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SONGS AND BALLADS
Harwich. It was to the courage and conduct of the Duke of York that Waller attributed the victory of the English, and accordingly he made James the centre of the battlepiece. Scorning defensive armour, such as most naval commanders wore in those days; James stands on his quarterdeck, exposed to every ball, but protected by some power unseen:
' Fierce, goodly young! Mars he resembles when
• Heaven sends him down to scourge perfidious men.'
Waller had confined himself to the first year of the war. Dryden undertook to celebrate the second. His Annus Mirabilis is an account of the events of the wonderful year 1666, which appeared early in 1667. ' I am very much pleased, writes Pepys, on February 2, 1667, 'with reading the poem I brought home with me last night from Westminster Hall, of Dryden's upon the present war, a very good poem' [Diary, ed. Wheatley, vi. 156). There were reasons why it should please a man employed in the government of the navy, quite apart from its subject. Waller had treated naval warfare purely as a theme for rhetoric; Dryden attempted to understand it, and to make it intelligible. His description of the Loyal London, the vessel which the City presented to the King, and which Pepys commends as ' the best ship in the world,'gives a good picture of a first-rate of the period :
* With roomy decks, her guns of mighty strength,
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves; Deep in her draught and warlike in her length, She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.'
In another passage he contrasts the naval architecture and the naval tactics of the English and the Dutch: