1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Chesterfield

William Cowper, in "The Progress of Error" Poems (1782) 58-59.



Petronius! all the muses weep for thee,
And ev'ry tear shall scald thy memory.
The graces too, while virtue at their shrine
Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine,
Felt each a mortal stab at her own breast,
Abhorr'd the sacrifice, and curs'd the priest.
Thou polish'd and high-finish'd foe to truth,
Gray beard corrupter of our list'ning youth;
To purge and skim away the filth of vice,
That so refin'd it might the more entice,
Then pour it on the morals of thy son
To taint his heart, was worthy of thine own.
Now while the poison all high life pervades,
Write if thou can'st one letter from the shades,
One, and one only, charg'd with deep regret,
That thy worst part, thy principles live yet;
One sad epistle thence, may cure mankind,
Of the plague spread by bundles left behind.