1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Cumberland

C. T., "Lines to the Memory of the late Mr. Cumberland" Morning Post (24 June 1811).



To that full state, when each increasing year
Proclaims the day of dissolution near,
Advanc'd, when faculties begin to fail
Nor energy nor strength of mind avail;
When, worn with length of life and slow decay,
Exhausted nature sinks an easy prey:
Thou CUMBERLAND, when such became thy fate,
Unlike to others of a like estate,
Withstood the shock; tho' years bespoke thee grey,
Thy mind was youthful, and thy spirits gay;
So perfect still, so bright thy talents shone,
So beam'd thy mind with fervour all its own:
So unimpair'd, so faithful to the last,
Year after year in calm succession past,
That those who knew thee in thy latter day
Rais'd flatt'ring hopes that death might yet delay—
That some few summers still were doom'd to shed
Their fleeting influence o'er thy aged head.
And thou be none the worse: vain hope, alas!
Few hours were fated o'er thy head to pass,
Ere thou wast summon'd by the dreadful call
That, soon or later, sparks alike to all.—
Around thy death-bed, near thy aged hand,
Relations, friends, in mournful order stand;
The same, who saw thee with each gift endued,
By time unhurt, by sorrows unsubdued,
With spirits, health, and life's best blessings crown'd,
Smiling serenely on thy friends around;
Now see thee stretch'd upon the sickly bed,
Each gloomy horror hov'ring o'er thy head,
Yield in a few short hours the vital breath,
And sink at once beneath the hand of death.
While others, weeping round thy silent tomb,
Mourn thy sad loss and their severer doom,
Behold the Muse in lamentation rise,
The "True-born Muse!" with sad and downcast eyes
She sees thy fall, and chides the cruel blow
That laid her last, most faithful servant low.—
But yet some precious relics still remain
To shew the world thou hast not liv'd in vain:
Are these too doom'd to share the grave with thee?
Ah no; forgotten thou shalt never be;
While books, those sacred monuments of fame
Transcendent merit to the world proclaim,
And genuine worth to each succeeding age
Transmit, so long thy pure and perfect page,
Shall with true moralists' and poet's art,
Enrich the fancy and improve the heart:
Yes, CUMBERLAND, thy talents, ever bright,
While thou didst live, gave thee undoubted right
To rank unrivall'd in the Muse's page,
The first of Poets in this latter age;
And when at length the solemn hour was come
That call'd thy spirit to its last long home,
Found thee a place to lay thy honour'd head
Amidst the graves of those illustrious dead,
Who, like thyself, with minds superior blest,
Improv'd the shining talents they possest;
Were lov'd and honour'd while they liv'd, and died
Their country's ornament, delight, and pride:
Where the Muse points to GARRICK'S sacred shine
With weeping finger, there she points to thine;
Where SHAKESPEAR'S monument attracts the eye,
And marks the spot where his lov'd relics lie,
Proclaiming, proudly, that from Albion's coast
Arose the noblest bard that ever age could boast:
Where Kings and Princes consecrate the ground,
And Guardian Muses watch incessant round.
From eye profane and impious touch to keep
The hallow'd tombs of those that there immortal sleep:
There, join'd with those, whom, living, thou didst grace,
Thy relics, CUMBERLAND, have found a place:
Like them, that thou hast trod the paths of fame,
And left the world to weep thy honour'd name;
Like them lamented too, by tears as just
As ever grac'd our Kings' or Heroes' dust;
That now thy soul has fled a world like this,
To join with them in realms of everlasting bliss.
C. T.
Russell-square, June, 1811.