This essay revisits the early eighteenth-century ode to demonstrate how its poetics, labelled by the Augustans as undisciplined and perplexed, were instead used to frame ambivalence about the limits of empire and the nature of property. Focusing on Thomas Heyrick's "The Submarine Voyage" (1691), I argue that Heyrick uses the strophic turns of the ode to speculate on the commercial and imperial value of sea-floor spaces. More than a sui generis flight of fancy, Heyrick's speculation existed alongside Restoration scientific inquiry and commercial salvage forays into sea-floor spaces by prominent figures such as Robert Boyle, Edmund Halley, and Daniel Defoe. While later eighteenth-century authors, including Jonathan Swift, would mock these projectors as blithely unaware of the flimsiness of their own projects, Heyrick's ode reveals intense doubt over how England might constitute knowledge and property in oceanic spaces even while envisioning English empire as reconstituting itself from salvaged oceanic materials.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 639-657
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.