Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
As but the off-scouring of the British sand;
And so much earth as was contributed
By English pilots when they heaved the lead;
Or what by the ocean's slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrecked cockle and the mussel-shell;
This indigested vomit of the sea
Fell to the Dutch by just propriety.
Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
They, with mad labour, fished the land to shore:
And dived as desperately for each piece
Of earth, as if 't had been of ambergris;
Collecting anxiously small loads of clay,
Less than what building swallows bear away;
Or than those pills which sordid beetles roll
Transfusing into them their dunghill soul!
How did they rivet, with gigantic piles,
Thorough the centre their new-catchèd miles;
And to the stake a struggling country bound,
Where barking waves still bait the forcèd ground;
Building their watery Babel far more high
To reach the sea, than those to scale the sky.
Yet still his claim the injured ocean laid,
And oft at leap-frog o'er their steeples played;
As if on purpose it on land had come
To shew them what's their mare liberum,
A daily deluge over them does boil;
The earth and water play at level-coil.
The fish oft-times the burgher dispossessed,
And sat, not as a meat, but as a guest;
And oft the Tritons, and the sea-nymphs, saw
Whole shoals of Dutch served up for Cabillau;
Or, as they over the new level ranged,
For pickled herring, pickled heeren changed.