ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION
Rev. William Mason
, "An Epistle from the Reverend William Mason, to the Right Honourable William Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer: petitioning for the vacant Laureateship; April 23, 1785" Biographical Sketches in Cornwall (1831) 3:23-25.
Rev. William Mason:
1748: Thomas Gray
1749: D. H.
1749: C. B.
1752: R. D.
1756 ca.: Rev. James Hervey
1757: Mr. Boyce
1758: William Whitehead
1758: Thomas Neville
1760: Thomas Gray
1760: Edward Cooper
1761: William Shenstone
1763: Thomas Balguy
1763: Elizabeth Montagu
1763: Rev. Richard Shepherd
1764: Rev. Charles Churchill
1765: Rev. Joseph Warton
1768: Elizabeth Carter
1772 ca.: Richard Fenton
1772: Edward Jerningham
1773: Rev. William Hayward Roberts
1777 ca.: William Cole
1778: Samuel Johnson
1778: J. Boerhadem
1779: Rev. Vicesimus Knox
1782: William Hayley
1784: Dr. Warwick
1785: H. S.
1785: Rev. Richard Polwhele
1786: Rev. Robert Potter
1788: Rev. Robert Greville
1790: Rev. Bryan Waller
1790: Rev. Andrew Macdonald
1791: James Boswell
1791: Francis Garden
1792: John Bennet
1794: Thomas James Mathias
1797: Thomas Park
1797: Hannah More
1797: Dr. John Aikin
1797: Dr. J. Crane
1797: Brooke Boothby
1797: Bp. Richard Hurd
1797: Thomas Gisborne
1797: Anna Seward
1797: Rev. Henry Francis Cary
1798: J. K.
1798: Thomas James Mathias
1798: Michael Wodhull
1800 ca.: George Hardinge
1800: Thomas Dermody
1801: Dr. Erasmus Darwin
1801: John Penn
1802: George Dyer
1803: Elizabeth, Countess Harcourt
1806: Richard Cumberland
1806: William Hayley
1815: Mary Russell Mitford
1815: Richard Nares
1824: Bryan Waller Procter
1825 ca.: Joseph Cradock
1826: Herbert Barton
1827: Robert Southey
1830: Richard Warner
1833: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
1845: John Holland
1853: Rev. John Mitford
1860: George Gilfillan
1882: Epes Sargent
1891: Samuel Smiles
1910: Ralph Straus
Rev. Richard Polwhele:
1779: Rev. Thomas Warton
1783: Bp. Lewis Bagot
1783: Rev. Robert Greville
1785: Dr. Hugh Downman
1785: Rev. William Mason
1785: Samuel Jackson Pratt
1786: Edward Drewe
1788: Anna Seward
1791: Dr. Hugh Downman
1792: Dr. Erasmus Darwin
1794: Hannah More
1795: William Cowper
1796: William Browne of Tavistock
1796: John Gay
1796: Thomas Gray
1796: Nicholas Rowe
1797: Dr. Hugh Downman
1800: Sir James Bland Burges
1800: Lady Sophia Burrell
1800: Hannah Cowley
1800: Rev. William Lipscomb
1800: Capel Lofft
1800: Amelia Opie
1800: Rev. George Richards
1800: Rev. Joseph Warton
1800: Helen Maria Williams
1803: Samuel Jackson Pratt
1804: Peter L. Courtier
1808 ca.: Elizabeth Trefusis
1809: Bp. Richard Hurd
1811: Anna Seward
1814: Richard Alfred Davenport
1818: George Hardinge
1826: Edward Drewe
1826: Rev. James Hurdis
1826: John Struthers
1826: Dr. John Wolcot
1831: William Boscawen
1831: William Gifford
1831: Rev. Thomas Penrose
1831: Dr. John Wolcot
1834: John Herman Merivale
1836: Bp. Lewis Bagot
1836: Charles Fox
1836: Rev. Walter Harte
1836: Robert Southey
High patriot son of Him whom Britain placed
To reign sole master of the subject waste,
Hear, son of Chatham (if perchance thine ears
Drink other homage than of new-made Peers)
O! whether fervid in Ierne's cause,
Or fir'd with images of Indian laws—
Or big with projects of Reform, the throng
Thou whelmest with the torrent of thy tongue;
O hear a bard, by no wild wishes sway'd,
The pensive bard of "Aston's secret shade;"
Who, crown'd with no fair meed, drags life along,
The jest of fools, that parodied his song;
And butt of pilf'ring booksellers, that cite,
(Yet not unpunish'd) from his copy-right!
But ah! I never knew, like some, to fawn—
Like some, now strutting in the Prelate's lawn.
Not that I envy their proud pageantry,
For I, like Balguy, would have scorn'd a see;
Content, while "harpies tear Britannia's breast,"
"While cringing Bishops bow and bless the feast,"
Here, in these solitudes to wooe the Nine,
"'Midst huddling brooks, and torrent-falls divine."
Yet oft, when Memory to my soul pourtrays
The picture of irrevocable days,
Where Hurd and D'Arcy bore so large a part,
The fond admirers of my tuneful art—
Alas! full oft I feel the rising sigh,
When Hurd, who erst could flatter, now looks shy;
And still — still more embitter'd my distress,
To lose my once warm patron, Heldernesse!
Oh! that my Gray were yet alive to raise
The pealing anthem of his Mason's praise!
How long we chanted, true to friendship's cause,
Responses of reciprocal applause!
But come, propitious Muse! aspire to fill
The noblest station of the Aonian hill,
And in the transport of thy Sybil fit
Purchase for D'Arcy's frowns, the smiles of Pitt!
Come, with the high distinction flush'd, presume
To light anew the Laureate's blasted bloom,
And, in the splendor of the regal rays,
Weave the fair wreath, and consecrate the bays!
And sure, if ever happiest genius glow'd
Thro' the rich structure of a birth-day ode,
Or, soothing to a Monarch's prick'd up ear,
Hail'd the first blushes of the new-born year,
For five long lustres changing, still the note,
In all the fine varieties of thought—
That genius shall illume my every line,
And all those fine varieties be mine!
Witness my ode of true Pindaric strain,
That sings or says, "'Tis May's meridian reign;"
And "proud, O Pitt, to celebrate thy spring,"
"Sighs, that no daisies blow, no cuckoos sing!"
Thus then, how easy on the fourth of June,
To deprecate the feverish flame of noon,
While the cool metaphor so softly plays,
Caught from "the first of April," thro' the blaze!
And oh! if smiling on thy Poet's prayer
Thou stick the Laureate-bayleaves in his hair,
To sound thy name my odes shall never fail,
Or at the head, the middle or the tail;
And bid "thy father's heaven-wove robe" embrace
Thy members — whether in or-out-of place;
Whilst o'er thy sinking fund, "by seraphs roll'd,"
He rains aethereal chink — from "clouds of gold."
Yes! — tho' thou fail to pay a nation's debt,
Thy presence shall adorn the cabinet,
And glow, while brother-brains feel leaden night,
New-moulded to a minister of — light!
E'en, tho', "ingenuous boy!" thy destiny
Doom thee in dark Ierne's gulph to die.
Tell, then, thy Sovereign (if his will incline
To let the Laureate's luxury be mine,
Assur'd with Horace, that no bard shou'd lack
The sweet enjoyment of a butt of sack)
Tell him — that if I soar not like a Pindar,
May lightning blast my pinions to a cinder!
Tell him — that blazoning the high new year's day
My Muse shall more than Whitehead's worth display;
And with a flight, to shame the trivial themes
Of war-worn armies, or a nation's dreams,
Triumph, as oft she pictures to his view
"That work to wonder at" — imperial Kew!
Tell him — her heart shall glory, thro' her lays
Associate of his hunts, to trace the maze!
Tell him, in fine, his favors to repay,
Her zeal shall tear Macgregor's mask away,
And crush the monster, who shall dare asperse
Scenes, that shall flourish in my living verse;
While Genius hastes to hang with fadeless flowers
"Thy throne, O Albion, and thy laureate bowers!"