The Squabble of the Sea Nymphs, or the Sacrifice of the Tuscaroroes (1774)

The Squabble of the Sea Nymphs, or the Sacrifice of the Tuscaroroes (1774)

by Mercy Otis Warren

A Satire of the Boston Tea Party, Wikisource.

The important political event of 1773, when several cargoes
of teas were poured into the sea, has been replete with
mighty consequences, and will never be forgotten in the his–
tory of American independence. But the author’s own
opinion of the equity or policy of this measure is not to be col–
lected from a political sally, written at the request of a par–
ticular friend, now in one of the highest grades of American

Bright Phoebus drove his rapid car amain
And plung’d his steeds beyond the western plain,
Behind a golden skirted cloud to rest.
Ere ebon night had spread her fable vest,
And drawn her curtain o’er the fragrant vale,
Or Cynthia’s shadows dress’d the lonely dale,
The heroes of the Tuscararo tribe,
Who scorn’d alike a fetter or a bribe,
In order rang’d, and waited freedom’s nod, ,
To make an offering to the wat’ry god.

Grey Neptune rose, and from his sea green bed,
He wav’d his trident o’er his oozy head;
He stretch’d, from shore to shore, his regal wand,
And bade the river deities attend:
Triton’s hoarse clarion summon’d them by name,
And from old ocean call’d each wat’ry dame.

In council met to regulate the state,
Among their godships rose a warm debate,

“What luscious draught they next mould substitute,
That might the palates of celestials suit,
As Nectar’s- stream no more meandering rolls,
The food ambrosial of their social bowls
Profusely spent ; nor, can Scamander’s shore,
Yield the fair sea nymphs one short banquet more.

The Tilans all with one accord arous’d,
To travel round Columbia’s coast propos’d;
To rob and plunder every neighb’ring vine,
(Regardless of Nemisis’ sacred shrine;)
Nor leave untouch’d the peasant’s little store,
Or think of right, while demi gods have power.

But ere on a decided mode agreed,
They, nor great Neptune, farther dare proceed,
‘Till every goddess of the streams and lakes,
And lesser deities of fens and brakes –
With all the nymphs that swim around the isles,
Deign ‘d to give sanction by approving smiles:
For females have their influence o’er kings,
Nor wives, nor mistresses, were useless things,
Ev’n to the gods of ancient Homer’s page;
Then lure, in this polite. and polish’d age,
None will neglect the sex’s sage advice,
When they engage in any point so nice,
As to forbid the choice nectareus sip,
And offer bohea to the rosy-lip.

Proud Amphytrite rejected in disdain,
Refus’d the gift, and left the wat’ry main,
With servile Proteus lagging by her side,
To take advantage of the shifting tide;
To catch a smile, or pick up golden sands,
Either from PlutuS, or the naked strands;
Long practis’d easy he assumes the shape
Of fox, or panther, crocodile, or ape;
When ’tis his int’rest, his step dame he’ll aid,
One pebble more, and Amphytrite’s betrayed.

A flaming torch she took in either hand,
(And as fell discord reign’d throughout the land,
Was well appriz’d the centaurs would conspire;)
Resolv’d to set the western world on fire,
By scattering the weed of Indian shores;
Or worse, to, lodge it in Pygmalion’s shores:
But if the artifice should not succeed,
Then, in revenge, attempt some bolder deed;
For while old ocean’s mighty billows roar,
Or foaming surges lash the distant shore,
Shall goddesses regale like woodland dames?
First let Chinesan herbage feed the flames.

But all the Nereids whisper’d murmurs round,
And craggy cliffs reecho’d back the found;
‘Till fair Salacia perch’d upon the rocks,
The rival goddess wav’d her yellow locks,
Proclaimed, hysonia shall assuage their grief,
With choice souchong, and the imperial leaf.

The champions of the Tuscararan race,
(Who neither hold, nor even wish a place,
While faction reigns, and tyranny presides,
And base oppression o’er the virtues rides;
While venal measures dance in silken fails,
And avarice o’er earth and sea prevails;
While luxury creates such mighty feuds,
E’en in the bosoms of the demi gods;)
Lent their strong arm in pity to the fair,
To aid the bright Salacia’s generous care;

Pour’d a profusion of delicious teas,
Which, wafted by a soft favonian breeze,
Supply’d the wat’ry deities, in spite
Of all the rage of jealous Amphytrite.

The fair Salacia, victory, victory, sings,
In spite of heroes, demi gods, or kings;
She bids defiance to the servile train,
The pimps and sycophants of George’s reign.

The virtuous daughters of the neighb’ring mead,
In graceful smiles approved the glorious deed;
(And though the Syrens left their coral beds,
Juft o’er the surface lifted up their heads,
And sung soft peans to the brave and fair,
‘Till almost caught in the delusive snare
To sink securely in a golden dream,
And taste the sweet inebriating dream,
Which, though a repast for the wat’ry maids,
Is baneful poison to the mountain naiades 😉
They saw delighted from the inland rocks,
O’er the broad deep pour’d out Pandora’s box;
They join’d, and fair Salacia’s triumph sung,
Wild echo, o’er the bounding ocean rung;
The sea nymphs heard, and all the sportive train,
In shaggy tresses danc’d around the main,
From southern lakes, down to the northern rills.
And spread confusion round N— hills.


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This work (The Renewable Anthology of Early American Literature by Jared Aragona) is free of known copyright restrictions.

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