europe sure have felt the mighty shock,
‘T has been a universal stroke.
But heaven has other ways to plague the Scots,
As poverty and plots.
Her majesty confirms it, what she said,
I plainly heard it, though I'm dead.

The dangerous sound has raised me from my sleep,
I can no longer silence keep;
Here satire’s thy deliverance,
A plot in Scotland, hatch’d in France,
And liberty the old pretence.
Prelatic power with Popish join,
The queen’s just government to undermine;
This is enough to wake the dead,
The call’s too loud, it never shall be said
The lazy Satire slept too long,
When all the nation’s danger claim’d his song;

Rise Satire from thy sleep of legal death,
And reassume satiric breath;
What though to seven years’ sleep thou art confin’d,
Thou well may’st wake with such a wind.
Such blasts as these can seldom blow,
But they’re both form’d above and heard below.
Then wake and warn us now the storm is past,
Lest heaven return with a severer blast.
Wake and inform mankind
Of storms that still remain behind.

If from this grave thou lifl thy head.
They’ll surely mind one risen from the dead.
Though Moses and the prophets can’t prevail,
A speaking satire cannot fail.
Tell ’em while secret discontents appear.
There’ll ne’er be peace and union here.
They that for trifles so contend.
Have something farther in their end;
But let those hasty people know.
The storms above reprove the storms below.
And ’tis too often known;
That storms below do storms above fore-run;

They say this was a high church storm,
Sent out the nation to reform;
But th’ emblem left the moral in the lurch.
For ’t blew the steeple down upon the church.
From whence we now inform the people,
The danger of the church is from the steeple.
And we’ve had many a bitter stroke.
From pinnacle and weather-cock;
From whence the learned do relate.
That to secure the church and state.
The time will come when all the town,
To save the church, will pull the steeple down.

Two tempests are blown over, now prepare
For storms of treason and intestine war.
The high-church fury to the north extends,
In haste to ruin all their friends.
Occasional conforming led the way,
And now occasional rebellion comes in play,
To let the wond’ring nation know.
That high-church honesty’s an empty show,
A phantom of delusive air.
That as occasion serves can disappear,
And loyalty‘s a senseless phrase,
An empty nothing which our interest sways,
And as that suffers this decays.

Who dare the dangerous secret tell.
That churchmen can rebel.
Faction we thought was by the Whigs engross’d.
And forty-one was banter’d till the jest was lost.
Bothwell and Pentland hills were fam’d,
And Gilly Cranky hardly nam’d.
If living poets dare not speak.
We that are dead must silence break;
And boldly let them know the time’s at hand,
When Ecclesiastic tempests shake the land.
Prelatic treason from the crown divides,
And now rebellion changes sides.
Their volumes with their loyalty may swell.
But in their turns too they rebel;
Can plot, contrive, assassinate.
And spite of passive laws disturb the state.
Let fair pretences fill the mouths of men.
No fair pretence shall blind my pen;
They that in such a reign as this rebel.
Must needs be in confederacy with hell.
Oppressions, tyrannyCruel and oppressive rule or use of power., and pride,
May form some reasons to divide:
But where the laws with open justice rule,
He that rebels must be both knave and fool.
May heaven the growing mischief soon prevent.
And traitors meet reward in punishment.